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


Ignore the apologists: Yes, L. Ron Hubbard lied about having an engineering degree

[L. Ron Hubbard and W.F.G. Swann]

[Make sure you don’t miss yesterday’s late-breaking news about Scientology and David Miscavige being sued in a new lawsuit.]

It only recently came to our attention that an apologist journal, CESNUR, published a couple of breathless articles in recent months trying to prove that L. Ron Hubbard never claimed to have a civil engineering college degree, and that any mentions of his “C.E.” were incorrectly included in books and magazine articles or Church of Scientology publications against his wishes.

We hope you weren’t drinking a cup of something when you read that. We can imagine your reaction.

Anyway, the journal tries mightily to prove that any time Hubbard and a college degree was mentioned, there was something mysteriously off about the letter or document, and that Hubbard himself was unaware that people were crediting him with such a thing.

Of course, if you know even the slightest thing about Scientology, or bother to talk to people who actually knew and worked for the man, you know that the idea of L. Ron Hubbard not knowing or not caring while the church, literally for decades, put out incorrect information about him is about as preposterous as Hubbard’s axioms.


Hubbard said a lot of different things about his academic qualifications, including his failures. He would sometimes mention in lectures that he had been distracted by things like becoming a glider pilot after his father got him into George Washington University in 1930. By 1932, he had flunked out of school and never completed a degree. Most notably, he failed a class in “molecular and atomic physics” but went on for years and years to claim that he was a “nuclear physicist.” (He also got miserable grades in high school, which we were the first to point out, thanks to researcher R.M. Seibert.)

Yes, he joked about flunking out at times, but it all depended on the situation. At other times, he wanted to puff himself up as a world authority on things, and variously called himself a “psychologist,” or a “medical doctor,” or whatever the occasion needed.

And yes, especially when he was trying to impress actual scientists, he pretended that he’d actually obtained a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. (He would also refer to his “PhD,” which was a bogus “Doctorate” in Scientology from a diploma mill, Sequoia University.)

Before we show you the proof of that, let’s look at the language in the apologist journal that worked itself up into quite a state as it claimed that no proof of Hubbard lying about a degree had ever been found:

“Close inspection of all currently available evidence indicated that Hubbard never lied about his grades nor about having graduated with a civil engineering degree. The fact that no scholar, critic, supporter nor the Church of Scientology itself has thoroughly examined or explained these discrepancies merits reevaluations of several other various claims and criticisms regarding Hubbard, Dianetics, and Scientology.”

Oh-ho! We’ve had Hubbard and Scientology all wrong! It’s time to re-evaluate the Commodore for the plain-speaking, truth teller that he was!

Sure, CESNUR, whatever you say.

Anyway, back here on Earth, we have a copy of a letter Hubbard wrote in 1960 that Lawrence Wright’s researcher Lauren Wolf shared with us several years ago. She got it out of the archives of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and it’s quite genuine. Here’s the text of Hubbard’s letter that he wrote to well known physicist W.F.G. Swann (1884-1962), trying to impress him that his “axioms” nonsense was something legitimate…

L. Ron Hubbard

18th July, 1960.

Dr. W.F.G. Swann,
Franklin Institute,
Philadelphia, Pa.

My dear Doctor,


I was quite interested in your lecture as reported in the Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vol. 269, No. 3, concerning a fundamental life “entity”.

A series of axioms, etc., on this subject were done by myself in 1951 and revised in 1954. I only have this copy of the 1951 Axioms to hand. The material embraces a subject called “Scientology”. These 1951 Axioms were saluted mainly in Europe where they are termed the first attempted axiomatic presentation of life.

By 1954 after considerable experiment and expense ways were found to isolate and identify “theta”.

The qualities of this have been further defined elsewhere and some ten thousands cases have been accumulated and the character of death has been lately discovered.

