The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by XenuLovesU, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. XenuLovesU Member

    The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    There have been a few articles debunking Scientology's E-Meter, but most of them I've seen tend to dive off the scientific/electronic deep end very quickly without explaining how this device works in plain language.

    So, I'm going to take a stab at it.

    When you're on an E-Meter, you're essentially holding one end of a wire in your left hand, and the other end of a wire in your right hand.

    The E-Meter puts out a very, very small amount of electricity that passes from one hand to the other. The amount of electricity that makes it through your body is displayed on a gauge.

    The amount of electricity that makes it through your body is largely determined by how much contact you have with the "cans" (the two things that look, well, like cans that you hold). It is incredibly easy to alter how much electricity passes through you. Squeeze the cans tightly, and the needle will show a giant response. Hold the cans loosely, and you'll get a similar though opposite result.

    The box itself is measuring nothing more than that conductivity.

    There is one other, very small factor, that effects conductivity. That is the salinity of your skin. Your sweat has salt in it, and salt water is more conductive than just plain skin. Put another way, sweaty palms register more strongly than dry ones on an E-Meter.

    Some people, when they lie, do tend to sweat more. That's why skin conductance is one of the parameters that are measured when someone undergoes a polygraph test. That said, polygraph tests measure many other factors... including heart rate, respiration, tidal volume, along with skin conductance...

    ...and STILL are inadmissible in court because nobody has been able to conclusively show that these measures are reliable for proving anything.

    All a freakin' E-Meter does is measure how much electricity makes it from one hand, across a body, to the other. Squeezing the cans will easily throw off the measurement so much that it's impossible to discern whether movements in the needle were caused intentionally or due to changes in the amount of sweat someone secrets. Even small changes in how tightly the "cans" are held will cause massive jumps.

    This sort of junk science has been out there for decades.

    The same devices have been sold for years (at $20 a pop) to people who like to solder shit together.

    '70s vintage Radio Shack kit:


    Recent vintage Lego kit:


    These cute little kits measure EXACTLY the same thing the $4000+ E-Meter does... and are just as unreliable for measuring anything significant.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. mudkipstoat23 Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter in theory, could you just tense up and then relax, therefore putting less of your skin surface in contact with it and making the needle go down, repeatedly? That could be fun. WHOAH IT'S OFF THE SCALE!!! No, hang on a minute, it's gone WAY down. FUCK! THERE WE GO AGAIN!!!... do that for a couple of minutes and then ask them about Lisa McPherson?
  3. Floridanon407 Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    rofl i've been dying to just put on some of those liquid glove things, come up as "clear as a fuckin' bell" and bust out "oh yeah im an illegal preclear and been taking shrink drugs for years ^_^"

    if someone can find the thread posted about that can you send me a link so i can find the right stuff to use
  4. musketeerwang Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    Google/Ebay search for "Gloves in a Bottle" and/or "barrier cream".

    Informal testing with a "Relaxomat" GSR meter suggests to me that it would at the very least cause problems for the auditor. In a stress test situation, that would probably just lead to some furrowed brows and you going about your business. In full blown auditing, which none of us will ever get, it would damp your responses, whether relaxing or stressing, which I think *could* result in a "floating needle" (which in turn could mean a "win" and progression of your case).
  5. CantPickaName Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    One day they are going to kill somebody with a pacemaker!!!

  6. voiceless849 Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    You got all that correct. As an ex-scilo, I was once fairly adept at using one. Since it's basically an ohm meter, I also used mine a few times to diagnose electrical problems in my car. :whistle:

    Although it can be 'gamed', it's not trivial to do so. It does take some practice. When using an E-meter, it's not the amount of resistance that's important, it's the amount of change. An auditor is looking for changes in the characteristics of the needle, and it is pretty sensitive.

    The behavior of the e-meter is divided into categories, like "ticks", "falls", "dirty needle", "floating needle", etc. It's not that hard to see the difference between squeezing the cans harder or softer and a "real" read, so this rarely represents a problem.

    But for example, to get a "floating needle" (good!) you mentally remember a good thought, and when you want to get a read (a fall) you can willfully remember a time somebody sucker punched you or something.

    Most of the auditing is where the auditor has a long list of phrases that you are going to "run". So you sit there, and the auditor says something like

    "commited an overt?"
    "withheld an overt?"
    "failed to harm?"
    "told a lie?"

    on and on, pausing a few seconds between each one. (I made up the list above, but this type of question list isn't atypical) During that interval time, either the needle changes characteristics (called an "instant read") and the auditor asks you more, or it doesn't move and the auditor reads the next thing on the list.

    Now, if only all this resulted in people with perfect memories and vision who never got sick! Or even any verifiable long-term improvement?

    Oh, and not only do you have to pay $X,000 to get one, you also have to send it in to be "recertified' every year or two for a few hundred bux. They put in a new rechargable battery and put a sticker on the bottom so you know it's current.

