STANFORD RESEARCH INSTITUTE (SRI)
Before moving on with the story, it is necessary to describe the functional nature of Stanford Research Institute. The reason for taking time out for doing so is that there are many misunderstandings about the place, and which sometimes figure into and distort various popular versions of how and why remote viewing came about.
But the reader should understand that SRI has a public relations department and that the Institute publishes information about itself and the various research functions that come and go within it.
What now follows constitutes MY understanding of the facility as I acquired it beginning in the summer of 1972, for it is my understanding of the place that figures into the many why's and wherefore's of my future behavior. Since 1972, the name of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) has been changed to SRI International.
SRI is located in Menlo Park, California not far
from the southernmost tip of San Francisco Bay, and, more or less, is on
the Western side of what is known as Silicon Valley, one of the largest
research preserves in the world.
This is a vast outspread collective of private and corporate research facilities which reaches eastward, includes many towns, and ultimately incorporates San Jose. So thickly populated are all of these towns that there is no visible demarcation between them except road signs. But Silicon Valley proper also would incorporate the entire Bay area and include San Francisco, Oakland, and other cities to the north.
Impressive freeways have been constructed on the edges of the towns for speedy access to the various research installations. The main drag that links them centrally is El Camino Real.
Menlo Park itself had a small town atmosphere,
somewhat sleepy and "laid back." In a certain sense, it was a
place one would pass through, hardly noticing it, to get somewhere else
except that SRI was there SRI, often described as the nation's
second largest "think tank" after the Rand Corporation.
The facility sat on about thirteen acres of land, formerly occupied by fruit tree orchards, and under which ran a branch of the great San Andreas earthquake fault. The thirteen acres were mostly composed of a collection of two/three-story buildings and rather large parking areas to accommodate the moving vehicles of all who worked there.
In 1972, I was told that there were about 3,200 such workers, composed of scientists, administrative echelons, support staffs, maintenance and security personnel. The various branches of science research activities were somewhat separated into various buildings, or at least on to various floors. But they were all linked together by the central administrative complex containing offices, reception and conference facilities, the main dining room, and an excellent library.
Neophytes to the place needed a map in order to figure out how to get to here and there.
Hal gave me a tour of the facility on our first
morning, Monday, June 5, and I remember that he seemed proud to have found
a place therein. I think he was a bit surprised when I took the place aboard
But I felt at home almost immediately because although SRI was spread out horizontally rather than towering vertically, its population size and internal organization and divisioning were almost like the United Nations Secretariat where I had worked for so many years.
The only real difference was that whereas the United Nations was a diplomatic body, SRI was a scientific research and development one. But the organizational superstructures of both were nearly identical.
One small difference, though, was that I noticed
that there were metal bars everywhere, protective fences. So I mentioned
this to Hal, and thus learned that Stanford Research Institute was no longer
a part of Stanford University. They had been forced to become separate entities
because of the recent student campus riots at the University of the type,
if I remember correctly, had begun at Kent State University.
One of the major objections of the Stanford students was that the University's research arm was intimately connected to the government/military/industry machine, and insisted that this link be terminated.
Expecting demonstrations and riots, SRI had quickly
installed protective bars everywhere in anticipation of the kind which had
trashed the University campus itself. Thus the research arm was detached
from the auspices of the University and reincorporated as a separate entity.
After lunch, Hal gave me a car tour of the University campus. So in the central area I was able to see the extent of the destruction. All windows everywhere were crashed in and boarded up, including the book store, and as well there had been extensive internal damage.
So, now in 1972, SRI was a private research institute
or "think tank," and indeed the major part of what was called
its "funding" came from government sources. The annual extent
of this funding was said to be in the range of $70 million annually.
Here is one major reason that Puthoff once indicated to me regarding why he had resigned from the University and came to SRI. He wanted to do research as, in my own mind, all great scientists want to do. He could no longer really do it at the University. Merely lecturing at university was trapping oneself in the past. Research is the direction to the future.
And whatever else might be said of Puthoff, he was a doer not a mere lecturer focusing only on academic tenure.
It is this "funding" situation which
is most misunderstood by the public and even by many writers and reporters.
It is commonly assumed that the government, etc., contributed money to SRI
for research purposes.
It is this assumption which now needs to be corrected, because it was to constitute a terrific source of problems regarding what lay ahead for remote viewing and for Dr. Puthoff's several projects.
Scientific researchers who proposed to work within the SRI umbrella had also not only to bring their own brains with them, but their own funding, too. They had to write proposals for research, circulate the proposals to various potential "sponsors," fight over the amount of funding required, and then bring that money to SRI.
