Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


When the feds tracked down L. Ron Hubbard’s boast about getting rich by creating a religion


We’re nearing another big anniversary — 30 years since the Great Thetan, L. Ron Hubbard, dropped his material body — and so we’ve been looking through our files for material about the man that isn’t already picked over. We have something pretty nice and never posted online for the anniversary itself. But along the way we also found some items we thought you’d like to see.

The other day, one of our commenters asked about Isaac Asimov and whether Hubbard had ever told him his line that the only way to make a million dollars was to invent a religion. Previously, we concluded that Hubbard did, indeed, make that statement to several different people in the period 1948-1949, before publication of his 1950 book Dianetics. Asimov was probably not one of them, however.

We say that because Asimov himself said he saw little of Hubbard, and not during that period. We know this because it turns out that Asimov was interviewed by FDA inspectors during its investigation of Hubbard after raiding the Scientology org in Washington DC in 1963. Researcher R.M. Seibert has turned up a wealth of great stuff after convincing the FDA to turn over documents from that investigation, resulting in stories here at the Bunker revealing Hubbard’s high school grades for the first time, for example, and that Hubbard had told John McMaster that he intended to be reincarnated as the future son of his daughter Diana.

Seibert reminded us that another result of that document haul was evidence that Asimov had been interviewed, as well as another science fiction author, A.E. van Vogt, and that the inspectors confirmed on their own that Hubbard did indeed make the statement about starting a religion as the only way to make a million dollars. We have excerpts of those reports for you today.


On Valentine’s Day in 1963, FDA inspector Howard I. Niss interviewed professor Isaac Asimov, looking for information about L. Ron Hubbard. Here are the notes of that interview:

Inspector Bearon, in his memo, suggests that a Professor Isaac Asimov of Boston University might have information relative to Mr. Hubbard’s character and background.

Isaac Asimov is Assistant Professor of micro biology at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. He has classes one day a week on Thursday and writes science fiction and books of science during the remainder of the week. His home is at 45 Greenough Street, Newton, Massachusetts.

I interviewed Professor Asimov at the School of Medicine. He told me that he knew very little about Mr. Hubbard and had met him only three times, the first time was in 1939 at a publishing firm office where they were introduced and that was the extent of this first meeting. He later met Mr. Hubbard in 1943 or 1944 at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Navy Yard where Mr. Hubbard was a visitor. Mr. Hubbard had lunch with a group which included Professor Asimov and the next day the Professor met him while he was on tour of the Navy Yard. Professor Asimov had no other contacts with Mr. Hubbard. He said that he believed that he was an officer in the Armed Forces in World War II. He was not sure whether he was in the Navy or the Army but presumed that he was in the Navy as he was touring the Navy Yard when he met him in ’43 or ’44.

Professor Asimov thought that John W. Campbell, Jr., Editor of Analog of Science Fact and Science Fiction, could probably supply further information about Hubbard. He said that Mr. Campbell had been associated with Hubbard in Dianetics and then severed his connections with him. Mr. Campbell lives at 1457 Orchard Road, Mountainside, New Jersey. His telephone numbers is Adams 3-3420. He is employed by Conde Nast Publications of New York, New York.

He also told me that Joseph A. Winter, M.D., now deceased, was a brother-in-law of Mr. Campbell and he had written a book entitled “A Doctor Looks at Dianetics.”

In my discussion with Professor Asimov, he told me that Time magazine had published a detrimental article about Mr. Hubbard at the time he was engaged in a divorce suit. He thought that this article appeared some time in 1953 or 1954.

He said that there was one other person that might know a great deal about Hubbard; a Mr. A.E. van Vogt of Los Angeles, who had been a “bigshot” in Dianetics on the west coast. Van Vogt had contined the west coast operations after the east coast had simmered down. He felt that van Vogt would be a good source of information if he would talk. Professor Asimov said that he did not know van Vogt personally but because of his connections (van Vogt’s) he felt that he, if anyone, should know a great deal about Mr. Hubbard.

It is quite possible that the Administration knows of Mr. van Vogt.

