The Scientology Money Project

A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 8

The 1958 “American Blue” Hubbard Electrometer. This was the first e-meter Ron Hubbard introduced that bore his name. The dial reads “For Use in Scientological Clearing.” Thus, the original purpose of the e-meter as conceived of by Hubbard himself was to “clear” people by use of the psycho-political system of Scientology. The implications of “planetary clearing” have been seen and documented by the world since the 1950’s.

As discussed in our previous installment, Ron Hubbard claimed that his 1955 discovery of the “comm lag” eliminated the need for the e-meter in Scientology. However, in typical Hubbardian fashion, Scientology’s Founder almost immediately made yet another technical discovery which required him to reintroduce the e-meter.

In the Professional Auditors Bulletin Number (PAB) 52 of 13 May 1955, Hubbard casually wrote, “And here come E-Meters back into the picture.” He also mentioned that HASI was working on a new and better meter that would be called the Physio-galvanometer or the O-Meter. From PAB 52:

The new e-meter designed by HASI would not be released until 1958. This left Scientologists in the position of using  the Mathison e-meter for the next 2.5 years. The fact is that the e-meter had become an indispensable part of Scientology. In actual practice, then, the e-meter never actually left Scientology. However, Volney Mathison did and would later write about it. As for Don Purcell’s Dianetics auditors that had joined HASI, they now had to pay for training on the e-meter if they wanted to make money delivering Scientology.

1958: Ron Hubbard had Scientologist Don Breeding design and build the new Hubbard Electrometer. Unlike the Mathison meter which used vacuum tube technology, Ron’s new meter was transistorized and much more compact. The new meter was introduced in Ability Magazine, the official magazine of Scientology at the time. This full page ad is from Ability Issue 69 of February 1958:

The new Hubbard electrometer didn’t have all of the complicated dials and switches of Volney’s old meter. The ad text above also notes that the Hubbard electrometer put only 50 microamperes through the preclear’s body compared to “an offensive 500 microamperes in the old AC meters.” As an aside, 500 microamperes is a clinical dosage used in microcurrent electrical therapy (MET). The decades-long ongoing debate and discussion of the e-meter’s psycho-physical effects on the mind and body is a discussion for a later time.

Ron Hubbard would build and sell his new e-meter from Scientology’s centers in London and Washington DC. In an HCO Bulletin of 29 May 1958 entitled Standard Clear Procedure and an Experimental Road: Clearing by Valences, Hubbard took a cheap shot at the Mathison e-meter. He did this when he described the set up for a Standard Clearing Procedure:

Ron Hubbard called the Mathison meter, the device he had used to launch Scientology internationally and sustain it for six years, “some tin quivering together on the hopes of some tinker… an old Model T E-Meter made in California.” Hubbard never expressed any sense of gratitude to anyone in his entire life. Hubbard’s deep insult to Volney Mathison showed his pattern of slandering and destroying people when they were no longer of any use to him.

In this next piece of ad copy, the new Hubbard electrometer was again promoted as a “real e-meter” that could detect flows, ridges, and dispersals.  This was a public slap at the Mathison meter and its puny ability to only detect flows.

In the ad copy is Hubbard asserted “flows, ridges, and dispersals” as facts. But what are flows, ridges, and dispersals? They are Hubbard-created mental objects arising within the larger Hubbard-invented Scientology cosmology. This cosmology shapes and creates the psyche and identity of Scientologists.

Hubbard’s cosmology creates and sustains the consensual and restricted reality of Scientologists. Debating Scientologists always demand that an “LRH Reference” be produced to prove an assertion.

Scientologists accept Ron’s description of flows, ridges, dispersals, beams, engrams, charge, theta bops, blowdowns, rocket reads, implants and everything else Ron talked about for two reasons: These things all read on the e-meter, and, these things are true to Scientologists. Hence:

The central premise of Scientology: If it reads on the meter it is true.

The corollary Scientology premise: What is true for you is true for you.

Both of these premises are tautologies as are so many things in religion. Nevertheless, Hubbard used the e-meter to prove that his research was true. For example, when a Scientologist is audited on a past trauma, the needle of the e-meter moves in response. Hubbard said this proved that engrams created in moments of pain and unconsciousness were stored in the Reactive Mind. In physiological terms, however, what is actually happening is that the electrical resistance of a person’s skin changes when they recall a painful memory. These same changes in the electrical conductance of human skin can occur, for example, when watching an upsetting or terrifying horror film.

