In this post we will continue to examine the the second Narconon workbook (download as .pdf) which is essentially identical to the Scientology practice know as “The Purification Rundown”.
In the previous post in this series, Hubbard claimed that the drug LSD could be stored in human fat cells and that, as a result, even people who had only taken the drug once would suffer recurring hallucinogenic experiences. We saw that is simply not the case because:
- It files in the face of scientific medicine – LSD is completely metabolised in 2-3 hours.
- Hubbard published no evidence whatsoever to support his claim
- The ‘proof’ which his supporters point to was manufactured by them and published in a highly suspect journal which presented hypotheses, not evidence, in any case.
As we read further into the Narconon workbook, we see Hubbard’s false claims about LSD being arbitrarily expanded to include, “medicinal drugs, food preservatives, tranquillizers, pesticides, chemical wastes, radiation and other toxic substances”. There is no evidence to support these claims either – especially the idea that ‘radiation’ can be ‘stored’, which is scientifically illiterate (see below).
Note: page numbers are those given by the .pdf reader software, not those of the books, to make it easier for readers to search for references.
Hubbard’s New Claims
As we have seen in previous posts, Narconon’s literature often takes the form of a picture book (you can see this for yourself by downloading the full text). Many pages are dominated by a single huge illustration and bear only one or two lines of text – so I have extracted the text from pages 22- 28 below. In it L Ron Hubbard states that,
It appears that medicinal drugs, food preservatives, tranquillizers, pesticides, chemical wastes, radiation and other toxic substances can also get caught up in the tissues and accumulate there, causing later reactions. Two or three years after my announcement of the discovery that drug residues can lodge in the system, medical experts doing autopsies also found this to be true. This discovery is a tremendous step forward in handling drugs and their toxic elements and their effects
Drugs are essentially poisons. Drug deposits stored in the tissues take their toll. (pp 22 – 28)
No evidence from the autopsies by “[…] medical experts” is offered. However, the claim about ‘radiation’ is backed up by a testimonial from someone who claims to have been “a physician” (below). Even as a testimonial it is unconvincing because it is anonymous, identified only by the writer’s initials.
It appears on page 25, below an illustration of the mushroom cloud created by the detonation of a nuclear weapon.
Why Can’t Radiation Be Stored?
There is a fundamental difference between a source of radiation and the radiation itself. For example, a light bulb is a temporary source of electromagnetic radiation – when it is switched on, it emits light in the form of photons. You can store the light bulb but you can’t store the light that it emits. To claim that light can be ‘stored’ in fat cells is nonsensical.
There are also permanent sources of radiation. For example, the element uranium continually gives off alpha particles. These posses much more energy than photons and can penetrate your body and damage your DNA, increasing your risk of cancer. However once they have used up all of their energy they cease to exist, like light when it absorbed by a dark surface.
Hubbard fails to grasp the fundamental distinction between a source of radiation and the radiation itself.
If you come into contact with uranium, you must decontaminate yourself thoroughly because it will go on emitting radiation as long as there is any on your skin. However, the radiation itself is ephemeral, and there is nothing that can be done about the genetic damage it may cause after this has taken place.
The anonymous ‘physician’ states that, “I had a history of moderately heavy radiation exposure. This consisted of long periods of sun exposure and frequent X-ray exposure […].
Some of the radiation that comes from the sun in the form of ultra-violet light. UV light has a shorter wavelength than visible light (between 400 and 100 nanometres) so it possesses more energy. In moderation UV light is good for you – your skin produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun. In excess, UV is harmful, causing sunburn, prematurely ageing the skin and increasing your risk of skin cancer.
However, Ultraviolet light cannot be ‘stored’ in fat cells any more than visible light can – so it can’t be ‘reactivated’ to cause sunburn years later, as Hubbard claims.
Just like visible and UV light, x-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation. They have a wavelength between 0.01 and 10 nanometres, so they possess even more energy (and are potentially dangerous as a result).
On the plus side, they can create an image on photographic film and electronic sensors, allowing doctors to see inside your body without cutting you open.
