please use your nuclear arsenal responsibly

Nuclear weapons are the most terrifying devices humanity ever invented. And back in the day, the military explored using psychics to figure out where to aim them.

nuke warning

In ancient times, generals used to solicit magicians and soothsayers who would try their best to predict how a major battle will go and used fresh sheep livers or astrological manuals as a form of military intelligence. But today, with satellites, a global computer system filled with all sorts of strategic information for those who know where to look, and unmanned drones that scour remote terrain in impressive detail, modern warfare has little use for people who think they have otherworldly powers. That’s a good thing since today’s militaries have lots of really scary weapons which should really be aimed based on something more than a psychic’s hunch.

And yet, oddly enough, that’s exactly what the U.S. military thought of doing when it launched a remote viewing study codenamed Project Stargate. Obviously, the generator that comes up with names for secret projects hit one of the really cool names in the system and if you were superstitious, you might just think it was a sign of great things to come. Unfortunately for the psychics involved in the series of studies that spanned longer than two decades, it ended up as one of the many anecdotes about runaway government spending and fueled the countless gags about how military intelligence was an oxymoron. I mean really, are we going to trust people who make a living pretending to talk to the dead, make up stories about being visited by angels and playing a set of elaborate guessing games in front of friendly and naive audiences, with guiding where the apocalyptic hail of missiles armed with multi-megaton warheards with hit in case of nuclear war?

Still, we have to be fair and note that out of the trillions of dollars the military used during all that time, only $20 million were actually used to investigate whether you could get psychics to do something useful. Well, if your definition of useful is getting the drop on an enemy base half a world away. And it does seem like a good idea if we think about it. After all, if psychics have a real supernatural abilities and give you the information you need to cripple an enemy nation with a single, well choreographed attack, isn’t it worth to confirm the concept? This is precisely what Project Stargate was supposed to do. It provided protocols for verifying whether there’s really such a thing as remote viewing or supernatural intelligence gathering, and sought to put the psychics through their paces in an objective, empirical way. The result? Two decades worth of studies proving that psychics are utterly unable to provide any kind of useful, actionable information.

Yes, it’s true that the best performing subjects could make predictions that were judged to be better than they would be expected if they randomly guessed. However, when they were asked for specifics of what they saw and how they saw it, even the best remote viewers were so generic and vague in their descriptions, it quickly became very obvious that they did so well because they avoided all the details. And details is what the military needs to carry out a strike. For example, saying that Osama bin Laden is hiding in a string of remote villages along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border doesn’t do any good. Pointing to an exact house where he will be when the armed forces can get there because the supernatural spirits of fortune told you so and you’ve been shown to make extremely detailed, accurate predictions? That would prove that psychics could actually do something more useful than playing guessing games and perfecting that constipated look they pass off as talking to the various spirits from the great beyond.

# science // experiment / military / military intelligence / psychic

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