The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper | Next | Prev | Cites | Index

Chapter 20

The Truth About L. Ron Hubbard

For heaven's sake, tell them I'm not God.
-- L. Ron Hubbard, quoted by Eric Barnes, Public Relations Chief of New York Church of Scientology{1}

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, born in 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska, is a man of many talents and accomplishments, although not quite as many as he claims. In a number of biographies and autobiographies,{2} both types of which were said to have been written by him, he claims to have been descended from Count de Loup,{3} to be part French and Scotch and to have part of his family come from Little Clacton, Essex. He claims to have been a blood brother of the Pikuni Indians, "fast friends" with Calvin Coolidge Jr., and to be the real life model for the book, play, and movie, Mister Roberts.{4}

He also claims to have graduated in mathematics and engineering from Columbian University (a part of George Washington University), sometimes claims to have graduated in civil engineering from George Washington University, to have attended Princeton University (sometimes the Princeton School of Government) and to have gotten a Ph.D. from Sequoia University. He was a prolific writer, a singer, an explorer (and claims to have been a member of the Explorers Club since 1936{5}), a seaman, a Lieutenant in the navy, who was severely injured in the war.

Many of these things are true; for example, his family does come from Little Clacton, Essex, he was a writer, he was an explorer (and a member of the Explorers Club, but since 1940, not 1936 as he claimed), he was severely injured in the war (and in fact was in a lifeboat for many days, badly injuring his body and his eyes in the hot Pacific sun). But there are a number of small unimportant things in his Brief Biography of L. Ron Hubbard (which his son claims his father really wrote{6}) that were exposed by the Daily Mail in England as false.{7} Because of these errors, it tends to cast suspicion, perhaps unjustly, on the rest.

Actually, most of the "errors" in that biography and others, with the exception of his academic background, were simply sins by omission. Although Hubbard admits he wrote screenplays and westerns, it was in science fiction that he made his mark, a fact he conveniently omitted in his Brief Biography and frequently underplayed elsewhere. This is important because a science fiction background is not considered good preparation for the understanding of true scientific phenomena and also because Hubbard wrote so much science fiction at one time that it would seem almost impossible that he could have carried on the careful research he claimed he did to formulate Dianetics upon which Scientology is based.

Nonetheless, Hubbard says Dianetics was based on his exhaustive research with 270 subjects,{8} and this research formed the basis of his engram and other theories. A recent article in Freedom stated that Hubbard spent thirty-five years researching the mind before Dianetics came out.{9} If this is true, it means that he started researching at the age of three. Generally, Hubbard is content to have people believe he spent twelve years researching Dianetics{10} before coming out with his basic book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.

He says that the research began with his 1938 book, Excalibur, which appears to have been the manuscript he claims was stolen by the Russians. During these twelve years, especially in the last three or four before Dianetics came out, he wrote at least seventy-eight science fiction stories alone (under his name, or the pseudonyms of Rene Lafayette and Kurt Van Strachen){11} not to mention writing in other fields. With all this writing, it's hard to believe he had the time to research those 270 subjects properly (to research them properly would require 540 people; a control group that has not been given the Dianetic treatment should have been included in the sample).

With the exception of his one article on Dianetics published in a science fiction magazine, a cursory examination of Hubbard's other stories shows no indication that his imagination was being applied to the science rather than the fiction. (The one exception is a story written in 1938 called "Her Majesty's Aberration"{12} but it appears that only the title presaged anything that was to come later.)

Another thing that Hubbard was doing at the time -- also apparently not conducive to Dianetics research, and also an item he failed to mention in his "autobiographies" -- was that he was possibly practicing black magic. {13} Alexander Mitchell, who writes for the Sunday Times in England, claimed that Hubbard was once practicing witchcraft with John Parsons, who joined the American branch of the cult of Aleister Crowley, the reknowned sorcerer and mystic.

Parsons got Hubbard to act as a high priest during a number of rituals, during which time Parsons had sexual relations with his girl friend, Betty, who was also allegedly having relations with Hubbard. Hubbard seemed unconcerned about the competition, though, since Mitchell wrote that in the "climax" of the ritual, he allegedly "worked" his two subjects into a "sexual frenzy."

In addition to these sexual unions, there seems to have been some pooling of finances on a business partnership. Parsons was believed to have invested $17,000, Hubbard about $10,000, and Parson's girl friend Betty nothing. But it was said that Hubbard used about $10,000 of this to buy a yacht, while his friend Parsons was "living at rock bottom and I mean rock bottom," according to another cult member. Aleister Crowley cabled his United States office that he "suspected" that Hubbard was playing a "confidence trick" since Parsons had given away his girl friend and his money to Hubbard.

Eventually Parsons did recover the yacht, describing how in a letter to Crowley, reprinted by the Sunday Times.

