THE CALM BEFORE THE SECOND GREAT STORM AT THE ASPR
- APRIL 1972 -
The days in late March and early April at the ASPR held no hint or clue
of the second great storm soon to descend -- and shake the venerable Society
to its foundations.
Events and experiments moved very quickly during this period -- so much so that my archives are missing a lot of documents which would help me reconstruct this brief period on a day-to-day basis. So I shall not mind at all if someone else's memory can contribute in this regard.
One of the problems was that so many documents regarding various experiments were stacking up that making copies of them on a daily basis had become difficult. I had no idea back then that posterity would ever be involved.
Also, the ASPR Xerox machine often broke down for days at a time. I suggested to Fanny Knipe that the ASPR should invest in another better one.
She rolled her eyes, and brusquely informed me that this simple matter took Board approval -- and that the Board seldom approved any expenditure unless it absolutely had to do so. Bureaucracy and broken machinery were soon to become a constant pain in my you-know-where in the years ahead.
However, if not on a daily basis, my living memory of the major events is quite clear.
Primary to this period, the formal series of the eight OOB experiments had been concluded and everyone was tense waiting to see what the independent judge would make of them.
No one knew who the judge was except Dr. Osis, Dr. Schmeidler, and perhaps Vera Feldman. Her identity was kept a complete secret -- so that no one could say that she might have been gotten to.
But it was known that she was a professional perceptual psychologist of high reputation and that she was NOT informed that the sketches and photographed targets referred to a psi experiment.
Her function was simply to try to match the response sketches to the photographed targets.
Meanwhile, the experimental workload had quadrupled, largely to my own demands and interests.
There were the "ESPateacher" experiments utilizing the equipment designed by Jim Merriweather, and which he kept improving on.
There were Dr. Silfen's "flicker fusion" experiments, and an interesting set of her experiments referred to as "brightness comparator" experiments. A great deal was learned from the brightness comparator experiments.
Since the yield from these particular experiments was eventually to play a seminal role in the work at SRI, I'll briefly review them.
As I remember the brightness comparator equipment, it consisted of a big black box whose open end was some kind of photo-projection screen.
Upon the screen various shapes could be projected in a back-lit fashion and the light intensity of the targets could be adjusted so that they could be dim, medium strong, and very strongly lit.
The targets themselves were painted with phosphorus, the kind which glows in "dark light" in the ultraviolet band of the spectrum. The intensity of the ultraviolet light could be modulated by a rheostat device.
Whether the target was strongly lit or dim, it was indicated by a slightly illuminated circle.
The successive experiments were run for twenty or more trials before the subject received any feedback as to "hit" or "miss."
The goal was to see if the test subject could better "see" the dim or bright targets -- and so the brightness comparator experiments had to do with light values and intensities.
As I remember it, the equipment was kept in Jim Merriweather's "engineering cubical" in the hall just outside of the main experiment room and Janet's Dynograph office.
To ensure that no one in those two rooms could peek, the screen was turned so that it faced away from them.
Brainwave recordings were taken regarding these (and all other) experiments -- for the major focus of the ASPR work was to identify brainwave values, not simply to test for clairvoyance and other psi whatnot.
At first I didn't do very well with the brightness comparator experiments -- and of course began thinking about why.
As the days went on, I began wondering if "OOB vision" or "clairvoyant vision" were the same as eyesight vision.
Of course the test subject would struggle to see and identify the target. But why would only the target be seen? Would not the "seeing" be able to "see" everything? Everything, such as the light rays and halos themselves?
The distinction between the different light intensities of the targets gave me a clue: variations of light intensity would make it easier or difficult to "see" the targets. But anyway, all concerned LIGHT. Even physical eye vision is a matter of various intensities of light reflection and light refraction.
We physically see things if light is being reflected from them. When dim light is being reflected, we see things more poorly. And when no light is being reflected, we see nothing at all except blackness.
If light is being REFRACTED, then we might not see at all what is refracting it, but just the refraction rays themselves.
So I decided to report not just on the targets themselves, but on EVERYTHING I felt I "saw."
Some improvement in the results began occurring.
A breakthrough of sorts in this regard came on 22 March 1972 -- and which was to have tremendous importance when controlled remote viewing was later developed at Stanford Research Institute.
Thus, for this permanent record of the real story of remote viewing, I will enter Janet's daily report for 22 March 1972.
