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Scientology started with a bang, but critics were on L. Ron Hubbard right away

[Ron showing off his parlor trick, 1950]

Our newspaper archivist is at it again, and once again has sent us some really fun things from Scientology’s early history that you might not have seen very often, if ever.

One thing we know about Scientology’s origin is that the movement got off to a fast start with the publication of L. Ron Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health on May 9, 1950.

But not everyone was so sanguine about Ron and his science. Our helper found a couple of precious reactions to Dianetics and its popularity during that first year of its existence, and we thought you’d like to see them.

First, there was this smart-ass response from Texas.


My America, By Harry Boyd
On Subject of Dianetics
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
January 5, 1951

It really pains me to do this when everybody is already so distraught by the feeling that all the cherished old truths are being swept away from their moorings. Heaven knows these are times when a man needs an anchor to the windward.

But it would be less than honest to conceal the fact that I have renounced the orthodox creed of dianetics as expounded by its top oracle, L. Ron Hubbard. Renounced it before I was ever converted to it, you might say.

In the middle of the first chapter of Brother Hubbard’s book, to be more precise. I had hardly hit my stride in reading Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health when a sudden flash of insight caught me in the midsection of a particularly obscure paragraph. And as I paused to get my bearings I heard an inner voice say:

“This whole thing is nuts!”

Now, naturally I don’t believe all I hear from those furtive inner voices. Any writer who can run a little dab of science fiction into a health-cult bonanza with half a million raving devotees is no simpleton.

Just the same, a dozen pages of the book was enough to convince me that Hubbard and I had reached the parting of the ways.

It isn’t that I would belittle his ingenious deduction that beneath the conscious mind there is a submind which makes tiny cell recordings of current events “while the conscious mind is unconscious.” And then uses the recording in a persistent campaign to needle the unsuspecting host into a state of chronic “aberration.”

One must grudgingly admire the imposing edifice Hubbard (no relation to Old Mother of the same name) has built on that rickety foundation. Particularly his theory that a person can erase those irritating cell recordings from his “time track,” thereby curing colds, ulcers, sex deviations and a long list of assorted psychosomatic ailments.

But it is quite apparent that Hubbard’s conclusions are faulty because he didn’t probe deep enough. Discovering that there is a submind is fine as far as it goes. But did Hubbard ever wonder what might be beneath the submind?

Well, I have. And it all becomes as plain as the nose on your face when you stop to think about it. Imbedded deep in the layer of tissue and gravel beneath the submind is the basic plumbing system of the human organism.


This great truth has only just come out. Two paragraphs ago I wouldn’t have suspected it myself, even.

I wouldn’t guarantee that we have got to the bottom of this thing yet. But uncovering the plumbing network is enough of a scientific triumph for one sitting. This network drains off psychic poisons collected by the submind and circulates them through the body. When they seep out through bad connections or leaky faucets there is hell to pay.

Manifestly this knowledge superimposes a whole new philosophy on the basic tenets of old-fashioned dianetics. I am assembling it in a revolutionary new science of neo-dianetics and will be open for business just as soon as I get the book written. Please stand by.

Secondly, we really enjoyed this characterization of Dianetics as typical California nonsense from a Baltimore Evening Sun correspondent who was embedded with the fruits and nuts in the Golden State.

California’s Latest Love
By Robert O. Foote
Baltimore Evening Sun
August 30, 1950

The creation of dianetics is a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and the arch. There is a sentence, if there ever was one, to satisfy the cult susceptibility of southern California. That region is pre-eminently the place which first swallowed, hook, line and “engram,” a book and belief which has a part of scientific America engaged in a battle of psychological double-talk. The book’s full title is, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.”

The quoted sentence is the opening one in this volume by L. Ron Hubbard, “mathematician and theoretical philosopher,” previously known to fame chiefly as a contributor to a pocket-sized magazine called Astounding Science Fiction.

