L. Ron Hubbard

From Academic Kids

 L. Ron Hubbard, circa 1970
L. Ron Hubbard, circa 1970

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (March 13, 1911January 24, 1986), better known as L. Ron Hubbard, was a prolific and controversial American author and the founder of Dianetics and Scientology. In addition to philosophical works and self-help books, he wrote fiction in several genres, business management texts, essays and poetry.


Biographical outline

The Church of Scientology has produced numerous biographical publications (http://www.lronhubbard.org/) that make extraordinary claims about his life and career; many of those claims are disputed by journalists and critics. However, there is general agreement about the basic facts of Hubbard's life.


Hubbard was born during 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska, to Harry Ross Hubbard (1886 - 1975) and Ledora May Waterbury. They married in 1909.

Harry was born "Henry August Wilson" in Fayette, Iowa but was orphaned as an infant and adopted by the Hubbards, a farming family of Fredericksburg, Iowa. Harry joined the United States Navy in 1904, leaving the service in 1908, then reenlisting in 1917 when the US declared war on Germany. He served in the Navy until 1946, reaching the rank of Lieutenant commander in 1934.

May was a feminist who had trained to become a high school teacher. Her father, Lafayette O. Waterbury (born 1864), was a veterinarian turned coal merchant. Her mother, Ida Corinne DeWolfe, was the daughter of affluent banker John DeWolfe. Her paternal grandfather Abram Waterbury was from the Catskill Mountains of New York and later headed West, employed as a veterinarian.

Education, pulp fiction and military service

During the 1920s, Ron travelled twice to the Far East to visit his parents during his father's posting to the United States Navy base on the island of Guam. He attended the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, DC between 19301932. In 1931, he was placed on probation for deficiency in scholarship and did not complete the program [1] (http://www.lermanet.com/L_Ron_Hubbard/mr142.htm).

Hubbard instead pursued fiction writing, publishing many stories and novellas in pulp magazines during the 1930s [2] (http://literary.lronhubbard.org/page29.htm). He became a well known author in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and he also wrote westerns and adventure stories. Critics often cite Final Blackout, set in a war-ravaged future Europe, and Fear, a psychological horror story, as among the best examples of Hubbard's pulp fiction.

Hubbard married Margaret "Polly" Grubb in 1933, with whom he fathered two children, L. Ron, Jr. (1934 - 1991) and Katherine May (born 1936).

The real war caught up with Hubbard after he joined the United States Navy in June 1941 as a lieutenant (junior grade). After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he was posted to Australia. He subsequently commanded the harbor protection vessel USS YP-422 (based in Boston, Massachusetts, formerly the fishing trawler Mist; contrary to Hubbard's partisans, the ship never carried the name "USS Mist" in US Navy service) and the subchaser USS PC-815 (based in Astoria, Oregon). He was relieved of command of both vessels, in the latter case after shelling a Mexican island off Baja California, having previously landed himself in hot water for accusing Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, the regional commander, of covering up his "submarine" contact, supposedly to protect his reputation from "further stain." Unfortunately for Hubbard's story, in late 1942, Fletcher, along with his colleague, Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, was one of the Navy's most renowned heroes, having delivered a stunning victory at the Battle of Midway at the loss of only a single aircraft carrier and one destroyer. Following this incident, Hubbard would receive a notation in his file denoting him as unfit for duty at sea under any conditions but close supervision, and he was ordered to report aboard the combat transport ship USS Algol (AKA-54). Most of Hubbard's wartime service was spent ashore in the continental United States. He was mustered out of the active service list in late 1945 and resigned his commission in 1950, completely unaware that he had been promoted to Lieutenant Commander on 25 June 1947. The letter informing him of his promotion reached his address at the home of Jack Parsons, who by that time was bitterly enraged toward Hubbard (Hubbard having run off with $10,000 of Parsons' money and Parsons' girlfriend, Sara Northrup).

Hubbard remarried in 1946. Hubbard's second wife, Sara Northrup Hubbard, gave birth to Hubbard's third child, Alexis Valerie, in March, 1950.

The debut of Dianetics

In May 1950, Hubbard published a book describing the self-improvement technique of Dianetics, touted as "The Modern Science of Mental Health." With Dianetics, Hubbard introduced the concept of "auditing," a two-person question-and-answer therapy that involved reviewing painful memories. According to Hubbard, dianetic auditing could eliminate emotional problems, cure physical illnesses, and increase intelligence. In his introduction to the book, Hubbard declared that "the creation of dianetics is a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch."

