L. Ron Hubbard/Introduction

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Why Study Hubbard?

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The Prophet Puzzle

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Boston mayor Josiah Quincy once wrote of the puzzle posed by Mormon founding prophet Joseph Smith. Wrote Quincy:

"Such a rare human being is not to be disposed of by pelting his memory with unsavory epithets. Fanatic, impostor, charlatan, he may have been; but these hard names furnish no solution to the problem he presents to us. Fanatics and impostors are living and dying every day, and their memory is buried with them; but the wonderful influence which this founder of a religion exerted and still exerts throws him into relief before us, not as a rogue to be criminated, but as a phenomenon to be explained. … If the reader does not know just what to make of Joseph Smith, I cannot help him out of the difficulty. I myself stand helpless before the puzzle."

The life of L. Ron Hubbard poses many of these same questions.

The Unique Opportunity of Hubbard Studies

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Don Delillo's 1985 novel White Noise features a university with a "Hitler Studies" department, while another character aspires to create an "Elvis Studies" department. In his fasincinating 1998 work "Explaining Hitler", author Ron Rosenbaum delivered on Delillo's vision. However, there are a number of reasons why the study of Hitler is difficult, not least of which is the immediate visceral antipathy his name evokes in the modern ear. Truly deciphering the life of a person born in the Austria-Hungary of 1889 is virtually impossible for a 21st century English-language audience.

Mormonism founder Joseph Smith is a better candidate for study by English-speakers, but he too was a pre-modern figure, born on a farm in Vermont in 1805 -- a world and culture that is drastically from the present. Fourteen years into his professorial career, Smith was killed at the age of 38, leaving behind a half-dozen works.

Hubbard, in contrast, was born in 1911's US. His era and culture are deeply familiar and well-documented. Hubbard was a prolific author, writing over a thousand volumes. Hubbard's voluminous output affords researchers tremendous insight into his inner workings. Additionally, the curious case of Hubbard occurs after the advent of 20th century psychometrics and psychiatry; thus while other figures may attract endless speculative retrospective diagnoses, in the case of Hubbard, we have a subject who not only received diagnoses and treatments from mental health professionals, but who also communicated at length in response about the mental health fields.