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Your Life as Sperm or Egg: L. Ron Hubbard’s Mad Genius

WoodyAllenSpermWelcome to our ongoing project, where we blog a 1950 first edition of Scientology’s bible, Dianetics, with the help of ex-Scientologist, Bay Area lawyer, blogger, and author Vance Woodward. Go here for the first post in the series.

Vance, in the last chapter, Hubbard’s cryptic examples and use of passive voice led us to wonder if he wasn’t describing his own mental instability and physical ailments, masked as examples of unnamed patients.

We couldn’t shake that feeling as he took us into this next chapter, “Prenatal Experience and Birth,” which has to be the most disturbing so far.

Piling on the vague references to unspecific research with even more passive voice, Hubbard really builds up a mystery sandwich as he tries to justify his strangest claim yet: that engrams begin in human sperm and human ova and then in the fetus.

Although Hubbard doesn’t have a shred of evidence to explain how he gets there, he assures us that this, too, is scientific fact.

BloggingDianeticsThe suggestion is so preposterous, one wonders about wasting the effort to point out the problems that occur on every page. Previously, for example, Hubbard had referred to 270 cases that he’d handled during his research about colds. Now he tells us that he handled 270 “clears,” and every single one of them turned out to have prenatal engrams.


Not to look too far ahead, but that number is astounding when one considers what happened later: that his one attempt to produce a clear after publication of the book proved disastrous, and he didn’t claim again to have produced a clear until John McMaster in 1966.

But again, it feels almost like giving this material too much credit to bother pointing that out. While larding the initial pages of this chapter with a sequence of events that isn’t even convincing as science fiction, Hubbard knows that if a reader is credulous enough to credit his “reactive mind” and “engrams,” then it’s really nothing to take that reader into the womb. And beyond.

But this chapter is only getting warmed up as Hubbard prepares us for perhaps the most disturbing, biggest whopper so far.

Before we get there, Vance, we have to ask, did you recover memories, in your career in the church, of your life as a sperm? Or as a fetus? And how much was that part of the experience of the people you met?

VANCE: Unfortunately, no, I never made up any prenatal engrams. I suppose my imagination wasn’t up to the task of recreating the sperm-in-a-plane scene out of Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (see above). If only it had been. My mom tells me that when she was pregnant with me, she once fell flat out on the driveway, presumably giving me a fantastic engram. I always hoped to get at that one, but no luck. What a bummer. But then again, I’m the guy that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get maybe halfway to Clear before being sent back to the bottom to start all over again. By anybody’s definition, I was a tough case.

And as for other people, Scientologists shy away from talking about stuff like that for fear of being “invalidated.” It can happen both ways. You tell me a whopper of a prenatal story and I give you a raised eyebrow, which causes you to “lose your wins.” Or you tell me the same whopper and I become introverted about the fact that I can’t manufacture false memories as well as you (not that I’d articulate it that way). Either way, these eternal wins that Scientology provides can apparently be wiped out by a little skepticism. Fancy that. I never did sort out that riddle.

Of course, this is where we Scientologists say, “It doesn’t matter whether or not there are prenatal engrams; the important thing is that people benefit from auditing. … And those who don’t benefit from it must need Scientology auditing,” which just happens to be way more expensive.

THE BUNKER: Well, let’s get to the end of the chapter, when Hubbard really asks us to go a breech birth too far.

After several pages of virtuosic hand-waving, Hubbard tells us his 270 cases proved, without a doubt, the existence of engrams picked up while we were sperm, egg, or fetus.

“The prenatal engram is a scientific fact,” he says, once again showing that “scientific fact” in fact has no meaning in Dianetics.

Then he really goes for broke, saying that acceptance of this “fact” is required if his discovery of “clears” has any meaning: “The acceptance of the prenatal engram as a working fact alone makes possible the clear” (emphasis his).

That’s really a key idea and one that’s going to characterize much of Scientology to come. Promised result (miracle cures, abilities) require a breakdown in critical thinking: If you want to gain the superhuman qualities of a clear (which have never been demonstrated), you must first accept as fact the completely unproved (and ludicrous) idea that your conscious mind is occasionally short-circuited by traumatic memories picked up while you were a sperm swimming around looking for an egg. What a formula.

But Hubbard takes the crazy even further. We had noted previously that the world Hubbard seemed to inhabit in 1950 was one that had people knocking each other unconscious with surprising frequency. But that’s nothing, apparently, next to what the unborn endure…

Mama sneezes, baby gets knocked “unconscious.” Mama runs lightly and blithely into a table and baby gets its head stoved in. Mama has constipation and baby, in the anxious effort, gets squashed. Papa becomes passionate and baby has the sensation of being put into a running washing machine. Mama gets hysterical, baby gets an engram. Papa hits Mama, baby gets an engram. Junior bounces on Mama’s lap, baby gets an engram. And so it goes.

