Scientology Critical Information Directory

This site is best viewed using a highly standards-compliant browser

Borderline special // L. Ron Hubbard // Scientology---The sound and the fury

Title: Borderline special // L. Ron Hubbard // Scientology---The sound and the fury
Date: Thursday, 1 July 1965
Publisher: Borderline
Authors: L. Ron Hubbard, Richard G. Sipes
Main source: link (1.96 MiB)

Disclaimer: This archive is presented strictly in the public interest for research purposes. All the copyrights of materials reproduced here are the properties of their respective owners.

[Borderline Vol. 1 Number 7 July 1965]

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the October, 1964 issue of BORDERLINE, Richard Grey Sipes authored an article titled, L. Ron Hubbard: An Opinion And A Summing Up. Previously, BORDORLINE executive editor Sydney Omarr had invited Hubbard to contribute to the magazine. Hubbard's views and movements—his books and his organization—represent fascinating excursions into the borderline areas. But Hubbard, understandably, is a busy man, as he explained in this communication, dated June 22, 1964, from East Grinstead, Sussex, England: "If you can stretch the day to 29½ hours perhaps I could do an article for your publication, BORDERLINE."

We cannot stretch the day but the invitation remains open. And we intend, from time-to-time, to run other articles on Hubbard, both pro and con. He is a commanding man, major figure of our times—and one who deserves attention, perhaps admiration.

Be that as it may, Hubbard has taken strong exception to the Richard Sipes article, and addresses us as follows in a letter dated October 19, 1964.

Dear Sir;

As you deal with the Unknown I understand completely your article on Scientology and myself written by "Richard G. Sipes."

The article contains a complete summary of what "Sipes" does not know about myself or Scientology.

By mixing a little truth with a great deal of untruth and by omitting any honourable data, "Sipes" seeks to paint a view to inspire hostility in his readers.

Now, one asks, why does "Sipes" want people annoyed with Scientology? People by a large majority aren't, but are quite happy with us.

The opponents of Scientology number a few small specialized professional groups who judge an activity by their own standards. The totality of these groups include only about half a million human beings around the world and are classifiable as groups that would be injured financially if Scientology were in a dominant position. That leaves more than 2.5 billion divided into (a) those who do not object, (b) those who are on our side, (c) those who aren't interested and (d) those who have never heard of us. Type (b) outnumbers its opponents about 100 to 1.

[Picture / Caption: Dr. L. Ron Hubbard]

For instance, to take a small representative country, South Africa, its self-interested opponents of Scientology number 70 psychiatrists. There are several Scientology professionals for every psychiatrist in South Africa and there are about 7,000 active Scientologists who are organizational members. Scientologists are welcomed and respected in any gathering or club. Many thousands of people, not Scientologists, in key places have the deepest respect for Scientology. The 70 psychiatrists are not respected and, indeed, barely tolerated and psychiatry is not a legal designation under law. Now supposing "Sipes" did an article using "South African opinion" of Scientologists but only quoted the 70 psychiatrists.

We would then conclude, if we knew this, that "Sipes" was dishonest.

Above all else, a survey or a "summing up" should not consult only biased sources.

"Sipes" here has given an "article," the combined and rewritten handouts of a Mr. Field and a Mr. Keating of the A.M.A., and has sought to make Scientology look like it is declining, which is far from true. He infers we sell few books whereas for the last three years we have sold in each of those years five times the number of books that were sold in 1950 when "Dianetics" was a best seller. We have learned that sought publicity is a road for fools and that it does not greatly influence public opinion. So we grow. As Mark Twain said, "the report of my death is a gross exaggeration."

While one can admire a good try, and even a good counter-propaganda campaign, one cannot really admire a writer who does such a bad job of it and writes only tired cliches.

The article was giving a viewpoint that was highly biased and quite old.

Scientology dates from 1938, not post war.

I wrote only about 8 stories under the name "Lafayette" and used in fact a dozen other pen names and my own.

The number of churches reported in the article errs enormously. But why catalogue his errors?

The effort here is to convert a hope that we will vanish into a false report that we are dwindling.

A dying group is not given full page spreads in the Saturday Evening Post as occurred a few months back. Only a growing activity has to deal with as many reporters as we do every day of our lives around the world.

I am sorry if it hurts what small courage "Sipes" may have but we are growing bigger and bigger. But poor "Sipes" tried.

