Sunday, September 20, 2009
A generation of parapsychologists are starting to retire. Fortunately for us, instead of working on their golf swing, some of them are jotting down memories. Do You See What I See?: Memoirs of a Blind Biker, another recent personal account of a life involved with psi research, is by Russell Targ, the physicist legend of remote viewing, co-author (with Harold Putoff) of the influential Mind Reach and, we discover, an avid motorcyclist despite being legally blind.
The book starts with a description of a quintessential post-war, European-influenced Chicago/New York childhood. It then goes on to tell us about his studies, early career, marriage, fatherhood, move to California, divorce, motorcycle riding and other loves. There's much to keep us interested on both personal and professional fronts: Bobby Fisher (the eccentric chess player) was his brother-in-law, and at work during breaks at NASA conferences he had quiet talks about ESP with the likes of Werner von Braun, Edgar Mitchell and Arthur C. Clarke. But Targ is no mere name dropper. The stories are informed by his thoughtful philosophical approach to life, namely, that ‘yes, things happen, but we give them all the meaning they have for us.’ All the major milestones of a life, the negatives and positives, are presented with great candor in very readable, engaging prose.
There is also an absorbing account of the ups and downs of his professional life as both an engineer for Lockheed and scientist specializing in ESP. His professional life was a delicate balance between mainstream and psi research. Many of those involved in the latter will identify with the problems he manages to overcome: he was successful at both. It's an edifying story, especially when you consider he had serious health issues to contend with for most of his life. Remarkably there’s never a hint of self pity in the writing, even when he relates the tragic death of his daughter Elizabeth Targ.
He's apparently undaunted by life challenges that would throw many off course. And though his tone does sometimes have a suggestion of 'look what I did!' he's reflective enough to acknowledge this and aware that his upbringing as an only child and early illnesses have had a profound, and mostly positive, impact on his confident and resilient approach to life.
For those engaged with psi research, the book becomes especially interesting when he expands on his contributions to ESP experiments. Russell Targ was involved in some of the seminal moments of psi research over the last four decades and was close to many other psi researchers who have also profoundly influenced the field. One of them is Charles T. Tart who wrote the forward to The Blind Biker. He describes Russell Targ's contribution to psi research as the ‘battery development pioneer’ and lauds him for bringing elusive real life psi into a more moderate, but reliable, scientifically useful form.
Although there is much that is already on the public record, it is fascinating to get the personal inside story of the developments which have informed current psi research. Some have attained legendary status, for instance the activities of the Delphi Group. But did you know that the documentary describing the silver commodities stock prediction experiments has disappeared from the archives of the production company who made it? Or that the group once received a $320,000 contract with Atari to design and build an ESP video game? And he outlines the development of remote viewing. I won't repeat the details here as it's worth reading from his perspective, especially the theories about Pat Price. The stories reveal an innovative approach to the development of practical applications for psi and one wonders if we need to up the stakes of current research to match the efforts of researchers from his era.
I highly recommend Do You See What I See?: Memoirs of a Blind Biker as an inspiring story which will be of interest to those outside psi research as much as those in it.
Hannah Jenkins, PhD
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The principal international scientific organization studying the nature of consciousness, the Parapsychological Association (PA), is holding a logo competition in anticipation of the relaunch of its website, www.parapsych.org. An affiliate of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the PA is engaged in the study of psi (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition.
The competition, which is open to the public, encourages amateurs, artists and graphic designers to draw on the 52 year history of this well-established organization to create a logo that will serve the PA’s website as well as its printed materials. The winner of the logo competition will receive a prize of $100.
About the Parapsychological Association:
The Parapsychological Association is the international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of 'psi'’ (or 'psychic') experiences. Their primary objective is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences. The PA was first established in 1957, and has been an affiliated organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) since 1969. There are approximately 300 PA members around the world.
The PA provides an international forum for scholarly exchange through annual conferences, generally held in North America or in Europe, and through publication of the proceedings from these conferences. The PA is a non-adjudicating organization and endorses no ideologies or beliefs other than the value of rigorous scientific and scholarly inquiry. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
Monday, September 14, 2009
A new parapsychological research center is soon to open in a popular virtual arena called Second Life. The Alvarado Zingrone Institute for Research and Education (The AZIRE) was founded to provide resources for researchers, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, therapists and counselors, and teachers and students interested in seemingly psychic phenomena. A project of Alvarado Consulting, The AZIRE is located in
Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado and Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone, the folks behind The AZIRE, have enjoyed careers in parapsychology since the late 1970s. Focusing mainly on the psychology of experience — especially on the out-of-body experience — they have been lucky enough to have worked at some of the premiere institutions in the field, such as the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, the Koestler Parapsychology Unit in the Department of Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, the Parapsychology Foundation in New York City and Greenport, New York, and at the Division of Perceptual Studies in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, where they now hold part-time grant-based research faculty appointments.
The AZIRE website — http://www.theazire.org — includes links to blogs on various aspects of their field of study including parapsychology as a profession, parapsychology’s contribution to science, and biographies in parapsychology, as well as links to personal blogs such as those written by Dr. Charles Tart and Dr. Dean Radin. The AZIRE website also includes links to many universities, institutes, and organizations all over the world as well as to those few opportunities for accredited and/or high quality online learning in parapsychology. Links are also provided to web-based freely available articles by Alvarado and Zingrone and to recommended books in the field.
In addition to developing online courses, a “Virtual College Fair” is in the planning stages. So far Dr. Charles Tart, Dr. Caroline Watt of the
The AZIRE has committed to Second Life as a particularly vibrant media for education. To exploit that potential, The AZIRE Learning Center presents similar resources to those provided by The AZIRE website but using some of the interactive media available inworld such as continuously running slideshows, “notecards,” a YouTube viewer and click-throughs to buy books and download articles. Still in development in Second Life are The AZIRE Library that will include an expanded selection of articles and books to download or buy, and The AZIRE Classroom Building, a cosy space where discussions and classes will be hosted.
If you’re experienced in Second Life, Alvarado and Zingrone want to remind you that The AZIRE’s first open house is on Sunday, September 20th, 2009 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm PST. Once inworld, IM Maggie Larimore (Zingrone’s Second Life alter ego) and she will send you the landmark. For those who’d like to give Second Life a try, once inworld IM Maggie Larimore and/or Rodolfo Mirabella (Alvarado’s SL alter ego) for a warm welcome!