Based on that recommendation by Asimov, two more FDA inspectors — D.L. Dovel and Dale E. Harper — paid a visit to author A.E. van Vogt in Los Angeles two weeks after the Asimov interview.

Pursuant to DRM request of 2/28/63, Inspector Dale E. Harper and I Interviewed A.E. van Vogt at his headquarters. He is presently operating a Dianetics center in Hollywood at 7089 Hawthorn called Hollywood Dianetics. Although van Vogt was the Director of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Los Angeles until he severed his connections with Hubbard in 1950, he furnished us with very little factual information.

He stated that he first met Hubbard in 1945. As they were both science fiction writers, the two men had a common bond. He was unable to provide any background on Hubbard other than from his limited personal experience with the man.

The subject took an interest in Hubbard’s ideas and became his associate, rising to the head of the Los Angeles office of the organization. In 1949 another member of the organization told van Vogt that Hubbard was beginning to adopt a metaphysical philosophy with respect to the cult. As van Vogt stated he as of the “rational school,” and against bringing in any religious or metaphysical ideas into the organization, a basis of conflict between the two men was now apparent. In 1950 Hubbard only proposed that the organization adopt the new religious ideology to van Vogt and the remainder of the following.

About half the group went along with Hubbard and his ideas, however, van Vogt and the remainder split off from the organization to continue with a strictly Dianetics approach. The Dianetics group was then formed which van Vogt now heads.

According to van Vogt he was seen Hubbard only three times since their split in 1950…Once in 1951, 1953, and 1954. He stated when he saw Hubbard in 1954, it was at one of Hubbard’s lectures in Phoenix. He did not have any conversation with Hubbard at this last meting of the two men. Van Vogt stated that he has had no communication or connection with Hubbard or his organization since they came to the parting of the ways. He claims he does not have any knowledge of the cult’s current activities.

While he was associated with Hubbard, van Vogt stated that he knew very little of Hubbard’s actual activities. He explained “Hubbard may have many followers, but he does not have any friends.” He mentioned that Hubbard was out of town most of the time during their association. Hubbard would not disclose his plans to his wife according to van Vogt, as Hubbard would leave on a trip without even giving her notice of his plans to take a trip. Van Vogt sated “no one really gets close to, or really knows Hubbard.”

We asked van Vogt if he thought Hubbard were normal with respect to the latter’s mental state. After some thought on the matter, van Vogt would offer no definite comment. We also inquired if he thought Hubbard were sincere in his endeavors. He replied that he thought the man was very sincere and “believed every word of it.” Van Vogt stated that Hubbard “knew advertising and how to attract a crowd.” Otherwise, he knew very little of the character or activities of Hubbard and his organization.

He thought Hubbard may have been married four times as he said he once saw a letter from a woman in New Orleans who intimated that she was once married to Hubbard. He did not remember the woman’s name or any other facts about this alleged marriage. Hubbard may have taken some courses at UCLA, according to van Vogt.

Mr. van Vogt was unable to supply any additional details. He impressed the inspectors that he knew a great deal more than he told us during our interview. From the appearance of van Vogt’s operation, it is the inspector’s opinion that his version of the organization is not very successful. He may have retained much information because he is currently operating a similar type organization as to the form practised during his association with L. Ron Hubbard.

Van Vogt’s parting remarks to the Inspectors was that we could gain a better picture of the “Hubbard type” by reading his (Van Vogt’s) new book, “The Violent Man.”

— D.L. Dovel, Inspector
Dale E. Harper, Inspector

The van Vogt interview reminds us that not everyone who got on board for the Dianetics craze in 1950 was happy with the direction Hubbard went in two years later when he created “Scientology.” Remember, the title of his 1950 book was Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, and Hubbard claimed that his new “science” was based on years of research and hundreds of clinical cases (evidence of which has never turned up). After the disastrous year of 1951, when his marriage to Sara Northrup went sour and Hubbard fled to Cuba after kidnapping his own daughter Alexis, Hubbard regrouped in Wichita with the help of oilman millionaire Don Purcell. But he’d lost the use of the word “Dianetics” in bankruptcy, and so Hubbard had to start over, and came up with the name Scientology. And this time, he wasn’t going to be satisfied with asking followers to remember their experiences in the womb. Encouraged by some of his more imaginative fans, Hubbard now encouraged them to go back farther, to “remember” past lives.

