The Secret Origins of Scientology

L. Ron Hubbard, fabulist sex magickian and con man, never saw a good idea he didn't steal (an idea a lot of people seem to have stolen from Madame Blavatsky, oh the irony!!). The underpinning of Scientology may sound like wild sci-fi (who'd have thought it coming from a pulp sci-fi writer?) and his occult links have fascinated us, but the more scientific front was equally iffy, with elements pretty much lifted wholesale.

It is claimed he lifted the name for his religion itself from Dr. Anastasius Nordenholz's 1934 book Scientologie, Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens, a scan of which is doing the rounds at the moment, the full version can be found here, but this is the cover:

However, as the above link shows, the interesting thing is the term itself was coined by someone else:

The English-language term "Scientology" originated neither with Hubbard nor Nordenholz, but with philologist Allen Upward, who coined the term in 1907 to ridicule pseudoscientific theories.

Possibly more interestingly, is the history of the E-Meter . It was invented by chiropractor and sci-fi author Volney Mathison, based on his study of lie detectors. Mark Pilkington looked at this aspect in an article he wrote for the Guardian:

Essentially a Wheatstone Bridge, as developed by Samuel Hunter Christie and Sir Charles Wheatstone in the 19th century, the meter measures electrical resistance. In this case galvanic skin response (GSR), ie how sweaty one's hands are, and how well they conduct electricity. GSR is an important factor in lie detectors developed in the 1930s and is still used, controversially, by law enforcement and government authorities in the US and elsewhere.

Scientology founder Lafayette Ron Hubbard was granted a US patent in 1966 for a "device for measuring and indicating changes in resistance of a living body," but the original electropsychometer was developed in the 1950s by psychoanalyst Volney G Mathison. Hubbard adopted Mathison's device, but when he refused to relinquish the patent rights it was dropped until 1958 when a more efficient version was developed by Scientology-friendly engineers

The Secrets of the E-Meter site gives another overview:

From Messiah or Madman, expanded paperback edition, copyright © 1987, 1992 by Bent Corydon, Barricade Books, 1992, pp. 332-333:

Around this time, Volney Mathison, whose electro-psychometer had been used by Hubbard and many Scientologists, had fallen into disfavor. He had refused to surrender the patent to his invention. It was the Mathison E-Meter, and Mathison was determined to keep it that way. So in late 1954 the use of the E-meter was discontinued by Hubbard.

Wrote Hubbard: Yesterday, we used an instrument called an E-Meter to register whether or not the process was still getting results so that the auditor would know how long to continue it. While the E-Meter is an interesting investigation instrument and has played its part in research, it is not today used by the auditor.... As we long ago suspected, the intervention of a mechanical gadget between the auditor and the preclear had a tendency to depersonalize the session....
In 1958 Don Breeding and Joe Wallis developed a modified, smaller battery operated version of Volney Mathison's device, which they presented to Hubbard. It was christened the Hubbard electrometer. What a difference a name makes!

Also the boldly titled asks the question:

Who invented the E-meter?

Volney Mathison invented and patented the E-meter.

When Hubbard first wrote about Dianetics in 1950, no meter was used, so no meter was mentioned in the book. Scientologists began using Mathison's meter in the early 1950s, but after he refused to surrender the patent to Hubbard, Hubbard directed auditors to stop using the meter. Four years later, Don Breeding and Joe Wallis developed a modified version, which was then sold as the Hubbard E-meter. Since then, Scientology has emphasized that using a meter in auditing is essential.

Although he didn't fight Hubbard over the patents Mathison did say:

I decry the doings of trivial fakers, such as scientologists and the like, who glibly denounce hypnosis and then try covertly to use it in their phony systems

We'll finish by returning to The Secrets of the E-meter site who have a great set of images relating it. Here are some of the most enlightening, they might even give you a tingle:

You can see an early Mathison meter ad here:

This seems to be based on the general principles you can see in DIY home lie detectors kits (hours of fun for you and your lying friends):

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