For instance, I never "enlisted" in the Navy but was a commissioned officer commanding corvettes. My main writing career lay in the field of adventure, not "science fiction" of which I published only a million words compared to fifteen million words of other types of material in 95 popular magazines.

But poor "Sipes" tried, give him that. Out of his fear he still tried. He would have done better to have come around or contacted us at least for some of his data. But then we would have known who he really was. And that would have been a bit too brave.

For fourteen years we have survived. We are still growing strongly. We have even graduated up to a point where two governments have sought to knock us out (U.S. and Australia.) They failed. But I myself consider it a compliment to our growth and a very clean cut denial of "Sipes" inference we are declining. Governments don't spend tens of thousands of pounds to hammer away at things that are withering away. They only attack people they consider dangerous.

We are, indeed a revolutionary group. The reactionary or conservative cannot be expected to regard us tamely.

[Picture / Caption: Dr. Hubbard at his desk with the electrometer he has developed to gauge human reactions of plants.]

Our revolution is the revolt of the individual against the tyranny of ignorance. Ignorance fights back.

A revolt can have two end products. One is toward a greater control and suppression of the masses. The other is the greater self-determination of the individual. Ours is a revolt to increase the power of the individual.

The key to all doors is Truth. The essence of truth is to state [what] has been observed or experienced. If what is seen or experienced is bizarre, it still must be stated or one is guilty of reporting untruthfully. A coward can never find Truth. For he only desires to report what he hopes is acceptable or popular. And I care not one fig for popularity. Only the insecure have to bolster their ego with applause from an uninformed multitude. The right men in the right places respect me and I am content they do. But even if they didn't, I would not make the faintest effort to court their respect by a departure from what I feel is right. And I report what I have seen and experienced and know, not what I think others will like.

This causes parts of Scientology to sound bizarre to some. The more recent radical belief of psychology that man is only an animal may be acceptable to men of bad conscience, but it has not been held to be true for more than a few decades. The ages, right up to our century, regarded Man as a spiritual being. Therefore Scientology is not nearly as bizarre as the subject of psychiatry or psychology, which have declared all men beasts and not very valuable ones at that. This may be popular with tired governments, but it is not True. Man is a spiritual being and he is valuable. It can be proven.

So Scientology is a revolt against modern materialism. And revolts are not popular to all men, particularly those being revolted against.

But if to help a man to find himself and to be happier is a crime, [then] we are very guilty of it. And to do that we are not deterred by the objections of people who profit from degradation.

That is our mission. To teach people how to know the Truth. And that is the meaning of the word "Scientology" (Scio=to know in the fullest sense of the word+logos=study).

We do not tell others what they must know. We do report and use what is found out. We do teach Man that Truth is the only road to freedom and that that starts with complete honesty with himself.

Man wants to know what he is, who he is, where he came from, where he is going as a being. Even a child wants to know those things. Scientology gives him the way to find out.

It is cowardice or sadism to say to him, as in modern psychology taught in universities. "You die forever when you're dead. You are flesh and that is all you are, and cheap flesh at that." For it is a lie. And it, like "Sipes," seeks to slam the door forever in the face of any who want a better answer.

"Sipes" wrote an article about his own ideas of Scientology. Many of the things he said were true. But he did not say any other things that were also true.

[Picture / Caption: Dr. L. Ron Hubbard standing in front of his villa.]

And he particularly did not say that the only trouble Scientology ever had was that it would not compromise with those who had "more acceptable" ideas of the truth.

"Sipes" also added a great many untruths of his own or another's invention and has his dates scrambled hopelessly. So he, among many others, could benefit from placing some value in Truth.

I would not be proud to have written any article which sought to close the door to anyone who wanted to know himself.

Man's weakness is only his cowardice in confronting unpopular ideas which are in fact true.

"Sipes" suffers with the rest.

Very sincerely,

In response to Hubbard's communication to BORDDERLINE, author Sipes has penned the following:

Dear Mr. Omarr;

Thank you very much for providing me with the opportunity of answering Mr. Hubbard's letter concerning my article on him in the October issue of BORDERLINE.

It is a most interesting letter. Its contents validate the portrait that I painted of Mr. Hubbard and serve to refute him far beyond my limited power to do so. However, there are some points that I wish to highlight and some facts that should be disclosed. I suppose I should take Mr. Hubbard's charges one by one.

