During a recent trip to the local library, I noticed a couple books written
by L. Ron Hubbard,
the founder of the controversial Church of Scientology. Like so many other people, I have
heard plenty about Scientology and Dianetics in
the news, and the overall impression (let's be honest) is not very good. Yet,
since I always try to give any view a fair chance, I decided to borrow this
book to see what they are all about first hand.
The beginning of the book is quite disappointing, I'm afraid. The author starts
defining Scientology as follows:
Vague, ambiguous and, above all, non-committal. Definitely not very
scientific, in spite of the author's pretense. The definition transcribed
above means everything and nothing. Perhaps quite good for a salesman, but
not for a scientist (actually, not even for a philosopher)
and treats of human ability.
The term Scientology is taken from the Latin word scio (knowing, in the fullest meaning of the
word) and the Greek
word logos (study of).
Scientology is further defined as "the study and handling of the spirit in
relationship to itself, universes and other life."
. As a matter
of fact, I see little difference between Scientology as defined by the author
that, of course, Hubbard constantly repeats that his approach is based on
scientific evidence, even though, as far as I can see, he fails to show any
Just in case that was not enough, he quickly makes another typical move. On
the very same page, Hubbard uses the tired straw man fallacy against standard psychology to anchor his own approach by
Neither Dianetics nor
be confused with "modern" psychology. More acceptable and normal psychology,
such as that begun by Saint Thomas Aquinas and extended by many later authors, was (in 1789)
interrupted severely by one Professor Wundt, a Marxist at Leipzig
University in Germany. This man conceived that Man was an animal without
soul and based all of his work on the principle that there was no psyche
(a Greek word meaning "spirit"). Psychology, "the study of the spirit," then
came into the peculiar position of being "a study of the spirit which
denied the spirit." For the subsequent decades, Wundtian "psychology"
was taught broadly throughout the world. It taught that Man was an animal. It
taught that Man could not be bettered. It taught that intelligence never
changed. This subject, Wundtian psychology, became standard mainly because of
the indifference or lack of knowledge of people in charge of universities.
That's a cheap move. To begin with, not many people would agree with
Hubbard's statement that a "more acceptable and normal psychology" began with
Thomas Aquinas. Second, it won't be so easy to find people who heard of this
Professor Wundt either. It's a bit of a stretch to make him the father of
modern psychology. Third, when we do some research on his figure, though, the
connection to Marxism is far from clear. As a matter of fact, it doesn't even
show up anywhere, as far as I can see. Fourth, the fact that Hubbard accuses
him of Marxist leanings is far from innocent, especially when we take into
account that he wrote in the context of the Cold War and the Red Scare. In other words, what Hubbard is doing is just cheap
propaganda and rhetoric, not science
In any case, let's move on. Chapter one of the book discusses the basic
principles of Scientology, and it ends with the following assertions:
You may have been taught that the mind, spirit and life are very difficult
things to know about. This is the first principle of Scientology:
IT IS POSSIBLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE MIND, THE SPIRIT AND LIFE.
I'm not quite sure what to make of that. To start with, he is, once again,
using the straw man fallacy by stating that we are taught how learning these
things is very difficult. Not sure where he got that from. Then, he moves
onto stating that the first principle of Scientology is that we can indeed
know about "the mind, the spirit and life". OK. It doesn't sound like a
highly controversial statement to me, but OK, I suppose.
Chapter two discusses what he calls "the cycle-of-action" (like that, with
...The cycle-of-action is an apparency as follows:
CREATE, then SURVIVE, then DESTROY, or
CREATION, SURVIVAL, DESTRUCTION.
First there is creation.
This is then followed by survival.
This is followed by destruction.
Apparency = appears to be, as distinct from what actually is.
This cycle is only an apparency. It is what we see, what we behold. what
we believe. We consider (think, believe, suppose) that it is so and we then
see it so.
Not sure what to make of all of that, to be sincere. On the one hand, I
don't see anything patently false there. But, on the other hand, I'm afraid
that the reason why I cannot see it is precisely because it's, once again,
so vague, so open. It could mean anything
. So, when we act we create,
survive or destroy. Sure. I suppose. We can also transform, renovate, reform,
maintain... I don't know. What does this exactly mean? Where does it lead?
Chapter three discusses the conditions of existence. Once again, a grandiose
title. Does it live up to our expectations? Well, judge by yourself:
THERE ARE THREE CONDITIONS-OF-EXISTENCE. These three conditions
comprise (make up, constitute) life.
They are BE, DO, and HAVE.
The first condition of existence is BEING.
Being is defined as "the assumption (choosing) of a category of identity." It
could be said to be the role in a game.
