The Scientology Money Project

A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 7


In a stunning turn of events, Ron Hubbard suddenly withdrew the e-meter from service in Scientology in 1955. He explained why the e-meter was no longer being used in Chapter X of his new book Dianetics 55 [1]:
In this quote, Hubbard denounces the e-meter as a “mechanical gadget” that imposes itself between the auditor and the preclear. This mechanical gadget, Hubbard stated, depersonalized the session and unfavorably gave the auditor an unwanted dependency “upon the physical universe and its meters which did not have to be there.”

Hubbard then authoritatively declared, “I knew when we first began to use e-meters that sooner or later something would have to be evolved, or that something would turn up which would dispense with them.” Hubbard’s replacement for the e-meter was his invention of the comm lag.

What precipitated Hubbard’s sudden and unexpected banishment of the e-meter from Scientology?


In a sudden turn of events reported sometime around September 1954, Don Purcell gave up his legal battles with Ron Hubbard. Issue 36-G of the Journal of Scientology announced the news; the initial paragraph of the story was in all caps:


Since early 1952 the ownership of these properties have (sic) been in contest, and considerable unhappiness was generated as a result of this separation of organizations and resultant disunity in the public view.

Don Purcell’s action was motivated by no other factor than his goodness of heart and probably his feeling that unity of organizations could be brought about again.

The offer was sent to L. Ron Hubbard and contained the line, “Anything I’ve got that bears the label, ‘Dianetics’ is yours for the asking, just say the word”. Ron accepted the corporations and Foundations of Dianetics,the various books which included SCIENCE OF SURVIVAL, and the various rosters and correspondence(sic) files of the organizations.

This means that the entire and complete control without contest of Dianetics, as well as Scientology, will be in Phoenix, Arizona.

Ron Hubbard was now in control of both Scientology and Dianetics; this presented major opportunities for him. The first big opportunity was to cut Volney Mathison out of the picture entirely. Hubbard was paying Mathison royalties on the e-meter and electropsychometry instruction manuals on how to audit people with a meter. As Mathison was unwilling to sell Hubbard his e-meter patent, this made it even easier for Hubbard to ditch Mathison. By eliminating the e-meter and ordering all his auditors to go back to using Dianetics auditing procedures, Hubbard could keep all of the money for himself.

And things got even better for Ron.

Those Dianeticists who had stayed behind with Purcell didn’t know where they stood now that Dianetics was back in Hubbard’s hands. Many of these people made their income from Dianetics auditing. Would these Purcell auditors have their certifications revoked by Hubbard and lose their income?

Ron’s answer was that everything was fine so long as these people joined the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International (HASI) and paid $250 for a two month program of retraining[2]. This was 50% off the regular price of training and certification. Hubbard would make his 10% royalty from the income generated by these new auditors and so there was every reason to keep them working. What Ron Hubbard wanted was to get all of Purcell’s people into HASI as dues-paying members. Speed was essential. In our opinion, Hubbard took the e-meter out of Scientology, in part, to make retraining easier and faster for the Purcell Dianeticists who had never worked with the e-meter.

When Hubbard made his offer to Purcell Dianeticists to join HASI and become Scientologists, he also gave them the choice to continue on as Dianetics auditors or to train and become Scientology auditors. As he explained:

Those completing the retraining program may obtain an advanced Dianetic certificate from the Foundations or a new Hubbard Certified Auditor certificate from the HASI, at their election.

The primary difference between Dianetics and Scientology is that Dianetics is a mental therapy and has long been held as the only thoroughly validated mental therapy in existence today. Scientology, on the other hand, is a wider study and is a science existing from the view point of the human spirit[3].

The message was clear: Dianetics represented the past and Scientology was the future of the movement. Dianetics was destined to permanently take a back seat to Scientology.


As we noted in our Part 6 of our series, First Generation Scientology consisted of one simple procedural change from Dianetics:

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.

Because Purcell owned the rights to Dianetics and Dianetics auditing procedures, Hubbard couldn’t make any money off what he didn’t own — and there was no way in hell Hubbard was ever going to pay Purcell royalties to use Dianetics. Therefore, by switching from Dianetics-style auditing to auditing with a e-meter, Hubbard made money selling e-meters and training people how to audit using the meter.

