Not because you believe everything, most things, or even any thing in them, but because having an open mind is important. If you think you know everything, you will miss a lot. Being open minded means spending some time at the tail edges investigating things that look like utter garbage woo, even if the result is that they are invariably utter garbage woo.
Also, it is not complete nonsense.
Altering conscious states is absolutely real and there are many avenues to it. Altered consciousness is also solidly in the interests of an intelligence agency and research is only natural.
There is definitely a flavor of pseudoscientific nonsense that comes along with altered consciousness experiences, but you can look past that.
Reports like this look to me very similar into pre-flight experiments. There were a whole lot of people making patently ridiculous flying contraptions but with hindsight many of them had some important ideas right.
See also: alchemy as a precursor to chemistry
Studying and treating the brain by developing methods to alter conscious states is, I think, going to be a major achievement of the 21st century, and things like this are precursors.
However, searching for low probability events in a large search space is not necessarily going to be a fruitful experience. For example, imagine that there is non-zero probability of a 20 karat diamond being on the beach somewhere, buried in the sand. You can look for it as much as you want, but you will still probably miss it.
Having a small outlet for things that seem crazy because they might turn out to be true is the same kind of logic as buying a lottery ticket because you can't win if you don't play. Yes, you will miss things, but you will almost certainly miss them anyway unless you expend more resources than they are worth -- and then you still aren't guaranteed to make progress.
On the other hand low probability risks that are likely to happen sometime are often worth investigating. For example, if there is a 1 in 1000 year earthquake event, it's highly unlikely to affect you in your life. But it will eventually affect someone so it may be work the effort to study what might happen. To get more esoteric, perhaps we can talk about large meteorites hitting the planet. Do we need a contingency plan for it?
To me, that's the main question you need to ask before you start: are we building up an understanding of something that will almost certainly affect us one day, or are we simply sifting through grains of sand on the beach hoping to find a diamond?
It's not about finding diamonds on the beach, it's about finding beaches with diamonds.
The same concern can be applied to areas like basic research and founding startups yet there are a lot of resources, success, and overall patience there.
>buying a lottery ticket because you can't win if you don't play
These are the same situation
The difficulty you identify isn’t such an issue if you’re just trying the things in the same realm that other people are suggesting/investigating, to make sure that you don’t fall behind.
There's a great book called "Stealing Fire" by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal about this very subject.
Which really shouldn't be news but still it was a fun read.
"It from bit"
(We don't know whether he would have done just as good without consulting one of course. But it didn't seem to hurt).
Apparently oracle's can't really predict the future, eh?
The CIA back then was all kinds of fucked up. Doing illegal experiments on US civilians, installing dictators, and selling drugs. Makes you wonder what terrible shit they're doing now that hasn't come to the surface yet...
The only thing I've really learned about these types of organizations is that their very nature makes them, as an entity, more like an octopus than a primate. They need to quarantine off information and seed it with falsehood to stop adversaries from making their way off with everything when they breach a system or trusting it all on the off chance they do.
There is no "CIA" in the way that there is a "Denver Broncos" because the CIA has no unity of perspective, purpose, or even vision.
That some of their hippie dippies studied stupid shit and some of their psychos experimented on humans isn't really emblematic of the agency as a whole. Not because they were mere outliers, but because the concept of "the agency as a whole" doesn't really fit.
My point is, I am pretty sure that's not the flagship project at the CIA or NSA.
The intents of Nazis, Imperial Japanese, Crusaders, etc., can only be explained by their social pressures. Same people born in different place and time would have different intents.
Control what people see and hear and you control what they think.
>Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions
If they could predict the future, wouldn't they fund their off the books ops by day trading instead of slinging coke? :)
Watch it, go down that rabbit hole
URL = https://www.aestheticimpact.com/_pdf/AAestheticImpactCIABiof...
This document is dated June 9, 1983. Your link says the US intelligence agencies' program started in the early 1970's. It started as a threat analysis  of a mistranslation of intelligence  on Soviet activities, but developed into something much more than that.
The Gateway program is Robert Monroe's system for helping people develop the ability to have out-of-body experiences. Monroe started spontaneously popping out of body in the 1950's, and thought he was dying. After a few years he decided he wasn't dying, and started to explore the phenomenon. His first book, Journeys Out of the Body , was published in 1977, and was essentially just "hey I've decided I'm not dying and our western culture has no context for these experiences but these are my findings." Lots of people wrote to thank him for validating their own experiences.
