It’s said that venture capitalists are unwilling to finance entrepreneurs who do not have a failed business or two under their belts. These clients will already have made the obvious mistakes, and will not fall into those traps again.
The same can be true for would-be gurus, and L Ron Hubbard’s career is a good example of this.
I have followed the early development of dianetics in a series of posts which examine the first articles written on the subject by Hubbard. These appeared in the popular pulp magazine “Astounding Science Fiction, where they were strongly promoted by “Astounding’s” legendary editor John W Campbell.
After the publication of Hubbard’s book, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in May 1950”, there was a brief (and lucrative) fad for dianetic therapy. This resulted in the creation of an substantial organisation, the “Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation”.
The narrative the Church of Scientology would like you to believe is that Dianetics was an immediate and enduring success and, as Hubbard refined his ideas, it gradually gave way to a more advanced version – Scientology.
In fact, the “Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation” collapsed into bankruptcy after only a few years trading and Hubbard temporarily lost the copyright to his creation. Scientology only emerged because he used his contacts to ‘acquire’ the valuable mailing lists of the “Hubbard Dianetics Foundation” and started over.
In this post, I will describe some of the mistakes Hubbard made when he created dianetics, and how he corrected these with Scientology, giving rise to an organisation that was completely different in number of crucial aspects. Continue reading
In this series we are examining the 8 workbooks given to clients of Narconon’s residential ‘drug rehabilitation’ programme.
This is the third post concerned with the “Narconon Therapeutic TR Course” by L Ron Hubbard (download as .pdf) which is the first Narconon workbook.
It’s been hard going, but if you have stuck with it, you can clearly see that the “Therapeutic TR’s” laid out in this book are, for all practical purposes, identical to the ‘Training Routines’ taught to beginning Scientologists. Narconon is Scientology in disguise. What’s more, the TRs are clearly not fit for purpose – they are worse than useless in helping anyone overcome a drug problem.
In the last post, we completed TR4 (and Scientology’s “Success Through Communications Course”). In this one we move on to more ‘advanced’ (and bizarre) exercises – including the infamous TR where you have to shout orders to an ashtray. Continue reading
Click on image for an enlarged version in a new tab.
Download “Astounding” (May 1950) – the “Dianetics” Issue – as a .pdf file
In this post we will begin to examine the text of Hubbard’s breakthrough presentation of “Dianetics” in “Astounding Science Fiction. You can download the entire May 1950 issue (where the article appeared) from the link above. Hubbard’s contribution begins on page 43.
This article finally enabled Hubbard to reach a sympathetic readership. He had previously published his ideas in the “Explorer’s Journal“and contacted academic journals concerned with psychology, hoping that they would also publish. These initial forays failed. The article in the “Explorer’s Journal” fell on deaf ears, and the academics could not make head nor tail of Hubbard’s text. It was rejected, and probably earned a note in the ‘crank letters’ file.
In “Astounding” he found readers who had recently seen scientific miracles – such as the atomic bombs which has ended a bitter war. They believed that, now that Science had brought peace, it could new transform society for the better. Unfortunately, many were unable to tell the difference between real scientific discourse and Hubbard’s verbose hand-waving. Also, they were promised that, by buying the book and applying its advice they could become ‘therapists’ with greater power (and, by implication, prestige) than conventional doctors.
The Dianetics fad which followed did not last – but is was enough to launch Hubbard’s career as 20th century guru.
After the break, we examine the full text of the first appearance of “Dianetics” which begins on page 43 of the scan (illustrations taken from the original article).
In my last post I described an advertisement for Scientology based on its supposed ‘disaster relief’ activities, and suggested that it was so misleading it broke the rules enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority.
This advertisement appeared in a free (ad-supported) ‘newspaper called “Metro” and I had hoped that nobody else would lower themselves. I was wrong.
It seems it is also appearing in “New Statesman”, a respectable political magazine.
After the break there is a detailed, step-by-step illustrated guide to how to complain to the UK Advertising Standards Authority via an easy-to-use online form about this advertisement.
You do not have to be a resident of the UK to do this. Continue reading
A few people who have commented on what I have posted here over the past year have asked what my personal philosophy is and whether I have ever been involved in Scientology.
These both strike me as fair questions, since they influence my writing on the subject so, after the break, I will start the New Year with a presentation of my eccentric perspective on the subjects of Scientology and belief in general.
In passing, I would like to point out that this blog had its first birthday on Christmas Eve. I would have celebrated, but my Internet connection had failed the day before, and it has taken me this long to catch up. Please be assured that normal service has now resumed.
Also, I extend my (belated) best wishes for 2015 to all the people who have visited this site – including present members of the Church of Scientology, Independent Scientologists, ex-members and interested outsiders.
Peace on Earth, among men [and women] of good will!
Narconon is a front group for the Church of Scientology which claims to operate successful drug education and rehabilitation programmes, “based on the works of L Ron Hubbard” (the founder of Scientology). Narconon anti-drug education programmes target schools and employers.
Narconon also operates residential drug rehabilitation facilities which claim a astonishingly high success rate (at least 76%).
The content of the Narconon rehabilitation programme is indistinguishable from Scientology training and the organisation pays ‘franchise fees’ to another entity controlled by the Church of Scientology, which passes them on to the Church. The theoretical and practical claims made Narconon have been evaluated by researchers on behalf of two public health organisations, and two documents containing their findings are provided below (after the break).
In the first, the California Department of Eduction assess the claims made for Narconon’s ‘educational’ programme. It concludes that their educational presentations lack scientific accuracy and are poorly presented.