We are now living in a global pandemic that is full of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. These feelings would read on an e-meter. However, this does not mean that the Reactive Mind exists. Rather, it means that the human body is electrical in nature and that fear and trauma change the electrical conductance of the skin.

That the electrical conductance of the skin can change in response to both actual and fictional stimuli speaks to the well-known inability of the mind to effectively discriminate between the two at all times. Advertising, propaganda, and cultic religious appeals seek to manipulate and exploit this vulnerability. Fake news exploits this vulnerability as well.

One of Hubbard’s rules for auditors was to “never evaluate for the preclear.”  What this means is that the Scientologist is allowed to talk about whatever they want to talk about in session. Ron Hubbard shrewdly allowed any subjective content a person found important to be discussed in Scientology auditing sessions. Ghosts, fixations, being murdered in past lives, metaphysical entities, recurring bad dreams and everything can be discussed in a session. In addition to being quite financially lucrative for Scientology, this was also therapeutic for Scientologists. All of this subjective content is quite real and distressing to people and we don’t judge them. However, our response is that Hubbard created Dianetics and Scientology as reductionist systems. Thus, he was able to reduce all objective and subjective content discussed in auditing sessions to engrams, implants, beams, ridges, and all of the other things he invented and said a thetan experienced.

By analogy, let us say that 1,000 jetliners per day land at LAX. Every single person on all of those jetliners has a unique and different life story and life experiences. However, at the end of the day they are all landing at the same airport in Los Angeles. This is the path in Scientology: It doesn’t matter what Scientologists say in session because, ultimately, they are all on the same road. That road is Hubbard’s unchanging Bridge where everything ends at the destination of OT VIII. All of the differing subjective, objective, and imaginal content and life experiences of Scientologists will read on the meter. However, it all reduces to the same explanation of engrams, implants, etc. and the narrative described on the OT Levels.

That Ron Hubbard so adroitly superimposed his psychotherapuetic-metaphysical construct upon a natural phenomenon happened because the general public, and the medical community at large, were not familiar with the arcane subject of electropsychogalvanometry. As previously noted, this niche area of psychological research was an uncontested market space that was there for the taking.

Carpe Diem: Hubbard took over this uncontested space and used his considerable marketing skills to make the e-meter forever synonymous with Scientology. As he developed the psycho-architecture of Scientology around the platform of the e-meter in the ensuing decades, the two become irrevocably inseparable.

Another subtle and powerful point: Hubbard used a device that measures a well-known and documented human physiological response to stress and turned it into a highly controversial religion. Hubbard made many claims for the e-meter that made a showdown with the US FDA and the authorities in other nations inevitable. Hubbard may have taken over an esoteric and uncontested market space, but once he put his e-meter-based psycho-mechanics into operation and started making some serious money and engaging in unethical and illegal conduct, the governments where Scientology operated took notice.

As we have noted in our previous work, Scientology became the world’s first religion that is wholly dependent upon electricity: Without electricity the e-meter will not work. Scientology is also anchored in Hubbard’s cosmology. Hence, we can state that Scientology is, at its root, an electrically-activated cosmology.

The potent and core psycho-mechanics, cosmology, and indoctrination of Scientology come alive when the e-meter is electrically active in session and the preclear is handed the cans. The existential dynamics of an actual Scientology auditing session are extraordinary to consider, particularly when one understands Scientology’s inherent motives to gain power, control, and wealth. Indeed, that Scientologists are required to sign Scientology’s four fundamental contracts before they can even pick up the cans and be audited speaks to these not-so-hidden motives of Scientology. We explore these subjects in our book. There is no release date at present as we are taking our time in deconstructing Ron Hubbard’s creation.

