The Scientology Money Project

Science Vs. Pseudoscience: A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 4

The Mathison Electropsychometer Model E-AR-400. Circa 1954. Price for this top of the line e-meter was $385 USD. This “psychic x-ray” machine as Volney Mathison promoted it, was based upon vacuum tube technology. Scroll down to the bottom of this installment to check out a PDF of Volney Mathison’s product and sales literature.


Volney Mathison met L. Ron Hubbard in 1950 in California during a series of lectures Hubbard gave. Mathison wrote of the meeting (emphasis ours):

In a very upset state, I went to a psychoanalyst, seeking relief from nervous tensions. Not getting satisfactory results, I next attended a series of lectures being given by a very controversial figure, who several times emphasized that perhaps the major problem of psychotherapy was the difficulty of maintaining the communication of accurate or valid data from the patient to the therapist. — Volney Mathison. Electropsychometry. Los Angeles, 1954 edition.  Chapter 8: Genesis of the Electropsychometer.

The controversial figure mentioned by Mathison was L. Ron Hubbard. The reasons why Mathison refused to mention Hubbard by name in 1954 will become evident. Hubbard himself mentions meeting Mathison in California in 1950. However, as is so often the case with Hubbard, his account of their meeting is embellished, self-serving, and simply not supported by the facts.

In the early days of Dianetics, Ron Hubbard had his Foundations and individual practitioners use cheap little newspaper ads to advertise Dianetics meetings. Below we see a cheap little 1951 ad for a personal appearance by Dianetics King L. Ron Hubbard tucked below a much larger ad for tables pads which featured asbestos insulation:

It is very likely that Volney Mathison saw a cheap little newspaper ad and went to hear Ron Hubbard speak. Volney may have even attended the August 10, 1951 meeting at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles as he was an L.A. resident. These little newspaper ads were highly effective for Dianetics.


Nowhere in the pages of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health do we find the terms “past lives” or “wholetrack.” Rather, Hubbard emphatically declared:

The beginning is conception. Your patients sometimes have a feeling that they are sperms or ovums at the beginning of the track: in dianetics this is called the sperm dream. It is not of any great value so far as we know at this time. But it is very interesting.

Soon after it opened, the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation of Elizabeth, New Jersey quickly became gripped in a fierce internal battle over the future direction of the movement. Hubbard had written in Dianetics that many engrams were caused by experiences people had as fetuses in the womb. Thus, one of the original approaches in Dianetics focused on auditing prenatal engrams. In the pages of Dianetics, Hubbard had emphasized that mothers were guilty of many secret attempts to abort their babies using knitting needles, astringent douches, etc. Hubbard also wrote that fathers were guilty as well by slugging their wives in the abdomen in an attempt to induce a miscarriage.

But then something unexpected happened.

Many students who were being audited began to spontaneously recall past lives on this planet, other planets and galaxies, and in different bodies including mechanical bodies. The universe opened wide for exploration to Dianeticists as they were allowed to freely associate out to infinity. Hubbard did not evaluate what they said and rather encouraged them to go deeper into their wholetrack.

The scientific contingent on the Board of Directors did not want Dianetics to address past lives. They argued that past lives took Dianetics out of the realm of science and into the metaphysical realm. Of course, to even say this assumes Dianetics was scientific which it was not. Nevertheless, certain board members treated it as a science until the controversy over past lives in auditing sessions arose.

Ron Hubbard sharply disagreed with the scientific contingent on the board. He wanted to handle past lives and other esoteric phenomena such as ghosts, extraterrestrials, or whatever else Dianeticists wanted to handle during auditing sessions. Hubbard’s embrace of past lives was also financially lucrative. Because auditing was paid for by the hour, why not allow preclears to go on at length about past lives and whatever else they wanted to talk about? Freud himself had faced this same issue:

On one occasion, when Freud attempted to learn the meaning of certain symptoms through direct questioning, this patient said “in a definitely grumbling tone that I was not to keep on asking her where this and that came from, but to let her tell me what she had to say. I fell in with this, and she went on without preface.” — cited by Stanley Jackson in his book Care of the Psyche: A History of Psychological Healing. Yale University Press. 1999.

