This presents a central Scientology practice (the ‘Purification Rundown‘) as a drug rehabilitation technique.
We also covered the disclaimers that attempt to avoid any responsibility for the consequences of this ‘treatment’ and the worthless scientific paper that was presented as evidence that it works.
In this post we will move on to assess the ‘research findings’ claimed by L Ron Hubbard which form the basis for both Narconon’s ‘detoxification program’ and Scientology’s practice of ‘purification’ – the claim that drugs can somehow be ‘stored’ in fatty tissues and ‘reactivated’ years later to produce the same effect they had when first taken.
Note: page numbers are taken for the PDF software, not the document’s page numbering, so that the search facilities can be used
Yet Another Disclaimer – This Time (Apparently) From L Ron Hubbard Himself
On pg 8 there is a preface which is attributed to L Ron Hubbard. The title page reads “Based on the works of L Ron Hubbard,” and the authors seem to have taken this to mean to that they can put words into his mouth.
It opens with some straightforward claims (image right). It states that the Narconon programme is the result of (presumably scientific) research and development and that it will provide “mental help” to recovering drug addicts.
The only claim is future spiritual improvement
Narconon representatives tell people who are seeking a drug rehabilitation programme that their techniques achieves an unprecedented success rate of 70 -80%. This claim is repeated in the potted biography of L Ron Hubbard that appears in all Workbooks (we examined this in part 5).
However, the disclaimer discards all of that, clearly stating that it only offers, ‘spiritual improvement’. The ‘bait and switch‘ could not be more blatant. What is truly remarkable is that both contradictory passages co-exist in the same Narconon workbook. Narconon seem to be able to present (and believe) whichever version suits them at the time.
The Picture Book Begins
Pages 9 – 10 contain drawings of people queueing to be admitted to the ‘New Life Detoxification Program'(see top of page) followed on pp11-12 with another two-page spread which reminds me of a ‘Chick Tract‘.
These were cartoon booklets presenting a fundamentalist version of Christianity, in which the torments of Hell were often graphically presented.
In the Narconon workbook, a cloven-hooved demon (helpfully labelled ‘Pusher’) is depicted (literally) pushing a drug-addicted victim through the gates of hell. Above the entrance hangs a sign reading, “Drugs”.
The text is utterly minimal – one line per two pages, so far. As you can download and read the workbook if you want to enjoy the melodramatic illustrations for yourself, I will extract the text from pages 11 – 22.
It’s a drug-ridden world – but there is hope for changing this – on the New Life Detoxification Program. You pay a lot for drugs whether you have money or you don’t. Even after coming off drugs you can wind up paying for years and years. But there is HELP available on the New Life Detoxification Program.
In the 1970’s, working with cases of individuals who had been drug users, and in a study of their physical symptoms and behavioural patterns I made a startling discovery. LSD can lodge in the body tissues – mainly the fatty tissues – and stay there for years after the person has taken it.
It can go into action years later, giving the person unpredictable “trips” – as if he had just taken more LSD. Further research has shown that other drugs – heroin, cocaine, angel dust, mescaline, peyote, marijuana – to name a few – can also lodge in the system and later get ‘reactivated’ – as if the person has just taken more of the drug.
This is clearly supposed to be the voice of L Ron Hubbard.
Confusingly, a Narconon website traces the origin of the organisation to 1966 – four years before Hubbard states that that he had made his “[…] startling discovery”. This inconsistency will be resolved later, when we learn that Hubbard’s ideas about detoxification actually made their first appearance in 1957 and were subsequently used as the basis of a fundamental Scientology practice – the “purification rundown”.
Where’s Is Hubbard’s Evidence?
The first question is where Hubbard’s research is published. No paper by L Ron Hubbard has ever appeared in any peer-reviewed scientific journal, nor has the Church of Scientology ever published a single description of Hubbard’s ‘research’. There is no account of his experimental subjects, the procedure he followed, the measurements he obtained… nothing at all.
Hubbard’s ‘research’ seemed to consist of thinking of an idea… then presenting it as if it were true. This worked for him when he wrote stories for pulp magazines – and was extended when he persuaded the editor of “Astounding Science Fiction” to take one of his flights of fancy (dianetics) seriously as ‘a new science’.
On that occasion he claimed that his research demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that dianetics could cure almost any physical or mental condition – but never troubled to publish any. The same is true of Narconon’s detoxification treatment.
Narconon have since contrived to get papers describing Narconon treatment published in a highly suspect journal, through a Church of Scientology front group. I have examined this worthless ‘research’ here and here. They rely heavily on this in their literature, and also include references to papers whose references to ‘drug residues’ are taken completely out of context. There is no support for their ideas in the scientific literature.