"Ingo was doing the brightness comparator test with Dr. Silfen today. He enjoys this test and also working with her.
"In the beginning he was missing the comparison by one trial [i.e., seeing the last trial, not the present one. This is called "displacement" in parapsychology lingo.]
"He came up with a possible solution to this missing pattern. It seemed that the air ionized around the target, which is phosphorus. When Ingo stayed back behind Dr. Silfen (his point of view in space, that is), he saw the ionization which had a time lag and this possibly accounted for the one trial off misses.
"When he moved in real close (within a half inch of the target), he could make the discrimination better and the ionization did not interfere.
"Silfen asked him to position himself [i.e., to position the center of clairvoyant perception] on the border between the inner and outer circle. It looks as if position has everything to do with accuracy on this particular test.
"It is not a problem of seeing too little, as we thought before, but SEEING TOO MUCH [emphasis added.] It may be possible that he can see all the waves in the atmosphere from infrared to ultraviolet."
As will be discussed in detail ahead, this "seeing too much" regarding perceptual states external to eye vision was ultimately to become a workhorse in the development of controlled remote viewing.
To simplify here a little, though, psi vision is at first lost within a sea of undulating light, and so one can usually not identify the target. It takes but a little training work to become able to "condense," so to speak, the light into the targets or subjects.
If you don't immediately grasp this here, not to worry. It will become crystal clear later in this book.
Although I did not realize it completely at the time, here was the first and principle "secret" of all forms of psi "seeing."
During this period, we continued with informal OOB experiments. At some point I began noting that all of the targets concealed on the overhead trays were laid flat -- in a sort of two-dimensional way.
Some of the targets had three dimensions, of course, but they all lay flat on the trays. Most of the other targets were merely cut-out pieces of paper of different colors and shapes.
So I suggested that sometimes the targets be put inside small cardboard boxes, not only flat on the bottom, but vertically on the inner sides. At times, even a real three-dimensional target could be placed in the center -- such as a statuette or a piece of modeled clay figure. I wondered if three-dimensional shapes could better be seen this way.
Additionally, the tops of the boxes could be sealed, eliminating any possible "other explanation."
This suggestion at first caused some consternation -- because nobody knew how to model simple shapes in clay. But this was somehow overcome, and the first box targets duly were presented. Osis felt the box should have a small light in it so as to better illuminate the targets.
Then the boxed targets soon appeared which had small "peep holes" in different sides of it, so that the subject could "go" OOB and peak into this or that hole.
Inside, one would be able to see the target on the opposite wall. Sometimes mirrors were used to see if one was seeing the real image or a reflection of it.
All this now had to do with learning from which direction this or that target was being "seen."
Here, then, were the first experiments regarding "dimensions," and which too was to play a seminal and significant role in the later development of controlled remote viewing.
After all, we do live in a three-dimensional world, not a two-dimensional one -- although the thinking apparatus of some appears to be only two-dimensional, and often only one-dimensional (i.e., the infamous "tunnel" vision).
The second of the box experiments was a comical affair. It was completely sealed (with tape) and so there was no way to see inside of it except by getting the center of one's OOB perception inside it.
The inside seemed very dark, in fact black. In the record I commented that "it's dark here. I think the light bulb has burnt out." And so that was the end of that session.
No one could think that the bulb had burnt out, since it had been a new one. Some suggested that I try again. "No," I responded. "Blackness is what I see, and that will be my response on this experiment. I can't begin to doubt my perceptions, for where would that lead?"
So Vera Feldman had to drag in the ladder and take down the box -- to find that the bulb had burned out.
THIS was considered a significant "hit" on my behalf -- because no one, no one could believe the bulb was out. This was one step toward eliminating telepathy as an explanation.
Throughout all these sometimes tedious experiments, we did a long-distance remote viewing thing regarding weather conditions at various cities.
For some reason, these relaxed me -- and there was always an uplifting thrill regarding this form of "traveling clairvoyance." All of these experiments were exhilarating -- as all controlled form of remote viewing were to be in the future, no matter who was acting as the "viewer."
At some point during late March, someone had started up the idea that the ASPR should honor me by giving a reception on its venerable premises because of all the time and work I had taken part in -- and because of my thermistor experiments with Gertrude Schmeidler.
I was horrified. "Oh, no," I protested. "That would be seen as making something special of me."
