THE GREAT STORM AT THE ASPR
- APRIL 1972 -
The great storm at the ASPR in April 1972 has been shoved in one of those closets which hold skeletons of scandals, and so it has been conveniently "forgotten" about.
But in some full part it was the first of the reasons I ultimately decided to visit Hal Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute, and out of which arose remote viewing proper.
Just before this storm I had more or less decided NOT to go to SRI -- not only for the reasons mentioned earlier, but because he also was a Scientologist. I fully understood that this "connection" would stick to oneís boots like wet, red clay and distort the work in the distorting minds of many.
And so it has.
The great storm of April, however, was not the straw which broke the camelís back, however. THAT straw occurred in the next month of May.
As the early days of April opened up, I discovered that the plan to give the reception at the ASPR in my honor was STILL underway, despite my pleas that it not be held.
I was furious about this, which I felt was in bad taste. I knew very well how mere "psychics" were viewed in parapsychology, and in any event I was a mere test subject.
I bitched at length about this to Zelda Dearest -- and to the Wingates, only to find they were fully in favor of it.
Zelda especially was in favor of the reception, too, and thought I was being silly -- and said as much several times.
Finally she counseled: "You know, you have to learn to let other people to do things for you. Youíre not very good at that. You insist in doing everything for yourself. They obviously admire you, and you should accept it with grace."
What I accepted, though, is that when women get an idea organized, one should just as well get out of their way -- for it was a cadre of women members of the ASPR which had decided that the reception should be held. Indeed, the reception would cost the ASPR nothing, since they themselves were funding it.
At this point, the reception would include only members of the ASPR and their friends. It was anticipated that about sixty people would attend.
The reception was scheduled for the early evening of April 26.
Also during the very early days of April, the judge of the formal eight OOB experiments returned her findings -- after which she was told that she had judged an experiment regarding out-of-body perceptions. I was told she was very surprised, since she thought she had judged a standard visual perceptual series of tests of some kind. I was also told that she had no idea at all that OOB perception could be so efficient.
In other words, she had attempted to match the eight picture drawings with the photographs of eight of the tray targets on the assumption that the responses were some form of visual perceiving.
We hoped that she would match at least six of them to bring the success rate just slightly above chance. If she matched four or less, then the rate would be at or below chance expectation -- and therefore useless.
My calendar for April 1972 shows that 4 April was the first day of that month I went up to work at the ASPR.
When I arrived, Fanny Knipe said that Dr. Osis was waiting for me in Janetís office. So I bounded up the two flights of stairs -- to find Janet and Osis with big smiles spread across their faces.
Janet was obviously bursting with something to say, but it was Dr. Osisí lab and she waited for him to say whatever it was.
The independent judge, blind to the fact she had judged an experiment regarding OOB perceptions, had correctly matched all eight of the formal trials. This was a 100 per cent match, far above any question of chance expectations.
Another independent judge was later asked to judge the same targets and picture drawings again. He, too, correctly matched all eight of them.
But here I must caution that my picture drawings were not completely exact regarding ALL of the elements on the target trays. However, enough of the major elements were exact enough to permit the matching.
I enter these comments here because of the myth that ESP perceptions can be as perfect as eye vision. I will discuss much more regarding this myth in chapters ahead -- for it was to become a vital component of tutoring regarding controlled remote viewing.
I was very relieved -- not only because the judging confirmed the efficiency of the Osis/Mitchell experiment, but it also confirmed that once again the experiment had been REPEATABLE regarding all eight of the formal trials.
I was also relieved because now I could leave the fighting ring of parapsychology lab work as a "winner," and get back to my life and try to make some real money.
Furthermore, I would do my best to cause the secret, accumulating donor fund to be given to the ASPR -- although Buell Mullen Central did not favor that and still considered the ASPR a cesspool of intrigue and stupid mismanagement.
Osis warned me to keep the judging a secret until the publishing committee had a chance to review the two papers.
"Two?" I asked. "I thought there was only going to be one paper, the one on physiological correlates."
