SOCIAL INTRODUCTIONS AND
6 JUNE 1972
As Puthoff and I leapt into action on Tuesday morning, 6 June 1972, neither
of us could imagine that before the day was finished two things would be
(1) I would have the crucial element I needed to retire from all of this parapsychology bullshit; I could rest on my shaky laurels, return to New York and begin getting on with my life;
(2) Puthoff would have one element he would advertise far and wide on behalf of getting his desired project afloat.
But, as that day began, certainly I had no hint
of what was to happen - - and I don't think Puthoff did either.
He and I more or less began the day with what was
to become a constant ritual for almost everyone connected with the long-term
project I was convinced would never come about.
On Menlo Park's main drag, not too far from SRI, was Pete's Coffee Shop. This establishment sold a very large selection of coffee and coffee-making materials, usually of the more elegant, costly kind. But tucked in a front corner behind the street window was a small coffee bar which brewed and sold cups of some of the most delicious coffees I had ever tasted before or since. I was especially fond of Italian espresso liberally laced with milk.
In somewhat the same way that people went to the South or North Lounges at the United Nations to discuss substantive matters, in Menlo Park people went to Pete's to do so.
On the morning's work agenda were a number of experiments
Puthoff had set up having to do with psychokinesis (also known as PK). Also,
he was to introduce me to Dr. Bonnar (Bart) Cox, Executive Director, Information
Science and Engineering Division.
"Well," I said, "please don't introduce me as a `psychic.' I can't stand being thought of as one."
And with this began discussions about something
which was forevermore to cause more heads and asses to ache than any other
thing: the problem of NOMENCLATURE, a problem somewhat akin to the fabled
"black hole of Calcutta" into which much goes and nothing ever
comes out - - a problem of extraordinary importance - - a problem no one
pays any attention to - - and a problem which most people absolutely refused
to believe IS a problem.
As I told Puthoff, I never claimed to be "a
psychic." I did not give psychic readings and never intended to do
so. And in any event the term didn't have a very good definition in the
first place and therefore acted merely as a stereotyping label.
Indeed, I have always had, and still do, much disgust with stereotyping labels since these always serve as the method others use to REDUCE a human to a simple object.
I learned very early, via my favorite avocation of people watching, that EVERYONE is composed of many things, everyone is very complex. Therefore I didn't at all see why such multifaceted-faceted creatures should be reduced to a single label.
As I explained to him, all I had done during the
last twelve months was to volunteer to be a "subject" in certain
parapsychology tests. But the term "subject" was a reductive label,
too. What so-called subjects actually do in experiments is to COLLABORATE
with the experimenters who design the experiments.
After all, no experimenters' experiments are any good unless someone agrees to collaborate in the role of trying to produce the phenomena the experimenters want.
There is therefore no such thing as a subject - - but there are such things as participating roles which when put all together make up the experiment.
This type of conversation led me to begin tearing
apart a number of other standard parapsycholgy terms - - an examination
we continued in the car going back to SRI, an examination that ultimately
continued through the next fifteen years.
And an examination that will be continued in this book at various important junctures - - for if anyone wants to comprehend what remote viewing is, the standard parapsychology nomenclature is useless and, in fact, misdirecting.
I thought all of the existing terminology should be done away with - - since it contributed more to stereotyping than anything else. Stereotyping, I said, reduces a person's thinking mechanisms to such a simplistic point they no longer need to really think.
I don't remember exactly when I was taken into
Bart Cox's inner sanctum. But I found him, in my own assessment, to be a
noble man, very erudite, somewhat gentle, but not likely to put up with
too much bullshit.
I found myself wondering what it took to achieve his position at the nation's second largest think tank. I was somewhat intimidated by what his credentials must consist of. We exchanged courtesies, and the meeting was brief. He and I were to have far longer discussions ahead.
On the way into and out of Dr. Cox's office, I
also met Mrs. Judy Schmickley, his assistant and secretary. At the time,
this was an "oh, by the way, this is Judy Schmickley" type of
But as we shall see ahead, this wonderful woman was to play a significant role in what lay ahead. She was to be put to many stresses and situations which dumbfounded her and challenged her realities -- not only about unusual situations, but how people BEHAVED.
