Up for Auction – Fads and Fallacies by Martin Gardner

There is an Ebay auction for a copy of the 1952 book by Martin Gardner – Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. This copy is the 1957 revised edition. 1952 is very early for anybody to be writing critically about Scientology, and the chapter pulls no punches.

Gardner was a prolific author, the author over 100 books, and his columns in Scientific American ran from 1956 to 1981. You can read the entire chapter, but here are some excerpts:

Dianetics is a book of impressive thickness, written in a repetitious, immature style. Hubbard claims he wrote it in three weeks. This is believable because most of his writing is done at lightning speed. (For a while, he used a special electric IBM typewriter with extra keys for common words like “and,” “the,” and “but.” The paper was on a roll to avoid the interruption of changing sheets.) Nothing in the book remotely resembles a scientific report. The case histories are written largely out of Hubbard’s memory and imagination. Like the later works of Wilhelm Reich, his book is simply a Revelation from the Master, to be tested and confirmed by lesser men.

Actually, the notion that neuroses and psychosomatic ills trace back to experiences when the mind was unconscious — whether in or out of the womb — is so completely unsupported by anything faintly resembling controlled research that not a single psychiatrist of standing has given it a second thought. More than one psychoanalyst has pointed out that the practice of blaming one’s ills on events that occurred when one was an embryo, is an extremely convenient device for avoiding any real understanding of the roots of a neurosis.

At the time of writing, the dianetics craze seems to have burned itself out as quickly as it caught fire, and Hubbard himself has become embroiled in a welter of personal troubles. In 1951, his third wife, twenty-five-year-old Sara Northrup Hubbard, sued him for divorce. She called him a “paranoid schizophrenic,” accused him of torturing her while she was pregnant, and stated that medical advisers had concluded Hubbard was “hopelessly insane.”

In February, 1952, the Dianetic Foundation in Wichita went bankrupt. It was later purchased from the bankruptcy court by a Wichita businessman who refuses to have anything to do with Hubbard. At the moment, the founder of dianetics is living in Phoenix, Arizona. From there the Hubbard Association of Scientologists (“scientology” is a new Hubbardian term, meaning the “science of knowledge”) is mailing out literature fulminating against the Wichita group, hawking Hubbard’s latest books, publishing a periodical called Scientology, and selling a Summary Course in Dianetics and Scientology, complete with tape recordings, for $382.50. The Hubbard College Graduate School, in Phoenix, charges a registration fee of $25.00 and offers a degree of Bachelor of Scientology.

For $98.50 Hubbard will send you an electropsychometer, which “registers relative degrees of dynamic psychophysical stress from moment to moment during the dianetic session.” It also “indicates the approximate Hubbardian tone-scale of the preclear from 1.0 to infinitely high ranges!,” and “immediately discloses points of entry into ‘armored’ or ‘shut off’ cases….” On one leaflet, Hubbard states, “Bluntly, auditing can’t be at optimum without an electropsychometer. An auditor auditing without a machine reminds one of a hunter hunting ducks at pitch black midnight, firing his gun off in all directions.” A manual by Hubbard on Electropsychometric Auditing comes free with the device. For $48.50 you can obtain a smaller model called the “minemeter.”

A recent letter from Hubbard asked for donations of $25 to help pay his living expenses, establish free dianetic schools “across America,” and a few other little projects he has in mind. In return, donors are to be given membership in a new dianetic organization called “The Golds.”

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