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The Mad Science of Alien and UFO Myths

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The Mad Science of Alien and UFO Myths

During World War II, the rumors of Nazi Germany developing paranormal capabilities of the mind eventually led to interest by the fledgling post-war CIA. In 1961, Chief of OTS (Office of Technical Service) contacted Stephen I. Abrams, head of Parapsychological Laboratory at Oxford University on the subject of ESP (Extra-sensory perception). Abrams responded with a report that ESP appeared to exist, but could neither be understood, or controlled.

From that point up to the early 1970?s, the Agency had very little interest in psychic phenomenon.

Enter Hal Puthoff.

Understanding Hal Puthoff

According to author Jim Schnabel, Hal served at the NSA in the early 1960’s after serving in the Navy (Served as an officer in the Navy from 1960-63 at Ft. Meade), and later stayed on as a civilian. Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies, Dell, 1997, pg 97)

After his doctorate at Stanford University, Hal became a lecturer in the electrical engineering department, and supervised Ph.D. candidates in EE and applied physics. In 1969, at the age of thirty-three, he obtained a patent on a tunable Raman (infrared) laser that he had invented. In addition, he co-authored a textbook entitled Fundamentals of Quantum Electronics, which became a standard volume in physics.

According to Ingo Swann, in his online book Biomindsuperpowers, he writes:

The field of laser physics was on a great upswing by then, and by all accounts, as many later told me, Hal Puthoff was destined for laser engineering limelight, a field in which his scientific reputation had already achieved luminosity. A short while earlier in New York, Cleve Backster had advised me that Puthoff was a genius. Others I later met in the Silicon Valley area said so, too, and I accepted this as a matter of fact, albeit somewhat intimidated by being in the near proximity of a genius.. How and why it was that Hal’s interests changed from laser physics to biofield measurements was never clear to me, and so I’ll not be able to articulate much in this regard. We did discuss the matter, but somehow whatever we discussed has faded.

Ingo’s point above is an important one. What could have prompted a genius physicist, on a stellar upward track of accomplishment and success within the field of laser physics, to switch to a field most contemporary physicists would, even today, consider career suicide? Why, between 1971-1972, did he suddenly divert his entire career path from the very successful field of laser physics, to “biofield measurements”, and parapsychology?

alien and ufo myths

Puthoff and Scientology

Coincidentally, during the 1960’s, Hal Puthoff had also joined the religious organization of Scientology, led by L. Ron Hubbard. According to a link provided by Robin Adair’s History of Remote Viewing, this particular date describes Hal’s involvement at that point as follows:

“January 1971 NSA’s Harold ‘Hal’ Puthoff, one of fewer than 3,000 Scientology ‘Clears’ in the world in 1971, has joined the ranks of a much smaller number of OT VIIs.”

The document continues:

“NSA’s Hal Puthoff somehow has gotten past L. Ron Hubbard’s prohibitions against government spy agency personnel being allowed access to upper-level Scientology, and has progressed up the Scientology levels to the recently-released OT VII?the highest level available. He writes a success story for a Scientology publication about having completed OT VII, saying that on a weekend he had stood outside a locked building and remotely viewed information he wanted from a building directory that he couldn’t physically read from the doorway, then verified later, when the building was open, that what he had viewed remotely had been accurate.”

The document (Adair’s research) goes on to explain that at that point, in 1971, Hal had access to all the classified documents that only the highest level OT’s could obtain. Many of those documents, later captured during FBI raids, revealed Hubbard’s developed “technologies” to enlighten an individual and “tap” into temporal abilities.

If there is any question regarding the spiritual and psychological impact that reaching OTVII in Scientology had on Hal in 1971, one only needs to read how he describes his feelings and state of mind only three years later, in January of 1974, after completing “Dianetic Auditing” at Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles. In the success story he wrote, published that year in Celebrity magazine, he wrote:

alien and ufo myths

“Having totally completed Dianetic Auditing, I must say I have an incredibly good feeling about: creating life games; my ability to play them hard and well; and a feeling of absolute fearlessness. He represented himself to the Scientologists as a “Professor, Stanford Research Institute.”

Another catalyst of change at the time was the fact that in 1971, while Puthoff had joined SRI to assist with a laser-related project, funding essentially dwindled.

Professional and Personal Changes

According to Jeffrey T. Richelson (Ph.D. in political science from the University of Rochester in 1975, and senior fellow at the National Security Archive in Washington) in The Wizards of Langley: Inside The CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology (p.176-177):

“Four years earlier, Puthoff had experienced a number of personal and professional changes. Separation from his wife, a visit to the Esalen Institute, and boredom with teaching in Stanford’s electrical engineering department had been followed by his moving over to SRI, which had close ties to Stanford University but was funded largely by government contracts. Puthoff joined SRI to assist with a laser-related project, but when funding dwindled, he sought permission from his boss and obtained $10,000 from the part-owner of a fried-chicken franchise to test for the existence of psychic abilities.”

Why psychic abilities? Based on his own writing, it is apparent that his beliefs in Scientology had started to co-mingle with his scientific endeavors. In Martin Gardner’s 1998 article “Zero-point energy and Harold Puthoff”, Martin points out:

“L. Ron Hubbard, the science-fiction writer who invented Scientology and became its guru, wrote a book titled Scientology: A Religion. Puthoff provided its preface. In it he blasts the FDA for calling the E-meter useless. He likens attacks on Scientology to attacks made on Harvey, Galileo, Semmelweis and Copernicus. ‘Nevertheless,’ he concludes, ‘it is incumbent upon the pioneers of new developments to press forward their discoveries in the face of all opposition.'”

alien and ufo myths

Obviously Puthoff considered Hubbard’s efforts with the E-meter as a pioneering effort, and a new “discovery”.

In a 1970 notarized letter written by Puthoff, and published by the Church of Scientology, reads:

“Although critics viewing the system [Scientology] from the outside,” Puthoff wrote in his letter, “may form the impression that Scientology is just another of many quasi-educational quasi-religious ‘schemes,’ it is in fact a highly sophistical and highly technological system more characteristic of the best of modern corporate planning and applied technology.”

The letter goes on to praise Scientology’s E-meter, a simple electronic device used by “auditors” to uncover a patient’s engrams.

“In the technical community here at Stanford, we have projects underway employing the techniques developed in Scientology.”

Puthoff adds that Scientology is an:

“…uplifting and workable system of concepts which blend the best of Eastern and Western traditions. After seeing these techniques in operation and experiencing them myself, I am certain that they will be incorporated eventually on a large scale in modern society as the readiness and awareness level develops.”

In his own words, he states that his work at Stanford included “employing the techniques developed in Scientology.” It is no small matter that the impact Scientology had on Hal was enormous. He had truly come to believe that the E-meter, essentially a basic galvanometer (invented years earlier) was a breakthrough technology.

In upcoming updates we’ll examine how this belief, and other related beliefs, greatly influenced future events throughout the field of Ufology and fringe scientific research.

Originally published on

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