The Scientology Money Project

A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Parts 1-10

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

Jeffrey Augustine

The Scientology Money Project

Copyright 2020

We take a wide systems approach in this series by reviewing the scientific history; academic and clinical sources; intellectual property issues; financial motives; the collapse of Dianetics; esoteric motifs; potential for psychological manipulation; and L. Ron Hubbard’s other varied needs which led him to adopt Volney Mathison’s e-meter and integrate it into Scientology. The story of how the e-meter became a central part of Scientology is more complex than realized. We build upon the work of other writers and add in our own original research and conclusions.


The D’Arsonval Galvanometer was invented in the 19th century by the esteemed French scientist Jacques D’Arsonval (1851-1940)

(Note: This is an excerpt from the book we’re writing on Scientology.)

Very little was known about electricity in the 18th century. The subject commanded wide scientific and public interest. The idea that the human body was somehow electrical in nature was a matter of speculation and skepticism. The idea that God’s creation needed electricity when God had breathed life into Adam and Eve was an affront to clerics. God was the source of life and did not need electricity – whatever electricity was altogether – to animate God’s living Creation. God was the source of Life argued Christian theologians. Therefore, the Life Force was the Holy Spirit which pervaded all things as a function of God’s omnipresence.

Religion would soon suffer an even larger challenge from Science when Charles Darwin theorized that all natural species had evolved from lower forms. Naturalistic Evolution shook the core religious foundation of Divine Creation. Understood from this perspective, the earlier discovery that the human body, and indeed all biological organisms, were electrical in nature became part of the scientific foundation for Darwin’s 1859 revolutionary work On the Origin of Species.

In simplified terms, Evolution is driven by the electrochemical processes inherent in biology interacting with, and adapting to, the demands and challenges of the naturalistic environment. That the electrical properties of the human body and all organisms could be detected and measured represented a major scientific breakthrough that helped to explain, in part, the evolutionary process. As with all scientific breakthroughs, however, charlatans and their various schools of pseudoscience quickly appeared on the scene in hopes of gaining money and fame.


We begin our essay by contrasting the 18th century work of Luigi Galvani and Franz Mesmer in order to show the differences between science and pseudoscience as concerned early investigations into electricity and the human body.

Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) was an Italian scientist whose work demonstrated that very small electrical currents caused nerve and muscle function. In what would become a very famous experiment he conducted on September 20, 1786, Galvani applied a small external electrical current to the leg of a dead frog and observed the subsequent contraction of the muscles in the leg of the frog. Galvani was working based upon his theory that a “neuro-electric” fluid was present in the nervous systems of animals — including humans. His experiment seemed to confirm this, and Galvani became known as the father of “animal electricity.”

To say that Galvani’s experiment attracted attention is an understatement. Rather, his experiment created an overnight sensation. In his fascinating essay published at, Professor Iwan Rhys Morus writes:

In 1803, Giovanni Aldini (Galvani’s nephew) visited London to defend animal electricity against its detractors. At one performance he electrified a decapitated dog, with the Prince Regent in the audience. As the climax of his visit he carried out galvanic experiments at the Royal College of Surgeons on the body of a man named George Forster, just hanged for murder. It was a gruesome affair: ‘The jaw of the deceased criminal began to quiver, the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened.’ Aldini was lampooned in the anti-radical press as just another buffoon trying to con the public that electricity was life. But even amongst the relatively staid fellowship of the Royal Society, Aldini had plenty of supporters. He was sponsored by the Royal Humane Society who thought his experiments offered a way of bringing drowned sailors back to life.

Mary Shelley certainly knew about Aldini’s experiments when she wrote Frankenstein. Discussions about electricity, the soul and the possibilities of artificial life were common currency in the literary and political circles in which she and her husband moved. In 1818, the year Frankenstein was published, another electrical resurrection was attempted in Glasgow, this time on the body of a convicted murderer called Matthew Clydesdale. The experiments were carried out by doctor Andrew Ure, who waxed dramatically on how electricity turned the dead man’s body into an automaton: ‘Every muscle in his countenance was simultaneously thrown into fearful action: rage, horror, despair, anguish, and ghastly smiles, united their hideous expression in the murderer’s face.’


As in any emergent field of research, there were alternative schools of thought in the 18th and 19th century concerning the animating force of living things. Animal electricity therefore became linked to the idea of vitalism. Vitalism held that all living things contained an innate vital energy. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) called this energy “élan vital” (vital force).

Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) posited the theory that animal magnetism – as opposed to animal electricity — was the animating force of the body. Mesmer maintained that diseases occurred in humans when the flow of animal magnetism became disrupted or blocked by injury, structural defects, etc. Mesmer treated people by using his hands and eyes to balance the energy flows in his patients. Mesmer also taught others his techniques. Mesmerism was a predecessor to the New Age notion of balancing chakras and energies in the body. Mesmerism is also evocative of the ancient Chinese therapy of correcting the flow of Chi, or Qi, in the meridians of the body by use of acupuncture and herbs.

Mesmerism was in vogue for about seventy-five years. The technique itself made Mesmer a fortune as he had a lucrative practice in a wealthy section of Paris. Like L. Ron Hubbard, Mesmer had his critics who dismissed him as a charlatan and his work as quackery.

Mesmerism generated such notoriety and controversy that King Louis XVI appointed a royal committee in 1784 to investigate the subject. Committee members included Benjamin Franklin who was then serving as the American ambassador to France. Also serving on the committee was Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin who, although he did not invent the guillotine, had his name appropriated for the device after having recommended it as a more humane and precision form of execution than beheading people by the use of a sword or an axe. In one of those odd historical coincidences, King Louis XVI, who had appointed Dr. Guillotin to the Mesmerism investigation, would lose his own head to the guillotine on January 21, 1793 following the French Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy. King Louis XVI’s wife Marie Antoinette would suffer the same fate.

The Mesmerism Commission, with one dissenting vote, determined that Mesmer had not discovered any sort of new physical fluid and that Mesmerism’s claimed results were largely the result of the imaginations of those who had been treated. This is a fascinating foreshadowing of the same charges and conclusions leveled by critics against L. Ron Hubbard.

Although the precise details were not understood at the time, the work of Galvani scientifically demonstrated that electrical activity was present in in animal and human bodies. On the other hand, Franz Mesmer, who was a medical doctor, interpreted the existing scientific research of his day to create his popular, if dubious, science of animal magnetism. As L. Ron Hubbard would later do, Mesmer claimed that his science could cure disease and optimize one’s physical and mental health. And like Hubbard, Mesmer’s work received widespread coverage in the media of his day and was criticized by many and attracted the attention of the authorities.


Unlike Mesmerism, which was conducted by the hands of the practitioner, there was a need for physical hardware that could be used to conduct real world electrical research. At the time, electricity was still confined to laboratories; the practical means of large-scale electrical generation and transmission to the masses was still decades away. In order to even invent new electrical devices, then, there was a great need for equipment that could be used to measure various electrical properties in laboratories. Hence, the invention of electrical measurement devices necessarily preceded the large-scale implementation of electricity.

Some of the most important research in this era focused around electrical conductance and electrical resistance. For example, if electricity was to become practical and usable on a wide scale then researchers, scientists, and inventors needed to discover those materials through which electricity would most easily flow. Materials such as copper became known as conductors because they have very little resistance to the flow of electricity and thus easily conduct electricity. Conversely, it became necessary at times to inhibit the flow of electricity in circuits. Materials needed to be discovered that had a very high resistance to electricity. Materials that resist the flow of electricity became known as resistors.

The question of knowing how to measure resistance and conductance became important. In 1827 the German scientist George Ohm (1789-1854) described the mathematical basis of how to measure electrical resistance and his work became known as Ohm’s law. Electrical resistance is measured in “ohms” after the work of Ohm. Conversely, an international convention in 1881 agreed to measure electrical conductance by using a unit of measure it named the “siemens” in honor of the German industrialist and inventor Ernst Werner Siemens (1816-1892). A capital S is used to denote siemens.

In order to measure electrical resistance as mathematically described by Ohm’s law, a physical device was needed. The first such primitive device was invented by André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836) and was based upon the 1820 description of the Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted (1777-1851). Ørsted was the first scientist to discover that an electric current created a magnetic field; his work established the early crucial relationship between electricity and magnetism.

Ampère named his new device the “galvanometer” in honor of Luigi Galvani. A series of improved galvanometers was invented over time. For the researcher to visually read the measured resistance, galvanometers featured a pointer, or a needle. The pointer would make a rotary motion and deflect to the left or right of center depending upon the input from the electrodes on the patient. The needle swept across a curved analog dial that was divided into units of measurement akin to a ruler. A photo of the 19th century D’Arsonval galvanometer which appears at the top of this article. The photo shows us the arrangement of the pointer and an analog scale.


Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) is considered the originator of the field of electrophysiology. This field uses various measurement devices, low level electrical current, electrodes, and sensors to measure physiological processes such as the speed of nerve impulses, cardiac rhythm, respiration, and so on. One modern example of electrophysiology is the use of an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine to detect and measure cardiac rhythm.

From the late 1840’s forward, Helmholtz conducted a series of experiments which included the use of a galvanometer. His experiments sought to determine the speed of nerve transmission in humans. Helmholtz described his technique:

In a human being, a very weak electric shock is applied to a limited space of skin. When he feels the shock, he is asked to carry out a specific movement with the hand or the teeth, interrupting the time measurement as soon as possible.

Helmholtz’s experiments on the speed of human response to stimuli ended the long-held belief that nerve impulses were instantaneous and therefore immeasurable. Helmholtz’s work showed that skin, muscles and nerves were electrically active. His work also demonstrated that this electrical activity could be measured using a galvanometer. Henning Schmidgen, a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute, summarized Helmholtz’s 1850 research (emphasis mine):

Helmholtz concluded that in humans, the ‘message of an impression’ propagates itself ‘to the brain with a speed of circa 60 Meter (180 feet) [per second] and does not differ noticeably at various times. Helmholtz also reasoned that the time needed ‘by the brain for the processes of perceiving and willing’ was 0.1 seconds. He had to admit, however, that his experiments with humans involved a factor apt to threaten the required constancy of all others, namely the attention of the subject under experimentation. ‘Slight feelings of sickness’ and ‘fatigue’ of the experimental subject could significantly disturb the precision measurements, as well as distractions of all kinds: ‘If at the time of perceiving the signal the thoughts are occupied with something else, and if the mind has to recall to itself what kind of movement one must carry out, it [the reaction] takes much more time.’ At this point, Helmholtz had definitely reached psychological ground.

Schmidgen’s observation that Helmholtz had taken the galvanometer into psychological ground is important as it shows the historical point at which the galvanometer became a psychogalvanometer. Helmholtz noticed, but could not explain why, the speed of nerve impulses slowed down in people who were distracted or preoccupied. This was a matter where it was uncertain if correlation implied causation.

Helmholtz and other experimenters observed decreases in skin resistance in response to stressors, distractions, and external stimuli. Said another way, researchers were observing an increase in the electrical conductance of the skin. This characteristic came to be called by various names such as Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), the Psychogalvanic Reflex and so forth.

Because Galvanic Skin Resistance is characterized by an increase in the electrical conductance of the skin it is measured in microsiemens (μS). In 1967, the “Galvanic Skin Response” and other related terms were subsumed into the more precise term Electrodermal Activity (EDA). The human skin is micro-electrical in nature, has both active and passive micro-electrical characteristics, and the electrical resistance and conductance of the skin is constantly changing. The field concerned with measuring the electrical activities of the skin is called electrophysiology.

Writing in the journal European Polygraph (2015, Volume 9, Number 4), Jan Widacki offers a brief overview of the galvanometer as used in 19th and early 20th century neurological and psychological research:

Charles Féré (1852–1907) found that by passing a low electrical current between two electrodes placed on the surface on the skin, one could use a galvanometer to measure momentary decreases in skin resistance in response to a variety of stimuli of various types, including visual and auditory ones (Féré 1888). In this way Féré discovered that the skin becomes a better conductor of electricity in the presence of external stimuli.

The needle, or pointer, on Féré’s galvanometer explained Helmholtz’s earlier observation: Momentary decreases in skin resistance occurred “in response to a variety of stimuli of various types, including visual and auditory ones.”


The correlation between psychological states and changes in electrical skin resistance was established by Féré and other researchers. This discovery had many implications. For example, in their paper published in the journal The Association of Psychological Science, authors Nick Joyce and David Baker commented on some of the historical usages of the galvanometer in medicine, psychology, and law enforcement:

…In 1901, Willem Einthoven (1860–1927) devised a very powerful device called a string galvanometer. This version of the galvanometer was so sensitive that it was used to measure the electrical potentials of the heart from outside the body, producing the electrocardiogram.

Not to be left out of the game, psychologists began to investigate the influence of electricity in psychological phenomena.

