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Mark VIII Ultra E-meter model lying in its carry case. The device's protective cover is shown standing at the back

An Electropsychometer, abbreviated to E-meter, is a modified ohmmeter used during Dianetics and Scientology auditing.[1] The device is a variation of a Wheatstone bridge, which dates to 1833[2] and measures electrical resistance and skin conductance. It is formally known as the Hubbard Electrometer (although it is not an electrometer as usually defined) after the group's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.[3] Most of the Scientology concepts associated with the "E-meter" and its use are regarded by the scientific and medical communities as pseudoscience, and the E-meter has never been subject to clinical trials.[4]

The Church of Scientology restricts the use of the E-meter to trained Scientologists, treating it as "a religious artifact used to measure the state of electrical characteristics of the 'static field' surrounding the body".[citation needed] The meter, when used by a trained Scientologist, is claimed to reflect or indicate whether or not a person has been relieved from spiritual impediment of past experiences.[5] Officials within Scientology assert that the E-meter is intended for use only in church-sanctioned auditing sessions and is in itself not a curative or medical device.[6] The E-meters used by the Church of Scientology are manufactured by Scientologists at their Gold Base facility.[7]

Description and use[edit]

The Mark VI model at a People's Fair in Denver

The device's primary component is an electrical measuring instrument called a Wheatstone bridge, which measures the subject's galvanic skin response.[8] By inducing a tiny electrical current, the device measures changes in the human body's electrical resistance.[9] In the case of the E-Meter the voltage applied is between 1 V and 5 V, and the induced current in the order of fractions of a milliamp. According to Scientology doctrine, the resistance corresponds to the "mental mass and energy" of the subject's mind, which are claimed to change when the subject thinks of particular mental images (engrams).[10] Scientologists believe that the device has such sensitivity that Hubbard could use it to determine whether or not fruits can experience pain, as in his 1968 assertion that tomatoes "scream when sliced."[11][12]

E-meter sessions are conducted by Scientology staff known as auditors. Scientology materials traditionally refer to the subject as the "preclear," although auditors continue to use the meter well beyond the "clear" level. The preclear holds a pair of cylindrical electrodes ("cans") connected to the meter while the auditor asks the preclear a series of questions and notes both the verbal response and the activity of the meter. Auditor training describes many types of needle movements, each with a specific significance.[13]

The meter has two control dials. The larger dial, known as the "tone arm," adjusts the meter bias, while the smaller one controls the gain. Auditors manipulate the tone arm during an auditing session to keep the E-meter needle on a marked reference point.[9]

According to Hubbard, the E-meter has three vital functions for a trained Scientology auditor: 1) It tells the auditor what to run.[14] 2) It tells the auditor how well or badly the process is running.[15] 3) It tells the auditor when the process should be stopped.[16]


A Scientologist administers a stress test using an e-meter.

The E-meter has undergone many changes since it was invented by Volney Mathison, an early collaborator with Hubbard. The Mathison Electropsychometer (as it was then called) was adopted for use in Dianetics and Scientology by Hubbard in the early 1950s,[17] before being temporarily dropped in 1954 during a dispute with Mathison.

In a quote from Bent Corydon's Messiah or Madman?,

It was the Mathison E-Meter, and Mathison was determined to keep it that way. So in late 1954 the use of the E-meter was discontinued by Hubbard. Wrote Hubbard: "Yesterday, we used an instrument called an E-Meter to register whether or not the process was still getting results so that the auditor would know how long to continue it. While the E-Meter is an interesting investigation instrument and has played its part in research, it is not today used by the auditor... As we long ago suspected, the intervention of a mechanical gadget between the auditor and the preclear had a tendency to depersonalize the session..."[18]

In 1958 when Scientologists Don Breeding and Joe Wallis developed a modified, smaller battery-operated version, which they presented to Hubbard, he again used it. This was dubbed the Hubbard electrometer. Hubbard patented it on December 6, 1966, as a "Device for Measuring and Indicating Changes in the Resistance of a Human Body" (U.S. Patent 3,290,589). The patent is now expired and in the public domain. The church continues to make, sell, and teach its use in auditing.

