But the finding is a very, very interesting finding and a strange commentary on a line in Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, a very strange commentary. It said, “Man is basically good.” The duress required to make man worse is so tremendous that I do not believe there is known to the communist today, as he operated in the Korean War, any technique that would have worsened the IQ or actual ability of a human being.1
Now, you’ve heard about brainwashing. I happened recently to have gotten hold of the totality of information contained in the book written by Pavlov for Stalin and which hitherto has never been outside the doors of the Kremlin. I have that book. I’ve tried to boil it down and write it simply because it is an interesting book. It tells the researches of one man. And I can’t write that bad! I actually can’t. You think I’m fooling. I can’t write this book. I can’t boil it down. I all of a sudden start filling in all the missing pieces. No, that’s right. You would too! You would!2
You know so much more about the mind than this guy did that you’d start writing and you’d say, “Boy, did he miss it there. Well, it really is this way. And then it…” And I’ve started that thing about four different times trying to make a quick synopsis of it to select out the salient pieces on which Pavlov operated because I think it might be of interest to people. And I just pick it up and throw it on the back of the desk. I just can’t do it. One of these days I’ll be less of a prima donna with my pen.
No, but actually that’s true. This book is mentioned, by the way in—I think his name is—Edward Hunter’s book on brainwashing, which is currently selling here in the United States. And this book is a fascinating book. It’s about 400 pages long and it tells how all of Pavlov’s experiments on dogs could be applied to human beings in order to produce a certain given result and that is the text of the book. 3
That book never left the Kremlin. Pavlov was not permitted to leave the Kremlin while he was writing that book and he was later more or less held in arrest but he didn’t realize it to the end of his life. And they started using this in the spy—not the spy trials but the trials of communist officials. Remember, back in the 30s, all of a sudden the world was startled at all these top Russian leaders confessing to everything? Well, I don’t know whether they did or not. Nobody has confessed on this pattern since—or using the same material. And nobody did it in the Korean War.
Along with that I have a summation… I wanted to write a little book called—a technical book on brainwashing, and the only reason I wanted to write this book is because it is not effective. Brainwashing is not effective. I repeat that. It is not effective. It does not do a job. Evidently a certain small percentage of people can be driven mad if you sneeze at them, but they’re mad already. And on these people brainwashing works. But it’s such a small percentage that it’s hardly worth bothering with. The number of man-hours concerned in brainwashing one human being is about twice as many hours as were consumed by a Dianetic preclear in 1950! Two or three thousand.
Now, look-a-here, what are we all spooking about this thing called brainwashing for? It’s a hoax—a hoax of the first order of magnitude. The communist can’t brainwash anybody that isn’t brainwashed. He can’t do it; he doesn’t know how.
Now, you could doubt this because you’ve heard an awful lot about these terrible duresses of brainwashing and you even heard it from me and you heard it from other people but I had to get down and look. So I—having looked—I might as well tell you that I picked the cover of it up and peeked under the edge of it and found something about as—well, I suppose it’s much more dangerous to put small firecrackers in your mouth and light them. It’s probably much more dangerous than to get brainwashed.
They did such a bad job and they know so little about the mind that it makes a Scientologist just go, “No! No! We ought to get over and show those guys how!”
Brainwashing. This book I was going to write was a summation of the actual effects that it had on cases. You see, I knew a lot of Japanese war prisoners. In the last part of the war and so forth, I was actually interviewing quite a number of Japanese war prisoners as they were returned from prison camps. I was interviewing these chaps and taking down their experiences. They weren’t being brainwashed. They were simply starved. Japanese weren’t doing anything to them. They were in worse shape than the brainwashed Korean prisoner! And these guys talk about brainwashing!4
It’s one of these propaganda weapons. That’s all it is. They say, “We have this terrific weapon called brainwashing—we’re going to brainwash everybody.” Well it would be awfully dangerous if they could. But do you know there is practically not a person in this room that would be permanently harmed by brainwashing except as it related to being starved and kept under conditions of duress. In other words, if you put a guy into a military stockade and fed him poorly for two or three years he’s going to be in secondhand condition, isn’t he?
Male voice: Yeah.
Well, that’s just exactly the effect brainwashing had on them. It had no more effect than this.
If I myself had not known and seen and talked to and interviewed and made the official records of many Japanese prisoners of war, I too, would have been shocked by brainwashing. But remember, the Japanese prisoner of war was not brainwashed, he was simply kept as a prisoner of war under duress, had very little food and very little rest and not much medical treatment over a period of years. And that’s rough. But the Japanese prisoner of war was in worse shape than those held by Chinese communists and brainwashed for two years! That’s something to think about, isn’t it?
Boy, they tried. And all they succeeded in doing was making a good game which took the ennui out of being in prison! 5
- Hubbard claimed that he used Dianetics on Korean POWs in 1954 to eradicated the results of Russian brainwashing. Dianetics Today (p. 467) © 1976 ↩
- There are at least two versions of the Brainwashing manual in existence. See also: Operational Bulletin No. 8. ↩
- See Edward Hunter’s 1956 book: Brainwashing; the story of men who defied it, especially Chapter “The Secret Manuscript.” PDF format on archive.org. ↩
- Hubbard and Scientology claim that Hubbard did much of his research at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, where he hypnotized mental patients and POWs and where he gained access to navy experiments and medical records by impersonating a medical doctor. ↩
- Hubbard, L. R. (1956, 2 September). The Effectiveness of Brainwashing. Games Congress Lectures, (5609C02). Lecture conducted from Washington, DC. ↩