Hubbard attempted to escape me by sailing at 5 P.M. and performed a full invocation to Bartzabel within the circle at 8 P.M. (a curse). At the same time, however, his ship was struck by a sudden squall off the coast which ripped off his sails and forced him back to port where I took the boat in custody.

All this happened after the war, at approximately the time when Hubbard claimed he had resumed his studies of Dianetics.

In his biographies Hubbard conveniently omitted or altered his educational qualifications. In his Brief Biography, he said he had graduated from Columbian University and in Who's Who in the Southwest (they claim he supplied the data) he said he graduated in Civil Engineering from George Washington University. (He has sometimes used a C.E. after his name.) Hubbard has even dedicated one of his books to his "instructors in atomic and molecular phenomenon, mathematics and the humanities at George Washington University and at Princeton,"{14} and in his Brief Biography he said he "excelled in but thoroughly detested his subjects."{15}

Actually his grades were appallingly low.{16} Although he did do well in his engineering and English courses, the man who frequently calls himself a nuclear physicist got a D in one physics course, an E in another, and in the atomic and molecular physics courses that he most often emphasizes (to the degree of thanking his instructors for it), he received an F.{17} With those grades, along with similar ones in mathematics, it is not surprising that Hubbard was placed on probation after his first year in college and didn't return for his second -- and of course never received the degrees that he claims he has.{18}

As for the Princeton School of Government that he says he attended, it was the Princeton School of Military Government,{19} and he went there only three months in what was possibly a war service course.{20}

Hubbard also claims to have a Ph.D. from Sequoia University.{21} Sequoia was originally called the College of Drugless Healing, and might have been called the College of Instant Learning, since it has been traced by the United States government to a residential dwelling in Los Angeles which operated through a post office box and delivered mail order doctorates without the formality of exams, or for that matter, of classroom attendance.

In fact, Hubbard didn't even have to pay for that degree -- it was an Honorary Degree{22} for his work in Dianetics. A Harvard student discovered that Hubbard was also on the staff of the school; might Sequoia be another name for one of Hubbard's own establishments?{23} (Hubbard's establishments have variously been called Hubbard College, Hubbard International School for Children, The Apostolic Church of Theological Scientologists, The Academy of Religious Arts and Sciences, Church of American Science, Church of the New Faith, Scientology Consultants for Industrial Efficiency, National Academy for American Psychology.{24})

Nonetheless, Hubbard apparently considered this "doctorate" to be significant because he renounced it in a public notice:

I, L. Ron Hubbard of Saint Hill Manor East Grinstead Sussex having reviewed the damage being done in our society with nuclear physics and psychiatry by persons calling themselves "Doctors" do hereby resign in protest my university degree as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) anticipating an early public outcry against anyone called "Doctor" and although not in any way connected with bombs or "psychiatric treatment" or treatment of such and interested only and always in philosophy and the total freedom of the human spirit, I wish no association of any kind with these persons and so do publicly declare and request my friends and the public not to refer to me in any way with this title.{25}

Even so, Hubbard is referred to as "doctor," has used the title himself, and he does indeed have a D. Scn., or Doctor of Scientology. But that even this degree is haphazardly awarded became apparent when Hubbard's son, L. Ron Hubbard Jr., who also has a D. Scn, testified at the United States Court of Claims that he didn't have to do anything special to get the degree, and in fact, wasn't certain whether he got his Bachelor of Scientology before or after he got his Doctorate of Scientology.{26}

Another omission in his biographies -- and one can hardly blame him for it -- are the dates of his various marriages and divorces. In the Scientology Security Check, a preclear is asked whether he has ever committed bigamy. Perhaps Hubbard should have put himself on the meter.

On April 13, 1933, he married Louise Grubb at Elkton, Maryland, and had two children by her. In December of 1945, she claimed he abandoned her and the children, and she filed suit for divorce on April 14, 1947. The divorce was granted on December 24, 1947, in Port Orchard, Washington. The only problem is that on August 10, 1946, in Chestertown, Maryland, Hubbard married Sara Northrup 8 months before the divorce suit was filed, and a year and a half before it was finalized.{27}

Also omitted, obviously, are the speculations that have been made about his sanity. The Australian Report said that "expert psychiatric witnesses" were of the opinion that Hubbard's writings indicated "symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia of long standing with delusions of grandeur."{28} There have been rumors for years about Hubbard's sanity, and he has acknowledged these rumors:

Two million traceable dollars were spent to halt this work [Dianetics and Scientology].... All that has survived of this attack by the two A.P.A.'s, the A.M.A. and several universities is a clutter of rumors concerning your sanity and mine -- and rumors no longer financed will some day die.{29}

The Australian Inquiry finally came to the conclusion that Hubbard's "sanity was to be gravely doubted."{30} Certainly some of Hubbard's statements, even coming from a former science fiction writer, do sound rather strange. Hubbard claims to have visited Venus, the Van Allen Radiation belt,{31} and heaven -- twice. The first time in heaven, he said, was from "the moment of the implant to forget ... 43,891,832,611,177 years 344 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds from 10:02 to 2 P.M. Daylight Greenwich Time, May 9, 1963."{32} The second time was about a trillion years later. Lest anyone doubt he was there, or think that he might have ended up in the wrong place, he described Heaven as follows:

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.

The second series ... is shabby. The vegetation is gone. The pillars are scruffy. The saints have vanished. So have the angels. A sign on one (the left as you enter) says "This is Heaven." The right one says "Hell."

In addition to having visited Heaven, Hubbard has also rewritten Genesis.{33} "Before the Beginning was a Cause and the entire purpose of the Cause was the creation of effect," etc. He has also rewritten the calendar{34} to read "A.D. 1, A.D. 10," etc., (to stand for "After Dianetics 1951," "After Dianetics 1960"), as if his discoveries were as important as the birth of Christ. When Hubbard first came out with Dianetics he wrote that it was a "milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and arch."{35} Now he sees Scientology as purer than Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity.{36}

Hubbard's "case studies" contain a constant repetition of torture themes in which people are held in bondage, inflicted with pain or violently killed. He often attributes (or projects) the cause of neurosis or engrams to the father's committing violent physical acts against the mother while she was pregnant or in the act of conceiving, as in the following "case study" Hubbard presented.

Fight between mother and father shortly after conception. Father strikes mother in the stomach. She screams ... and he says "Goddamn you, I hate you! You are no good. I'm going to kill you." Mother says, "Please don't hit me again. Please don't. I'm hurt. I'm frantic with pain." Father says, "Lie there and rot, damn you, good-bye."{37}

An even more violent example which one of his research subjects allegedly remembered, occurred when the child in the womb got an engram when her father knelt on her mother and started choking her before raping her.

FATHER: Stay here! Stay down, damn you, you bitch! I'm going to kill you this time. I said I would and I will. Take that! (his knee grinds into the mother's abdomen) You better start screaming. Go on, Scream for mercy! Why don't you break down? Don't worry, you will. You'll be blubbering around here, screaming for mercy! The louder you scream the worse you'll get. That's what I want to hear! I'm a punk kid, am I? You're the punk kid! I could finish you now but I'm not going to! ... This is just a sample. There's a lot more than that where it came from! I hope it hurts! I hope it makes you cry! You say a word to anybody and I'll kill you in earnest! ... I'm going to bust your face in. You don't know what it is to be hurt! ... I know what I'm going to do to you now! I'm going to punish you! etc.

Hubbard's hostility and unconscious obsession with violence runs through all of his writings. But it was apparent even before he presented Dianetics or Scientology. One of his earlier pseudonyms was "Winchester Remington Colt"{38} and although it's possible he consciously chose the name for its euphony it does seem strange that all three names are those of guns. Freudians could have a field day with this pseudonym, and its obvious phallic counterpart, perhaps surmising that he unconsciously chose the name to compensate for other weaknesses.

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Citations & Notes

{1} first quote [284]
{2} biographical details [132]
{3} Count de Loup [53]
{4} all details [23]
{5} (7) Explorers Club [271]
{6} (5) Hubbard wrote it [255]
{7} (6) exposing things in Daily Mail [171]
{8} 270 cases [6]
{9} 35 years researching [23, 59]
{10} 12 years researching [23]
{11} 78 Sci Fi stories and names [130]
{12} Her Majesty's aberration [107]
{13} black magic story & quote [240a]
{14} (16) book dedication [1]
{15} (17) excelled in subject [13]
{16} (14) said George Wash. U. [132]
{17} (18) Hubbard's grades [255]
{18} (19) Hubbard not completing school [261, 267, 255]
{19} (20) Princeton Military [268a]
{20} (15) Princeton [171]
{21} Sequoia [142, 277]
{22} honorary degree [223]
{23} Sequoia might be Hubbard school [28]
{24} names of Hubbard schools [33, 261, 262, 266, 279]
{25} calls himself Doctor [261]
{26} L. R. H., Jr. degrees [255]
{27} divorce suit [148]
{28} delusions of grandeur [261]
{29} Hubbard acknowledged insanity rumors [16]
{30} sanity to be gravely doubted [261]
{31} visited Venus; Van Allen [261]
{32} visit to Heaven and quote [92]
{33} rewritten Genesis [11, 58]
{34} Rewritten calendar [261, 278]
{35} Dianetics is milestone [6]
{36} Scientology is purer than Christianity [16]
{37} (39) 2 quotes on fights between parents [6]
{38} (40) Winchester Remington Colt [140]
Extraneous citation notes:
{39} (37) Scientologist is better than God [101]
{40} (38) paranoid schiz [26, 1 {probably 261}]