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Dianetics Has No Patience for ESP or Telepathy — That’s Pseudoscience!

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

Vance, we’ve reached another marathon chapter in this book, “Mechanisms and Aspects of Therapy.”

We were surprised to see that this chapter begins with a few paragraphs about extra-sensory perception — ESP. But in fact, Hubbard only brings it up in order to debunk it, in particular the person who says he can remember his time in the fetus with views from outside his mother’s body.

“There is the patient in the womb and yet he can ‘see’ outside….This prenatal ESP does not in fact exist,” Hubbard writes. “It has been proven, after considerable test, that whenever the returned pre-clear thinks he sees something, the scenery itself is mentioned in the engrams and gives him an imaginary picture of it. There is no prenatal ESP, in other words.”

After trashing ESP, Hubbard then calls telepathy “rainbow chasing,” which we found really precious.

Anyway, let’s push on. We also found interesting this passage about life in the womb…


It is very noisy in the womb….Intestinal squeaks and groans, flowing water, belches, flatulation and other body activities of the mother produce continual sound. It is also very tight in later prenatal life….When mother takes quinine a high ringing noise may come into being in the foetal ears as well as her own — a ringing which will carry through a person’s whole life. Mother gets morning sickness, has hiccoughs and gets colds, coughs and sneezes. This is prenatal life. The only reason anybody “wanted” to “return to the womb” was because somebody hit mother and yelled “Come back here!” so the person does.

Vance, we’re nearing the later stages of this book. As you’re reading it after having left the church, what are some of the biggest revelations you’ve had about it?

VANCE: Yeah, I’ve had a few revelations … or none, depending on who’s counting. I’m struck by how random the information is. It’s like Hubbard typed out a stream of consciousness and never gave a second thought to editing. And yet he promoted Dianetics to best-seller status. It’s an amazing feat of self-promotion … or mass stupidity.

Incidentally, Hubbard also pooh-poohed the notion of past lives early on. In a contemporaneous lecture, he mentioned a preclear that had dreamed up a past-life engram about being eaten by a saber-toothed cat. Hubbard dismissed this as a false memory and emphasized the point by claiming (incorrectly) that saber-toothed cats went extinct before humans showed up. Hubbard changed his mind about past lives later on, of course. Cash trumps coherence in Scientology.

One thing from this chapter that has stayed with me is the notion that there are two modes of thought: black and white vs. graduated. As Hubbard obscurely puts it, “the analytical mind computes in differences,” and “the reactive mind computes in identities.” Yes, I’m sure plenty of philosophers have articulated this notion better. It just happened to be my first exposure to the concept that absolutism is dumb and textured thought is intelligent. But I’m bringing this up mostly to show how Scientologists interact with Hubbard’s dreck. I would willingly slog through pages of crap to find one or two precious nuggets of enlightenment. I somehow convinced myself that it was worth the expedition.

That brings me to another revelation: I sometimes feel ashamed at all the time and money I wasted on Scientology. I especially felt it when I first left. I reckon the threat of humiliation is what keeps a lot of people stuck in it.

THE BUNKER: Well, we can, at times, see the seductive lure of this stuff. Later in this chapter, Hubbard confidently talks about different techniques to deal with difficult patients. We have to admit, it can sound like the advice of a very competent practitioner discussing material that is not controversial.

But then, it’s always the examples that break that spell.

We get another rather amazing one here, and it’s lengthy. We’ll try to condense it.

A patient’s case was hung up on the word “hear,” and it wasn’t obvious what incident in the person’s past was causing the blockage. It turned out that the situation the person was “remembering” occurred when he was in his mother’s womb, and his father was violently kneeling on her stomach, causing the patient to experience a “somatic.” (In other words, dad’s knee on mom’s stomach could be felt — in the form of pain — by the zygote inside her.)

Hubbard tells us this was occurring three days after the blastocyst had been conceived.

Just to set the scene again, we have a grown man in a (don’t-call-it-hypnotic) reverie describing what his father was yelling at his mother as he was attacking her while the patient was a two-day-old zygote inside her, but which was faithfully recorded by the zygote’s reactive mind for recall decades later. Here’s some of what the zygote heard…

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! (Intensified somatic as his knee ground into the mother’s abdomen) You better start screaming. Go on. Scream for mercy!….I’m going to punish you and God is going to punish you! I’m going to rape you! I’m going to stick it into you and tear you! When I tell you to do something you’ve got to do it!….You are dirty and diseased! God’s punished you and now I’m going to punish you! (Coitus somatic begins, very violent, further injuring child) You’ve got something terrible in your past. You think you’ve got to be mean to me! You try to make me feel like nothing! You’re the one that’s nothing! Take it, take it!”

Hubbard claims in a footnote that the father turned out to be a bank president, and after the son confronted him with this information, he went apoplectic. But then Dad got some auditing, and everything turned out well.

We almost wish Hubbard would actually spell out that scene, with Son telling Dad how he’d learned that Dad had said such things to Mom all those years ago.

Well, color us skeptical.

Can you see what we mean, Vance, about the examples breaking the spell of Hubbard’s passages about technique and expertise?

VANCE: Now, definitely, I can see how these examples wreck the illusion. But back when I was a believer, I didn’t give it a second thought. Maybe I unconsciously chalked this type of dialogue up to the nature of the times. Many old television shows, for example, suffer a similar problem: bizarre dialogue in unreal complete sentences. So, was this Hubbard’s bad fiction or his patients? It didn’t even occur to me to ask that question. Either way, it didn’t faze me. The theory sounded good, the book was a best seller, and all sorts of people at the Church claimed this would benefit me.

My dad (and many others) used to tell me that Dianetics and Scientology were nothing more than hype. And I’d counter that it was impossible for them to be mere hype considering “so many people” were doing it. I mean, how could “so many people” be fooled. *face palm* Well … oops.

About the scene of the child and his banker father, that’s an example of Hubbard’s pervasive obscurity or, as I like to call it, his silver-tongued doublespeak. Does it mean the banker/father blanched and admitted the “truth”? Or does it mean that he, being stunned by the wild imaginings that auditing can produce, decided to try some himself? It wouldn’t be the first time a child got a parent to try some drugs.

THE BUNKER: We’ll stay with this chapter next week, but the end of the book is in sight. When we’re finished with Dianetics, we’d like to move on to A History of Man. Does anyone out there have an early edition of it that we could use? Drop us a line.

Next week — This is Your Dianetics on Drugs: The Nitrous Engram


Nevada Blows Chance to Regulate Narconon

Our man in Las Vegas, Nathan Baca, updates us on that state’s opportunity to introduce some oversight of Scientology’s drug rehab facility there…

SB501, the bill pushed by Nevada State Health employees to allow them to inspect Narconon Caliente, failed to pass the legislature before the mandated 120-day session.

This was due to poor bill scheduling on the part of State Senate Finance Chair Debbie Smith (, who let the bill languish in her committee for weeks, and State Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis (, who failed to get the bill on the Senate Floor until just a few hours left on the last day of session.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick ( didn’t receive the bill until 30 minutes before the midnight deadline this Monday. She tried a last-ditch attempt to move the bill to committee as required, but ran out of time.

Therefore, Narconon Caliente will continue to run un-licensed in Nevada for another 2 years. There was no organized opposition to the bill. Given the weakness of the state’s legislative system, it simply wasn’t seen as a priority. Instead, there was State Senate debate on whether we should have a state dog.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 6, 2013 at 07:00

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