It is been stated that Lancaster Dodd's character in/as The Master is loosely based on Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Both The Cause and Scientology are also pseudo-somethingortheothers. But what are the similarities between the founders and the two organisations?

Wikipedia provides a disappointingly brief comparison:

Upon the release of the script, comparisons between "The Cause" and Scientology were quickly made. The press noted Hoffman's physical resemblance to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986), who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and after his release from the hospital founded the belief system in 1950, the same year as the religion in the script. The film ends in England, at roughly the same time Saint Hill Manor became Hubbard's residence and the first Scientology "org".

But there are a number of other similarities that I noticed. The year 1950, for example, is around the time that Scientology was founded and is also the setting for The Master. Dodd is seen travelling in a yacht. Hubbard did so too. The Cause has processing. Scientology has auditing.

So, what are the other similarities between the two organisations and their founders?

1 Answer 1


There are a plethora of articles online detailing this now. I'll list some of them now.

This blog details some similarities:

...the movie does draw extensively on Scientology and its past. Anderson finally admitted outright a couple weeks ago that he based the charismatic leader Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) on Hubbard, adding that much of the film “related to the early days of Dianetics.”

It goes on to list some of the similarities in some detail, but just choosing the "topic headings", it covers:

Scientology centers around a procedure called “auditing,” which uses probing questions and other techniques to identify traumatic memories (called “engrams”), to drain them of their power. Dodd’s spiritual practice, called The Cause, employs similar techniques.

Lancaster Dodd, like L. Ron Hubbard, spreads his word primarily through his books.

Family life
Just like Lancaster Dodd, L. Ron Hubbard had multiple children with multiple wives, and many of his ex-wives went on to become his critics.

“A writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher.”
Dodd, like Hubbard, likes to tout academic credentials, though neither of the men’s claims seem to hold up to scrutiny.

“Man is not an animal.”
One of the ideas Dodd returns to most frequently is his belief that “Man is not an animal.”

Dodd never lays out his full theology in The Master, but we do get bits and pieces. The Cause, like Scientology, promotes the idea of reincarnation, believing that through “processing” people may recall past lives.

Move to England
In The Master, we last see Dodd sometime later in the 1950s, when he has relocated to Britain. (The timeline isn’t obvious.) There, he works in a mansion on a hill in the English countryside. Hubbard similarly moved to the English countryside, in 1959, where he set up shop in a Sussex mansion called Saint Hill Manor.

Some of the similarities between Hubbard and Dodd are more incidental. For example, there’s a scene in The Master in which Dodd goes out to the desert to play a game of “Pick a Point.” The game involves choosing a point on the horizon and then racing there as fast as you can, even if that means riding a bit recklessly. The suspense of the scene echoes an incident in the life of L. Ron Hubbard, who crashed a motorcycle in southern Spain in 1974, suffering a broken arm and several broken ribs.

....Both men love boats, too...

I think that blog covers all the major similarities, but do a simple google search for the cause Scientology similarities and you will be inundated with information.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .