Despite what we have learned about the human mind over the centuries, there are still so many corners of it that we do not understand. Among these things is the existence of psychic abilities. We have all been fascinated by it and, at one point in our lives, even tried to see if we can bend a spoon by using our minds and sheer force of will like a Jedi or someone from the X-Men to no results.

We are going to step into a seemingly science-fiction inspired history lesson as we look into the stories and studies that were conducted by the government in order to understand and potentially use psychic abilities.

The Nazi Occult Organization Discovery

What may have possibly ignited the fire of interest in studying psychic powers by the government was when members of Operation Alsos, a US scientific intelligence team, discovered documents from a Nazi science organization called Ahnenerbe led by Heinrich Himmler himself at the end of the Second World War and the fall of the Nazi regime.

According to the US military, the organization was well-funded and quite vast for a science organization but what is interesting is that the Ahnenerbe had a branch that is devoted entirely to the study of “Occult Science” from black magic to enhancing abilities in Extrasensory Perception.

Heinrich Himmler was known for being a fanatic when it comes to the supernatural and the occult and believed that the Nazi regime was a mandate from the gods. On his orders, SS officers and Nazi soldiers raided occupied territories of artifacts and items that are said to have supernatural powers or are of occult origins. Museums were heavily hit especially those in Poland and Ukraine. Scouring the world for esoteric texts and even legendary items such as the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny the blade used to pierce the side of Christ. The Ahnenerbe was completely relentless in their pursuit.

The recovered documents from the Ahnenerbe would have been discarded but when US intelligence discovered that the Soviet Union also unearthed a similar chance in their raids, the government, almost immediately, but its scientists and experts to work in researching and experimenting on psychic powers and abilities.

The Cold War Psychic Arms Race

The US government’s research did not fully take off until the 1950s after rumors began to spread like wildfire that the Soviet Union is developing experiments on mind control. This fear was even made real when a video was released of American POW’s were filmed reciting communist propaganda.

Annie Jacobsen, an investigative journalist, writes, we look back [to the video] and say now, that is ridiculous, you can’t brainwash someone, but it certainly looked that way when you watched those old black-and-white images of those POWs.

In order to “one-up” each other, both the Soviet Union and the US relied on the cache of Ahnenerbe documents they discovered in 1945. Poring over notes and studies, both sides discovered that the documents even had entries on experiments conducted on the prisoners of Nazi concentration camps; experiments that pushed and tested the limits of the human body to the extreme.

Popularly known as MK Ultra, the CIA backed study on mind control began in 1953 and stretched on until the 1960s as a means to find a way to counteract the threat of Soviet Mind control on the American public. MK Ultra was a program that had several unorthodox methods of gathering data some of them involving dosing chemical agents such as LSD and Acid to an unsuspecting American public. While MK Ultra became a crucial part in history in terms of understanding the Psychic Arms Race between the US and the Soviet Union, the methods it employed gained the ire of many officials and the concerned members of the public and were promptly shut down after a decade.

Remote Viewing

Perhaps one of the most intensive studies ever made by the US government in psychic research was an idea called “Remote Viewing”. After the termination of MK Ultra in the 60s, psychic research was resurrected in the late 70s and was named Project Star Gate. It was one of the US’s most influential experiments in the realm of psychic abilities.

“Remote Viewing” is an ability termed by the CIA for the skill to locate targets from a distance as well as looking into sealed documents or fortified buildings without having to open an envelope or stepping in through a door. By merely using a psychic’s innate ability, the government will be able to acquire what they need.

In one of their studies, the CIA managed to send a written message to a subject who was situated in a different building. Remarkably, the subject was able to read the message word for word without physically seeing the note. Another experiment conducted on “Remote Viewing” was when CIA researchers had a shielded computer screen with a series of 1’s and 0’s onscreen. Similar to the written note experiment, their test subject was able to replicate the series of numbers without seeing the monitor. Another test, which somehow hammered in the validity of their studies and findings, was when subjects were asked to go through classified CIA documents without leaving their current location. The results were surprising.

All subjects were successful in accurately describing the contents of the sealed documents as well as its length and who had written them. Some of the subjects even described the buildings where the documents were stored and the color of each book where they are kept. Though Project StarGate’s remote viewing research was well received by many of its researchers, it was never introduced or executed in the US military or intelligence even after StarGate’s dissolution.

Mind Benders and Telekinesis

Apart from “Remote Viewing”, researchers of the Star Gate project also looked into tapping into the potential of telekinesis, an ability where properties of objects can be altered or manipulated by psychic energy. This was partly brought about by the appearance of one man named Uri Geller, a stage magician, who was reported to be able to bend metal spoons using only the power of his mind.

In a declassified document on Project Star Gate, it showed that the CIA and the US government provided funding for experiments and testing regarding Geller’s unique ability and the results even stunned the research’s most skeptical of scientists in the most controlled setting.

Other than Geller, the government and the CIA also looked for other psychics with similar skills and found a young boy, a 13-year old, named Stephen. He was brought in accompanied by his parents for tests because Stephen was able to bend aluminum objects with his mind. The study also included how the metal shifted and moved. In a different experiment, a man named Jean-Pierre Girard was discovered to have the ability to change the thickness of a strip of metal without needing to bend it out of shape.

Project StarGate and Beyond

Known by different names such as Gondola Wish and Grill Flame, Project StarGate was one of the US government’s most popular voyages into studying psychic abilities. As mentioned earlier, StarGate delved into studies such as “Remote Viewing” in order to give the US government and the CIA a leg up against the Soviet Union in the Cold War; as well as studying extraordinary human psychic abilities that allow their subjects to manipulate physical objects without touching them.

Established in 1978 and terminated in 1995, StarGate basically investigated the potential use of what they called the “psychic phenomena” in military and domestic intelligence as well as security. In fact, Project StarGate was so influential that officials who were aware of its existence showed much support in its potential. One such supporter was a certain Major General Stubblebine who, after being convinced of the reality of the psychic phenomena and its varieties, ordered his battalion commanders to put their soldiers into learning how to bend spoons with their minds.

Stories have even circulated that the Major General himself tried to unlock his psychic potential by conducting studies on him such as attempting to walk through a solid wall. By the time Project StarGate was wrapped up and terminated, thousands of “Remote Viewing” tests have been conducted with varying successes.