This recent article from Tony Ortega includes material from Jon Atack which casts more light on the early days of Scientology. It complements the articles you will find in the right sidebar of this blog titled, Church history you may not wish to confront. You cannot consider yourself free of the influence of the Church of Scientology until you have read this article and rest of the Church history you may not wish to confront.
Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. He was kind enough to send us a new post.
Jon, these previews you’re giving us, setting things up for the “Getting Clear” conference in Toronto, are really well put together. Once again, you’ve woven together several strands of Scientology history to make us think of things in a new light. Lay it on us…
JON: The history of any subject is vital to its understanding. Scientologists tend to have very little information about the development of their belief system and their understanding is consequently hampered. After my departure from the cult in 1983, I spent over a decade studying the history of Scientology. I read a mass of Scientology’s published materials and extracted historical references, collected thousands of pages of public record documents and gathered the accounts of about 150 people who had been involved with Hubbard from his childhood onward. This material was cross-referenced into a 400-page chronology, which was the basis for A Piece of Blue Sky.
The first stirring of Dianetics is found in Hubbard’s letters to his literary agent, Forrest Ackerman. On January 13, 1949, Hubbard wrote: “This has more selling and publicity angles than any book of which I have ever heard…” As to the benefits of his “science,” Hubbard said: “you can rape women without their knowing it, communicate suicide messages to your enemies as they sleep, sell the Arroyo Seco parkway to the mayor for cash, evolve the best way of protecting or destroying communism, and other handy house hold hints. If you go crazy, remember you were warned.”
Hubbard told various people in the late 40s that the best way to make a fortune was to start a religion. His many letters show no focus on the public good, merely how to acquire money and power for himself. I found no evidence that philanthropy was an aspect of Hubbard’s character.
In 1949, with the backing of Astounding Science Fiction editor John Campbell Jr., Hubbard settled in New Jersey with his second and (unknown to her) bigamous wife, Sara, to finish his research prior to the writing of Dianetics.
Sara was joined by two other assistants – Joseph Winter, MD, and Don Rogers – for the months leading up to the writing of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Dr Winter wrote two books about Hubbard and Dianetics (his Doctor’s Report on Dianetics is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the origins of the subject).
Don Rogers very kindly answered my questions in depth in a series of letters, in the 1980s. Unlike Winter, he was not disillusioned by Hubbard. He still believed in the “Tech,” more than 30 years later. Rogers had been on the board of every Hubbard foundation from the first, in 1950, through to the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International, in 1954. He left, because he felt that “black and white processing” had “cracked his case.”
Into the 1980s, D:MSMH was still printed with an appendix (the “Mind Schematic”) written by Rogers. By the time we corresponded, Rogers had lost his “wins,” but was still friendly towards Hubbard; he was also candid. He gave me the title of my book: Let’s sell these people A Piece of Blue Sky, which is what Hubbard said to him the moment before he opened the doors to the first Foundation.
The most startling piece of information Rogers gave to me was that until “Book One” was commissioned, all of Hubbard’s work used deep trance hypnosis. He told Rogers that this would be unpopular, so, without a single “research” session, he switched to the “reverie” (or “light trance”) method adapted from Freud, that is Book One Dianetics. Hubbard himself warned about the hypnotic nature of this method, in 1951, in Science of Survival: “A pre-clear after he closes his eyes will begin to flutter his eyelids. This a symptom of the very lightest level of hypnotic trance.” (Book II, p.227). This significant admission is lost on contemporary practitioners, who tend to ignore any evidence that the “Tech” is hypnotic.