Allowing patients to talk about whatever they want to talk about in a psychotherapy session is the basis of the Freudian free association. Hubbard took Freud’s notion of free association and re-languaged it in his dictum “the auditor is not to evaluate for the preclear.”

Hubbard’s incorporation of past lives into Dianetics lead to him creating his “wholetrack” cosmology. In this model, Hubbard stated that thetans have been around since the beginning of time which he taught was four quadrillion years ago. That is an immense amount of time to audit and get paid for doing so by the hour. From our perspective, Hubbard’s use of Freudian psychotherapy; his adoption of past lives; wholetrack cosmology; and his incorporation of Volney Mathison’s e-meter and Technique 100 literally saved him from bankruptcy, ruin, and a fade into obscurity in the early 1950’s.

Auditing this life, past lives, and the wholetrack using the e-meter became the major arcana of Scientology; sec checks became the minor arcana. This order is reversed in the Sea Org as we understand the matter.


Some hell-raising Dianetics history is in order as we move the chess pieces across the board to finally put L. Ron Hubbard and the e-meter together in the same room for the first time.

Don Purcell, an early Dianeticist and multimillionaire who had made his money in oil and real estate, stepped in to help Hubbard. Purcell, 42, had traveled to New Jersey in 1950 with his wife where both paid $500 each to train as Dianetics auditors. Don Purcell lived in Wichita, Kansas and paid for Hubbard and the New Jersey Dianetics Foundation to relocate to Wichita where his businesses were located. Along with the relocation, the new Dianetics Foundation of Wichita was created. Don Purcell considered Dianetics worth saving and was willing to finance Hubbard’s venture. However, as the old saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

April 13, 1951: The new Dianetics center in Wichita opened its doors for business on April 13, 1951. Don Purcell would later write of this period in April-May of 1951:

The Foundation arrived in Wichita on April 13, 1951, and took up its quarters at 2l 1 W. Douglas Ave. With each passing day new and more accurate data came to the surface. Legal commitments of which I was not informed came to light. Money was needed in California to keep Foundation personnel out of trouble. Irate creditors from New Jersey began to aim their arrows at me.

Ron was still in Havana, Cuba, finishing Science of Survival. With him was Richard de Mille. One day earlier in May I received a long distance call from de Mille telling me that Ron was dying and urging me to “do something.” I did. I chartered a private airplane, hired a registered nurse, and sent them to Havana for Ron. They returned to Wichita on May 15, 1951. He spent the first few days in a local hotel with me and then moved to my home. He was given a good “present time” environment and auditing from then until the time of the first June Conference.

After the conference Ron moved from my home and took over active control of the Foundation… Ron established an overhead structure that far exceeded the gross income. I began to hold out for an organizational structure that could exist within its income with the idea of expanding the structure as our income increased. This idea did not satisfy Ron and friction between us ensued — Don Purcell. From the article “Foundation Story” as contained From the January 1954 Dianetics Today newsletter. Note: Scroll down to the bottom to see a PDF of the newsletter which contains Purcell’s article.

April 23, 1951: Ten days after the Wichita Foundation opened, Sara Northrup Hubbard formally filed for divorce from Ron Hubbard. The divorce was splashed all over the newspapers. Sara claimed Ron was insane, physically violent, and a bigamist:

May 1951: The assets of the Dianetics Foundation of Elizabeth, New Jersey – which consisted of office furniture and a bank account — were seized for nonpayment of a $2,728 printing bill to the Barton Press.  The bank account contained a scant $1,688. This was all the money remaining after more than $1,000,000 had passed through the Foundation since May 1950. The value of the furniture was estimated at $357. The Barton Press was left with $683 in bad debt.

To recover this loss, Barton Press — along with other creditors — went after the new Dianetics Foundation of Wichita. The hearing on the legal charge of teaching medicine without a license in New Jersey was continued until June. That hearing never occurred and the charge was eventually dropped given that Dianetics New Jersey had no assets and had relocated to Wichita. As New Jersey apparently saw the matter, Hubbard and Dianetics were now Kansas’ headache.

