The Bulletin, 16 Oct 1965, pp35, 37

Ron's Scientologists

"The Commies, the Socialists and the Catholics"


Lafayette Ronald Hubbard has not only visited the Van Allen Belt and Venus, he has been to heaven: "The first time I arrived the moment was dated at 43,891,832,611,177 years, 10 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds from 10.2 and a half p.m. daylight Greenwich time, May 9, 1963."

The implant was electronic by nature and arrival was by ship in the form of a doll body. The gates of heaven were, fortunately, open: "The gates of the first series are well done, well built. An avenue of statues of saints leads up to them. The gate pillars are surmounted by marble angels. The entering grounds are very well kept, laid out like bush gardens in Pasadena, so often seen in the movies. Aside from the implant boxes which lie across from each other on the walk there are other noises and sounds as though saints are defending and berating."

If that is heaven, who is Lafayette Ronald Hubbard? Ron, as he is known to his followers, is the founder and messianic father of Scientology, the organisation which made the mistake, in this very century and less than a decade ago, of establishing headquarters in Spring Street, Melbourne, directly opposite the Victorian steps and columns of Parliament House. There it was, and is, with its large "SCIENTOLOGY" sign confronting every member of the State Parliament and Treasury official who uses the front stairs.

Somebody was bound to find out what it meant and it was the Labor leader in the Legislative Council, Mr Jack Galbally, who found out first. Two years ago he told the State Government that it was a menace to the community, and, challenged by the Government on what could be done about it, produced a bill forbidding Scientologists to charge for their services.

The Liberal-Country Party Government saw the force of his argument but was reluctant to let him take the initiative and decided to set up a Board of Inquiry into Scientology. The board was constituted and appointed in the person of Mr Kevin Anderson, QC, and it was confidently predicted by State Cabinet that the Labor thrust had been parried, and that the whole inquiry would be over and done within a couple of months.

Two years, 151 witnesses, and nearly 4 million words later, the Board has reported. At a cost of something more than £50,000, Mr Anderson has found that "Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community medically, morally, and socially; its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill."

And Ron Hubbard? "... an American who now lives at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex, England, who falsely claims academic and other distinctions and whose sanity is gravely to be doubted."

By frequent and repeated reference to his qualities, Hubbard has built for himself in the eyes of his followers a mighty image. The adulation and obeisance, which they offer him, is almost unbelievable. Scientology students are specifically taught that he is not God, lest they think he is.

There is nothing Apollonian about his appearance: "A solidly built man, perhaps a little over average height with sandy or red hair, thick but receding slightly, and a broad face and ruddy complexion." The face is not to be judged by the larger-than-life-size bronze bust which stands in the reception office of the Melbourne Scientology Institute, slightly disfigured by the assault of a disturbed client.

He is sceptical of all the established orthodoxies, as befits a man who has known the realms of both human and divine scales of time. He is scornful of doctors and psychiatrists and has on more than one occasion unmasked the conspiracy amongst his enemies: "These howls come from both conservative and liberal groups - the AMA, the Commies, the Socialists and the Roman Catholics."

Furthermore, says Mr Anderson: "Much of Hubbard's writings show a morbid preoccupation with matters relating to the abnormal behavior of women, sex, rape, abortions, and similar topics." Some of the evidence gathered by the Board, and attached to the report as Appendix 19, was forbidden publication with the rest of the report by Victoria's Chief Secretary, Mr Rylah. Only members of Parliament are allowed to see this corrupting appendix.

Those who go to Scientology for assistance (they are known as "pre-clears" in the trade) are encouraged by their "auditors" to speak freely, even with abandon, about their past, especially about those things which worry them most and over which they feel most guilt.

The only apparatus used in the processing is the E-Meter. This is a small electric meter housed in a wooden box, measuring about 10 in. by 6 in. by 2 in. On the top side is a dial with a moving needle, some control knobs and a rheostat control called a "tone arm". It has two terminals, to each of which is attached, at the end of a lead, an electrode which is a steel or tin can, resembling, and sometimes actually being, a soup can. Within the box are small batteries and a transistorised circuit which is able to record electrical resistance. During the auditing process, the "pre-clear" holds a can in each hand, whilst the "auditor" asks questions and watches the readings on the dial. The whole apparatus is like a primitive lie-detector.

The E-Meter is a reverent and mysterious thing with strange, magical powers. It is also infallible. Hubbard has told his disciples: "The E-Meter is never wrong. It sees all. It knows all. It tells everything." Mr Anderson reports that the E-Meter is supposed to provide conclusive evidence of the existence of "thetans" (spirits' or souls') past lives, and the validity of Scientology theories.

Scientologists assert that if a "pre-clear" is asked such a question as "have you ever committed adultery", and there is a "read" on the meter, though the "pre-clear" may answer "no", adultery of which the "thetan" is aware has nevertheless been committed. Then, if the same question is asked, but preceded by the words "in this lifetime ..." and there is no "read" on the meter, the explanation is that the "thetan" was aware of adultery in the lifetime of some other body to which it had earlier been assigned.

Apart from its supranatural powers, the E-Meter has been found to exercise a strong influence over those who have submitted to Scientological auditing. Mr Anderson claims that the meter enables the Scientology Institute to assume, intensify, and retain control over the minds and wills of the "pre-clears". Fear of its abilities keeps them in constant subjection. Its use can be so manipulated that almost any desired result can be obtained.

The revenue is not so bad, although, as Ron explained when interviewed a few days ago at his 18-room mansion, "Any money we receive from people we use in helping people. Nobody is getting rich." Perhaps Ron gets his private money from book royalties: before inventing Scientology he used to write science fiction.

Mr Anderson has found that many people have paid large sums of money to the Scientology Institute, "amounts over £1000 being not uncommon. The hourly rates for processing range from four and a half guineas downwards" - more than the fees of Collins St. dentists!

He also records that for the six years ending in June 1964, the gross income of the Scientology Institute was over a quarter of a million pounds, on which a flat 10 per cent levy was payable to Hubbard's headquarters in England.

The expert psychiatric evidence, which Mr Anderson obtained at his enquiry, declared that Hubbard's writings were the product of a person of unsound mind; and that he shows strong symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.

No evidence of blackmail was presented to the Board, but "the fact that it knows all his secrets, guilty or otherwise, confers on the Scientology Institute great power and authority over the 'pre-clear'."

Mr Anderson recommends that the best way to outlaw Scientology would be to set up a Psychologists' Registration Board to lay down standards, and to disqualify Scientologists from practising. He also points out that this "evil practice with evil techniques" cannot be adequately dealt with by one State.

The Premier will discuss the possibility of nationwide legislation at the next conference between the Commonwealth and States, and the chances of joint action, based on the recommendations of the Anderson Report, are strong.

The question that has not been raised yet, however, is what is going to be done for the mentally lame who fall for such nonsense as Scientology. Much more important than the issue of the banning of Scientology is the problem of those half-sick, half-neurotic persons who are ever seeking - in some way or another, and often through some form of quackery - mental comfort and stability.

The majority of people who have turned to Scientology are not certifiable and they are not the kinds of people who will seek the assistance of a State institution. Frequently they have an aversion to psychiatrists, and in any case, they usually have no notion that they are mentally disturbed. Now that Scientology has been disposed of we might well have an inquiry into the nature, pathology, and needs of its poor clients.

[Press articles on Scientology]