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 Post subject: Carter and Weird Science
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2010, 13:44 
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http://www.politico.com/click/stories/1 ... ience.html

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Even with all of the press coverage of Jimmy Carter's latest book, "White House Diary," a strange and interesting nugget of history went ignored: Carter, as president, was enthralled by and impressed with the Central Intelligence Agency's use of parapsychology in intelligence gathering (the field and practice of parapsychology explores various psychic abilities).

Consider this entry in Carter's diary, from April 11, 1979:

"CIA briefing on unhappiness of King Hussein of Jordan [about agreements between Israel and Egypt], Idi Amin's government about to fall, and that a plane had crashed in Zambia. An American parapsychologist had been able to pinpoint the site of the crash. We've had several reports of this parapsychology working; one discovered the map coordinates of a site and accurately described a camouflaged missile test site. Both we and the Soviets use these parapsychologists on occasion to help us with sensitive intelligence matters, and the results are unbelievable."

(Carter alluded to another discussion about parapsychology in the White House situation room on May 8, 1980).

Writing in the present day, the former president reflected back on that entry in the book.

"The proven results of these exchanges between our intelligence services and parapsychologists raise some of the most intriguing and unanswerable questions of my presidency,” Carter notes in “Diary.” “They defy logic, but the facts are undeniable."

Mind-reading as intelligence-gathering? Sure, it was the 70s. Yet parapsychology's new-age reputation doesn't quite square with the historical and enduring stereotype of the CIA as filled with tight-lipped men-in-black. And when reached for comment by POLITICO, the CIA made it abundantly clear that they don't do that anymore.

"Absolutely not," said Paula Weiss, a media spokesman from the CIA's Office of Public Affairs.

But parapsychology advocates and scholars say that Carter’s amazement hardly makes him a space cadet. Researchers in the field lament the fact that the practice has been dropped.

"I absolutely am of the opinion that it's something that should be considered when you don't have other forms of intelligence," said Boston University professor Robert Schoch, author of "The Parapsychology Revolution." "As I see it, the reason that the government — at least ostensibly — stopped using such things was not because it wasn't functioning, not because it wasn't supplying good intelligence — in some cases, not every case, but that's the way with all intelligence — but because of the sort of political and social stigma surrounding it. There is a lot of misuse and nonsense surrounding parapsychology."

As for the Carter years, Schoch recalled the intelligence community's use of parapsychology during the Iran Missile Crisis.

"To the best of my knowledge, it was used successfully in that situation," he said.

Most parapsychology experts points to a government program called “Stargate,” which relied heavily on parapyschology.

"The human ability that we call extrasensory perception or anomalous cognition as embodied in the technique known as remote viewing has in the past proven to be very useful in intelligence gathering," said Richard Broughton, author of "Parapsychology." "This was in the Stargate program that employed highly talented individuals working to strict protocols.”

Broughton said that the current major threats of the world will be extinguished by intelligence, not weaponry, and argued that parapsychology could play a role in helping to collect good intel.

“Extrasensory perception, used properly, is one of the tools that should be deployed,” he said. “In the Stargate program remote viewing [ESP] was typically brought in when all other methods failed, and the technique did provide some amazing successes. …The big lesson that came from the Stargate program is that ESP can be used for 'psychic spying' but it is not a magic bullet. If it is deployed as one of the range of intelligence methods it can improve the overall odds of success in the mission, but it won't guarantee it."

Fans of shows like “Medium” and “Fringe,” however, shouldn’t hold their breath. It’s unlikely that parapsychology will return to the CIA.

"It doesn't have a great reputation," said Schoch. "That's partially due to such silly programs as 'Ghost Hunting' and 'Paranormal Activity.' They don't help legitimize something as a genuine science. ... It becomes very politically difficult to fund things under those circumstances."

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