We have another fun discovery found in a Freedom of Information Act request made by a friend to the Underground Bunker. Her request pried loose documents gathered by the Food and Drug Administration during its long investigation of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology.
In the late 1950s, the FDA had become concerned about the health claims being made by Hubbard for his auditing processes with “e-meters.” About 100 of the machines were seized when the FDA raided the Washington DC church in 1963, and inspectors continued to gather information about Hubbard as they prepared for what turned out to be a prolonged court fight. (In 1971 the case was settled when Scientology agreed to put a disclaimer on all e-meters that it was not a device for medical diagnosis.)
About a month after the raid, the FDA looked into an interesting lead: Five years earlier, in 1958, Scientology had been probed by the US Secret Service on a request from then Vice President Richard Nixon — and the reason why is pretty wild.
Nixon was unhappy that Hubbard was making use of the vice president’s name in a bizarre scheme that looked like a ham-fisted attempt to smear and shake down psychiatrists and psychologists.
On the last day of 1957, Hubbard announced his scheme on the final day of his three-day “Ability Congress” at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC. By now, seven years after he’d published Dianetics and five years after dreaming up Scientology, Hubbard was feeling his oats. Not only did he tell his followers he was the first person in 50,000 years to understand the human mind, it was time to push psychology and psychiatry out of the way, like they were a fallen log to be pushed out of his path. In order to teach his enemies a lesson, Hubbard had dreamed up the idea of starting an organization called the National Academy of American Psychology, and he’d had it staffed and organized there in Washington DC.
So what was the point of calling something a “psychology academy” that was actually staffed by Scientologists? Hubbard intended to use it to smear actual psychologists with the use of a loyalty oath he’d dreamed up.
“It is time that America cleaned up its psychology, psychiatry, and psycho-analysis; it’s time it cleaned it up, so therefore I have taken the occasion of its filthiness to write a loyalty oath which they better sign or else,” Hubbard said in the lecture. Psychiatry was a foreign export and its practitioners were suspect, he said.
Hubbard printed information about the NAAP and the loyalty oath in a copy of Ability magazine. This excerpt should give you a taste for it…
It goes on in that vein for several pages. Hubbard told his listeners at the Ability Congress that he wanted them to take copies of the loyalty oath and send it to every psychologist and psychiatrist in the country. The goal was “to place under the noses of every person in mental practice in the United States whether graduated from universities or anything else, a copy of this code and ask them to sign on the dotted line, whether it is done by mail or in person, and to carefully note down all those who refuse to sign it. Very important that last step,” he said.
Those people who signed the oath would be considered “safe.” They could then pay $80 in order to become “certified,” card-carrying NAAP members (Scientologists would pay only $25). Those that refused to take the loyalty oath would be labeled “potential subversive,” and those that “rail against it” would be labeled “subversive.”
And who would be interested in that information?
“One of the people most interested in such a program is Vice President Nixon,” the Ability article claimed.
Actually, Nixon wasn’t very happy at all to be named in the program. Hubbard had sent Nixon’s office a copy of the loyalty oath, along with a copy of the information in Ability magazine.
Hubbard was no doubt thinking of Nixon from his red-baiting days in Congress. In 1948, Nixon first made a name for himself nationally as a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and his efforts to investigate State Department lawyer Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy.
Hubbard himself had written the FBI numerous times in 1955, turning in many of his former friends and Dianetics colleagues for their “Communist activities” — even naming fellow science fiction writer A. E. Van Vogt for his “communistic leanings” after Van Vogt had been an early champion of Hubbard’s ideas. (A notation in FBI documents at the time referred to Hubbard and his paranoid letters with the words “appears mental.”)
If Hubbard was still in a mood to root out Reds, by 1958 Joseph McCarthy was dead and Nixon was in his second term as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president. Sent that year on a goodwill tour to South America (see photo, above), Nixon was angling for his first presidential nomination.