June 1951: Ron Hubbard was hit with a lawsuit from his first wife Polly Grubb, who had remarried and was now Polly Morton. Polly wanted Hubbard held in contempt of court in Washington State for refusing to pay the child support due her since she and Ron had divorced in June 1947. Polly demanded four years of back child support from deadbeat dad L. Ron Hubbard. Polly argued, and quite rightly, that her ex-husband had more than enough money to pay her thanks to the financial success of Dianetics. Ron fired back at Polly by accusing her of being an alcoholic and saying that she should not have custody of their two children.

In June of 1951 Ron Hubbard used his lawyers to an “emergency divorce” from Sara in a Kansas courtroom. The court record makes it appear that Ron was in danger from Sara.


During the summer of 1951 while Ron was busy delivering lectures in Wichita, he met a fetching young woman from Texas who had flaming red hair. Her name was Mary Sue Whipp (1931-2002). Mary Sue had come to Wichita to study and earn a Hubbard Dianetic Auditors Certificate. Ron Hubbard quickly became smitten with Mary Sue who was twenty years younger than him. Unlike Ron who had dropped out of college, Mary Sue had earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 1951. Mary Sue had been introduced to Dianetics while in Austin by a friend shortly after college graduation.

Mary Sue fell in love with Ron and the two quickly became romantically involved. As a result of their relationship, Mary Sue found herself at the very center of the Dianetics movement and the intrigue that was happening behind the scenes in Wichita as Ron Hubbard and Don Purcell prepared to do battle. What nobody realized in 1951 was that Mary Sue Whipp would learn well the ways of L. Ron Hubbard. She would rise to become the second most powerful person in the Church of Scientology. Mary Sue would prove to be a formidable power in her own right when she later became Controller of the Guardian’s Office and supervised its dozens of nefarious operations including Snow White.


An official Scientology website is rather nonchalant about how Scientology first appeared when it says of Hubbard:

In the fall of 1951, having discovered that man is most fundamentally a spiritual being, he begins a new line of research to determine what can be done to help an individual regain natural abilities. These discoveries form the basis of Scientology.

Hubbard had to state his “discovery” that “man is most fundamentally a spiritual being” because, as mentioned, he had painted himself into a corner in Dianetics by stating that life began at conception.

After 8,000 years of polytheistic, pantheistic, and monotheistic religious teaching that humans were fundamentally spiritual beings, Hubbard blithely announced his discovery that humans are spiritual beings as if he alone were the first person in the history of the world to have this thought.

Per Hubbard’s usual practice of scheming behind the scenes to benefit himself, there was far more to Hubbard’s newfound spirituality than anyone realized at the time. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) registration shows that the word “Scientology” was first used in commerce on November 1, 1951. The registrant was L. Ron Hubbard. In December 1951, Hubbard produced a handbook entitled Hand Book for Preclears. The first mention of the word “Scientology” by L. Ron Hubbard was made in the diagonal banner on this handbook.

The handbook itself contains no discussion of Scientology. It seems Hubbard used the cover of the handbook simply to put the word Scientology into commerce in order to establish a “first used in commerce” claim with the US Patent and Trademark Office. According to current Church leader David Miscavige, the Hand Book for Preclears is where the first mention of “Scientology” was made. Miscavige stated this during a speech he gave at the Basics Release event in 2007.

Ron Hubbard never formally introduced Scientology on a big stage such as the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Rather, he simply stated that whereas Dianetics treated the mind, Scientology treated the spirit. He then quickly ramped up and promoted Scientology. Hubbard later made a bogus claim that his original work was called “Scientology” in 1938:

The basic science was named “Scientology” in 1938. In 1947 L. Ron Hubbard changed its name to “Dianetics” in order to make a social test of publication and popularity. That test completed, in 1952 he changed the science back to its original name, SCIENTOLOGY. This was done to inhibit its being monopolized for private purposes.

