The Experiment

     A helpful technique in planning experimentation is the use of a diagrammatic representation of the design. This is an aid to communication and understanding of the procedure.  It is suggested that more experimenters might profitably make use of this technique.
     The value of the analysis of variance of complex factors is greatest in obtaining knowledge of factors, which might significantly affect the variables. Rather than incurring the expense of an elaborate setup (in an ideal situation), which makes perfect provision for all contingencies, an estimate of that result may be achieved with the method, which is herein offered.  Although the analysis of variance of complex factors is not a finite statistic in any sense, it does deal effectively with small samples of variables and their interrelationships. It is an indicator of whether or not further research is needed and where.  Therefore, one may more profitably make use of large samples and the greater definitive means afforded by intercorrelations, regression, matched groups, etc.
     The design used in this study is a modification of a more perfect procedure.  This change was necessitated by practical limitations, which were outlined in the text.  Limitations must always be recognized. But we may still hold before us a more perfect goal. This more ideal experiment would include the following:


The variable to be investigated (therapy)

A. Sampling of facets of operation (levels of personality efficiency, intellectual functioning, intellectual capacity, etc.)

B. Measures of each facet

   1. I.Q. (verbal, non-verbal, total)
   2. Mathematics (fundamentals, reasoning)
   3. Etc.

C. Sampling of measure of each facet

   1. Verbal I.Q. (SRA Verbal Form, Wechsler-Bellevue Verbal I.Q., etc.)
   2. Etc.


Demonstrated and suspected controls

A. Age

   1. Group one
   2. Etc.

B. Socioeconomic status

   1. Group one
   2. Etc.

C. Previous therapy

   1. Therapy one
      a. Amount group one

      b. Etc.
   2. Etc.

D. Present therapy

   1. None
   2. Some
   3. More
   4. Still More

E. Etc.


 The population of which description and prediction are desirable

     An adequate small sample (37) for each of the sets of independent conditions is described as: age group one, therapy group one, sex group one, etc.  The number 37 for the sample size is chosen because it is small enough to be practical and yet large enough to be more than suggestive. It will be noted that 37 is one greater than a perfect square.  This facilitates computation since the formulas for small samples call for the square root of the sample size minus one.  In the event that the total sample size is not practical because of time, money, etc., it is recommended that expense be cut down in the sampling of the independent conditions rather than in the sampling of variables.  This will give less surety in the tendencies of the data but will, at least, enable an intelligent interpretation of the information obtained concerning all the variables and controls.

IV. The Situation

     In some instances, evidence—both logical and experimental—may indicate that response will vary with the situation.  This may be related to the weather, geographical location, illumination, dietary factors, etc.  Should this be suspected, the measurement of the factors would provide some idea of their influence upon response.

V. The Sampling

     In experimentation, it is always the least desirable solution to proceed on the basis of random sampling in the attempt to obviate the influence of uncontrolled variables. If the variable is important enough to merit the experimenter’s attempt to equalize its influence, then it is important enough to measure. The measurement, for this method, need not be highly refined and may, in many instances, be confined to categorization—either real or systematic.  For example, I.Q. need not be numerically determined as the score on the measure but, rather, as the category into which that score falls (average, superior, etc.).  In this instance, there is good reason to believe that categorization is even more adequate a measure than the raw number since the scores may result in artificial relationships that are statistical accidents of the numbers involved.
     It is inferred that randomization in justified only when the available evidence, both experimental and logical, reveals that no further variables may influence the experiment.

Dianetic Therapy

     This research has demonstrated that dianetic therapy—as practiced by trained expert dianetic therapists—does not exert a systematic influence upon the individual’s functioning in the areas of intelligence, mathematics, and personality conflicts.  This statement is not being advanced as a claim for the general applicability of these findings.  The results are presented as having significance within the limits of the sampling of both the subjects and the measuring instruments and, therefore, is restricted to similar populations only.
     Since the three areas sampled are important aspects of personality adjustment, and since neither positive nor negative movement in these areas results from dianetic therapy, one may infer that no systematic change in character structure or personality functioning results from this therapeutic technique.  However, this interpretation neither denies nor affirms that other changes may have taken place under the impetus of the therapeutic situation.
     If one conceives of personality as an integrated functioning of all the facets of human activity, including hereditary, congenital, constitutional and psychological components, then it might be reasonably expected that changes impinging upon one area would have measurable effects upon the other areas.  Thus, a significant alteration in one or more of the functions studied in the investigation (mathematical ability, intellectual functioning, and personality conflicts) should have some noticeable effect upon one or more of the others.  It seems important to take into account the fact that the proponents of dianetics are aware of this condition and have not dealt directly with mathematical ability or intellectual functioning.  Their claims of improvement in these two areas are conceived as the result of a direct attack upon personality conflicts.  Since no significant change in the population studied results from dianetic therapy in any of the three areas measured, it may well be inferred that, in fact, the dianetic therapy has consistently failed in respect to its specific goals.
     It is possible that the proponents of dianetics may revise their claims in terms of the number of hours needed to effect significant changes.  It may be that extended therapy (dianetic will result in significant improvement; however, the data provide no hint of such a direction. In fact, this study tends to demonstrate that there are decrements in the scores measuring functioning in the three areas.  It is more likely that, with continuation of the therapy, the trend of the data would persist rather than be reversed.
     Still, if dianetic therapy has only a chance effect, it would be contraindicated for those patients whose illness is progressive.  In such cases, there is danger that a false sense of security will be engendered and the patient will not have the opportunity to receive a more appropriate therapy.
     A possibility involving danger for the mental status of the patient is the method of therapy.  This procedure releases unconscious material by relaxation of conscious controls. In the event that a patient’s problem is his difficulty in controlling such unconscious material, then this method can have nothing but a seriously disturbing effect.
     In the appraisal of any psycho-therapeutic technique, the role of the therapist (auditor) is of primary importance.  It seems curious that in dianetic therapy the auditor is an insignificant figure whose skill is inconsequential and whose training, therefore, is perfunctory and superficial.  It is difficult to comprehend how any lay person with little appreciation for the complexities of human thought and behavior could, in the space of four weeks, become qualified in practicing an art for which other therapies require so high an order of professional competence.  It is doubtful that in any therapy the training and ability of the therapist can be de-emphasized, as is the case of dianetics.
     It seems that the reservations expressed in scientific circles about dianetic therapy are well founded.  If a method is based upon loosely documented theory, then there is little hope for the efficacy of the method.  The results of this study should serve as an example that a theoretical groundwork should be most thoroughly laid out before its tenets are tested.  Dianetic theory seems to have been developed through an eclectic approach that takes material out of context from other theoretical formulations and molds them to fit a contention which is not only unestablished (the memory engram) but which has much evidence against it.

Table of Contents | Index

Brought to you by:
Operation Clambake