The beast that became Scientology started innocently enough. In 1938, the famous journal ‘Astounding Science Fiction’ published ‘The Dangerous Dimension’. ‘Dimension’ chronicled the life of a young man by the name of Henry Mudge, who accidentally discovers a secret philosophical equation-which grants him god-like powers. What follows is a series of adventures as Mr. Mudge attempts to control his newfound abilities, with various mishaps of varying intensity. The writer of this story, L. Ron Hubbard, would soon morphed this concept into one of histories most bestselling novels, and also the most manipulative and ethically abhorrent movement since national socialism: Scientology.Napolean famously said, “never reinforce a failure”(Paret 76).
In that respect, L. Ron Hubbard was a genius. An epically poor student, Hubbard failed all of his courses in the fields of physics and atomic theory. After this colossal defeat, Hubbard wisely abandoned his education immediately following his first semester of college. Marginally educated but unemployed, he became a writer of westerns and few other subjects. However, the real money lay in Science Fiction. Hubbard tried his hand.
Science fiction writing in the late 1930’s was a very taxing job. Moreover, writing for magazines like ‘Astounding Science Fiction’ required competition with big league contributing writers with names like Heinlein, van Vogt and Asimov. Worse yet, the editor of the journal, John W. Campbell, was a fact driven nit-picker who required everything to be at least marginally feasibly given known scientific fact. For Hubbard, who had so epically foundered his mind upon the rocks of the scientific method, this was an unforgiving and unfamiliar medium to engage.
The story of Henry Mudge was almost entirely philosophical, with the most complex scientific theories being those of simple gravity and perhaps the occasional vacuum. Luckily, this was fiction, and his stories of psychic travel were only loosely related to scientific theories and so skimmed gracefully over a bar that Hubbard had quite obviously set as low as possible.
While failures necessitate innovation, there is also the adage, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Hubbard’s ensuing works satisfied this advice perfectly. If not Scientific, Hubbard’s story was indeed a big hit with his audience and by the end of 1939, he had produced a trilogy that expounded upon his original idea only enough to ensure publication.
Hubbard’s next piece, ‘The Tramp’, starred a wandering vagrant by the name of Doughface Jack. Jack suffered severe head injury necessitating the installation of a metal plate in his head. The result is an almost predictable attainment of god like telekenetic powers and an ensuing tail of personal responsibility.
After this point, the Hubbard’s writing took second place to his search for a lost manuscript. Back in 1938, Hubbard had supposedly written a book that would out-shine the bible in both philosophical content and humanitarian advice. The book was apparently one that would change the way humans interacted with one another. The book was named Excalibur. It was also, apparently, written by Hubbard.
His quest for the lost book of “Excalibur” soaked up a huge amount of his time, and was only interrupted by Hubbard entering in to the navy in 1941.(Cordyn 22-36)
After this Hubbard falls of the radar. After a debatable stint in the Navy, he emerged again in 1948 with perhaps his most important piece of writing:, the one for which he will no doubt remain famous for as long as humans can read.(Miller)
Dianetics took the world by storm. It was not so much a story as a new way medicine. Hubbard took the most gripping elements of his previous stories and spun them into a science, a new way of solving problems that required no other professional training. In essence, Dianetics divided the brain in half. The first half, the analytic mind, is the part of the brain that deals with societal philosophy, charity and complex interaction. The Analytic mind, according to Hubbard, is the brain we use in our day-to-day life, and the brain that we are aware of, much like the Freudian notion of the ‘superego’. The second section of the brain, the Reactive mind, matches almost exactly with the Id. The reactive mind governs only the most basic desire of the human; to survive. However, with such a simple goal the reactive mind is quite easily confused and therefore corrupted. This confusion of the Reactive mind, and the mistakes that it makes, forms the core of Dianetics. All of life’s problems, from schizophrenia to the common cold, come as a result of ‘engrams’. Engrams are injected into the brain when the subconscious, or “reactive brain” is in charge. (Cordyn 350)Therefore, engrams are mental injuries suffered as a result of lapses in lucidity. These lapses are caused by many things, from simple blows to the head or even just feeling tired. According to the video, “Dianetics and You”, the most powerful engrams are created during periods of “chemical interference”, caused by drugs, alcohol, and particularly pharmaceuticals. (Lucinta)
