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Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the scan-me dept.

The Almighty Buck 230

KentuckyFC writes "During the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union battled on many fronts to demonstrate their superior technical and scientific achievements. While the race to put a human in space and then on the Moon is famous, a much less well-known battlefront was the unconventional science of parapsychology, or psychotronics as the Soviets called it. Now a new review of unconventional research in the Soviet Union reveals the scale of this work for the first time and the cost: as much as $1 billion. The Soviets had programs studying how "human energy" could influence other objects and how this energy could be generated independently of humans using a device called 'cerpan'. The Soviets also had a mind control program similar to the CIA's infamous MKULTRA project. Interestingly, the Soviets included non-local physics in this work, such as the Aharonov-Bohm effect in which an electromagnetic field can influence a particle confined to region where the field strength is zero. And they built a number of devices that exploited the effect, although research in this area appears to have ended in 2003."

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we knew that already (0)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 10 months ago | (#45669537)

didn't we?

Actually there are a lot that we still don't know (3, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 10 months ago | (#45669775)

There were "stories" of similar programs run by the CIA back then (and perhaps they are still doing it right now, as we speak), and I saw a documentary back in the 1980's of a soviet man who could sort of "imprint" what he thinks onto a film/negative.

Someone showed the guy a picture (a building) and then he hold a camera and then focus his "energy" into it, and then they took out the negative to develop and the picture that came out was blurry but still you could make out a "shape" of that building.

I am a science nerd, but still things like that really fascinate me to no end.

Re:Actually there are a lot that we still don't kn (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 10 months ago | (#45669963)

Someone showed the guy a picture (a building) and then he hold a camera and then focus his "energy" into it, and then they took out the negative to develop and the picture that came out was blurry but still you could make out a "shape" of that building.

Paging Mr. Randi, Mr. James Randi you have a phone call on the wooscam line.

we can't allow a mineshaft gap! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 10 months ago | (#45670155)

Are you sure you're not thinking of Ted Serios [wikipedia.org] ? I don't think he was a Soviet, in fact WP states he was from Chicago.

I wasn't aware nensha was a thing beyond Ted. Hey, you learn something every day.

Re:we knew that already (2)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | about 10 months ago | (#45669833)

Well... while we may redicule the notion, perhaps... some of the things they did marginally worked? (e.g. is it 100% bullshit or 99.999% bullshit?, and what exactly could that 0.001% be?)

Re:we knew that already (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 10 months ago | (#45670241)

If you run 20 bullshit double blind experiments, 10 of them are going to show positive correlation to the hypothesis, and 1 will show improbably high correlation. Far more still if your testers have any unconscious control over the data.

Re:we knew that already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670047)

didn't we?

Yeah, pretty much.
http://www.amazon.com/Psychic-Discoveries-Behind-Iron-Curtain/dp/0553135961

Re:we knew that already (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 months ago | (#45670099)

yup

Re: we knew that already (1)

Mabhatter (126906) | about 10 months ago | (#45671317)

It was in that "Indiana Jones" like movie Lucas and Speilberg made a few years back.

In Soviet Russia (4, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 10 months ago | (#45669551)

When man stare at goat man have heart attack.

Re:In Soviet Russia (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669807)

But in Soviet Russia, goats stare at you.

Re:In Soviet Russia (2)

Warbothong (905464) | about 10 months ago | (#45670087)

"Psychic" phenonema are just statistical errors which cause feedback in our cognitive biases. In other words:

In Soviet Russia, behaviour of objects controls psychic's mind!

In fact, the more effort goes into researching psychic powers, the more evidence we have in favour of mind control; ie. many respected scientists, despite always finding results to the contrary, can be convinced to keep looking for psychic powers!

Of course, in the West we do the majority of our mind control research under the term "marketing", which itself is a great example of mind control: "Don't worry, it's only marketing!"

Not Just In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671105)

If I saw a goat man, I would have a heart attack too.