One such early use of the galvanometer was in research published in 1890 by Jean De Tarchanoff (1857–1927) in Russia entitled “Galvanic Phenomena in the Human Skin in Connection with Irritation of the Sensory Organs and with Various Forms of Psychic Activity.” It related to emotional responses to stress and sensory stimuli recorded as changes in the electrical properties of the skin on a galvanometer. The name Tarchanoff phenomenon was given to the effect….


The psychogalvanometer works because it can measure changes in the electrical resistance of human sweat glands changes in response to external stimuli.

Why and how does electrical resistance occur in human sweat glands?

A brief explanation tells us why. There are three main types of sweat glands in the human body: The apocrine, the eccrine, and the apoeccrine. The apoeccrine sweat glands have characteristics of the both the apocrine and the eccrine sweat glands. There are other specialized sweat glands, but they are not of interest to the discussion at hand.

The apocrine sweat glands secrete fluid into the sacs of hair follicles. The apocrine sweat glands do not pertain to our discussion. What we are interested in are the eccrine sweat glands. The eccrine sweat glands are very numerous in the body. While estimates vary, there are two to four million eccrine sweat glands depending upon the size of an individual human body. The eccrine glands secrete sweat onto virtually the entire surface area of the human body.

The eccrine sweat glands are controlled by the body’s sympathetic nervous system. When the body is hot, the sympathetic nervous system tells the eccrine sweat glands to secrete sweat in order to help cool the body; sweat evaporates and takes heat away from the body.

The eccrine sweat glands are part of the thermoregulation system of the body. For example, when you exercise vigorously and get hot the eccrine sweat glands secrete sweat at prodigious rates. Depending upon factors such as ambient temperature, body mass, and the intensity of exercise, a healthy person can sweat between 0.8 to 1.4 liters (roughly 27.4 to 47.3 oz.) during one hour of exercise. Even more sweat can be produced during extreme athletic activities.

Eccrine sweat glands are especially dense on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Of interest to our discussion is the fact that the eccrine sweat glands in the palms of the hands and the soles of our feet sweat primarily in response to psychological stress. If you’ve ever been extremely nervous or stressed, you likely experienced sweaty palms and sweaty feet. This happens because the sympathetic nervous system triggers these sweat glands in response to stress. These stress-triggered “sweat events” trigger changes the electrical resistance of your skin. For this reason, the electrodes of psychogalvanometer work best when attached the hands or the soles of the feet where the eccrine sweat glands are more heavily concentrated.


Because the palms and feet sweat during time of stress, interest in the psychogalvanometer as a lie detector became of interest to law enforcement and private investigators in the early 20th century. The February 1937 edition of Modern Mechanix magazine covered the story of priest-psychologist Father Walter G. Summers and his “practically infallible” psychogalvanometer when used as a lie detector. The author of this piece is unknown:

Research in the early 20th century showed that galvanic skin response alone was not adequate for use as a lie detector. Hence, additional biometric channels were added to measure respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure. Because the lie detector evolved into measuring many channels, it became known as the polygraph, where poly + graph refer to the styli of the device recording many channels on a continuous sheet of graph paper. In the photo of Father Summers’ lie detector shown above, we see only one channel recorded on the graph paper. This is the galvanic skin response channel. Modern polygraphs record three or four channels as we see on this graph paper:


Even with the continuous improvement in electronic components in the early 20th century, there were only four patents for psychogalvanometers filed from 1928-1952:

1. C.E.W. Bellingham M.A., S. Langford Smith B.Sc. & A.H. Martin M.A. Ph.D. filed a patent in Australia in 1928 for “Some new apparatus for the psycho-galvanic reflex phenomenon.”

2. Frank Colyer filed a patent in Australia in 1932 for “A new non-polarising A.C. psychogalvanometer.”

3. John L. Raesler of New York filed a patent for an improved psychogalvanometer on January 8, 1941.

4. D.W. Douglas filed a patent for an improved psychogalvanometer on February 20, 1952.

The very few patents show that the psychogalvanometer business was an extremely small niche market. Conversely, the newspapers and magazines of the day were filled with stories about psychogalvanometric research and lie detectors. The public wanted stories about how lie detectors were used to catch bank robbers and cheating spouses in their lies and how psychiatrists and psychologists were using psychogalvanometers in research.


Sigmund Freud by Max Halberstadt

Having established the scientific and psychological background of the psychogalvanometer in our previous article, in this installment we weave together several strands as we inexorably head toward the moment in which the paths of L. Ron Hubbard and the e-meter collided.

As a prelude to that collision, we find the fingerprints of L. Ron Hubbard all over the psychiatric literature at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. During the many months Hubbard spent malingering there in the latter half of 1945, he pretended to be a medical doctor. This allowed him access to the medical library where he devoted his extensive free time to consuming psychiatric texts. He read Wundt, Freud, and even the very current works on systematic trauma reduction by William Sargant. Hubbard was very busy educating himself.

Hubbard experimented on other patients at Oak Knoll and tried out his various proto-Dianetics techniques on them. Hubbard’s “experiments” on patients at the Navy hospital were unauthorized, illegal, and foreshadowed the Dianetics Research Foundation of Elizabeth, New Jersey being criminally charged in January 1951 for operating a medical school without a license.

During his pre-Dianetics years from 1945-1949, Hubbard was so consumed by Freudian psychotherapy, narcosynthesis, hypnotic techniques, Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, and his own personal drama that he never made the connection between what he was doing and the psychogalvanometer. Someone else would have to make that connection for him at a later date by literally shoving a meter into his hands.

Carl Gustav Jung – 1875-1961


As has widely been noted, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung used the psychogalvanometer in his experimental research. Gregory Mitchell describes Jung’s 1906 experiment:

One of the first references to the use of this instrument [the psychogalvanometer] in Psychoanalysis is in the book by Carl Gustav Jung, entitled ‘Studies in Word Analysis’, published in 1906. He describes a technique of connecting the subject, via hand-electrodes, to an instrument measuring changes in the resistance of the skin. Words on a list were read out to the subject one by one. If a word on this list was emotionally charged, there was a change in body resistance causing a deflection of the needle of the galvanometer, indicating that a complex-related ‘resistance’ was triggered. Any words which evoked a larger than usual response on the meter were assumed to be indicators of possible areas of conflict in the patients, hinting at unconscious feelings and beliefs, and these areas were then explored in more detail with the subject in session. Jung used observed deflections on the meter as a monitoring device to aid his own judgment in determining which particular lines of enquiry were most likely to be fruitful with each subject.

Jung had the patient hold the electrodes of a psychogalvanometer as he read words aloud. Any words that caused the needle on the psychogalvanometer to deflect were treated as emotionally charged items to be handled in a psychotherapy session.

In the modern era we speak of emotionally loaded words that can trigger a person. This is what Jung was looking for in word association. He wanted to find word triggers by use of a psychogalvanometer. These triggers could then be addressed in psychoanalysis. Keep in mind that Jung did this in 1906. Current and former Scientologists can already see where we’re going with this one. We leave it for later.


The Mirror (Perth, Western Australia) Saturday 22 November 1930, p.1.

The psychogalvanometer was used in Australia, Europe, and the US in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The fascinating website Freud in Oceania describes various psychological experiments that were done with the device in Australia. These experiments and techniques were in use in other places and were described in the psychiatric literature of the time. Hubbard apparently missed the papers on psychogalvanometry while perusing the psychiatric literature at Oak Knoll.


Josef Breuer was doctor and a early psychiatrist who developed the “talking cure” and its resultant catharsis. Breuer’s protege was Sigmund Freud.

Psychological educator Kendra Cherry comments on Freud’s notion of catharsis:

The unconscious mind played a critical role in Freud’s theory. While the contents of the unconscious were out of awareness, he still believed that they continued to exert an influence on behavior and functioning. By using psychotherapeutic tools such as dream interpretation and free association, Freud believed that these unconscious feelings and memories could be brought to light.

In their book Studies on Hysteria, Freud and Breuer defined catharsis as “the process of reducing or eliminating a complex by recalling it to conscious awareness and allowing it to be expressed.” Catharsis still plays a role today in Freudian psychoanalysis. The American Psychological Association defines the process as “the discharge of affects connected to traumatic events that had previously been repressed by bringing these events back into consciousness and reexperiencing them.

In the book Two Short Accounts of Psycho-Analysis, Freud describes systematic trauma reduction by tracing “pathogenic memories” back to their earliest root causes:

What left the symptom behind was not always a single experience. On the contrary, the result was usually brought about by the convergence of several traumas, and often by the repetition of a great number of similar ones. Thus it was necessary to reproduce the whole chain of pathogenic memories in chronological order, or rather in reversed order, the latest ones first and the earliest ones last; and it was quite impossible to jump over the later traumas in order to get back more quickly to the first, which was often the most potent one.

The quote above shows us yet another aspect of Freud’s work that Hubbard would appropriate, re-language, and contextualize within a Dianetics framework, i.e. locks, chains, and secondaries; going earlier on the chain until the basic-basic is located; earlier similars, etc. We mention this quote of Freud’s here as it is part of the Freud/Korzybski/Sargant et. al. sources of Dianetics that were documented by other writers long ago.

In his early work Freud used hypnosis. However, he later abandoned in favor of techniques he and Breuer created such as dream analysis and free association, the latter of which became one of the major underpinnings of psychotherapy. Allowing people to talk about anything in a stream of consciousness form was a breakthrough in the sexually-repressed 19th century where strict and heavily judgmental religious proscriptions were the norm.

We will circle back around to how L. Ron Hubbard incorporated hypnosis, free association, catharsis, systematic trauma reduction and other techniques into Dianetics and Scientology and called them something else.


In the Wiley Online Library, Mary Jo Peebles offers a concise summary of abreaction therapy:

In mental health, abreaction has come to mean an intense emotional release or discharge in an involuntary, vivid, sensory reliving or re‐experiencing, of an event that was originally neurobiologically overwhelming (i.e., “traumatic”) and thus could not be remembered (or forgotten) in normal ways. Abreaction has its origins in psychoanalytic theory, but because it taps essential principles of emotional functioning, memory, and mind‐body interaction, aspects of it are blended into diverse modalities across theoretical orientations. Originally, abreaction was viewed as curative in itself, believed to be healing through the discharging of excessive, dysregulating emotions thought to be the cause of dysfunctional symptoms.

In an online piece entitled Visionary or Disaster; a perspective on William Sargant, Dr. Nick Read writes of the British psychoanalyst Dr. William Sargant (1907-1988) and his work on abreaction therapy with combat soldiers at the end of WWII:

While at Sutton, Sargant treated veterans with battle trauma by abreaction, deliberately getting them to relive their experience on the premise that it would eventually wear away. He described a man who was shot at by German pilots as he swam out to the boats at Dunkirk, experienced all over again the terror of drowning but then walked away from the session without a care in the world. Sargant never really validated or controlled his studies or even analysed the results of his treatments. He was no scientist; he just did what he considered right.

Sargant’s 1951 book Battle for the Mind: The Mechanics of Brainwashing, Indoctrination and Thought Control
had much to say about coercion, manipulation and what was then called brainwashing. He cites techniques used by evangelists and interrogators alike. Sargant might as well have been writing about L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology in this quote:

Sargant used barbiturates in his abreaction work as Hubbard later did in his pre-Dianetics works. Thus, we again see Hubbard in the medical library at Oak Knoll reading the medical literature of the time in which Sargant’s work was widely read and quoted.

We know Hubbard used barbiturates in his Dianetics period because he wrote a letter to the Gerontological Society of the Baltimore City Hospital on April 13, 1949 to pitch his work. In this letter Hubbard, acting as if he were a medical doctor, candidly stated that he was using narcosynthesis and hypnosis in his experiments aimed at getting people to recall what he called their birth trauma:

A very brief resume of this work follows: In an effort to evolve a better clinical approach to the treatment of certain neuroses and psychoses, to permanently relieve psycho-somatic ills and to investigate some of the longevity factors, an extensive investigation of the early work of Freud was undertaken and revealed certain premises. First amongst these was the belief that the unconscious mind recalled birth shock. Lack of technology made it impossible for Freud to pursue that work at that time. By making changes in the practices of narcosynthesis and combining it with certain techniques of hypnosis but employing no positive suggestion or other therapy peculiar to hypnosis, a trance state was induced in patients and, with these evolved techniques, they were induced to recall the birth trauma.

Narcosynthesis is defined as:

Psychiatry Psychotherapy under partial anesthesia, induced by barbiturates, first used to treat acute mental disorders in a combat setting.

Hubbard’s 1949 work with barbiturates shows that he had read Sargant’s work and was using narcotics and hypnosis to see if he could reproduce Sargant’s result in those people he used as his pre-Dianetics guinea pigs. Somewhere between 1949 and the 1950 release of Dianetics, Hubbard abandoned the use of barbiturates in his work but retained the use of hypnotic techniques to induce a state of “Dianetics Reverie.”

