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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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Zach Hyman, HBO
10 Bizarre Sesame Street Fan Theories
Zach Hyman, HBO
Zach Hyman, HBO

Sesame Street has been on the air for almost 50 years, but there’s still so much we don’t know about this beloved children’s show. What kind of bird is Big Bird? What’s the deal with Mr. Noodle? And how do you actually get to Sesame Street? Fans have filled in these gaps with frequently amusing—and sometimes bizarre—theories about how the cheerful neighborhood ticks. Read them at your own risk, because they’ll probably ruin the Count for you.

1. THE THEME SONG CONTAINS SECRET INSTRUCTIONS.

According to a Reddit theory, the Sesame Street theme song isn’t just catchy—it’s code. The lyrics spell out how to get to Sesame Street quite literally, giving listeners clues on how to access this fantasy land. It must be a sunny day (as the repeated line goes), you must bring a broom (“sweeping the clouds away”), and you have to give Oscar the Grouch the password (“everything’s a-ok”) to gain entrance. Make sure to memorize all the steps before you attempt.

2. SESAME STREET IS A REHAB CENTER FOR MONSTERS.

Sesame Street is populated with the stuff of nightmares. There’s a gigantic bird, a mean green guy who hides in the trash, and an actual vampire. These things should be scary, and some fans contend that they used to be. But then the creatures moved to Sesame Street, a rehabilitation area for formerly frightening monsters. In this community, monsters can’t roam outside the perimeters (“neighborhood”) as they recover. They must learn to educate children instead of eating them—and find a more harmless snack to fuel their hunger. Hence Cookie Monster’s fixation with baked goods.

3. BIG BIRD IS AN EXTINCT MOA.

Big Bird is a rare breed. He’s eight feet tall and while he can’t really fly, he can rollerskate. So what kind of bird is he? Big Bird’s species has been a matter of contention since Sesame Street began: Big Bird insists he’s a lark, while Oscar thinks he’s more of a homing pigeon. But there’s convincing evidence that Big Bird is an extinct moa. The moa were 10 species of flightless birds who lived in New Zealand. They had long necks and stout torsos, and reached up to 12 feet in height. Scientists claim they died off hundreds of years ago, but could one be living on Sesame Street? It makes sense, especially considering his best friend looks a lot like a woolly mammoth.

4. OSCAR’S TRASH CAN IS A TARDIS.

Oscar’s home doesn’t seem very big. But as The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland revealed, his trash can holds much more than moldy banana peels. The Grouch has chandeliers and even an interdimensional portal down there! There’s only one logical explanation for this outrageously spacious trash can: It’s a Doctor Who-style TARDIS.

5. IT’S ALL A RIFF ON PLATO.

Dust off your copy of The Republic, because this is about to get philosophical. Plato has a famous allegory about a cave, one that explains enlightenment through actual sunlight. He describes a prisoner who steps out of the cave and into the sun, realizing his entire understanding of the world is wrong. When he returns to the cave to educate his fellow prisoners, they don’t believe him, because the information is too overwhelming and contradictory to what they know. The lesson is that education is a gradual learning process, one where pupils must move through the cave themselves, putting pieces together along the way. And what better guide is there than a merry kids’ show?

According to one Reddit theory, Sesame Street builds on Plato’s teachings by presenting a utopia where all kinds of creatures live together in harmony. There’s no racism or suffocating gender roles, just another sunny (see what they did there?) day in the neighborhood. Sesame Street shows the audience what an enlightened society looks like through simple songs and silly jokes, spoon-feeding Plato’s “cave dwellers” knowledge at an early age.

6. MR. NOODLE IS IN HELL.

Can a grown man really enjoy taking orders from a squeaky red puppet? And why does Mr. Noodle live outside a window in Elmo’s house anyway? According to this hilariously bleak theory, no, Mr. Noodle does not like dancing for Elmo, but he has to, because he’s in hell. Think about it: He’s seemingly trapped in a surreal place where he can’t talk, but he has to do whatever a fuzzy monster named Elmo says. Definitely sounds like hell.

7. ELMO IS ANIMAL’S SON.

Okay, so remember when Animal chases a shrieking woman out of the college auditorium in The Muppets Take Manhattan? (If you don't, see above.) One fan thinks Animal had a fling with this lady, which produced Elmo. While the two might have similar coloring, this theory completely ignores Elmo’s dad Louie, who appears in many Sesame Street episodes. But maybe Animal is a distant cousin.

8. COOKIE MONSTER HAS AN EATING DISORDER.

Cookie Monster loves to cram chocolate chip treats into his mouth. But as eagle-eyed viewers have observed, he doesn’t really eat the cookies so much as chew them into messy crumbs that fly in every direction. This could indicate Cookie Monster has a chewing and spitting eating disorder, meaning he doesn’t actually consume food—he just chews and spits it out. There’s a more detailed (and dark) diagnosis of Cookie Monster’s symptoms here.

9. THE COUNT EATS CHILDREN.

Can a vampire really get his kicks from counting to five? One of the craziest Sesame Street fan theories posits that the Count lures kids to their death with his number games. That’s why the cast of children on Sesame Street changes so frequently—the Count eats them all after teaching them to add. The adult cast, meanwhile, stays pretty much the same, implying the grown-ups are either under a vampiric spell or looking the other way as the Count does his thing.

10. THE COUNT IS ALSO A PIMP.

Alright, this is just a Dave Chappelle joke. But the Count does have a cape.

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A New App Interprets Sign Language for the Amazon Echo
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iStock

The convenience of the Amazon Echo smart speaker only goes so far. Without any sort of visual interface, the voice-activated home assistant isn't very useful for deaf people—Alexa only understands three languages, none of which are American Sign Language. But Fast Company reports that one programmer has invented an ingenious system that allows the Echo to communicate visually.

Abhishek Singh's new artificial intelligence app acts as an interpreter between deaf people and Alexa. For it to work, users must sign at a web cam that's connected to a computer. The app translates the ASL signs from the webcam into text and reads it aloud for Alexa to hear. When Alexa talks back, the app generates a text version of the response for the user to read.

Singh had to teach his system ASL himself by signing various words at his web cam repeatedly. Working within the machine-learning platform Tensorflow, the AI program eventually collected enough data to recognize the meaning of certain gestures automatically.

While Amazon does have two smart home devices with screens—the Echo Show and Echo Spot—for now, Singh's app is one of the best options out there for signers using voice assistants that don't have visual components. He plans to make the code open-source and share his full methodology in order to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Watch his demo in the video below.

[h/t Fast Company]

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