Whoah whoah whoah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669553)

We didn't put a man on the Moon because of some silly international cock-waving contest, we did it because of the species and because we needed to invent computers. The only reason you have a computer to read my comment is because of space.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (2, Informative)

M1FCJ (586251) | about 10 months ago | (#45669577)

Poppycock - computers were already a major thing - in UK even bakeries had started installing them in 1951. You Americans need to learn the computing history all over again.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669623)

I know, I was just paraphrasing what I call "Space Nutters". There are people who really DO think that way, and are very earnest about it. To me, the fact that these people don't use the computers they keep talking about to learn actual history is very funny.

These same people also keep talking about all these "benefits" that space technology brings to a society, but when I point out that Russia beat America most of the time no one seems eager to move there. That is also very funny to me.

WWII was the biggest impetus for technology in the 20th century, THEN we went into space.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669901)

Who mods this off-topic troll up? Apparently the nutters he is so paranoid about are such a threat, he has to invent his own posts because they don't post that garbage themselves, and every time acts surprised people actually call him out for it being stupid. At least people who think they are the last sane person on the planet usually actually disagree with the majority...

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 10 months ago | (#45669987)

Oh look Quantum Apostrophe's back to shit all over space exploration in favor of life extension, a technology that our species isn't nearly mature enough to handle yet.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671629)

Oh look Quantum Apostrophe's back to shit all over space exploration in favor of life extension, a technology that our species isn't nearly mature enough to handle yet.

Well, without life extension, we won't reach other solar systems alive - our life span is placing a hard limit on our space exploration.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671855)

Oh look someone's so insecure he soils his britches when someone dares to question the Holy Orthodoxy of Space. No one mentioned life extension. All I see is people agreeing with reality. You seem to have a problem with reality?

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

amalcolm (1838434) | about 10 months ago | (#45669591)

You put a man on the moon so you could use the rocket technology in ballistic missiles

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 10 months ago | (#45669673)

It wasn't really a race at all. The USSR didn't make a massive effort to get there first; they were more interested in space stations. It was hard for their head of space exploration to get funding for moon missions, so they couldn't just brute force the problem like America did.

It's like the missile gap race - pretty much all in America's mind.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 10 months ago | (#45669735)

Actually most of the interest was in ICBMs. The rest was propaganda. Then satellites became useful but even for that a Moon rocket was just too big.

Re: Whoah whoah whoah (4, Interesting)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 10 months ago | (#45669977)

It was a race. It is quite well known that the USSR build several rockets designed for moon launches (hence why they put a rover on the moon), but support dwindled after the U.S. landed humans, and the USSR refocused its efforts on space stations and abandoned their landing craft after the fact.

The difference between the USSR and the US was that NASA acted in public, while the USSR performed all development and launches in secret, so that they could publicize the successes and hide the failures. This strategy allowed them to save face whenever their program was inferior to their competitor.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671895)

> The USSR didn't make a massive effort to get there first

The soviet's N-1 Moon rocket was actually pretty massive, about twice as wide and 25% taller than America's Saturn-V, with 32 or so engines just in the 1st stage. It was a scary big monster of a rocket. The problem is russians did not have an adequte, small form factor digital computer for controls and Korolev was already dead at that time, leaving noone to debug the N-1 design. In contrast, USA still had von Braun and the ex-Avro people and also possessed a lot of computer power.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669727)

Nah we invented computers because of Internet.

Re:Whoah whoah whoah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669789)

thought that was why we invented cats?

this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (2, Funny)

buddyglass (925859) | about 10 months ago | (#45669585)

I guess this goes to show you don't need religion to believe in nutty pseudoscience.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (5, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | about 10 months ago | (#45669939)

How do you know it's nutty pseudoscience before you perform the experiments? It seems to me that performing the experiments and testing hypotheses is science, but dismissing an idea as nutty without performing an experiment is pseudoscience. It's belief without evidence that makes something pseudoscience, even if it's believing an idea is nutty.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (4, Insightful)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 10 months ago | (#45670095)

Well said. Many people seem to think that everything has been discovered.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671287)