Beingness is assumed by oneself, or given to oneself, or is attained.
The second condition of existence is DOING.
By doing we mean "action, function, accomplishment, the attainment of goals,
the fulfilling of purpose, or any change of position in space."
The third condition of existence is HAVINGNESS.
By havingness we mean "owning, possessing, being capable of commanding,
positioning, taking charge of objects, energies or spaces." The essential
definition of having is "to be able to touch, or permeate, or to direct the
The game of life demands that one assumes a beingness in order to
accomplish a doingness in the direction of havingness.
These three conditions are given in an order of seniority (importance)
wher life is concerned. The ability to be is more important than the ability
to do. The ability to do is more important than the ability to have. In most
people all three conditions are sufficiently confused that they are best
understood in reverse order. When one has clarified the idea of havingness
(or possession), one can then proceed to clarify doingness (or general
activity) and when this is done one understands beingness (or identity).
OK? I suppose. As with so many other things Hubbard writes about, I'm a
bit baffled. It's not so much that what he says is obviously wrong, but it
could perfectly be otherwise. It's just a way to view the world. Fine. And
what? I fail to see how his view is more "scientific"
In chapter four, Hubbard tells us about the eight dynamics of life (or, as
he also puts it, the "eight arbitrary compartments of life"... and they are
indeed arbitrary; they could perfectly be listed in a different way, and
little would change):
THE FIRST DYNAMIC — is the urge toward existence as one's self.
Here we have individuality expressed fully. This can be called the Self
THE SECOND DYNAMIC — is the urge toward existence as a sexual
activity. This dynamic actually has two divisions. Second Dynamic (a) is the
sexual act itself. And the Second Dynamic (b) is the family unit, including
the rearing of children. This can be called the Sex Dynamic.
THE THIRD DYNAMIC — is the urge toward existence in groups of
individuals. Any group, or part of an entire class, could be considered to
be a part of the Third Dynamic. The school, the society, the town, the
nation are exach part of the Third Dynamic and each one is a
Third Dynamic. This can be called the Group Dynamic.
THE FOURTH DYNAMIC — is the urge toward existence as or of
Mankind. Whereas one race would be considered a Third Dynamic, all the races
would be considered the Fourth Dynamic. This can be called the Manking
TJE FIFTH DYNAMIC — is the urge toward existence of the animal
kingdom. This includes all living things, whether vegetable or animal, the
fish in the sea, the beasts of the field or of the forest, grass, trees,
flowers or anything directly and intimately motivated by life. This
can be called the Animal Dynamic.
THE SIXTH DYNAMIC. — is the urge toward existence as the
physical universe. The physical universe is composed of Matter, Energy,
Space and Time. In Scientology we take the first letter of each of these
words and coin a word — MEST. This can be called the Universe
THE SEVENTH DYNAMIC — is the urge toward existence as or of
spirits. Anything spiritual, with or without identity, would come under the
heading of the Seventh Dynamic. This can be called the Spiritual
THE EIGHTH DYNAMIC — is the urge toward existence as infinity.
This is also identified as the Supreme Being. This is called the
Eighth Dynamic because the symbol of infinity, ∞, stood upright makes
the numeral 8. This can be called the Infinity or God
Needless to say, the reason stated in that last paragrap to make the Eighth
the eighth one on the list sounds quite childish and, above all,
arbitrary. In any case, by now, we are growing increasingly impatient with
Hubard's obsession with making a list for everything. It's almost as if he
thinks that coming up with lists and numerals makes his approach sound more
objective or scientific
Anyways, after laying out the foundations, Hubbard moves onto "the reason
why" (the title of chapter six), where he discovers the secret of life:
I know, hardly earth-shattering. Yet, Hubbard (and, one would assume, his
followers) present it as a completely original approach to life
LIFE CAN BEST be understood by likening it to a GAME.
By game we mean "contest of person against person, or team against team."
When we say games, we mean such games as baseball, polo, chess or any other
Furthermore, as he shares in chapter seven, we are all divided into three
parts (the lists never end, do they?):
THE INDIVIDUAL MAN is divisible into three parts.
The first of these is the spirit, called in Scientology the THETAN.
The second of these parts is the MIND.
The third of these parts is the BODY.
Probably the greatest discovery of Scientology, and its most forceful
contribution to the knowledge of Mankind, has been the isolation, description
and handling of the human spirit. Accomplished in July 1952 in Phoenix,
Arizona, I established along scientifc lines (rather than mere belief) that:
That thing which is the person, the personality, is separable from the body
and the mind at will and without causing bodily death or mental derangement.