1. That I am an opponent of the data Mr. Hubbard chooses to call Scientology and wish to discredit said data. First, I am not aware that I wrote an article on Scientology and was under the firm impression that I had written an article on Lafayette Ronald Hubbard and on his organization. As Mr. Hubbard is quite fond of saying, Scientology is a body of data. I agree, although I am inclined to refer to it as a "body of data and personal opinions." It seems that Mr. Hubbard is identifying the data and himself far more than am I. I said very little about the body of opinions and nothing about the data. Perhaps some day I shall, but as of yet I have not. Second, I would find it most difficult to oppose most of Scientology as a body of data, for to do so I would have to oppose the Vedas, Brahamanas, and Upanishads; the illuminating teachings of Yogi Ramacharaka; the priceless work of Count Alfred Korzybski, I. J. Lee, B. L. Whorf and other semanticists; and most of present-day psychoanalytic and psychologic data. This I cannot find in my heart to do. I would have to oppose these things because the best of Scientology is little more than a compendium of portions of these (albeit a somewhat distorted and less useful compendium). No, I will applaud every successful application of the data and opinions Mr. Hubbard is pleased to call Scientological. I will limit my criticism to the all-too-frequent misapplication of these by himself and others.

2. That "Sipes," somehow, does not really exist. Sorry, he does. I am not hiding behind a pseudonym. That is the name I have been using since birth. My family has used the name far longer than that.

3. That I have given "the combined and rewritten handouts of a Mr. Field and a Mr. Keating of the A.M.A." and have consulted only "biased sources." Frankly, I have never even heard of either of the two gentlemen and I suppose that ignorance should be counted against me. To be perfectly honest, the only thing I have ever been able to find concerning Mr. Hubbard (other than what Mr. Hubbard and his staff have written) was the recent Saturday Evening Post article. Needless to say, I got very little from that. I must confess that I consulted only "biased sources" for my data on Mr. Hubbard, his organization, and Scientology. As one might infer from the preceding statement, I consulted only Mr. Hubbard's writing and other Scientology founts. I suppose I am guilty of biased sources, although not in the way Mr. Hubbard would like to have us think.

4. That "He (i.e., Sipes) would have done better to have come around or contacted us at least for some of his data. But then we would have known who he really was. And that would have been a bit too brave." Oh, it really wasn't too darned brave. I wish to thank Mr. Hubbard for the rather reverse compliment, however unjustified it may be. This accusation illustrates perfectly one of the most appalling shortcomings possessed by Mr. Hubbard—he continually starts his mouth running before ensuring that his brain is in gear. He forever makes flat statements before being sure of his data. (It is interesting that this is precisely what he is trying most to make me guilty of). If Mr. Hubbard had checked his own records, or even asked any of a dozen people in his own St. Hill organization, he would have found out not only who I am, but how much contact I have had with his organization and the sources of my data. I have not only read every piece of literature available in Scientology, I have taken a fifty-two week Scientology Extension Course and for five months attended the Hubbard Certified Auditor Course at the Washington, D.C. Academy of Scientology. (For several months I was ranked first in the entire class. I received no diploma because I felt it would be redundant at that time to go on to graduation). Moreover, I have received approximately 300 hours of Scientology treatment, fifty of which were in the Academy processing center. Furthermore, to forestall charges that I was a "spy" and entered with a closed mind, I should like to say that I entered as a free person in order to satisfy my own curiosity concerning what Mr. Hubbard was so blatantly claiming. (These facts can easily be verified if Mr. Hubbard cares to check with his lieutenant, "Wing" Angell. Mr. Angell—a fine fellow whose memory I shall always treasure—himself gave me several security checks during my time in the Academy, using an electrometer, which is more efficient than the so-called lie-detectors. I was "clean" on all checks). No, indeed, I know whereof I speak, apparently far more than does Hubbard. Unlike him, I bother to check up on something before I talk about it, and assiduously attempt to avoid the "foot-in-mouth" disease. I am sorry to get so indignant about Hubbard's accusations, but they smack strongly of irresponsible mud-slinging. The least Mr. Hubbard could have done was to check readily available facts before attempting character assassination.