Yes, well, we've learned a lot about neurology, biochemistry, and physics that suggests none of these psychic phenomena could have a first principles explanation without invoking some kind of unmeasurable "energy" production, transmission, and reception, controlled in some invisible but nevertheless conscious manner. Yes, something we can't measure and can't explain may nevertheless be real, but with our improved understanding of the basic principles, it's moved so far off into the realm of unlikely that it's difficult to justify the experiments. We don't have resources to pursue every idea at it's optimal level of funding, so we need to prioritize somehow.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (4, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | about 10 months ago | (#45670787)

You're right. NASA should totally fund an expedition to disprove the existence of the magical pink unicorn that many people have theorized lives on the dark side of the moon. Point being: yes, experiment, but sometimes even the decision to pursue a particular avenue of investigation is questionable.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (1)

SlashdotWanker (1476819) | about 10 months ago | (#45671275)

You're right. NASA should totally fund an expedition to disprove the existence of the magical pink unicorn that many people have theorized lives on the dark side of the moon.

You're absolutely right. If NASA happens to be going around the dark side of the moon with a satellite and then fails to detect said magical pink unicorn beyond a reasonable doubt, then continuing to believe it is ridiculous. Remember that it wasn't so long ago that everyone "knew" the world was flat and you were a whackjob if you believed any differently.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (3, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | about 10 months ago | (#45671295)

But if NASA weren't already going there, would it be worth spending a couple billion to investigate the pink unicorn? Probably not. That's what the soviets did.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671913)

Don't forget that proving a negative is very hard. Satellite technology could have EASILY missed the unicorn. They live under the surface and only emerge for brief periods of time. The problem is that we need to have a reasonable theory BEFORE we do the experiments, and follow where the data leads us. We should not investigate unreasonable theories, without any empirical support, as the data is then going to be utterly without context and meaning.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (4, Interesting)

teslabox (2790587) | about 10 months ago | (#45671001)

Ingo Swann [biomindsuperpowers.com] has a nice little website about his involvement with the US Remote Viewing program. I saw the man speak in Las Vegas twice - 2004 and 2006 (I think I personally drove him into retirement - he is now deceased). The first time was just a Q&A, the second he had prepared some remarks. The program was started as a threat analysis - "the soviets are spending all this money on psychic spying, tee hee har har what a bunch of fucking idiots. BUT WHAT IF IT WORKS?" So they had to create a program to evaluate the possibility that information can be obtained bioinformatically - through the aether, so to speak.

Mr. Swann said that he did not do public remote viewing "demonstrations", and only ever worked with scientists.

It seems to me that performing the experiments and testing hypotheses is science, but dismissing an idea as nutty without performing an experiment is pseudoscience. It's belief without evidence that makes something pseudoscience, even if it's believing an idea is nutty.

Mr. Swann said that because the spooks hated the remote viewing program, they had to get positive results right from the start. It lasted for over 20 years, and was killed as soon as possible when the Soviet Union broke up.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671537)

Testing alone isn't science. Formulating a solid hypothesis and testing conditions, as well as correctly analysing the results is just as important.

Making a conveniently mysterious black box, which operates with conveniently undetectable magical waves, and then using political influence to prevent other researchers from validating your claims is not science.

Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670075)

Give me a $1 billion cash flow that I can leverage for personal gain, and I'll "believe" in anything you want.

(I hope I'm not stating the obvious -- that the goal wasn't science OR pseudo-science, but merely profit.)

Seems reasonable enough. (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45669605)

We cannot permit an imaginary weapons gap!

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

andyjb (1625561) | about 10 months ago | (#45669649)

Its a pity this stuff doesn't work though - it would have made the recent NSA leaks a lot harder to prove - and much easier to suppress!

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 10 months ago | (#45669783)

Akira - based on a real story.
Doesn't seem too appealing to me.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (4, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#45669667)

What if the entire MKULTRA project was a scam meant to cause the USSR to waste resources to close this imaginary weapons gap? A few "top secret" documents leaked here; a few rumours there; Common sense says no, but there's always a nagging little doubt in the back of the mind to drive the necessary paranoia. It's perfect.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 10 months ago | (#45669677)

It wouldn't be the only programme with that objective. Makes sense to me.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45669701)

The big risk of a diversion campaign like that is if the imaginary technology turns out to be real... then we've just inspired our enemies to perfect it, while we've wasted our time.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669923)

How much resources did it get them to waste though? Even at a total cost of a billion dollars, that seems like a drop in the bucket compared to other things. And even if it only cost one dollar for us to get them to waist a billion dollars, I'm not sure how useful that would be if it could only be done once. Considering we've wasted more on that research ourselves, either it wasn't an attempt to get them to waste money, or whoever came up with the idea horribly overestimated the Soviets' response.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45670093)

Perhaps more importantly, given the areas of strength and weakness in the Soviet economy, what resources did it get them to waste?