This explanation makes no sense whatsoever and comes across invented history. There is no known evidence for this claim nor has the Church of Scientology produced any. The evidence is that Hubbard recorded his 1938 dental-gas-epiphany in a book he entitled Excalibur. There is simply no public record anywhere of Hubbard using the word Scientology prior to November 1951.


The story is straightforward: As the Dianetics craze faded the Wichita Foundation spent more money than it earned. This was compounded when a court ruled that Wichita was legally obligated for the debts of the Dianetics Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Don Purcell had the deep pockets and so was responsible for paying the debts of the now defunct Elizabeth Foundation. Hubbard unrealistically expected Purcell to pay off the debts while simultaneously pumping in endless amounts of cash in to keep Wichita afloat. As a businessman, Purcell was willing to help if Hubbard did three things: Reigned in spending, close Dianetics centers in other cities, and centralized the operation in Wichita.

Purcell also wanted to be the Chief Executive Officer who oversaw operations and finance. Purcell reasoned that this would free Hubbard from such distractions and thereby allow the Dianetics creator to research and develop new materials for Dianetics. Hubbard initially agreed to this arrangement but soon chafed at such oversight because he wanted to run everything and call all the shots, particularly as it pertained to the money.

Don Purcell recounts the last days of the Wichita Foundation:

Ron established an overhead structure that far exceeded the gross income. I began to hold out for an organizational structure that could exist within its income with the idea of expanding the structure as our income increased. This idea did not satisfy Ron and friction between us ensued…

Things went along fine for awhile then Ron began to encroach in my territory. Being the major stockholder of the corporation he could legally do this. The more he did this the “ornerier” I got. We both went down in tone, fighting like a couple of uncivilized tom cats.

By that time not only did we have legal and internal troubles to plague us but the International Dianetic Auditors Association began to come apart at the seams also.

During this time I was negotiating with attorneys trying to effect a settlement of the State Receivership. I purchased all of the accounts involved in the deal and heaved a sigh of relief.

The mess was cleaned up. We dropped our appeal to the Supreme Court… — Don Purcell. From the article “Foundation Story” as contained From the January 1954 Dianetics Today newsletter.

As Purcell recounts the matter, the breaking point was reached on February 12, 1952 (emphasis ours):

That night Ron called a meeting of the Board of Directors. At this meeting he suggested that he be allowed to turn in all his stock to the Foundation and resign. In this way he could preserve Dianetics regardless of what happened to the Foundation. ‘‘I’ll take Dianetics out under the label of Scientology ,” said he, “while you stay here and let them blunt their arrows on this old hulk. ” — Don Purcell. From the article “Foundation Story” as contained From the January 1954 Dianetics Today newsletter.

Hubbard’s remark to Purcell that he would relabel Dianetics as Scientology certainly proves that Hubbard had been working in secrecy to outmaneuver Purcell. As we cover in our next installment, Hubbard had been in extensive contact with Volney Mathison. Hubbard had negotiated certain limited rights to license and sell Mathison’s e-meter as well as Mathison’s system of auditing called Technique 100.

Over and above this, Hubbard also wanted to keep all of his Dianetics rights and income by renaming it Scientology. Hubbard wanted to have his cake and eat it too — and all at Don Purcell’s expense. Don Purcell and the Wichita Foundation were cut out of Hubbard’s dealings with Mathison and knew nothing of them. Hubbard was clearly trying to screw over Don Purcell.

The Wichita Foundation also didn’t know that earlier on the day of February 12, 1952 L. Ron Hubbard had incorporated the Hubbard College in Wichita. Hubbard dropped the news of his new Hubbard College on Purcell of during the Board meeting. Purcell later noted:

He [Hubbard] further suggested an agreement between us concerning the future relationship of myself with him and of the Foundation with Hubbard College. The relationship was to be one of cooperation and agreement. Somehow he must have figured that when he abandoned the ship it would be just a rudderless hulk and that it would only be necessary for him to give it another shove and it would go under for keeps…

After Ron signed his stock back to the treasury we held a new Board meeting and voted to go into bankruptcy immediately. We worked without sleep until we had the petition ready to file. At that, we only beat the reactivation of the state receivership by a couple of hours. During the time we were preparing the petition we also wrote Ron a special delivery letter telling him of our action.

