Over at  Strange Herring Anthony Sacramone, remarking on a  New Yorker piece on Scientology, has it in mind to start a religion. Can’t say as I blame him; it does pay. Story goes, in fact, that Scientology got its start exactly that way.

L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer back in the days when science fiction was worth about two cents a word, is said to have decreed to a gathering of fellow writers that religion was where the real money could be found. Dianetics was the result, promoted in part by the otherwise legendary editor of  Astounding Science Fiction , John Campbell. Dianetics was published in 1950, the same year as another pseudoscience work,  Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky.

Despite the thorough thrashing the two books received at the hand of critics, both became best sellers—which raises the not insensitive question of why Americans pay so much attention to the  New York Times best sellers list.

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