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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Saturday, May 5

noetic license

In my travels through WeirdLand, I have often come across references to the Institute of Noetic Sciences and its founder, astronaut Edgar Mitchell. Today, my Amazon recommendations -- tuned, of course, by my previous slumming in these nether regions -- brought up his book, The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut's Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds, so I decided to have a closer look. In what follows, the bits highlighted in red form a sort of bread-crumb trail -- hints about people, subjects and themes we've already touched on in the course of this odd investigation. The following reviews were written about the first edition of Mitchell's Way.

From Publishers Weekly:

    Among authors trying to bridge the gap between science and spirit, former astronaut Mitchell brings unique credentials. Originally scheduled for the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, Mitchell, as told in this smooth blend of autobiography and exegesis, journeyed to the Moon in 1971 (and generated great controversy over ESP experiments he conducted on the flight). As he gazed on Earth, surrounded by blackness and an unfathomable number of stars, he experienced "an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness" that was to change his life. Within a few years, he had left NASA and founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, aimed at the systematic study of the nature of consciousness. At the institute, he came to some fascinating conclusions, detailed here and based on principles of resonance, regarding a possible natural explanation for psychic powers. In later years, Mitchell has developed a "dyadic" model of paired opposites -- mind/matter, life/death, etc. -- that he also covers here and that owes as much to quantum physics' wave/particle duality as to Taoism's yin/yang. Mitchell isn't afraid to go out on a limb; his contention that the universe "intended" to evolve to higher levels, for example, goes against mainstream Western science. He grounds his ideas in data and reason, however, making this a strong offering for those who enjoy the books of Larry Dossey, Ken Wilber and others pushing the envelope of the science/spirit paradigm.

Ah yes, the old "science/spirit paradigm" -- a.k.a. bogus New Age quantum woo-woo pseudoscience. Fortunately, Kirkus Reviews is not taking as many wooden nickels...

    Apollo 14 astronaut Mitchell offers a vision in which technology and intuition are harmonized in pursuit of a more advanced consciousness. When Mitchell was hurtling back to earth after walking on the moon in 1971, he had a profound sense that all things are interconnected and that the universe is an intelligent process with which we need to link up. We hear how Mitchell began a career as a fighter pilot in the years following WW II, switched to NASA with the hope of being part of the new space program, and came to know the legendary Wernher von Braun, whom he believes was a true visionary rather than a Nazi opportunist. Mitchell tells how, while returning to earth, he carried out a private ESP experiment that seemed to yield positive results. Subsequently, he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, in order to test paranormal phenomena scientifically.... Mitchell concludes that our own consciousness and beliefs are profoundly part of reality. He offers us a tour of Western thought from Aristotle to Newton, arguing that intuition and science were divorced until the advent of Einstein and quantum physics. We hear a lot about synchronicity, left and right brain, and the concept that psychic events are quantum exchanges in the brain that link us with the larger world. Unfortunately, Mitchell's insights, exciting but frequently obscure, depend excessively on one-sided generalizations about European philosophy and on his espousal of Joseph Campbell's views on religion. A stimulating attempt to reinvent the wheel.

In addition to the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Mitchell has a personal web page that lists some of his "scientific" articles. Among these is one titled Space Flight as an Anticipatory Computing System (WTF?), which contains the following...

  • To escape our solar prison and to explore intra and inter galactic space it is certain that propulsion systems far beyond current technologies are required. Chemical and nuclear fuels simply will not suffice, nor will classical communications. Puthoff (personal communication) expects that investigations of the zero point field will eventually yield useable energy sources for deep space propulsion. NASA projects have already been awarded to study such advanced systems...

I'm out of my depth on this "zero point" stuff, but casting about on Wikipedia yielded this:

  • ...the term zero point energy has also become associated with a highly controversial area of human endeavor -- the design and invention of so-called "free energy" devices, similar to perpetual motion machines in the past.

But hey, isn't that reference in Mitchell's "Anticipatory Computing" paper to the same Puthoff mentioned in my immediately preceding (Spooks on Crack) post? I swear, I didn't go looking to follow up on him, but yeah, it's the same guy who went to Esalen and cornered the Colonel Sanders franchise on psi research. Fact is, the more you wade around in these waters, the more obvious it becomes that the cast of characters is the result of much incestuous inbreeding. Puthoff's Wikipedia entry tells us about his...

    Secret government work

    Puthoff was once a United States Navy officer who was assigned to the National Security Agency (NSA), later becoming a civilian employee. Following a sabbatical at Stanford University to obtain his Ph.D., he joined SRI International where in 1972, together with Russell Targ, he founded a then-highly-classified, now-highly-publicised "remote viewing" program, originally called Project SCANATE, finally STAR GATE, which was funded over its two-decade-plus history by the CIA, DIA, and various military organizations.

    Puthoff has held high-level security clearances with the United States government.

And here's a YouTube vid I just stumbled onto: Remote Viewing with Russell Targ and Alan Steinfeld. Targ is the guy who worked with Puthoff at SRI on the crackbrained "remote viewing" project. Targ wrote a book called Limitless Mind: A Guide to Remote Viewing and Transformation of Consciousness, with a foreword by Queen of the New Age, Jean "I'll Believe Anything" Houston. He wrote another book with Puthoff titled Mind-Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Abilities. Here's a clip from the preface to the 2004 edition:

    Remote viewing is a human perceptual ability to access, by mental means alone, information blocked from normal perception by distance, shielding, or time. That is the subject of this book.

    What can now be told is that for more than two decades remote viewing was also the subject of an intense government effort fueled by Cold War concerns as to whether there was a credible threat to the United States from a known, similar large-scale effort being pursued in the then Soviet Union. The story told here is how that program came to be. We tell how, in response to a request from the CIA, we initiated and built up the remote viewing program at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) to serve a number of clients in the intelligence and DoD (Department of Defense) communities, and to generate a dense database for scientific evaluation.

Traditional Yoga Studies Interactive called Mind-Reach...

  • An inside glimpse of parapsychology. Weary of the gray consensus universe? This book will trigger rainbows in your mental eye.

Too right. So you see? It is all connected. As the Dali Lama said to the hot-dog vendor: Make me one with everything.

Years later, Wernher von Braun explained why he and his contemporaries chose a path that would lead to ever deepening involvement with the Nazis: "We needed money for our experiments, and since the [German] army was ready to give us help, we did not worry overmuch about the consequences in the distant future. Besides, in 1932 the idea of another war was absurd. The Nazis were not then in power. There was no reason for moral scruples over the use to which our researches might be put in the future. We were interested in only one thing -- the exploration of space. Our main concern was how to get the most out of the Golden Calf."

~ Wernher von Braun: The Man Who Sold the Moon, p. 27



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