Tuesday May 9, 2006

Doc's Exercises

The Church of Scientology is reportedly about to unveil a center in Clearwater, Florida specializing in their "Super Power" training program, which trains you in, well, super powers.  Shhh!  It's secret, and scientific, too:

A key aim of Super Power is to enhance one's perceptions - and not just the five senses we all know - hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell....  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.

This sounds strangely familiar.  Wait!  My inhumanly acute powers of memory are tingling...throbbing...yes, it's all coming back to me now—Doc Savage's exercises!

Doc Savage was the hero of a series of pulp novels in the 30's and 40's.  He was a sort of proto-Superman, trained from childhood by his father to nearly superhuman heights of strength, intelligence, and a dozen other abilities he kept constantly honed by a constant regimen of extraordinary exercises:

Not a morning did Doc miss his exercises.  From his youth, he had not neglected the two-hour routine a single time.  He did them, although he might have been on the go for many hours previously.

[description of the physical exercises redacted]

From the case which held his equipment, Doc took a pad and pencil and wrote a number of several figures.  Eyes closed, he extracted the square and cube root of this number in his head, carrying the figures to many decimal places.  He multiplied and divided and subtracted this number with various figures.  Next he did the same thing with a number of an even dozen figures.  This disciplined him in concentration.

Out of the case came an apparatus which made sound waves of all tones, some of a wave length so short or so long as to be inaudible to the normal ear.  For several minutes Doc strained to detect these waves inaudible to ordinary people.  Years of this had enabled him to hear many of these customarily unheard sounds.

His eyes shut, Doc rapidly identified by the sense of smell several score of different odors, all very vague, each contained in a small vial racked in the case.  For two full hours Doc worked at these and other more intricate exercises.  (The Man of Bronze by Kenneth Robeson, 1933, pp. 50-51)

So, surprising no one, it looks like the Church has taken an old sci-fi idea, sprinkled on a layer of pseudoscientific doubletalk (two parts Korzybski, one part Renshaw), and constructed around it an elaborate and no doubt very expensive training course for the faithful.  Nice work if you can get it.

Save yourself the long green, I say—go straight to the source.  This Doc Savage fan site has a complete set of articles from Doc Savage Magazine describing his exercises, titled "The Doc Savage Method of Self-Development".  You can keep your modern science of mental health—I'm from the old school.  [via Warren Ellis via Boing Boing]

[Now playing: "Thieves" by Ministry]

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Tracked on May 22, 2006 5:47:57 PM


"it looks like the Church has taken an old sci-fi idea"

Not surprising considering that it's Scientology.

Posted by: Steve at May 9, 2006 6:42:28 AM

Maybe more of a proto-Superman than it seems. I read somewhere that "Clark Kent" comes from Clark Savage Jr. (Doc) and Kent Allard, original real identity of the Shadow.

On another subject, you might want to review "One for the Morning Glory" by John Barnes some time. It is a sort of parody fantasy built largely around using less common words with the right sound in place of familiar terms and making the reader determine the altered meaning from context. For example, the usual handgun is called a "pismire".

Posted by: clem at May 12, 2006 3:00:17 AM

Not surprising, given Scientology's founding by a science fiction writer.

In the late 1970s I had lunch at an SF convention near Ann Arbor with an older writer who told our table that he was actually *there* at the writers' poker party where L. Ron Hubbard said that he was going to 'make up a religion and get rich' from it.

Posted by: Terry Calhoun at May 22, 2006 12:21:32 PM

Clockwork OrangeGrove

Posted by: Andy Glab at May 22, 2006 1:12:44 PM

Exercises like this have probably been around since the invention of martial arts, so the inclusion of these items in various stories is not surprising.

Since Scientology purports to promote self development and self improvement, is it any surprise that they would include this sort of thing? It would be shocking if they did not.

Posted by: dura at May 22, 2006 1:13:56 PM

No wonder they consider psychology as evil. They'd all get locked away.

Posted by: Meningial Matter at May 22, 2006 1:21:13 PM


Hubbard apparently used to say that all the time. This increases the likelihood that your luncheon companion heard it, but makes the event less special.

Posted by: Rufus T. Firefly at May 22, 2006 1:22:44 PM

Janeane Garofalo, Hollywood actress and commentator on Air America Radio's "Majority Report" has been pushing $cientoloscam on the show, on three different occasions.

She pushed their Detox Rundown for people suffering from 911 toxic reactions. It is a scam and FDNY's chief doctor says so.

Janeane just announced she is no longer on the radio network's payroll and will only be guest hosting on Fridays. She should be fired.

Posted by: Tom3 at May 22, 2006 1:50:14 PM

You've been Farked!

Posted by: Anonymous at May 22, 2006 1:51:26 PM

I know, I've been watching my traffic spike. Whee!

Welcome, Farkers. Stick around—check out the Science Fiction archives, for example, and if you like those maybe the Linguistics in SF archives, too.

Posted by: The Tensor at May 22, 2006 1:56:45 PM

It's not even a new idea from them: they originally tried this crap back in the fifties.

Posted by: matt rossi at May 22, 2006 2:08:05 PM

Tastes like chicken!

Posted by: at May 22, 2006 2:31:05 PM

Right. And Scientology itself is kind of, in a Bizarro way, like being sent to Doc's "Crime College."

But without --- well, SO FAR without --- the neurosurgery.

(Must ... remove engrams ... by ...
sheer force of .... WILL!)

I'll be superalmagamated,

~ Mem

Posted by: Memory Harker at May 22, 2006 2:39:59 PM

Right. And Scientology itself is kind of, in a Bizarro way, like being sent to Doc's "Crime College."

But without --- well, SO FAR without --- the neurosurgery.

(Must ... remove engrams ... by ... sheer force of .... WILL!)

I'll be superamalgamated,

~ Mem

Posted by: Memory Harker at May 22, 2006 2:41:21 PM

Yep, Doc Savage, I remember him well along with Tom Swift, Sr. by Victor Appleton I and Tom Swift, Jr. by Victor Appleton II (James Duncan Lawrence).

He could look at a bolt and tell you what size it was - 1/2", 7/8" etc. Could really come in handy when changing the oil!

I suspect Doc's exercises were probably of more use to him than anything Scientology has to offer, but how would I know, I’m just a scientist, not a movie star.

Posted by: Zentrails at May 22, 2006 3:49:36 PM

One word
Dilithium crystals
er two words; I can't hold 'er much longer captain
okay-18 words + punctuation-shit 23 words

Posted by: Fues Fission at May 22, 2006 4:42:05 PM

I have a red pencil box.

Posted by: herostratus at May 22, 2006 8:13:23 PM

Sweet! Nice to hear good ol' Scientology isn't doing anything 'weird'!

So could they tout this training center as 'Savage Scientology'? That sounds pretty wicked to me! They should be able to recruit many, many newbies with this.

Sure, they're all nutso, but at least they aren't Islamic.

Posted by: Bob at May 23, 2006 5:50:13 AM

$cientology ... created by a pedophile ... run by crazies ... Sign me up!

Posted by: Super User at May 23, 2006 8:54:24 AM

hey herostratus, research the things that you find confusing or wrong instead of assuming. Islam is a religion based on peace. Dumb@ss terrorists just twist around the words in the Quran to try to justify the shit that they do. Sorry for my improper language. Great article though. Scientology is sooooooo fake.

Posted by: nhm414 at May 23, 2006 8:41:34 PM

im sorry herostratus. i meant Bob at.

Posted by: nhm414 at May 23, 2006 8:42:47 PM