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7 Superpowers Available to Scientologists

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Lafayette Ronald Hubbard identified 57 areas that people who reached the higher levels of Scientology would be able to control. Here are some of the things he and the current organization’s leadership claim will make you unlike any people ever to come before.

1. Immunity from Physical Ailment

In his first book, Dianetics, Hubbard claimed that any physical ailments we suffer from are the result of bad things that happened in our past lives, or in our current lives, or even things that happened to our mothers while pregnant. Through “auditing” — a process in which you discuss life events with a counselor while holding a machine called an e-meter — Scientology promises individuals can figure out what caused their diseases and other mental or physical ailments, then fix themselves. People claim to have done this even when medical science was completely at a loss.

An official Scientology website includes some of these stories, including a woman who says that during an auditing session she felt the bones in her face breaking, and then rearranging themselves, thus curing her chronic vascular disease, which doctors had told her there was no cure for. Another woman reportedly discovered through auditing that her epilepsy was due to electric shocks her mother had gone through while pregnant. Fortunately, just a few rounds on the e-meter apparently cured her condition.

2 & 3. Psychic Abilities and Super Intelligence

Once you become an "Operating Thetan" (meaning you’ve worked through all those horrible past experiences) you are supposed to get a lot smarter. On page 16 of Dianetics, Hubbard stated, “Tests of [an OT's] intelligence indicate it to be high above the current norm.” But don’t just take his word for it. Another official Scientologist success story was one person who said, “Probably the most amazing thing which has happened to me was the fact of a 20% increase in my IQ.” You can also communicate with other OT’s through telepathy. About halfway through another of his Scientology tomes, The History of Man, Hubbard claims, “Thetans communicate by telepathy.” The book What is Scientology? states, "Can OTs read minds? ...to answer the question bluntly - yes, with varying degrees of ability.”

Hubbard also warned against being obvious with your new talents until enough people had the powers, though, because people would be jealous and try to destroy all of them. Thanks to these superhuman powers, one OT claimed she "always know[s] who's calling on the phone before it rings, and [is] able to check the progress of [a] cooking hamburger without walking into the kitchen.”

4. Super Senses

Hubbard promised maximum ability, unlike anything humans have ever known before, for pretty much every sense you can think of. Not only that, but you will be able to control how much of each of those senses you want at a given moment. Say, for example, you are at a concert. Your new abilities mean you would have hearing inestimably better than any of the non-Scientologists around you. Thankfully, you can control your amazing hearing and would tone it down so the concert’s music wouldn't be too loud and uncomfortable.

In Chapter 2 of Dianetics, Hubbard also promises that if a clear (an early level) just pays attention to improving their eyesight, they can go from almost blind to extraordinary. As evidence, the official Scientology website offers the story of one individual who took off their glasses halfway through their first auditing session and never needed them again. Another Scientologist claims they can now see clearly what it used to take a magnifying glass to see.

5. Telekenesis, Mind-Control, and a Universal Stopwatch

Once you get to a high enough level in Scientology, you should be able to control absolutely everything in the physical world. One person claimed that when their coffeemaker went on the fritz, they “corrected the molecular structure” with their mind and it started working again. In A History of Man, Hubbard says OT’s “emit a considerable electrical flow.” While you might be able to think of some nice ways to use such a power, Hubbard’s proposed examples include giving “somebody a very bad shock,” “putting out his eyes” or “cutting him in half.”

Other official Scientology literature includes the claim of one woman who decided the turbulence on a flight was bothering her so she stopped it, twice, and as she deplaned thought, “How lucky it was for these people to have me on board.”

Hubbard was very clear about keeping this all hidden: “Let's not go upsetting governments and putting on a show to ‘prove’ anything to homo sapiens for a while; it's a horrible temptation to knock off hats at fifty yards and read books a couple of countries away.”

6. Controlling the People Around You

If you have slightly more megalomaniacal goals than just controlling coffeemakers, once you reach OT level 7, Scientology promises that you can control what people think and how they act. Hubbard said in A History of Man that, once at that level, a Scientologist could project a feeling onto another person and make them feel sad or happy as desired. In fact, according to people with access to official Scientology course requirements, a large part of level 7 is to practice projecting thoughts and feelings onto other people. Before you work your way up to controlling the thoughts of other humans, it is recommended that you communicate first with plants and then animals.

