L. Ron Hubbard

by E.F. Winslow

The Man and the Myth Before Scientology

 Lafayette Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) was the founder of Scientology.    As a young child, (according to the short biography in “What is Scientology”), we are told that Hubbard was initiated into the secrets of the Blackfoot Indians, and learned Freudian theory from a naval captain when he was twelve.  Furthermore he had the opportunity to travel to the China, Tibet, Japan, Guam and a number of other Polynesian islands as a teenager.   It is purported that he there was able to visit the lamaseries of Tibet, and listen to and enquire of the Buddhist monks there, as well as learn all the secrets of the Chinese magicians dating back to the court of Kublai Khan.     

When Hubbard returned to the United States, he finished High School, and attended college at George Washington University to study engineering and mathematics.   According to “What is Scientology”, Hubbard should have studied ethnology, for he was “already an expert in many cultures”.  

There is, of course a point where one must enquire to the veracity of such stories.  There is no way of verifying whether he was indeed made a “blood brother” to the Blackfoot Indians (which may have been difficult, since his home was over 100 miles from the closest reservation), or whether was taught anything in Freudian theory.    Relative to his travels in the East, seeing that he did not know Mandarin, Japanese or any of the scores of dialects in the Polynesians islands, it is doubtful that as a teenage boy he was absorbing the epitome of knowledge on every continent as is reported.   According to his own diaries, he made only two trips to the Far East.  The first in 1927, he spent almost the entire time at one address in Shanghai with a British major.   In his second trip in 1929, he did visit a Buddhist temple in Peking.  The totality of his acute observations of Buddhism is that the devotees sounded like frogs croaking.   His overall assessment of the Chinese people, according to his own handwritten diaries, was “they smell of all the baths they didn’t take.  The trouble with China is, there are too many chinks here” (Click here to see facsimile of Hubbard’s diary of this account).  Such comments do not usually merit an individual as an “expert in many cultures”.  

 When it comes to his college career, separating the fact from the fiction is a little easier.   We see here to the left, an incident from his college years recorded in “What is Scientology?”    The caption reads “Theorizing that the world of subatomic particles might possibly provide a clue to human thought process, he enrolled in one of the first nuclear physics courses taught in the United States.” (Pg. 35).    The picture has a wide-eyed Nuclear Physics professor, who looks remarkably similar to Albert Einstein, enraged while Hubbard’s expounds on his theories during class.  At Hubbard’s feet are huge binders with the title “Theories of Molecular (next line indiscernible) L. Ron Hubbard”.    What is being visibly communicated is that Hubbard has enrolled in a class of Nuclear Physics, and he has such mastery that he already has volumes of his own technical writing on it, much to the chagrin of his professor (Einstein).    The truth is that Hubbard was enrolled for 2 years at George Washington, and maintained a D average.  He did take on class called “Molecular and Atomic Physics” (not with Einstein!) in the Spring of 1932, which he failed.   It is also noteworthy that he got an “F” in first year German,  which one would think would have been nearly effortless to pass for a “man of the world” who had traveled so extensively and had allegedly bounded over so many other language hurdles.   At the end of that semester in 1932, L.Ron Hubbard left.  We are told it was because he decided “formal study had nothing left to offer him” (What is Scientology, pg 38).   If by that he meant a degree, he was right.   George Washington University asked him to leave for his poor academic performance.   Despite this, many Scientologists for many years claimed that Hubbard had degrees in Engineering, Mathematics, and even Nuclear Physics.      

The War Years

Besides the apparent exaggerations regarding his education, L.Ron Hubbard also makes quite a bit of his war record.    The Church of Scientology has on display and records some 27 awards or commendations that L.Ron Hubbard claims to have received for his service in the Navy in World War II, including the Purple Heart with Palm.   The only problem is that the US Navy only records 4 awards, all of a general nature, given for service during various periods of time.   When Hubbard claims he was a “commander of Corvettes”, the Navy has him as a lieutenant on the armed trawler YP-422. When Hubbard claimed be was promoted to “Commodore of Corvettes in the North Pacific”, he was serving as Lieutenant on the USS Algol, a converted cargo ship.   Hubbard claimed that he was “machined-gunned” by the Japanese, broke an ankle, and got shrapnel in his back and hip.  The truth is, he was hospitalized for a duodenal ulcer.   He was never injured in the line of duty.  He never saw action.    In his actual military record, it can be seen that Hubbard was relieved of duty three times, with the third time he received a formal reprimand for disobeying orders.    The fact of the matter is that Hubbard’s war record, like his accounts of his broad education and worldwide travels, are fanciful stories, as rich as the science fiction that he wrote after the war.    

Copyright 2002 Capitol Communications and Lions Share Media- Neither of which are associated in anyways with the Church of Scientology. "Scientology", "Dianetics", "E-Meter", and the symbols and logos used in conjuction with the practices of the Church of Scientology are trademarked by the Church of Scientology.