Battlefield Plymouth – Why L Ron Hubbard’s Newly Republished Fiction Is Not Going to Make an Impact in the UK

Battlefield EarthBookIn 1982, a work of fiction by L Ron Hubbard called “Battlefield Earth” was published. It was a long rambling story in which a hero inspires humanity to rise up and expel an alien occupation.

Recently a new edition was released by “Galaxy Press,” a publishing house that is wholly owned by the Church of Scientology. They also produced a long ‘dramatised’ audio book, based on the story, featuring a small cast of voice actors.

The promotional campaign has now made its way to the Scientology Org in Plymouth, in the UK. Both the book and its audio version are on display to staff there.

Strangely, these products are presented so that the covers can only be seen by the people inside. They have their backs turned to the window display and the buying public. (images below).

Subsequently, I went to all of the bookshops in the nearby shopping centre. Not a single copy of “Battlefield Earth” was on sale in any of them, and assistants had never heard of it. In fact, no Plymouth bookshop stocks it.

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Scientology and the Bible

Scientology and the BibleScientology and the Bible | 1967 | View Online | Download as .pdf (click on ‘Download through your browser”)

When L Ron Hubbard created Dianetics, it was presented as a rigorously scientific subject whose results were as reliable as mechanical engineering.

For a time,  Scientology was presented in the same way – then Hubbard came under official pressure for the pseudo-medical practices mandated by his creation, and his incredible claims to cure disease.

In 1954 Hubbard decided to sidestep these difficulties (and avoid tax) by incorporating the Church of Scientology in California.  Religious practice is protected in the US by the first amendment, which provides considerable protection for religious organisations (the legislature can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”). Also, religious organisations can apply for tax exemption.

Scientology’s exploitation of this provision has proved controversial. The problem is that there is no legal way of defining what is, or is not, a religion and US politicians and judges tend to steer clear of the question for fear of offending powerful religious lobbies.

While established religions may not approve of Scientology, they are also liable to see any attempt to deny it religious status as ‘the thin end of the wedge’, and support Scientology for fear of losing their own privileges at a future date.

In 1967 (the year in which this booklet was published) the US tax authorities withdrew tax exemption from the Church of Scientology and it took until  years for them to recover that status. This text was likely a propaganda exercise designed to present Scientology as a bona fide religion by trying to associate it with the most widespread religious tradition practised in the US – Christianity. It prints extracts from Hubbard’s writings alongside extracts from the Bible, and attempts to argue that they are equivalent.

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“What Are People For?” – A Scientology Pamphlet by L Ron Hubbard from 1966

What Are People For? An Introduction to Scientology | L Ron Hubbard |Pa - coverrinted and Published by the Hubbard College of Scientology| Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex | 1966
Download as .pdf (click on the “Download Through Your Browser” Button)

L Ron Hubbard founded Scientology circa 1952. It proved to be so profitable that, in 1959, he was able to buy an English country estate called Saint Hill Manor.

In 1966 (when this pamphlet was published in England) ‘Students’ of Scientology were flocking there from all over the world. Hubbard had what he craved – money, power and security.

This was not to last  –  only a year later,  the US tax authority stripped Scientology of its tax-exempt status. This, and other legal difficulties, forced Hubbard to hide out at sea, and marked the beginning of his physical and mental decline.

This pamphlet seems to have been offered as a recruitment tool. Even today, potential recruits are encouraged to buy Hubbard’s book “Dianetics”. “What are People For?” seems to have been employed as a cheaper alternative, rather than allow prospects to leave with nothing. Continue reading

“Ruthless”, a Book by the Father of Scientology’s Leader and “20/20 -A Father’s Story”

RuthlessUS_UK

US edition (left) & UK edition (right)

Ruthless: My Son David Miscavige and Me (UK Edition) | Ron Miscavige with Dan Koon | Silvertail Books | 2016

This book is based upon the experiences of Ron Miscavige, the father of David who is presently the ‘leader’ of Scientology. In it he discusses how he took his family into Scientology, how his son rose to power, and how he eventually escaped from a guarded Scientology compound.

From an outsider’s point of view this is an essential text for the things which Ron Miscavige reveals but, overall, a frustrating read.

The problem is with Ron himself. He is what people who study literature call an ‘unreliable narrator’ – he’s telling the truth as he sees it. Unfortunately, in his version of reality, Scientology should be taken seriously, and there are valuable insights in its early teachings.