Unable to elicit interest from mainstream publishers or medical professionals, Hubbard had turned to the legendary science fiction editor John W. Campbell, who had for years published Hubbard's science fiction stories. Beginning in late 1949, Campbell publicised Dianetics in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction. The science fiction community was divided about the merits of this new craze. Campbell's star author Isaac Asimov criticised Dianetics' unscientific aspects, and veteran author Jack Williamson described Dianetics as "a lunatic revision of Freudian psychology" that "had the look of a wonderfully rewarding scam." But Campbell and novelist A. E. van Vogt enthusiastically embraced Dianetics: Campbell became Hubbard's treasurer, and van Vogtconvinced that his wife's health had been transformed for the better by dianetic auditinginterrupted his writing career to run the first Los Angeles Dianetics center.

Dianetics was a hit, selling 150,000 copies within a year of publication. The Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation was incorporated in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and branch offices were opened in five other US cities before the end of 1950 (though most folded within a year and Hubbard soon abandoned the Foundation, denouncing a number of his former associates as communists).

With success, Dianetics became a subject of critical scrutiny by the medical establishment and the press. In September, 1950, The New York Times published a cautionary statement on the topic by the American Psychological Association, which read in part, "the association calls attention to the fact that these claims are not supported by empirical evidence," and went on to recommend against use of "the techniques peculiar to Dianetics" until such time that it had been validated through scientific testing. Consumer Reports, in an August, 1951 assessment of Dianetics[3] (http://www.xenutv.com/print/consumer-review-0851.htm), dryly noted that "one looks in vain in Dianetics for the modesty usually associated with announcement of a medical or scientific discovery" and stated that the book had become "the basis for a new cult." The article observed that "in a study of L. Ron Hubbard's text, one is impressed from the very beginning by a tendency to generalization and authoritative declarations unsupported by evidence or facts." Consumer Reports warned its readers against the "possibility of serious harm resulting from the abuse of intimacies and confidences associated with the relationship between auditor and patient," an especially serious risk, they concluded, "in a cult without professional traditions."

Hubbard's private behavior became the subject of unflattering headlines when Sara filed for divorce late in 1950, citing the fact that Hubbard was, unknown to her, still married to his first wife at the time he married Sara. Her divorce papers also accused Hubbard of kidnapping their baby daughter Alexis, and of conducting "systematic torture, beatings, strangulations and scientific torture experiments."


In mid-1952, Hubbard expanded Dianetics into a secular philosophy which he called Scientology. Hubbard also married his third wife that year, Mary Sue Whipp, to whom he remained married for the rest of his life. With Mary Sue, Hubbard fathered four more children--Diana, Quentin, Suzette and Arthur--over the next six years.

In December 1953, Hubbard declared Scientology to be a religion and the first Church of Scientology was founded in Camden, New Jersey. He moved to England at about the same time and during the remainder of the 1950s he supervised the growing Scientology organization from an office in London. In 1959, he bought Saint Hill Manor near the Sussex town of East Grinstead, a Georgian manor house formerly owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur. This became the worldwide headquarters of Scientology.

Hubbard claimed to have conducted years of intensive research into the nature of human existence; to describe his findings, he developed an elaborate vocabulary with many newly coined terms [4] (http://www.scientology.org/gloss.htm). He codified a set of axioms [5] (http://www.scientology.org/wis/WISENG/34/34-scax.htm) and a "technology" that promised to improve the condition of the human spirit, which he called the "Thetan." The bulk of Scientology focuses on the rehabilitation of the thetan vis a vis its environment.

Hubbard's followers in Scientology believed that his "applied religious philosophy" gave them access to their past lives, the traumas of which led to failures in the present unless they were audited. By this time, Hubbard had introduced a biofeedback device to the auditing process, which he called a "Hubbard Electropsychometer" or "E-meter." It was invented in the 1940s by a chiropractor named Volney Mathison. This machine, related to the electronic lie detectors of the time, was (and still is) used by Scientologists to evaluate "mental masses" that surround the thetan.

Hubbard claimed that physical disease was largely psychosomatic, and that one who, like himself, had attained the enlightened state of "clear" and become an "Operating Thetan" would be virtually disease free; according to biographers, Hubbard's doctors and personal associates report that he went to great lengths to have evidence of his recourse to modern medicine suppressed, attributing the symptoms of disease to attacks by malicious forces, both spiritual and earthly. Hubbard insisted that humanity was imperiled by such forces, which were the result of negative memories (or "engrams") stored in the unconscious or "reactive" mind, some of which have been carried by the immortal thetans for billions of years. Thus, Hubbard claimed, the only possibility for spiritual salvation was a concerted effort to "clear the planet," that is, to bring the benefits of Scientology to all people everywhere, and to attack all forces, both social and spiritual, that were hostile to the interests of the Scientology movement.