Team USSR could probably afforded to have the million conscripts who scored lowest on physical fitness staring at playing cards and trying to develop psychic powers through sheer force of will for years without much trouble. Something that consumed a resource that needed to be imported in exchange for hard currency, though, or a project that represented a nontrivial slice of domestic productivity? That was a race that they weren't able to win even with regard to real weapons, so any nonsense they could be conned into would just make things even harder for them.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#45670885)

Financial resources aren't the only factor. There are officers, spies and double agents, secure facilities that could be better used for other projects, communications bottlenecks.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671581)

How much resources did it get them to waste though? Even at a total cost of a billion dollars, that seems like a drop in the bucket compared to other things. And even if it only cost one dollar for us to get them to waist a billion dollars, I'm not sure how useful that would be if it could only be done once. Considering we've wasted more on that research ourselves, either it wasn't an attempt to get them to waste money, or whoever came up with the idea horribly overestimated the Soviets' response.

The value would be less in getting them to waste the capital and more in getting them to accept the oportunity cost.

Every scientist that's studying psychic weapons is not studying real weapons.

That said I doubt it was this kind of misdirection. It's important to remember that US universities studied these phenomenon as well. And that prior to rigorous study, there was no reason to suspect that people couldn't do those things (after all there are countless unsubstantiated claims that people can). It was also hard to device good tests for psychic capability when the premise is that the abilities are rare and poorly understood even by their practitioners.

really I'm more surprised it took into the 2000's before the Russians gave up, than that both governments were willing to toss some of their large defense budget towards something that probably would dead end but might result in psychic assassins.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 10 months ago | (#45671979)

> That said I doubt it was this kind of misdirection. It's important to remember that US universities
> studied these phenomenon as well

Not only that but.... the people who hold the purse strings and decided who gets appointed where (and thus gets to decide who gets hired and heads what else) elected based on their ability to smile and convince local people they were better than some other cheesehead with a smile.

Let us not forget there have been psychic advisors to high level officials, even the president. There is really no reason to think that these efforts were not, on some level, genuine

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45669973)

MKULTRA wasn't about imaginary weapons, but about real methods to manipulate behaviour through (for example) chemical agents. It's well documented and scientifically grounded; it's hard to imagine how it would inspire anyone to perform psi research.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 10 months ago | (#45670019)

That could make sense but that's not what happened, or the declassified papers would detail what they were doing to make the Soviets think they were running these experiments, rather than experiment reports on their attempts to kill goats by staring at them. There is some precedent here (See: Area 51 dummy planes).

If anything it would have had to work the other way - I remember from a documentary that the Americans only got into all this woo-woo stuff because they found out that the Russians were doing it.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 10 months ago | (#45670293)

Did you ever wonder why we never hear about Seal Teams 1-5? Why do we only ever hear about Seal Team 6's exploits?

Turns out it's exactly the sort of thing you're talking about: a ploy to make the Soviets think the Americans had more going on than they did by skipping straight to 6.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670527)

It works on the same principle as the old "release three pigs numbered 1, 2, and 4 into the school" prank, except with highly-trained special forces units.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 10 months ago | (#45670561)

While I've gotten modded as Funny, the strange thing is, I actually wasn't kidding, and what I said was factual. At the time that the team was created, there was only one other team. The commander jumped straight to six in order to confuse the Soviets regarding how many teams the Americans had.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 10 months ago | (#45670587)

Sorry, brain fart, there were two other teams at the time that six was created, so it was technically the third team.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#45670771)

Did you ever wonder why we never hear about Seal Teams 1-5? Why do we only ever hear about Seal Team 6's exploits?

