Is bad-mouthing Scientology too easy? Readers sound off on Laura Miller's review of L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics."

By Salon Staff
Published June 29, 2005 6:31PM (EDT)

[Read "Stranger Than Fiction," by Laura Miller.]

I would like to thank Laura Miller for her outstanding demolition of Hubbard's goofy religion. Now could you please assign her to take a look at the Bible?

-- Joe Santos

Thanks for the insightful review of L. Ron Hubbard's opus nauseus. I was suckered into Scientology back in 1984, when I was a naive and introverted young man too eager to check out what seemed a solution for my problems. Scientologist recruiters managed to find me, and within a short time they even got me to quit my job and work for them as the local "communications officer." It took one week of doing that -- and getting my first paycheck -- to totally cure me of any desire to continue my involvement. The pay was ridiculously insubstantial, less than minimum wage, and when I told them I could not live on that, I was told I should sell my car and move in with other Scientologists.

Aside from the low pay for very demanding work, I was constantly being harrassed to take more of the exorbitantly expensive courses and purchase more of Hubbard's books and videos. Moreover, I'd already taken note that for all of L. Ronnie's vaunted claims, I didn't see any evidence that any of his disciples, even the ones who'd been adherents for over 20 years, were living their lives all that much better than anyone else.

Later that day I told them I was going out for lunch and simply never went back.

-- Fred W. Hill

Boy, that was an easy assignment for Laura Miller -- read "Dianetics," write a synopsis, throw in some snarky comments, and she's done.

How about trying to put "Dianetics" in context -- why did it become a bestseller, so much so that "Dianetics" clubs spontaneously formed after the book was published? Why does this creepy philosophy appeal to millions of seemingly intelligent people? How is it that a paranoid, pill-popping science fiction writer managed to grow a worldwide religion in less than 20 years?

It's easy to mock "Dianetics" and Scientology, a lot harder to do some research to provide readers with insight. Salon, you may want to try forcing your writers do some real reporting as well.

-- Alisa Rivera

In the 1970s, when I was in my early 20s, a copy of "Dianetics" was handed to me by an acquaintance. Since I was a total bookworm, I immediately started reading it. First, my reactions were, "Oh, yes," and "So THAT'S why I never cried as a baby." Further into the book, it was "Ummmm," and "What??" By the time I was halfway through, my bullshit detector had kicked in and I stopped reading. I did dutifully return the book to the acquaintance, since she'd insisted, but avoided her from then on. I'd lost any respect I might have had for her.

I can say the same for Tom Cruise et al.

-- Ricki Disdier

Salon Staff

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