Church members were expected to pay fixed donation rates for courses, auditing sessions, books and E-meters, all of which proved very lucrative for the church, which paid emoluments directly to Hubbard and his family.

Legal difficulties and life on the high seas

Scientology became a focus of controversy across the English-speaking world during the mid-1960s, with Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, the Australian state of Victoria and the Canadian province of Ontario all holding public inquiries into Scientology's activities. [6] (http://whyaretheydead.net/Cowen/audit/ofpapers.html)

In 1967, Hubbard left this unwanted attention behind by resigning as executive director of the church and appointing himself "Commodore" of a small fleet of die hearted Scientologist-crewed ships which spent the next eight years cruising the Mediterranean Sea. Here, Hubbard formed the para-military group known as the "Sea Organization," or "Sea Org." With titles and uniforms of Hubbard's design, the Sea Org subsequently became the controlling group within Hubbard's Scientology empire. He returned to the United States in the mid-1970s and lived for a while in Florida.

In 1977, Scientology offices on both coasts of the United States were raided by FBI agents seeking evidence of a suspected Church-run espionage network. Hubbard's wife Mary Sue and a dozen other senior Scientology officials were convicted in 1979 of conspiracy against the United States Government, while Hubbard himself was named by Federal prosecutors as an "unindicted co-conspirator." Facing intense media interest and many subpoenas, he secretly retired to a ranch in tiny Creston, California, north of San Luis Obispo.

Later life

During the 1980s, Hubbard returned to fiction writing, publishing Battlefield Earth and Mission Earth, the latter being a satirical work of science fiction published in ten volumes. He also wrote an unpublished screenplay called Revolt in the Stars. Hubbard's later science fiction works sold well, receiving mixed reviews (and additional press reports describing how sales of Hubbard's books were artificially inflated by Scientologists' purchasing large numbers of copies at select retailers in order to manipulate the bestseller charts [7] (http://www.lermanet2.com/scientologynews/sandiego-books031590.htm)). While claming to be entirely divorced from the actions of Scientology management, Hubbard continued to draw an enormous income from the Scientology enterprises; Forbes magazine estimated that his Scientology-related income exceeded US $40,000,000 in 1982 alone.

Hubbard died on January 24, 1986, in an expensive Bluebird motorhome on his ranch. He had not been seen in public since 1981. The Church of Scientology announced that Hubbard had deliberately "discarded the body" to do "higher level spiritual research," unencumbered by mortal confines. However, reports say L. Ron Hubbard died of a stroke.

Following Hubbard's death, David Miscavige, one of Hubbard's former personal assistants, took over the leadership of the Scientology empire, via his position as Chairman of the Religious Technology Center, a non-profit corporation set up in 1982 to control Hubbard's copyrighted works.

Controversial episodes

L. Ron Hubbard's past is embroiled in controversy, as is the history of Scientology (for more on that, see the Wikipedia article Scientology controversy).

One controversial aspect of Hubbard's early life revolves around his association with Jack Parsons, a rocket propulsion researcher at Caltech and an associate of the British occultist Aleister Crowley. Hubbard and Parsons were allegedly engaged in the practice of ritual magick in 1946, including an extended set of sex magick rituals called the Babalon Working, intended to summon a goddess or "moonchild." (Among occultists today, it is widely accepted that Hubbard derived a large part of 'Dianetics' from Golden Dawn occult ideas such as the Holy Guardian Angel.) The Church of Scientology insists that Hubbard was acting as a US government intelligence agent, on a mission to put an end to Parsons' magickal activities and to "rescue" a girl Parsons was "using" for magickal purposes. Critics of Scientology dismiss the Church's claims as after-the-fact rationalizations. Crowley recorded in his notes that he considered Hubbard a "lout" who made off with Parsons' money and girlfriend in an "ordinary confidence trick." Discussions of these events can be found in the critical biographies Bare-Faced Messiah (http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm), A Piece of Blue Sky (http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/atack/bs2-6.htm) and in The Marburg Journal of Religion (http://www.uni-marburg.de/religionswissenschaft/journal/mjr/frenschkowski.html).

Hubbard later married the girl he claimed to have rescued, Sara Northrup. This marriage was an act of bigamy, as Hubbard had abandoned, but not divorced, his first wife and children as soon as he left the Navy (he divorced his first wife more than a year after he had remarried). Both women have alleged that Hubbard physically abused them. He is also alleged to have once kidnapped his and Sara's infant daughter, Alexis, taking her to Cuba. Later, he disowned Alexis, claiming she was actually Jack Parsons' child.