7. Become Like a God and Create Your Own World

Once you can control everything, there is really just one more thing to do, and that is become a god-like being that can create its own reality. In both Dianetics and A History of Man, Hubbard refers to the “godlike” being you will become if you follow his program. Another Hubbard book called Scientology 8-8008 discusses how to "postulate universes into existence," and promises that “a Thetan who is completely rehabilitated can… create his own universe; a person who is able to create his own universe… is able to create illusions perceivable by others.” Tom Cruise is reportedly at this level.

So once you spend the necessary money and complete the extensive training, you should be able to make your own world where you control absolutely everything. But once again Hubbard warns against taking it too far: “Don't go off on wild chases after fourth and fifth dimensions, time warps and other time-space universes.” Sound advice.

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12 Things You Might Not Know About MAD Magazine
Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine

As fast as popular culture could erect wholesome depictions of American life in comics, television, or movies, MAD Magazine was there to tear them all down. A near-instant success for EC Comics upon its debut in 1952, the magazine has inspired generations of comedians for its pioneering satirical attitude and tasteful booger jokes. This month, DC Entertainment is relaunching an "all new" MAD, skewering pop culture on a bimonthly basis and in full color. To fill the gaps in your knowledge, take a look at these facts about the Usual Gang of Idiots.

1. NO ONE KNOWS WHO CAME UP WITH ALFRED E. NEUMAN.


Jamie, Flickr (L) // Boston Public Library, Flickr (R) // CC BY 2.0

MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman was in the offices of a Ballantine Books editor discussing reprints for the fledging publication when he noticed a grinning, gap-toothed imbecile staring back at him from a bulletin board. The unnamed figure was ubiquitous in the early 20th century, appearing in everything from dentistry ads to depictions of diseases. A charmed Kurtzman adopted him as MAD’s mascot beginning in 1954. Neuman later become so recognizable that a letter was delivered from New Zealand to MAD’s New York offices without an address: the envelope simply had a drawing of Alfred.  

2. THEY HAD TO APOLOGIZE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.

MAD was conceived during a particularly sensitive time for the comics industry, with parents and watchdog groups concerned over content. (It didn't switch to a magazine format until issue #24.) Kurtzman usually knew where the line was, but when he was laid up with acute hepatitis in 1952, publisher William Gaines and others had to step in for him. Gaines thought it would be funny to offer a fictional biography of himself that detailed his father’s Communist leanings, his past as a dope dealer “near nursery schools,” and bouts of pyromania. When wholesalers were shocked at the content and threatened to boycott all of his titles, Gaines was forced to write a letter of apology.  

3. THEY PREDICTED JOHN F. KENNEDY'S ELECTION IN 1960.

But it was a cheat. In the run-up to the 1960 Presidential election, MAD printed a cover that featured Neuman congratulating Kennedy on his victory with a caption that read, “We were with you all the way, Jack!” But the issue was shipped long before votes had been tabulated. The secret? It was a dual cover. Flip it over and Neuman is celebrating Richard Nixon’s appointment to office. Stores were told to display the “right” side of the magazine depending on the outcome.

4. ALFRED BRIEFLY HAD A GIRLFRIEND.


MAD Magazine

A character named Moxie Cowznofski was introduced in the late 1950s as a female companion for Alfred. She made only a handful of cover appearances, possibly due to the fact she looked alarmingly like her significant other.

5. THEY DIDN'T RUN ANY (REAL) ADS FOR 44 YEARS.

From the beginning, Gaines felt that printing actual advertisements next to the products they were lampooning would not only dilute their edge but seem more than a little hypocritical. After some back-and-forth, MAD cut ads starting in 1957. The decision was a costly one—most print publications survive on such revenue—but led to the magazine’s keeping a sharp knife against the throat of seductive advertising, including cigarettes. Faced with dwindling circulation in 2001, Mad finally relented and began taking ads to help pay for a switch to color printing.