Hubbard and his publishers, Hermitage House, say his book is pure science. Several reviewers and commentators have found it only fiction — and not too pure. On the other hand, many scientifically capable readers are convinced that the cocksure author has got hold of something important He claims — and there is no way to dispute him on this point — that only about one out of every 500 letters reaching the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, of Elizabeth, N.J. (which draws the author royalties) is derogatory.

It seems safe to surmise that about 490 of every 500 letters of approval bear southern California postmarks. It was actually in Pasadena — home of the California Institute of Technology and of the Mount Wilson Solar Observatory — that “Dianetics” first achieved the stature of a best seller. Los Angeles soon followed, with usually skeptical San Francisco now manifesting signs of conversion to this latest method of talking away a persistent headache, to say nothing of getting rid of other ills ranging from arthritis to ulcers and including sex deviations.


Perhaps the author and publisher were themselves astonished at this instantly cordial reception in the California home of research science. They were not slow to capitalize upon it. Hubbard rushed from New Jersey to Los Angeles, much as Dale Carnegie had done at an earlier date, to supplement his written message by word-of-mouth exposition.

It is no trick at all for Hubbard to fill the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, at a dollar a head, to its 6,400 capacity and turn other thousands away. Undoubtedly, when the summer season of music under the stars is over he will be found filling the 25,000-seat Hollywood Bowl. It is no wild guess that at least that many Hollywood-ians must be meeting nightly in small groups intent upon “clearing” each other of psychological blocks which may date back to the moment of their conception or even the wedding of their parents.

Nor is the excitement subsiding in Pasadena, where “Dianetics” started to grow into a cult. Book stores there are pushed to obtain enough copies of the 450-page book, at $4 a throw, retail. Familiar faces from the Caltech faculty may be noted at any Hubbard lecture. Whether they come to scoff or to marvel is concealed behind aloof detachment of manner.

Hubbard, who is an ex-Marine — with remaining overtones of Marine gruffness — is a large, persuasive man of around 40, red-haired and self-confident. At his lectures he gives demonstrations of his methods on the stage, with patients who are admittedly stooges, there for the sole purpose of demonstrating technique, not for the performance of actual cures since they have already been cleared.

A word for those who, in the cynical East, may not yet be familiar with the purpose and system of “Dianetics” which, greatly to the originator’s indignation, is being called “the poor man’s psychoanalysis.” That is a designation so patly fitting the casual examination of the new “science” that it will not easily be escaped.

As nearly as this one inquirer can determine, the believer in “Dianetics” is assured that with the aid of an auditor he can be “unblocked” within a few weeks instead of having to spend months perhaps on the psychoanalytic couch. He does not need the high-priced attention of a professional psychiatrist. A friend, even a husband or wife, can “audit” away his “engrams.”

This new word, one of several Hubbard has coined, denotes impressions made on protoplasm — not more unconscious memories a la Freud. Indeed, the “engrams” are as likely as not to predate a patient’s birth. The patient is “cleared” of these engrams by uncovering them through, in a manner, relieving them. He may choke up and go through the motions of actually being born again. Parties to this “unblocking” are the “preclear” and the auditor. The latter “audits” them out of the “bank” of engrams which has been built up unconsciously and the “preclear” becomes a “clear,” freed of his ills and aberrations.

So complex a theory cannot be properly assessed by a layman. Some psychiatrists of note have given a frank indorsement of “Dianetics.” Others admit to fears over the originator’s assertion that it cannot possibly do any harm to those who read it and attempt to follow it, even fumblingly. There are many who still indorse James Thurber’s old advice, “Leave Your Mind Alone.”

This latter suggestion, of course, is something the southern Californian can hardly be expected to heed. “Dianetics” offer him a welcome departure from the customary economic panaceas and old-time-religion cults which often sweep his community into collective madness. He can feel somewhat superior studying his mind — or what he calls his mind.

Perhaps, however, the easterner should not scoff too loudly until sure that “Dianetic” gatherings have not become a feature of his own neighborhood life.