And I was to be rewarded with the life-long friendship of this most excellent and extremely ethical person, a friendship which is still extant today.
Puthoff and I tried a couple of magnetometer experiments
he had set up.
A magnetometer is an instrument for measuring magnetic intensity, especially of earth's magnetic field, but also of many substances, chemicals and elements. The magnetism produces an "electric potential."
You will recall from my descriptions of Cleve Backster's work that if a magnetic intensity changes, the change will be accompanied by an "electric potential shift" usually indicated on some sort of chart recording the electric potential and any changes in it.
I don't believe there was anything significant
achieved in these preliminary experiments, or if so, then the effects were
minimal. Puthoff's "toys," as all such things were later to be
called, were very elegant and up-to-date ones. But I noticed, and discussed
it with him, that his toys were powered by the electric outlets of the wall,
and therefore inundated with 60-cycle alternating current.
The toys in Cleve Backster's lab, on the other hand, were powered by batteries and utilized direct current. I also noted that Backster had told me that alternating current was very strong, and tended to occlude the more refined, and weaker PK interactions with his plants and substances.
The basic theory was this.
In considering an experimental PK design, if the
equipment is run by electric power, then the electricity itself must be
considered a full part of the experiment.
The electricity element was not usually considered an important part in most PK experiments -- because the experimenters thought that the "target" was some mechanism within the equipment that would be sensitive to PK impulses from the subject.
Backster thought that the human trying to influence
the target must in some way actually interact not only with the target,
but with the whole system involved. The smaller and more separated this
system is from all other electrical energies, the better the experiment,
and the easier to make PK "appear."
A direct current system can be set up with a battery, and which isolates all of the equipment and experiment from all other electrical sources -- and so the whole system is quite small and contained.
In the case of equipment being plugged into a wall
socket, the whole system must actually be very extensive, and ultimately
include the gigantic generators which are producing the electric power.
The "system" would also include the enormous electric grids that distribute the power to many users, and smaller grids which download the alternating current into SRI, and into the magnetometers sitting on the table.
In any event, the literature of psychical research
and parapsychology contain quite a number of apparently successful PK experiments
which utilized direct current versus alternating current situations.
Then there is the matter of "shielding" the experiment from other kinds of electromagnetism. For example, our planet has a magnetic field, and various parts of its surface have variations within that field. An individual's body also has some kind of field. And so the whole concept of an electromagnetic environment becomes problematical.
Puthoff understood all of this completely, but for my part it turned out that I knew nothing at all about what such shielding would consist of.
Of course we had lunch in SRI's main dining room
where I was introduced as a "New York artist" to a number of scientific
types. But everyone knew I was THUH "psychic" -- with the result
that most were rather nervous not knowing exactly what to say since there
had never before been such a creature upon the think-tank premises.
I do recall, though, that at least two or three of the scientific types quietly asked if I could read their minds.
Not knowing how to reply, I just smiled and changed the subject -- which made them MORE nervous. I already knew that everyone had their own idea of what a psychic is -- and that they project that idea onto psychics.
In any event, we may be ourselves to ourselves. But to others, we are not ourselves, but THEIR idea of what THEY think we are. And that is usually the beginning and end of THAT story, right? Right!
I don't remember what happened after lunch -- except
that I had to go into a men's room and throw up the lunch.
The next thing I do remember about that day was
that about 4:15 in the afternoon Puthoff said something like "Oh, by
the way, there's a shielded magnetometer set up over at Stanford University.
How would you like to try that?"
I said I thought that would be a good idea. "Will it be hard to arrange before I go back to New York?"
No, Puthoff didn't think it would be difficult at all.
"Are you sure it is an impeccable experimental design?" I asked. "I don't want to take part in anything that can be debunked because of some design loophole or flaw."
Puthoff thought it was a perfect design. And we could do it early in the evening -- if I felt up to it. I didn't feel "up" to anything, and had visions of yet another miserable piece of technological equipment sitting on a table.