    I'm sure e-meters are a great money maker for the Co$ since I can't imagine it costing more than $50 or so to manufacture one - the electronics are pretty basic.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    Can someone drop a components list for an home-brew e-meter?

    I'm especially interested in finding an accurate-enough display needle and the correct type of rehostat for the "tone arm."

    Finding parts for this Korean-war era technology is getting harder and harder as everthing goes digital.
  8. OpThetXVI Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    So other than using methods to increase skin resistance (barrier cream, antiperspirant spray etc.), would it be bad to have a very fine wire leading from one hand, up the sleeve, across body and down to other hand? Maybe connect them to finger rings. Make the auditor wonder why there's no movement at all...
    For the electronics wizards, incorporate a low-powered signal generator. Make that needle tap out your favourite meme-song...
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Top Grunge Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter passes an electronic signal through you and measures stuff?

    Could it tell me my BMI or Body fat percentage.....

    OH NOOOOOOOS!!!!!! This must be a covert e-meter then!!!! SCienos are everywhere!!!

  10. LocalSP Member

  11. DontMindMe Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    I don't see why not. Maybe that has something to do with the alleged mental mass of engrams. ;)
  12. ENSLAVER Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    Some tests that would be fun:

    Huge magnet in pants.
    12V battery attached to testicles.
    Hairspray/fast drying sealant on e-meter cans.
    When they hand them to you, stick one in your mouth and one in your butt and when they ask what you're doing pronounce "I thought this is how aliens did it".
    Pretend you are an e-meter auditor, come to clean out backed up thetans, don't forget your toilet plunger.

    In the end you can conduct exactly the same tests with an ampmeter set to the right setting. ($2-3 for cheapo ones)
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Samuel Hughes Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    They DO own Cisco, after all ...
  14. voiceless849 Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    Start by looking here:

    Biopotential Technology

    Searching online, look for "galvanic skin response"
  15. Name Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    I have an e-meter, I use it almost every day.

    Mine is digital.

    I don't find it hard to read at all, just takes practice.

    • Like Like x 1
  16. Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    Close, but not quite. An E-meter is a modified Wheatstone bridge, a resistance comparitor, rather than your standard ohm-meter. Ohm-meters don't have a (bullshit) "tone" dial (actually a rehostat, it has nothing to do at all with "tone"). Read the wiki page on the E-meter. Hubbard actually tried to patent the bog-standard ohm-meter in the 1950's, but FAILED, due to technicality that ohm-meters had already been around for a hundred fucking years.
  17. Anonymeep Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    I splorfed tea. Thanks very much.

    *goes to clean monitor*
  18. Anonydox Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter exactly would that one work in a similar way to the e-meter?
  19. XenuLovesU Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    ^ same principle. It passes a very small current through you (in this case from one finger to the other, instead of on hand to the other) and measures how much the voltage drops.

    The big difference between this and an e-meter is that the e-meter has a "bias" adjustment (that allows the operator to center the needle), whereas the Lego toy just displays a number.
  20. musketeerwang Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    The Relaxomat has that adjustment. You have to re-centre the readout as you use it using a dial that allows you to adjust for resistance. It has the sensitivity adjust as well.

    They're dirt cheap on Ebay. Fun to play with and to get the basic feel for how auditors might find "engrams" and then "run" them until the response flattens out.
  21. anonspilz Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    search for 'galvanic skin response' in google.

    btw: it isn't junk science - GSR is used in the medical biofeedback community. Conductivity measured through the body changes during times of stress due to body chemistry - most specifically sweaty palms, but there are other factors. Most GSR devices have a rehostat equivalent. The uses for GSR are very limited, and its powers have been exaggerated since the 50's.

    It is not the same as a polygraph. A polygraph measures several physiological responses, conductivity being one of them.

    I don't understand why people keep repeating that the E-Meter puts lots of electricity into the body. My voltmeter didn't show barely anything when I tested mine. Is there real evidence of this outside of that guy's (can't remember his name) wacky E-Meter electromagnetic/brainwashing conspiracy theory?
  22. anonspilz Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    Mind Modulations - Product Catalog - Biofeedback & Light/Sound Mind Machines
    The 'ThoughtStream' is $104, highly accurate & includes sensitivity adjustment - connects to PC via Serial Port and includes graphing software.
  23. WindandGhosts Member

    Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    I have a really nerdy T-Shirt that says:

    "Resistance is futile ov\/\/\/vo "

    Perhaps I'll wear it some day.
  24. Re: The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter

    Thanks for the link, but that's not what I'm looking for. I want to build my own. It's a home-brew/hardware-hacker thing. Looking at the schematics, I've built a lot more complicated things than an E-meter. I'm far more willing to believe that I'm all covered in dead space aliens than believe that a type-VII is actually WORTH $4000.

