What’s Wrong With The Independent Field, Part 7: E-Meters
You need an e-meter to audit most things. It’s a fact of life and has been for 55 or so years. But currently new ones cost $4000 or more from Pubs Orgs (Bridge Publications or New Era Publications). These are the Mark Super VII Quantums, possibly soon to be replaced by the Mark VIIIs. It might not be evident, but the actual cost of production of these meters is probably on the order of a few hundred dollars, if that. The Church has been making a killing on these for years. Not to mention the periodic re-certification of them.
If you’re in the Independent Field and are unfortunate enough to not possess a meter (like me) or you need a spare, you may be disinclined to buy one from Pubs, particularly for four grand a pop. So what do you do? There are four choices if you want to avoid spending a fortune:
- Purchase one from the “after market”, like E-Bay. Mark VIs are available on E-Bay for something like $300. These get more expensive the closer their manufacture date approaches present time. (Mark Super VII Quantums would be much more expensive, but still less than Pubs.) These are generally guaranteed by the seller to be working meters, and come with the usual gear, like the case, different sized cans, etc. Remote tone-arms are occasionally also available as a separate item. You can also occasionally pick up an e-meter signed by LRH or an original 1950s Volney e-meter for several tens of thousands of dollars, if you’re into nostalgia and have deep pockets. The older Mark Vs are also available from time to time. These don’t cost too much, but often don’t come with anything but the meter itself.
- The Clarity Meter. These used to come in two varieties. The older ones, no longer made, were around $1400. I cannot vouch for anything about these meters, except that they aren’t making them any more, according to the website. The currently Clarity Meter is not actually a meter at all, but actually a piece of software which runs on your Windows computer. This sounds like a pretty cool idea, right? Wrong. I know nothing about this meter. But I can emphatically recommend you avoid it, and here’s why: I know quite a bit about computers and computer software (programs). Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers are all meant to be multi-purpose machines. They run a great many processes in the background which you never see. Running e-meter software on top of this is the last thing you want to be doing. Your computer can be slowed down by processes it’s running in the background, or corrupted by viruses and spyware. It can be temporarily distracted by a single process running in the background. You do not want to be in the middle of a session when this happens to your computer, which also happens to be running your e-meter software. I would strongly advise that you neither purchase this software, nor allow yourself to be audited by someone who is using a computer running this software.
- The Starlight Meter, going for about $600. I cannot vouch for this meter either. However, the website provides the circuit used and notes that the designer worked for ten years repairing e-meters in the Sea Org. Unfortunately, it appears that these meters are hand-made, and the maker is booked months in advance. So if you order one, you may be waiting for the better part of a year before you get it. And you may have to be satisfied with the current color on the website, since it appears that they make a run of a certain color for a period of time and then switch. These meters look very much like the current Mark VI/VIIs, but smaller. They come with all the usual gear. If you have experience with this meter, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know what your evaluation of it is.
- The Ability Meter, going for about $1100. I cannot vouch for this meter, either. It looks much like the old Mark V (wood case and all), and is supposedly hand-made in England. Obviously, it’s a little pricey, but is supposedly (according to the website) very sensitive. The current model is the 4a, and orders for it can be filled from stock. My only real comment about this meter is that the “Tone Arm” is what appears to be a quite small potentiometer knob, instead of the usual large “pointer” knob on the Mark V through Mark Super VII Quantums. I’d like to see them change that, but it looks like they’re using off-the-shelf components in this meter. Again, if you have experience with this meter, please let me know.
That’s my survey of e-meters currently available in the Field. If you know of another manufacturer or type of meter, please let me know.