THE FIRST UPSET AT THE ASPR
- JANUARY, 1972 -
On the surface of things, parapsychology appears to be a rather calm field in which experiments are conducted and reports are published. The many steps from experimental design through formal reports are quite well known and accepted.
By far and large, though, much beyond the field itself, the final reports are published in parapsychology's own journals -- and thus find little in the way of excited outside or public interest.
This is somewhat to say that the field has become encapsulated within its own tightly woven cocoon -- and the nature of the cocoon has varied since the first formal psychical research organization was set up in 1882.
All things considered, it could be said that parapsychology, its products and especially its inner workings are almost invisible regarding the public at large.
This might be interpreted in ways indicating that parapsychology is a world or a subculture of its own, and that it doesn't directly interface with other scientific disciplines or public appreciation.
The reasons for this cannot be blamed on parapsychology alone -- reasons I will be forced to comment upon as this tale and soap opera extends into bigger and more dramatic realms.
One of the fall-outs of this isolation, and as I've directly experienced, is that parapsychologists are not used to having OUTSIDE influences penetrate into their midst.
They like the processes and motions in their subculture to be predictable and more or less under the control or influence of their recognized leaders. I can't fault them for this. But it does raise the matter of status within the subculture, the matter of who's who, and who has power over whom.
During the period of my "entry" into parapsychology, there were four sources of outside influences parapsychologists, as a group, tried to guard against.
The first three of these sectors consisted of psychics, skeptics, and independent, radical researchers working outside of the pale of the inside lines of parapsychology -- such as Cleve Backster and others we'll meet ahead.
All of these brought unpredictable influences into parapsychology -- but which even I agree needed to be sustained by some kind of central core so as to remain as scientific and proper as possible.
There were never any published documents along these lines, though. But such was commonly "understood."
There was a fourth influence which tended to disrupt parapsychology matters and to introduce visions of serious, even threatening unpredictability.
It is difficult to nail down this influence.
You have to get the larger picture that parapsychology was a very small, quite introverted subculture and which wished to proceed in its affairs without much in the way of outside intrusions into its midst.
One potential source of such intrusion consisted of "official inquiry" or investigations by anything resembling, for example, organized law enforcement agencies -- up to and including the FBI.
Such implied that "something was wrong somewhere," and which introduced all sorts of apprehensions -- even though back in 1972 hearsay had long existed that police, even the FBI, occasionally consulted psychics to help solve difficult, clueless crimes.
Work on the OOB "seeing" experiments and on the new remote viewing ones had recommenced after the New Year of 1972. If I remember, the first "glitch" in the works occurred just before the second working session of that month.
I arrived at the ASPR and sort of noticed that everyone was nervous. No one smiled a greeting, and some looked at me out of the corners of their eyes.
Even Janet Mitchell was out of sorts and not smiling as usual.
As we were getting set up to proceed with the experiments, I felt the presence of a disruption which seemed to hang in every room.
So I said: "Why is everyone in a snit? What's going on."
Janet looked at me rather remorsefully. "Well, I'm not supposed to tell you, but some guys were here checking you out. I wasn't here when they came. But everyone thinks you are being investigated for some whoop-ti-do."
"Investigated -- for what?"
"How the hell should I know? No one tells me anything."
Now, I had a particular horror about being investigated. This stemmed from undergoing the "morals and character clearance" investigation which the U. S. government demanded for American citizens working at the United Nations. No other Member government of the United Nations imposed this on their citizens working in the world body.
I had security clearances for civil service work when I was in high school and other clearances while in the Army. But the UN thing was wild, absolutely wild.
The extent of the UN clearance was awesome. For one thing, it took TWO years to process. Investigators dug into every possible aspect of my life -- even in the town I was born, everything down to my personal habits, what I read, who I hung out with, and on and on.
Of course, reports of the inquiries flooded back to me -- and I was outraged and furious about some the really dirty and visceral questions which had been asked of other people.
Many horror stories were shared with me by other American citizens who had survived what had happened to them and their reputations BECAUSE of our government's desire to make sure one was suitable to work in the international civil service headquartered in the Secretariat of the UN
Meanwhile, I worked for the two years under a temporary contract, as was required for all Americans. At the end of the two years my clearance was approved -- but I felt like I'd been through an extensive inquisition which was done on the rack.
My reputation suffered more from the investigation than anything I could be capable of doing. I don't know if today the same goes on regarding American citizens at the United Nations -- but anyhow I was terribly sensitive to this kind of thing.
Since Janet didn't know anything, I got myself down to the toilet-pink lobby and to the desk of Mrs. Laura F. Knipe (Fanny) and who DID know everything. She was then Executive Secretary of the ASPR, and ruled the venerable organization with an iron fist the likes of which would give Godzilla pause.
"So," I said, "who were they?"
THEY turned out to have been two guys dressed in suits who flashed some credentials and asked to see Dr. Osis, and who had asked some questions of him and Fanny about my humble self.
So I got myself up to Osis' office on the fourth floor and nailed him down. He had talked with THEM behind closed doors, wasn't free to tell me what was discussed, and then had shown them the experiment rooms, described the experiments, and showed them some of my experimental results.
Dr. Osis had not thought to ask to see their credentials, and so no one seemed to know who THEY were -- except possibly Fanny because NO ONE got past her. But she never told me.
With this mystery unsolved, I bombed regarding the targets all that day -- and went down to Zelda's to play Scrabble, drink more than enough wine, and speculate.
Zelda smiled knowingly -- saying something like "your reputation goes before you, even into the highest places."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"THEY are interested in you."
(No answer from Zelda.)
"Well, THEY scared the shit out of everyone at the ASPR. I've a feeling that my days there are numbered."
News of the two guys at the ASPR leaked through the parapsychology gossip lines, of course. Yes. Parapsychology has vital and visceral internal gossip lines, and deadly sewage occasionally flows through them. So I was now suspect -- although no one seemed to know what for.
And as most people realize, where facts are not available our species has a penchant to fill them in with imagination.
In this way, I thus became an irritant within the introverted parapsychological subculture -- become some outside official interests seemed to be focusing on me for some unknown reason.