Mathison's writings indicated he felt bitter and disillusioned about Hubbard. Mathison remarked in 1964, "I decry the doings of trivial fakers, such as scientologists and the like, who glibly denounce hypnosis and then try covertly to use it in their phony systems".[19]

Food and Drug Administration interest[edit]

In the early 1960s the US Food and Drug Administration became concerned that the church was using the E-meter to practice medicine without a license.[20]

On January 4, 1963, more than one hundred E-meters were seized by US marshals at the "Founding Church of Scientology" building, now known as the L. Ron Hubbard House, located in Washington, D.C. The group was accused of making false claims that the devices effectively treated some 70 percent of all physical and mental illness. The FDA also charged that the devices did not bear adequate directions for treating the conditions for which they were recommended.[21][22]

Prolonged litigation ensued, with a subsequent jury trial finding that the E-meter had indeed been misrepresented. The church's contention that its literature was exempt from legal action because it was issued by a religious organization was rejected by the court as irrelevant. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the verdict on the basis that the government had done nothing to rebut the sect's claim that Scientology was a religion. A new trial was ordered which upheld the findings and verdict of the first trial.

Judge Gerhardt A. Gesell found that:

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.[23]

The judge ordered use of the E-meter be confined to "bona fide religious counseling" and the device be prominently labeled with a warning notice:

The E-Meter is not medically or scientifically useful for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease. It is not medically or scientifically capable of improving the health or bodily functions of anyone.[24]

The group has adopted a modified version of this statement, which it still invokes in connection with the E-meter. The current statement reads:

The Hubbard Electrometer is a religious artifact. By itself, this meter does nothing. It is for religious use by students and Ministers of the church in Confessionals and pastoral counseling only.[25]


In 1979 in Sweden, a court forbade calling the E-meter an invaluable aid to measuring man's mental state and changes in it in an advertisement. The prohibition was upheld by the European Commission of Human Rights in case X. and Church of Scientology v. Sweden.

In October 2009, a three-judge panel at the Correctional Court in Paris, France convicted the church and six of its members of organized fraud.[26] The Court's decision followed a three-week trial, where two plaintiffs alleged they were defrauded by the organization. One plaintiff's complaint involved the use of an E-Meter by Scientologists with medical implications. This plaintiff claimed that, after being audited with the device, she was encouraged to pay tens of thousands of euros for vitamins, books, and courses to improve her condition. She argued that amounted to fraud. The Court agreed, and the ruling was upheld on appeal in 2013.[27] See Scientology in France#Conviction for fraud.


In 1964, the government of Victoria, Australia held a Board of Inquiry into Scientology which returned its findings in a document colloquially known as the Anderson Report. Psychiatrist Dr. Ian Holland Martin, honorary federal secretary of the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, gave evidence that the E-Meter 'used for Scientology' was a 'psycho-galvano-meter' and was 'dangerous in unqualified hands'.[28] He said that if the E-meter 'was suggested to possess mysterious powers' to someone who did not understand that it had 'been thoroughly discredited as a lie detector' then 'that person would be suggestible to ideas foisted on him by the operator'.[28] The final report of the inquiry stated that the E-meter enabled Scientology:

"...to assume, intensify and retain control over the minds and wills of preclears. Fears of its abilities keep them in constant subjection. Its use can be so manipulated by cunningly phrased questions that almost any desired result can be obtained, and it is used unscrupulously to dominate students and staff alike. All the evil features of scientology are intensified where the E-meter is involved. When used in conjunction with hypnotic techniques, its evil impact is greatly increased. This simple electrical device is not, of course, the sole basis for the condemnation of scientology, but without the E-meter scientology would be partly disarmed."[29]


Mark Super VII Quantum E-meter, The previous standard model

As of January 2005, the cost of the Mark V was $900 and the Mark VII Super Quantum E-meter was US $4,650 (up from US $3,850 in 1995).[citation needed] Scientologists of the Free Zone have developed their own E-meter models which are available at much lower prices. They also offer circuit diagrams and instructions for building a meter.[citation needed]

Scientology's views on the device[edit]

L. Ron Hubbard sets out his theory of how the E-meter works in his book Understanding the E-Meter:

For the meter to be read, the tiny flow of electrical energy through the preclear (person) has to remain steady. When this tiny flow is changed the needle of the E-Meter moves. This will happen if the preclear pulls in or releases mental mass. This mental mass (condensed energy), acts as an additional resistance or lack of resistance to the flow of electrical energy from the E-Meter.

Hubbard claimed that this "mental mass" has the same physical characteristics, including weight, as mass as commonly understood by lay persons:

In Scientology it has been discovered that mental energy is simply a finer, higher level of physical energy. The test of this is conclusive in that a thetan "mocking up" (creating) mental image pictures and thrusting them into the body can increase the body mass and by casting them away again can decrease the body mass. This test has actually been made and an increase of as much as thirty pounds, actually measured on scales, has been added to, and subtracted from, a body by creating "mental energy." Energy is energy. Matter is condensed energy.

