Parapsychology in the Cold War

Quotes from David Kaiser, How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival

p. 90 “The CIA, like other branches of the defense establishment, had begun to harbor fears of ‘psi gap’ vis-a-vis the Soviets, the consequences of of which could prove as devastating (according to some) as the missile gap and the manpower gap. (Never mind that neither of those previous ‘gaps’ had been real.) In July 1972, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency completed a lengthy classified report, entitled Controlled Offensive Behavior: USSR, detailing what was known about parapsychological research behind the Iron Curtain. ‘The Soviet Union is well aware of the benefits and applications of parapsychology research,’ declared the report’s opening summary. ‘Many scientists, US and Soviet, feel that parapsychology can be harnessed to create conditions where one can alter or manipulate the minds of others. The major impetus behind the Soviet drive to harness the possible capabilities of telepathic communication, telekinetics, and bionics are said to come from the Soviet military and the KGB.’ And they were already off to a strong start: ‘Today, it is reported that the USSR has twenty or more centers for the study of parapsyhological phenomena, with an annual budget estimated at 21 million dollars.’ With such a robust institutional base, the conclusion seemed inescapable: ‘Soviet knowledge in this field is superior to that of the US.’ Might the Soviet military and KGB be leaping ahead with the new breakthrough in telepathy, mind control, and psychokinesis?”

p. 92-93 “Only decades later, after many of the early contracts and technical reports from the SRI remote-viewing work were declassified in the 1990s, did a fuller picture begin to emerge. The documents revealed an expensive and long-lived program, clandestinely funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, and related national-security bureaus, to develop what some advocates jokingly called ‘ESPionage’: the use of extrasensory perception (ESP) to  peer into secret military establishments within the Soviet Union and elsewhere.”

p. 99 “Despite the thoroughgoing criticism and the overheated rhetoric, research on remove viewing continued unabated for more than twenty years, paid for with more than $20 million of taxpayers money (in 2010 dollars).”


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