Jon Atack takes apart the Scientology E-meter - 2014-02-01
Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and on Saturdays he's helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.
Jon, you continue to take a hard look at Scientology's most basic concepts and practices. We're really excited that you turned your attention this week to that most familiar of Scientology accessories, the E-meter! Tell us about it.
JON: The first Electropsychometer used in Dianetics was developed by Volney Mathison. It is a device based on a Wheatstone bridge, an electrical circuit which measures resistance, in this case through sensors held in the hands, so it measures the conductivity of skin — also known as galvanic skin response. More accurately, it measures changes in the sweat glands, by passing a small electric current through the body. Such meters were not new — Hubbard's claim to have made the only valid discoveries in the field of the mind and spirit in 50,000 years are not borne out by the development of the e-meter, which actually had nothing to do with him, and had been enthusiastically supported by Jung and others many years before.