And as a bonus, we have this unusual item from a few years later, and featuring an Albany Scientologist who apparently passed away in 2015. What an interesting method of dissemination he had.

Scientologist Adds Tone to Your Conversation

The Knickerbocker News Sept 29, 1958
By Evan Richards

“PUBLIC NOTICE: I will talk to anyone for you about anything. 8-1125.”

This classified ad, which has been running of late, was too provocative to ignore — so I didn’t ignore it.

The voice on the other end of 8-1125 said in deep, slow and deliberate tones it represented the Scientology Center of Albany, an organization to help people get their thoughts across to one another.

Or to be more precise, the voice said the Scientology Center concerns itself with a branch of psychology…the psychology of communications, a field in which folks are getting progressively less and less talented these days.

“I’ll ask anybody anything about anything,” said the deep, slow and deliberate voice.

“I’ll propose to a girl if her boy friend is too bashful.

“I’ll ask your boss for a raise if you don’t have the gumption.

“I’ll tell the bus company about your transportation problems.”

I see, and how much do you charge to propose to a girl — somebody else’s girl?

“Oh, there’s no charge. I ask questions for free.”

It develops that the deep, slow and deliberate voice belongs to Neil R. Brown, a collegiate looking young man of 24 who stands 6 foot 4. His Scientology Center of Albany is set up on the first floor of a two-story house at 899 Mercer St.

Mr. Brown’s income comes, not from asking questions, but from running a little school where he teaches people how to communicate with one another. Turns out he’s been running the school for about a year already has just ended five summer classes in which 12 or 13 persons took a six-week (one day a week) course.


A brochure about the school has this to say:

COMMUNICATION COURSE… “In this course you learn accurate and effective means of smoothly handling anything anyone might say, and you learn how to end a conversation or subject discussion as YOU choose.

UPPER INDOCRINATION COURSE… “This is not a course in how to shake hands, smile an pat people on the back. Nor does it teach other systems that are substitutes for really knowing how to talk to people… This is your opportunity to increase those abilities necessary for lasting success in business, among friends, and in life itself.

CERTIFICATES AWARDED… Upon the completion of any of our courses, students are awarded a handsome certificate stating their achievement. The certificate of Hubbard Apprentice Scientologist is granted those successfully completing 72 hours… Well respected by all, this certificate is highly prized by those who have reached this height of ability.”

Mr. Brown, whose living room has been converted into a classroom, said he has a master’s degree in Scientology from the National Academy of Psychology. He also said he is a Milne School graduate.

About those questions he asks for people. When a fellow figures he’s due for a raise, but doesn’t have the nerve to speak to his boss, Mr. Brown will intervene and arrange for a conference between himself, the boss and the employee.

As for popping the question for shy Lotharios, he again sets up a three-party meeting lasting not more than an hour. I forgot to ask him who gets down on his knee at the crucial point, but we did learn that such John-Priscilla-Miles meetings end up in a “yes” answer better than 50 per cent of the time.

The question-asker said he doesn’t usually get told how the pay raise negotiations end, but he did have this to say of his proxy proposals: “The girl is shocked at first.”

Mr. Brown’s services also include calling up men’s wives (at the men’s request) and saying hubby will be a little late for suppers. The wives believe it too, after a little “coercing,” comments Mr. Brown.

One last matter I just had to find out was: Mr. Brown, are you married?

“No, “said the question-asker, “but I’m engaged.”

He did his own proposing too.