A bit more can be said about this "biased data" I am supposed to have worked on. First, every statistic, fact, and date that was included in my article was acquired from Scientology publications. So "the number of churches reported in the article errs enormously"? That's very strange. I lifted the data directly from issues 146, 152, 158, and 159 of ABILITY, the official house organ of Mr. Hubbard's organization. If Mr. Hubbard wishes to "catalogue" the rest of my "errors," I am quite sure I can call out the chapter and verse of his own publications in which he stated the "errors." I cannot feel responsible for the facts and figures. Mr. Hubbard is responsible for them. I am responsible only for talking about them.

Second, while we are speaking of distortions of fact, let us take a look at the way the number of "Scientologists" is computed by Mr. Hubbard. I remember his saying that "once a Scientologist, always a Scientologist" and that "anyone exposed the least bit to Scientology data can be considered a Scientologist." Naturally, with such an approach, Scientology as an organization on paper can do nothing but grow. The picture this approach gives, though, is somewhat distorted. For instance, I know many people who still are receiving ABILITY magazine four years after rejecting Scientology out of hand. Four of these people, several years ago, repeatedly requested the organization to stop sending them the publication. To no avail. They still get it and are listed as "Scientologists." This makes them unhappy, but there is little they can do except bewail it to their friends. Truly, we hear only of Mr. Hubbard's "successes" and not one word of his failures. If this is the way it pleases him to compute the "growing" number of Scientologists, in South Africa and elsewhere, I can do nothing more than pity him. If he doesn't watch out he is going to start to believe his own stories. In that direction lies disaster. Too bad, but Scientology's own statistics indicate a downward trend in people actively in Dianetics/Sientology and that's all there is to it. I can understand Mr. Hubbard's reluctance to face this fact.

5. That I am linked to the psychiatric profession that "man is only an animal" and that "all men (are) beasts and not very valuable ones at that." First, if I must be classified, I prefer the classification of psychoanalyst. I am not a psychiatrist. The psychoanalytic school of thought differs considerably from the psychiatric school and has many quarrels with it. Hubbard, I believe, either fails to differentiate between these two schools of thought or is unaware of the difference. But even if I am not, have never been, or never would want to be a psychiatrist, I feel obligated to speak up in defense of psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are people, too. Being such, we find a wide variation in basic concepts and methods among them. Some, to be sure, do claim that man is "nothing but" an animal—that he is mud and nothing more. These, however, are in the minority. The majority believe that, and function as if, there is nothing more important or sacred on Earth than the human individual. Here we have another fatal failing on Mr. Hubbard's part. He too often uses an old reliable method of demagogues: "Put some ridiculous statement in your opponent's mouth and then disproves it to show how stupid and vicious he matter that he never said it, just say that he did." This he has done with both psychiatrists and myself and it simpy is not cricket. Psychiatrists let alone psychoanalysts, do not "slam the door forever" on anyone seeking to rise above what might be called the "ordinary." Contrariwise. They applaud such individuals and efforts.

6. That two governments have sought to knock us (the Scientology organization) out." Personally, I would not consider that the government was trying to squash me and attack me if it attempted to stop my practice of law before I passed the state bar exam. That's the way things are set up. You meet the [requirements]; then you are free to act. I always have found that I could operate effectively within pre-existing laws and accomplish good without being persecuted for it.

Any time Mr. Hubbard runs afoul of a pre-existing law and is prevented from doing something he wants to do, he shrieks that the governments are trying to destroy him. It gives him a sense of importance, I suppose. Perhaps it feeds a "persecuted messiah" complex of one sort or other.

In closing, I should like to say that Mr. Hubbard's letter seemed to me to be quite "reactive" (a term for a simple stimulus-response situation not involving rational thought). I suggest that he differentiate between a real article on himself and an imaginary [article] on Scientology. I suggest he attempt to refute what I say and not what it suits his purpose to say I said. I suggest that he remember what he has said in the past so that he is not put in the uncomfortable position of having to label direct quotes as "lies." I suggest that he open this Door of Truth about which he prattles so much and observe that there may be a slight variation between Truth and what he believes, between data and opinions. I suggest that he becomes less of a carnival showman if he cares "not one fig for popularity." I suggest that he promise less and deliver more. Perhaps then there will not be ten persons alienated from Scientology for every one still in it.

I am happy, though, to hear that they actually let Scientologists into gatherings and clubs in South Africa. This is encouraging.

Richard G. Sipes

There you have it. The L. Ron Hubbard-Richard Grey Sipes controversy.
BORDERLINE welcomes your comments.