What Is an E-Meter? (Updated)

Illustration for article titled What Is an E-Meter? (Updated)

Today would be L. Ron Hubbard 100th birthday. Who is L. Ron Hubbard? He's the dude who invented Scientology. Yup, that same kooky scientology that turned Tom Cruise into a joke.


Do you know how to start becoming a scientology member though? You have to pass an auditing process and go through this e-meter, a lie detector that Scientologists believe can "see thoughts". But what is it?

Officially, it's called an electroencephaloneuromentimograph and measures the galvanic skin response of a person. Which sounds a lot like science! Which makes it believable! Which makes it Scientology! The E-Meter induces a electrical current through the body and back into the device to measures the changes in the electrical resistance of the human body.

But what the hell for? Well, Scientology members treat the E-Meter as a device that can see the 'static field' surrounding the body. Basically, for Scientologists, it's supposed to tell the auditor whether or not the person has been "relieved from spiritual impediment of past experiences" or in layman's, ready for bullshit, er I mean, Scientology.

How's it used? During the auditing process, a person holds cans attached to the E-Meter and is asked a series of questions. When answering back, the auditor will note the activity on the meter (needle movement basically) with each movement holding a unique significance in the Scientology world. The auditor reads the results and interprets it as he so chooses. Think of it as a lie detector, only shrouded in mystery and faux science. Or a high tech tarot card, I guess.

Here's what a judge had to say about the E-Meter:

Hubbard and his fellow Scientologists developed the notion of using an E-Meter to aid auditing. Substantial fees were charged for the meter and for auditing sessions using the meter. They repeatedly and explicitly represented that such auditing effectuated cures of many physical and mental illnesses. An individual processed with the aid of the E-Meter was said to reach the intended goal of 'clear' and was led to believe that there was reliable scientific proof that once cleared many, indeed most, illnesses would successfully be cured. Auditing was guaranteed to be successful. All this was and is false.


It's treated as a religious artifact by Scientologists but in reality is their money printing machine. E-meter tests are terribly expensive and used to answer a lot of practicing Scientologists problems (convenient). And since they can only be handled by "trained professionals", the big time Scientologists are raking it in. Here's to hoping none of you ever run into one of these in your life.

Update: The Church of Scientology responds:

This letter concerns an article by junior reporter Casey Chan entitled, "What Is An E-Meter?" that was posted on March 13, 2011 at 10:00 am. The article was full of false information, necessitating a response. I thought it might be worth the effort to communicate what a Scientologist, someone who actually uses an E-Meter, has to say about what it is and what it does.

For starters, you would have to know what the E-Meter is used for, which is auditing. A really simple short explanation of auditing can be found here:


Then, an explanation of the E-Meter itself, which is here:

Then, here is another video that shows what happens in a Church of Scientology and provides a clear demonstration of the use of the E-Meter:

And, here is another video that shows and explains auditing:

Now, Mr. Chan falsely identifies the E-Meter as a "BS-Meter" and an "electroencephaloneuromentimograph." It is not. It is called an "electropsychometer" or E-Meter.

Mr. Chan also incorrectly states that members of the Scientology religion believe the E-Meter can "see the ‘static field' surrounding the body." That is total Chan make-believe-and false again.

While glossing over the fact that the device is a religious artifact, Mr. Chan claims that it "in reality is their money printing machine." This biased statement is offensive and false.

Next, Mr. Chan's article quotes selectively and misleadingly from a 1971 Federal District Court decision involving the E-Meter. By relying on an excerpt of this decision that is posted on no less of a dubious source than Wikipedia, Chan misses the entire point of the ruling.

Federal District Court Judge Gerhard Gesell's opinion of July 30, 1971 upheld the use of the E-Meter in a religious setting and condemned the government's interference with the practice of Scientology. This ruling was a major victory for the Church, one which continues to protect the religious use of the E-Meter and guards against unauthorized use to this day. The following excerpts illustrate this point:

The Church is a religious institution protected by the First Amendment. The E-Meter is used by its ministers as part of the ritual and practice of the Church. Serious interference indeed results if the Church is entirely prohibited from using the E-Meter by condemnation or if the Court orders the Food and Drug Administration to oversee a general rewriting of all the writings the Church purveys.

* * *
If a church uses a machine harmless in itself to aid its ministers in communicating with adherents, the destruction of that machine intrudes on religion. The dilemma cannot be resolved by attempting to isolate purely false scientific claims from claims that have sufficient religious content to be outside the Food and Drug laws. There is a religious substance to everything when seen with the eyes of the believer. For these reasons, the Church may not be wholly prevented from practicing its faith or from seeking new adherents.
* * *
The device may be used or sold or distributed only for use in bona fide religious counseling. No user, purchaser or distributee (other than the Founding Church of Scientology or an ordained practicing minister of the Church) shall be considered engaged in bona fide religious counseling unless and until such user, purchaser or distributee has filed an affidavit with the Secretary of the Food and Drug Administration stating the basis on which a claim of bona fide religious counseling is made, together with an undertaking to comply with all conditions of the judgment so long as the E-Meter is used.

United States of America v. An Article or Device "Hubbard Electrometer," 333 F. Supp. 357.

Thus, the E-Meter's status as a religious artifact is not an incidental fact to be ignored, it is central to understanding the E-Meter and its use-all of this was ignored by your reporter.

The greater harm of the article, however, is that Mr. Chan sinks to juvenile barbs about the E-Meter to attempt to denigrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Founder of Scientology, the only major worldwide religious movement founded in the 20th Century. That is offensive to the millions of
Scientologists around the world.

