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Art Vandelay

Why did so many science types take psychic stuff so seriously in the not so distant past?

8 posts in this topic

From Army types trying to harness new weapons and spying techniques, to universities funding studies and the like devoted to the stuff.

 

But it also bled a lot into sci fi of the time. The force in Star Wars. The Vulcans in Star Trek. (Ironically the super logical species had the ability to mind meld and other such shenanigans)

 

Was it the LSD? Hope? Hippification?

 

Its not as if it wasnt easy to see it was all bunk.

 

Thank god for James Randi!

 

(Ignoring the people who take it srsly these days too)

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35 minutes ago, markot said:

Its not as if it wasnt easy to see it was all bunk.

With something like that, you definitely want to make absolutely sure it's bunk before potentially letting another country get a hold of and master it.


It also wouldn't exactly be "easy" to see if it was all bunk, due to the vague nature of the concept. They'd want extensive testing not just of potential abilities, but on how they'd activate, the extent of them, etc.

 

But after enough years of pretty much nothing, they were satisfied and stopped.

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My favorite is the time the CIA planted a story in a French magazine that said we were not only experimenting, but succeeded, in using ESP to communicate with atomic submarines in the 1960s. The Soviets in response invested a ton of time and resources in not only trying to copy the experiment but intercepting messages to the sub.

 

I think there was even a machine mocked up that was suppose to amplify "signal" to the sub, just to make the story more believable.

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I think it could have had something to do with the scientific achievements of the time. We'd cracked the atom, we were venturing into space, we were unfolding mysteries that seemed unsolvable only a generation before. Solving the mysteries of the brain seemed like a logical next step. If the discovery of nuclear fission resulted in something as the atomic bomb, perhaps solving the problem of consciousness could release something equally amazing, like ESP/telekinesis/etc. This is all a complete guess of course, but it makes sense to me.

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It's a little hard to respond because it's a bit of a vague accusation and I'm not sure who really needs defending, or if it is defensible. The military, is *not* a "science type," even though they fund a lot of science. I'm not sure how much funding universities actually received for investigating it nor which departments did it. Do you have figures? I'm not even opposed to some small degree of funding that stuff if nothing else but because it provides solid ground to justify that it doesn't work despite people's insistence that it's real.

 

Science fiction is perhaps "guilty" but I think that is in many cases defensible. Let me first say that Star Wars isn't a hardcore scifi. It's fantasy in space and the force was deliberately mystical by nature. But sure, other science fiction that can rightfully call itself that has explored various forms of telepathy. Why? Because mind reading, although not plausible in the form people wish for is not altogether unreasonable. The brain is an information processing system and there is a metric shit ton of work on brain-computer interfaces that amount to mind reading and embedding thoughts/controls. Work that isn't BS and is actually making progress.

 

Given that, it's not unreasonable for science fiction to explore societies in which this capability existed, perhaps even in rather ubiquitous ways, both in terms of what ill it can bring and in terms of good it can bring. Because that's what is unique about science fiction: exploring humanity and our future by positing possible disruptive future capabilities.

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