As you say in your lecture, much criticism greets this work in a materialistic world. I worked first on this in 1930 while studying “atomic and molecular phenomena”, as nuclear physics was then called, at George Washington University and the work required another twenty-five years to develop. Indeed, it still develops.

Certain other things have come about such as the quality of zero and why C varies.

The work is embraced by many people in atomic energy fields and has a lay following, through its organizations of about two million, distributed around the various continents where we have offices. The popularity of the work with the lay public exceeds its popularity with U.S. science as the medical doctor and psychologists see their fields invaded by physics

While the later axioms are far more precise and are easier to demonstrate, this booklet, I think, you may find of interest.

You are quite correct in supposing “the entity” has neither space nor time. A “Thetan” in the 1954 Axioms is defined as having no mass, no location in space or time, and no wavelength but has certain definite abilities by which it is identifiable by means to which an engineer is accustomed.

As these Definitions, Logics and Axioms, as begin on page 29 of this booklet, have been published in journals only in Europe and as it would be strange to let them be buried under neglect in America, I wonder if you could do me the favor of publishing them, just as they are, in your Journal. You need take no responsibility for them beyond saying they were developed by L. Ron Hubbard, B.S. in C.E., Ph.D., and sent you for possible interest. It would help me and it might help somebody struggling along on the same project. If any interest was expressed, you could later have published the 1954 list.

Abroad so long I no longer publish in journals in America, and I see no reason this material should be known abroad and not in America as I am informed it has had some use and have been startled now and then by Russian interest. Possibly you would not care to since it is true that considerable criticism greets this work, but I would be very appreciative if you did.


L. Ron Hubbard.

Saint Hill Manor,
East Grinstead,

And here, gentle reader, we are going to show you the original letter itself. You will see that there are no initials indicating that someone else handled or typed this letter for Hubbard. (CESNUR finds the presence of the initials of a typist or compiler to be sinister evidence that Hubbard was being duped by his own slavish followers. It’s a cute theory, but not relevant in this case.)

Also, you can see that this is a genuine Hubbard signature. (CESNUR had claimed that another letter we posted with Hubbard’s claim of a degree was obviously signed by someone else. But it wasn’t unusual for some of Hubbard’s close employees to sign things for him. And it’s just silly to believe that Hubbard would allow letters like that to go out under his name without knowing about them or what they contained. But anyway, that’s not the issue here. This letter is Hubbard all the way.)

Hubbard to Swann Letter by on Scribd

Since CESNUR threw a fit saying that this evidence doesn’t exist, now that we’ve provided it will the journal respond by taking a hard look at its own research standards?

Somehow we doubt it.


HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

THURSDAY NIGHT OPPORTUNITY: This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. But we also want to point out that Cathy Schenkelberg’s “Squeeze My Cans” will be running at the Hollywood Fringe, and we encourage HowdyCon attendees to see her show on Thursday night, June 20. Tickets and more dates available here.

Friday night June 21 we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.



Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Elisabeth Moss, Michael Peña, and Laura Prepon]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Stacy Francis goes to Washington: Are we witnessing another Scientology political op?
[TWO years ago] Clearwater bar owner under surveillance has a surprise for Scientology: He’s expanding
[THREE years ago] Scientology goes big with Barnes & Noble and with the Euro 2016 football tournament
[FOUR years ago] LEAK: ‘Crappy stories’ about Scientology are driving more people to the church than ever!
[FIVE years ago] Paul Haggis, Chill EB, and more Scientology fun in an all-video post!
[SIX years ago] LEAK: Scientology’s Script For Softening Up A Crowd
[SEVEN years ago] The Master Gets Its Scientology On in 2nd Trailer


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,482 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,611 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,115 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,635 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 655 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 546 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,853 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,721 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,495 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,269 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,615 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,181 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,101 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,268 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,849 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,110 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,149 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,861 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,387 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,476 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,616 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,936 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,792 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,911 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,266 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,569 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,675 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,077 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,949 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,532 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,027 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,281 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,390 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 19, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email