Also, he is still impressed by writers who were big names in the (now largely forgotten) ‘New Thought‘ movement (AVA “Higher Thought). A list of recommended books appears at the end of his volume and recommends early works by Hubbard and some antique fringe writers of the ‘New Thought’ movements.

I happen to have one of the ‘New Thought’ texts he recommends (and will be putting it online in my next post). It’s a crude wish-fulfilment fantasy which depends on magical thinking. It claims that, if you follow the author’s instructions, you will be able to acquire anything you want, as long as you wish for it hard enough.

I’m not being sarcastic here. That’s literally the argument presented. If you are looking for a book with philosophical depth, or for a critical analysis of Scientology itself, you won’t get much out of this one.

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Ruth Minshull Channels L Ron Hubbard’s Child-Rearing Advice – The Church of Scientology Bans Its Own books (Pt 2)

cover selfish destructive child1980 | “How to Cure the Selfish, Destructive Child” | Ruth Minshull Read Online | Download as .pdf  (link will open in a new tab. Select ‘download in browser’).

In the previous post in this series I described how the Church of Scientology (in the name of L Ron Hubbard) banned a number of texts about Scientology in 1983. These were written by Scientologists with official approval and sold in orgs. They included themed ‘easy introductions’ to the longer books of L Ron Hubbard. I suggested that there were two reasons for this:

  1. To prevent  embarrassment when  authors break with the Church of Scientology, leaving their books to serve as a public reminder that Scientologists rarely remain committed to the Church for life (and are sometimes purged)
  2. To prevent any individual Scientologists acquiring prestige among their comrades for their own achievements. In the paranoid world of Scientology’s ‘leadership’ anyone who builds a following represents a potential threat to their absolute power

“How to Cure The Selfish Destructive Child” was one of these banned texts. I will examine this short pamphlet here to demonstrate that there are no other reasons for banning it (and to describe the terrible advice it gives).

Minshull’s text  is based on the writings of L Ron Hubbard and quotes him extensively. It acknowledges his copyrights, which implies that these quotes were used with the blessing of the copyright holder, the Church of Scientology. There is not a single idea in it that is original to the author – it is all taken from Hubbard. In short, it is as orthodox a text as it possible to be. Continue reading

The Long Wait for Evidence Supporting Hubbard’s Claims for Dianetics – Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (pt 19)

campbelll waitIn the letters page of the March 1951 issue of “Astounding” John W Campbell, the magazine’s editor, makes it clear that he was waiting for L Ron Hubbard to deliver on his  promise to provide supporting evidence for dianetics.

This promise had been reported in the New York Times for September 1950.  Hubbard, under pressure from the American Psychological Association,  had stated that he would publish case studies which provided objective evidence – and that they would ‘prove’ all of  the claims he had made on behalf of dianetics.

Of course, this ‘evidence’ simply didn’t exist ,and what was eventually produced was inadequate. Hubbard also privately told Campbell that he would  publish “[…] a book of ‘case studies” in order to persuade him to extend his support just a little longer.  If so, it didn’t work.

After March 1951, the next six issues of “Astounding” contained no significant editorial reference to dianetics or Hubbard. Campbell was calling Hubbard’s bluff. These six issues (April to September inclusive) are included in this post, so that they can be contrasted with their predecessors, which so enthusiastically promoted dianetics. Continue reading

L Ron Hubbard’s Bluff is (Finally) Called – Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (pt 18)

ASF_0244March 1951 Download as .pdf

John W Campbell, the editor of “Astounding” had staked his reputation (and that of the magazine he edited) on the truth of dianetics. He was now becoming impatient for vindication.  He hoped this would be provided in the form of ‘case studies’ from L Ron Hubbard which would ‘prove’ the effectiveness of ‘dianetic therapy’.

He had good reason to do so. On September the 9th 1950, the American Psychological Association had issued a statement strongly advising members not to use dianetics in their practice because there was no evidence it was of benefit. This forced Hubbard’s hand. He responded with a statement promising to release the evidence which would he asserted would prove his case.

Campbell reacted cautiously to Hubbard’s statement. He seems to have resolved not to publish any more pro-dianetics articles dianetics until Hubbard made good on his promise.

We can see this situation develop in the pages of the March 1951 issue of “Astounding Science Fiction”.

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