6. "SPY VS. SPY" WAS CREATED BY A SUSPECTED SPY.

Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohias was disenchanted with the regime under Fidel Castro when he began working on what would become “Spy vs. Spy.” Because Prohias’ other newspaper illustrations were critical of Castro, the Cuban government suspected him of working for the CIA. He wasn’t, but the perception had him worried harm might come to his co-workers. To get out of the situation, Prohias came to America in 1960. With his daughter helping translate, he stopped by Mad’s New York offices and submitted his work: his sneaky, triangle-headed spies became regulars.

7. THERE WAS ONE FOLD-IN THEY WOULDN'T RUN.

Artist Al Jaffee, now 94, has been with Mad almost from the beginning. He created the famous Fold-In—the back cover that reveals a new picture when doubled over—in 1964 after seeing the fold-outs in magazines like National Geographic, Playboy, and Life. Jaffee has rarely missed an issue since—but editors backtracked on one of Jaffee’s works that referenced a mass shooting in 2013. Citing poor taste, they destroyed over 600,000 copies.  

8. THEIR MOVIE WAS A DISASTER.

With the exception of Fox’s successful sketch series, 1994’s MAD TV, attempts to translate the MAD brand into other media have been underwhelming: a 1974 animated special didn’t even make it on air. But a 1980 film venture, a military school spoof directed by Robert Downey, Sr. titled Mad Presents Up the Academy, was so awful William Gaines demanded to have their name taken off of it. (Renamed Up the Academy, the DVD release of the movie still features someone sporting an Alfred E. Neuman mask; Mad parodied it in a spoof titled “Throw Up the Academy.”)

9. THE APRIL 1974 COVER HAD PEOPLE FLIPPING.


MAD Magazine

MAD has never made a habit of good taste, but a depiction of a raised middle finger for one issue in the mid-’70s caused a huge stir. Many stores wouldn’t stock it for fear of offending customers, and the company ended up accepting an irregular number of returns. Gaines took to his typewriter to write a letter of apology. Again. The relaunched #1, out in April 2018, pays homage to this cover, though it's slightly more tasteful: Neuman is picking his nose with his middle finger.

10. THEY INVENTED A SPORT.

MAD writer Tom Koch was amused by the convoluted rules of sports and attempted to one-up them in 43-Man Squamish, a game he invented for the April 1965 issue. Koch and artist George Woodbridge (“MAD’s Athletic Council”) prepared a guide that was utterly incomprehensible—the field was to have five sides, positions included Deep Brooders and Dummies, “interfering with the Wicket Men” constituted a penalty—but it amused high school and college readers enough to try and mount their own games. (Short on players? Try 2-Man Squamish: “The rules are identical,” Koch wrote, “except the object of the game is to lose.”) For the less physically inclined, Mad also issued a board game in which the goal is to lose all of your money.  

11. WEIRD AL WAS A GUEST EDITOR.

In what must be some kind of fulfilled prophecy, lyrical satirist “Weird” Al Yankovic was named as a guest editor—their first—for the magazine’s May 2015 issue. Yankovic told Entertainment Weekly that MAD had put him on “the dark, twisted path to becoming who I am today … I needed to pollute my mind with that kind of stuff.” In addition to his collaborations with the staff, Yankovic enlisted Patton Oswalt, Seth Green, and Chris Hardwick to contribute.

12. FRED ASTAIRE ONCE DANCED AS ALFRED E. NEUMAN.

In a scene so surreal even MAD’s irreverent editors would have had trouble dreaming it up, Fred Astaire decided to sport an Alfred E. Neuman mask for a dance number in his 1959 television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. No one seems to recall why exactly Astaire would do this—he may have just wanted to include a popular cultural reference—but it was no off-the-cuff decision. Astaire hired movie make-up veteran John Chambers (Planet of the Apes) to craft a credible mask of Neuman. The result is … well, kind of disturbing. But it’s a fitting addition to a long tradition of people going completely MAD.

Additional Sources:
Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America.

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Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?
iStock
iStock

GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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