Mr. Chan has no idea who L. Ron Hubbard is and what he has done to help others; nor does he understand the growth of Scientology. For the record, the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard is practiced by millions of people in more than 165 nations. The Church is presently in a period of tremendous expansion, growing more in the last five years than in the previous halfcentury. We just opened new Churches in Moscow and Tampa, in the last three weeks-the 22nd and 23rd new Churches we have opened in just the last five years-and have another 60 on the runway in the design or construction stages.

Scientology also reaches into the community through its Churchsupported social betterment and humanitarian programs that have touched the lives of more than one-and-a-half billion people, including:

• The Scientology Volunteer Ministers program has been active in
more than 175 disaster relief efforts around the world, partnering
with more than 800 agencies and organizations. Our ministry has
trained more than 400,000 to provide volunteer assistance, while
helping nearly 11 million one-on-one since September 11, 2001.
See www.volunteerministers.org.
The well-known relief our Volunteer Ministers brought to Haiti after
the January, 2010 earthquake is only one demonstration of the
commitment to assist. The Church of Scientology Volunteer
Ministers engaged in a massive relief effort and was one of the first
organizations to mobilize charter flights from New York and LA,
filled with tens of tons of medical supplies as well as badly needed
personnel-doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and
Volunteer Ministers. Volunteer Ministers manned tent hospitals in
and around Port-au-Prince, working with physicians tending to the
pain, trauma and injuries of the survivors. Other Volunteer Ministers
dispensed 80 tons of food and provisions in the outlying camps under
the wing of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division's Second Battalion,
others manned the converted Coast Guard cutter Hornbeam to
transport 100 tons of needed supplies for nine relief organizations,
established a shelter for the displaced children of a demolished
orphanage, and much more. In all, the Volunteer Ministers devoted
more than 115-thousand hours of service directly helping 600,000
people rebuild their lives, as well as establishing 700 Volunteer
Minister units throughout Haiti to continue to help.
And, most urgently, Scientology Volunteer Ministers from Japan
and abroad have already been engaged across Japan to assist in the
relief effort in the aftermath of the devastating quake and tsunami.

• The Way to Happiness, a Church-sponsored education program that
uses the non-religious moral code by Mr. Hubbard, The Way to
Happiness, including 21 public service announcements and the new
feature-length book-on-film combined with an educator's guide. This
program has reached more than 700 million, with 85 million booklets
distributed in 94 languages since 1981. The materials for this
program are provided free of charge to institutions and groups
implementing the program. See www.thewaytohappiness.org.
In Colombia, more than 3 million copies of The Way to Happiness
have been distributed in coordination with that nation's Navy, Army
and National Police in the last 18 months. This distribution was
flanked by as many as 100 airings of The Way to Happiness precepts
each day on Colombian television networks. There are numerous
such examples.

• The Church sponsors the largest non-governmental anti-drug
campaign in the world. The Say No to Drugs Say Yes to Life
program features public service announcements, a documentary
about real people and the destructive influence of the most commonly
abused drugs, and an educator's guide. It also includes information
booklets exposing the myths of each drug, all provided at no cost for
mass distribution. The program has reached over 435 million through
TV sponsorship, 24 million through booklet distribution, and 3.4
million children have pledged to lead drug-free lives through the
Church-sponsored Drug Free Marshals. See www.drugfreeworld.org.

• The Church sponsors an international human rights public
information campaign, broadly publicizing the 30 articles of the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights with public
service announcements for every article, a film providing the history
of human rights, and booklets serving to fill the gap in human rights
education. The campaign has reached more than a billion people. The
human rights education world tour has traveled 174,000 miles
through 45 nations reaching 11 million. More than 250,000 people
have signed our petitions calling for mandatory human rights
education. The Church of Scientology sponsors this program and the
materials are provided freely to groups implementing its effective
solutions. See www.humanrights.com.

In addition to the above, the Church supports Narconon drug rehabilitation centers in more than 47 countries. Narconon opened its flagship facility in Oklahoma in 2001. Founded in 1966, Narconon is one of the most successful drug rehabilitation programs in the world. Further, Narconon drug educators have reached 15 million people with the truth about drugs, 500,000 of them in the past year. In recognition of Narconon's continued contributions to creating drug-free lives, the Governor of Oklahoma proclaimed January 21 Narconon Arrowhead Day throughout the state. Go to www.narconon.org.

Likewise, the Church sponsored an international Applied Scholastics training center in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003 to provide global literacy programs. To date Applied Scholastics has helped tens of millions of students in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. In the past year, Applied Scholastics instructors have educated 2.7 million people on study technology. Go to www.appliedscholastics.org.

Lastly, the Church supports The Way to Happiness Foundation, located in Glendale, California, which sponsors and advances the global programs based on L. Ron Hubbard's The Way to Happiness. Earlier this year, The Way to Happiness was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most translated nonreligious work. Please go to www.thewaytohappiness.org

The Church of Scientology's incredible growth is the result of people discovering for themselves the religion's practical, real-world applicable tools that assist an individual in improving his or her life. The legacy left by L. Ron Hubbard through his writings and lectures is what made all this possible.

You would be doing a service to your readers by removing from the article the reporter's false statements and anti-religious slurs-but alas you won't do that as removing the false would mean taking down the entire thing.

Tommy Davis



Akio Morita

I really don't see the problem here. People have beliefs...other choose to follow. Religion is all based on faith and not fact...if these people choose to have faith in this machine who are you/we to deny them that?