This text in Understanding the E-Meter is accompanied by three drawings. The first shows a man standing on a weighing scale, which reflects a weight of "150" (the units are not given). The next shows the man on the same scale, weighed down under a burden of "Mental Image Pictures", and the scale indicates a weight of "180". The last picture shows the man standing upright on the scale, now unburdened by "Mental Image Pictures" and with a smile on his face, while the scale again indicates a weight of "148".[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ America's Alternative Religions, by Timothy Miller, 1995, ISBN 0-7914-2398-0;page 386
  2. ^ "The Genesis of the Wheatstone Bridge" by Stig Ekelof discusses Christie's and Wheatstone's contributions, and why the bridge carries Wheatstone's name. Published in "Engineering Science and Education Journal", volume 10, no 1, February 2001, pages 37–40.
  3. ^ "Technically it is a specially developed 'Wheatstone Bridge' well known to electrically minded people as a device to measure the amount of resistance to a flow of electricity", L. R. Hubbard, in: "The Book Introducing the E-Meter", page 1. Quoted in: Kotzé report, The Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Scientology, 1972, Republic of South Africa. Section III, Chapter 8
  4. ^ "INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY REACHING FOR THE STARS". Nightline. 23 October 2009. ABC.
  5. ^ Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights by the European Court of Human Rights, ISBN 90-247-2383-3
  6. ^ Religionsfreiheit und Konformismus: Über Minderheiten und die Macht der Mehrheit, Gerhard Besier, 2004. ISBN 3-8258-7654-3 [1]
  7. ^ "A Place called Gold, St. Petersburg Times, 1998". Sptimes.com. 1998-10-25. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  8. ^ HCO WW Staff: Essential Information Every Scientologist Should Know, HCO Information Letter of 24 November 1963. Hubbard Communications Office, East Grinstead, Sussex, England. Quoted in: Kotzé report, The Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Scientology, 1972, Republic of South Africa. Section III, Chapter 8
  9. ^ a b Hubbard, L. Ron (1982). Understanding the E-Meter. Bridge Publications. ISBN 0-88404-078-X. 
  10. ^ "Official Scientology page on the E-meter". Scientology.org. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  11. ^ "30 Dumb Inventions". Life. 1968-01-01. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  12. ^ "Scientology Mythbusting with Jon Atack: The Tomato Photo!". tonyortega.org. 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  13. ^ "How the E-Meter works, Church of Scientology International". Scientology.org. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  14. ^ Hubbard, L Ron. "Unreading Questions and Items". HCO Bulletin 27 May 1970. 
  15. ^ Hubbard, L Ron. "SOP Goals". HCO Bulletin 18 February 1961. 
  16. ^ Hubbard, L Ron. "Floating Needles and End Phenomena". HCO Bulletin 20 February 1970. 
  17. ^ "Remember Venus?". TIME. 1952-12-22. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  18. ^ Corydon, Bent (1987). Messiah or Madman. Lyle Stuart. p. 313. 
  19. ^ Müller, Tilo (2010). Dianetik und Scientology in ihrem Anspruch als Wissenschaft. GRIN Verlag. p. 32. ISBN 978-3-640-58010-1. Mathison stated: "I decry the doings of trivial fakers, such as scientologists and the like, who glibly denounce hypnosis and then try covertly to use it in their phony systems" 
  20. ^ Janssen, Wallace (1993). "The Gadgeteers". In Stephen Barrett, MD, and William Jarvis, PhD (editors). The Health Robbers. A Close Look at Quackery in America. Prometheus Books, Buffalo NY. pp. 321–335. ISBN 0-87975-855-4. 
  21. ^ Christopher Riche Evans (1974). Cults of Unreason. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-13324-7.  Chapter 6.
  22. ^ Russell Miller (1987). "15. Visits To Heaven". Bare-Faced Messiah: The true story of L. Ron Hubbard. Key Porter Books. ISBN 1-55013-027-7. 
  23. ^ Secrets of Scientology: The E-Meter REFERENCE: Stephen Barrett, MD, and William Jarvis, PhD (editors), "The Health Robbers", Prometheus Books, Buffalo NY (1993). Chapter 23, "The Gadgeteers", by Wallace Janssen, pp. 321-335.
  24. ^ "Court Order - FDA - Scientology Dianetics Hubbard E-meter". Scribd.com. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  25. ^ Dianetics: self-improvement home study course, Bridge Publications, 2002.
  26. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/27/france.scientology.fraud/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn
  27. ^ AFP (17 October 2013). "Scientology's fraud conviction upheld in France". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  28. ^ a b "SCIENTOLOGY VENUS TRIP 'A DELUSION'.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (ACT: National Library of Australia). 2 June 1964. p. 27. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  29. ^ State of Victoria (1965) Report of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology p.96 http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Cowen/audit/ar14.html

External links[edit]