The Scientology Money Project

A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 6


When Ron Hubbard lost Dianetics to Don Purcell in bankruptcy, he suddenly had no income. However, he still had plenty of cash stashed away that he had taken out of the Dianetics Foundation. Russell Miller relates an incident described by A.E. van Vogt that occurred during the halcyon days of Dianetics in 1950:

But while money was pouring in, it was also pouring out and there was no accounting, no organization, no financial strategy or control. ‘One day the bank manager called me,’ said Van Vogt. ‘He told me Mr. Hubbard was in the front office and wanted to draw a cashier’s cheque for $56,000 and was it all right to give it to him. I said, “He’s the boss.[1]“‘

$56,000 in 2020 money is $583,000. In addition to this one cashiers check, Hubbard had regularly taken money out of Dianetics. We believe, adjusted for inflation, that Ron Hubbard had over one million dollars in cash stashed away when he incorporated the Hubbard Association of Scientologists on on September 9, 1952 in Phoenix, Arizona.

While Don Purcell owned the rights to Dianetics, he didn’t stop Hubbard from using the name or techniques of Dianetics. Purcell was still operating the Wichita Dianetics Foundation and believed in the value of Dianetics. While there were some legal matters and bad blood between the two men, Purcell didn’t get in the way of whatever it was Hubbard was doing in Phoenix. For his part, Hubbard didn’t do much to pursue his two lawsuits against Purcell.


Despite what seemed like an initial truce, Hubbard, as usual, overstepped the boundaries. Ron was in Philadelphia delivering his Philadelphia Doctorate Course lectures in December 1952 when he suddenly found himself rudely interrupted on the afternoon of December 16th. US Marshals showed up and arrested Hubbard in mid-lecture. Ron’s crime was having written a check in the amount of $9,286 drawn on an account belonging to the Wichita Foundation.

Purcell had filed a complaint. He was finished with Hubbard using him as an endless ATM card. Hubbard was taken into custody, booked, and released after posting bail. This very public arrest during a lecture only increased Hubbard’s hatred towards Purcell. Hubbard repaid the money he had withdrawn, and the matter was dropped. As a point of reference, $9,286 in 1952 dollars is $85,684 in 2020 dollars. Hubbard had withdrawn a significant amount of money.


Volney Mathison combined Freudian free association, along with his own personal techniques, and used them to audit his patients with his electropsychometer. Mathison was also interested in psychometry i.e., the science of psychological measurement, and used psychometry to measure what he deemed to be the progress of his patients. Volney Mathison created what we call Mathison Electropsychometry.

While Volney Mathison had the tools and techniques in place to audit people he had no epic or incredible life-changing goals for his patients. All Mathison could offer people was palliative psychological relief along with chiropractic adjustments. Mathison lacked Hubbard’s clearly defined model of the Reactive Mind, engrams, the erasure of engrams, and the lure of attaining the exalted State of Clear.

Conversely, while Ron Hubbard had his clearly defined Dianetics model in place, his method of hypnotism and talking people through earlier incidents proved lackluster as well. The stunning crash in business was undeniable. The public had lost interest and the Dianetics Foundations in Elizabeth and Wichita had gone bankrupt.

Mathison and Hubbard needed each other. Hubbard’s name recognition and Dianetics concepts allowed him to give Mathison Electropsychometry the Dianetics focus of going Clear. Electropsychometric auditing and the State of Clear went together like they were made for each other when, in fact, they were not. Hubbard’s marketing genius was to package the two pieces together, call it Scientology, and sell it for a lot of money. Scientologists would spend and spend and spend in their quest to reach the State of Clear.

One of the major contemporary misapprehensions about Scientology is that L. Ron Hubbard invented the e-meter and created Scientology around the architecture of the e-meter. This is incorrect. As we have shown, the e-meter fell into Hubbard’s hands due to Volney Mathison. Hubbard then opportunistically shifted from Dianetics-style auditing to using Mathison’s e-meter. Hubbard called this shift to e-meter-based auditing Scientology. Fundamentally, then, First Generation Scientology was simply this procedural shift from Dianetics-style auditing to e-meter-based auditing. The core Dianetics model and goal of seeking to erase the Reactive Mind remained wholly intact in First Generation Scientology.

One of the central arguments of our work is that while Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology, Volney Mathison was the actual architect of First Generation Scientology. In our view, “Scientology” in 1952 was a secular private-labeled version of Mathison Electropsychometry into which Hubbard began to immediately incorporate Dianetics principles and concepts. The evidence is all there. While one could argue the reverse, that Hubbard was the architect, the two Dianetics bankruptcies argue for Volney’s contributions being far more significant as they allowed Hubbard to reboot Dianetics. In essence, First Generation Scientology was Dianetics 2.0 significantly upgraded by Mathison’s e-meter and auditing techniques. When Hubbard’s pitch-perfect 1950’s hyperbolic Space Opera marketing that spoke to the anxieties and aspirations of the era was added into the equation, this new Scientology thing was suddenly gaining a great deal of attention and new members.


Ron Hubbard understood the enormous financial potential of Mathison’s e-meter and techniques. The numbers here are extremely important to analyze. If the 16,000 Dianeticists on the mailing list could be converted into Scientologists and each purchased an e-meter, the cash flow would be enormous. The 1953 Mathison model H-53-DS retailed at $88.65. If Hubbard and Mathison could sell 16,000 of these units the gross would be $1,418,400. Adjusted for inflation, this is $13.7 million in 2020 dollars.

The income generated from the sales of e-meters to Scientologists – along with the income on the training and classes on how to use the e-meter to audit people — would net Hubbard far more money than he ever made with Dianetics. Even if Hubbard sold e-meters to only 50% of his customer base, he would still net millions of dollars for the hardware. And he would earn even more for the training and processing he could sell.

Ron Hubbard’s main problem was that Volney Mathison owned the patent on the e-meter. Hubbard’s covert goal, as will be seen, was to wrest control of the e-meter patent from Mathison. Likewise, Hubbard had to somehow get back to his rights to Dianetics from Purcell. This is the situation Hubbard faced in early Scientology in Phoenix:

Purcell owned the Dianetics rights –> Hubbard owned the name Scientology –> Mathison owned the e-meter patent

Hubbard’s ultimate goal was to own the rights to everything and unify it under the Scientology name. However, until he could bring all of the missing pieces together, Hubbard had to bide his time and share the spotlight with Volney Mathison in early Scientology. Volney’s name was on all of the ads for e-meters in the Journal of Scientology. This must have infuriated the Luciferian Hubbard who wanted to exalt his name above all others.


Issue 2-G of the Journal of Scientology shows Hubbard’s state of mind and the games he was playing as he was evolving Dianetics into Scientology. For example, he claimed, in a wholly unconvincing article, that his work had been called “Scientology” since 1938. However, he averred, he used Dianetics as his test launch. Hubbard also returned, once again, to his never-ending redefinition of Clear. In Issue 2-G Hubbard specified his requirements for a MEST Clear. However, he did so in terms of the e-meter. Hubbard had, in all respects, conferred his stamp of infallibility upon Mathison’s e-meter and placed it at the center of Scientology:

Journal of Scientology Issue 2-G

[1]Miller, R. (2015). Bare-faced messiah: the true story of L. Ron Hubbard. London: Silvertail Books.

[2] Some sources give the HAS incorporation date as September 10, 1952. However, the actual incorporation documents were signed and dated on September 9, 1952.

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