No, now that the judging of the eight formal experiments had turned out so well, he and Janet would quickly prepare a shorter, separate paper regarding them.
Then Dr. Osis asked one of the strangest questions I ever heard. He sat down in a chair right next to the temperamental Dynograph and leaned one arm on the top face where the tracing pins were. I saw Janetís face wince.
Osis was quite tall, thin and lanky. While sitting, he had a strange way of wrapping his legs around each other so that they seemed to form a single intertwining coil.
In this position, he smiled and asked in his thick Latvian accent: "Vell, Eeengo, vy is it ju can do it -- and I canít?"
Well, I had no answer as to why I could "do it," much less why others couldnít. But I sensed, or thought I did, a trace of jealousy or envy -- and was shocked at this tip of a hidden iceberg.
I mention this here not to discredit Osis in any way. For by now I thought he was a genius at conceiving and designing the OOB experiment, and which conception and design had achieved full ASPR Board approval BEFORE it had started up.
Rather, I mention it here because it was the first time I experienced even a possible hint of envy -- and bigger and better examples of which I was to experience in the years ahead, both in subtle ways and in ways no one bothered to conceal.
And some of those who didnít bother to conceal their envy/rage, or whatever it was, were some noted parapsychologists themselves.
And the whole of this envy constituted discrimination and persecution of noted psychics, even if subtly deployed behind the scenes.
Osis and Mitchell went ahead and immediately submitted the draft of the physiological correlates paper to the ASPR publishing committee, indicating that the shorter paper would quickly follow.
No trouble was expected here, because it was standard procedure for the papers to be published in the ASPRís JOURNAL, and because the OOB experiments had been pre-approved by the Board. Whether the papers reported on success or failure, the JOURNAL was obliged to publish them.
The Chairman of the Publishing Committee was Dr. J. G. Pratt, a noted parapsychologist. Mrs. Laura A. Dale was Editor of the ASPRís JOURNAL.
I, myself, obeyed Dr. Osisí instructions of secrecy, and told no one, not even Zelda, about the outcome of the OOB experiments judging.
But on the next day, 5 April, I had three gentlemen to my studio. They were from Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship, and who had come to visually inspect me as a suitable "psychic" to take part in the seminars and retreats of that Fellowship.
I had prepared coffee and cakes for them. But not long after they arrived, they began congratulating me on the successful judging of the eight formal OOB experiments.
In fact, they seemed overwhelmed -- and so I undertook to caution them about reading too much into the experiments.
By that evening, my phone was ringing constantly. It seemed that EVERYONE knew Dr. Osisí secret. Buell Mullen, Zelda, and Ruth Hagy Brod complained that I had not alerted them earlier.
As a result of this news, the ladies planning the reception took it on themselves to enlarge the invitational list and make it a public open house affair. Buell and Zelda went to their telephones accordingly, while Ruth Hagy Brod notified her very many contacts in the media.
I merely shuddered.
A few days later, Janet received a letter dated 12 April from Laura Dale, Editor of the JOURNAL, regarding the draft paper on physiological correlates. Janet provided me an except of this letter, and which read:
"Assuming that the Publications Committee okays the paper as I am positive they will (although it is quite possible they may have suggestions for changes and/or clarifications), I plan to use it in our January, 1974 issue (deadline July 1 [of 1972].)
"Many thanks for everything and I think you have a marvelous piece of work."
To this, Janet added: "That, my friend, is what is known as a COMPLIMENT!!!"
You see, Mrs. Dale had quite a reputation as being stern, tough, and unforgiving, and whose devotion to immaculate details was legendary.
I myself only twice saw Laura Dale at the ASPR, but I was never introduced to her. You see, I was merely a test subject.
Dr. Osis had been to my studio several times to visit, discuss various matters informally, and to view my artwork. He had a very fine eye for art, and a good deal of knowledge about it.
He was a bit short on compliments, though, and I was never certain he liked my paintings.
