L Ron Hubbard’s ‘Supporting Evidence’ for Dianetics – Dianetics and Scientology in Astounding Science Fiction (pt 20)

dianetic processing a brief survey coverDianetic 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.

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Reader’s Comment on L Ron Hubbard’s Defence of Scientology in “Marvel Science Stories”

Marvel August 1951 letters1Marvel 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

From 1951 -Two Classic SF Writers and L Ron Hubbard Argue About Dianetics in “Marvel Science Stories”

Marvel coverMarvel 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.

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The Codes of Scientology (Pt 2) “The Auditor’s Code”

auditors-codeThe Codes of Scientology | L Ron Hubbard | Certainty: The Official Periodical of Scientology in the British Isles | Volume 6 No 8 | 1959 | Download as .pdf (A new tab will open – click on the grey ‘download through your browser’ button)

Read Part One First

In my last post, I started to examine this text. It was distributed by the Church of Scientology to British Scientologists who were training to be auditors in 1959.

It contains a number of ‘moral codes’ for Scientologists – commandments if you will. The interesting thing about the instructions given in these ‘Codes’ is how they are apparently designed to be:

  • Interpreted by auditors as injunctions to abuse their clients
  • Interpreted by Scientologists in general as permission from on high to behave as if their ends  justified any means.

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The Codes of Scientology – Moral Commandments for Auditors, or an Assertion That ‘The Ends Justify the Means’? (Pt 1)

a-1The Codes of Scientology | L Ron Hubbard | Certainty: The Official Periodical of Scientology in the British Isles | Volume 6 No 8 | 1959 | Download as .pdf (A new tab will open – click on the grey ‘download through your browser’ button)

In this post we examine an issue of the  British periodical “Certainty”, published by the Church of Scientology in 1959. It was in this year that L Ron Hubbard bought Saint Hill Manor in England, moved in, and made it the world HQ of his organisation.

The download above contains a scan of an original copy. As far as I know, this is not available anywhere else online.

This issue was aimed at people who were ‘training’ to be ‘Auditors’ – that is Scientologists  who investigate the supposed past-life traumas of ‘ordinary’ members, in a private room, on a one-to-one basis, using the e-meter. At this stage of the operation, auditors were not under the absolute control of the Church of Scientology, as they are now, and freelance ‘practice’ could be quite lucrative.

In this  issue L Ron Hubbard presents a number of ‘moral codes’ for auditors. The double-edged nature of these ‘commandments’  is unsettling. Far from protecting the public, they can be read as requiring auditors

  • To conform to orders given by the Church of Scientology and force their clients to do so.
  • Do whatever it takes to advance the cause of Scientology, placing this above the welfare of both their clients and the general public

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Why People Believe that (L Ron Hubbard’s) Bullshit is Actually Profound

bullshitOn the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit | Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr Derek J. Koehler, Jonathan A. Fugelsan | Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015

View Online | Download as .pdf (click on Grey button ‘Download through your browser’ in new tab)

Anyone who has read “Dianetics”, let alone the material which makes up ‘advanced’ Scientology courses, will have come across many passages that make them ask, “what is that supposed to mean“?

This leads to the question of why people read nonsense and ascribe deep meaning to such passages – even when they cannot actually articulate what that meaning is?

There are several explanations for this. This paper describes an experiment which possibly provides another. It not only demonstrates how some people uncritically ascribe meaning to a nonsense passage which ‘sounds profound’, but also provides a means of identifying individuals who are most vulnerable to this kind of confusion. Continue reading

A Literate Science Fiction Magazine Considers L Ron Hubbard’s Fiction Writing

Interzone May 1990Interzone | May 1990 |  The Big Sellers – L Ron Hubbard | Lee Montgomerie | Download as .pdf (A new tab will open – click on the grey box ‘Download through your Browser’ )

Interzone is a minor miracle. It’s a  monthly British science fiction magazine founded in 1982, which is still published on paper. Its founders included prominent critics of the genre and the writing is still good. It’s a demonstration that the slapdash days of the pulps are long past, and the genre has grown up.

This article, from 1990, was part of a series that assessed the writing of popular SF authors – the ‘”Big Sellers”. It seems that the author could not ignore L Ron Hubbard in this context.

Montgomerie examines “Battlefield Earth” (which was recently reissued by a publisher wholly owned by the Church of Scientology) and the  “Mission Earth” series in detail. However, he makes it clear that there was something suspicious about the ‘best-seller’ status of those texts. As for his opinion on their literary quality, download the .pdf, and read on… Continue reading