    (actually, I want to build one, then make it all "steampunk" looking, and get a mention in Boingboing)
  25. Anonymous Member

    History of The Meter
    as we know it

    Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), Swiss doctor and psychologist. A close associate of Sigmund Freud for a number of years, then went his own ways. C.G. Jung first reported on his findings of using a GSR Meter in 1907 in an article in "Journal of Abnormal Psychology". A summary in German is quoted below. It is from a German Bio feed-back website at:
    The first scientist known to have used a Meter in psychological research was Tarchinoff, who in 1888 discovered the phenomenon of skin resistance. He found that a person's resistance to the passage of a tiny electric current through hand held electrodes would vary according to the subject's emotional state. The simple psycho-galvanometer he invented to investigate this phenomenon was one of the earliest tools of psychological research.

    History of the GSR Meter, E-Meter, Ohm-Meter, Polygraph, Galvano-Meter, Electropsycho-Meter, Pneu-Meter, etc. in psychological research.
    From Sobra Net:
    The Ohm-meter:
    A wheatstone bridge measures changes in resistance. Ohm’s law is E=IR tells us voltage is related to amperage and resistance. The nervous system operates with electrical impulses that are affected by one’s physical, mental and spiritual condition. Today, meters used in research measure the changes in resistance that affect the body. An un-influenced female body registers at 5000 ohms; an un-influenced male body at 12,500 ohms.
    In 1888, Tarchinoff discovered the phenomenon of skin resistance. He found that a person's resistance to the passage of a tiny electric current through hand held electrodes would vary according to the subject's emotional state. The simple psycho-galvanometer he invented to investigate this phenomenon was one of the earliest tools of psychological research.
    An axiom originated by Freud is that we are restricted from realizing more than a fraction of our full potential because of the repressed negative content of the unconscious mind: negative fears, resentments, motivations and dislikes. When the content is made conscious and confronted, it dissolves and loses its power to restrain thought and action. The meter is an effective diagnostic tool and time-saver in helping to locate this negative content. An adept doesn’t have to spend years of blind probing to find out the root of a problem. With professional training he can find and identify any negative energy caused by sources of resistance affecting a person, then help him discharge it.
    In, Studies in Word Analysis, published by Carl Gustav Jung in 1906, he describes a technique for connecting the subject, via hand electrodes, to an instrument measuring changes in the resistance --while words are read to him from a prepared list. If a word on this list was emotionally charged, there was a change in body resistance that caused a deflection of the needle on the galvanometer.
    This method of research was again referred to in a 1926 text entitled Experimental Psychology by Mary Collins and James Dreaver, lecturers in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. At that time, others were also researching the electrical characteristics of emotion and thought. Semon in his book The Mneme, circa 1915, defines an ‘engram’ as the permanent change produced within an organism from a stimulus, where a trace of the experience of that stimulus is "written on" the organism and forms part of memory. When the stimulus is repeated, the nerve energy flows through this new engram causing an aberrant reaction. Knowledge of these findings was widespread in the 1920's and are referred to in a classroom text called The Psychology of the Thinker by l.B. Saxby, Lecturer in Education at the University College, Cardiff.
    The early psycho-galvanometer was not simple to use. It had no amplification and it remained as a specialized laboratory instrument until the development of more sophisticated amplifiers in the 1930's.
    A number of biofeedback instruments have been invented, including the Electroencephalograph. The EEG is used by a wide range of therapists. Janov used the EEG to evaluate the effectiveness of cathartic therapy. Osteopaths have used a modified form of skin resistance meter for diagnostic purposes.
    In the late 1940's an independent American researcher, Volney Mathison, working with the Polygraph Lie-detector kindled a renewed interest in the earlier work of Jung and others. When a person was reminded of certain past events, the needle in the detector would jump erratically --the degree of jump was in proportion to the strength of the unconscious reaction. In skilled hands a meter could be used to locate a particular content, its location in space and time, and the amount of force contained within..
    This work led to the development of the modern meter designed to register general mental and emotional responses of a person to a word, question or situation, rather than as a lie-detector. These meters are several times more sensitive than lie-detectors.
    In 1952, Volney Mathison presented these ideas to Ron Hubbard. He and his auditors were using Dianetics to ‘Clear’ people --based upon the mind as a computer type model where the engrams could be erased. Later, Hubbard’s version of the meter known as the E-Meter (Electro-psychometer) was put into widespread use in conjunction with his auditing procedures --a few of which resembled Jung's method of reading a list of words while the individual under analysis held the electrodes. Some words would trigger a response -- once the locked-up energy was discharged from the situation or concept under discussion, the meter would no longer respond to that word or
  26. Mafiawog Member

    Not sure which pages you're reading which quickly "go off the deep end" of the electronics portion... most descriptions of the meter are akin to the OP's description. Which was pretty much spot on.