Hubbard has been interpreted as both a savior (Scientologists refer to him as "The Friend of Mankind") and as a criminal con-artist. These sharply contrasting views have been a source of considerable tension and hostility between Hubbard's supporters and his critics. A California court judgement in 1984 involving Gerald Armstrong, who had been assigned the task of writing Hubbard's biography, highlights the extreme opposition of the two sides:

"In addition to violating and abusing its own members' civil rights, the organization [Scientology] over the years with its "Fair Game" doctrine has harassed and abused those persons not in the Church whom it perceives as enemies. The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and the bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder LRH [L. Ron Hubbard]. The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background, and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile. At the same time it appears that he is charismatic and highly capable of motivating, organizing, controlling, manipulating, and inspiring his adherents." -- Superior Court Judge Paul Breckinridge, Church of Scientology of California vs. Gerald Armstrong, June 20, 1984. [8] (http://www.planetkc.com/sloth/sci/breck.html)

Conflicting interpretations of Hubbard's life are presented in the online version of Russell Miller's largely critical biography of Hubbard, Bare Faced Messiah (http://www.spaink.net/cos/rmiller/index.html); this version includes links to Scientology's official accounts of Hubbard's past, embedded within Miller's description of the same history.

Several issues surrounding Hubbard's death and the disposition of his estate are also subjects of controversy — a swift cremation with no autopsy; the destruction of coroner's photographs; coroner's evidence of the drug Vistaril present in Hubbard's blood; questions about the whereabouts of Dr. Eugene Denk (Hubbard's physician) during Hubbard's death, and the changing of wills and trust documents the day before his death, resulting in the bulk of Hubbard's estate being transferred not to his family, but to the Scientology organization.


Because the majority of Hubbard's writings of the 1950s through the 1970s were aimed exclusively at Scientologists, the organization founded its own publishing companies, Bridge Publications (http://www.bridgepub.com/) for the US market and New Era Publications (http://www.newerapublications.com/nep/index.htm), based in Denmark, for the rest of the world. New volumes of his transcribed lectures continue to be produced; that series will ultimately total a projected 110 large volumes. An extensive series of audio recordings of Hubbard's lectures are also published by Bridge/New Era.


  • Buckskin Brigades (1937)
  • Slaves of Sleep (1939)
  • Final Blackout (1940)
  • The Automagic Horse (1940) published (1994)
  • Death's Deputy (1948)
  • The Masters of Sleep (1948)
  • The Kingslayer (1949)
  • Fear (1951)
  • Typewriter in the Sky (1951)
  • Return to Tomorrow (1954)
  • The Ultimate Adventure (1970)
  • Seven Steps to the Arbiter (1975)
  • Battlefield Earth (1982)
  • Mission Earth series:
    • 1)The Invaders Plan
    • 2)Black Genesis
    • 3)The Enemy Within
    • 4)An Alien Affair
    • 5)Fortune of Fear
    • 6)Death Quest
    • 7)Voyage of Vengeance
    • 8)Disaster
    • 9)Villainy Victorious
    • 10)The Doomed Planet