This is what van Vogt and other early Dianeticists objected to. If they could somehow suspend their disbelief long enough to remember when they were egg, sperm, or zygote and had gone through rough times in mom’s uterus, going even farther back to past lives was just too much. This was dramatized in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 movie The Master, as the Hubbard character, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, runs into problems with followers like the one played by Laura Dern. This was no longer even a pretend “science,” it was now pure fantasy, as the Hoffman character admits (ouch). And so in real life: Some early Dianeticists, convinced that Hubbard was on to something before he went off the deep end, remained loyal to the early idea of auditing “pre-natal” engrams, and here in 1963, van Vogt is still gamely carrying on with his small group in Los Angeles. But even the FDA inspectors can see that it was “not very successful.”

The FDA’s battle with Scientology — over the health claims Hubbard was making for the E-meter — dragged on in court for years after the 1963 raid. Inspectors were still looking for material to use when, in 1970, they decided to track down the truth about rumors that Hubbard had boasted, in 1948, about starting a religion as the only way to make a million dollars. One place where he said it, with multiple witnesses, was a November 1948 meeting of the Eastern Science Fiction Association in Newark, New Jersey. In the summer of 1970, FDA inspector Charles Everline decided to track down those witnesses, including the well known science fiction collector Sam Moskowitz.


Between: Mr. Samuel Moskowitz, 361 Roseville Avenue, Newark, New Jersey (Phone No. 201-HU-5-3295)
And: Mr. Charles H. Everline, Hearing Officer, CMB, NYK-21

By prior appointment I visited Mr. Moskowitz at his home to discuss information he reportedly had concerning the early history of Mr. L. Ron Hubbard. Mr. Moskowitz had informed Mr. Bud Loftus that he first heard Mr. Hubbard say at a meeting that the only way to make a million dollars was to form your own religion.

Mr. Moskowitz stated that the meeting referred to was held at the Slovak Circle Hall on Morris Avenue in Newark, New Jersey on November 7, 1948. That the meeting was held with Mr. Hubbard in attendance was verified by two reports. FANTASY TIMES 12-15-48 issue on Page 6 states that the Society held a meeting on November 7 with Mr. L. Ron Hubbard as guest speaker. The FANTASY ANNUAL 1948 issue on Page 54 contains a summary of the monthly meetings of the Eastern Science Fiction Society. This also stated that Mr. Hubbard was guest speaker at the November meeting. Mr. Alex Osheroff, Treasurer at the time, has advised Mr. Moskowitz that the minutes of the November 7, 1948 meeting are in existence. These minutes show that during the question and answer period, Mr. Hubbard spoke on his work “EXCALIBUR”. It was during these remarks that the statement about forming your own religion was made. Twenty-three people were in attendance at the meeting. These included Mr. Moskowitz, Mr. Osheroff, Mr. Alan Howard, Mr. Martin Greenberg, and Mr. Oswald Train. The current addresses for Mr. Howard and Mr. Greenberg were not known by Mr. Moskowitz. Mr. Train is a publisher whose address is 1129 West Wingohocking Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (phone no. DA 4-7738).

Following the meeting, several of the people in attendance, and Mr. Hubbard, went to the Hickory Grill and subsequently to Mr. Moskowitz’s home. While at the home, Mr. Train was hypnotized by Hubbard in an attempt to treat Mr. Train’s stuttering problem. Mr. Moskowitz had offered to pay Hubbard $100 if he could cure or even improve Mr. Train’s speech impediment. Mr. Hubbard was unsuccessful.

Mr. Hubbard did not attend any other meetings of the Society and Mr. Moskowitz was not in attendance at any other meetings where Mr. Hubbard may have spoken about forming your own religion.