Robert Monroe's followup book, Far Journeys , was much more rigorous. It was published in 1985, about 2 years after this submission's PDF was written.
Your link tells of Ingo Swann's pivotal role in the remote viewing program... My earlier comment  tells of the time I met Swann in Las Vegas. (Edit: hah, just noticed your link pdf was generated from content originally hosted at Swann's website, biomindsuperpowers.com)
edit:  Your link uses the terms 'threat potential' and 'threat assessment'. Quote from your link: "In broad terms it can be said that much of the SRI effort was directed not so much toward developing an operational U.S. capability, but rather toward assessing the threat potential of its use against the U.S. by others. The words threat assessment were often used to describe the program's purpose during its development, especially during the early years."
About 10 years ago came across research papers (not via Blavatsky) on an old mind-altering Buddhist copper wall setup which involved a wooden chair oriented towards magnetic north placed over a thick panel of glass with a sheet of copper suspended vertically in front of a sitter with a 50 gauss magnet (N up) suspended by cord over the sitter's head. Colleagues with an interest in this subject pointed me in the direction of Ingo Swann, Elmer Green, with the Monroe Institute as a possible source of information. Via an email exchange with Ingo Swann and later with his ameneusis Tom Burgin it turned out that Swann had a copper wall setup in his flat which he found useful in meditation. Elmer Green, on the other hand, decided to construct an entire room with copper walls and ceiling emulating the original idea, which Swann (and others) commented drove them into overload. OK, Faraday-cage format out. What about emulating a pair of facing mirrors with two copper sheets, one in front and one behind the sitter? May act as an amplifier. Figuring this was an obvious experimental configuration decided to contact Skip Atwater over at the Monroe Institute:
was planning on experimenting with a classic 'copper wall' setting. If you are not familiar with this set up, essentially an individual is seated upright in a wooden chair placed over a panel of thick glass situated between 2 large vertical facing Cu panels affixed to parallel walls, and a 15 to 150 gauss magnet (North up) is suspended by an insulated cord above the subject and brought to within a centimeter of the crown of the head. (cf Elmer Green's work). I would imagine that you have worked with this configuration and am curious whether you have such a sensory amplification chamber which is available for monitored use.
Yes, I am familiar with Elmer's work and years ago I was in Kansas an actually saw the copper wall setup. His work has never been replicated but as I know of his work for years, I believe it remains as an important finding. He also knew Bob Monroe personally.
We have not experimented with the "copper wall" setup. I would think that such experimentation would be valuable, however. Please keep good record and let us know how things go for your work.
results: overload. Stick with the original configuration if you want to experiment. :-(
BUT, this is HN not a Psychic Times :-) so stick to a data suggests motif if you feel like commenting and data-mine away :-)
> BUT, this is HN not a Psychic Times :-) so stick to a data suggests motif if you feel like commenting and data-mine away :-)
Data suggests that good hackers are more "psychic" (intuitive) than less-effective hackers.
Thanks for reminding me about the Copper Wall.
edit (note-to-self): https://www.monroeinstitute.org/blog/copper-wall-project
Of course given they sent the Loony Toons division after Castro it is possible they are simply a bunch of monsterous incompetents.
As scientists we should not be pre-disposed to shutdown things we do not understand without putting said phenomena through a testing phase.
There are literally an infinite number of possible violations of established physics. Momentum is not conserved inside this cubic inch. Momentum is not conserved inside this other cubic inch...
The only reason one might prefer astral projection as a theory over the cubic-inch-ism of any particular volume is that astral projection fits a few preconceived notions about how the universe should conform to our psychological expectations. It might be surprising to hear, but exploding a goat with your mind is actually more psychologically familiar than any particular fact about quantum field theory. It involves explosions, minds, the exertion of will, and goats, while QFT involves unfamiliar components following unfamiliar rules to unfamiliar ends.
In short, if your idea is to test for a violation of the known laws of nature, great. If your idea is to test for a violation of the laws of nature that is only motivated by the predispositions you acquired in the cradle, that's not so good.
