NEW YEAR'S DAY 1972
On New Year's Day, 1972, and with a horrible hangover from the parties
the night before, I took some aspirins and bemused my brains with setting
up the outlines of a second strategic policy for myself.
I worried myself about this because it was beginning to seem that there might be a future involved at least regarding taking part in experiments.
I couldn't see, though, that taking part in experiments would constitute any major form of work or remuneration. I had other things in mind along those lines. But it was for sure that I was going to be called a "psychic," even though that term was entirely inappropriate for me.
But by that New Year's day, I had received about ten requests from other researchers to take part in THEIR experiments. Some of the projects seemed quite kooky, but then so did the whole of what had happened so far.
My reading so many sources had familiarized me with what in the past had happened to other psychics and test subjects. And the tales of the behavior of other psychics in the past and in the present made for some great, but kind of sad, reading.
Our modern world had a good history of psychics, readers, mystics, channelers and other kind of psychical entrepreneurs who temporarily bathed in limelight, only to disappear from view a year or two later.
Many of them made outrageous claims which excited people, even the media. But then the claims came to pieces or bombed, and that was that. Public attention moved on to the next temporary luminaries who might appear and make an ass of themselves.
Regarding laboratory test-subjects, it clearly seemed to me that many of them came to the lab with quite good paranormal abilities.
But they were ground to dust by undergoing excessively tedious and boring experiments.
Some test-subjects had been made, for example, to attempt as many as 10,000 ESP trials per day. Well, anyone's brains would give out.
I used the analogy of taking a diamond and grinding it into dust by simple and unconscionable wear and tear. Most test-subjects lasted in labs only for three months or less.
I had already compiled a list of a few former lab subjects, both in early psychical research and some from the parapsychology epoch which began about 1935 with Dr. J. B. Rhine. I'll mention and describe some of these in later sections of this book.
I also knew very well that many parapsychologists design really bad experiments. In any event, their experiments are NOT designed to test for psi abilities, but to check out their own "scientific" theories.
If the theory is bad or flawed, or just plain stupid, then so will the experiment be.
I also have good things to say about parapsychologists, but only in general -- and which I'll embark upon narrating at particular points ahead in this tale of sagas and soap operas.
There was also the matter of lies people tell about each other. There is an impressive history of this.
There was also the matter of separating fact from fiction, and the matter of people who couldn't do so, or didn't want to -- or were even aware that such a matter exists.
Zelda, Ruth Hagy Brod, and my mentors joyously kept me informed that wider interest in my humble self was building up, and I understood that also.
So some kind of self-governing policy had to be designed by me for me, designed to negotiate me through all of the above dangers the best way possible.
So, on New Year's Day, 1972, I designed and imposed on myself the following policy decisions.
I would never CLAIM anything, any ability. And indeed, I had so far never
done so. All I had done was said I would TRY other people's experiments,
or try experiments of my own design if such opportunities came about. To
this date I have never once claimed I could do anything psychic -- even
though many since have attributed such claims to me. Even some of my closest
past colleagues who should remember better than they do -- should remember
the sometimes bitter disputes which raged over this precise topic. Well,
not once have I claimed anything. Never. All I have ever said was that I'd
try, or let's try this, etc.
As a trained scientist during my higher education years, I firmly appreciated
and supported the major scientific methods, mainly those which are designed
to protect (hopefully) against error and mistakes. Almost everyone forgets
that I as an "artist living in New York" was also a biologist
with a perfectly good degree based on almost straight A's while in college.
In fact, almost all of my formal education was very good. So I decided that
I would work only with qualified scientists, and with only two exceptions
have maintained that position for twenty-five years by now.
I decided that I would never demonstrate anything to anyone, not even to
scientists I might chance to encounter and who might demand demonstrated
"proof." What I would do is try their experiments. So to get me
to work with them they first had to present me with an experiment, and it
was always to be considered an experiment only regardless of any outcome.
Although I have stood before audiences, some of them quite large, I've never
demonstrated anything -- with the exception of one momentous instance in
1988 just before I retired, and which I'll narrate some distance ahead.
The only other psychic I've known who never demonstrated anything was the
noble Mr. Harold Sherman. When I had the very good fortune of meeting this
remarkable man and his wonderful wife, Martha, we became devoted friends
in the first five minutes.