Technology Cocktail/

“We went too long on the Time Track before developing and working at Scientology. BUT we can do it. And it is a lot more than worthwhile—it is vital that we do do it. If we miss now, we may be finished. For there is no help elsewhere and there never has been this technology or any successful mental technology. And just now nobody cares but us. When we’ve succeeded all the way everybody will want on. But not yet. My own job is very far from an end. The job of getting the purely technology developed and organized is practically over, unless you consider a recording of the full technology as part of the job. I’ve only recorded essentials and am just writing the last bulletins on those. But ahead is a vast panorama of research on other dynamics and enormous amounts of other technology.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1963



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond


[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman


Source Code

“We have, in this universe, space has a peculiarity. And there are three kinds of space. Three kinds of space: there’s ‘was space,’ ‘is space’ and ‘will be space.’ There are three kinds of space. And how is this space formed? By postulating it exists….Somebody was serious. And I think the whole, the title of this whole play ‘MEST universe’ could be on that line: ‘Somebody Was Serious.’ And the title of Dianetics could be ‘One Was Stubborn.’ All right.” — L. Ron Hubbard, November 20, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Recent surveys have revealed that the great and glorious Welfare State period is about to come to a screeching halt. A world recession is already in progress. U.S. currency, the only international money, is rapidly devaluating and may become completely worthless in the very near future. Scandinavia, wehre Welfare Socialism was the order of the day for decades, is on the verge of a crash. Welfarism is the idea that the people can get something without exchanging anything. Over 50 percent of the U.S. population at this time is on a hand-out kick. The Great White Father in Washington is supposed to be able to endlessly spend money which it itself is not covered by production. This brings about money worthlessness because the money isn’t buying anything.” — The Commodore, November 20, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I still maintain we are missing the real thing. Sitting on a rock with an OT48 certificate seeing people like Trump actually being an Operating Thetan is humbling. There are other examples of people who change the course of history, make loads of money, handle suppression and an old body and still keeps a seriouly gorgeous woman happy and productive. So I have to ask, how have the OT levels worked out for us?”



Past is Prologue

1995: Steve Holroyd posted an ad he recently came across in the West End Extra which lists the current claims of the cult for the state of Clear: “SCIENTOLOGY ‘Do you want more out of life?’ Become a Scientology Clear. A Scientology Clear has – Over 135 IQ – Creative imagination – Amazing vitality – Deep relaxation – Good memory – Strong willpower – Radiant health – Magnetic personality – Good self control If you would like to have all these qualities then look into Scientology. Enquire today”


Random Howdy

“I worked off and on in the restaurant/hotel industry for years. When the kitchen got slammed i.e busy, pretty soon tempers would flare and everybody would be cursing one another left and right (sometimes it turned to mild violence). Cooks attacking servers, they in turn attacking the busboys who would in turn attack the dishwashers. When it was over everybody would go to the bar, get loaded and try to have sex with each other forgetting the previous transgressions. Words spoken in the heat of the moment mean nothing.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentenced to 30 years to life on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing October 30.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, Scientology submitting anti-SLAPP response Oct 26.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Discovery phase.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] What the jurors didn’t hear: How Scientology keeps crimes under wraps
[TWO years ago] Jon Atack and Chris Shelton answer the question: Are cult members stupid?
[THREE years ago] This changes everything: Scientology ups its cool quotient in swanky London
[FOUR years ago] Scientology leader David Miscavige: Screw your lawsuit, you didn’t serve me properly
[FIVE years ago] Someone doesn’t want you to see this rich Scientologist act like a rich Scientologist
[SIX years ago] Charles Manson and Scientology: What the church doesn’t want you to know
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology is making this world ideal, one renovated building at a time
[EIGHT years ago] Five months later, Ponzi schemer and Scientologist Reed Slatkin is still dead
[NINE years ago] Did a fashion website give a big boost to a Scientology infiltrator of NYC schools?
[TEN years ago] Claire and Bruce Take Us Into the Bizarre World of Scientology’s Operating Thetan Two!
[ELEVEN years ago] Fox 25 in Oklahoma City Keeps Up the Pressure on Scientology’s Drug Rehab Deaths


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,219 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,734 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,284 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,274 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,155 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,459 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,330 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,435 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,882 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,224 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,790 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,709 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,876 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,458 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,719 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,755 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,471 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,035 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,350 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,525 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,076 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,207 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,545 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,400 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,519 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,875 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,178 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,284 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,682 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,558 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,123 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,636 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,890 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,999 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 20, 2023 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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