> (1) Soviet research is much more oriented toward biological and physical investigation of paranormal phenomena than is U.S. research, which is dominated by psychologists;
> (2) although visible U.S. and Soviet level of effort appear roughly equal, over forty years of research in the United States have failed to significantly advance our understanding of paranormal phenomena;
> (3) if paranormal phenomena exist, the thrust of Soviet research papers appears more likely to lead to explanation, control and application than is U.S. research;
The paranormal arms race between East and the West may have started with a 1960 French article describing how experiments at Duke University had established telepathic communication with nuclear submarines using Zener cards. The success rate was stated at 75%. The Navy later stated the story was a hoax, but it was likely deliberately planted by Western intelligence agencies to detract from real technological advances in communicating with submarines (such as Very Low Frequency Radio). But the Russians seemed to take the bait, wasting resources, yet later started reporting successes and publishing a wide range of high quality research (of which the CIA became aware). 
This in turn scared the USA into keeping up. Meanwhile the Russians promoted their own hoaxes and disinformation, such as Nina Kulagina, who was seemingly capable of telekinesis.
By the way, hypnosis and mass hypnosis are not woo woo, but legit toolsets of the intelligence agencies. Even the Stargate project had its use as a creative tool for scenario development and intuitive thinking. Interesting to note that its participants Harold Puthoff, Edwin May, Ingo Swann, and Pat Price were all involved with Scientology. Even the government may at one time been interested in the supposed powers of the OTO's.
> As scientists we should not be pre-disposed to shutdown things we do not understand without putting said phenomena through a testing phase.
Which is why Dr. Estabrooks (who the Russians knew was funded a big budget by US military to conduct research into the paranormal) wanted to know for sure if it was possible to hypnotize someone into committing murder and forget it ever happened. As real scientists such a test would be quickly shut down on moral grounds, so perhaps it is better to speak of military research when discussing this woo woo.
Given how disinformation and wasting the academic resources of foreign enemies ("eating carrots makes British pilots see at night", or the suggestion to drop the bandit problem over occupied France) is such a common trick, I wonder what current tricks are in use. I suspect that any country which focuses a lot of attention on fairness in AI will be at a disadvantage over a country that does not seem to care about this and just keeps automating no matter privacy or discrimination costs.
No, with AI the thing that sounds like total bullshit to me is the way that some government officials talk of the risks AI in frenetic terms, while speaking as if the risk will become apparent once AI is capable of contemplating abstract concepts and cognition. The reason I think this is bullshit is that I consider those preconditions 20 years away at the very earliest and the real threat is present: Humans harnessing AI is already powerful enough, especially for state actors.
 Likely 100 years away or creating so much thermal waste that their true hazard is mitigated.
Weird stuff like this doesn't bother me probably as much as it should. Sure, I'd prefer if we spent that money on more reasonable endeavors, but this was probably a cheap waste of time all things considered. And who knows? Maybe the moonshot will pay off, and Americans everywhere will gain powerful psychic shields to reflect communist hexes.
Government spending is a primary vector for new money into the economy. If it passes through a coven real quick, meh. Many think we should be spending more money on the arts, and I think the dark arts should count.
Just because you can think of it, or can imagine it being true, or are afraid of it being true, doesn't mean it's worth investigating. Should the CIA engage in leprechaun research?
Many years ago I tried a friend's biofeedback device - it used Galvanic Skin Response.
It seems you can still buy approximately the same device my friend owned on amazon: https://amzn.com/B01IPSUIZ0 (this is not a referral link and I have no association of any kind with them)
So here is the idea: you lay down on the bed, put your fingers across the contacts and move the knob until you get a medium high-pitched tone from the device. If you relax, the tone will decrease in pitch. You cannot cheat. If you think you are relaxing but are not, the tone will not budge (or will rise in pitch). If you continue to decrease the tone you will eventually relax so much you will fall asleep.
The first time I used this (~20 years ago) I learned how to relax in about 30 minutes. I have carried this ability all my life.
The cold war was ended by the Strategic Defense Initiative - not because it worked but because we forced the USSR to pour resources into matching us and it bankrupted the country.
Read 1 page in and instantly realized they were going to the Monroe Insititue - where I just was.
Great place TBH.
They say Heinrich Himmler was a practitioner of Occultism and had influenced SS to a considerable extent.
The far-fetched worst case scenario is that this actually works, and that some enemy figures that out first.
The realistic nightmare scenario goes is a congressman going “DCI Casey, we’ve heard rumors that the Soviets/Qaddafi/Al Qaeda/baddy of your choice have developed methods for controlling minds. Yet we’ve heard little about how you plan to protect the US from such a threat.”