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The Military United States

Psychic Dogs and Enlisted Men: the Military's Research Into ESP (muckrock.com) 49

v3rgEz writes: Government research often pushes the boundaries between science and science fiction. Today, the proud bearer of that mantle is often DARPA, experimenting with robots, cybernetics, and more. But in the sixties, during the height of the Cold War, this research often went into more fantastical realms, even exploring whether ExtraSensory Perception (ESP) was possible. Thanks to FOIA, MuckRock looks back on the paranormal history of American surveillance.
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Psychic Dogs and Enlisted Men: the Military's Research Into ESP

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  • Hallowed are the Ori (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday January 23, 2016 @10:35AM (#51356737) Homepage Journal

    Let us not forget the psychic spying program of the 70s, The Stargate Project [wikipedia.org]. As mentioned in the linked WP article, this program was much of the plot of the film The Men Who Stare at Goats [wikipedia.org] , though not actually mentioned by name in the film. When the project concluded in 1995, the report stated that "a statistically significant effect has been observed in the laboratory," but of course also that "it remains unclear whether the existence of a paranormal phenomenon, remote viewing, has been demonstrated."

    • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @11:58AM (#51356981)

      One wonders if they would've had better results if they had been The Men Who Stare at Goatse instead.

      • They're supposed to explode what they stare at, not their own heads.
      • One wonders if they would've had better results if they had been The Men Who Stare at Goatse instead.

        They exist, they're called content censors

    • Hey uh, can I get a few millions to investigate existence of wizards? Wait, Big Foot, I've heard a lot about this mythical creature and we need lots of money. For science. No? Okay, so what if the enemy found wizards or the Big Foot first? They could have an army of wizards riding Big Feet. Imagine Chubacca, now imagine Chewey carrying Gandalf running at you. We got the funding? Wonderful, today is a big day for national security and science!
  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @10:35AM (#51356739)
    Thank goodness the government dosent have a way to see into all of our daily lives with striking detail. That would have been a nightmare!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My masturbation habits would have promptly blinded any remote viewers.

    • by nido ( 102070 )

      According to Ingo Swann [biomindsuperpowers.com], This is what ultimately killed the program. The spooks hated the idea that there are no secrets.

      I met Ingo twice, in Las Vegas. He said that he ought to have written more fiction books, which paid better than being a psychic lab rat.

  • It's less interesting to know the answer to (most) everything than it is to believe in things that are supernatural.

    Understandably, many of us are reluctant to give this long-held tradition up.

    The widespread dissemination of information provided by our present technology is an abomination to a long human history of superstition.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2016 @11:58AM (#51356983)

      1. "Supernatural" is an annoying word. If e.g. ESP is possible, it would be something amazing, but natural, and we'd go about finding an explanation for it. Dismissing the possibility of some occurrence merely because it is commonly associated with those who do not seek explanations is irrational

      2. Some of these tests showed statistically significant positive results. More recent research, I assume, remains classified.

    • by umghhh ( 965931 )
      Most of modern technology is a mystery to most of people. They have no clue how it works and soon that it does in the first place. It is desired to be so (some hippy greens claimed long time ago that electricity comes from the wall and not from the power plants and this was already in 60ties of last century). For some of this people the belief in supernatural will be based on what they know and that is little. When this sort of ignorance reaches the ruling elite there will be only short time before dark age
      • For some of this people the belief in supernatural will be based on what they know and that is little. When this sort of ignorance reaches the ruling elite there will be only short time before dark ages. I wonder how likely it is to happen say in next 50years.

        Sadly, level of ignorance of the people who choose and are allowed to vote is the single most deterministic factor in the selection of the ruling elite in our Western democracies.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...any sensible military would look into the possibilities of something like that, even if they knew full well it was highly unlikely to pay dividends; the advantages of your having it and the enemy not - or the disadvantages of the opposite - are just to large to ignore.

    On the other hand... it doesn't take a genius to work out that ESP was always almost certainly going to be a wash-out. Why? Because evolution. The randomness that drives evolution is an unbelievably powerful tool for solving problems - try

    • I am mostly in agreement with your argument, but I'd like to play devil's advocate here, just to explore some possibilities.

      ESP, more specifically the "seeing at a distance" you reference, would, I think, require intelligence to make it useful. Otherwise, if you have no idea that what you are seeing is a window into the world that you cannot see, you would not be able to act on it and therefore it would be evolutionarily useless and, as you point out, not an advantage worth keeping.

      Also, if intelligence

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:47PM (#51357151) Journal

      Put simply - if we actually have to ask whether such an ability exists... ...it doesn't.

      There have been several studies now which show a statistically significant psi effect, though too small to be practical.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p... [nih.gov]

      • Were the odds 10:1 that the results were a fluke? 100:1?1000:1? 10000:1?
        Without defining the degree of significance, the phrase "statistically significant" doesn't mean a damn thing.
  • by shess ( 31691 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:13PM (#51357025) Homepage

    In a world where the vast majority of people are _not_ out to get you, it simply doesn't matter if they could see some things in some cases. Maybe they're very good at it, so they see 10 true things bad guys are doing and 1 false thing bad guys aren't doing ... plus 100,000 false things good guys aren't doing. Insofar as you have corroborating evidence, the psychic evidence is probably not useful, and if you don't have corroborating evidence, the psychic evidence is too noisy to be actionable.

    It would work well if your psychics where absolutely spot on almost all the time, like 99.99% (if you have many thousands of them), and they could do directed seeing so you could have them check each other. But, honestly, in that case a cabal of psychics would already run the world, either through being very wealthy or by being able to blackmail the people who actually do run the world.

    • In the case of ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, their ideology is laid out precisely (Koran and hadith and life of the barbaric Mohammed, which they are emulating exactly), yet the US Government's principle action is to prohibit any association of Islamic "jihad" with "Islam". Obama refuses to utter the words - which is strange since he's not an authority on Islam, only Allah and Mohammed are (and they agree with ISIS on what it is).

      My point is - no matter how good the US could have gotten with remote v

  • by DahGhostfacedFiddlah ( 470393 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @02:34PM (#51357513)

    ESP and similar phenomena inhabit an interesting place in our history. There have been accounts and claims throughout history and undoubtedly prehistory as well. But as far as my 5-minute Googling tells me, these claims were never tested with scientific rigour until late 1800s.

    So I wonder if there was some justification in doing these studies. Does anyone know if ESP had been scientifically ruled by the time these studies were done, or if these were the first large-scale studies with the appropriate level of rigour?

    It seems foolish to us now, but at some point, we had no evidence of the null hypothesis. I'm just curious at what point in the timeline that changed.

  • Obviously, officers weren't good enough.

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