How did Ron Hubbard get people to the point where they accepted his propositions about the e-meter and cosmology as truth? We cite two main elements. First, as we previously noted, Hubbard declared in 1952: The e-meter gives life to Freudian psychotherapy:

In this 1952 article Hubbard wrote:

There were many difficulties with the technique of free association but the main one was the lack of positive evidence for the doctor on what the patient was avoiding, or repressing. Years later, the technique is made workable for the first time by the development of an electronic instrument, the electropsychometer, which was invented by Volney Mathison of California. While this instrument was developed primarily for the needs of Scientology, Mathison has furthered its use by developing, as well, what he calls “Technique 100”, or “Associative Processing”…It is said by those who have employed this process that they cannot see how analysis could possibly be conducted without the use of the electropsychometer. Now that associative processing has been developed. its importance in the field of psychotherapy cannot be slighted or even over-estimated.

Because Dianetics was Freudian psychotherapy it produced a beneficial psychological result for a certain class of people. As a consequence, these people self-identified as Dianeticists. When Ron Hubbard introduced psychogalvanometry into Dianetics via the Mathison e-meter, he knowingly and strategically psycho-engineered and upgraded his Dianeticized-Freudian-psychotherapy into Scientology.

The second element is this: Ron Hubbard quickly morphed Scientology into a paranoid psycho-political system bent upon world domination. Hubbard’s goal to “Clear the Planet” has a very dark and sinister meaning. Hubbard weaponized the e-meter and used it as a lie detector in his security checking procedures. Thus, the e-meter has two main functions in Scientology: Psychotherapy and Interrogation. We  consider that there is a spectrum at work here. Psychotherapy can be intrusive as it asks and demands people to face their lies, self-deception, and the ways in which they have harmed others. Alcoholics Anonymous and other non-Scientology 12-step programs make such demands of people.

The question becomes this: When does psychotherapy become interrogation? In Scientology, part of the answer has to do with the willingness of the Scientologist to be fully indoctrinated and to engage in thought-stopping so that he or she harbors no critical thoughts of Ron Hubbard, Scientology, or the leaders and leading names of Scientology. This cultic prohibition on freethinking is enforced by the e-meter in its role as a lie detector and a security checking device. Sec-checking is clearly one example in Scientology where psychotherapy become interrogation and coercion. Hubbard would cross the line in other ways, particularly when he destroyed any pretense of priest-penitent confidentially and ordered that preclear folders be culled for damning information and blackmail material to be used against former Scientologists who spoke out. The culling of folders is Scientology-psychotherapy-as-blackmail within Hubbard’s program of Fair Game.

Therefore, while the e-meter became one of the central elements in Hubbard’s cosmological-and-ideological- psychotherapeutic-framework, one of the other main elements was the systematic indoctrination of Scientologists into the paranoid psycho-political worldview of Scientology. In the Professional Auditor’s Bulletin of 15 October 1957 entitled The Five Levels of Indoctrination and Procedure CCH, Hubbard wrote:

Back in old Book One [Dianetics] days, a fellow could sit down beside someone on a couch and say “Go back to that engram,” and it looked like auditing. It doesn’t look like auditing today. It is the difference of indoctrination which makes the difference. The person who applies it has been successfully checked through the five levels of Indoc.

The indoctrination of long-term Scientologists is constant, sweeping, intense, and summates to a highly restrictive and ideological worldview. While Scientology has a psychotherapeutic component, it also acts to create and reinforce a hard and fixed identity which can expressed in this statement: I am a Scientologist and must always act and think in ways that keep me in good standing with the Church of Scientology.

Scientology auditing is an intense investigation into the nature and construction of one’s own subjectivity, i.e. one’s own case, within the framework of Hubbard’s psycho-architecture. As such, what’s true for you is true for you – but only within Hubbard’s framework. Thus, to be critical of Scientology would mean that one has some hidden overt, or crime, or has done something to harm Scientology. Ron Hubbard laid down the law in one of his typical self-serving non sequiturs: Scientology is the most ethical group on the planet. Therefore, only criminals attack Scientology.

In our next installment we examine the period from 1958-1965. We examine Hubbard’s continuing fusion of the e-meter to his ideologically-based paranoid psycho-cosmology. Hubbard’s potent use of created language constructs in Scientology went hand-in-hand with the e-meter. We long ago concluded that Ron Hubbard the writer and the e-meter co-created each other on an ongoing basis from 1951 forward. This co-creation of man and machine is Scientology.

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