While Hubbard abandoned the use of barbiturates, he nevertheless advocated the use of Benzedrine (amphetamines) for certain “cases” – including those that involved past lives. As we read in Hubbard’s lecture of June 15, 1950 entitled Case Factors:

If you have to grab hold of anything, grab hold of Benzedrine… Benzedrine doesn’t shut down the analyzer. It is said in the Handbook that as a stimulant Benzedrine helps blow emotional charges. This is true. To handle such a case, I would put him on Benzedrine, and go back over the case and start picking up the deaths and emotional discharges….

Ron Hubbard was dangerous. His lack of formal medical training was compounded by the fact that he was an amoral marketer and entrepreneur who was quite willing to use barbiturates and Benzedrine as an adjunct to Dianetics auditing. It is also quite easy to see how L. Ron Hubbard superimposed his model of Dianetics over existing psychoanalytic theory and abreaction techniques.


What is psychometry? It is a compound word formed from the words “psycho+ metrics.” Psychometrics concerns itself with the study and measurement of psychological states. Personality and intelligence testing are forms of psychometric testing. We acknowledge the intrinsic problem of bias in such testing and address this issue, as it pertains to Scientology, in a future installment.

Psychometrics has been around since the 19th century. Charles Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton is considered the father of psychometrics. As we read at, the the world’s first psychometrics laboratory was established at Cambridge University by the early American psychologist James McKeen Cattell (1860-1944):

It is a little-known fact that psychometrics as a science began in Cambridge between 1886 and 1889. The first laboratory dedicated to the subject was set up within the Cavendish Physics Laboratory at the University of Cambridge by James McKeen Cattell in 1887.

Cattell, an American, completed his Ph.D., entitled ‘Psychometric Investigations’ (Cattell, 1886), with Wundt at Leipzig. During his period in Leipzig, Cattell had been in frequent correspondence with Francis Galton at his Anthropometric Laboratory in London (Galton, 1887) and he quickly saw the potential for synergising Wundt’s psychophysics with Galton’s mathematical approach to the examination of individual differences. On leaving Leipzig, and after a brief visit to America, Cattell returned to Europe to take up an appointment at the University of Cambridge in October 1886 as ‘Fellow Commoner’ at St John’s College and lecturer in the University.

James McKeen Cattell was a pioneer in the field of psychometrics. Cattell argued that the discipline of psychology needed to establish a scientific basis of measurement for what it was doing:

Cattell believed that the continued growth of psychology was dependent on the field’s acceptance of quantitative methods similar to those used in other sciences. This belief was somewhat controversial: Although psychological laboratories were flourishing in the United States, the philosophical underpinnings of psychology led some to question the validity and, indeed, the necessity of psychological measurements. But Cattell felt that experimental approaches to psychology, especially those involving “psycho-physical” measurement, were critical to the rise and continued success of academic psychology:

“I venture to maintain that the introduction of experiment and measurement into psychology has added directly and indirectly new subject-matter and methods, has set a higher standard of accuracy and objectivity, has made some part of the subject an applied science with useful applications, and enlarged the field and improved the methods of teaching psychology. In conclusion, I wish to urge that experiment in psychology has made its relations with the other silence more intimate and productive of common good.”

The field of psychometrics is described at Assessment Psychology Online:

The field is primarily concerned with the study of differences between individuals. It involves two major research tasks, namely: (i) the construction of instruments and procedures for measurement; and (ii) the development and refinement of theoretical approaches to measurement…

More recently, psychometric theory has been applied in the measurement of personality, attitudes and beliefs, academic achievement, and in health-related fields. Measurement of these unobservable phenomena is difficult, and much of the research and accumulated art in this discipline has been developed in an attempt to properly define and quantify such phenomena. Critics, including practitioners in the physical sciences and social activists, have argued that such definition and quantification is impossibly difficult, and that such measurements are often misused. Proponents of psychometric techniques can reply, though, that their critics often misuse data by not applying psychometric criteria, and also that various quantitative phenomena in the physical sciences, such as heat and forces, cannot be observed directly but must be inferred from their manifestations.

With the advent of WWII, there was a great need for the US military and private industry to quickly and efficiently test and classify large groups of individuals in order to determine those individuals who were fit for duty and those who were not.

A simple example of psychometric testing would be a group of five hundred US Navy sailors who were psychometerically tested. In our example, dozens of members of the test group would be found to have an extremely strong aptitude in math, science, and engineering. Based upon these results, those sailors with technical aptitude would be assigned for training in specialized fields such as radar, combat engineering, piloting aircraft, troubleshooting and repairing electronic systems, and any other field where a grasp of technical and scientific principles and operational details is crucial.

The US Navy could ill afford to waste technical aptitude given the complexity of the scientifically-designed weapons systems and platforms of modern warfare. In this sense, psychometric testing was as important as physical testing. When the two types of tests were combined, the military was best able to determine those individuals that would likely make the best pilots, submariners, radar operators, electronics technicians, and serve in other duties that demanded peak physical and mental skills.

Just as the US military had to test for strengths, it also had to test for psychopathology. This was necessary to keep mentally unstable people away from the weapons of war and and the brutal psychological stresses of combat. One of the major 20th century psychometric tests used to screen for psychopathology was developed in 1943. This test is called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). describes this test:

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a psychological test that assesses personality traits and psychopathology. It is primarily intended to test people who are suspected of having mental health or other clinical issues… The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is considered a protected psychological instrument, meaning it can only be given and interpreted by a psychologist trained to do so… psychological testing is nearly always preceded by a clinical interview by the psychologist who is doing the testing. After… the test results, the psychologist writes up a report interpreting the test results in the context of the person’s history and current psychological concerns.

The US Navy used the MMPI as part of screening for psychopathology. A discussion of psychometric testing in the WWII Navy can be found here.

L. Ron Hubbard’s time at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital gave him access to the vaunted new Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or “MMPI” as it is called. In this era, the MMPI was deemed the scientific state of the art in assessing psychopathology and psychopathology.

The MMPI and other psychometric tests used by the US Navy and psychiatrists would have been of great interest to Hubbard.


Jumping ahead in our narrative, we note that in 1951, L. Ron Hubbard went so far as to create what he called “Dianometry.” This was Hubbard’s attempt to create a Dianetics-based psychometric testing program in order to compete with psychometric testing programs performed under the aegis of the American Psychiatric Association and other established organizations staffed by professional and credentialed professionals.

Hubbard’s creation of Dianometry shows how astutely he sought to copy and re-language psychiatry, psychology, and its tools for his own use and profit.

A brief announcement in the January 18, 1951 edition of the Courier News of Bridgewater, New Jersey shows Hubbard using psychometric testing as a condition for acceptance and indoctrination into Dianetics:

L. Ron Hubbard mentions psychometry many times in Dianetics and in his other early works. The concept of psychometry allowed Hubbard to argue that both “aberration” and the improvements made by Dianetics could be scientifically tested and measured.

Hubbard would later create his own psychometric test to prove that Dianetics and Scientology could improve a person’s IQ and the other aspects of their personality. This test woulds be called the “Oxford Capacity Analysis” or “OCA.” The use of the name “Oxford” was not accidental. Hubbard wanted people to think Oxford University had something to do with it. Oxford University never got the memo. Scientology’s “Oxford Capacity Analysis” test is a pseudo-scientific marketing tool. Designed to find a person’s “ruin” as Ron Hubbard termed it, the OCA test is used by Scientology salespeople in an attempt to find where a person is the most psychologically vulnerable. Scientology is then offered as the solution to this vulnerability.

In our next installment, we examine L. Ron Hubbard’s launch of Dianetics. We will not locate a psychogalvanometer or e-meter present anywhere at the creation of Dianetics.


1950: Dianeticist Thomas Rother is photographed in a “Dianetic Reverie” during which he examines and discharges the contents of his reactive mind. The photographer for the Minneapolis Star obviously worked intently to get a few close ups in order to show Thomas Rother’s intense range of emotions during his Dianetic reverie. Photo from the story “Can we doctor our minds at home?” St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Sun, Oct 29, 1950 · Page 128

Prior to launching his book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health on May 9, 1950, L. Ron Hubbard refined his auditing techniques by experimenting on many people over a period of several years. As mentioned previously, Hubbard’s original Dianetics methodology was based upon his fusion of hypnotism, Freudian psychotherapy, and Sargant’s systematic trauma reduction. While there were other influences, Hubbard’s early writing credits Freud and others, employs hypnosis, and Sargant’s work can easily be inferred. There was never any psychogalvanometer present in Hubbard’s original system of Dianetics.

L. Ron Hubbard’s original Dianetics technique was to put his “patients” as he called them, into a light hypnotic state. Hubbard denied this was hypnosis and instead called it a “Dianetic reverie.” In a Dianetics reverie, the auditor would take the patient back into an engram. Hubbard defined an engram as a mental image picture that contains pain and unconsciousness. The auditor would assist the preclear (preclear = the person being audited) to bring the pain and unconscious content of the engram into full consciousness in order to re-experience it over and over until the engram erased. The preclear was left with full memory of the incident, but there would no longer be any pain, fear, or other negativity associated with the memory. Hubbard claimed this in Dianetics:

Dianetic therapy may be briefly stated. Dianetics deletes all the pain from a lifetime. When this pain is erased in the engram bank and refiled as memory and experience in the memory banks, all aberrations and psycho-somatic illnesses vanish, the dynamics are entirely rehabilitated and the physical and mental being regenerate.

Dianetics leaves an individual full memory but without pain. Exhaustive tests have demonstrated that hidden pain is not a necessity but is invariably and always a liability to the health, skill, happiness and survival potential of the individual. It has no survival value.

While doing his developmental work on Dianetics, Hubbard attracted many supporters who were enthusiastic about his work. Hubbard organized a small team of his most sophisticated supporters and made them members of the Board of Directors when he incorporated the Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Hubbard put the Foundation in place in order to support what would be his new franchise business. From the very beginning, Hubbard intended Dianetics to be more than just a book; it was to be a business. As a pulp writer, Hubbard had made a penny a word from his short stories and never owned the rights to these stories. Where Hubbard made his money was off the royalties from the sale of his fiction books. Therefore, Hubbard’s goal in writing Dianetics and creating the Dianetics Foundation was fourfold:

1. To enjoy the stream of royalties from the sales of Dianetics.

2. To teach and certify people to become Dianetics auditors. This would be done on fee basis under the aegis of the Dianetics Foundation. Once certified, Dianetics auditors could start field practices. Hubbard would then collect 10% of the income auditors earned.

3. To earn income from his live lectures on how to deliver Dianetics and the sale of the recordings of these lectures.

4. To write additional books on Dianetics and earn royalties from the sale of these books.

This plan shows us one of the great and undisclosed secrets of Dianetics and Scientology: The author must be paid royalties. This dictum is set in stone. Probity stated this Law of Scientology long ago on If you understand that the author must be paid royalties, even if he is dead, then you understand a crucial part of Scientology. Where the royalties were paid after Hubbard’s death is a question for another article.

Much to Hubbard’s surprise and that of everyone else, Dianetics took off like a rocket and became an overnight sensation. Hubbard was smart to have put the Dianetics Foundation in place as he now had a team of executives in place to help him scale up and expand the business. As the money poured in, Hubbard took plenty off the top for himself. But he also plowed enormous sums of cash back into his business. The Foundation opened Dianetics Centers in major American cities and hired staff. The overhead soon became staggering.

As the Dianetics craze swept America in the second half of 1950, newly-minted Dianetics professional auditors – those men and women who had paid $500 and spent a month in training at the Dianetics Foundation — took their show on the road. Public demonstrations of Dianetics and lectures by Dianetics-certified auditors proved quite popular. A personal appearance by L. Ron Hubbard in Los Angeles packed the Shrine Auditorium.

Volney Mathison circa 1925

While Ron Hubbard was living large and raking in the cash and notoriety in New Jersey, it was a far different situation for Volney Mathison out in California. Mathison was broke.

Volney Mathison (1897–1965) — who also went by the name of Dex Volney — was a man of many talents. He was an inventor, writer, union representative, wireless radio operator, and chiropractor. Despite his many talents, Mathison had fallen onto hard times in 1949 when there was little demand for his newly patented device that monitored the quality of light emitted from arc lamp projectors in movie theaters. The new technology of xenon theater projection lamps had replaced expensive, messy, and labor-intensive carbon arc lamps.

Devastated by his significant financial and emotional losses, Mathison went to see a psychoanalyst. As a chiropractor, Mathison had a natural interest in therapy and psychotherapy and was widely read on these subjects. As Mathison later told his story, conventional psychoanalysis didn’t help him as it, in his opinion, lacked precision.

Mathison’s dissatisfaction with psychoanalysis didn’t cause him to dismiss the subject. Rather, given his interest in psychotherapy he decided to use his talents to improve the situation. Mathison had obviously read the scientific papers on psychogalvanometry and therefore designed, built, and patented a better psychogalvanometer. Mathison demonstrated his knowledge of the clinical literature when he later wrote of his new instrument:

What was needed, then, in psychotherapy, was an instrument that would to some degree read the mind of the autonomic or central nervous system , disclosing especially painful past events that had impinged upon the central nervous system, or upon the structure of the individual, but which had not been perceived at the time with full consciousness and alertness. — Volney Mathison, Electropsychometry. Los Angeles, 1955. Print.