We then discussed various other associates who might be familiar with Mr. Hubbard during the 1946 to 1955 time period. During these conversations, Mr. Moskowitz supplied the following names and addresses.

1. Mr. John W. Campbell
1457 Orchard Road
Mountainside, New Jersey
(Phone No. AD 3-3420)

Mr. Campbell was the publisher of “Amazing Science Fiction” and was the first person to hire Mr. Hubbard as a writer. He currently is employed by “Analog Science Fiction”. He may have information concerning Mr. Hubbard from 1938 to around 1952.

2. Mr. A.E. van Vogt
7089 Hawthorn
Los Angeles, California
(Phone No. 463-7377)

Mr. van Vogt is a writer who became involved in “Dianetics”. He set up the Los Angeles Dianetics Center around June or July 1950. He since has become disillusioned with Mr. Hubbard.

3. Mr. Arthur J. Cox — current address unknown. Mr. Cox is a friend of Mr. van Vogt and wrote a two-part article on van Vogt which appeared in the “Science Fiction Advertiser”. The second of the two articles appeared in the July 1952 issue. The editor of this booklet was Mr. Edward Ludwig. In the second article, Mr. Cox refers to various letters from Hubbard to van Vogt discussing “EXCALIBUR” and “Dianetics”. The article also mentions that Hubbard was present at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society on several occasions in 1948. The minutes of these meetings are reported in Shangri-la issues Nos. 5, 6 and 7. The one of primary interest is the April 15, 1948 meeting which is reported in Shangri-la no. 6 on Page 9. A copy of this page is attached for the record.

4. Forrest Ackerman — L. Ron Hubbard’s agent still living somewhere in California but his current address is unknown.

5. Mr. William Blackbeard — Mr. Blackbeard wrote an article entitled “Pip-squeak Prometheus Some Remarks on the Writings of L. Ron Hubbard”. This article originally appeared in 1948 in a local Journal and later was republished with some changes in the October 1952 issue of “Inside” starting on Page 23. Mr. Moskowitz has a copy of this article. It is an interesting analysis of Hubbard as a writer and also mentions the E meter.

Mr. Moskowitz also has in his possession a copy of the book entitled “Self Analysis in Scientology” copyright 1952 by L. Ron Hubbard; second printing 1953. I did not recall seeing this book during the early investigations of Scientology. In addition, there is an article in the November 1970 issue of “Amazing Science Fiction” entitled “Dianetics” — a personal report by Barry Molzberg.

Mr. Moskowitz stated that when Mr. Hubbard went into “Dianetics” and subsequently “Scientology,” he did not keep track of him because this did not deal with science fiction. He does have a file on “Dianetics” and one on “Scientology.” Most of the information in these files are clippings from magazines and newspapers. The majority of these are personal opinion articles either pro or con on “Dianetics” and “Scientology.” They add very little, if anything, to information already at hand.

Mr. Moskowitz stated he will continue to look through his files in an effort to uncover another meeting at which he thought Hubbard made the same remark about forming your own religion. Should he encounter the report on this, he will contact me. It appears Mr. Moskowitz’s prime value is as a historian who has available early articles concerning Mr. Hubbard’s movements and contacts.

Charles Everline

So in 1948-49, when Hubbard was writing Dianetics and, according to the Church of Scientology, trying and failing to get the medical and psychiatric establishments to take his mental health “cures” seriously, he was telling some people that what he really wanted to do, in order to get out of the drudgery of writing for the pulps, was to start a religion. Dianetics, published on May 9, 1950, however, presented itself as a science. It was later, after the more metaphysical past-lives stuff of Scientology of 1952, that Hubbard, in 1953, faced with government grumbling about health claims, wrote to Helen O’Brien about trying out “the religion angle.” But is that what he’d actually had in mind all the time, and was just waiting for the opportunity to propose it?

Ah, this is fun stuff.

The FDA and Scientology settled the court case about the E-meters in 1971. But we thank R.M. Seibert once again for having the foresight, last year, to ask the FDA for its files.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 19, 2016 at 07:00

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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email