Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (Part Three) The Big Reveal

ASF may 1950For dianetics ASF headlineScientology-watchers (and Scientologists) the iconic issue of  the pulp magazine “Astounding Science Fiction” was released in  May 1950.

It contained a long article that gave the first full account of L Ron Hubbard’s new ‘science of the mind’, aka ‘Dianetics’.

In previous months John W Campbell, the editor of “Astounding”, had deployed every resource in a campaign to build up interest in this article. Campbell believed that the creation of Dianetics was  at least worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Dianetics was presented as:

  • A revolutionary new science which would not only replace psychiatry, but also cure many physical illnesses
  • Easy to apply by the layman – all that a reasonably intelligent person needed was a copy of Hubbard’s book (published simultaneously) and a cooperative partner
  • Always 100% effective

These were extraordinary claims which would soon come into question. At this time, however, Hubbard was at the height of his influence over Campbell, who was a ‘true believer’. The publicity that Campbell provided in “Astounding”would enable Hubbard to abandon the world of pulp science fiction and move on to a new career as a modern guru.

After the break, I will examine Campbell’s Editorial in this issue, Dr Joseph Winter’s introduction to Hubbard’s article, and the other references to Dianetics in the issue.

Hubbard’s article will feature in the next part of this series

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Bare-Faced Messiah

Bare_Faced_Messiah_UK_paperback_coverTitle: Bare -Faced Messiah: The True Story of L Ron Hubbard

Author: Russell Miller


Full Text Online: HTML | PDF

Additional Material: The Bare-Faced Messiah Interviews (Online)


Description:  If there was a University course in the history of Scientology, this book would be required reading. Written by  British investigative journalist Russell Miller, it describes the life of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard in detail. A painstakingly professional work, it includes extensive references and a detailed index.


“Bare-faced Messiah” has been out-of-print for some time, and second-hand copies can be expensive and difficult to obtain. However, Silvertail Books are planning to release a new edition (containing some new material) in February 2014. The ISBN of this third edition is 9781909269149

Incredibly, since the publication of the of the original book was suppressed in the America by Church of Scientology legal action, this new edition will be the first time that this book has been widely available in the US.

There is a review of the book, including excerpts from an interview with the author by investigative journalist and Scientology expert Tony Ortega.

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