Volney Mathison shrewdly differentiated his new device from the existing psychogalvanometer which had been in use since 1850 when Helmholtz pressed a galvanometer into service as psychogalvanometer. Accordingly, Mathison cleverly called his device an Electropsychometer.

The new name was a brilliant piece of marketing which tells the entire story: Electro + Psychometry. The name of the device conveyed a sense that computer-precise psychological measurements were now available.

This was not Dr. Helmholtz’s 1850 galvanometer. This was a new purpose-built precision piece of psychological research equipment — and the device was a handsome beast to be sure:

As a sales engineer of 30+ years, we cannot help but admire the Mathison Electropsychometer as a beautiful piece of over-engineered 1950’s industrial art. This was clearly a labor of love on Mathison’s part. It is also easy to see that Volney understood the aesthetics of product design; his meter was elegant and did not suffer from the “Frankenstein factor” as did so many clinical and medical devices of the era.

Mathison’s 1951 patent language for his electropsychometer reveals his bravado as an inventor:

My invention, to which I apply the descriptive name electropsychometer, is a novel bio-electronic instrument which registers human dynamic emotion in a more accurate and sensitive manner than has been possible with any previous device of comparable simplicity…in the hands of a skilled therapist, the [electropsychometer]…is a valuable adjuvant in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.


As a chiropractor and an amateur psychoanalyst, Mathison pressed his new e-meter into service even before he filed for the patent. We know this because Mathison began compiling his session information in 1950. Mathison noted how a chiropractic adjustment would sometimes psychologically effect patients by bringing up painful memories of an automotive car accident or other injury that had caused them to seek chiropractic services. As an adjunct to treating sublaxations, then, Mathison would place his patients on a sofa or divan and ask them questions about the traumatic event while they held the electrodes of his new e-meter.

Like Jung and others before him since Freud had first articulated the existence of the unconsciousness and sought to access its repressed contents, Mathison sought to get down to this level and bring repressed painful past trauma up to the level of full consciousness. There, he had his patients talk about what happened, what they experienced, and their fear, terror, and other sensations. They would do this over and over until there was what Mathison called a “reduction” as indicated by the needle on his e-meter. This was Freud’s process. It was also abreaction therapy aided by an e-meter. For some people this process allowed them to unload what had been a terrible and unconscious psychic burden that often manifested as physical symptoms and problems.

Due to his training as an electrical engineer, inventor, and chiropractor, Mathison kept meticulous research notes of his electropsychometric counseling sessions. Along the way he innovated new techniques, concepts, and terminology. Mathison was obviously familiar with the existing clinical literature on the psychogalvanometer. This leads us to ask what constituted the existing clinical literature on the psychogalvanometer?

In our previous installment we mentioned Carl Jung’s 1906 experiments with a psychogalvanometer and word association. These experiments were conducted by Jung and other psychiatrists over many years of clinical research.

The extensive body of data, graphs, charts, and observations compiled by Jung and his colleagues was published in a voluminous tome in 1919. Studies in Word-Association is available online in a 604 page English translation here. The book cover and a sample page (505) shows the heft of the scientific examination into the psychogalvanometer made by Jung and his colleagues:

In the introduction to this work, the authors acknowledge Freud’s revolutionary discovery of the unconscious as crucial to their experimentation in word association using a psychogalvanometer:

Based upon our review of Jung’s 1919 work, it is our opinion that Volney Mathison had access to this text and used it to inform his design and electropyschometric auditing procedures to some extent. There are other research papers and Mathison would have had access to these living as he did in Los Angeles with its many university research libraries.

Mathison had the further advantage of electrical components that had been enormously improved since 1906 due to the demands of WWII and the burgeoning postwar consumer demand for electrical appliances and devices of all kinds. In particular, Volney Mathison’s electropsychometer was based on vacuum tube technology which was then the state of the art in electronics. The dial on Mathison’s e-meter featured a marvelous jeweled movement and was an expensive precision component:

Mathison also created his own new clinical model of electropsychometry based upon the original research and experimentation he engaged in with his patients. Mathison further created an entire line of e-meters of different sizes and capabilities. He wrote instruction manuals and auditing procedures. He marketed and sold his products to his fellow chiropractors, psychologists, medical doctors, and anyone else who had an interest in them.

We are not claiming that Volney Mathison’s work had any scientific validity; we’re simply stating that he was methodical, well read, and extremely creative in what he was attempting to do. Mathison had high hopes that his electropsychometric auditing procedures would help people. What Mathison fortunately did not possess was the shameless and hyperbolic PR and marketing horsepower of L. Ron Hubbard. For instance, Mathison had the commonsense to not make the outlandish claims for his e-meter-based system of auditing that Hubbard had made for Dianetics:

Dianetics is “a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and the arch…The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their invariable cure.”

“Arthritis vanishes, myopia gets better, heart illness decreases, asthma disappears, stomachs function properly and the whole catalogue of illnesses goes away and stays away.”

“A Clear, for instance, has complete recall of everything which has ever happened to him or anything he has ever studied.”

“You are only three or four hours from taking your glasses off for keeps.” – L. Ron Hubbard, “Eyesight and glasses.” “Dianetic Auditor’s Bulletin,” Vol. 2, No. 7, January 1952

As other commentators have noted — and we deeply appreciate their research — it was Mathison who created the Tone Scale. He did so in order to give his electropsychometric practitioners a basis to classify their patients based upon readings observed on the Mathison e-meter. We mention the Tone Scale as Mathison had created a lock-and-key system in which the Mathison meter was intended for use only with Mathison’s written guidance, instructions, interpretations of needle reads, and the other written specifics of the system he had devised or would devise in the future.

Conversely, Hubbard had taken a different direction in 1951 by devising his cumbersome and bloated Chart of Human Evaluation. This chart was Hubbard’s attempt at creating a psychometric basis to classify human behavior within a Dianetic framework.

The illustration below shows Mathison’s Tone Scale and is reproduced from his 1954 manual entitled Electropsychometry:

Ron Hubbard would later refine his Chart of Human Evaluation into a graphic form he called The Tone Scale in Full. This graphic features colorful little tribbles depicting various emotional states ranging from Total Failure (-40.0) to Serenity of Beingness (+40.0). Hubbard’s Tone Scale is quite subversive and dangerous as it serves as the basis of his form of social engineering and genocide. Hubbard called for all persons 2.0 and below on his Tone Scale to be “disposed of quietly and without sorrow.” See our essay on Scientology’s call for Genocide.

Mathison’s 1953 book Electropsychometry was quite detailed and based upon several years of work. We reproduce the Table of Contents here to show how developed Mathison’s system had become by 1953:


While Volney Mathison was quietly doing his work in Los Angeles, all hell was breaking loose for Ron Hubbard in 1951. Due to the nature of Hubbard’s claims that Dianetics could teach its auditors how to treat all psychosomatic illnesses, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners filed criminal charges alleging that the Dianetics Foundation was operating a medical school without a license. These charges were filed in January of 1951, a scant seven months after Dianetics was launched.

When Dianetics began to fade in early 1951, the Dianetics Foundation found itself on the verge of bankruptcy. Hubbard was taking excessive amounts of cash out of the business; he also didn’t know how to manage a startup business. Hubbard over-expanded, rented buildings in five cities to serve as Dianetics centers, and had a big payroll of staff members and staff auditors. The Board of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation tried to reign in Hubbard’s profligate spending to no avail.

Additionally, Ron Hubbard incurred huge printing, telephone, advertising, and travel bills. He was printing more copies of Dianetics along with a great deal of promotional materials. He spent hours each day on the phone talking long distance across the US and overseas to the UK, Australia, and South Africa where Dianetics was taking off. Hubbard frequently traveled back and forth across the US by airliner in a day when airline travel was an expensive luxury of the upper class.

During his acrimonious and very public divorce from his second wife Sara Northrup, Hubbard kidnapped his daughter Alexis and fled to Havana where he spent the spring of 1951. The relative anonymity of Havana afforded Hubbard the opportunity to complete his second major work on Dianetics, Science of Survival. Margery Wakefield wrote of this book:

Hubbard produced a second book, called Science of Survival, but the book in its first printing sold only a disappointing 1,250 copies. After his meteoric rise the year before, Hubbard was now facing personal and public ruin, having squandered his fortune from the early success of Dianetics and having no other prospects in sight. Salvation came in the form of a knight in shining armor from Wichita, Kansas. A self-made millionaire named Don Purcell, who was an early convert to Dianetics, invited Hubbard to Wichita with the promise of salvaging the beleaguered Dianetic empire.

And so, the Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation was reborn in Wichita. Success remained elusive, however, as only a trickle of students made their way to Wichita to sign up for Dianetics training and Hubbard’s lectures. — Understanding Scientology, by Margery Wakefield

While Dianetics had sold 150,000 copies since its release, Science of Survival sold only 1,250 copies in its first print run. This was a staggering 99.2% decrease in units sold. Interest in Dianetics had collapsed. These were the conditions under which the new Wichita Foundation opened in April 1951.

While Don Purcell could pump money into the failing Dianetics movement, L. Ron Hubbard desperately needed something new and dramatic to save his quickly crumbling reputation and empire from utter ruin.


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.




Having discussed Sigmund Freud and Volney Mathison in our previous installments, we produce a remarkable document later in this in article written by L. Ron Hubbard in August 1952. In this document, Hubbard confirms that Freud and Mathison are the main sources of what we call First Generation Scientology. It is quite stunning.

Before we produce the document, however, we review the final days of First Generation Dianetics (1950-1952) and the events surrounding it. We define First Generation Dianetics as the period from the April 1950 incorporation of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey through February 12, 1952 when Don Purcell put the the Dianetics Foundation of Wichita into bankruptcy.

We consider First Generation Scientology as having formally commenced on September 9, 1952 in Phoenix when Ron Hubbard incorporated the Hubbard Association of Scientologists (HAS). We emphasize that the HAS this was not the Church of Scientology, which would come later, but rather a secular membership organization only. Therefore, First Generation Scientology was founded as a secular organization and had no pretensions of being a religion. Ron Hubbard was still very committed to psychotherapy in First Generation Scientology.


Volney Mathison filed for a US patent on his electropsychometer on August 1, 1951. Based upon our 30 years in the electronics industry, we assume a one year R&D period (September 1950-August 1951) during which Mathison designed, prototyped, field-tested, and put his e-meter into production with Arcon Manufacturing in Los Angeles. We say this because Mathison began selling production e-meters coincident with his patent filing. This filing allowed Mathison to sell his e-meter with a “patent pending” designation. With each meter sold, Mathison also included an instruction book for users to perform electropsychometric analysis.

In his patent application, Mathison states that his device is intended for use by psychoanalysts and psychotherapists (emphasis ours):

1. A bio-electronic instrument which registers the varying degrees of tension and emotion that may exist in the general physical and nervous structure of a person undergoing any kind of psychoanalysis or psychotherapy

2. The registrations observed on the scale of the indicating microammeter are rapid, sharp, and highly informative to the professional psychoanalyst or psychotherapist…

In his sales literature Mathison stated the same thing: His electropsychometer is for use in psychotherapeutic procedures:

Volney Mathison designed and built his electropsychometer for use by psychologists and psychotherapists. Mathison’s included medical doctors and chiropractors within his definition of psychologists and psychotherapists.

The key points here are that Scientology did not even exist on August 1, 1951 when Volney Mathison filed his patent application for his electropsychometer. Second, Volney designed his meter for psychoanalysts and psychologists. We will return to this point later in the article.

We further note that Ron Hubbard did not file his copyright application for the word “Scientology” until November 1, 1951.

February 12, 1952: After Ron Hubbard resigned and tendered his shares back to the Board of Directors, Don Purcell places the Dianetics Foundation of Wichita into bankruptcy. Hubbard immediaetly sues Don Purcell over this matter.

February 12, 1952: Hubbard incorporated and opened the Hubbard College of Wichita. It is here that Hubbard introduced “Scientology” and the e-meter to his eighty or so remaining followers in Wichita. There were thousands of Dianeticists scattered across the US at this time. There were perhaps a few thousand Dianeticists in England, Australia, and New Zealand. Hubbard’s major problem was how to reach these Dianeticists now that he had resigned from the Dianetics Foundation; been barred from entering its premises; and had no access to its mailing list. This was a crisis of the first order — particularly if Don Purcell used the mailing list to tell Dianeticists his side of the story first.