The second document assesses Narconon’s claims for both its educational and rehabilitation facilities. A team of researchers performed an extensive literature search to uncover only five research papers that examined Narconon. One was unavailable and two were strongly negative. Only one suggested that Narconon’s practices were beneficial – and that was undertaken by Narconon itself. The overall conclusion is that the Narconon educational and rehabilitation programmes are not supported by science, nor is there any evidence that their practices produce positive results.
The fact that there have been a worrying number of avoidable deaths in Narconon facilities – expecially in the US further suggest that Narconon ‘treatment’ is a very poor option. The third document included here is a “Drug Education Presentation” from Narconon. This purports to show that the theories underlying their programme are supported by academic references. It fails to do so, as its brief quotes are taken out of context. It is included to demonstrate that Narconon does indeed make the unsupported and pseudo-scientific claims that the other researchers condemn. Critics have long argued that Narconon is little more than a means to recruit vulnerable people into Scientology, and charge them for the privilege. One of the papers in this report explicitly supports this proposition, stating that – from their direct observations of a Narconon halfway house – “There appears to be little difference between Narconon and the Church of Scientology” Continue reading
2005 | Tom Cruise is Dangerous and Irresponsible
Ushma S. Neill, Executive Editor, Journal of Clinical investigation
View Online | Download as .pdf
For a time around 2005, the film actor Tom Cruise took it upon himself to promote Scientology’s aggressive hostility to psychiatry and psychiatric medication in media interviews.
In a masterpiece of understatement, this article in The Journal of Clinical Investigation examines many of of the statements that Cruise made at this time (and also refers to L Ron Hubbard’s writings).
It concludes that there was no rational medical foundation for his advice, and that attempting to follow it was potentially hazardous to health. Consequently the medially qualified author characterised the (unqualified) actor’s behaviour as ‘dangerous and irresponsible’.
Some people may raise an eyebrow at such an uncompromising condemnation. I don’t blame them. It is reasonable to doubt that a highly-motived film actor who caters to a mass market (and depends on the goodwill of the public) would risk his career by promoting dangerous pseudo-medical practices. This is why I have added links to one of the interviews that is analysed in the article below. Watch, and judge for yourself.
Tangent Magazine (No 6 Winter 1977) | An Interview with Alfred Bester| Alfred Bester interviewed by David Truesdale
View Online | Download as .pdf (Complete Interview)
Alfred Bester (1913 – 1987) was a well respected and influential writer of classic science fiction. Like L Ron Hubbard, he wrote for Astounding Science Fiction under the editorship of John W Campbell.
Many of his stories (for example “The Stars My Destination” – “Tiger, Tiger” in the UK) revolved around characters who were ‘bad telepaths’ – a characteristic which was paid tribute to in the television series “Babylon 5” in the form of the thoroughly evil ‘PsiCop’ who was named… Alfred Bester.
In 1977 Bester was interviewed by the SF magazine “Tangent”. In this interview he relates how, when he met the famous Campbell to discuss the publication one of his stories in “Astounding”, the editor had just received the manuscript of a ‘non-fiction’ book that he was about to serialise in “Astounding” – L Ron Hubbard’s “Dianetics”.
Campbell was, at this time, wildly enthusiastic about “Dianetics” and seemed to believe that Hubbard’s work deserved a Nobel Peace Prize – at least. Bester read the proofs of “Dianetics” – and his previous admiration for Campbell’s intellect and judgement rapidly evaporated as he innocently read the incoherent text of “Book One”.
Click “Continue Reading” to read the extract where Bester discusses this encounter, and the links at the top of the page to view/download the interview of which it is a part (although the whole thing is probably only for fans of classic SF).
2003 | Scientology: Religion or Racket? | Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
Read Online | Download as .pdf
This paper is an original take on the ongoing debate over whether or not The Church of Scientology is a religion or not.
In 2001, after the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Centre, Fox news received an e-mail. It included a ‘hotline’ which the author claimed would provide people traumatised by this terrible event with referrals to appropriate agencies and emotional support.
In the chaos after the attack, journalists included this number in their coverage without checking into its source. For several hours, viewers of Fox news saw a telephone number scrolling across the bottom of the screen: “MENTAL HEALTH ASSISTANCE 800-FOR-TRUTH” (see the image above).
It soon emerged that the hotline was provided by the Church of Scientology in an apparent attempt to insure that vulnerable people contacted The Church of Scientology instead of their perceived enemy, psychiatry (which they believe is engaged in a conspiracy to oppress mankind, and is responsible for many historical evils – including the Nazi Holocaust). Continue reading
The more closely you study Scientology you more you realise that it was designed to appeal to the popular imagination of a particular culture in a particular historical period – that of Cold War America.
More than half a century later, many of its teachings are now dated and irrelevant – but they cannot be changed, as Hubbard’s writings are considered to be holy writ. For example, Hubbard attacked psychiatry by exploiting a popular distaste for the practice of lobotomy and electroshock – treatments which have since fallen into disuse.
Consequently, the Church has no choice but to cheat. They still attack psychiatry and psychiatrists -but now they exploit popular concerns about psychiatric medication (which they demonise as “psych drugs”) to do so. This breaks their own rules – they ignore Hubbard’s ‘infallible’ instructions to attack lobotomy and electroshock and substitute a target that is more relevant to the 21st century.
This academic paper examines another prominent practice of the Church of Scientology that has been rescued from irrelevance by selectively interpreting Hubbard’s writings. The “Purification Rundown” had its origin as a ‘cure’ for radiation poisoning that exploited popular fears about the aftermath of nuclear war. It is now promoted as a beneficial ‘detox’ regime, and a (quack) ‘cure’ for drug addiction.
2012 | L Ron Hubbard’s Alternative to the Bomb Shelter: Scientology’s Emergence as a Pseudo-science During the 1950s | Terra Manca | The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 24:1, Spring 2012
Download as .pdf Continue reading