With the filing of the bankruptcy Ron began to show his real intent regarding me, the Foundation and Dianetics. The same day that the action was filed, February 22, 1952, I received a telegram from Ron which read as follows:

“You are advised that a $500,000.00 breach of faith and contract is being filed against you pursuant to failure to discharge creditor obligations and that another suit for bad management for a similar amount is also being filed. I am sorry to be pressed to this extremity. Sorrowfully – L. Ron Hubbard.”

A million dollar law suit, regardless of how ridiculous its grounds might be is no stroll through the park. I fought back at the same level. To fully understand what happened during this time one must understand the motives involved. Ron’s motive has always clearly been to limit Dianetics to the Authority of his teachings. Anyone who had the affrontry to suggest that others besides Ron could contribute creatively to the work must be inhibited. One of the most powerful methods of control known is control by limitation…

When it became apparent to Ron that legal actions, threats of legal actions and other wild efforts to destroy were not proving effective, he left Wichita and went to Phoenix…. — Don Purcell. From the article “Foundation Story” as contained From the January 1954 Dianetics Today newsletter.

Essentially, Hubbard wanted to dump all of Dianetics’ debt and liabilities onto Don Purcell. This would allow Hubbard to start over debt-free with his newly-minted Scientology organization.

Don Purcell was no fool and would soon settle the score with Ron Hubbard.


February 1952: The same month that Don Purcell placed the Wichita Foundation into bankruptcy, Mary Sue got pregnant. To avoid the three-day waiting period to get married in Kansas, Ron and Mary Sue drove south across the state line and were married on March 6, 1952 in Newkirk, Oklahoma. The image below is taken from the Oklahoma marriage index:

This homely snippet from a records archive is the first formal record we have of Ron and Mary Sue Hubbard as a married couple. When they married — and this is so true for all of us — they had absolutely no idea what the future held in store for them.


Having been launched on February 12, 1952, the Hubbard College in Wichita proved to be a six-week affair. However, this very brief interval was an extremely crucial turning point in Scientology. During the short-lived existence of the Hubbard College, Ron formally introduced his remaining eighty or so followers to the “new science” of Scientology and the e-meter.

Hubbard raved about how much faster auditing went with the e-meter as opposed to the Dianetics system of asking questions without the feedback from an electropsychometer. True to Hubbard’s dictum that the author must be paid royalties, Scientology was set up like Dianetics: Hubbard would get royalties from the sale of e-meters, auditing, the Scientology books he would write and everything else. As Hubbard created it, Scientology could not be done without the e-meter. However, the only system Hubbard had in place to use with Scientology was Dianetics and Volney Mathison’s Technique 100 auditing system which had been designed for use with the e-meter. Hence, Scientology in 1952 was Dianetics 2.0 with an e-meter and Mathison’s Technique 100.

For the time being, Volney Mathison remained the man behind the curtain, the Wizard of Oz who was the unseen animating force of the e-meter and auditing. But soon enough Mathison would make his debut.


While Ron was finishing up his affairs at the short-lived Hubbard College in Wichita, he decided to titillate his followers by conducting a séance using the e-meter. Accordingly, in April 1952 — the exact date is lost even by the date-obsessed Church of Scientology — Ron and Mary Sue Hubbard tape-recorded a session during which they used the e-meter to engage in the world’s first electropsychometer-assisted séance.

Given that spirits are discarnate and thus can have no changes in electrical skin resistance, we see that Ron Hubbard was already making a vast departure from the realms of psychogalvanometry in order to use the e-meter as a metaphysical device. While Dr. Helmholtz would be aghast at this sort of thing,  Hubbard didn’t care. In fact, Hubbard was so completely infatuated with the e-meter at the time that he treated it like a giddy and reckless teenage boy with his first car. This would all change very quickly because, as Hubbard stated, Scientology is a deadly serious activity.