I showed my New Year's resolutions to several people, and pointed out that I was working on behalf of our species' psi abilities -- and not on making individuals seem special. I couldn't accept a reception, because doing so would have been inimical to my concepts.
I remember saying: "I will live and die, as will all other 'psychics.' And with all of us go the abilities. It's our species' inherent abilities which need to be identified and acknowledged, and once this might be done, then special individuals will not be the focus of all the admiration and attention."
I thought I had squelched the idea of a reception. But such proved not to be the case.
As March flowed into the very early days of April 1972, Hal Puthoff and I had talked on the phone several times in only a few days. I found him to be a fountain of knowledge and willingness to consider novel insights.
But somewhere along the way, he began suggesting that I consider coming out to SRI for a couple of weeks to do some simple experiments and "poke around theoretically."
I explained that if the formal OOB experiments failed, then I would be "gone" from the experimental field altogether.
Besides, in my heart I had more or less concluded that by summer I would slowly depart the ASPR, which I now loved, in order to spend some time trying to write salable sex novels and make some money.
Sex novels (of all kinds) were the utter rage in 1972, and the market for them was booming. Every housewife and college professor was struggling to produce one.
And I bought and read dozens of them in preparation for my new career in this regard, a career which I hoped would launch me as an author into bigger and better novels. Most of what I read in this regard was really very bad and sexually not very stimulating.
In any event, although my heart was still with the experiments, they now took up most of my active brain -- and I was tired of them and the constant challenge to succeed.
I only wanted to exchange some ideas about theoretical stuff with Puthoff -- and that we could so through the mail or over the telephone.
He continued to broach the topic of my coming out to SRI. I kept saying "perhaps," or "maybe."
Besides, SRI had never had a psychic research project, and it WAS the nation's second largest very mainstream think-tank.
I could easily imagine the ensuing difficulties -- and all of which in fact later did come true.
Meanwhile, whether or not the formal OOB experiments succeeded or failed, Janet and Dr. Osis had already decided that they had achieved significant information regarding brain activity.
Although Janet did most of the work and writing, she and Osis had begun outlining a draft of a paper in this regard, to be published in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH.
The paper was entitled PHYSIOLOGICAL CORRELATES OF REPORTED OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCES.
Dr. Carole K. Silfen also prepared a draft of a paper entitled PILOT INVESTIGATIONS OF PERCEPTUAL VARIABLES DURING OOB EXPERIENCES OF INGO SWANN -- this the first of three papers she was to write.
Gertrude Schmeidler has also prepared a draft of a paper, a follow-on to her first paper regarding the PK experiments with the thermistors. It was entitled PK IN TEMPERATURE RECORDS, AND SUGGESTIONS ABOUT HOW IT OCCURS.
So it now looked like I could retire (in June, I thought) from laboratory research, at least for a few months, having done my best bit for the field of parapsychology and having provided something of a small patrimony for posterity.
Buell Mullen, Zelda and Ruth Hagy Brod were horrified at my talk of retiring in order to write -- of all things -- seamy, steaming sex novels.
"My God!" Buell exclaimed. "Do you mean you are going to abandon all this excellent research to become a pornographer!"
So I explained that my novels would be under assumed names, and be erotic art, not pornography. Erotic art had become quite fashionable.
"But what are we to do, then," Buell asked, "with the pledged funding which has been accumulating? I thought we were going to give it to the ASPR."
"Buell," I said, "I can't really live off of other's funding. I really have to try to make some of my own, you know."
Besides, I didn't really know what to do with this promised funding.
The pledged funding was supposed to be kept secret, and so I couldn't discuss it with my mentors. This worried me, for I knew I needed advice -- lots of it, in fact.
But I had discussed this several times with Dr. Augustus B. Kinzel. In his letter to me of 14 March 1972, he had suggested using some of it in the following way. "My suggestion is that your get the [thermistor] phenomenon itself accepted by some group not now involved in the psychic in any way. For example, the Physics Department at C.C.N.Y."
What he meant, of course, was to go mainstream with this kind of research. Such, in 1972, was entirely laughable -- as it largely remains to this day, except in certain secret enclaves world wide.
I was on the verge of suggesting that the pledged fund ultimately be given to the ASPR, and if this could be worked out I would go back there at some future time to do more work.
So this was the situation just before the great storm broke over the ASPR.