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by Chris Owen more
|Something that's puzzled me for a long time is just
how Hubbard came up with Scientology's bizarre mythos: a
shabby, run-down heaven with radioactive statues,
the Fifth Invader Force with "incredibly horrible hands"
(sic) and so on and so forth.
One particularly curious point is that his original research notes have never been published. They probably show him to be a complete fruitcake, if a fascinating lecture entitled "Electromagnetic Scouting: Battle of the Universes" (April 1952, exact date unknown) is anything to go by. Back in 1952, this lecture was just another part of Scientology — there wasn't anything secret or, for that matter, sacred about it (this was in the days when it was explicitly stated that it was a science, not a religion). It wasn't until the start of the 1960s that such material began to be designated "confidential" as part of the OT courses. Access to this particular tape is highly restricted these days, so presumably it forms part of the OT materials.
The lecture features Mary Sue Hubbard [MSH] auditing her husband. Ron is trying to locate and question "theta entities" — his term at the time for what were later termed Body Thetans — to find out their purposes. The Hubbards were using the first version of the E-meter (the Matheson version) to try out various ideas and seeing if they caused a reaction on the meter, indicating a response on the part of the BTs.
As the session begins, Ron declares that "I am, for the first time in ages, completely without a somatic" — the implication being that, as somatics ("a pain or ache sensation") are in Hubbard's view caused by BTs, the BTs have all run off and hidden to avoid being exposed by the E-meter. Sure enough, says Ron, "I got a notion they're all standing about 20 feet from me, at least."
The question-and-answer session gives a vivid insight into the way Hubbard [LRH] worked out his mythos:
Here Hubbard comes up with the idea of Earth being a "prison planet", the basic rationale for Xenu dumping people here in the first place:
Hubbard goes on to slap Christianity and religion as a whole (which gives a whole new perspective to Scientology's accusations of its opponents as anti-religious). In point of fact, his comments in this session were of a piece with his many other denigrations of established religions, notably Christianity but also Islam and Hinduism. (This is perhaps not surprising; only six years previously he had been a member of Jack Parsons' black magic coven.) He also comes up with the generic name of the MEST beings:
What I find particularly fascinating about this bizarre auditing session is that it shows exactly how Hubbard came up with his ideas. Prof. Martin Gardner wrote an essay on Dianetics in his classic book "[Fads and Fallacies] In the Name of Science" (1953) (an online version is at Martin Gardner: Dianetics) in which he analysed the flaws inherent in Hubbardian auditing:
Hubbard himself admits that many patients indulge in fantasies about their uterine experiences. "The patient tells about father and mother," he writes, "and where they are sitting and what the bedroom looks like, and yet there he is in the womb." Hubbard rejects the theory "that the tortured foetus develops extrasensory perception in order to see what is coming next." This is a good theory, he admits, but must be rejected in view of the fact that the foetus has no mind and therefore lacks clairvoyant powers.
A Dianetics "patient" undergoing auditing would typically recall a variety of incidents, some undoubtedly genuine buried memories and some patent fantasies, such as the aforementioned uterine experiences. Transcripts of Dianetics auditing sessions reprinted in the "Research & Discovery Series" volumes show that there was a great deal of free association going on in the "patient's" mind, albeit in many cases guided by the auditor's leading questions.
The Dianetics movement eventually broke up when Hubbard insisted on auditing "past lives", which had even less plausibility than so-called "sperm dreams" in the uterus. He and other supporters — many of whom were, significantly, science-fiction readers who had read his original article on Dianetics in "Astounding Science Fiction" in June 1950 — reported unearthing memories of past lives on Earth and in outer space. A collection of Scientologists' accounts of past lives was eventually published in "Have You Lived Before This Life?" (1960), which for my money just pips "A History of Man" for the title of weirdest book ever published by Scientology. The accounts, which really are hysterically funny, include those of a man who fell in love with "a robot decked out as a beautiful red-haired girl", another man who recalled being run over by a Martian bishop driving a steam roller, the later critic Cyril Vosper's recollections of life as an intergalactic walrus which perished after falling out of a flying saucer and the story of "a very happy being who strayed to the planet Nostra 23,064,000,000 years ago". Freud would have had a field day.
It's easy to see from this lecture how such bizarreness originated. Put together a science fiction fan (and writer, in Hubbard's case) and an auditor. Add a large dose of free association and a scientifically unproven theory of what E-meter readings represent. Voila — the result is a stream-of-consciousness science fiction story with biofeedback, as measured by the E-meter, as the editor. It did not matter that it would not have passed muster as fiction, let alone as scientifically proven fact. Hubbard believed that his foundation stone — the ideas of the thetan and that thought could be detected electronically — was completely secure. The "Battle of the Universes" tape shows vividly how elaborate was the superstructure which he built so casually on such fragile foundations.
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