Friday, July 01, 2005


The Birth Of Scientology

In honor of Tom Cruise's Hubbard-fueled meltdown (and the four-part Salon series it inspired), here's an account of the birth of Scientology. From the 1983 memoir Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era by the late science-fiction publisher Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, pages 125-6 (still available from Donald M. Grant) --

During this period [PW notes: late 1949] I made frequent business trips to New York City, meeting with people in the SF scene. A few of these visits come to mind, and because of the people with whom I was associated, I believe they may be worth recording. I think of the time while in New York I took John W. Campbell [PW notes: Campbell was the longtime editor of Astounding Science Fiction, the premier SF mag, now called Analog; Campbell discovered Isaac Asimov and Asimov worshipped the ground he walked on], Marty Greenberg and L. Ron Hubbard to lunch. Someone suggested a Swedish smorgasbord, and I had my first - and last - taste of kidney. Yuck! Afterward we wound up in my hotel room for relaxed conversation. The incident is stamped indelibly on my mind because of one statement that Ron Hubbard made. What led him to say what he did I can't recall - but in so many words Hubbard said: "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is!" There was a sequel to that gathering in my hotel room. The place - the kitchen of John W. Campbell's home in New Jersey. Present were Campbell, Hubbard and an author who is as big today as he was then - bigger, if anything. He is the source of this information, but his name cannot be used.
[PW notes: My guess is that the author was none other than Isaac Asimov himself. Here's one reason why. Another is that Asimov was a frequent visitor to Campbell's house. But I digress.]
It was at that session at Campbell's kitchen table that the initial ideas for a new "science" were developed. That's where Dianetics was born, later to father an abortion called Scientology. Not many months later the first of the Dianetics articles appeared in Astounding. Significantly, at the beginning stress was placed on the "science" of Dianetics. Today the same mishmash of yoga, psychology, psychiatry and what-not is now labeled Scientology, a religion with "churches" scattered around the country. And L. Ron Hubbard, one-time pulp paper fiction writer, is now a millionaire. How right he was when he said, "That's where the money is!"
Hubbard soon branched out from skull-farming the SF community and targeted Hollywood: Lots of very rich, very ignorant actors and actresses with lifestyle peccadillos that, once they were revealed to the Scientologists via "auditing", would make for lovely blackmail dossiers (or "Dead Agent packs", as they're called by CoS insiders). But he got his start at John W. Campbell's kitchen table.

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