What is Scientology | The ‘Reverend’ Robert H Thomas | Amazing Science Fiction Stories | March 1971 | Pages 104 – 112 | Download entire issue as .pdf (download link will appear in new tab).
I have posted an issue of “Amazing” here before . That one was from November 1970. It featured a reassessment of ‘Dianetics, more-or-less 20 years after it was introduced to the world in the May 1950 issue of “Amazing’s” rival, “Astounding Science Fiction“.
In it, Barry N Malzberg went along to a Scientology org, took a ‘communications course’ and was generally very unimpressed by the whole proposition. He was scathing about Hubbard and dianetics.
It must be said that this expression of scepticism was good for the magazine. “Amazing” had a little catching up to do in the credibility stakes and knew it. Five years before “Astounding Science Fiction” published the first article about dianetics, they had fallen for a author whose claims were at least as implausible as Hubbard’s. Although they had traded on “The Shaver Mystery” fad that resulted, it ultimately damaged their reputation.
Now they had an opportunity to implicitly criticise the credulity of the editor of the market-leading “Astounding Science Fiction”, John W Campbell, for falling for dianetics to the extent that he heavily promoted it as “a new science of the mind”. They took it.
However, in March 1971 “Amazing” had been struggling with a falling circulation for some time, and was in dire straits. It was vulnerable. At this time, it incomprehensibly published an propaganda piece entitled “What is Scientology” written by the ‘Reverend’ Robert H Thomas – Deputy Guardian for the US Churches of Scientology.
The Guardian’s Office was, of course, Scientology’s secret police and dirty tricks department. I think it’s likely that this uncritical article appeared as a result of improper pressure from the Guardian’s Office – Scientology took the opportunity to kick “Amazing” when it was down and settle a score.
Amazing Stories November 1970 | “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science” – A Personal Report by Barry N Malzberg | Pg 75 | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).
In this issue Barry Malzberg marked the (more-or-less) 20th anniversary of the publication of the iconic article by L Ron Hubbard in “Astounding Science Fiction” which kicked off the dianetics fad in May 1950.
Malzberg used the same title as Hubbard for his critical article – Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science”. However, he employs it with heavy irony:
Clear No 208: Mary Sue Hubbard | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).
This strange document was published in 1967. It’s a simple folded piece of card approximately 15 x 23cm – two pages, four sides.
It commemorates the occasion upon which Mary Sue Hubbard (at that time the wife of L Ron Hubbard) celebrated her ascension to the state of Clear -the 208th person to achieve this status.
There are only two pages of text (the other two are devoted to the title and a picture of Mary Sue). This consists of a potted biography of the lady which begins by describing her participation in Scientology’s early development, particularly the history of the Dianetics Institutes.
It also bestows the fulsome praise required to create a cult of personality for Mary Sue herself, so that she may be seen to be worthy of her place at the side of the founder of Scientology. This was not to last. Nine years later, in 1976, she would fall from grace in a most extraordinary way.
On the 5th of December 2016, I published a video showing members of the Church of Scientology Plymouth (UK) distributing leaflets outside of Charles Cross Police station. This is just around the corner from their modest Org in Ebrington Street.
In the process, I was given a flier, and carefully read it. It seemed to me that the text made two highly questionable claims.
According to the rules of the UK advertising regulator (the Advertising Standards Authority) advertisers who make specific, testable claims must be in possession of objective evidence which supports their case. If the advertiser cannot present such evidence when asked to do so by the ASA the claims made are deemed to be misleading, and must not be repeated.
I duly submitted a complaint online. Yesterday, I was informed that it has been upheld.
This kind of decision could severely limit Scientology’s ability to make similar claims in future – and could ultimately force them to submit whole classes of promotional material to the ASA for pre-approval.
All that is required is for more people to collect Scientology advertising containing potentially misleading claims.
Details of the offending leaflet, my complaint, the ASA response and the likely consequences appear after the break.
Dianetic Processing: a Brief Survey of Research Projects and Preliminary Results | Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation | 1951 | Download as .pdf (Click the grey ‘download through your browser’ button in new tab)
After L Ron Hubbard’s first article about dianetics in the May 1950 article of “Astounding Science Fiction” people and organisations started asking for evidence for the claims he had made regarding ‘dianetic therapy’. They included:
One year after the first article about dianetics in “Astounding” (the iconic May1950 issue) another SF pulp magazine, “Marvel Science Stories”, published an ‘debate’ assessing dianetics. They followed this article up in August 1951 by publishing reader’s letters on the subject.
The letters to “Marvel” included on by Lew Cunningham MD of the Department of Anatomy at Stanford University. He mentions receiving a copy of a pamphlet which sounds very much like this publication. Cunningham speculated that Hubbard wanted to get doctors on board the dianetics bandwagon, and thought this pamphlet would do the trick.
Unfortunately for dianetics, Cunningham judged that neither Hubbard, nor those who wrote for the Dianetic Foundation, know enough about medicine or science to realise how inadequate their submission actually was. In his letter, Cunningham effectively demolishes its credibility.
With a little help from Dr Cunningham’s lettert in”Marvel”, we will now closely examine the pamphlet which Hubbard apparently published in January1951, and presented as evidence for his claims regarding dianetics.
Marvel Science Stories |August 1951 | Download as .pdf (Click on the grey ‘download through your browser’ button in new tab).
In my previous post (which was published simultaneously here and on Tony Ortega’s excellent blog) I examined an article in the May 1951 issue of the science fiction pulp magazine “Marvel Science Stories”.
This was published one year after the first description of “Dianetics” appeared in “Marvels” greatest rival, the market leading “Astounding Science Fiction“.
In the “Marvel” article, L Ron Hubbard defended dianetics, and two prominent SF writers put alternative views. Theodore Sturgeon, (whose opinion was presented as “middle of the road”) appealed for an open-minded assessment, advising critics to “read the more understandable parts of the (acutely badly-written) book [i.e. Dianetics].” Lester Del Ray demolished both dianetics and Hubbard’s counter-arguments. Hubbard’s creation did not emerge well.
Back in 1951, reader’s letters were the only feedback available to publishers, and it took a long time for them to appear in print. It wasn’t until the August 1951 that “Marvel” published a large selection of letters commenting upon, “The Dianetics Controversy” (they begin on page 99).
In this post, we will closely examine the first of those reader’s letters, from a doctor, which unexpectedly reveals a lot about the campaign mounted by L Ron Hubbard to persuade members of the medical profession to climb on board the dianetics bandwagon. Continue reading
Marvel Science Stories | Special Feature – The Dianetics Question: A Controversy| L Ron Hubbard, Theodore Sturgeon, Lester del Rey | Portraitist Carl Burgos | May 1951 | Download whole issue as .pdf |Download Article Only as .pdf (Click on the grey ‘download through your browser’ button in new tab).
This issue of the pulp science fiction magazine, “Marvel Science Stories” was published in May 1951 – one year after the first article describing “Dianetics” appeared in “Astounding Science Fiction.”
During this time, the editor of”Astounding”, John W Campbell ( initially an enthusiastic convert) had promoted dianetics for all he was worth.
However, by March 1951 the dianetics fad had run its course in “Astounding” (you can follow the rise and fall of dianetics in “Astounding Science Fiction” here).
“Marvel” took this opportunity to capitalise on the interest in the subject that had been generated by “Astounding” among SF fans by publishing a written debate between Hubbard and two prominent SF authors.
Hubbard didn’t get the easy ride he’d had from Campbell. Although Theodore Sturgeon rather sat on the fence, he was far from enthusiastic and Lester del Rey dismissed dianetics as absurd pseudo-science.