All Ron Hubbard did was to call Dianetics “Scientology” and use an e-meter. A contemporary analogy would be to quit driving a taxi and become a limousine driver. The same result of taking a person form Point A to Point B is accomplished. Early Dianetics was a taxi where the driver talked to you on the trip through the engrams in your Reactive Mind. Scientology became a fancy e-meter limousine ride where a scientific-chauffeur drove you all around your past lives, engrams, implants and everything else in Wholetrack City.

Because Ron Hubbard was the creator of Scientology, he had the complete freedom to write the e-meter into and out of  Scientology at his whim. The amazing e-meter was the greatest thing ever in 1952. In 1955, the e-meter became a nuisance mechanical gadget that interposed itself between the auditor and the preclear.

Authorship has its privileges. Hubbard simply had his auditors revert to Dianetics-style auditing to keep the income rolling in. Hubbard clearly had a strategy in place when he ordered the e-meter discontinued. The e-meter later came back into Scientology where it remains to this day. How did this happen?


Volney Mathison was an extremely popular figure in early Dianetics and Scientology. In Volume 1, Issue 8 of The Aberee Magazine, Mathison related the following charmingly colorful Space Opera story about what happened when Ron audited him in 1952:

Ron audited me one afternoon, and through his remarkable methods of interrogation, caused me to disclose — theta-wise — both to him and to myself, that I am one of the principal inventors of a weapon allegedly styled as a “Facsimile One” machine, which I first developed in the T-8 Galaxy 42 trillion years ago, and which, as a member-of the Eighth Invader Corps, I used 20 trillion, two and one-eighth years later to take over an entire system of planets in the Arcturus Area.  (Scroll down to the bottom of this article for the PDF of Volney Mathison’s entire article.)

Hubbard and Mathison had obviously worked together on processes related to auditing. As we have shown, the Mathison e-meter allowed Hubbard to resurrect his dying Dianetics movement by calling it Scientology.

In order to sell the new e-meter to his customer base in 1952, Hubbard had extolled the virtues of the e-meter and negated Dianetics as being essentially useless. Hubbard’s handwritten note on this e-meter ad in the Journal of Scientology #1 says it all: The Mathison e-meter reduced auditing time from a staggering 1,000 hours to 80 hours:

Ron Hubbard praised Volney Mathison when the e-meter was introduced. Soon enough, though, Ron wanted Mathison’s patent on the electropsychometer. Mathison wasn’t interested in selling. In 1954, Hubbard had one his throwaway organizations — a group called the “International Guild of Auditors” – sue, or threaten to sue, Volney Mathison for his patents to the e-meter. Aberee Magazine reported on this:

On October 2, the following letter arrived in The ABERREE office:”Be informed that Volney Mathison is at present being sued for his patents. Your affiliation with Volney puts you on the same edge as he.

“Please reply,

(Signed) “Dr. R. F. Steves”.

The letter was written on a letterhead of the International Guild of Scientologists, which, according to a bulletin dated August 9, had been reorganized into the Committee of Examination, Certification, and Services of the Hubbard Association of Scientologists, International. It was mailed in an H.A.S.I. envelope.

The International Guild of Auditors mailed a letter out to Scientologists and told them they too would be sued if they were connected to Volney Mathison or were to use the Mathison e-meter. Volney Mathison began to distance himself from Hubbard. Mathison wrote that he had invented the e-meter independently of Hubbard and that Scientology was only part of his e-meter business. Mathison eventually left the Scientology movement and denounced Hubbard.

Hubbard let everyone know that he owned the rights to Scientology. But more than this he also let everyone know he was the only person who was wise enough to own Scientology:

Scientology, its processes and tenets, are fully owned and copyrighted by L. Ron Hubbard. It is his entire interest in holding such copyrights to make certain that the subject and its materials cannot be monopolized by monied groups, or despoiled for the gain of men without conscience. It is no idle statement that he who controls Scientology might well change civilization. Mr. Hubbard believes that it must not be changed for the worst as some evidently would have it[3].

When Don Purcell gave his rights to Dianetics back to Ron Hubbard, the handwriting was on the wall: Volney Mathison had to go so that Hubbard could own and control Scientology in its entirety. To take down Mathison and his e-meter Hubbard had to offer Scientologists something new that he deemed superior to the e-meter. What was Hubbard’s new wonder weapon in the war against the Reactive Mind?