Turns out it's exactly the sort of thing you're talking about: a ploy to make the Soviets think the Americans had more going on than they did by skipping straight to 6.

Why not attribute the exploits to all "six" teams, rather than having a conspicuous gap from 1 to 5?

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 10 months ago | (#45671049)

Because then the exploits of the 'other teams' are hidden, furthering the illusion.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 10 months ago | (#45671119)

I think the idea was that the Soviets would become aware of the team and its name during its initial six-month training time, so they didn't have any exploits to attribute to other teams at the time.

Also, I misspoke earlier: there were actually two other teams at the time (east and west coast, though they're considered "regular" SEAL teams, which I guess aren't as special?).

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671819)

Did you ever wonder why we never hear about Seal Teams 1-5? Why do we only ever hear about Seal Team 6's exploits?

Turns out it's exactly the sort of thing you're talking about: a ploy to make the Soviets think the Americans had more going on than they did by skipping straight to 6.

Why not attribute the exploits to all "six" teams, rather than having a conspicuous gap from 1 to 5?

The core concept goes like this:

If they hear about 6 teams (when only 1 exists), they'll just think we have 6 teams and continue trusting their intelligence people. This makes them think we're stronger than we are but it's a quantifiable increase that's only useful if the difference is enough to deter an attack.

If we can convince them we have 6 teams but their intelligence people can only find evidence of 1 of them, than we have put them in a position where they have to wonder what else we might have that they don't know about. This makes it harder for them to call our bluff because they can't just plan to face 6 teams and decide to send 7 of their own, they have to plan on the assumption that we have the ability to hide arbitrary assets from them.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (3, Interesting)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 10 months ago | (#45670841)

What if the entire MKULTRA project was a scam meant to cause the USSR to waste resources to close this imaginary weapons gap? A few "top secret" documents leaked here; a few rumours there; Common sense says no, but there's always a nagging little doubt in the back of the mind to drive the necessary paranoia. It's perfect.

That's actually what Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" program was. It drove them nuts and we didn't even have to build anything.

Re:Seems reasonable enough. (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 10 months ago | (#45671199)

Actually I did hear the "Star Wars" project relating to satellites that can shoot down enemy ICBMs was an imaginary project. The US even had sci-fi authors come up with ideas and then made it seem to the US public as well as the USSR that we were working on those. It helped to bankrupt the USSR as they were spending money on these futuristic weapon systems while we were not.

perfect example of govt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669619)

waste of money - kill all politicians and gut public-sector pigs

sounds like the money wasn't all wasted (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 10 months ago | (#45669631)

The program sounds like it had a nutty origin (like the analogous U.S. programs), but from this part:

Interestingly, the Soviets included non-local physics in this work, such as the Aharonov-Bohm effect in which an electromagnetic field can influence a particle confined to region where the field strength is zero. And they built a number of devices that exploited the effect, although research in this area appears to have ended in 2003.

That sounds like legitimate physics research. Research into the principle of locality [wikipedia.org] is unlikely to produce a mind-controlled teleportation beam, but it has yielded a better understanding of quantum mechanics.

no bomb us more mom us,, no drone us... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669651)

no bone us. free the innocent stem cells. never a better time to reconsider our spiritual centerpeace momkind

Old News. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669659)

That commercial you watched last night where the screen changed so often your eyes couldn't focus on it, the deep voice talking with music playing at the same beats per minute as the desired heart rate the advertiser wants, displayed on a screen at 30hz, usually starting off with either a motherly women or a crowd of people looking at you.

MKUltra started that research. Want to learn mind control, go get a masters in motion video or advertising; what they teach is textbook psychological warfare with a domestic application.

Funny thing; once you know it's going on, it doesn't work anymore.

Re:Old News. (4, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45669765)

Funny thing; once you know it's going on, it doesn't work anymore.

Heh... sure...

Even if you're aware of a particularly obvious technique, the more subtle ones will still usually get you while you're focused on the big one. You'll notice the flashing video or the music beats, but you won't notice the smiling background or the distorted echo. You'll probably even be so proud of yourself for recognizing the manipulation that you'll let your guard down for the other techniques.

