[Note: typos preserved.]

The Mercury (Hobart), 10 Oct 1970, p6

They are at it again

Those Mind Benders Called Scientologists

- but not in Tasmania


THE mind-benders - officially, the Church of Scientology - are at it again.

Ten years after the world first became aware of scientology's dangers, the cult is again boasting its existence in Victoria.

Lafayette Ron Hubbard, its founder, might well say: "I told you so."

For when the Victorian Board of Inquiry into Scientolgy in October, 1965, branded the cult "evil ... (and) a serious threat to the community," Hubbard boasted: "Scientology has gone too far to be stopped by anyone."

Apparently, it was no idle threat. Hubbard meant it.

Now, the cult, outlawed since early last decade and made illegal in Victoria; hounded in other States, including South and West Australia, reportedly is thriving in Melbourne (and probably elsewhere) - now with more accent on the religious side.

In Tasmania, the Attorney-General (Mr Bingham) says there is still no evidence of the cult.

"If it existed here, I'm sure it would be more apparent to us," he says.

Hubbard founded Scientology in 1951. It involves a number of courses (costing several hundred pounds sterling in England; in Victoria, the inquiry found, payments of $2,000 were "not uncommon").

A type of psychological therapy - a form of brainwashing or mind-bending - combined with personality assessment and training, is given. This aims at removing blocks and inhibitions which "prevent a man living his life."

Eventually, it aims at attaining a condition known as "clear" in which the individual is free from any deliberating mental or emotional limitations.

He is then said to have the qualities of a superman.

Followers are told to answer endless questions repeated over and over.

An instrument called an E-meter is an important part. Its purpose is to measure the subject's emotional responses to highly personal questions, and it is claimed to be always right. It is highly priced.

Like a lie detector

In fact, it is no more than a form of primitive lie detector that has been around laboratories for years. Scientists doubt its accuracy.

The Victorian inquiry said "processing" caused insanity. The pre-clear (one who goes to scientology for "help") often experienced mental torture during treatment, the inquiry found.

"(This) shows itself in contorted and flushed features, tears, moaning, inability to speak, apparent deafness, nausea, dizziness, sensations of pain, coma and unconsciousness."

It spoke of pre-clears developing murderous or morbid feelings, acting insanely, and laughing hysterically.

The inquiry found that scientology was practised by people with no medical training. They used dangerous techniques indiscriminately and without the ability to recognise symptoms of medical and physical ill-health.

"Though there was no evidence of blackmail in the popular sense because of the domination which scientology asserts over its adherents who have been persuaded to reveal their innermost secrets in the course of processing, the potentiality for the misuse of confidences reposed in the (cult) is great," said the board's report.

Warnings that files containing the most intimate secrets of thousands were held by scientology, prompted raids on the Melbourne scientology headquarters.

What of Hubbard? He claims equality with Einstein, Freud, Sir James Jeans and others.

It is well known that he is always right, and that he has all knowledge on all things.

But he is not God. And scientologists are thought he is not lest they believe otherwise.

But he has visited Heaven. And Venus ... and the Van Allen Belt. Or so he says.

One writer describes him as an "American physicist of academic distinction and apparently considerable wealth"; another description is that the former science fiction writer is a man with a "brilliant, critical mind - and bad teeth".

Delusions of grandeur

The Victorian inquiry diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic of long standing, with delusions of grandeur.

He claims to have twice risen from the dead.

Now 59, married, with four children, he has been hounded in so many countries that his headquarters for the past few years has been aboard a ship - the Apollo - generally in the Mediterranean or off the English Coast.

People aboard say they are doing research work.

Hubbard still writes. In fact, scientology publications consist almost exclusively of his writings.

They are phrased in a particular staccato style, which gives an impression of novelty, high-powered organisation and impressive complexity.

String of distinctions

But - highly repetitious, and depending almost exclusively on his own authority - the writings are not meant to be read critically.

Hubbard has bestowed on himself a strong of distinctions, including degrees from several universities.

It took him 35 years to develop scientology, and it spread quietly first in Britain, and later other countries including Australia.

In November, 1963, Victorian MLC John Galbally branded the cult a a "charlatan organisation used for blackmail and intimidation," and Mr Kevin Anderson, QC (now a Supreme Court judge) was appointed to conduct an investigation into it.

On October 5, 1965, Mr Anderson reported: "Hubbard is a fraud and scientology is a fraud ...

"Scientology is evil, its techniques are evil, its practice is a serious threat to the community medically, morally and socially, and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill ..."

Hubbard denied it all in strong terms, of course, and claimed the "kangaroo court" was rigged (a brave statement seeing that the board heard nearly 4,000,000 words of evidence from 151 witnesses).

Banned or not, Hubbard forecast: "Scientology will continue.

"Our administrative form could be altered, but not the subject of scientology."

Half a decade later, he's being proved right.