Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard and the Magazine Article That Inspired an International Movement
72 years ago, an article in Astounding Science Fiction hit the newsstands in April and set the stage for the explosive launch of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which rolled out in May.
When Dianetics: The Modern Scientology of Mental Health was released in May, 1950, it sold out immediately, in no small part because of the enthusiasm of those who had read a magazine article about it in Astounding Science Fiction and snapped up copies of the book. It was these men and women who helped propel the book onto bestseller lists, where it stayed week after week as news of its results spread.
Some 750 Dianetics groups sprang up across the United States, with more cropping up in English-speaking countries around the world. And many of the original adherents of Dianetics learned of the subject from this magazine article and ordered their copies as soon as the book rolled off the press.
In Melbourne, John Roberts could hardly wait to get his copy of the book. He learned of Dianetics from a fellow he worked with who had read the article. Roberts, a survivor of the notorious Japanese Changi prisoner of war camp in Malaysia, returned home at the end of World War II a shell of the man he was when he left to serve. And he knew it. Roberts read the article at his friend’s suggestion and sent off by mail order for two copies of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
Roberts’ daughter, now in her 90s, described how her father read the book cover to cover without putting it down. He and his friend immediately teamed up to deliver this technology to one another. It accomplished everything he’d hoped for and Roberts became an integral part of the movement that brought Dianetics and Scientology to his country.
Some 9,500 miles away from Melbourne, in Peoria, Illinois, George Seidler also learned about Dianetics from a friend. Seidler had served in the war as a medic and earned a Bronze Star Medal for bravery for crawling out of a bunker under fire to pull wounded soldiers to safety.
After the war, Seidler went to college, courtesy of the GI Bill, and it was a classmate who told him about Dianetics. But Seidler wasn’t interested.
“I was a scientist and a skeptic to end all skeptics,” Seidler said in an interview in 2012. “My philosophy was—unless you can see it, feel it, touch it, it isn’t worth bothering with.”
Seidler challenged his friend, asking him, “How can you believe that stuff?” But he was actually intrigued with the idea of recovering his full potential, not to mention coming to grips with what he experienced during the war. He bought Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and began reading it right away.
On page 2 of the book, Seidler came across something that completely changed his attitude.
“L. Ron Hubbard wrote that Man is basically good,” he said. “I always believed that but never found anyone else who shared my views—certainly not in the religions I knew—but here was L. Ron Hubbard saying it. My wife got interested and started reading it too. Before long, we were fighting over whose turn it was with the one book, so I got a second copy.”
Seidler was among those trained directly under L. Ron Hubbard in 1950 at the Dianetics Foundation in Los Angeles. And he continued as an ardent Dianeticist and Scientologist for the rest of his life, opening a Scientology Mission to make this technology of the mind, spirit and life available in his hometown in Illinois.
Scientology ecclesiastical leader Mr. David Miscavige describes how later, L. Ron Hubbard published the Astounding Science Fiction article as a book—Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science. And it is in this book that Mr. Hubbard reveals the research methods by which he discovered the reactive mind—the portion of a person’s mind which works on a totally stimulus-response basis and is not under volitional control.
Today, Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science and Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health are available in 50 languages and anyone may study these books. Courses are available at Scientology Churches, Missions and groups across the globe and can also be done by mail or email through extension courses.
Produced by Scientology Media Productions, the Church’s global media center in Los Angeles, these films are broadcast on the Scientology Network at DIRECTV 320 and can be streamed at Scientology.tv, through satellite television, mobile apps and via the Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV platforms.
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
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