Re:Old News. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 10 months ago | (#45670039)

Don't forget the black and white picture and the 20Hz tone (lowsy attempt to instill fear via infrasound) when showing how horrible the alternatives to the product are.

Brion Gysin, thou art confirmed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670325)

Have you driven a fnord lately?

Also, was project CARET actually a hoax?
And while we're on the topic of long-shot wacky ideas, has anyone heard anything from Charles Cosimano lately?

Slashdot affect (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45669681)

I always wonder why articles like this are posted on slashdot. I mean, it's simply not reasonable to convey this ideology on a tech-savvy website just to have everyone point out that it's silly pseudoscience.

The general population of this type of website is going to bash anyone that agrees that spending a billion dollars on pseudoscience is "worth it", regardless of what the government has concluded. I seriously doubt that they started off like, "Ok guys, we're going to try this silly stuff out. Let's start with.... a billion dollars, and go from there." Then later once they have spent the money, "Ok guys, that was a waste of money. Let's all pack up and try to forget how silly we all were." Surely spending that kind of money on such a project had some merit, or it wouldn't have cost so much. Now, whether or not they proved that telepathy or anything like that exists is debatable. Perhaps they did find some interesting facts about the realms beyond the physical, but couldn't "make use" of it in any way that they were originally shooting for. Perhaps a lot of that research soon moved to another focus other than war strategies.

Re:Slashdot affect (3, Informative)

MrLizard (95131) | about 10 months ago | (#45670591)

"Surely spending that kind of money on such a project had some merit, or it wouldn't have cost so much"

You've never studied history or held a job at a corporation, have you? Spending millions, billions, trillions on meritless projects is what any entity large enough to have that kind of money *does*. Constantly. Continuously. All the time.

The division I work(ed) for was just bought by another company, because they wanted to integrate our software and acquired expertise. The buyer, having spent this money, announced all employees would need to re-apply for their existing jobs, which is only a little silly, and also all relocate, which is a LOT silly, since all of us worked remotely, and many of us couldn't relocate even if we wanted to. So, pretty much, they just lost all the accumulated knowledge they just paid for, and what they've got is tens of thousands of lines of mostly undocumented code that's virtually impossible to maintain or understand without spending months stepping through it. (It was developed over a decade by dozens of transient programmers, and in-line documentation varies from "sparse" to "actually false".)

Multiply that little bit of stupidity by tens of thousands of corporations and hundreds of world governments, and you have the world we live in.

Re:Slashdot affect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670963)

I always wonder why articles like this are posted on slashdot.

For the "In Soviet Russia" jokes.

Tinfoil (1)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 10 months ago | (#45669683)

This should set the tinfoil hat brigade off screeching like demented howler monkeys.

I know what this is ... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 10 months ago | (#45669693)

.... early research on Quantum Physics.... before it was labeled such.

Ohhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669707)

So there's where the strain mk ultra got its name!!

Psychotron (1)

Peter Kingsbury (3046159) | about 10 months ago | (#45669841)

Assassin in stealth
Assailant from Hell
Impervious to damage
Computer on board
Engaged in war
Non-stop combatant
Maybe not a mutant, maybe a man
Part bionic
And organic
Not a cyborg
Call him Psychotron
Burning inside
Godspeed in glide
Battle plan running
A killing machine
Just downright mean
And forever gunning
Maybe not a mutant, maybe a man
Target to destroy
Arms in employ
Full assault fire threat
Sensors indicate
You will terminate
Life systems disconnect
Psychotron

Re:Psychotron (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670313)

Kill'em ALL, Mr. Mustaine.

FUCK Metallica.

Re:Psychotron (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#45670353)

Burma shave?

(Man, I don't remember that one.)

It's an "ology"! (0)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about 10 months ago | (#45669843)

For "unconventional science" read "mumbo jumbo". Parapsychology does not qualify as science, unconventional or otherwise. It only qualifies as quackery and bullshit.

hymenology never more ologized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45669919)

like deceptology isn't #1 with the WMD on credit corepirate nazi numerologist genociders?