I decided that the results of experiments, whether negative or positive,
would speak for themselves, and that it was up to the experimenters to defend
their experiments and the results whatever those might be. If I never claimed
anything, then I never need defend anything. Let the RESEARCHERS take not
only the falls, but the glory too if there was to be any.
However, based upon my knowledge of what proper experiments consisted of,
it would have to be I who ultimately decided whether they were worthy and
workable experiments or not. If I could not myself decide that, then I would
consult with independent sources who could advise in this regard. Even so,
I would not attempt or take part in any experiment, or even work with any
researcher that I did not like.
I also decided that even if the experiment was a good one, I would not take
part in it if I intuitively felt I would not succeed.
Becoming publicly accessible and give "readings" was out of the
question, even if I had wanted to do so anyway. And I didn't want to.
I decided that if doing so was feasible, I would try other people's experiments
for free, if those experiments met my criteria. I would hold out for money
only if money had been raised for the experiments and which money included
salaries for the experimenters, at which time my participation should be
I decided that I would never talk to media types -- unless I could scold
media for treating psi phenomena in a negative, shabby and demeaning light.
Please note that certain circumstances along these lines have changed today.
But back in 1972 media chose only to demean psi phenomena as irrational.
I decided that I would never, under any circumstances, talk or interact with a skeptic or enter into any debates with them. I decided that if I needed to, I would attack them, their credentials, and make every effort to reveal their fundamental stupidities. This meant that I would utilize their own tactics against them, and show the public why it should not believe too much in them. After all, I had not for nothing studied the history of anti-psychic skepticism from the early days of Anton Mesmer down into the present.
Please note again that the decisions just above were particularly relevant
back in 1972. It is now 1996, and the existence of psi and psychic phenomena
are now generally accepted as real.
Twenty-five years ago they WERE NOT, and were vigorously condemned by the scientific, academic and media mainstreams as hallucinatory and/or the products of deranged minds.
Various formats of psi are still referred to that way -- for example, in the DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS published by the American Psychiatric Association.
And, it's worth pointing out, that it was because of this prevailing condemnation that the intelligence community of the early 1970s had enormous qualms about getting mixed up with things that were so "controversial."
I decided that I would never seek to emphasize or aggrandize myself or other
psychics, but would seek to distribute the knowledge that psychic potentials
are indwelling in our species, and thus in everyone.
On New Year's Day, I typed up a final version of these eleven principles. I first passed them by my beloved Zelda, who was shocked. "Well," she said, "certain researchers are not going to let you get away with prejudging their experiments. You're just a subject, after all. Things don't work that way."
"Well, Zelda," I replied, "you'll just have to love my imagination AND my big, swollen head, too."
"But the skeptics will be interested, too."
"Well, I've done my research on them also. I know their personal quirks, their backgrounds, and where a few hidden skeletons are stored away."
"But no DEMONSTRATIONS. Everyone wants to see something, you know." This didn't go over too well with Buell Mullen Central either, who were disappointed. But I didn't lose one friend.
I nervously made an appointment with my mentor, Dr. Jan Ehrenwald, so as to pass by my strategic decisions in front of his remarkable wisdom.
When he had finished reading through them, he seemed somewhat pale. His big eyes, somewhat always sad, were bigger. He wasn't smiling, and he studied me in silence for a moment.
Finally, he asked: "Would you like a glass of sherry?" Wow, this was the first time I'd been asked that by him. Our meetings had always been rather formal and staid.
We each drank a modest three glasses -- until the glow became dangerous -- and then talked for a couple of hours about the functioning of the right hemisphere of the brain.
When we parted he sort of whispered: "Well, I'm going to watch you closely now."
In this way, I now imagined myself to be a lean, mean, fighting machine -- one that would work for the psychic powers of our SPECIES.
And it was as such a creature that certain people in the future found themselves encountering very much to their surprise.
Meanwhile, I would smile, be light, laugh a lot, perhaps be a bit sardonic here and there, but would treat everyone as nicely as possible. In other words, I would try to become a diplomat -- a quality generally absent in the then world of parapsychologists, bless their hearts.
With the exception of the media thing, I've stayed very close to all of the other decisions. For I found out that the media represents a special situation -- as we will encounter at various junctures ahead.
With all this decision-making in hand, I then strode back into the sanctum of the ASPR -- and there to find brewing the first and completely unexpected difficulty among all that so far had been composed only of wonder, excitement and beauty.