But he telephoned one day, and asked: "Eeengo, vy donít ve haf some of your paintings at zee reception?"
Oh horrors! This would really draw things out of proportion -- to have a show of my own paintings at a reception for my humble self. Parapsychologists would certainly think I was trying to become a psychic personality and was using the ASPR to flaunt my own art work.
So I complained: "That would be too expensive for me. The trucking and all that (some of my paintings were quite large). The ASPR walls were not lit enough for artwork, and so some temporary light fixtures would need to be installed."
Osis was undaunted. And when the Ladies Auxiliary got on my back about this I gave up and provided a budget for the costs -- which ultimately came to $164, and which was reimbursed from somewhere.
The labor, though was something else. It took me, with Jim Merriweatherís help, two days to get the lights and install them.
And so I would get to see some of my outer space paintings displayed against the ladies-room pink walls.
I was quite early in my outer space period, which lasted from 1971 through 1977. My goal was to make ART out of the star fields, not merely sweetness-and-light or science fiction illustrations of them.
The storm came as a gigantic meteor falling out of space, on about 17 May 1972.
When I arrived that day for work, I found Janet a wreck, and she had obviously been crying.
"Whatís the matter?" I asked.
"Well," Janet began as if she were about to burst into incandescent energy, "you wonít believe this one. The publishing committee has refused to publish the papers! And they wonít say why!"
I was so astonished that I failed to comprehend what she had just said. So I asked: "What did you say?"
She clarified the issue by a stream of four-letter words -- which I understood much more clearly.
I was so stunned I had to sit down -- and light up the biggest cigar I had with me.
Thus began one of the biggest scandals which was to shake the venerable, historical Society to its foundations. Even Dr. Osis, the Research Director of the Society, had tears in his eyes. Indeed, everyone did.
And, to make matters worse, the reception was but nine days ahead.
No one, not even various Board members could influence the publishing committee to change its mind. The arguments and fights were tremendous.
But an excuse was rendered up by the publishing committee under tremendous pressure to do so.
The results, it was said, of the OOB experiments were so good that there "must be something wrong with them."
This is exactly what devoted skeptics say when confronted with many other excellent psi research results.
The publishing committee, however, did not consist of devoted skeptics, but of "devoted" parapsychologists of high standing.
And these parapsychologists had now completely rejected the Osis OOB experiments -- experiments whose designs and safeguards had previously been approved by the Executive Board, and of which the publishing committee officers were also members.
The whole of this was, of course, a direct attack on the integrity and competency of Dr. Osis, Janet, and, of course, on my humble self.
What this meant for me was that my name as an experimental test subject was mud -- and would have stayed mud unless I had not gone on to bigger things.
This, however, was not the time to feel sorry for myself. My heart went out to Osis and Janet -- as did the heart of Mrs. Marion Nester, the editor and producer of the quarterly ASPR NEWSLETTER.
If I remember correctly, Marion had the summer issue of the NEWSLETTER almost ready to go to press.
But she was as outraged as everyone else was. She said that she would scrub what had been prepared, and publish the results of the eight formal experiments (I will quote at length from this NEWSLETTER in the next chapter).
This, however, was not the same as having papers published in the JOURNAL, and which parapsychologists everywhere considered a scientific one.
I donít believe Dr. Osis ever fully recovered from this disgusting event -- although he continued as Research Director for some years more. Although he and I were to have one big fight in May, I nonetheless honor and respect him completely.
At that time, he was one of the very few parapsychologists researching the question of whether there is some aspect of the human being that can go out-of-body and which might survive after death.
I did not fully realize at the time how hated was this concept by parapsychologists everywhere.
Dr. Osis was a member in good standing of the American Psychological Association, the Eastern Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow for the Scientific Study of Religion, and was on the Board of the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research.
He had published over seventy scientific articles, and had researched and authored the particular book which first brought the concept of Out-Of-Body to public awareness: DEATHBED OBSERVATIONS BY PHYSICIANS AND NURSES (1961).
