Sixty-six years ago today, L. Ron Hubbard published his surprise bestseller, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
In 2013, we read Dianetics from cover to cover with the help of former church member Vance Woodward, and we produced a blog series that we hope you will use as a companion as you slog through the book yourself. Or spare yourself the trouble and just read our summaries.
Dianetics is truly a vile book. We’re not even going to pretend that L. Ron Hubbard had something useful or true to say in it. He was clearly a crank — announcing that his nonexistent “research” had led him to discoveries that rivaled man’s taming of fire, for example — and then he proceeded to describe a “science” of the mind which has no science in it of any kind. But it’s not just that he was catastrophically wrong when he applied a Reader’s Digest understanding of early computers to an occult fantasy about how the human mind works. Even worse, this book is one of the most misogynistic we’ve read, even taking into account the era during which it was published.
Dianetics has you trying to “remember” experiences that happened to you when you were egg, sperm, or fetus (they’re actually “recovered” memories that have been invented during a hypnotic state Hubbard called a “reverie”) and Hubbard prepares you for the shocking truth that your mother was a right murderous whore. As a result of rough sex with dad, misadventures on the toilet, multiple abortion attempts, and other horrors that she put you through when you were gestating in her womb, she set you up for an adulthood haunted by memories you never knew you had — until Hubbard figured out how to help you excavate them from your “reactive mind.” (Do we even need to explain further that no evidence for the existence of a reactive mind has turned up in the 66 years since?)
Post-war self-importance combined with America’s everpresent anti-intellectualism proved fertile ground for this contemptible package of delusions, and Hubbard had a hit on his hands. And years later, after Hubbard had upped the ante and was charging marks exorbitant hourly rates (up to $1,000 an hour today) to “remember” what foul deeds had been done to them millions of years ago on other planets, Dianetics and its hateful treatment of women is still pushed on the public as an introduction to Hubbard’s “applied philosophy.”
You can imagine why we’re pretty skeptical when we ask a Scientologist (current or former) what first got them into the organization and they tell us that Dianetics swept them off their feet. We usually figure that they feel obliged to say that, and we suspect that most Scientologists have never actually read the book in its entirety and they’re unfamiliar with how nasty this thing really is.
Anyway, on this anniversary, we wanted to admit to having let you all down. During our blog series on Dianetics, we managed to pull out a lot of amazing material with Vance, but somehow, we glossed over one passage that really does deserve to get some attention. It comes later in the book when, we will admit, we were pretty sick of what we were reading and were maybe not so careful to pick up every disgusting thing Hubbard was foisting on his readers. So, we regret to say, we failed to highlight the following passage, which occurs on page 336 of our 1950 first edition hardback of the book, in the chapter “Mechanisms and Aspects of Therapy”…
There are two axioms about mind function with which the auditor should be familiar…The first axiom is of interest to the auditor in his work because with it he can clearly
establish whether or not he is confronting a rational reaction. The seven-year-old girl who shudders because a man kisses her is not computing; she is reacting to an engram since at seven she should see nothing wrong in a kiss, not even a passionate one. There must have been an earlier experience, possibly prenatal, which made men or kissing very bad.
Let that sink in for a moment. Hubbard is saying that a seven-year-old who doesn’t enjoy a grown man kissing her passionately has something wrong with her mentally.
And some people worship this noxious creep as a god.
(Even today, this is a major date on the calendar for Scientologists. In 1987 on this day, for example, Scientologists Mimi Rogers and Tom Cruise got married. Cute.)
Please, if you haven’t done so before, we invite you on this anniversary to experience our chapter-by-chapter adventure through Dianetics as we lived it three years ago. May it forever inoculate you from the thing itself…
Blogging Dianetics, Part 1: Vance Woodward Helps Us Parse L. Ron Hubbard’s Masterpiece (1/4/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 2: The State of Clear! (1/11/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 3: The Meaning of Life! (1/18/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 4: Dynamically Speaking (1/25/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 5: Your Mind is a 1950s Computer (2/1/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 6: Reactive Mind Games (2/8/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 7: The Hard Cell (2/15/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 8: The Demon Seed (2/22/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 9: Hubbard and Perversion! (2/28/13)
Blogging Dianetics, Part 10: Killing the Grizzly (3/7/13)
Your Life as Sperm or Egg: L. Ron Hubbard’s Mad Genius (3/14/13)
The Mother and Child Reunion: Another Dianetics Nightmare (3/21/13)
In Dianetics, the Uterus is a Frightening Place (3/28/13)
The Secret to Scientology’s “Wins” Revealed? (4/4/13)
Dianetics: Your Life Was Ruined Before Birth by Your Parents and Their Dumb Culture (4/11/13)
Hysterical Hyper-Sight, and Other Lost Concepts of Dianetics (4/18/13)
Dianetics is Not Hypnosis — Well, Except For That “You Are Feeling Sleepy” Part (4/26/13)
Dianetics: Super Colon Blow For Your Mind (5/2/13)
Babylon Surmising: Dianetics Rights an Ancient Wrong (5/16/13)
A Womb With a View: More Dianetics Just-So Stories (5/23/13)
Word To Your Mother: Dianetics And Its Lack of Boundaries (5/30/13)
Dianetics Has No Patience for ESP or Telepathy — That’s Pseudoscience! (6/6/13)
This is Your Dianetics on Drugs: The Nitrous Engram (6/13/13)
Dianetics Noir: Dangerous Women Hiding Their Womb-Secrets (6/20/13)
Blogging Scientology’s Bible: Vance, We’ve Reached the Finish Line! (6/28/13)
PS: For those wondering what happened to Vance, he is still an attorney in Los Angeles. Some of you will remember that he produced a book and a blog on Scientology which were screamingly funny and some of the best written material about the subject. But he later took all that material out of circulation, and then he sued the church, unsuccessfully. He appealed the dismissal of his lawsuit, and oral arguments for the appeal are coming in June. We’ll keep an eye on it.
That’s no ordinary sunspot
Off topic alert: This morning we have an opportunity to witness a fairly rare sight — a transit of Mercury.
Transits of Mercury happen when we see the small planet cross in front of the sun. It’s a phenomenon that happens about 13 times a century. The last was in 2006, the next will be in 2019 and then not again until 2032. The orbit of the earth and the orbit of Mercury are tilted to each other, and our orbits line up with the sun only a couple of times a year, and once every several years when we’re in that position Mercury also happens to be there. When that happens, we see Mercury slowly cross the disc of the sun as a tiny perfectly round dot. (Phil Plait at Slate has a nice writeup on it.)
Of course, you shouldn’t actually observe it directly without special equipment, and the safest thing is to watch it streamed live online, which is probably what we’re going to do this time.
We’ve seen transits of Mercury in the past with our own equipment, and in 2004 we also observed the much, much rarer occasion of a transit of Venus. Transits of Venus come in pairs separated by centuries. After the duo of 2004 and 2012, the next won’t be until 2117 and 2125.
For the 2004 transit of Venus, we had to catch the sun just above the horizon from a farm in Missouri with our camera mounted on a telescope. We were worried about clouds on the horizon, but it turned out to create a dramatic photo…
Venus is much larger than Mercury not only in actual size but also because it’s much closer to us during a transit. So if you look for Mercury today, please keep in mind that it’s a much tinier disc on the Sun than you see in this photo. And send us your own photo if you manage to snag it!
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield