Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have heard various versions of this meme and was tempted to quote it in a comment on another thread. This site appears to do a fairly decent job of investigating the claim but leaves the conclusion based at best on anecdotal evidence that is disputed.

L. Ron Hubbard is widely rumored to have said "The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion." There are also variant rumors. For some reason, this is often mentioned on Usenet. Evidence is discussed below, but the short answer is that it's almost certainly true.

The closest thing the author of the site has to evidence is someone who said they were there years ago and heard it, or something like it said. Is there any evidence that Hubbard said this?

share|improve this question
    
If by "hard evidence" you mean a recording, no. –  philosodad Aug 2 '12 at 19:56
5  
Whoops! I posted an answer (now deleted) relying on the very site you quoted - so much for my reading skills :-(. That site has not one but nine witnesses, (including one who signed an affadavit). What sort of evidence would you like to see to convince you? –  Oddthinking Aug 3 '12 at 0:39
    
@Oddthinking - I Do not really know. I know it is a high bar but this really comes down to a bunch of people stepped up after he founded Scientology and said he said it. Finding the quote written down and attributed to him prior to the 1980's would work. I am not saying they are lying but we have seen before someone say they heard something that was completely made up but others have jumped in and agreed they heard it as well. So I think for a quote to be credible here it has to have been documented before Scientology became successful. –  Chad Aug 3 '12 at 17:08

1 Answer 1

It doesn't appear that he wrote it, however many sources say he did say it, or something very similar at a sci fi convention in 1948.

In 1948 he described a method which could solve his financial problems. He has been quoted as telling a science fiction convention in 1948: "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."

-Methvin, Eugene H. (May 1990). "Scientology: Anatomy of a Frightening Cult". Reader's Digest. pp. 16. According to this.

Numerous people report the same or similar statement at the time:

Response to a question from the audience during a meeting of the Eastern Science Fiction Association on (7 November 1948), as quoted in a 1994 affidavit by Sam Moskowitz.

This statement is similar or identical to several statements Hubbard is reported to have made to various individuals or groups in the 1940s. Variants include:

The incident is stamped indelibly in my mind because of one statement that Ron Hubbard made. What led him to say what he did I can't recall — but in so many words Hubbard said: "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is!" L. Ron Hubbard to Lloyd A. Eshbach, in 1949; as quoted by Eshbach in his autobiography Over My Shoulder: Reflections On A Science Fiction Era (1983) ISBN 1-880418-11-8

Y'know, we're all wasting our time writing this hack science fiction! You wanta make real money, you gotta start a religion! As reported to Mike Jittlov by Theodore Sturgeon as a statement Hubbard made while at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society clubhouse in the 1940s.

Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be start his own religion. As quoted in the Los Angeles Times (27 August 1978)

Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion. As quoted in the article "Scientology: Anatomy of a Frightening Cult" by Eugene H. Methvin. Reader's Digest (May 1980)

I always knew he was exceedingly anxious to hit big money — he used to say he thought the best way to do it would be to start a cult. Sam Merwin, Editor of Thrilling Science Fiction magazine Winter of 1946-47; quoted in Bare-Faced Messiah, The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard (1987) by Russell Miller

Whenever he was talking about being hard up he often used to say that he thought the easiest way to make money would be to start a religion. Neison Himmel, briefly a roommate of Hubbard in Pasadena during the fall of 1945, in a 1986 interview, quoted in Bare-Faced Messiah, The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard (1987) by Russell Miller

-http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.