Do you want to have superpowers? Are you willing to be a Scientologist?
The Church of Scientology is preparing to unveil its much-awaited, classified program, "Super Power." Rather depressingly, it does not seem that they will teach you how to fly, crush steel with your bare hands, or even how to hypnotize people with your teeth and make them give you all their money. Rather, its purpose seems to be to improve your 57 senses. Wait a second--57???
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard taught that people have 57 "perceptics." They include an ability to discern relative sizes, blood circulation, balance, compass direction, temperature, gravity and an "awareness of importance, unimportance."
I would just like to state for the record that I am immensely curious as to whether or not any human being has ever proven capable of distinguishing between gravity and alternate, parallel forces.
So how, exactly, does one go about improving all 57 senses? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall, my friend; practice, practice, practice.
Super Power uses machines, apparatus and specially designed rooms to exercise and enhance a person's so-called perceptics. Those machines include an antigravity simulator and a gyroscope-like apparatus that spins a person around while blindfolded to improve perception of compass direction, said the former Scientologists.
A video screen that moves forward and backward while flashing images is used to hone a viewer's ability to identify subliminal messages, they said...
...Scientologist Ron Pollack, who donated $5-million to the Super Power fund after making millions in hedge funds in the 1990s, said he got a sneak peek. The head of fundraising for the project showed him a photo of "some high-tech thing" developed by engineers in Southern California that offers different aromas on demand. It's for a drill to enhance one's sense of smell, he said.
Looking at this list, I'd be perfectly willing to believe that some of these will work. Will smelling and being forced to identify a slew of distinct aromas enhance your ability to distinguish odors? Almost certainly: it's common sense. I'd even be willing to believe that getting spun around and forced to guess a compass direction might improve your navigational skills or your ability to detect magnetic north. But is there anything super about this? Let's look at one more quote from the article:
Feshbach now lives in Belleair, where his wife, Kathy, runs a Scientology mission. Because he donated millions to the Super Power building fund, he was invited to undergo the program.
It's geared toward creating a "more competent spiritual being," he said. "I'm not dependant on my physical body to perceive things."
He offered this anecdote:
He had just finished his perceptics training and was at the Los Angeles airport, preparing to fly home to the Tampa Bay area. He stood at a crosswalk with perhaps 20 others, including a woman and her son, an antsy boy 6 or 7 years old.
As the light turned green, the boy bolted into the street, ahead of his mother. Feshbach perceived a pickup bearing down on the boy, driven by a young woman.
He yelled and saved the boy's life by a quarter of an inch, he said.
Coincidence? Feshbach doesn't think so. No one else saw the pickup, he says. He believes that, through the Super Power program, he elevated his perceptive abilities beyond those of the others at that crosswalk. His enhanced perceptions have played out numerous times since, he said.
Does anyone else think this sounds sort of crazy? Let's run through a list here:
--Anecdote? Not the singular form of data.
--Mr. Feshbach's new "spiritual" ability to detect pickup trucks running red lights? Not very impressive. I'm not quite sure exactly how this is supposed to be independent of your physical body: it's a truck. Driving towards an intersection. You can gloss it up however you like, but it's difficult to imagine a situation in which ESP would be more useful for truck-detection than vision or hearing would be.
--Is this worth the "tens of thousands of dollars" Scientology regularly charges for its upper-division training classes? Probably not. For twenty bucks, I'll put a blindfold on you, spin you in a circle, and ask you to point at magnetic north. For thirty, I'll hit you with a baseball bat when you get it wrong.
No, wait, I lied. I'll hit you with a baseball bat for free.
I really hope that when Tom Cruise shows up for his Super Powers training course, he's as let down by all this as I am. Because maybe then, they'll start up the training course in hypnotizing people with your teeth. And I'd totally sign up for that.