And these engrams have the greatest effect, naturally…

Engrams received as zygote are potentially the most aberrative, being wholly reactive. Those received as an embryo are intensely aberrative. Those received as the foetus are enough to send people to institutions all by themselves.

But perhaps the most disturbing of all is that Hubbard clearly has come to the conclusion that the incidence of attempted abortion is astronomically high: “A large proportion of allegedly feeble-minded children are actually attempted abortion cases, whose engrams place them in fear paralysis or regressive palsy…However many billions America spends yearly on institutions for the insane and jails for the criminals are spent primarily because of attempted abortions done by some sex-blocked mother to whom children are a curse, not a blessing of God.”

Vance, we’re definitely starting to get the feeling that L. Ron Hubbard may have been one of the biggest misogynists of all time.

VANCE: I could never figure out how sex would make a fetus feel like it was in a washing machine. I must be doing it wrong. And lord only knows what twerking does to a witless zygote. Tony, you’ve really done it now. I feel shame at having been a Scientologist. I must have been stuck in a prenatal to have read this chapter of Dianetics and not burst out laughing like I did just now.

Carrying on the thread about Hubbard writing about his own case, I always suspected that these attempted abortion stories (there are more) were obtained first hand. Of course, nothing would have been Hubbard’s fault. I’m guessing it was one of his Commie ex-wives who begged and emotionally blackmailed him into pulling out the knitting needles. Poor guy. And shame on her.

That said, here’s a quote, where I think Hubbard gets it right: “If dianetics had worked on obscure theories … dianetics would not be a science of the mind.” Well, exactly. QED bro.

About the facts and proof issue, it appears Hubbard had a slightly different definition for those things than everybody else. He becomes rather explicit about it in later books, but basically the idea is that proof is that which gets you what you want. Hubbard apparently “helped” some 270 test subjects by auditing out their prenatal engrams. The fact that the preclears were helped (by who knows what measure) “proves” that prenatal engrams are real. I think we can safely assume that the test subjects’ prenatal engrams bore no correspondence to historic events. That’s assuming Hubbard wasn’t completely lying about the number of test subjects, which is, shall we say, “conceivable.” But who cares? That’s not what proof is about, apparently. In Scientology, proof is whatever gets people stoked.

THE BUNKER: This ride is getting pretty bumpy. We’re not sure we could have made it this far without your sage advice, Woodward.

Next week — The Mother and Child Reunion: Another Dianetics Nightmare






Recently, we shocked readers with a postcard from the Mace-Kingsley Family Center, a Scientology program in Clearwater, Florida, that encourages parents to have their kids begin their Scientology indoctrination as infants. But a tipster pointed us to Mace-Kingsley’s Facebook page, which included this rather astounding photo…


And here’s the caption that came with it:

A ten year old finishes the Purification Rundown at Mace-Kingsley Family Center:

“I feel GREAT! I feel absolutely awesome and toxin free. I feel light as a feather but as strong as an elephant. Also I feel like all of those nasty toxins just flew away and not only my body feels great but my spirit too! I am more aware, happy, fresh, clean, bright, toxin free. I hope everyone gets a chance to do the Purification Rundown and feel what I am feeling right now. I knew from the beginning that this was going to change my life!!!!” C. H. 10 yrs.

The Purification Rundown involves sitting for several hours a day in a sauna while ingesting huge amounts of Niacin and other vitamins. We’ll just assume Mace-Kingsley dials back the hours for the youngsters.


SMERSH Madness: Sowing the Seeds of World Domination!

As we announced on March 1, we’re joining bracket fever with a tournament like no other. It’s up to you to decide who should be named the new SMERSH, the traditional nemesis of Scientology. Cast your vote for who’s doing more to propel the church down its long slide into oblivion!

Continuing in the first round, we have an interesting matchup this morning.


Lisa Marie Presley made it pretty clear in her last album, Storm & Grace, that she’d left Scientology behind. We’ve speculated that she won’t speak out about it because of family she still has inside the church. But we’re starting to think her silence is actually working against Scientology, and she may inspire other celebrities to leave.

Operation Clambake, or, was started by a Norwegian engineer, Andreas Heldal-Lund, in 1996. It quickly became a major nemesis for the church as it hosted vast amounts of damaging information that Scientology wants kept quiet. It’s still a great resource today for researchers. (We’re in the habit of calling it “OCMB,” but we’re asking for a vote on the entire website, not just its message board.)

Go to our March 1 post for the latest tournament results.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 14, 2013 at 07:00


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