And he didn’t appreciate being named in Hubbard’s scheme. According to a 1963 FDA document that was part of the new release of information, Nixon asked the Secret Service to look into the NAAP…
On February 21, 1958, the Secret Service was asked to investigate the National Academy of Psychology on the initiation of the office of Vice President Nixon. The investigation indicated that the Vice President was not interested in sponsoring the National Academy of Psychology, and would not permit the Vice President’s name to be used.
The Secret Service soon learned that the man Hubbard had put in charge of the organization, Glenn Elliot, had been arrested in 1957 for passing a bad check. The Service also dug up the 1951 press clippings about Hubbard’s ugly divorce to his second wife, Sara Northrup, who accused him of being a violent lunatic.
In 1963, when the FDA inspectors looked into it, the 1958 investigation by the Secret Service had been closed. And there’s no indication that Hubbard’s shakedown attempt convinced any psychologists anywhere to sign his loyalty oath.
UPDATE: As numerous readers have pointed out, Hubbard was unhappy about the 1958 Secret Service investigation, and it prompted him in 1960 to put out a policy letter encouraging Scientologists not to vote for Nixon in the presidential election that year. Now this policy letter suddenly makes more sense, readers say. (End of update.)
It’s tempting to think that Nixon hadn’t forgotten about his brush with Hubbard after he’d become president.
As we reported in a previous story on the FDA’s investigation, a few years later, in 1970, a letter to President Richard Nixon with complaints about Scientology got quick action from the FDA, who sent inspectors to interview Scientology’s first “Clear,” John McMaster. Perhaps Nixon took the complaint seriously because he remembered his earlier run-in with Hubbard and his odd organization.
And we want to point out one more thing about Hubbard’s rather strange attempt to shake down an entire intellectual pursuit — it turns out it wasn’t the first time.
We’ve written earlier about Hubbard’s attempt to scam the world’s scientists with an organization he promoted from about 1945 through 1951 which he called The Federation of Atomic Scientists and later the Allied Scientists of the World. With the (skeptical) help of his friend Robert Heinlein, Hubbard — while hiding his involvement — tried to convince scientists to become members of the organization at $25 a year so that the group could protest the use of nuclear weapons and then build an “atomproof library,” a vault where the world’s scientific knowledge could be stored safe from nuclear annihilation. (Many years later, in 1981, Hubbard revived the idea of a nuclear-proof vault when he came up with the idea of building vaults for his Scientology writings, and the Church of Spiritual Technology was born.) Like his later idea the National Academy for American Psychology, Allied Scientists of the World just seemed to melt away.
But then, by the 1960s, Hubbard had money pouring in, and he no longer had to try shaking down scientists or psychologists. He’d discovered a much easier mark: Scientologists.
BONUS DOCUMENT: We managed to find for you the complete one-hour lecture by Hubbard given on December 31, 1957 of him announcing his plans for the National Academy of American Psychology….
Marty Rathbun nails it with ‘Scientology Beliefs’
The next time someone tries to convince you that Marty Rathbun is still a true believer and wants to depose David Miscavige so he can take over Scientology for himself, just send them this link.
Rathbun has produced one of the finest brief descriptions of Scientology’s beliefs we’ve ever seen. And here’s our favorite part:
7. Scientology ‘technology’ consists of a sophisticated mix of pop psychology and hypnotism carefully designed and administered so as to lead people to wholeheartedly accept and live according to these beliefs.
We’re interested to see how “indies” and Freezoners deal with that one.
Bonus photos from our tipsters
Food, fun, and regging! Get ready for wild times on the Freewinds…
Cindy finished Grade 2! South Texas will be cleared in no time!
The gang’s all here at the Hubbard College of Administration in Milan!
This slogan from the Tampa org is catchy, right?
This is what happens when someone asks a Nation of Islam member why he uses Dianetics, a system dreamed up by the whitest man who ever lived…
Pirates for an Ideal Org! This Buenos Aires poster makes us think of a particular shoop by Observer…
We couldn’t resist….
Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!
Posted by Tony Ortega on February 3, 2015 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts