Hana Whitfield Guest Post: What Happened when Hubbard Used the Data Series Himself?

The Data Series is Hubbard’s “special sauce” for how to analyze an organization and either fix what’s broken or improve what’s working.  Today’s post features Hana Whitfield, who spent years working directly for L. Ron Hubbard in the 1960s and 1970s.  She recalls a story of Hubbard using the Data Series “tech” to fix a problem in the organization.

The ending of the story surprised me, and I’ll try to fit what happened into the overall context of the multi-part critique of the Data Series that Chris Shelton, Dr. Jeff Wasel and I have been doing.  There are already two videos on Chris’s YouTube channel. Click for Part 1 and here for Part 2.  We’ll have several more parts to go in the coming weeks.   Understanding the Data Series is key to understanding why the Scientology organization will ultimately fail.  

Take it away, Hana!

Hana Whitfield, in a still from the “Going Clear” documentary

The Old Man’s The Data Series  – Way Back When …

The Authority and Verification Unit, or AVU, was established on the Royal Scotman in December 1972.  Placed under the oversight of LRH Personal Communicator in Division 7, it was responsible for ensuring that every evaluation and its ensuing programs, projects and orders done on board complied with LRH tech and policy – a huge and completely un-delightful job.  I headed up the unit with Clarisse Jackson to help.

The unit was set up in a rush.  LRH was in jeopardy of being ordered to France to appear in a lawsuit against a Scientologist and a Scientology Organization.  Even worse, France and Portugal had an extradition treaty … so the Old Man had to leave Portugal.  Even Ken Urquhart, LRH’s Personal Communicator, was speeding around in an unaccustomed way.

At first, Clarice and I worked in the Unit.  Soon, two more people were added, then another.  We ended up a staff of six including a messenger.  The place hopped all day, every day for a year while LRH was gone – with evaluations and their programs, projects and orders for organizations around the world flowing in to AVU and out again to their originators and then off the ship to their organizations and individuals via mail or telex.

After his return to the Royal Scotman a year later, LRH occasionally got onto the communication line between the AVU line to check on the quality of Programs Chiefs as well as our work, and to issue cramming orders, bellow instructions, and so on.  It began happening with regularity and I wondered if we could make use of LRH’s insights.

I got the idea to try something because LRH knew how to evaluate!  When the European Scientology production statistics crashed in the early 1970’s, Hubbard evaluated all Scientology organizations in that continent including the Continental organization.  He was at it for days.  Messengers ran to CIC – the Command Information Center – all day collecting specific data files and statistic sheets for the organizations in question and taking them up the Hubbard in his research room.  Then they took them back down to CIC.  They ran messages to Program Chiefs and Aides asking what had happened here or there.

I happened to walk by the Research Room on A Deck during this massive sprint and saw Hubbard in his office, his large desk covered with folders, some open, peering at papers scattered around.  He was so intent on the work that he did not see me pass.

After he completed the evaluations, they were implemented and the European production statistics went up and remained on a steady uptrend for the next several years.  I was in awe of the Old Man’s ability to apply his Data Series policies.

Of course, anything LRH wrote was deemed “special” or even “sacred.  His policies, bulletins, directives, evaluations, programs and orders were always given priority and he wrote policy to that effect.  (HCOPL March 13, 1966, Orders, Precedence of Personnel, Titles of).  It wasn’t all that surprising that the European statistics went on that climb.  I remember alerting AVU staff to be extra careful that no orders conflicted with Hubbard’s European evaluations and programs.

That success spawned what I thought was a brilliant idea.  I had copy paper approved in our financial planning one week so we could copy every evaluation – each consisted of a few pages – before we sent it to LRH and do the same with his approval or instruction for correction.  I wanted to package each set as instructional material for Data Series students.  I thought it would be help Data Series students see how the Old Man did it!

