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Newsweek Confirms It: L. Ron Hubbard Was a Blowhard

In a delicious new story by Tony Dokoupil at Newsweek/The Daily Beast, a trove of new L. Ron Hubbard documents was found where no one thought to look before — at The Explorers Club here in New York City.

As Dokoupil points out, “the club was more than Hubbard’s watering hole. It was his permanent home, and — in a messy life of multiple homes, marriages, and children — his most stable family.” And to this day the club has a file of letters, journals, and some artifacts that record Hubbard’s association with it.

Dokoupil digs into the dispatches that Hubbard faithfully sent to the club, and checks them against the facts presented in Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (which mirrors the work done by numerous previous authors) and against the version of Hubbard’s life that the Church of Scientology puts out.

Once again, it’s no contest: the church’s story just doesn’t stack up against the biographies written by journalists. L. Ron Hubbard is, it turns out, a blowhard of epic proportions.

Some highlights of Dokoupil’s fun romp through Hubbard’s life…

— In March 1950 Hubbard published in the club’s journal an early description of his new “science of the mind,” which he called “dianetics.” It sounds very much like what he would then put out in the May 1950 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction and the book version of Dianetics (which we are currently blogging in a weekly series).


— Yet again, Hubbard’s lofty war service as described by the church just doesn’t hold up to documentary evidence. One of Hubbard’s tall tales was that he’d been sunk in a vessel near Indonesia in 1941 and was flown home as the first casualty of the war in the Far East. “To the contrary, the fall issue of The Explorers Journal notes that Hubbard’s orders were ‘cancelled,’ sending him home to Washington state. The next issue published two book reviews from Hubbard, when he was supposedly at war,” Dokoupil writes.

— Hubbard’s dispatches to the club journal also confirm that when he was hospitalized during the war, it was for ulcers and “a bad limp,” and not the machine-gunning he later claimed. (Naval records also showed that he had conjunctivitis, which Hubbard told the VA was for exposure to tropical sunshine.)

— When the club put together a cookbook, Hubbard submitted his recipe for “iguana à rotisserie.” And Dokoupil notes that in 1980, at a time when Scientology was being prosecuted after an FBI raid and Hubbard’s own wife was facing the prospect of going to prison, Hubbard still imagined himself a part of his old fraternity: “The club is offering new glasses? Hubbard ordered six with the club insignia.”

This is fun stuff. Make sure you look at Dokoupil’s other discoveries, and tell us which is your favorite.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 25, 2013 at 10:20


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