Dianetics was explicit in the idea that professional help, particularly that of Psychologists and Psychiatrists, was to be shunned at all costs. Instead of counseling, the way to health lay in truth and understanding. However, this truth and understanding came as an entirely relative outlook. Because people are all different, the only way to spot the influence of an engram is through introspection. Moreover, unless ‘properly trained’, attempting to aid others can accomplish very little at best and at worst; more engrams.(Lucinta)
The response was predictable. The New York Times reported a statement by the APA, simply warning that not one aspect of Dianetics had foundation in any branch of science. However, since Hubbard had carefully crafted his new idea along the Freudian notion of true until proven false, nobody paid much heed. Moreover, since anyone who bought into Dianetics was already steeled against the crafty ways of the world’s evil Psychologists, the message affected nobody.(Miller)
The stone rolled on. Over the next year Hubbard expounded upon his original fantastic philosophy, producing a flurry of booklets and advice with titles such as “Self Analysys”, “”The Science of Survival” and “Notes on the Lectures of L. Ron Hubbard”. These booklets gave rise to the science of auditing. In Dianetic philosophy, the only true professional help was the Auditor. Auditors could interview or test people and in doing so identifiy and hopefully eliminate engrams. More importantly, an Auditor can detect past lives and list the reincarnations of a patient. The training was intense, requiring extensive reading in a series of axiom manuals available at competetively priced bookstores nationwide. (Fishman)
By 1952, Hubbards research in the new field of Dianetics led him to the second stage of his crusade. At some point during this year, the unprovable science of Dianetics transformed into the original unprovable, religion. Now called Scientology, Hubbard’s teachings expanded upon those set forth years before in his original short stories. Through proper auditing and intense studying of Hubbard’s work, people were capable of attaining levels of awareness and mental ability previously unimaginable to mortals. Dubbed ‘Clear’, this mental state was the Nirvana-esque state towards which all Scientologists strove. (Robinson)
Scientology also began to develope a rather complex mysticism. Hubbard needed more than his own work to substantiate the history of Scientology. The result was an almost epic tale chronicling not just the history of the world, but also that of the universe. The story was fantastic not just in the philosophical implications but also for its total deviation from all scientific fact leading up to or preceding it.
Microwave Anisotropy estimates the universe at being roughly 13.7 billion years old. Contemporary research into the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen shows that the universe might actually be almost one billion years older than that. Of course, even with the most liberal estimates of the effect of redshift and Planck units, using even the most extreme temperature deviations feasible, the universe in its current form weighs in at 16.4 billion years. Earth, the little blue ball floating about the Milky Way, is equally respectable at 4.57 billion years of age. Luckily, Ronald was privy to new information, what with having access to his past reincarnations; men such as Descartes, John Locke, and of course, the Archbishop of Mars.(Hubbard Jr.)
60 Trillion years ago, there was this universe.(Cornyn 300)
In 85,000,000 BCE, there existed a Galactic Confederation, spanning 76 planets. Xenu’s popularity was flagging and there were plans to remove him from power. Near the top of the list of grievances was the issue of overpopulation. Each planet had a population of between 178 and 250 billion people. Naturally, that caused problems. To save his flagging popularity, Xenu devised a plan to save the universe. Using misleading data “by means of circuits”, Xenu loaded up ‘most’ of the thirteen quadrillion people onto exact copies of DC-8s and sent them to Teegeeack(Earth). This is the beginning of what high level scientologists call ‘Incident Two’.
On Teegeeack, Xenu unloaded societies undesirables near dormant volcanoes. There is no scientific data on the physics of fitting large quantities of people into small spaces, but luckily Hubbard at this point stops using specific numbers. The volcanoes were then rigged with Hydrogen bombs, at which point Xenu got into a DC-8 with some of his cronies and, once safely outside of Teegeeack’s atmosphere, blew the whole place up.
Naturally, there was public outrage. There was a massive schism across the Galactic Confederation between those who approved of the Draconian measures set forth by Xenu and those who were concerned that between one and thirteen quadrillion people had just been destroyed. The ensuing war raged for almost six years. After this, Xenu was electronically locked in a mountain on earth. Of course, earth was also full billions if not trillions of lost souls. Each soul yearned to regain the consciousness once had. The result was that the few remaining humans were totally engulfed in unclaimed souls. These souls, or ‘thetans’, attempt to prise there way into our mind and are part of what causes an Engram. More importantly, Xenu had been contained.
The mountain is unknown, and since that time, the area once used as a landing strip has become a desert. Moreover, this story was deemed so traumatic that the Galactic Federation hid it in a secret location, and guarded it further with a ‘psychological lock’. If an untrained person attempts to read this tail to verify the facts or worse yet, locate Xenu, they will whither away and die of pneumonia and insomnia. Hubbard survived this ordeal, though knocked into deep uncousciousness, making him the first person in history to do this. In other words, out of concern for the rest of humanity, there is no way to prove any of what forms the foundation of Scientology. (Cordyn 364-367)
Moreover for the rest of Scientology, secrets such as this one are guarded quite closely. Because most information regarding the work of the mind is highly dangerous, access to Hubbard’s higher level teachings are restricted only to those who have shown enthusiasm and talent in the ways of Dianetics. In other words, only those who seem sufficiently gullible are allowed access to the more ridiculous facts. The culmination of the brainwashing is attained only when the Scientologist cuts off all ties with non-Scientologists and goes on a journey with Sea Org, the cruise ship navy of the Church of Scientology. In the middle of the ocean, cut off from all critical onlookers or dissenting opinions, the final step is taken and only here can the final stages of ‘Clear’ be reached.(Beher)
Key to the higher levels of Scientology is secrecy surrounding all information possessed by the Church. Dianetic enlightenment is attainable only through having personal copies of his texts and notes. Curiously, the Church required members to buy copies from bookstores or the church itself. At no point in Scientology is information given out for free. In fact, the only way most information about the inner workings of the church was not through the 1993 court order, forbidding tax-exempt enterprises (specificially Scientology) from restricting access to it’s knowledge, so much as the information given by defectors from the religion.(Fishman) However, through careful copyright work and a generously funded legal department, many attempts to spread information to the public are stifled with legal harassment and outright threats. Dissenting views are never heard out and often stamped out in the most vicious manner permissable by law.
The Church of Scientology’s tax-exempt status was no small source of controversy. With an annual revenue of over 503 million dollars (in 1987), and expenses that include a fleet of personal jets and the private navy, Sea Org, the huge amount of funding and auxiliary expenses which raised more than a few eyebrows. In 1968, the IRS performed an audit of its own. The result was a lengthy investigation which deemed that though no obvious law breaking had occurred, The Church was not deserving of it’s tax-exempt status. Hubbard’s response was very informative. Enraged that anyone would question his methods, he started a movement to infiltrate the IRS.(Beher) Dubbed ‘Operation Whiteout’, the goal was to load the government agency with as many spies, moles, and Church members as possible. However, the IRS caught wind of this and, in 1972, retaliated with a series of high level arrests including Hubbard’s wife at the time, Sue Elliot Hubbard. Six Church members were sent to a federal prison and in 1985, Hubbard himself was indicted for tax fraud. (Time)Fingered out by high level defectors and identified in the few unshredded documents found for skimming as much as $200 million from church bank accounts, Hubbard escaped prosecution only by escaping in what Church leader David Miscaviage called “a transformation to the highest existence” and the Los Angeles Country Coroners office called ‘death’. No autopsy was permitted.(Time)
Scientology as it currently exists servers as nothing more than a reworked Catholic church. In order to stay ahead of the current scientific facts, Hubbard simply created an alternate system. Dealing with philosophy only rather than empirical fact, there is no way to prove or disprove it. Moreover, despite court orders for disclosure, Scientology’s higher level teachings remain totally secret. The only way to see the inner workings of the clock is to become a part of it. Moreover, due to the increasingly delicate auditing process, the only way to attain higher levels of information is to exhibit increasing gullibility. Art Bell, a serious journalist of the fantastic, once said, “Fantastic claims require fantastic evidence.” Scientology’s claims of grandeur are based only on philosophical hypotheses with no real world anchor. If billions of people died on earth, where are the bones? Where is the radioactive fallout? Where is the trash left by lost civilizations and the empty DC-8’s? More importantly, where is the rest of the Galactic Confederacy? Why has a government spanning the entire galaxy forgotten about such a historically significant planet as Teegeeack? There is no fantastic evidence and at best, no definitive proof of this catastrophe.