In the tumult and chaos of the Dianetics bankruptcy period, Hubbard and his crew burglarized the Wichita Foundation and stole the master Dianetics mailing list. Hubbard needed the mailing list to poison Dianeticists against Don Purcell. Hubbard also was in a frenzy to do some emergency fundraising as he no longer had access to Don Purcell’s ample Wichita bank accounts. The mailing list for the Wichita Foundation had about sixteen thousand names; this was a big audience Hubbard had to reach before Purcell got to them.

While Hubbard and his crew were burglarizing the Wichita Foundation, they also stole Dianetics books and the reel-to-reel tape masters of Hubbard’s lectures. These items were needed so that the Hubbard College could get sell them and get a cash flow started. The Hubbard gang also took the expensive office equipment and furniture from the Wichita Foundation as the Hubbard College needed these things.

Back in prehistoric days of 1952, a “mailing list” was not a computerized list of names as we have today. Rather, most companies used the Addressograph system.

The Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio created a breakthrough with its Addressograph system. Invented in the 1890’s and continually improved over the ensuing decades, the system used a small metal printing plate onto which a special heavy-duty typewriter imprinted the name and address of an individual.

Right: A metal addressograph plate.

An Addressograph mailing list was scalable and could consist of anywhere from hundreds of plates to tens or hundreds of thousands of plates. When a mailing needed to be done, an operator stacked the plates into the Addressograph machine. The machine inked the address plates and pressed them against envelopes. A human operator was needed only to feed envelopes into the machine.

In its technical literature, the Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation claimed efficiencies as high as 3,000 addressed envelopes per hour; an impressive throughput of 50 envelopes per second. For over one hundred years, the Addressograph system was the standard system for sending mass-mailers. The Addressograph system was finally overtaken only by the advent of computer printing.

The Wichita Dianetics Foundation used the Addressograph system. What L. Ron Hubbard and his agents stole were three heavy boxes containing seventy-five pounds of addressograph plates and the Addressograph machine itself. What Hubbard stole, therefore, was not only the mailing list but the mechanical means to reach the Dianetics customer base with great speed. Hubbard’s theft of the mailing list and other equipment effectively crippled the Wichita Foundation.

Although he did not call his insane need for revenge against Don Purcell “Fair Game” at the time, Ron Hubbard quickly used the stolen Wichita mailing list to send out an astonishing thirty-one poison pen letters attacking Don Purcell, this according to our 2017 podcast with our good friend, the esteemed historian and researcher Jon Atack. These letters accused Purcell of attempting to destroy Dianetics. Hubbard even spun a wild story in which he insisted that the American Medical Association had paid Don Purcell $500,000 to destroy Dianetics.

March 13, 1952: Ron Hubbard uses the addressograph plates to send a letter out from the Hubbard College (scroll down to the bottom of this article to read the letter in PDF form). In this letter Hubbard does three things. First, he begins selling Mathison’s meters to Dianeticists. However, due to Hubbard’s apparent lack of familiarity with terminology, he misstates the matter and calls Mathison’s electropsychometer a psychogalvanometer:

Second, Hubbard informs Dianeticists that the Hubbard College has obtained exclusive distribution rights to the Volney Electropsychometer. Again, he mistakenly calls Mathison’s device a psychogalvanometer:

In the excerpt above “H.D.A.’s” is an abbreviation for “Hubbard Dianetics Auditors.” We note in this excerpt that Volney Mathison kept the lucrative New York City and Los Angeles markets for himself. In actual practice, Hubbard sold meters to Scientologists in L.A. and New York City and everywhere else and stayed away from Mathison’s client base of chiropractors, psychologists, and psychoanalysts. Likewise, Mathison conducted seminars on electropsychometry for his client base in cities throughout America which were, technically at least, Hubbard’s sales territories. In essence, then, the real agreement was that Hubbard obtained a monopoly on sales of Mathison meters to Scientology whereas Mathison had a monopoly on his client base of chiropractors, psychologists, and psychoanalysts.

When Hubbard sold a Mathison meter to a Dianeticist, he paid Mathison a royalty. As Mathison included a copy of his Electropsychometry manual with each meter sold, Hubbard Dianetics Auditors received both the e-meter and the teaching manual on how to audit using an e-meter. Despite this arrangement, Hubbard quickly began to incorporate Dianetics terms and concepts into the foundation of Volney’s auditing techniques. Ron Hubbard had clear designs on co-opting Volney Mathison’s e-meter over time.

Third, Hubbard eerily prefigured the later Guardian’s Office and OSA data collection programs by ordering Dianeticists to send in everything they come across on Dianetics. Hubbard even wanted jokes about himself and Dianetics sent in to headquarters. This foreshadowed his later “Jokers and Degraders” policy:

April 2, 1952: The Leavenworth Times of Kansas reported the news that the assets of the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation, Inc. of Wichita had been sold in bankruptcy. The liabilities of the Foundation were $212,394.38 against assets of $40,763.19.

Don Purcell purchased the assets of the Foundation in a bankruptcy auction for $6,124. The assets included the rights to Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and the right to use Hubbard’s name. As an added bonus, the federal bankruptcy referee allowed Purcell to continue to operate the Dianetics Wichita Foundation. Purcell had outplayed Hubbard and now owned everything related to Dianetics.

As Purcell was legally obligated to pay the debts of both the Elizabeth and Wichita Dianetics Foundations, he was well within his rights to protect his interests by purchasing the assets. Purcell would incur the wrath of Hubbard and Scientology forever for having taken this action. Nevertheless, Purcell and his colleagues were not afraid of L. Ron Hubbard and fought back against his threats, smear campaigns, and vindictive tactics. Purcell and company would continue to operate the Wichita Dianetics Foundation for many more years after breaking off from Hubbard.

Don Purcell hit back hard against Hubbard’s burglary. Jon Atack related the following in his book, Lets sell these people a piece of blue sky: Hubbard, Dianetics and Scientology. The “address plates” are mentioned:

In March [1952], a restraining order was put on Hubbard and his lieutenant, James Elliot, requiring that they return the mailing lists, the address plates, tapes of Hubbard’s lectures, typewriters, sound-recorders, sound-transcribers and other equipment which had disappeared from the Wichita Foundation. Elliot admitted having “inadvertently” removed this immense haul from the Foundation. When they were eventually returned, in compliance with a court order, some of the master tapes of Hubbard lectures had been mutilated.

February-March 1952: Ron Hubbard launches Scientology and the Mathison electropsychometer at the Hubbard College in Wichita.

May 1952: With legal pressures escalating in Wichita between Hubbard and Purcell, Hubbard Ron folds up the Hubbard College. He and his pregnant new bride Mary Sue packed up their luggage The couple drove 1,039 miles to Phoenix in Ron’s dark green 1948 Buick Roadmaster. Although Scientology was introduced in Wichita, Phoenix is considered the birthplace of Scientology so far as the Church of Scientology is concerned.


L. Ron Hubbard was extremely canny in having registered and put the name “Scientology” into play in December 1951 as it gave him a new business to open in Phoenix. Armed with Mathison’s e-meter and electropsychometry manual, Ron Hubbard headed west to launch his brand new copyrighted “science” of Scientology.

September 9, 1952: From his new headquarters in Phoenix, Ron Hubbard incorporated the Hubbard Association of Scientologists. (HAS) was the first official membership organization of Scientologists. HAS preceded by two years the founding of the Church of Scientology. Hubbard fired up his mimeograph machines and mailing lists and began sending letters to Dianeticists. These letters introduced Scientology.

August-September 1952: Ron Hubbard created the Journal of Scientology. Issue 1-G is the first Journal and was published in this time frame. Hubbard’s article on page 5 says it all: Electronics Gives Life to Freud’s Theory. What Hubbard admits in his article is that “Scientology” is Freudian psychotherapy, free association in particular, greatly improved upon by the use of Mathison’s e-meter. We argue that this is exactly what First Generation Scientology was in its fundamental form. Ron claimed Scientology addressed the spirit, but this article shows him still operating from, and fixated in, his pseudo-psychoanalytical paradigm of Dianetics. Ron Hubbard published this astonishing article on page 5 of the Journal of Scientology 1-G:

Hubbard tells two falsehoods in his article. The first is when he writes:

“Years after free association as developed by Sigmund Freud had been abandoned as a therapy….”

This is not true. Free association was still in wide use in psychotherapy in the 1950’s and had been since Freud developed it in the 1890’s. While free association had, and has, its critics, Freud’s technique is still in wide use today. In the abstract of a 2014 study by Hélène Joffe of the University College of London and Jamie Elsey of the University of Amsterdam, the two scholars cite free association as a technique still used in addressing contemporary psychological issues ranging from climate change, earthquakes, urban living, and — as we are all profoundly and existentially affected by now — pandemics. Joffe and Elsey write:

This article traces the history of free association in psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, and social psychology and builds on these traditions to develop a novel research method for eliciting how people think and feel about social and personal issues. These range from climate change to pandemics, from earthquakes to urban living. The method, termed the grid elaboration method (GEM), is distinctive in tapping the naturalistic thoughts and feelings that people hold in relation to such issues. It provides an instrument that elicits ecologically valid material that minimizes the interference of the investigator’s perspective. A further aspect of the method is that it taps chains of association that are often emotive and implicit in nature, in keeping with current trends in psychological research. These facets are elaborated in this article, with reference to an exploration of the history of free association methodologies in psychology. The efficacy of the method is demonstrated using examples drawn from recent empirical work utilizing the GEM in a variety of domains. The method is evaluated, with areas for future exploration elucidated.

Hubbard’s second falsehood in the 1952 article:

While this instrument [Mathison’s electropsychometer] was developed primarily for the needs of Scientology…

This is simply not true and is not borne out by the timeline we outlined at the beginning of this article. As we noted, Scientology didn’t even exist when Volney Mathison filed his patent of August 1, 1951 for his electropsychometer. Hubbard’s embellishment was nothing more than a transparent attempt to associate his new Scientology business with Mathison’s e-meter. As we demonstrated from Hubbard’s 1952 letter, all that existed at this time was a distribution agreement whereby Hubbard could sell the Mathison Electropsychometer.

Although Volney Mathison became a Scientologist, he and Hubbard would acrimoniously part ways in a few years and Volney would leave Scientology altogether. Before they went their separate ways, however, there was an extraordinary act of diva mind-fuckery played out against Scientologists by Ron Hubbard. Volney wasn’t having any of it and this was a big reason for his departure. We cover this in our next installment.

By 1955, L. Ron Hubbard had changed his position on Sigmund Freud and psychotherapy. This is excerpted from Ron Hubbard’s Professional Auditor’s Bulletin 92 of 10 July 1956. Entitled A Critique of Psychoanalysis, Hubbard candidly states that Dianetics was a psychotherapy. It is clear from what we have shown in this article that Hubbard wanted the luster of Freud, the e-meter, and psychoanalysis in 1952 to save him from financial and reputational ruin. However, once Ron Hubbard had things up and running in 1956 in his “Church”, Freud became a Psych and psychoanalysis had incurable problems. The only answer was Scientology, and of course, the e-meter.

In the earliest beginnings of Dianetics it is possible to trace a considerable psychoanalytic influence. There was the matter of ransacking the past, the matter of believing with Freud that if one could talk over his difficulties they would alleviate, and there was the matter of concentrating on early childhood. Our first improvements on psychoanalysis itself consisted of the abandonment of talk alone and the direct address to the incident in its own area of time as a mental image picture susceptible to erasure…

It was in Scientology and the anatomy of life that one departed entirely from the tenets and teachings and fundamentals of psychoanalysis and sprang forward into the actual causes of things, for Scientology, unlike Dianetics, is not a psychotherapy.
It is therefore from the dominance of Scientology rather than from the viewpoint of Dianetics that one can understand the failings of psychoanalysis, its dangers and the reasons why it did not produce what it should have produced. This is not to enter Scientology as a mental therapy, but Scientology is a broad understanding of life and is certainly capable of looking at a mental therapy AND delineating its errors.

This is L. Ron Hubbard’s 1952 letter referenced in the text:



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:

[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.



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:


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.


Ron Hubbard in his office at St. Hill holding a 1958 American Blue e-meter. This is the same model he used when he audited a tomato plant in the greenhouse at St. Hill.

The Church of Scientology as the Cult of Electropsychometry

Ron Hubbard’s great sleight of hand was to superimpose his metaphysical-psychotherapy Dianetics model upon a natural phenomenon, i.e. changes in galvanic skin resistance. That he so adroitly superimposed his model upon a natural phenomenon happened because the general public, and the medical community at large, were not familiar with the arcane subject of psychogalvanometry. Volney Mathison had helped by changing the name of the device from a psychogalvanometer to an electropsychometer. Hubbard added a further remove by changing the name to the “e-meter.” Thereafter, the e-meter became synonymous with Scientology.

In our view, the basic and fundamentally correct understanding of Scientology is this: What Ron Hubbard called the “Tech” is actually the practice of electropsychometry as applied to Hubbard’s system of metaphysical psychotherapy as it evolved from 1952 forward. We stay with the term “electropsychometry” to acknowledge Volney Mathison’s central contribution that allowed Hubbard to morph his bankrupt and failing Dianetics movement into Scientology.