    Here's my 10 responses/fun facts for this particular thread topic:

    1) - From the legendary Dr. T, this has what I think is the best collection of e-meter info out there. Even a dissection of a Mark VI.

    2) From the above page, here are schematics from Hubbub's original patent application.. (, and the parts list (

    3) Schematics for a homebrew mark v (

    4) The site above has some dead links to other meters (look into the C-meter, computer interfaced one)...dead links but the names of these products may be a decent starting point.

    5) It was Arnie Lerma who talked/wrote about electroplating and endorphins (not brainwashing)... on his site, but has to do with his hypothesis of the e-meter triggering dopamine/etc. release in the brain.

    6) Auditors supposedly can differentiate between a true read and a "can squeeze", per their training.

    7) It isn't quite the same as biofeedback, since the person who is connected to the meter doesn't see the needle, only the auditor does. I've always wondered about how easy it would be to take advantage of this, like an auditor seeing a floating needle during a sec check, but ignoring it to justify continual interrogation...hmmm..

    8) Because they're retarded, Scns don't realize that its "precision instrument" (e-meter) has a major flaw ...too much surface area (and therefore, variability) in the hands-to-cans interface. There's no _logical_ reason this couldn't be remedied nowadays, like using the finger cuffs in the LEGO-GSR photo. But like I said... logical reasoning required.

    9) Ehrlich (or Lerma...?) wrote about how the newer meters used a specific brand of needle module which was really touchy so it would bounce around a lot. Again, nowadays this is just retarded, since a computer could easily be used; the PC plugs in their USB finger cuffs, the computer could even automatically do all the tone arm action (during metering the auditor has to turn a dial on the left side to the left or right in an attempt to get the needle to remain at the starting "set" point). Plus the computer could record, play back, print out, etc. entire sessions with audio and video synced. Point is, there are way better ways to do this, but remember, the CoS is always behind the times (first release of LRH on CD was in 2000)

    10) Lastly, Hubbard himself suggested that if a PC was not getting good reads on a meter, have him use some hand lotion and try again. He basically was acknowledging the fact that common external variables like moisture have a direct effect on the meter! But of course, nobody thought this was odd, and likely lauded LRH for his "wisdom" ...or wisdumb, your pick.
    • Like Like x 1
  27. Congrats on the thread necro....
    but anyways... there are easier ways to totally screw with the meter. One way is to use salted thread on your hands to bridge the 2 cans which will slam the needle, and because they don't typically use protectors, fry the components.

    Also lawling at the USB variant. I've heard those do exist... but again your right the CoS will likely never get that far, hopefully we will have dismantled them before they start being practical in computers.
  28. Zak McKracken Member

    The best part about this necro?

    It highlights one of the few non-negotiable, complete and utter failures of Chanology.
    One of the only ones I can think of, with no justification, no excuse and nothing learned or salvaged.


    a moment of silence dear friends.
  29. Anonymous Member

    8) and 9) are interesting, and it gives a clue into how much self-control can lead to suggestiveness.
    If the cans are so "touchy" then the ability of those using it to "conform" their behavior to be as still as possible to counter that increases, which probably hasn't been discussed so much as a type of mind control.
  30. Mafiawog Member


    Must learn to zoom in on posting dates when reading on my phone... RSS feed says "new post!", and I just get all retarded.

    Ah well, info is still valid. Just consider it a belated reply.

    I wonder if any of the kinkier Scns have ever modified their meters to use alligator (sorry, "crocodile", as Hub called them) clips or insertable plugs made of conductive material.. The DP-Meter upgrade package, if you will.

    May the thread rest, until it is summoned again in a couple of years...
  31. I don't get it... a failure of Chanology? Please explain
  32. Anonymous Member

  33. Anon-V Member

    We could have some fun with the scientologists by making the gauge go up and down really fast.
  34. Natter Bored Member

    Confirmed, yes. Very easy to spot a can squeeze.

    E-meter training includes stuff like spotting body motions, deep breathing, change of hand grip on the cans. I never did the new GAT e-meter, just the old stuff, so I don't know what the new drills are.
  35. BigBeard Member

    The only real difference between an 'e-meter' and a wheatstone bridge is the e-meter uses an undamped meter. Which means it's twitchier than all get out to minute changes of impedance/resistance from whatever/whoever is attached to the leads. Which is also why it has the extreme needle movements El Ron gave all those cute names to, while the damped meter of a wheatstone bridge actually lets you get some useful information without beating the meter to death.

  36. Anonymous Member

    Yeah, because no one ever accidentally touches the cans together.
  37. Jeff Jacobsen Member

    So you've had enough time now. Did you build it?
  38. anon8109 Member

    meadowpartyvan was last seen:
    May 24, 2008
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