Medical x-rays are generated by an x-ray tube. This is similar in design to an old-fashioned television tube – but far more powerful. Like a light bulb, an x-ray tube is a temporary source of radiation. Once it is switched off, it no longer emits x-rays.
Just like visible light and UV light, X-rays cannot be stored in fat cells – or anywhere else for that matter. Consequently they can’t be ‘reactivated’ years later.
There is no excuse for an author who presents himself as ‘one of America’s first nuclear physicists’ not to know this. Today, posters showing the electromagnetic spectrum appear on the walls of science classrooms everywhere and children would fail basic examinations for not understanding the difference between a source of radiation and radiation itself.
As we saw in the previous post in this series, L Ron Hubbard wrote a book called “All About Radiation” in 1957. At this time the science behind nuclear weapons was at the cutting edge (and some of it was still a military secret).
Hubbard, had failed a short course in “Modern physical phenomena; molecular and atomic physics” in 1932 (image left). He evidently did not know enough about the subject to understand the clear distinction between Fallout (a source of radiation) and radiation sickness (the result of radiation exposure).
- Fallout is debris from a nuclear explosion which is contaminated by sources of radiation produced as a by-product of the nuclear reaction that powered the bomb
- Radiation sickness is a result of damage already done to your body by massive radiation exposure
In “All About Radiation” Hubbard suggests that his patent medicine “Dianazene” can “run out” radiation and cure radiation sickness. This is simply not possible because radiation sickness is a result of catastrophic cellular damage that has already been done.
Hubbard seems to think of radiation sickness as the result of a poison called ‘radiation’ which can somehow be removed from the body to cure the patient. However, the culprit has long since left the scene of the crime – at nearly the speed of light, in fact and the victim is as good as dead. Radiation cannot ‘driven out’ of the body because it cannot be stored there in the first place.
Hubbard never corrected this fundamental error. In fact he built on it, to create the ‘Purification Rundown’ and make it part of Scientology practice. Narconon’s version of the ‘purif’ is what we are studying in this workbook.
What Was Hubbard’s Real Motivation?
In”All About Radiation”Hubbard offered protection from the aftermath of a nuclear war which many people feared all the more because they did not understand it.
Hubbard sold not only his books but also a patent medicine Dianazene on the strength of these promises (at least, until the 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” in 1958).
In years to come, there would be popular concern about environmental pollution and processed food. Hubbard was quick off the mark to exploit this too by incorporating those things into his detox schme – the text above claims that, “food preservatives […], pesticides [and] chemical wastes” are also among the substances stored in the human body.
It seems that, as far as Hubbard is concerned, fat cells can store any substance that is the subject of popular concern and for as long as people can be persuaded to pay for a ‘detox’ that promises to remove them.
Hubbard’s labelling of medicinal drugs (including tranquillisers) as “poisons” is clearly part of his vendetta against psychiatry. When Hubbard published his book, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health” he offered to to several academic journal dealing with psychology and psychiatry. They all rejected it for publication, and many members of those professions published scathing reviews (for example in this example which appeared in “New Republic” on August the 14th 1950).
Over the years, Hubbard adopted a conspiracy theory in which psychiatry was locked in a no-holds-barred struggle to suppress Scientology. This provided a convenient distraction and excuse for Scientology’s failures. He adopted ideas from the fringe of the anti-psychiatry movement to characterise medicinal drugs such as anti-psychotics as dangerous poisons administered only to keep people under control. Scientologists today see ‘psychs’ as a mortal enemy, believe them to be responsible for the Nazi holocaust and do everything they can to keep people away from psychiatric therapy and recruit them into Scientology.
I am well aware that some of the substances Hubbard mentions can, in come cases, be stored in body tissues and have negative effects on health (e.g. pesticides). This does not mean that Hubbard’s theories are in any way correct. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
I have concentrated on Hubbard’s fundamental failure to see the difference between a source of radiation and radiation itself to demonstrate that the man’s unqualified theorising cannot be trusted. By making such a basic error, and failing to recognise it for so many years, he surely loses any claim to credibility in other areas.
In the next part of this series we will move on the consider Hubbard’s ‘treatment’ for the radiation and other substances supposedly stored in fat cells. We have already established that it cannot be effective. Now we need to ask if it is safe.