What the Church of Scientology has copyrighted and is protecting and defending is Ron Hubbard’s unique version of electropsychometry. That’s it. “Squirrel Scientology” is therefore any practice of unorthodox electropsychometry which departs from Hubbard’s rules. The mind boggles when one gets down to the bedrock definitions of what is actually going on in Scientology: How can there even be such a thing as unorthodox electropsychometry?

Scientology is actually this simple and basic at its core. The complexity of Scientology has to do with the ponderous, greed-driven, stat-centric, paranoid bureaucratic organization and deviant operational programs Ron Hubbard constructed and conducted over time to surround and protect his core business of selling electropsychometry-based auditing.

The Scientology Bridge from Life Repair, to Grade 0, and all the way up to OT VIII is delivered by use of the e-meter. So are non-Bridge actions such as the L’s as well as sec checking. Scientology auditors are actually electropyschometrists who have been trained in, and adhere to, Hubbard’s “Standard Tech” rules for practicing electropsychometry.

Why was Ron Hubbard unable to peacefully practice his version of electropsychometry and leave it at that? He had clients and a marketing department. There were plenty of existing Scientologists who wanted auditing and were willing to pay. Scientology Marketing had proven itself capable of selling Ron’s books and bringing in new people.

Why was all of this complexity and paranoia added to Scientology in the first place?

Ron Hubbard created enormous problems for himself by the outlandish claims he made for Dianetics. The medical and psychiatric associations criticized Dianetics and Hubbard as did the newspapers. In his opening to Dianetics, Hubbard ridiculously wrote:

The creation of Dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and arch.

Ron could not walk back these claims without utterly and permanently destroying his reputation. Therefore, he went on the offensive and created the conspiracy theory at the core of Dianetics and Scientology: The global Psychiatric and Medical establishment were out to destroy the technologies of Dianetics and Scientology.

The establishment had to destroy Dianetics and Scientology, Hubbard averred, because his new technologies were so powerful, revolutionary, simple, and effective that they would destroy the existing multi-billion dollar monopoly over mental health and medicine enjoyed by the establishment.

Hubbard further elaborated upon his conspiracy theory: The technologies of Dianetics and Scientology had the power to free people from the implants, drugs, and other machinations used by the Political-Psychiatric establishment to enslave the masses. While we hear these same things today, in the 1950’s there was an extraordinarily hostile reaction among a faction of Americans when local and state governments across the US began adding fluoride to the water to combat dental disease. American reactionaries believed this was a Communist plot to destroy the health of Americans. There were other forms of hysteria, paranoia, and fear with which Hubbard’s message resonated, particularly that of nuclear war and a fear that hidden Communist agents were everywhere and were acting to destroy America from within.

Stanley Kubrick brilliantly parodied the reaction to fluoride and the fears of nuclear war in his timeless film Dr. Strangelove. While gunfire rages outside and US B-52 are bombers headed into Russian airspace and on course to initiate a nuclear war, the insane General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) informs Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) that he only drinks rainwater in order to protect the purity of his precious bodily fluids. General Ripper had bypassed the President and ordered the nuclear airstrike to, among other things, protect the precious natural fluids of all Americans. This famous scene can be seen in archetypal terms: Group Captain Mandrake symbolizes the forces of reason and rationality trying to convince General Ripper, who represents the forces of irrationality and destructive insanity, that the correct course of action is to stop the insanity before the world is destroyed. This is the struggle of our age and of all ages. Indeed, the Pandemic of 2020 sees humanity caught in the incredible expanse between the polarities of Reason and Insanity in which human Consciousness exists.

If Dr. Strangelove were filmed in 2020, General Ripper might well be warning Group Captain Mandrake about the dangers of 5G cell towers.

By creating and promoting his paranoid conspiracy theory, Hubbard accomplished five things as we see it:

1. He created an aura around Dianetics and Scientology as something “They” didn’t want you to know about. The idea that an evil cabal of super-wealthy bloodline elites secretly owns and controls the entire world and wants to keep you from discovering the real truth that would expose them is hardly unique to our era. Hubbard played heavily upon this motif in creating his conspiracy theory.

2. Hubbard cast himself as a hero, a singular courageous explorer of the mind, who was being persecuted and attacked for bringing humanity a new body of knowledge. Hubbard sensationally portrayed himself as a war hero, a nuclear physicist, and a combative populist out to bring the truth to the world no matter the cost to himself personally. Controversy sells and Hubbard was never afraid to create controversy as it played to his followers. Ron Hubbard was yet another anti-establishment firebrand with extremist views who have very real and fanatical followers.

3. Hubbard’s conspiracy theory cleverly acted to take attention off the subject of electropsychometry altogether. Ron used his conspiracy theory as a form of misdirection to place the public’s attention upon both himself and his revolutionary new body of knowledge. In doing so, Hubbard was creating his monomyth in which he was a persecuted Savior figure. Ron could save Earth if he were not opposed by the SP’s in government that were the agents of the wealthy bloodline elites that controlled the banks, mental health, and everything else.

4. Hubbard used his conspiracy theory to create an “Us Against Them” culture within Scientology. This allowed him to radicalize Scientologists who didn’t see a conspiracy theory but rather saw themselves as the noble, brave, unconquerable, and elite cosmic soldiers in an ancient and wholetrack war against good and evil. Hubbard taught Scientologists to believe that they were in a fight to the death against the Global Enslavers he called the Psychs. The early 1950’s radicalization of Scientologists became the basis of the future Guardian’s Office and the Sea Organization. The goal of the Sea Org is to put in Scientology Ethics on the planet and destroy its enemies. Hubbard and his radicalized followers are out to take over the planet by the use of the social engineering component he had built into Scientology. According to Hubbard, everyone 2.0 or below on the Tone Scale needs to be “disposed of quietly and without sorrow” as they are Suppressive Persons. See: Targets, Defense for Hubbard’s basic outline.

5. Hubbard’s conspiracy theory allowed he and his followers to consider themselves as the experts on everything. Scientologists believe that they possess a vastly superior body of knowledge. This allows them scoff at, ridicule, and dismiss mainstream science as the lying tool of the Global Enslavers. We see this same anti-scientific arrogance with Flat Earthers, Anti-Vaxxers, Creationists, and the followers of other extremist movements and ideologies. Hubbard and his followers took great pleasure in flattering themselves that they saw right through the lies of the establishment’s fake science and its goal to enslave the masses. Hubbard took particular delight in skewering Psychiatry for teaching that Man is an animal and not a spirit. Psychiatry became the favorite punching bag of Hubbard and his followers. One of Scientology’s main goals today remains the destruction of Psychiatry.

Just as he had made outlandish claims for Dianetics, Ron Hubbard did the same thing when he introduced the e-meter in 1952:

The nimble needle of the electropsychometer can detect with accuracy things which would have been otherwise hidden from man forever.

The invention of the electropsychometer, like so many important things in this cynical and dull age on Earth, is not cited by our generation as very important. Yet in a future time historians may well spend pages and pictures upon it.

For if the truth be known, the electropsychometer utterly dwarfs the invention of the microscope, for Leeuwenhoek found the way only to find bacteria; the electropsychometer provides the way for man to find his freedom and to rise, perhaps, to social and constructive levels of which man has never dreamed, and to avoid perils in that route which man, in going, would have found more deadly than any bacteria ever evolved or invented. — L. Ron Hubbard, Electropsychometric Auditing Operators Manual, June 1952.

Given the global pandemic of 2020 in which we are living, Hubbard’s words fall flat: A novel coronavirus is proving itself to be more deadly in disrupting and killing jobs, the social order, and the global economy than nuclear weapons or ideologies. The Church of Scientology is quickly receding in the rear view mirror of history as its Volunteer Ministers desperately give out small bottles of hand sanitizer in the hopes of staying even remotely relevant.


When he launched the e-meter in 1952, Ron Hubbard barely skimmed the surface in explaining what the e-meter what actually does, i.e. it detects changes in galvanic skin resistance. Instead, Hubbard engaged in misdirection and told Scientologists that the e-meter did something else:

The E-Meter works on a very easily understood principle. It measures the relative density of the body. The relative density is changed as the facsimiles change. The E-Meter then registers shifts in thought. And it registers in particular shifts in thought relating closely to the questions asked by the E-Meter operator. The operator asks, the facsimiles shift under his asking. The E-Meter measures the shift. Thus the mind is read. — L. Ron Hubbard, Electropsychometric Auditing Operators Manual, June 1952.

What exactly does the E-Meter read? It reads the degree of mental mass surrounding the thetan in a body. A thetan accumulates mental mass, pictures, ridges, circuits, etc, to the degree that he misassigns responsibility. – HCOB 28 January 1960, The Key to all Cases — Responsibility.

Hubbard knew exactly what the electropsychometer did. However, he deliberately told Scientologists that the e-meter read facsimiles in 1952. He claimed that his invented “facsimiles” changed the relative density of the body. As an aside, in the 1950’s Hubbard was, for some reason, obsessed with the idea that Scientology processing could change the weight of the body:

Just mock up something, pull it in, mock it up and pull it in, mock it up and pull it in. Mock up heavy planets, mock up dense things and pull them in. You shoot a person’s weight up – if he’s working pretty well, and you do this very insistently, and you insist on density and mass – you can put a person on a set of very accurate Toledo scales, have him do this process for a few hours, put him back on the scales and find out his weight has gone up about thirty pounds. — L. Ron Hubbard, Introduction to 9TH ACC – Havingness

In 1961 he said the e-meter read “the degree of mental mass surrounding the thetan in a body.” Again, this was a demonstrable misdirection for the e-meter reads changes in galvanic skin resistance and not facsimiles or mental mass. However, Hubbard’s misdirection allowed him to reinterpret changes in galvanic skin resistance as mental mass and the other phenomena he describes in Scientology’s arcana. Scientologists believe all of this because it reads on the meter. Hence, the e-meter serves as a biofeedback mechanism which validates the confirmation bias of Scientologists.

The secret engine behind all of Scientology auditing is the human body and its changes in galvanic skin resistance.


Hubbard gave away one of his key secrets in the 1952 Electropsychometric Auditing Operators Manual (emphasis ours):

The art and skill all lies in the interpretation of the meter needle.

This is the main secret of Scientology: Changes in galvanic skin resistance read on the e-meter and can be interpreted as anything. This is a subjective problem and not a scientific one. It all depends upon how the needle moves according to Hubbard. Over the course of decades, then, Hubbard devoted a great deal of time in creating, elaborating upon, correcting, and fine-tuning his interpretations for the movements of the meter needle.

In 1952, he said there were only “five characteristic actions of the needle which are of interest to the auditor.” These were the single drop; the stuck needle; the theta bop; the wide, gradual upswing; and the sudden jump to the left.

By 1962 there were 10 needle reads described in the e-meter training manual.

By 1965 there were 18 needle reads described in the e-meter training manual.


Through the early years Hubbard had described the “idle needle.” This ultimately became the Floating Needle (F/N) that is so central to Scientology auditing sessions, i.e. sessions should ideally end with an F/N. HCOB of 21 October 1968 was entitled FLOATING NEEDLES. This was reissued in 1977 without changes. One of the problems Ron identified with a floating needle was that it could be confused with an ARC Break needle. An ARC Break in Scientology occurs when a Scientologist has a break of Affinity, Reality, or Communication with another person, group, a situation, etc. Hubbard wrote in his Floating Needles policy:

An F/N can be in normal range and still be an ARC Brk Needle. The thing which determines a real F/N is Good Indicators. Bad Indicators always accompany an ARC Break Needle.

As in the case cited above, needle reads in Scientology often require additional interpretation or clarifications. Thus, needle reads can become quite esoteric and arcane in Scientology. The skill of the auditor plays an enormous factor as well.

David Miscavige infamously changed the definition of a Floating Needle (F/N) when he released GAT I in 1996. Whereas Hubbard said an F/N was a “rhythmic sweep” of the needle, Miscavige said the needle had to swing back and forth three times. Miscavige’s squirreling caused great consternation in the Scientology field. Many Scientologists were disaffected and left the Church. See the 2010 article: Tech Corruption: Floating Needles.


Our point here is that Hubbard’s continuous work to fine-tune needle reads shows Scientology electropsychometry to be subjective in nature, prone to error, and open to abuse. One infamous example occurred with the “List 1 Rock Slam” needle read. Hubbard of List 1 Rock Slammers (R/Sers):

There are, for our purposes, two kinds of R/Sers. (a) Those who R/S on subjects not connected with Scientology and (b) those who R/S on subjects connected to Scientology. The latter is a “List One R/Ser” and it is of great importance to us that they be located and moved off lines when they are part of staffs as their intent is solely to destroy us whatever else they say: Their long-run actions will prove it. — HCOB 1 November1974RA, Rock Slams and Rock Slammers.