My staff and I got set to use a large copy machine down a ways in the tween desks from our office.  When our staff had authorized and verified an evaluation or written a correction memo, one of us dashed to the copy machine, copied the evaluation and our notes, and then dashed up the stairs to the messenger waiting at LRH’s office.  Copy machines weren’t high speed in those days – so it took a little longer to get each eval to LRH.

Within about 20 minutes, a messenger arrived saying we had to speed up the line.  I went into Hubbard’s office and explained what I was trying to do.  I apologized for not letting him know beforehand, and said I never knew when he would jump on that line.  He peered at me, his eyes got bright, and he nodded.  “Good idea!” he said.  I leapt down those stairs four at a time, as I always did in my more limber days, burst into AVU and said, “We’re on!”  We scurried around copying evaluations to go up to the Old Man.  I was delighted; we would soon have valuable instructional material for AVU staff as well as Data Series students.

But it was not to be.  Before another twenty minutes had passed, a harried messenger rushed into AVU saying LRH had cancelled the copying of evaluations.  “The Commodore says it’s taking too long!  They are to go straight to him!  And then straight back to the originator!”

I felt utterly confused and defeated.  Wanted to give up.  What the heck was wrong with the Old Man?  Couldn’t he see that providing ‘source’ information on how to correct evaluations was invaluable?  Could he not see it would increase org income?

I calmed down … let it all go … and went back to simply “doing.”

It was only later on that I wondered if Hubbard did not dare anyone see his corrections for fear he could have been criticized, or they could be faulty in some way or improved upon.

AVU was successful in approving evaluations that improved organizational production.  But even though the unit had a modicum of altitude, we worked under the constant fear of approving something incorrect, crashing orgs and failing the Old Man, and his establishment of the RPF and the fear of being found a Rock Slammer and thus destined for “hell” did not help.  In addition, it was well known that the most successful Scientology and Sea Org organizations, as well as the Sea Org Missions sent from the ship to correct external organizations, were led by dedicated, energized and pro-active Sea Org members and Scientologists who were risk takers and dared to step outside the box.  And only the bravest or most stupid performed that way.

John P.’s Analysis of Hana’s Story

I think this story makes a very interesting point about the Data Series.  It can work, but possibly for reasons that don’t have a lot to do with the Data Series itself.

Clearly, Hubbard’s position as “Source” in the organization caused a lot of people to work a lot harder for the European repair project than the organization in a normal state.  And because he had so many people at his beck and call collating data and going back repeatedly and getting progressively more on-point data, he had enough data to make good decisions.  I suspect that the process of having people at headquarters, such as Hana in the AVU aboard the ship, or wherever it was located after that, would write the evals and draft the plan to fix the situation once, and it would not be subject to revisions and updates based on new data, as it would be in the new world.

Hubbard also made all his decisions superior to that from all other staff.  That prevents a lot of conflict that normal output from the Data Series would have with other pre-existing programs. When Hubbard decided on the solution to fix Europe, the staff didn’t have to balance the program he created against all the other potentially conflicting programs being handed down by other people at HQ.  Hubbard’s had priority, and the people writing programs to handle other stuff would just have to rewrite everything and fix it later.  So if anything with the data series had any chance of success, it would have been something that he rammed through. But if his work was superior, it would cause other programs to fail, and an org could end up in a position where the sum total of Hubbard’s successful program plus all the ones that had to be redone in his wake might not be a net positive.

When Hana shared this story with me, I was surprised that Hubbard was able to make his own “tech” work. After all, a lot of the “tech” for auditing that Hubbard invented was part of his attempt to exorcise his own demons, and in the end, he realized that it didn’t work, as he relayed to “Sarge” Pfauth in the last few days of his life.  Of course, it worked because of special circumstances that attached only to Hubbard and that could never happen when anyone else tried to use the Data Series to debug organizational problems.  So in that respect, the success of the Data Series in this time is the exception that proves the rule, that it’s destined to fail.


Author: John P.

John P. is a Wall Street money manager and IT technologist fascinated by irrationality in all its forms, and Scientology most of all. He's a lifelong Steely Dan fan.