In 1972, SRI promptly cannibalized $1 out of every $3 the researchers had managed to acquire. This one-third amount went to cover the general overhead costs of the entire SRI organization. The remaining funds went to the researcher's project in terms of salaries, equipment, and whatever other expenditures were needed to complete the research project.
To be clear here, each researcher was not hired
by SRI and none received any money from the organization itself. All had
to bring their own money with them, and keep it in-flowing or they
didn't work at SRI.
If such money was not coming in, SRI management might support the researcher's project for about eight months on overhead, expecting to be repaid when new money did come in. If it didn't, the researcher had to get out, move elsewhere, often into obscurity.
Dr. Hal Puthoff hoped to establish at SRI a project to research, in a completely scientific sense, certain paranormal phenomena, to bring to those phenomena the expertise of physics and etc. To do this, he had to write proposals and flog them to potential funders.
In essence, well, let's get into the proper vocabulary, Puthoff was proposing to conduct PSYCHIC research at SRI, right in the middle of the nation's second largest "think tank."
As I remember it, this was the first time I simply broke out giggling in front of Puthoff for what he was proposing was something the entirety of parapsychology and earlier psychical research had never been able to achieve, even though those two fields had been populated by some very eminent scientists and not a few Nobel Prize winners.
Puthoff took my giggling in stride, as he was always
to do in the future, and asked me to explain.
So I briefed him on the many of the well-known and little-known fiascoes and horrors of funding in parapsychology, how parapsychologist stabbed one another in the back in order to sequester any possible funding, no matter how small, for themselves.
Then! There was the absolute resistance to psi frequently demonstrated by science proper, resistance elaborated everywhere by science groupies of the skeptical bent. Then! There was the MEDIA Time Magazine, for example, whose smug enthusiasm destructively put every real psi research effort into their broadly-read "fraud box."
Puthoff took me to lunch in SRI's main dining room. There I remember saying that "not only will you have to raise funding no one else has ever been able to achieve, not even J. B. Rhine for all HIS visibility and this place is, I think, a very expensive one. But you will also get clobbered from far and wide." I've paraphrased this a little, but I do specifically remember the word "clobbered."
I'm afraid I was the doubter here, but I'll freely admit I have a pronounced streak of pessimism. But, considering all things, pessimists usually prove to be more correct than optimists do. You see, it's really hard to get anything constructive going, since there are many smashers and scumbags lurking everywhere and we will meet some prime examples in chapters ahead.
However, I didn't know Harold E. Puthoff very well at this point. Had I known him better, doubtlessly I would have never giggled and would have kept my mouth shut even though it is very difficult for me to do so.
Anyhow, it seemed Puthoff was about to attempt
a self-launch into the impossible which WAS impossible from almost every
standpoint whereas I was about to begin my descent back from the impossible
to my mundane and hopefully more predictable realities. So it didn't matter
very much or so I thought.
And Monday, 5 June 1972, was the first of the five days I was obliged to spend with him. Only four more days to go, I silently said to myself and then I'll be free again, one way or the other.
The real fact of the matter, though, was something
neither Puthoff nor I could have imagined. For unknown to both of us WE
HAD BUT SOME THIRTY-TWO HOURS TO GO before both of us were plunged into
the THREE strangest attributes of the IMPOSSIBLE.
You see: (1) the impossible is invisible until it happens; (2) after it has happened, everyone makes very serious efforts to explain how it didn't or couldn't happen which is to say, to re-invisibilize it; and (3) efforts to re-invisibilize something serve to make it MORE visible.
And, as I might point out, here in a nutshell is the entire history of psi during the modern scientific period - and which might be further reduced to four words: KEEPING THE IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE. Yeah!
The event that occurred on 6 June 1972 was to galvanize
the pathways that led into the next fifteen years of research at SRI. Even
so, had it occurred elsewhere and under the auspices of anyone else except
Hal Puthoff, doubtless it promptly would have been re-invisibilized
as have all great moments in psychical and parapsychology research.
But Dr. H. E. Puthoff was now on the case. And thereby hangs the very slim thread he wove into the mighty rope which came to lasso ALL of this nation's great and not-so-great intelligence agencies.
There is a definition of personal power which should
now be presented. It is this: personal power is the ability to create a
context in which others can play.
Puthoff created such a context. And many indeed were those who came to play in it including the many who ultimately served to trample it into once-again empty meaning.