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LISTEN: Rare tape reveals how L. Ron Hubbard really came up with Scientology’s space cooties

Mary_Sue_Hubbard_LRHThe Underground Bunker has been leaked a rare 1952 L. Ron Hubbard recording that surfaced online only briefly five years ago. When it did, some longtime Scientology researchers were astonished, saying they thought it was mere legend.

Despite the secrets it unlocks about the formation of Scientology’s beginnings, you won’t see a mention of this recording in any of the most important books on Scientology — not in Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, not in Russell Miller’s Bare-Faced Messiah, or even in Jon Atack’s A Piece of Blue Sky. Even Arnie Lerma’s vast online archive contains only a very short portion of the full transcript of what you are about to hear.

So why is it coming up now?

Last week, we dealt with a couple of Scientology celebrities who predictably obfuscated about the nature of Scientology itself. They’re trained to do that, and we had to point out that Laura Prepon was prevaricating when she claimed that Scientology wasn’t homophobic (it very much is), and that Giovanni Ribisi might have been playing word games when he said he’d never heard of “aliens” in the church.

We explained that Scientologists believe that as thetans, we are immortal beings who have lived countless lives for trillions of years in various places in the universe. But those far-flung thetans aren’t technically “aliens” in the ET sense.

To illustrate how much L. Ron Hubbard’s space opera ideas are part of Scientology, we reposted a Hubbard lecture, given in 1952, during which he talks about invading forces taking over Mars and Venus, where to this day Earthlings are whisked between lives to be implanted with mental image pictures before starting out again as infants.

It’s wild stuff, and we wanted to make sure that someone like Ribisi understood that Scientology’s space opera is well documented, even if he’s trained not to discuss it publicly.

But then, in our comments, J. Swift pointed out that there was something even better from 1952 that would make that point. He said it was a very rare recording, and had not been seen on the Internet since 2009. It had the unwieldy title, “Electropsychometric Scouting: Battles of the Universes.”

Within hours of that comment, one of our many excellent tipsters contacted us, telling us where to look for that recording. And now, we’re bringing it to you.

Before you listen to it, it’s important to keep in mind what was happening when it was recorded in 1952. Two years earlier, Hubbard had enjoyed huge success with his book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. His ideas about recapturing lost memories from our time in the womb to relive forgotten traumas that were affecting adult life became a brief fad that produced money-making foundations and more fame than the pulp fiction writer had ever enjoyed. But then, just a year later, Hubbard’s life was in tatters. His second wife, Sara Northrup, was divorcing him and telling salacious tales about his mental instability to the press, he had absconded to Cuba with Alexis, the daughter he’d had with Sara. And the Dianetics fad had faded and Hubbard was broke.

Helped by a Kansas millionaire who bailed him out financially, and after settling with Sara, Hubbard then began to rebuild his life in Phoenix in April 1952. It was there that he moved only four weeks after marrying his third wife, Mary Sue Whipp, and where he developed the successor to Dianetics, something he called “Scientology.” No longer satisfied only with remembering what had happened in the womb, Hubbard now explored the idea of previous existences — Scientology was about recalling past lives, and with the help of a device called an electropsychometer, or “E-meter.”

That April, he sat down with Mary Sue and an early model of E-meter to record the session you are about to hear. Although an E-meter is a crude electronic device that measures tiny fluctuations in electrical current in a subject’s skin, Hubbard uses it as a mystical device, treating the needle-dial’s movement to the right (“a drop”) as a confirmation of what he’s saying. And what is he saying? He begins the session by announcing that he has trapped an “entity,” and he and Mary Sue are going to question it. They watch the needle as Hubbard questions unseen spirits, much as a 19th Century medium might listen for tapping sounds during a séance, or a person might consult a Ouija board.

Over the next hour, they question the entity or entities about the origins of the universe and the nature of “Targs,” unseen harmful spirits that inhabit human bodies.

Longtime Scientology watchers will immediately recognize the significance of that. Some 15 years later, Hubbard would write the notorious story of “Incident Two” in “Operating Thetan Level Three,” the story of Xenu the galactic overlord (made famous in a 2005 episode of South Park) who, 75 million years ago, left behind countless disembodied spirits on Earth that today inhabit each of us by the hundreds or even thousands.

The top levels of Scientology, developed in the late 1960s, consist of a kind of Space Age exorcism. At hundreds of dollars an hour, a subject tries to remove these unseen entities — no longer referred to as “Targs,” but now called “body thetans.” For years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, Scientologists remove body thetans, or “BT’s” from their person.

