Friday, July 09, 2010

Down the rabbit hole

A random thought from "Men who stare at goats." The book explores the totally weird crap that the military got into as they were exploring new age and psychic warfare. As I've said, it is scary what sorts of stuff they did try out, not because it's horrifying in and of itself, but because a group of people in positions of power pursued such silly things. Examples include the title, which involved a "goat lab" on an army base in which martial arts psychics and special forces troops literally stared at goats, trying to kill them with their minds, and remote viewing, in which a team of psychics sat in a room, trying to view what was happening at specified strategic targets and write it down as bits of military intelligence. The thing is, these are not conspiracy theories or wild speculations, they are documented facts. Sources are cited, in both cases multiple sources, and the sources are often the people who were doing the staring and viewing.

At the end of the book, though, the author talks about how he got a call from someone who was a source in the book but who said he'd share a bit more information on the condition of anonymity for this final tidbit. The information that was provided, the author was careful to point out, was not verified, and so not trustworthy, and was totally weird. He was told that essentially special forces operatives were being trained to be remote viewers and then being sent into the field, so that they could use their psychic powers in real time to track targets (e.g., to hunt someone down and kill them). Again, weird. That wasn't what caught my attention though.

What caught my attention was how the author was saying that "this sounds totally crazy, and I can't substantiate it, and I wouldn't normally believe it BUT all the stuff I can substantiate is so weird that, well, who knows??" What caught me about this is that I often end up feeling this way at work and out of work. I am generally a fairly level headed and cynical person. When someone tells me about a ghost, a conspiracy, or an honest politician, my usual response is "yeah, sure, show me some data and I'll listen." When someone comes at me with an oddball statement about, well, anything I'm skeptical unless I can either see the sense in it or the proof for it. This approach has served me very well, and in fact part of my job is based on this type of critical thought.

But another part of my job also confronts me with people who have been in situations that are, by their definition, outside the scope of normal experience. They are supposed to be, and are, a little unbelievable. This puts me in weird situations because sometimes I hear REALLY crazy stuff and the critical part of me is crying "oh come ON" but there is still this little niggling doubt. So many of the other unbelievably twisted things I've heard and learned are documented fact, how do I know that this particular one is in fact a bunch of bunk? It's like when you start seeing that really crazy things do happen, you lose a bit of your ability to doubt things outright. And the result, as the title of this post suggests, is that you're down the rabbit hole in a weird and sometimes scary world. It's incredibly frustrating at times.

I don't really have any other deep thoughts to share on this point. I just thought it was interesting to see someone else experiencing this same mental struggle, in an entirely different context. Once you start down that weird path, you can never totally go back. But before you go all 90's TV on me let me just say that no, the truth is not out there :o)

1 comment:

Seeker said...

Late night radio...Coast to Coast AM hosted by George Noorie..talks about this all the time and has on individuals who have run training for the military in the use of remote viewing.

I don't know but I kind of go with Shakespear:

Swear by my sword
Never to speak of this that you have heard.

[Beneath] Swear by his sword.

Well said, old mole, canst work i' th' earth so fast?
A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167