(Getting way ahead of ourselves here in order to delight our audience with a preview of things to come, we note that the e-meter measures changes in galvanic skin resistance. This explains why body thetans later arrived on the scene. Hubbard had to keep everyone’s skin in the game, so to speak, because the e-meter only measures changes in galvanic skin resistance. More on this in a future installment)

In an obscure Scientology recording entitled Electropsychometric Scouting: Battles of the Universes , Ron is holding the cans of the  e-meter while Mary Sue serves as his auditor and observes and interprets the movement of the dial on the e-meter. Ron opens the session by stating that he and Mary Sue have an entity trapped on the meter, i.e. the e-meter is somehow exerting a captive force, perhaps a tractor beam, on the entity. Hubbard never explains the mechanism of capture.

Ron interrogates the entity and learns that the purpose of certain entities in the MEST universe (the physical universe) is to destroy it. Hubbard next encounters beings he called “Targs” and explained Targs:

LRH : Targs – Some of them are Targs. There are several other kinds. There are other kinds than Targs.

MSH: Where did you get the name – Targ?

LRH: That’s common in a lot of theta languages. It means slave. Entheta slave.

MSH: You got a drop

LRH: Lower order slave. Body holders- horse holders -boot polishers. Entheta is really (?)
I guess there may be some other prison planets out in this galaxy.

MSH: Are there any other planets which are (?).

LRH: I think flying saucers right now that’s coming to dump off more theta beings. -Ah, dump off more entheta, enthetaed beings. Targs.

MSH: Mmhm

LRH: What they’re dropping down here is Targ ridden. It’s a disease – somebody gets Targ ridden – gets unbalanced. The thing to do is not so much how to know how to get rid of the Targs but how to straighten out Targs. – No drop?

MSH: No drop – Targ doesn’t want to be straightened out.

In this recording, Hubbard introduced his new quasi-Gnostic “space opera” cosmology. In this electro-séance Hubbard foreshadowed the OT levels when he spoke of people getting “Targ ridden” as a result of flying saucers dumping Targs “down here” on the Earth.

In the ensuing years, Hubbard would present himself as a cosmic personality. As such, he would lecture his followers on the political situation in the local galaxy between warring extraterrestrial races; the history of extraterrestrial societies and confederations; implanting stations on Mars where the souls of dead humans were sent to be implanted before they were sent back for rebirth here on Earth; various alien invader forces; and the electronic traps and beams used by hostile aliens to trap and ensnare humans.

Hubbard’s electropsychometric scouting is evocative of Hubbard’s past in which he used radio equipment to navigate the coastal waters from Puget Sound to Alaska in his small schooner. Aptly named the Magician, the voyage aboard the radio-equipped schooner was undertaken with his first wife Polly and so prefigured his later electropsychometric scouting expedition with Mary Sue.

Whereas the Magician used radio signals to guide Hubbard and Sara through the inland passage of Alaska to Ketchikan, the e-meter took Ron and Mary Sue into the mysterious empyrean of the occult universe. As Russell Miller has so elegantly noted, Hubbard would later astonish his followers with the “foudroyant revelation” in 1964 that he had twice visited Heaven. Hubbard’s 1952 electropsychometric scouting expedition seems a necessary preparation for his later visitation to Heaven and the OT Levels he introduced in 1967.

In our next installment we cover the licensing arrangements between Volney Mathison and Ron Hubbard concerning the new electropsychometer. We also cover Volney Mathison’s very significant and generally unacknowledged influence over early Scientology and his work in other communities with electropsychometry.

PDF Data:

1. The January 1954 Dianetics Today newsletter. This features Don Purcell’s article “Foundation Story” in which he details the tumultuous circumstances under which L Ron Hubbard resigned from the Wichita Foundation in February 1952.



2. Volney Mathison’s product and sales literature.


1 reply »

  1. I can’t believe I fell for this evil rotten criminal L Ron Hubbard – sometimes I feel so stupid. That guy was a flat-out crook.

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