To illustrate how the Church of Scientology management can abuse needle reads, a notorious incident from Scientology’s history bears repeating. After the Church purchased the Cedars of Lebanon hospital a/k/a Big Blue in 1977, the place was a dump and in need of extensive renovation. A large labor force was needed. Suddenly, several hundred Sea Org members were sec checked and found to be “List 1 Rock Slammers.” They were assigned to the RPF and put onto the labor force to renovate Big Blue. As work was winding down, it was found that an auditor had “misread” the meter and those who were List 1 Rock Slammers suddenly weren’t. This was a self-serving and cynical ploy to create a fast and free slave labor force.


In our view, the reason why Ron Hubbard created “body thetans” was because he needed to hardwire the OT levels to Scientology’s utter dependence upon the natural phenomenon of galvanic skin resistance. The e-meter only works because galvanic skin resistance evolved in humans.

Had Ron located his discarnate spiritual entities somewhere else other than the human body, then BT’s would not read on the e-meter. Hubbard had to keep BT’s anchored to the human body in order to convince his followers that it was their BT’s generating changes in galvanic skin resistance that were reading on the e-meter.

We consider that Ron Hubbard’s Xenu narrative was so spectacular, in part, to take the attention of Scientologists from the underlying requirements at work in Hubbard’s mind. Here is how we analyze the OT levels:

By 1965, Scientologists were going Clear in ever-increasing number. At Clear there are no more engrams left to run. Therefore, Ron had to give Scientologists something new to run in session. In other words, he needed to replace engrams and the Reactive Mind with something else. He needed to do this to keep the money coming in and to give Scientologists a new goal and thereby keep them busy and out of trouble. Hubbard knew the dangers of bored followers and had written in HCO PL of 12 Feb 67, The Responsibility of Leaders:

When the game or the show is over, there must be a new game or a new show. And if there isn’t somebody else is jolly well going to start one and if you won’t let anyone do it the game will become “getting you.”

In order to give Scientologists something new so the game didn’t become getting him, Ron had to stay within his framework of the e-meter and galvanic skin resistance. Therefore, the body of each Scientologist had to be involved. Hence, body thetans were the perfect answer.


Just as Ron had said the Reactive Mind was a universal problem that affected everyone on the planet as an unseen and hidden problem that only Dianetics could solve, he also needed to make the next new thing a universal problem that affected everyone on the planet as an unseen and hidden problem that only Scientology could solve.

In order to have this be a universal problem, Ron had to create a source from which trillions of unseen and unsuspected body thetans originated. He also needed a dispersal mechanism to explain how body thetans became attached to every man, woman, and child on Earth. Ron’s solution: The overpopulation problem on the 76 planets in the 75 million year old Galactic Confederation.

Xenu, as the ultimate SP, kidnapped these trillions of people and transported them to Earth. Once here, he threw them into volcanoes and implanted them. Thereafter, the implanted BT’s were scattered to the winds and thereafter alighted in mass quantities upon the bodies of all humans. Each of these BT’s has their own case which needs to be audited by the Scientologist on OT VII. SOLO auditing one’s BT’s can take years or decades; for some Scientologists it is like draining the ocean with a teaspoon.

When we reverse engineer the Xenu narrative we find it fits Hubbard’s requirements to do something new and financially lucrative within his existing electropsychometric platform. A further benefit of the Xenu narrative is that Hubbard was able to copyright it and claim it as a trade secret.

Hubbard had earlier taught that facsimiles had no mass, however, he said “a facsimile has this ability: it can cause a reaction in the material universe by imposing itself again upon the physical universe.” Hubbard imbued his massless body thetans with this same ability to impinge upon the physical body of Scientologists. This, in turn, causes changes in galvanic skin resistance which read on the meter. Thus, the physical body of the Scientology OT becomes the medium, or via, between body thetans and the e-meter. Hubbard further taught Scientology OT’s to telepathically communicate with their BT’s during auditing sessions. This communication takes the form of questions and commands the Scientologist directs to his or her BT’s.

Ron Hubbard knew he had a reliable and inexhaustible engine to move the needle on the e-meter by taking advantage of the human body’s changes in galvanic skin resistance. Ron knew he could use this engine across the entire Grade Chart, in non-Bridge actions, and in sec checks. So long as Ron could generate some level psychotherapeutic value, fear, and obedience as a function of auditing, Scientologists would focus on the results and not the actual biological engine of their own bodies that drives the needle on the meter.

Once a Scientologist goes Clear all of their engrams are gone. Once a Scientologist reaches OT VII all of their body thetans are gone. There should be nothing left to read on the e-meter. Indeed, the ability gained on OT VII is “Cause Over Life.”

There should be nothing left to read on the e-meter. And yet there is.

Even OT VIII completions who’ve done all three L’s still go into session to handle ARC breaks, bypassed charge, etc. And it all reads on the meter. This is because no amount of Scientology auditing can ever erase the body’s constant changes in galvanic skin resistance. Until the very moment a Scientologist dies and their nerves become incapable of conducting electrical current, they will read on the meter about something.

All levels on Scientology’s Grade Chart are audited on the e-meter. Therefore, the entire Scientology Bridge is anchored in changes in galvanic skin resistance. The physical human body is so utterly devalued in Scientology and yet it is central to going up the Bridge. Without a human body you don’t even have hands to hold cans.


The Ultra Mark VIII is the current E-Meter approved for use in the Church of Scientology. Scroll down to the bottom of this essay to read the patent.

We conclude our series on the e-meter by presenting our seven summary observations about the device:

1. The electropsychometer measures changes in galvanic skin resistance. That’s all an electropsychometer does, all it can do, and all it will ever do. Scientology’s patent for its e-meter states this clearly.

2. An electropsychometer is agnostic.

3. An electropsychometer operator is free to interpret changes in galvanic skin resistance within any framework or model of his or her choosing.

4. The e-meter cannot discriminate between objective, subjective, and imaginary mental content.

5. When used as a rudimentary lie detector, the e-meter will tend to confirm sincerely held subjective religious beliefs as being truthful statements made by a believer.

6. In Scientology, E-Meter reads can be confusing and so the auditor must also look at the “indicators” of the person being audited.

7. Scientology auditing is based upon the bio-architecture of changes in galvanic skin resistance. This bodily mechanism is the undisclosed engine that drives the needle on the e-meter.

We comment on each of these observations in this essay.

1. The electropsychometer measures changes in galvanic skin resistance. That’s all an electropsychometer does, all it can do, and all it will ever do. Scientology’s own patent for its e-meter states this clearly:

In its PR, Scientology claims its e-meter reads mental mass and energy (mental image pictures) and this causes the needle on the meter to move. However, its actual patent characterizes the e-meter as a “SYSTEM FOR MEASURING AND INDICATING CHANGES IN THE RESISTANCE OF A LIVING BODY.”

The Bottom Line: Mental mass and energy are Hubbard’s metaphysical claims he superimposed upon changes in galvanic skin resistance. This leads to our following points.

2. An electropsychometer is agnostic.

An e-meter can be used for the purposes of lie detection; interrogation; to test ideological purity; psychotherapeutic purposes; biofeedback; Scientology auditing, etc. An e-meter doesn’t care what it is used for because all it does is measure changes in skin resistance.

An e-meter can be used in any frame of reference or model of reality. As the e-meter is agnostic however, it operates independently of any frame of reference or model of reality in which it is used and this includes Scientology. The e-meter doesn’t care if it is used in a sex cult, business consulting, or anywhere else.

By analogy, a car doesn’t care what it is used for. A car can be used in a bank robbery, a romance, to go to the doctor, or for countless other uses. A car is agnostic and so is an e-meter. Scientology wants Scientologists and the public alike to believe that the electropsychometer is somehow unique or proprietary to Scientology when it is not.

3. An electropsychometer operator is free to interpret changes in galvanic skin resistance within any framework of his or her choosing.

  • A Christian minister can use an e-meter on a parishioner to determine if the parishioner is telling the truth when he or she declares that they believe in God, Jesus, and the existence of angels.
  • An atheist can use an e-meter to ask other atheists if they are truly atheists and harbor no secret theistic thoughts.
  • Jung used an e-meter to check changes in galvanic skin resistance in response to word association. Jung then hypothesized that certain words had more emotional impact than others. In today’s language, we would say certain words trigger certain people. Jung used a meter to correlate the impact of certain words to changes in galvanic skin resistance.
  • As mentioned, Ron Hubbard superimposed his own meanings upon changes in galvanic skin resistance so that these changes served as “proof” of what he taught within his framework of Dianetics and Scientology. As we observed earlier,  Dianetics was Hubbard’s down payment on Scientology; he just didn’t understand it or see it in 1950. We think he understood it on November 1, 1951 when he copyrighted the word “Scientology.” In our view, Hubbard’s great masterstroke was to fuse an agnostic electropsychogalvanometer to his system of Dianetics. He could do this quickly as he had Dianetics in place; understood Freudian free association; and astutely grasped how Volney Mathison’s auditing techniques could be used and applied to his Dianetics model. Combining these disparate elements into Scientology was a tour de force which showed Hubbard’s adroit genius at rebranding and marketing in the midst of the life crises and chaos in which he was engulfed. Ron thrived under pressure at this particular juncture in his life.
  • While the Nation of Islam chapter of the Church of Scientology accepts Hubbard’s general model of what the e-meter is and does, the Nation has its own distinctive Mother Wheel cosmology which differs markedly from Hubbard’s distinctive Scientology cosmology. NOI leader Mr. Farrakhan states that he was taken up into the Mother Wheel in 1985. This event would read on the e-meter as being a truthful statement if Mr. Farrakhan were audited about his being taken up into the Mother Wheel and how the Mother Wheel expresses all of the attributes of Allah. Over against this, Scientology doctrine could be aggressively used to characterize Mr. Farrakhan’s transcendent experience as his having been implanted.

A notable example of the e-meter being used in a psycho-political framework occurred in Morocco. In what turned out to be a disaster, Ron Hubbard tried to convince Moroccan authorities to use the e-meter as a sec-checking device. Hubbard’s Communicator on the Apollo Ken Urquhart is quoted in Russell Miller’s Bare-Faced Messiah on this episode:

He [LRH] had taken some people ashore and was trying to teach the Moroccan security police how to use an E-meter so they could catch traitors. I saw him doing that and saw who he sent out to put on the training team. I didn’t see how it could possibly succeed, you can’t monkey around with the secret police. He was looking for the possibility of looking for some country to welcome him, to keep him secure. He thought if he could get into favour with the secret police he would have the favour of King Hassan. It blew up in everybody’s face. He was trying to teach the police how to find out if somebody had a crime using the E-meter.

Chalet Reports webpage on this event is quite interesting. The point here is that Ron Hubbard used hand-picked Apollo crew members in an attempt to get the e-meter approved as an interrogation device within the security apparatus of Morocco. This underscores our point that the e-meter is agnostic and can be used in seemingly endless situations — including Hubbard’s attempt to inject Scientology into the highest echelons of a sovereign nation. In this case, Hubbard used the e-meter in a psycho-political stratagem designed to persuade Morocco to grant Scientology a safe base from which to operate. The entire affair backfired and Hubbard and Scientology were ordered to leave Morocco.

4. The e-meter cannot discriminate between objective, subjective, and imaginary mental content.

If a delusional person has a fear of something wholly imaginary then their skin resistance will change when asked about it because they believe the imaginary thing to be real. Alternately, if a person is going through a hellish divorce and describes their incredibly violent spouse who has just been jailed for spousal assault, then their skin resistance will also change.

The electropsychometer cannot discriminate between what is real, what is belief, and what is imaginary, nor can it be expected to do so. Everything from hallucinations to very real and horrific events will cause changes in skin resistance because that is what human skin does in response to real or imagined events and stimuli.

In Scientology, the e-meter is used to audit everything from very serious real life traumatic events to events that happened billions, trillions, and quadrillions of years ago on what Hubbard called the wholetrack. The e-meter doesn’t care what Hubbard taught because all it does is read changes in galvanic skin resistance.

5. When used as a rudimentary lie detector, the Scientology e-meter will tend to confirm sincerely held subjective religious beliefs as being truthful statements made by a believer.

A scientist arguing rationally for the value and necessity of vaccinations to safeguard the public health has quite a different model of reality, a totally different worldview, than an Evangelical anti-vaxxer who believes that vaccines are part of the Antichrist New World Order.

A Scientology e-meter would indicate that both the scientist and the anti-vaxxer are showing a truthful response when asked if they sincerely embraced their radically different world views. An affirmation of one’s deeply held subjective and ideological convictions — no matter how dangerous or misinformed they may be — will tend to read as truthful statements on a Scientology e-meter. We say “tend to read” because the e-meter is not infallible. E-meters are prone to error due to cold cans, aging components, the hand-to-can-interface, voltage leaks, etc.

