Theta Waves

I have superpowers. Ask anyone. Maybe people won’t agree one hundred percent on which powers I have, but almost everyone will agree I have them.

Some powers I have I was born with. For instance, I have a heck of a memory and my brain is really good at cataloging similarities and differences, which together make me a pretty good problem solver. Scientists will probably discover soon the biochemical basis for the ability and then market it in pill form. Until then, though, I’ll have a bit of an edge. I also have an above average imagination—another bonus for problem-solvers—but that’s probably just latent schizophrenia.

Does all that count as a superpower? It’s arguable. If you are likely better at something (useful) than anyone else in a randomly selected sample of a thousand or ten thousand people, then the argument could be made. Especially if you’re the type of arguer who’s a fan of The Shadow and The Green Hornet.

If that does count, then so do trained skills, like observational techniques and martial arts. Meditation techniques to focus concentration can certainly help develop mental powers. Exercise and training can provide nearly superhuman strength, flexibility, stamina, and muscular control.

I’ve studied a couple of martial arts. I can now fall down without being guaranteed of breaking an arm or a hip and I can stand on one leg in the shower while I wash the other one. Anyone who has seen me try to seal a cardboard box with a tape gun has probably seen the limits of my physical dexterity and muscular control. (We can possibly make an exception for my facility with origami, though, except in extreme circumstances, that is no kind of martial art.)

Prosthetics are making amazing advances. Soon you’ll be able to have a limb or other portion of your anatomy replaced or supplemented by a kind of machine that will work better than the original. Computers are already firmly in this category, supplementing powers of memory and communication and—for those who can tell useful information from bullshit—reason.

I don’t know if spotting bullshit is a superpower (ditto for spouting bullshit), but it’s certainly trainable. Here, for the purposes of review and discussion, are two pages excerpted from Source magazine put out by Flag Service Organization, a religious retreat in Clearwater, Florida, for Scientologists. (These images are a bit chunky and not very readable. If you click on them, however, you’ll get larger, higher-resolution versions.)

I invite you to read this piece. There is a bit of jargon, most of which is decipherable from context. Give it a go.

Scientology gives you superpowers!Scientology gives you superpowers!

It appears to me that these people are offering the use of a facility to train up superpowers in the attendees—in particular the senses and powers of observation necessary to (translating here to the Judeo-Christian for the sake of not losing my audience) spot demons and demonic influences and perform exorcisms.

I’m not precisely sure how the NASA astronaut trainer/carnival vomitorium pictured is useful for that. I say this as someone who has an above average imagination and is a pretty good problem solver. I’m also not precisely sure why there’s tough-to-clean crevices and steps all around it. Some padding to fall over on and some astroturf you can hose down is just about what I’d recommend. Apparently I lack the perceptions and reasoning ability that would make it make sense.

But what raises the bullshit flag faster than anything is the last paragraph on the second page:

And it is the Cornerstone Members whose contributions and dedication are making it all possible and who generations to come, we will look upon as those who decided to make a new world. Become one of the elite as a Cornerstone Member.

Basic grammar, punctuation, and general communication skills aren’t among the powers to be granted it seems—and that’s to be expected if you’ve ever read any of the epic science fiction atrocities written by Scientology founder Lafayette Ron Hubbard. No matter. If good writing were a tool for changing the world, we’d have seen it done already.

My point is that the English translation of the last two sentences reveal the entire purpose of this facility. “Give us money, and we will worship you and make you powerful.”

Participation in these programs cost tens of thousands of dollars per, and the “perceptic” training in this “Super Power rundown” is only one of a dozen or so tracks. Money sinks. You aren’t even allowed to know the details of the program for which you’re hoping to become eligible until you’ve made large enough donations. I suspect there’s a whole team of project developers devoted to just finding new ways to take Tom Cruise’s money (as John Travolta has found unique ways to throw his away before they can get their hands on it). All you get is a $60,000 blow job and a pat on the back. And the ability to make videos where you sound like a raving loon.

Again, this is not to say that I don’t think that superpowers are trainable, given a modicum of aptitude and a decent program of instruction. But the hoopla of making people a member of an elite club of do-gooder superheroes in exchange for ridiculous amounts of cash is suspect in the extreme. If you’re really in it for making the world a better place, then just make people superheroes and screw the “elite club” nonsense. Take your $60,000-per-head donation and, instead of building the set of Star Trek: Clearwater, build an academic course in critical thinking and offer it to all comers.


January 20, 2008 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


One Response to “Theta Waves”

  1. Joey on March 11th, 2008 12:43 pm

    See that “Perceptic Rundown” Super Power crystal ball? The city of Clearwater (home to the unfinished Scientology Super Power building) recently completed a downtown streetscaping project, and decorated it with exact replicas of the sphere!
    But it’s just a coincidence according to city leaders and the local media. Yeah right! What are the chances that the city just accidently replicated the Perceptic Rundown Super Power Sphere as its primary streetscaping decoration?
    Time for an investigation!

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