Ignorance aside, Scientology despises critics. Skeptics of scientology are despised and are termed ‘non people’ in Church literature (Hubbard Jr.). Scientologists are ordered to not talk to such people at the orders of Hubbard himself. In fact, when L. Ron Hubbard Jr. left the church he was disowned by his father and resultantly cut out from the sizeable family endowment, raised by books sales and embezzlement of million of dollars from Scientology revenue. Others, such as Time magazine, were hit by libel suits. In the case of Time magazine, the judge threw the case out, but in many instances, the simple threat of legislation ant he related expenses are enough to silence most dissenting opinion. In one case, the Church went as far as to deposition the first grade teacher of Paulette Cooper, herself indited in twenty seven lawsuits, for writing a book called “The Scandal of Scientology”. The Church spent almost half a million dollars in the lawsuit, designed, in Hubbard’s words, “not to get justice so much as overwhelm”(Hubbard Jr). The Church is not so much afraid of incorrect data, but that it is aggressive towards any information outside of it’s control. In fact, Scientology has, through legal harassment alone, browbeaten Google into removing much Xenu.net from its database, and though it has since been restored, no sign of the site can be found on the Internet Archive web.archive.org. Perhaps more telling of the fallacy inherent in Scientology is Hubbard’s own tract, “Critics of Scientology”. The entire basis for stifling argument, Hubbard claims, is to find dirt on the accuser (Clambake). In short, the entire basis for dodging the bullet is to construct an Ad Hominem argument (Sagan). When Scientology does make a case for itself, it chooses to use the logical fallacies and intimidation.
Despite all evidence against it, Scientology has enjoyed truly amazing conversion rates. This is no doubt due to its public face. When the public thinks ‘Scientology’, they think Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and the philanthropic Civil Engineer and Nuclear Physicist L. Ron Hubbard. However, these people are but the point of the pyramid. The thousands of ruined families abandoned by converts, the dead body of Lisa McPherson found in the LA Celebrity Center, and the college failure, fiction writing adulterous womanizer with a pathetic Naval career and a history of money laundering and drug abuse are gone from the picture.(Hubbard Jr.) These cold realities are hidden from view. Instead, people are pointed towards the rich, famous and dishonest. Initiates are dazzled by promises to be ‘just like the stars.’
Moreover, the church goes out of it’s way to target the weak willed. Groups such as Narconon and Criminon pose as charity organizations nationwide. Often found in prisons, the two organizations pose as treatment for drug addicts and convicted criminal drug users. The result is not so much treatment as a systematic targeting of the desperate and weak willed to be inducted into the expensive world of Scientology.(Clambake)
Another curious fact is the attempt to pass off Scientology as a “non interferent” religion. In other words, new initiates to the science of the church are told that the workings of Scientology in no way conflict with those of other religions. Moreover, the study of Scientology will help secular converts understand more about those in history who became ‘Clear’ on their own (Jesus, Buddha and Mohamed).(Lucinta) This, of course, it part of a bait and switch method by which the Church suckers in converts with false hopes. Only when the prey is well and truly ensnared do they request deviation from current religion.