Ethically speaking, I felt that the publishing committee had no right to refuse his papers, considering that the Board had preapproved the experiments and their safeguards.
I felt that surely some other parapsychologists, and even the American Parapsychology Association, would come to his assistance -- or at least review his situation.
But to my knowledge, no one did. As I was lately reminded, the same "powers" which refused to publish his and Janetís papers were ALSO powers within the American Parapsychology Association.
To all practical purposes, this great innovator was left out in the cold as far as parapsychology was concerned.
What this amounted to was yet ANOTHER example of discrimination and persecution -- one far more serious and disgusting than what had happened to me.
I was not to learn the real reason for the refusal to publish the papers. But five years later I did so -- and from an impeccable source.
Dr. Gaither J. Pratt (1910-1979), who was the Chairman of the publishing committee, was also the foremost advocate in the United States for the NON-REPEATABLE experiment.
As mentioned earlier in this book, this was the concept that parapsychology would never have a repeatable experiment -- such as I had done with Backster, Schmeidler and Osis.
Backster, of course, was not considered a parapsychologist by parapsychologists. The JOURNAL published Schmeidlerís papers on the repeatable thermistor experiments -- but only perhaps because of her extraordinary standing in science and parapsychology.
Some parapsychologists on the Board of the venerable Society also felt that the ASPR SHOULD NOT itself conduct research, and wanted to do away with the office of Research Director.
And, indeed, when Osis finally did retire, the office of Research Director was not filled again.
In the end, the Osis-Mitchell OOB experiments have been mentioned in almost every reference and popular book since.
Long after Osis had given up, Janet Mitchell continued to try to get published the paper on physiological correlates -- and which was avoided like the plague.
It was finally published in 1977, after I had become known as a "psychic spy for the CIA" and etc.
But it was published not by an American source, but in England in the JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH. I will refer to this paper ahead, because some of its findings were unusual and crucial to the development of controlled remote viewing.
In April of 1972, however, it was quite likely that the publishing committee of the ASPR did not realize what the ultimate outcomes of this disgusting event would be.
The publishing committee probably didnít know of the existence of -- get ready for this -- of the Buell, Zelda and Ruth Centrals, and which tripartite kingdoms were extensive and reached everywhere, including into the influential, the parapsychological and the media.
All three of my wonderful gals were completely outraged, and seemed to take the rejection of the Osis-Mitchell papers as a personal affront to their DYNAMIC SELVES.
Thus, I personally know of five individuals who, on their deaths, were prepared to bequeath their considerable estates to the ASPR, but who changed their minds.
And during the first year after this storm, the ASPR lost over a thousand members and their subscription fees, and another thousand during the following year.
Meanwhile, the JOURNAL proceeded along as a forum through which parapsychologists could get their papers published -- even though Chester B. Carlson, largely because of Osisí efforts, had set up the venerable Society with his $2 million endowment for RESEARCH, not exclusively as a publishing house for papers.
He had invested in Dr. Osisí concepts regarding out-of-body research and survival after death.
It was at this time that I first encountered the idea of getting the money under any pretense possible -- and then utilizing it for entirely different things.
Buell Mullen, and the two lovable Bennitts, were not ones to gloat. But they couldnít resist telling me "I told you so" -- that the venerable Society was a cesspool of pointless intrigue and backbiting, and expert in shooting itself in its feet.
In private, Buell asked: "Well, you still want to give the pledged donor fund to the ASPR?"
At this point, the covert pledges amounted to just over $350,000.
I, of course, was completely embarrassed. I explained that I had volunteered to leave the ASPR so I could get on with my own life.
But Osis, Mitchell, Schmeidler, Ehrenwald, the Wingates and Arthur Twitchell had asked me to stay in order to complete outstanding experiments.
It was even thought we might do another fresh set of formal OOB experiments all of which would be filmed on camera this time.
"I would like to support Osis," I told Buell. "But right now itís not at all clear how to do it."
Indeed, NOTHING was clear any more.