Re:It's an "ology"! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670153)

Exactly! Biology and geology are not real sciences either, with all their hereditary nonsense and goofy crystals. Bunch of charlatans and nutters if you ask me.

Re:It's an "ology"! (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | about 10 months ago | (#45670645)

For "unconventional science" read "mumbo jumbo". Parapsychology does not qualify as science, unconventional or otherwise. It only qualifies as quackery and bullshit.

Because it's been rebuked by research. Conducting that research, however, is what science is all about: test claims to see if they're correct.

Heck, you could do parapsychology research today and, as long as it's properly conducted, it would be science. It's unlike such experiment would do more than confirm what's already known, but that doesn't make it "mumbo jumbo".

Re:It's an "ology"! (2)

Tyler Durden (136036) | about 10 months ago | (#45671463)

Heck, you could do parapsychology research today and, as long as it's properly conducted, it would be science.

No, it really wouldn't. Science only concerns itself with non-supernatural/non-metaphysical claims, and there's a reason for that. If you're willing to entertain anything more than that then you're dealing with quasi-claims for which no amount of evidence can be used to substantiate or disprove them.

Re:It's an "ology"! (3, Insightful)

claytongulick (725397) | about 10 months ago | (#45671839)

Yes, it really would. At one point just about every major piece of technology and science we have today would have been considered supernatural/metaphysical. Given the abundance of anecdotal evidence of "parapsychological" effects, it is completely reasonable to perform controlled experiments in order to evaluate whether those effects can be reproduced. That is the very nature of science.

It is also completely reasonable and scientific to periodically continue to perform those experiments as our tools and understanding grow, and to continue to ensure that the earlier falsification was justified and correct.

. If you're willing to entertain anything more than that then you're dealing with quasi-claims for which no amount of evidence can be used to substantiate or disprove them.

String theory?

Re:It's an "ology"! (2)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about 10 months ago | (#45671607)

Parapsychology theories have been given every chance. They've been tested under proper laboratory conditions according to the scientific method. They've been tested again and again, over and over, given far more chances than any ordinary scientist might expect to be given. The tests were scientific, and the theories failed those tests.

Hanging on to disproven theories is what makes parapsychology a non-science. The -ology suffix is just a desperate attempt to associate with proven laws of nature. Science is right to give crazy ideas a chance, but also right to shun them when they are emphatically shown to be wrong.

And when the pseudo-scientists persist in dressing up their mumbo-jumbo, quackery, and bullshit as respectable ideas as, you can forgive the real scientists for getting a little bit cross.

Re:It's an "ology"! (3)

Stainless_Steel_Mous (1130169) | about 10 months ago | (#45671769)

Your statement is a bit too harsh.

Parapsychology has a lot of problems from a reproducible experiment POV, but many of them are due to a complete lack of theory as to how a possible mechanism for a given extra-sensory phenomenon might work. Without a working theory, how do you develop an experiment to test it?

Couple of examples to illustrate the difficulties:

I am an ancient experimenter. I have lots of black rocks. One or two of the black rocks attract one another, but the vast majority do not. (the ones that do are lodestones, natural magnets) I publish a paper saying that some black rocks attract one another. Other experimenters get black rocks and cannot reproduce my experiment. Jamius Randius says I'm a fake, and even when I demonstrate black rocks that attract one another, says I am a huckster. An investigating committee bangs my black rocks together, making them lose their magnetism, so even I cannot make them attract anymore. I lose my patron, and rocks that attract one another is branded pseudo-science.

Other experimenters try this out with other black rocks, but so few have successful results that future researchers need to depend on meta-analysis of thousands of experiments to get possibly statistically meaningful results. Statistics is hard, so the research descends into sniping about statistical techniques. (See http://therandomtexan.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/the-beginning-of-the-end-for-5/ [wordpress.com] for recent discussions about how p values are too loose across many disciplines.)

Second example closer to home in parapsychology. There are thought experiments proposing that all ESP related phenomena like remote viewing or telepathy may just be specific cases of precognition, since validating experimental results involves knowing the outcome at some point in the future.