Where Did Hubbard’s Ideas About Drugs Originate?
During the cold war years, there was an understandable popular anxiety about the threat of nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.
The general population did not understand the cutting-edge science behind nuclear weapons nor the potential medical effects on survivors of a nuclear exchange. In some areas this information was still a military secret. The field was open to any charlatan to offer protection from the dreaded effects of ‘radiation’.
Hubbard took up this challenge with a book entitled, “All About Radiation” which was subtitled “By a Nuclear Physicist and a Medical Doctor.”
What Did Hubbard Know About the Subject?
The ‘Nuclear Physicist’ who wrote “All About Radiation” was L Ron Hubbard himself. His only qualification for this was an ‘F’ grade in a short course entitled, “Modern physical phenomena; molecular and atomic physics” which he had taken as part of a course in Civil Engineering.
Hubbard failed the degree in 1932, during his first year (as shown in his transcript, in the image on the left).
This hardly made him an expert on the state of the art as it stood in 1945, after the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let alone 1957 when he published “All About Radiation”.
According to Wikipedia in early editions of “All About Radiation” (such as the one in the image above right) the authors remained anonymous. In later editions L Ron Hubbard was credited as the Author, but the identity of the ‘medical doctor’ varies. It is likely that Hubbard simply wrote the ‘doctor’s’ introduction himself.
In later editions the doctor used the pseudonym “Medicus”. In 1979 he is credited as Richard Farley and in the latest editions he becomes two people: Dr. Gene Denk and Dr. Farley R. Spink.
Of course, we have met Dr Gene Denk before. He provided the highly suspect “A Doctors Evaluation of the Detoxification Program” which feature on page 6 of this very workbook and is closely examined in my previous post.
What is the Relationship Between “All About Radiation” and Narconon?
In “All about Radiation” Hubbard offered a mixture of vitamins and minerals which he called Dianazene (a name apparently derived from ‘dianetics’), This was supposed to cure a person of radiation poisoning, impart a resistance to future exposure and prevent the development of cancer. According to the first edition, Dianazene a standard dose consisted of:
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 200 mg
- Iron (Ferrous gluconate): 10 grains (600 mg)
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 25 mg
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 50 mg
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid): 200–500 mg
- Calcium (Dicalcium phosphate): 15-20 grains (1000–1300 mg)
However, in 1958 the US Food and Drug Administration seized and destroyed 21,000 Dianazene tablets on the grounds that they were misleadingly labelled as a “[…] preventative and treatment for radiation sickness”. A potentially lucrative trade was nipped in the bud.
Hubbard subsequently incorporated the ‘purification rundown’ into Scientology as a (paid for) religious practice, putting it beyond the remit of the FDA. The ‘purif’ requires participants to take mega-doses of the same vitamins and minerals used in Dianazene and spend long periods in a sauna.This is supposed to not only ‘run out’ radiation but also drug residues and other toxins.
With his ‘discovery’ that drugs are stored in fatty tissue, Hubbard could re-purpose his failed attempt to cash in on Cold War paranoia to address a new subject of public concern – the increasing use of illegal drugs – and Narconon was born.
Characteristically, Hubbard also took the opportunity to attack his perceived rivals – the medical profession – by including medicinal drugs in the ‘harmful’ category. His venom is reserved for psychiatrist and psychologists and psychiatric medications (e.g. anti-depressants and anti-psychotics) are considered to be particularly harmful. That said, Scientology even disapproves of epilepsy medication, and insists practising Scientologist discontinue its use in favour of ‘the purif’ (with predictably dangerous results). The same requirements are placed upon Narconon clients.
What Does 21st Century Science Think?
Hubbards ideas flew in the face of medical understanding, even back in the 1970’s, when he claimed to have developed them. Since then scientific knowledge of physiology has advanced considerably – and it contradicts Hubbard on every point.
Drugs are not stored in fatty tissues, or anywhere else in the body and therefore cannot be ‘reactivated’ years after taking them. It is highly irresponsible to suggest this, as it may cause great anxiety to people who have used drugs, however briefly, in the past.
In fact, Illegal drugs are highly reactive substances, which break down rapidly and and are flushed out of the body by natural processes in a surprisingly short time.
LSD flashbacks are actually a very rare experience which has nothing to with fat tissues. LSD is broken down and flushed out of the human body in two to three hours.
In the next part of this series we will continue to examine the second Narconon workbook, and see how Hubbard’s false claims about LSD are arbitrarily expanded to include, ” medicinal drugs, food preservatives, tranquillizers, pesticides, chemical wastes, radiation and other toxic substances”.