Dianetics and Scientology

  • Dianetics: The Original Thesis, Wichita, Kansas, 1947
  • Terra Incognita: The Mind, in: Explorer's Club Journal, Spring 1950
  • Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, New York 1950
  • Notes on the Lectures of L. Ron Hubbard, Wichita, Kansas 1951
  • Science of Survival: Simplified, Faster Dianetic Techniques, Wichita, Kansas 1951
  • Self-Analysis, Wichita, Kansas 1951
  • The Dianetics Axioms, Wichita, Kansas 1951
  • Child Dianetics. Dianetic Processing for Children, Wichita, Kansas 1951
  • Advanced Procedure and Axioms, Wichita, Kansas 1951
  • Handbook for Preclears, Wichita, Kansas 1951
  • Individual Track Map, Phoenix, Arizona 1952
  • Symbolical Processing, Phoenix, Arizona 1952
  • What to Audit, Phoenix, Arizona 1952
  • Self Analysis in Dianetics 1952
  • A Handbook of Dianetic Therapy, London 1952
  • Scientology 8-80, Phoenix, Arizona 1952
  • Scientology 8-8008, London 1952
  • How to Live Though an Executive: Communication Manual, Phoenix, Arizona 1953
  • Self-Analysis in Scientology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1953
  • This Is Scientology. The Science of Certainty, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1953
  • Group Auditor's Handbook, Vol. I, Phoenix, Arizona 1954
  • Scientology: Auditor's Handbook -, Phoenix, Arizona 1954
  • Group Auditor's Handbook, Vol. II, Phoenix, Arizona 1954
  • Dianetics 55!, Phoenix, Arizona 1954
  • Dianetics: the Evolution of a Science, Phoenix, Arizona 1955
  • The Scientologist. A Manual on the Dissimination of Material, Arizona 1955
  • The Creation of Human Ability, London 1955
  • Key to Tomorrow, Phoenix, Arizona 1955
  • Straightwire: A Manual of Operation, Washington, DC 1955
  • Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, Washington, DC 1956
  • The Problems of Work, Washington, DC 1956
  • All About Radiation, London 1957
  • Axioms and Logics, London 1958
  • ACC Clear Procedure, Washington, DC 1958
  • Ceremonies of the Founding Church of Scientology, Washington, DC 1959
  • Have You Lived Before This Life?, East Grinstead, Sussex 1960
  • E-Meter Essentials, East Grinstead, Sussex 1961
  • The Book of Case Remedies , East Grinstead, Sussex 1964
  • The Book of E-Meter Drills, East Grinstead, Sussex 1965 (revised version 1988)
  • Scientology: A New Slant on Life, East Grinstead, Sussex 1965
  • Introducing the E-Meter, East Grinstead, Sussex 1966 (revised version 1988)
  • A Test of Whole Track Recall, East Grinstead, Sussex 1967
  • Introduction to Scientology Ethics, East Grinstead, Sussex 1968
  • The Phoenix Lectures, East Grinstead, Sussex 1968
  • A Summary on Scientology for Scientists, East Grinstead, Sussex 1969
  • The Best of the Auditor, East Grinstead, Sussex 1969 (collected magazine articles)
  • Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, Copenhagen, Denmark 1970
  • Mission Into Time, Los Angeles 1972
  • Organization Executive Course, vol. 0-7 1970
  • The Management Series 1970-1974,
  • Hymn of Asia: An Eastern Poem, Los Angeles 1974
  • The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Vol. I-X, Los Angeles 1976
  • The Volunteer Minister's Handbook, Los Angeles 1976
  • The Volunteer Minister's Booklets, 9 booklets, Los Angeles 1977
  • The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Vol. XI, 1976-1978
  • Research and Discovery Series I Copenhagen 1980 (lectures in chronological order)
  • The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Vol. XII, 1978 -1979,
  • The Way to Happiness, Los Angeles 1981
  • Research and Discovery Series II, Copenhagen and Los Angeles 1981
  • Research and Discovery Series III, Copenhagen and Los Angeles 1982. IV,
  • Management Series I+II, Los Angeles 1983
  • Research and Discovery Series V, Los Angeles 1983
  • The Original L. Ron Hubbard Executive Directives, , Los Angeles 1983
  • Research and Discovery Series VI + VII, Los Angeles 1984
  • The Future of Scientology and Western Civilization, Copenhagen 1985
  • Research and Discovery Series VIII + IX, Los Angeles 1985
  • The Organization Executive Course 0, Los Angeles 1985
  • The Hope of Man, Los Angeles 1986
  • The Game Called Man, Los Angeles 1987
  • Individual Track Map, New Edition, Los Angeles 1988
  • E-Meter Essentials, Los Angeles 1988
  • Introducing the E-Meter, Los Angeles 1988
  • The Book of E-Meter Drills, Los Angeles 1988
  • Understanding the E-Meter, Los Angeles 1988
  • Basic Dictionary of Dianetics and Scientology, Los Angeles 1988
  • Research and Discovery Series X, Los Angeles 1989
  • Clay Table Processing Picture Book, Los Angeles 1989
  • Hubbard Key to Life Course Books, Los Angeles 1990
  • Hubbard Life Orientation Course Books, Los Angeles 1990
  • Clear Body, Clear Mind: The Effective Purification Program, Los Angeles 1990
  • The Management Series Policy Volumes, 3 vols., Los Angeles 1991
  • Understanding: The Universal Solvent, Los Angeles 1991
  • Knowingness, Los Angeles 1991
  • The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, 18 vols., Los Angeles 1991
  • The Book of Case Remedies, Los Angeles 1991
  • Art, Los Angeles 1992
  • Assists Processing Handbook, Los Angeles 1992
  • Group Auditor's Handbook, Los Angeles 1992
  • Introduction and Demonstration Processes Handbook, Los Angeles 1992

Unofficial biographies

External links

Official sites

Critical sites

Neutral sites


de:L. Ron Hubbard fr:L. Ron. Hubbard it:Lafayette Ronald Hubbard he:רון האבארד lt:Hubbard, Lafayette Ronald ja:L・ロン・ハバード sv:L. Ron Hubbard zh:罗恩·贺伯特


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