In my previous post, I mentioned Drs. Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ, who in the 1970s claimed to study, and establish the existence of, psychic phenomena. Ever since reading their account of that work at the Stanford Research Institute my fringe-science Spidey-sense has become attuned to references to Puthoff and Targ. And they show up quite frequently, in some of the most unexpected places. (Or perhaps not so surprising if, like me, you happen to enjoy reading poorly edited works of crackpot science. What can I say? It's a hobby.)
I do feel compelled to mention that both men do have bona fide science and engineering credentials, even though (in my personal opinion) it is difficult to reconcile those with the Uri Geller/Stargate debacle. Prior to his work at SRI, Puthoff had done work on tunable IR lasers. Targ has also worked on laser applications, and as recently as the 90s was publishing research on wind-shear detection using LIDAR.
But the first place I encountered any mention of Puthoff outside his remote viewing work was in Nick Cook's book The Hunt for Zero Point. Cook was a former aviation editor and military-affairs journalist for Jane's Defense Weekly. For that 2002 book he investigated claims that several major US and British aerospace firms had invested heavily in "gravity engine" (aka antigravity) technology during the 1950s. The trail leads to all manner of strangeness including, as is practically required, Operation Paperclip, Nazi flying discs, and Viktor Schauberger. (Google "Schauberger's Bell" if you're unfamiliar with that last fellow and feel the need to read up on some good old-fashioned Nazi UFO and/or Nazi time machine conspiracy theories.) While trying to investigate what is a very speculative field of physics, Cook realizes he needs an expert guide to help him evaluate the technical merits of the information he uncovers. A very reasonable decision.
But to whom does he turn? None other than Hal Puthoff. The connection comes about because for many years Puthoff has researched gravitation and "zero-point energy" at the Institute for Advanced Studies. (That is, the outfit he founded in Austin, TX-- not to be confused with the considerably more noteworthy Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ). ZPE is floated in Cook's book as one of the means by which antigravity technology might be powered. While ZPE might be a real phenomenon, it is so poorly understood at present that it has become fodder for no end of bizarre claims that, out in the fringes, tend to overlap with parapsychology. Which of course brings us back to Puthoff.
Though it does eventually (perhaps inevitably) go off the rails, Cook's investigation is nothing if not entertaining. At least he attempts to proceed carefully, and while I'm not necessarily swayed by the arguments, he does make his case in a clear and straightforward fashion. The same cannot be said for other writers who have pointed to Puthoff as a source of validation. In his book Reich of the Black Sun, Joseph Farrell points to some of Puthoff's later work to bolster his own more extravagant claims about Nazi secret weapon development during WWII. (That book begins with the claim that Germany and Japan both completed and successfully tested their own atomic bomb research prior to the Manhattan Project, though he doesn't appeal to Puthoff on that front. That's Farrell's measured and restrained starting point, before delving into the really weird stuff.) It should be noted that Farrell has also written a book purporting a relationship between Schauberger's Bell and the apocryphal Philadelphia Experiment, and another asserting that the Great Pyramid of Giza was actually an energy beam weapon. So, you know. Take that as you will.
Russell Targ also gets around. He even crept up on me when I watched Bobby Fischer Against the World, a documentary about the late and very troubled world chess champion. How? He married Fischer's sister, Joan. She passed away in the 90s, but as Bobby Fischer's brother-in-law, Targ is interviewed in the documentary. (I just about fell out of my chair when his name popped up on the screen.) I'm told that Targ's autobiography makes an interesting read. Apparently he was a regular member of Ayn Rand's salon, and attended some of the same meetings with Alan Greenspan.
So now you'll know the answer should anybody ever ask you what Uri Geller, Bobby Fischer, Ayn Rand, Viktor Schauberger, and Alan Greenspan have in common.