Another example: A radical Islamic man could declare his fervent belief that disobedient women and gay men should be stoned to death due to Sharia law. Likewise, radical Christians in America have murdered abortion providers due to their equally fervent belief that God has justified them in killing abortion providers to save the unborn. Again, when used as a lie detector, a radical’s assertion of his violent and deeply held beliefs will tend to read as a truthful statement on a Scientology e-meter.

The caveat here is the “Scientology e-meter” when used according to Hubbard’s instructions on how to use it in sec checks, i.e. as a lie detector.

6. In Scientology, E-Meter reads can be confusing and so the auditor must also look at the “indicators” of the person being audited.

Ron Hubbard admitted that a floating needle (F/N) and an ARC break needle, and a rock slam (R/S) can behave in the same manner:

A “floating needle” occurring above 3.0 or below 2.0 on a calibrated Mark V EMeter with the pc on 2 cans is an ARC Broken Needle. Watch for the pc’s indicators. An ARC Broken Needle can occur between 2.0 and 3.0 where bad indicators are apparent.

Pcs and pre-OTs OFTEN signal an F/N with a “POP” to the left and the needle can actually even describe a pattern much like a Rock Slam. Meters with lighter movements do “pop” to the left and R/S wildly for a moment. One does not sit and study and be sure of an “F/N”. It swings or pops, he lets the pc cognite and then indicates the F/N to the pc preventing overrun.

When one OVERRUNS an F/N or misses one, the TA will start to climb. The thing to do is briefly rehabilitate it (rehab it) by indicating it has been by-passed and so regain it.Unchanged: When one OVERRUNS an F/N or misses one, the TA will start to climb. The thing to do is briefly rehabilitate it (rehab it) by indicating it has been by-passed and so regain it.Unchanged: The F/N does not last very long in releasing. The thing to do is end the process off NOW. Don’t give another command.

The F/N does not last very long in releasing. The thing to do is end the process off NOW. Don’t give another command.

It coincides with other “end phenomena” of processes but is senior to them.Unchanged: It coincides with other “end phenomena” of processes but is senior to them. An F/N can be in normal range and still be an ARC Brk Needle. The thing which determines a real F/N is Good Indicators. Bad Indicators always accompany an ARC Break Needle. — HCOB 21 October 1968 “Floating Needle”

Hubbard wrote that the auditor must watch the “indicators” of the preclear (facial expressions, tone of voice, body language) when a floating needle is not definitive. But what if the preclear’s indicators are vague or deceptive? What if the auditor is not particularly perceptive? Hubbard here admits to a serious problem with an auditor reading the needle correctly.

This is indeed a serious problem as a floating needle is so essential to ending off a successful session in Scientology. Did the preclear get a floating needle? If not, then the auditor checks for basic rudiments such as upsets and withholds. That Hubbard himself wrote that several things can go wrong in determining if a floating needle exists shows an inherent problem.

Many Scientologists left the Church following David Miscavige’s GAT I redefinition of the floating needle from Hubbard’s prior definition of a “rhythmic sweep of the needle” to “three distinctive swings of the needle.”

As Hubbard had written, “The F/N does not last very long in releasing. The thing to do is end the process off NOW.” When Miscavige made the auditor and the preclear wait for three distinctive swings of the needle to indicate a floating needle, this caused ARC breaks (upsets) in many Scientologists.

A widely discussed theory was that Miscavige redefined the floating needle following Lisa McPherson’s death. Miscavige apparently case-supervised McPherson and declared her to be a Clear. When Lisa McPherson died on December 5, 1995 following her 17-day imprisonment at the Fort Harrison hotel on Scientology’s gruesome Introspection Rundown, the authorities indicted Scientology on two felony charges of abusing a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license.

One of the consequences of McPherson’s death is that Miscavige instituted the extremely rigid “three needle swing” Floating Needle so that there would be no future mistakes in calling an ambiguous read a Floating Needle.

One key point here is that the definition of the Floating Needle and how to audit have been changed based upon the whims and caprice of David Miscavige. To be fair, Hubbard himself was constantly tinkering with, redefining, updating, and changing definitions of needle reads, the State of Clear, and much of Scientology.

7. Scientology auditing is based upon the bio-architecture of changes in galvanic skin resistance. This bodily mechanism is the undisclosed engine that drives the needle on the e-meter.

The technology of Scientology auditing is anchored in the bio-architecture of the human body. Given the agnostic nature of an e-meter, Ron Hubbard found the perfect “open to any interpretation” instrument to serve as the “scientific” basis of Scientology. As we previously noted, electropsychometry was an uncontested market space with no competition and remains so today. Ron seized this advantage to say what the electropsychometer is and does. For example, when Hubbard speaks of the e-meter for use in treating spiritual conditions he is presuming the existence of the human spirit, i.e. the thetan. As mentioned, however, atheists can use an e-meter to sec check each other. Atheists do not need the reference of spirit or mental mass to use an e-meter.

Hubbard’s body of work in Dianetics had been rejected by the scientific and medical establishment. Worse, in 1951 Ron Hubbard and the Dianetics Foundation of Elizabeth, New Jersey were criminally charged for teaching medicine without a license. Exacerbating matters was the looming bankruptcy of the Dianetics Foundation in Elizabeth. For these reasons, Ron and his new bride Mary Sue took off to Kansas where Don Purcell was willing to financially support a new Dianetics Center in Wichita.

Things did not go well in Wichita as the bad publicity continued to follow Hubbard. The expenses of Wichita exceeded the income due to Hubbard’s rapid expansion of Dianetics centers. Ron Hubbard tendered his shares of Dianetics back to the Wichita Board of Directors and resigned. He took Volney Mathison’s e-meter and opened up his own center in Wichita. Don Purcell put Dianetics Wichita into bankruptcy and bought Hubbard’s rights to Dianetics in the bankruptcy auction.

Things were looking mighty bleak for Ron. An oft-quoted letter written by Hubbard to his secretary Helen O’Brien is cited in Russel Miller’s Bare-Faced Messiah (emphasis ours):

On 10 April, Hubbard wrote another long letter to Helen O’Brien discussing the possibility of setting up a chain of HASI clinics, or ‘Spiritual Guidance Centers’. They could make ‘real money’, he noted, if each clinic could count on ten or fifteen pre-clears a week, each paying $500 for twenty-four hours of auditing. He had clearly previously discussed the prospect of converting Scientology into a religion. ‘I await your reaction on the religion angle,’ he wrote. ‘In my opinion, we couldn’t get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we’ve got to sell. A religious charter would be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick.’

By 1953 it was growing increasingly apparent to Ron Hubbard that his only viable remaining success path was to declare Scientology a religion. He did so and the Church of Scientology was incorporated on February 18, 1954.

As we have covered, the e-meter literally served as the bridge from the failed and bankrupt Dianetics movement to the new and profitable Scientology religion. The e-meter became Ron Hubbard’s salvation when he needed it the most. The e-meter suddenly appeared upon the stage as the Deus Ex Machina in one of the darkest hours of the Space Opera called Scientology.


On January 4, 1963, US Marshals raided the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington DC and seized e-meters and Scientology literature. The FDA claimed the e-meter fell under its jurisdiction as it was being promoted and used as a medical device to treat disease. The FDA sought to have the court rule that this misbranding of the e-meter should result in a permanent ban on the use of the e-meter by Scientology and Scientologists.

The US FDA was able to conduct this raid, in part, because Hubbard was building his e-meters in England and importing them into the US. This technicality regarding the importation of medical devices into the US, along with Hubbard’s numerous and explicit written claims that Scientology could, in fact, cure diseases, left the Church of Scientology completely vulnerable to a US Government raid.

During years of subsequent and protracted litigation (United States v. Article or Device (Hubbard Electrometer and Church of Scientology of California v. Richardson), the court ultimately ruled in 1971 that Scientology was a religion and that auditing was a protected religious practice. However, the Church of Scientology had to label e-meters with this language:

By itself, this meter does nothing. It is solely for religious use by students and ministers of the Church in confessionals and pastoral counseling only.

Scientology’s patent on the e-meter and the statement on the back of e-meters is an affirmation of the agnostic nature of the e-meter. We would phrase it differently: In and of itself, the e-meter does nothing except measure changes in galvanic skin resistance. We believe, as an article of faith, that the human body is the visible manifestation, or emanation, of the spirit of a person. Therefore, we believe that changes in galvanic skin resistance are, ultimately, a direct expression of a person’s spiritual state. Scientology auditors therefore use the e-meter solely within a religious framework for the purposes of religious confessionals and pastoral counseling.


In our view, the human body must be seen as the visible manifestation, or emanation, of an individual’s immortal and imperishable spirit for Scientology auditing to be understood in context. More particularly, Scientology is Gnostic at its root. In 1966 a Scientologist named Tony Hitchman posed as a television journalist and conducted a staged and scripted interview with L. Ron Hubbard. During this interview Hubbard said (emphasis ours):

I’ve slept with bandits in Mongolia and I’ve hunted with pygmies in the Philippines, as a matter of fact, I’ve studied 21 different primitive races including the white race, and my conclusions were that man, regardless of his state of culture and so forth, was essentially the same, that he was a spiritual being that was pulled down to the material — the fleshly interests — to an interplay in life that was in fact too great for him to confront. And I concluded finally that he needed a hand — Retrieved online at:

Hubbard’s view that humans were spiritual beings that had been pulled down into the material world and into bodies of flesh is Gnostic in conception. In the biomechanics of Gnosticism, at least as we interpret them in modern terms, the human spirit was down-converted from a high-energy state into a low-energy state. This low-energy state is the physical world and the mortal body of flesh. This down-conversion to a low-energy state has been called “The Fall” in classical Judeo-Christianity. In Luiranic Kabbalahism, this has been called “The Shattering.”

The physical body is of limited sense perception, i.e. the five senses. In Eastern schools, the goal is to up-convert the body to higher energy states and expanded perceptions out to an extraordinary range that exceeds the psycho-physical limitations of the body. One way this is done in the East by awakening and energizing the Kundalini energy so that it transits and ascends the chakra system that resides in the centerline of the body. The chakra system extends from its base in the lower spine to the crown of the head. The Kundalini is spoken of as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine which is dormant until awakened by various means such as Shaktipat.

In Hubbard’s Gnostic system, the interface between the spirit and the flesh is detectable by changes in galvanic skin resistance via the e-meter. Likewise, the up-conversion to the higher energy-state in which the thetan, or spirit, is liberated to its to true potential is achieved by the auditor, the e-meter, and the person being audited, i.e. “the auditor plus the preclear is greater than the bank” as Hubbard phrased it. The Church of Scientology cannot make such statements and observations about Gnosticism as we have because it is limited to Hubbard’s words, terms, and metaphysical concepts.

That Ron Hubbard used his e-meter to conduct research and audit himself virtually everyday until the end of his life at his ranch in Creston, California shows his fundamental commitment to the e-meter and the system of Scientology he had created and evolved over the decades.

Ron Hubbard was definitely the ultimate e-meter guy. Conversely, David Miscavige is purportedly a stalled OT VII and hasn’t gone into session since the 1990’s. There are no known photographs of David Miscavige being audited. This seems a glaring omission. The ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion has licensed and sold tens of thousands of e-meters since he took over the Church. However, Miscavige doesn’t seem too interested in using a meter to finish up SOLO NOTs and move onto OT VIII.

Links to the ten essays in this series:

Science Vs. Pseudoscience: A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 1
Science Vs. Pseudoscience: A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 2
Science Vs. Pseudoscience: A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 4
Science Vs. Pseudoscience: A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 5
A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 6
A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 7
A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence – Part 8
A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence + the OT Levels – Part 9
A Brief History of How Scientology’s E-Meter Came Into Existence + the OT Levels – Part 10 Final

The Ultra Mark VIII E-Meter Patent:

8 replies »

  1. An excellent article! One small thing: the phrase “rein in” is misspelled as “reign in”.

  2. You mention the importance of the timing when Mathison filed for a US patent on his electropsychometerv, but not for when his patent was granted: July 1954, just 3 months before Hubbard started bad-mouthing him. Volney had already left Scientology by then and cancelled the distributorship because of what he “considered to be possibly harmful and destructive interpretations of the instrument registrations of the psychogalvanic reflex when used in Hubbard’s classes and by his students.” – letter to the FDA, 1963, and not only did he not hand over his patent to Hubbard, but in “Creative Image Therapy” he described (without naming it Scientology) “a different, far more powerful system of inducing a state of mind wherein the victim is under the control of the swindler—with reference to suggestions to buy costly books, take courses in phony instruction, and attend conventions and congresses at the beck and call of the master, until he is flimflammed out of his last dollar.”

    During those years (’54-’58), according to Nibs (L. Ron Hubbard Jnr), his father went into rages about Volney Mathison: “‘Nobody makes any money off this but me!’ I heard him say many times … Sometimes he’d pick up an E-meter, ‘That fucking son of a bitch!’ and he’d just slam the thing right off the wall. Lost a lot of E-meters that way” – Messiah or Madman?

  3. Yours is a truly valuable comment. Thank you for posting it.

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