The CIA Actually Tried Paraspychology for Spying?

In their book “Spy Dust” (by Antonio and Jonna Mendez, Atria Books, 2002), the authors relate a bizarre chapter of the CIA. It seems that the CIA learned that the Russian KGB was experimenting with parapsychology, as applied to spying:
“I knew that years earlier, the CIA had sponsored parapsychological research that yielded tantalizing but incomplete data. The work had been confined to psychokinesis and remote viewing.
Most of our experiments were performed by the Stanford Research Institute to ensure objectivity…
One of the sensitives was put into a lead-shielded room and given a pencil, paper, and a set of geographic coordinates “somewhere on the planet”. The sensitive was able to make uncommonly accurate sketches of a site halfway around the world”…
Who approved the funding for this nonsense?
Was anybody ever fored as a result of this?
I cannot imagine that anybody in the CIA would take such nonsense seriously-maybe that is why they were unable to catch internal spies like Aldritch Ames?

It was nonsense, and I’m sure the CIA considered it as such. But if there were a billion-to-one-chance that it was possible, and the Soviets figured it out and we couldn’t, it would be a security disaster. So money was approved as an insurance policy.

It doesn’t surprise me at all - remember, the CIA at the time was being run by the same yahoos whose attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro looked like a laundry list of Wile E. Coyote episodes.

The Stargate Project. And Cecil wrote a columnonce.

They should make a movie out of this.

Obligatory xkcd link.

Someone should write a book, and then make a movie from that. Maybe something starring George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, and Ewan McGregor.

I know it has nothing to do with the subject, and this may sound very strange, but I’ve always wanted to see the three of them in a movie that also involved goats in some way.

Heh. Cecil’s column mentions Dr. Jessica Utts. She was my intro stats professor in Grad school.

A very good teacher actually, but kind of a moonbat.

I was hoping a psychologist was going to jump out of a plane…

That’s actually a staff report, by David. But it looks to me like he captured not only Cecil’s passion for evidence and accuracy, but his penchant for sarcasm when he finds neither.

I don’t know about the CIA, but the U.S. Army kicked this around a bit, at least at the level of formal intellectual discussion.

I’ve read a piece by former Special Forces Army Colonel, John B. Alexander, PhD, from some years ago, writing on an official U.S. military site about Russian research in a variety of “Psychotronic” warfare fields. One of these was distant sight, which sounds like what you are talking about. Alexander wanted the Army to research it seriously. The Russians have a long history of para-psychological research.

Alexander himself is edgy, but interesting, not your average, easily-dismissed source for this kind of material. He’s also written a book on UFOs, which he believes are “real,” apparently, but a phenomenon beyond our ken. On the more serious side, he was a high-level advisor on non-lethal weapons to the government, at one point, another of his many interests.

Somewhat related to distant sight was the CIA’s attempt to read and influence minds remotely, under a program called MKULTRA, on which the Congress formally held hearings, in 1975, I believe. There is lots of hard informtion on that in the testimony and associated documents, both readily available.

No, MKULTRA was about torturing subjects without prior consent or information with drugs to find out which drugs would be useful as truth serum, or for chemical “interrogation” (the CIA euphemism for torture).

Though you could construe Goal Nr. 2, and maybe 6, as being related to psi-powers.

Check out Major Ed Dames, he is the “father” of RV and has gone very public about his involvement with the powers that be. You can learn a lot by reading his website, and he probably has books, too. He was military so he is regarded to be very credible.

His online home is called LearnRV. He even teaches in person classes…he has DVD classes avail on his site, but they are spendy. Sometimes you can find used copies on the Bay or the List for quite a bit cheaper, that is where I got mine.

It’s a really interesting concept and I’m openminded, but I’m still on the fence. The videos are amazing to watch.

I have not seen the Clooney movie, I’ll have to check that out.


I don’t think there’s any doubt that Ed Dames was involved with the military’s attempts to get spy info psychically, it’s just that there’s no indication to think that any of it actually works.

Which is probably why the military/CIA dropped it, and why they don’t care if he goes public.

I can’t recall if it was the CIA or the military, but way back in the 80s I recall reading about how they tried destroying Soviet missiles by burning photos of them.

Ed Dames-master of the “Can’t Miss” target picture. He found out that if you make the target photo for the test cluttered enough, almost any guess can be “correct”. As far as he being the “Father of Remote Viewing” goes, greater names predate his in the field.

“No, MKULTRA was about torturing subjects without prior consent or information with drugs to find out which drugs would be useful as truth serum, or for chemical “interrogation” (the CIA euphemism for torture).”

Well, I’m going to disagree slightly with WIKIPEDIA on this one. Certainly, this broad and extensive CIA program looked at some very “hard” forms of influence, as your list shows. But I also have a copy of a declassified CIA document of the 1950’s, reprinted in the official CIA magazine some decades later. It’s subject is the impracticality of subtlely influencing a subject by undetected remote hypnosis. The CIA had found that the technology of the day required the cooperation of the subject to “tune in” to the influence, and that the subconscious quickly detected the intrusion and put up defenses–much like the movie INCEPTION. The point is the aim was to influence behavior undetected, not torture.

Could you provide a cite for this CIA magazine that contained the article?

The SRI guys, Puthoff and Targ, were even taken-in by Uri Geller, a complete charlatan, famously exposed on national TV by Johnny Carson and The Amazing Randi. That alone should descredit all the nonsense that came out of their work on remote viewing, paid for by the CIA, among others.

The flaws in their remote viewing experiment were subtle, but many years ago I read a convincing article that showed one way in which the supposed statistically significant correlations could be explained.