E-Meter and OT Auditing

The E-meter (Electropsychometer) used in Dianetics and Scientology auditing is described as follows.

“An electronic instrument for measuring mental state and change of state in individuals, as an aid to precision and speed in auditing… the meter tells you what the preclear’s mind is doing when the preclear is made to think of something. The meter registers before the preclear becomes conscious of the datum. It is therefore a pre-conscious meter.”

The preclear (person being audited) holds two cans that are connected to the E-meter. The meter reads when the mind of the preclear reacts to the auditing question. Obviously, this reaction is automatic, and not the result of any conscious thought. So, the meter cannot tell you anything about what the preclear’s mind is doing beyond registering an automatic reaction.

But the preclear himself can detect, the automatic mental reaction the moment it occurs, and in a much more intimate fashion. The meter is not really necessary.

The meter itself does not discover any datum. It is the investigation triggered by the detection of the mental reaction that helps discover the data in auditing.

For example, when you study you know intimately when something does not make sense. You can narrow down any misunderstanding from a chapter to a paragraph to a sentence to a word. You can do this precisely without any aid.

The intimate reaction in the mind is always accompanied by a knowingness. You never have to search for an answer when there is an actual mental reaction.


E-meter versus Internal Sense

It seems that Hubbard never considered the possibility that the preclear could himself sense the mental reaction in auditing. This is because the people he started his research with were patients in hospitals who were quite sick. So, he did not have much cooperation from the research subjects. This research of Hubbard led to Dianetics, which explores the psychosomatic cause of disabilities. Here the E-meter is demonstrably a useful tool.

But later, when Hubbard’s research expanded into Scientology, he was no longer dealing with Dianetic engrams that existed below the level of consciousness. He was dealing with fixations of ideas in people. The auditing approach allowed easier gradient for spotting things. The people on whom these auditing processes were applied were more willing and cooperative.

The fact is that by the time a person is through basic Scientology exercises such as TR0, and some auditing, his internal senses are trained enough to detect mental reactions. And after he has achieved the state of Clear, he can be expected to perceive mental reactions better than the E-meter.

But Hubbard continued with the use of E-meter in Scientology.


Correction Lists

E-meter still is a handy device when auditing new people on the lower grades in Scientology. But as the person moves up the Grade Chart, the successes become fewer and far in between, and the use of “Correction Lists” proliferates. The very fact that one has to use correction lists in auditing points to errors. These errors become more frequent as one goes up the Grade Chart.

This situation of errors becoming more frequent led Hubbard to introduce complex administrative actions as part of the auditing procedure so one could trace the causes of errors and prevent them from occurring. But this did not handle the situation.

Hubbard always blamed auditors for making errors, because from his viewpoint the auditing processes could not be faulted. However, in spite of the best efforts made to train auditors, the errors in auditing continued.

Hubbard never suspected problem with the E-meter.


Background Noise

There is always a background noise in the mind in the form of constant mental chatter. If you sit still for a moment and not think, you will soon become aware of this chatter that goes on continuously. This background noise also makes the meter needle move randomly, which appears like “static”, especially at high sensitivity. In auditing, the auditor is reading the meter against this background static. He can read the meter correctly as long as the meter reaction is distinct from the background static.

But as the preclear moves up the Grade Chart, the meter reaction get smaller and become more difficult to differentiate from the background static. Therefore, the reads to auditing questions are more often missed or taken up falsely. This leads to “overrun” in auditing and case difficulties, which now require “correction lists” to handle.

There is no evidence that Hubbard investigated this background noise.



The principle of auditing is that one should take up only those items to which the mind reacts. The answer to auditing question follows the reaction almost immediately. Ask yourself for your favorite vacation spot, and the mind will immediately react followed by the knowledge of that favorite spot.

When you ask the preclear a question to which there is no reaction, the preclear does not have knowingness for the answer. He starts to search into the mind, and when he doesn’t get an answer anxiety sets in. This is called “self-auditing” in Scientology.

Self-auditing occurs in auditing sessions when the meter is not read correctly.

Hubbard had placed strict injunction against self-auditing because things can go dangerously awry when a person engages in it. But he could not stop it from happening in auditing sessions.

Unfortunately, Hubbard never suspected the inherent limitation of the E-meter.


The Discipline of Auditing

The questions to which the mind does not react should be strictly left alone. When in doubt it is safer to leave the question and not take it up.

The discipline is not very different from mindfulness taught by Buddha twenty-five centuries ago. Hubbard considered Buddhism to be the ancestor of Scientology.

Mindfulness simply means, “Observe things as they are.” We find this concept appearing in Scientology as OBNOSIS (observing the obvious) and AS-IS-NESS.

When this principle is applied in auditing, a “no reaction” should be observed as a “no-reaction” and no further action should be taken.

The 12 aspects of mindfulness are as follows:

  1. Observe without getting influenced by your expectations and desires.
  2. Observe things as they are, without assuming anything.
  3. If something is missing do not imagine something else in its place.
  4. If something does not make sense, do not explain it away.
  5. Use physical senses as well as the mental sense to observe.
  6. Let the mind un-stack itself.
  7. Experience fully what is there. 
  8. Do not suppress anything from yourself.
  9. Associate data freely.
  10. Do not get hung up on name and form.
  11. Contemplate thoughtfully.
  12. Let it all be effortless.

With mindfulness, a person can easily differentiate the mental reaction from the background noise even when it cannot be differentiated on the meter. He will know when there is no reaction.

When the person feels that there is no-reaction to a question or an item, he must not take it up, even when it reacts on the E-meter.

This enables a person to become free of the liability of the E-meter and audit himself much faster up the OT Levels.


OT Levels

By the time the person reaches the OT Levels in Scientology, the auditing becomes so slow that these levels take years to complete. The person must note down all the meter reads and perform other administrative details in his solo auditing to be able to trace back any errors. This becomes a big distraction, but he is required to do it.

OT Level 1 attempts to broaden the viewpoint of a person by the use of OBNOSIS (observing the obvious), so the use of E-meter is minimal. But on OT Level 2, the E-meter is used heavily to flatten the reads on an incredible number of significances generated by large permutations and combinations of basic concepts. It is a grinding process.

When a read is generated by some emotional reaction or a misunderstood word then simply grinding that read down makes no sense. This makes OT Level 2 a shot gun method to handle some valid reactions on significances. But most of the time one seems to be chasing questionable reads on a whole lot of significances.



The use of E-meter is increasingly unnecessary as one moves up the Grade Chart of Scientology. By the time one reaches the OT Levels, E-meter becomes more of a liability than aid. The E-meter should be replaced by the discipline of auditing as described above.

When the person feels that there is no-reaction to a question or an item, he must not take it up, even when it reacts on the E-meter.

This conclusion is vital when it comes to the OT Levels.


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