It is stunning to learn that Hubbard had the idea for these entities inhabiting a body in 1952, so early in the development of Scientology itself. (Jon Atack had told us this more than once in the series of items he wrote for this website, but it’s another thing to actually hear L. Ron Hubbard coming up with these ideas on tape.)

Scientology today claims to be a worldwide religion. Its longtime members will tell you they were attracted to it because it was billed as an exact science and an applied philosophy. But it turns out that Scientology’s cosmology actually sprouted from a 1952 séance performed by L. Ron Hubbard and his wife Mary Sue talking to unseen primordial entities with a bobbing needle as a spirit-guide.

Set aside some time, and listen to this recording and follow along with the helpful transcript onscreen. We are particularly interested in hearing from our readers who are former Scientologists and had been lured into Scientology with the promise that it was a science, not just another mystical ritual.

Here’s the recording…


For some reaction to the tape, we turned to Bruce Hines. Bruce was in Scientology for 31 years, and oversaw some of the highest levels of Scientology training.

Boy, that is one batshit crazy transcript!

Still, it is interesting to me. Hubbard is connected to an E-meter, 1952 style. While electronics have improved since that time, the basic principles and circuit are the same. All an E-meter does is show changes in electrical resistance. He is trying to telepathically communicate with, or contact, “entities.” He is using the jargon of that era, which is basically the same as that used in the book, A History of Man. Entities are just spirits or souls or thetans. Hubbard believed that communications from these supposed entities would somehow show up on the E-meter.

Bruce Hines

Bruce Hines

In this situation he is using the E-meter much like a Ouija board, and the whole scenario is much like a séance with an audience. There is much talk of getting a “drop,” which is a sudden movement to the right of the E-meter needle. In later years, the more common term for this was “fall.” In general auditing, when the auditor wants to know if a certain item or subject or question has “charge” on it, he or she looks for a fall or drop. For example, in a security check if the needle falls when a question is asked or “checked,” that means that the person is guilty of some misdeed. Even though Hubbard cautioned from time to time that a fall only shows that there is mental charge (defined as harmful energy) associated with the subject at hand, a fall is often taken to mean “true” or “yes.”

In A History of Man, Hubbard talked about “Theta beings” being at war with “MEST beings” and there being a “Theta universe” and a “MEST universe,” MEST standing for Matter, Energy, Space, and Time, the components of the the physical universe. Hence, “Battle of the Universes,” which sounds kind of dramatic, doesn’t it? Hubbard is trying to find out more about these entities (beings) and in reality is kind of free associating. If the needle gave a drop it meant that he was onto something, part of the truth, and if there was no drop he would try another line of thought.

What a way to develop a philosophy!

In later years, the jargon shifted and there was no talk about “MEST entities” and the like. But Scientologists are forbidden to say or believe that the things in this transcript are not true. It couldn’t get much more bizarre.

There’s another reason why the Ouija board reference is apt, which is rarely pointed out about the E-meter. The Ouija board works through involuntary movement in the hands of the people playing the game. Everyone swears they aren’t moving the planchette on the board, and yet somehow it will move to make an intelligible message. How does it do that? From an old installment of The Straight Dope

What makes the pointer move? An effect similar to that which occurs in dowsing, known as the ideomotor effect. This is a fancy name for involuntary/unconscious movement, such as a dowser’s hand flicking enough to move his stick when he passes over an area he knows has water…The basic point is that your muscles can move without your consciously thinking.

What does this have to do with Scientology’s E-meter? Plenty. The E-Meter measures a tiny fluctuation in electrical current, and that current can be affected by several different factors.

If the machine was measuring something real — as Scientologists say it is actually reading their thoughts — then you would want to eliminate as many other variables as possible. But it never seems to occur to Scientologists that a truer measure of their skin galvanism would be through sensors attached directly to their skin. Instead, they hold “cans,” introducing the variable of grip.

Scientologists, ask yourself this question: Why, if you really believe that the E-meter is reading your life billions of years into the past by tapping directly into your thoughts, would you be required to hold the sensors in your hands, which introduces the variability of involuntary movement, the ideomotor effect that makes the Ouija board game produce fanciful results?

Those researchers skilled at spotting cold readings will no doubt point out the confirmation bias and other methods that Hubbard uses to confirm his tales of “Targs” and “universe 33” in this recording as he watches the needle move while holding onto the sensors. This is mystical juju, not science.

If Scientology’s con has a smoking gun, it may be this recording.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 17, 2014 at 09:45

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer


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