Now that I've upset those who believed that the e-meter didn't work, I'll now really upset those who believe it does.
In my last article, I gave examples of tests and drills that appeared to prove that the e-meter reacts to thoughts. I also mentioned that it reacts to a lot more than just thoughts.
I also presented Hubbard's explanation as to how and why it works. I even said it was a reasonable explanation that fit the facts. But, on purpose, I skipped the complications and contradictions between the theory and practice.
Let's delve a bit deeper into this subject.
To repeat the basic theory according to Hubbard, some thoughts have "charge". When a person "activates" the charge by thinking some thought, the associated charge impinges on the body changes the body's resistance. The meter measures these changes.
The charge, according to Hubbard, comes from some past trauma, which was called, in Dianetics, an "engram" - essentially a moment of pain and unconsciousness.
While this seems pretty far-fetched, the "pinch test" (as described in my last article) certainly seems to validate this idea. No matter the theory, the "pinch test" proves that the meter does react to a thought (or, to appease the more critical reader, a thought can impinge on the body in a way that is detectable by the e-meter).
But I want to emphasize that this is all that it proves. There is a lot of Hubbard's theory that is not proven and, in fact, doesn't make much sense.
First, let me tell you a bit more about Hubbard's explanation of the e-meter. Hubbard said that the e-meter reacts to charge that is "just below the person's awareness". This means that the person is not aware of the problem, but is "ready to confront it". As the person becomes aware of the problem, the charge "blows" and it no longer "reads" on the e-meter.
By the way, this part of Hubbard's theory about his e-meter is necessary to explain why so many things do not register on the e-meter until later up The Bridge -- the person, you see, "isn't ready to confront" the higher levels.
That's the theory about the e-meter that is accepted by Scientologists.
But when you get into actual practice, things start to fall apart.
First, let's visit the Scientology course room again. When you are learning how to operate the e-meter, you must do the "Dating Drill". In this drill, one student thinks of a date and writes it down, the second student puts the first student on the e-meter and attempts to find out the date using only the e-meter.
Now, if Hubbard's theory about the e-meter is correct, this drill would never work. There is no trauma (and therefore no charge) associated with that date. And the first student is fully aware of the date -- it isn't "just below his awareness".
So why does the Dating Drill work? There is only one explanation: It works because they believe it should.
Oops! That isn't part of the theory -- and that drill alone destroys the certainty about any read on the e-meter. If something reads only because someone believes it should, then how can anyone determine which reads are "real" and which are "belief"?
In this same theme, let's look at a question asked at the beginning of every session about a person's "witholds" (things they have hidden and don't want found out). Why do they read on the meter? Where is the trauma? The meter may read even though no one was hurt at all. The person may have participated in some victimless, harmless activity that is nobody's business -- and the meter reads. Why? Because the person was afraid it would. All Scientology auditors know this happens but they don't question it. According to theory, the meter shouldn't read because the person is fully aware of what they did, there was no trauma and there was no harm.
Well, what if a person doesn't believe the e-meter will react? What happens then? Well, apparently the meter doesn't react. You get the all too frequent situation where a Scientology criminal continues their criminal activities for years and years -- all while getting auditing. Apparently, they don't believe the meter will react to their crimes, and it doesn't.
All these contradictions between theory and practice suggest a rather different theory than Hubbard's: The e-meter reacts not only to actual memories of actual "trauma", but also reacts because the person on the meter believes or fears that it will.
Do you see what this means?
This means that the e-meter is almost completely useless, since a reaction on the meter might indicate a real problem or it might not -- and the meter cannot detect the difference.
One result of this is the incredibly bizarre "4 trillion year past track history" that is accepted as truth by Scientologists but is logically, obviously and scientifically proven to be false.
Another result is that it seems there are thousands of Scientologists who were famous people. In fact, there are many who share being the same famous person -- and all these past identities were fully verified by the e-meter.
But the worst result of these reads-just-because-they-believe is the entire Bridge. Scientologists, and their auditors, believed they were uncovering and "handling" vast amounts of past track incidents of trauma and upset -- 4 trillion years of it, no less -- but what is the truth? No one has become Clear. No one has become OT. Scientologists, even those high up The Bridge are struggling. Where are the miraculous gains and the incredible abilities that were promised and were supposedly delivered?
They believed and the e-meter showed them what they expected to see.