Notice several things here. First of all, his classification is as old
as breathing air. It's actually shared by most religions. Second, one doesn't
fully understand the need to invent a new term for something that, in the
end, means exactly the same as an already existing term (i.e., spirit). I
suppose it's just a way to prove how original and creative one is. Finally,
Hubbard's claim to being the one who came across the "most forceful
contribution to the knowledge of Mankind" is quite risible, but perfectly
in line with the rest of his grandiose claims
Here is another example of gobbledygook:
IT IS A MECHANISM of thinkingness, whether one is postulating or receiving
information, that one retains one's ability to know. It is equally important
that one retain's one's ability to not-know.
Thought consists entirely of KNOWING and NOT-KNOWING and the shades of gray
We learn much later what this may mean in (more or less) clear terms in the
section dedicated to auditing
The rehabilitation of the ability of the preclear to not-know is also
rehabilitation of the preclear in the time stream, since the process of time
consists of knowing the present moment and not-knowing
the past and not-knowing the future —simultaneously.
In other words, a concept almost as old as the human being, but presented
with such obfuscation (mainly through the use of new terminology that does
absolutely nothing to improve the old one), so that it can be sold as new,
insightful and original
We reach the apotheosis of nonsense in the chapter 10, a very short section
(just one page) discussing the goal of Scientology:
THE END OBJECT of Scientology is not the making into nothing of all of
existence or the freeing of the individual of any and all traps everywhere.
The goal of Scientology is making the individual capable of living a better
life in his own estimation and with his fellows and the playing of a better
In a second part of the book, Hubbard introduces us to the "practice" of
Scientology, so to speak. Basically, he tells us a bit about auditing,
the method they use in Scientology to process the preclears:
CERTAIN DEFINITE CONDITIONS must prevail and a certain methodology must be
followed in order that processing may be beneficial to its fullest extent.
Probably the first condition is a good grasp of Scientology and its mission
in the world.
The second condition would be a relaxed state of mind on the part of the
auditor and the confidence that his use of Scientology upon the preclear
will not produce a harmful result.
The third requisite should be finding a preclear. By this it is literally
meant that one should discover somebody willing to be processed. And having
discovered one so willing, should then make sure that he is aware that he is
there being processed.
The fourth requisite would be a quiet place in which to audit with every
precaution taken that the preclear will not be interrupted or burst into
upon or unduly startled during processing.
It all sounds quite suspicious, to tell you the truth. We then learn:
The principal points of concentration for the auditor now become:
- The ability of the preclear to have.
- The ability of the preclear to not-know.
- And the ability of the preclear to play a game.
The whole thing, more than truly useful, sounds boring as hell. Suffice to
say that, according to the author, the auditor
may spend hours and
hours bombarding the preclear
with the very same question, which is
asked over and over again until something goes "click" in the mind of the
The book ends with an epilogue that reads mainly as a precursor to the
New Age type of nonsense
we would hear a lot about decades later:
WITH MAN NOW EQUIPPED with weapons sufficient to destroy all Mankind on
Earth, the emergence of a new religion capable of handling Man is vital.
Scientology is such a religion. It was born in the same crucible as the
atomic bomb. The
basic intelligence of Scientology came from nuclear physics, higher mathematics and the
understanding of the Ancients in the East. Scientology can do exactly what
it says it can do.
With Scientology, Man can prevent insanity, criminality and war. It is for
Man to use. It is for the betterment of Man.
Today, the primary race of Earth is not between one nation and another. The
only race that matters at this moment is the one being run between Scientology
and the atomic bomb. The history of Man, as has been said by well-known
authorities, may well depend upon which one wins.
Simply replace "nuclear physics" with "quantum mechanics" above, and you end
up with a text that could perfectly be spouted out by any New Age raver these
days. Incidentally, the rhetoric also shows its age.
In conclusion, while I didn't manage to see anything dangerous on this
book, neither did I see much useful information. The author spends a good
amount of time rephrasing concepts as old as humanity itself, although using
a new terminology that does nothing but obscure the message. It's too obvious
that he is making an effort to sound technical and "scientific", even though
there is none of that here. He never bothers to show any evidence for any of
his statements (and yes, that includes the most grandiose assertions, such as
the idea that he managed to prove the existence of the soul back in 1952),
and neither does he quote any specific research to back up his ideas. Overall,
it's just a hodgepodge of ideas that have been circulating for hundreds of
thousands of years, with the additional problem that he treats them in a very
superficial manner. It's almost as if he believes that by using lists and
making up his own terms he will sound more "profound". Sadly, there is no
lack of people who, out of either ignorance or feebleness of mind, fall for
it. Let's be clear: Hubbard is not a scientist or a psychologist. He is not
even a prophet or a philosopher. He always comes across as a snake oil