Church, of course, is a very liberal term. In truth, Scientology Celebrity Centers and Churches operate more like a bookstore or library than an actual place of worship. The Dallas facility is crammed with book after book, all of which are labeled with the according level of understanding required and, perhaps obviously, a price tag. The books are expensive. The simple ‘Dianetics Starter Kit’, an introductory to the basic “science” of the Church consists of a book, a CD, a video and some pamphlets, and costs approximately fifty dollars. Moreover, the resulting series of book purchases required to achieve even the most rudimentary understanding of the religion requires takes, at least a further two hundred dollars. From even the most grass roots centers, the primary goal is to push product: to sell Hubbard’s books.
There is only one thing more expensive than the books; auditing. The only true path to enlightenment, auditing proves to be a high resource endeavor. Because of the increasing difficulty in identifying thetans and embedded engrams, the audits get progressively more expensive. Ex-Scientologist Steven Fishman claims that, during the midst of his ‘brainwashing’, he paid bills of up to ten thousand dollars for a single auditing session. In fact, calculations show, that, in order to audit at the highest level, one must spend at the very least, a sum in the nature of two hundred thousand dollars. More is usually the case (Beher). Other religions, such as Catholicism, offer a similar service, known as “confession” for absolutely no charge at all. Being the only universal truth apparently allows Scientology to charge money for help.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about Scientology, the critics are the only people involved who do not sell their advice. Many high level defectors of Scientology have made their information public; available for little or no cost whatsoever. Prominent ex-Scientologists Steven Fishman and L. Ron Hubbard Jr. both have made all of their works publicly available online. Surely, if The Church of Scientology truly cared about saving people, they too would make all of their information free. However, since media produced by the Church are under the copyright of Bridge Publications, the books are private and legally protected information.(Beher) The only reasonable assumption is that, though the Church could easily publish their information online, they choose not to is to keep the profits generated by the sale of texts. Moreover, members nearing completion of OT:3, the highest state of clarity, are required to purchase the final tracts for a sum no less than on hundred thousand dollars(Ward). No other charlatan has peddled its wares for such an epic financial return.
There is nothing wrong with making fantastic claims. Wrong, but not evil, people can also say things that are untrue. The problem comes when myth translates into reality. Scientology is a fine little pseudo science, which, on its own, threatens nobody. The problem comes when believers are instructed to abandon their friends and family, and to donate huge amounts of time and resources into not just the church, but also to the recruiting of new members. Then, the philosophy ceases to be a dream and commences a public nuisance, in this case with dire results. Scientology is responsible for the appropriation of millions of dollars from gullible idealists, who are fed a string of lies and false promises. Scientology has sent people to prison, has hounded its critics, and at every turn been completely resistant to criticism from the outside. The preface to Carl Sagan’s ‘Demon Haunted World’ reads, “All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike – and yet it is the most precious thing we have”. If value is scaled by measuring correspondence with reality, Scientology is worthless. If value is measured on altruistic benefit, Scientology is evil. If a religion is based on its benefit to society, Scientology is the new Satanism. It preys upon the weak and ignorant for the sole purpose of financial gain. Scientology is not the first charlatan, but it is the most profitable. In that alone, Scientology deserves applause.
Beher, Richard. The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power. Time Magazine May 6, 1991.
Bridge Publications. Dianetics and You: An introduction to the Modern Mind. Bridge Publications New York, NY.
Cordyn, Brent and Hubbard, L. Ron Jr. L. Ron Hubbard : Messiah or Madman?. Barricade Books, Fort Lee, NJ.
Dianetics and The Modern Medicine. Bridge Publications.
Fishman, Steven. “The Fishman Affidavit“.
Foster, Sir John. Report of the Enquiry into the Practice and Effects of Scientology.
Interview With L. Ron Hubbard Jr. Penthouse Magazine p.74, June 1983.
Interview and Tour of Dallas Celebrity Center with Minster Roberta Lucinta October 5, 2005.
Miller, Russel. Bare-Faced Messiah.
Operation Clambake. http://www.xenu.net.
Paret, Peter. The Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Robinson, Michael. A Summary and Analyses of the OT Documents.
Sagan, Carl. The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Random House.