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Rational Inquiry -Volume 7 Number 4

...And Another Tax-Supported Wacko Idea

By Keith Taylor

According to the London Times, a spooky job us is opening up and it's right up my alley. During my 23 years in the Navy I was assigned the duty of listening to radio signals not meant for my ears. Then just last night I heard a radio commercial about an institution called PSI Tech. Tech could enhance my ability to become a remote viewer. Wow! I could eavesdrop on even more secret things, and I wouldn't even need that confusing electronic equipment.

A recording on Tech’s 800 number tells the caller, "Everybody has the ability to learn this but very few have the discipline. It’s like riding a bike or playing golf. You have to actually do it to learn it." I hung around long enough to learn that I could learn this thing for a mere 500 bucks.

But are they kidding us? Is the government really hiring folks to do this sort of spook stuff? The Times of London said, "Prudence Calabrese, whose Transdimensional Systems employs 14 remote viewers, confirmed that the FBI had asked the company to predict likely targets of future terrorist attacks."

"Our reports suggest a sports stadium could be a likely target," she said. Well, that would have been my guess also, but I’m swayed by the thousands of others who suspect the same scenario. I’ll make my own psychic prediction. I betcha that if the government is indeed involved in trying pseudoscience, they’ll soon have more useless predictions than they can handle.

Still, this was up my alley after all. To make sure I wasn’t missing a short cut in my quest to once again serve my country, I called the FBI. The operator seemed amused at the idea, not the gruff voiced guy at the press desk however. He simply said, "We do not comment on that." It sounded like he’d rehearsed it.

If supporters of the idea of remote viewing are touting their ideas on the web, so are those who require a different level of proof, James Randi for example. Randi, a magician, has long been a pain to those who make claims of the paranormal. He foolishly asks for proof, but he has a check for a million bucks to anybody who can provide such a claim under controlled conditions.

Randi, on his web site, reminds us that if government is involved it won’t be the first time. From 1969 to 1971 the CIA reported the Soviets were running their own remote viewing program. Not to be caught without our own dumb ideas in the cold war, we set up a program headed by the Stanford Research Institute (no direct connection to Stanford University). By 1985 no useful information was gleaned by folks sitting around concentrating, so the Army ceased funding it.

Still when an idea, no matter how wacko, gets the attention of the likes of then Senator Claiborne Pell (D, Del) or Representative Charles Rose (R, NC) it assumes a life of its own. Both Pell and Rose urged the project be kept alive. Both were also adherents of Uri Geller, the famous spoon bender who would refuse to perform in front of Randi or any other critical thinker if he could help it.

After the Army bailed out, the unit was transferred to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate and survived until 1995. After 23 years and $20 million the program was scrapped for good, or so we thought.

We understand that one claim was that a viewer had actually looked inside a Rusky submarine but he couldn’t make out enough details to help our intelligence (if not intelligent) folks. Nor could he discern which ocean the U-boat was in. Oh, what the heck. How many oceans can there be anyhow?

I predict if Prudence says it’ll work they’ll try it.

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