Last idea: Since parapsychological phenomena (whether 'real' or not) involve people and effects at a distance, how to ensure the experimenter is not having an effect on the experiment. This is one idea behind the 'sheep/goat' effect in parapsychology (other explanation is that all sheep are cheating and all goats are honest experimenters)

it's a really interesting field that rewards study, just in terms of figuring out how to create good experiments in such a vacuum. Govt. research and specifically application to gathering intelligence has always been saddled with extremely low reproducibility but occasional spectacular successes.

We need a new currency symbol (4, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 10 months ago | (#45669891)

One to indicate whether the dollar amount is inflation adjusted or not. I Imagine a $ with an arrow hat on the | So it's an up arrow and an S. That will work for talking about historical figures in current day.

There is another problem though that is wanting to work backward, either by date or rate. So I would suggest the arrowed $, number and a divisor $14.7m/3.5 this would indicate to divide 14.7 by 3.5 to get the original dollar amount.

Just a game (1)

photosonic (830763) | about 10 months ago | (#45669925)

I always though that there was serious interest in this on both sides, but the US went...WTF and just kept up the show so the Soviets would go bust spending big bucks in a race to keep up. Looks like it worked.

Nothing compared to what the US is spending today (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670179)

Re:Nothing compared to what the US is spending tod (2)

MrLizard (95131) | about 10 months ago | (#45670511)

Yes, but are we doing it by having people sit and wish really, really, hard? There's wasting money in the normal way, and there's wasting money in amazingly stupid ways, even when you consider the "normal way" includes $600.00 hammers and the like. It takes a truly unique and special brand of stupid to waste money in a way that's ridiculous even by the accepted standards of governments world-wide.

It might be time to reconsider... (2)

Simulant (528590) | about 10 months ago | (#45670203)

... the wisdom of putting our most paranoid citizens into our intelligence & defense agencies.

How do you know? (1)

hughbar (579555) | about 10 months ago | (#45670213)

That the research has ended? Maybe that's what they've made you believe using a late-model cerpan? Cue Twilight Zone music etc. etc. etc.

Psychic research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670327)

Found a youtube vid on a procedure used for remote viewing created by the military. There was a test at the end. Surprisingly it worked. Forget the group but they were private consultants who had helped engineer the program.

Just Do It (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 10 months ago | (#45670531)

Not Courtney Brown or the Farsight Institute by any chance? Weren't they the ones that got Ti and Bo all hopped up about the aliens riding comet Hale-Bopp coming to beam them up?

Crackpots and their interesting theories are kind of a guilty pleasure of mine.
Like the guys that thought LSD would make a dandy truth serum. I heard they threw great parties^W^W did some interesting research.

Back to the Soviet angle, they also researched the LIDA machine, which was supposedly an electronic sleep inducer.

"Uncoventional Science" (1)

MrLizard (95131) | about 10 months ago | (#45670493)

So, "unconventional science" is how you say "farkin' bullshit" in Russian. Got it.

It would not surprise me if these "studies" were due to CIA influence to trick the Soviets into wasting their money and effort.

Lets look at the record oops whats this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670735)

MKULTRA records were destroyed. How many other programs are like that?

The reality of psychotronic weapons today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45670873)

        http://www.homelandsecurityus.com/archives/10176

        I feel like saying a bunch of bad words at the posts here. But why bother, your not worth being my TARGET.

No real engineers on Slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45671503)

Reading the comments here, it is interesting that we have no real engineers or scientists on slashdot. Its not hard to see what you could do with a supercomputer, some complex radio gear and proper classification networks.

It would appear that the majority of the readership is mediocre software guys.

Sad day for this site.

Whereas in the US (2)

Pirulo (621010) | about 10 months ago | (#45671571)

We do it with the media

mind reading (2)

deodiaus2 (980169) | about 10 months ago | (#45671891)

However we are current pursuing efforts at mind reading and using minds to control devices using a feedback device which measures activity in regions of the brain. 50 years ago, this would have been considered bunk, so there obviously has been some progress.

All those who believe ... (2)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#45671893)

.. in telekinesis, please raise my hand.

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