Just as Hubbard minimized the value of Dianetics auditing to sell the new e-meter, he now had to introduce something to minimize the e-meter and explain why it was no longer needed. Hubbard’s answer was the comm lag.

Hubbard defined a “communication lag” or a “comm lag” as it came to be called, as the time interval between the auditor asking a question and the person being audited to give an answer. A long delay in the preclear answering the auditor’s question indicated a problem. Perhaps the preclear was withholding something he or she did not want the auditor know. The auditor would then ask the preclear questions about the comm lag.

Incredibly, Hubbard claimed the comm lag eliminated the need for an e-meter. This was the bit of diva mind-fuckery against Scientologists we mentioned in our previous installment. Hubbard had imbued Scientologists with a sense of certainty that their expensive scientific e-meters were infallible. Now he annihilated their certainty in his quest to destroy Volney Mathison. We call this the “E-Meter in Exile” period in Scientology’s history. While Hubbard’s “comm lag” became a part of Scientology, it could not possibly replace the e-meter. Hubbard’s claim was bogus and yet he tried to palm it off on Scientologists it in an utterly self-serving manner.

Hubbard’s assertion that the comm lag was superior to the e-meter was not persuasive with auditors and preclears. Despite Hubbard’s 1955 ban on the e-meter for use in Scientology, many auditors in the field continued to use their meters in defiance of Hubbard’s edict. Preclears insisted upon the e-meter. Hubbard was not pleased. He knew he needed to bring back the e-meter into Scientology going forward. However, it could not be the Mathison e-meter.

As Hubbard’s notion of a comm lag became institutionalized in Scientology, to be “comm laggy” means that one is dishonest or is hiding something. It is akin to being “withholdy.” It is not good to be considered or thought of as comm laggy in Scientology. Scientologists, particularly Sea Org members, are expected to make instant decisions without thinking through the consequences. David Miscavige’s incredibly destructive decisions since he took power are legion.

The terms “comm lag”, “comm laggy”, and “withholdy” became added to the ever-growing lexicon of Hubbard neologisms. These new words changed the way Scientologists thought about themselves and approached life. These specialized terms also added to the linguistic-insularity of Scientologists and reinforced the cultic nature of Scientology.


Ron Hubbard’s withdrawal of the e-meter from Scientology was a tactical move that allowed him to get rid of Volney Mathison and the Mathison electropsychometer. The “E-Meter in Exile” period also permitted Hubbard to unify Dianetics and Scientology and bring the entire movement back under his control.

In Dianetics 55! Hubbard let readers know that he now had his own e-meter:

Ron Hubbard had a few of his people who were skilled in electronics design a new e-meter that circumvented Mathison’s patent. The new meter was called the Mark V and was labeled “Hubbard Electrometer. For Use in Scientology.

Ron Hubbard’s name was on the patent as the inventor. This was all a part of Hubbard’s grand effort to hijack the one hundred years of research into the art and science of psychogalvanometry and call it Scientology. Hubbard could do this because psychogalvanometry was an uncontested market space. This market was there for the taking because no one else was after it. Hubbard was able to take over the psychogalvanometry because he had the means to do so. By simply superimposing his Dianetics framework upon the Mathison electropsychometer, Hubbard deftly created Scientology. Understood from this perspective, Dianetics was Hubbard’s down payment on Scientology; he just didn’t understand it or see it in 1950. We think he understood it in November 1, 1951 when he copyrighted the word “Scientology.”

There is a secret hiding in plain sight here concerning the e-meter; we reveal this secret in our final installment.

In our next installment, we discuss Hubbard’s cunning in converting his Freudian-Electropsychometrical system into a religion called the Church of Scientology. At the same time, we cover the ways in which Hubbard weaponized his religious “pastoral counseling device” and turned it into a nightmarish and coercive interrogation device. Hubbard’s creation of metered sec checking would take Scientology down a very dark road.

                                    The Hubbard Mark V Electrometer

[1]Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics 55! CA: Bridge Publications, Inc., 2007. Print.

[2]Journal of Scientology, Issue 36-G.The Hubbard Association of Scientologists, International, Phoenix, Arizona.

[3] Journal of Scientology 41-G. Hubbard Association of Scientologists International. Phoenix. 1954.

Volney Mathison’s article on his death ray in The Aberee Magazine:

2 replies »

  1. Great historical overview of the device’s early development.

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