HAROLD E. PUTHOFF, Ph.D
It is now not only my great pleasure, but an honor, to introduce Dr. Hal Puthoff. He is the sole and only reason that what came to be called "remote viewing" saw the light of day, and in the big-time way it achieved its extraordinary visibility.
And in this sense I want very clearly to say that as all roads led to Rome in antiquity, so all remote-viewing roads in our time led to Puthoff. Everyone else connected to RV, including myself, were incidental to Puthoff's great thrust on its behalf.
Because of his importance, I want to take some
time here to present Puthoff, and I will do so by first stepping outside
of the usual biographical description. In that usual biographical sense,
in the same way I am stereotyped and over-simplified as an "artist,"
so too is Puthoff stereotyped as a "physicist."
Indeed, he IS a physicist, and indeed I am a painter of canvases.
But Puthoff exemplifies dimensions which extend far beyond the confines of his chosen profession, physics. And in that this book is an historical memoir, what I will now say about him may be the only place posterity might find a more complete rendering of him. You see I have MEMORIES of him extending throughout our close association for over fifteen years.
Some years ago, the now venerable consciousness
researcher, Dr. Jean Houston (who is noted for making short statements poignant
with very deep implications) quipped that we should try to put a man on
Earth before attempting to put one on the Moon or into space.
Implicit in Houston's remark is the concept that human specimens of our species dwelling on Earth are less than their enormous potential which might be realized if someone really and definitively goes to work. Also implicit, I might suppose, is that just because one is born of the human species, well, that is no indication that one achieves true human-ness or humanity or becomes representative of our species potentials. I am sure Jean will straighten me out if I have erred in interpretation here.
In my long studied observation of Hal, I believe
him to be one such man, the scope of whose human-ness and humanity are stupidly
hidden behind the stereotype of him as a mere "physicist."
In any event, even if some will believe I have overblown something here, I will hold that Puthoff is a great man.
As will unfold in the many chapters ahead, he and I were to work closely and creatively together, and also to have disagreements, shoot-outs and Mexican standoffs many of which achieved high dramatics.
But none of these ever altered my basic sense and appreciation of him as a great human being, a title I've learned to use very sparingly throughout the long and now tedious years of my living experiences with thousands of others.
And indeed, as I now begin my descent into advancing age, I think I can say without remorse that there IS a distinction between scumbags and human beings - even though both walk about in relatively similar bio-bodies often "dressed" in similar social and material trappings.
In order to organize this chapter regarding Puthoff,
I've had to consider at length how I arrived at my estimation of him.
My first introduction to him was not a face-to-face one, but via the papers handed to me by Cleve Backster in March 1972. In Chapter 28 I have already reviewed those papers for the purposes of this book. I now refer to his proposal entitled THE PHYSICS OF PSYCHOENERGETIC PROCESSES, RESEARCH PROPOSAL (1971, unpublished), and now direct your attention to page 154 of that Chapter.
In his proposal, Puthoff had reviewed experiments
in the psi phenomena of telepathy, PK, etc., and was proposing that the
advancing science of quantum theory and physics be enlarged to incorporate
their possibility. But Puthoff then went on to speculate that the psi phenomena
were aspects of LIFE PROCESSES themselves.
"When one considers basic LIFE PROCESSES,"
Puthoff had written, "within the framework of modern scientific theory,
particularly modern quantum theory, two basic viewpoints emerge."
These two viewpoints were that quantum theory is capable of encompassing those principles, but that the processes had not been brought into the fold of quantum theory because of the typical reductionist methodology which (in my words) infected the whole of modern science.
I now need to elaborate a little. Modern science
indeed considered biological and psychological processes, and it was (and
still is) those processes which scientists of all kinds tended to think
of in terms of LIFE processes.
But biological and psychological processes are the RESULT of life processes - and in a specific sense cannot really be considered as the processes of LIFE itself. In other words, biological and psychological processes are manifestations of the life processes, without or in the absence of which there would be no bio-psycho processes.
And, indeed, that scientific entity which once
had considered LIFE PROCESSES as such had earlier been known as VITALISM
- a discipline which, around 1920, had been "conquered" and terminated
by the modern materialistic sciences. You see, scientific vitalists assumed
the existence of a number of phenomena which were entirely antagonistic
to materialist philosophy and doctrine.
Within my knowledge as it existed at the time,
Puthoff was not the only mainstream scientists to propose that psi phenomena
might be looked at under the auspices of science proper.
Before 1920 there had been several notable scientists who had suggested as much. But after the modernist scientific door had slammed shut, few "conventional" scientists dared suggest anything of the kind. The fear of losing tenure, prestige, professional standing, or being laughed out of town, was everywhere pervasive in modern sciences.
Cleve Backster had assured me that Puthoff was
a respected scientist who had already achieved a visibility in physics.
I remember thinking that Puthoff, whoever he was, was very brave to circulate
a proposal which could easily demolish his entire career and future as an
As I write this in January of 1996, a number of
changes have taken place in this regard. But back in 1972 this scientific
trespassing was vigorously forbidden by a number of scientific brotherhoods.
What I understood was that I was excited by Puthoff's proposal - but also
that he was standing on the edge of professional death.
The most I could think in March, 1972, was that this Puthoff would perhaps dally with psi-cum-quantum theory, but in the end he would diplomatically advance back to more conventional prospects.
But indeed, such was not to be the case. It was only later that I really learned of the depth and breadth of his commitment in this regard.
I will now utilize the typical reductionist method
to simplify all of the above. As I said to Backster in 1972 after I had
read the papers. "Gosh! This guy has a remarkable daring and a hefty
set of balls!"
Did you get it so far? If not, I'll reiterate:
Puthoff was brave, daring, and had balls. In other words BEFORE I knew him,
he was walking where angels might fear to tread.
What I did NOT imagine (for how could I have) at
the time was that I, too, was going to have to deal with those three Puthoff
items just as everyone else had to do in the years ahead.
When Puthoff met my in-coming flight at San Francisco,
I was somewhat startled to find myself looking at a boyish guy with a length
of thick black hair that would more properly belong to an Asian or an Amerindian.
He was shorter than I, and I was pleased to see that he also had something
of a fat problem. Mine mostly was the beer-belly thing, his was mostly sort
of relegated to the posterior.
But of course it's usually not the bio-body itself which matters. It's the mind and the mental wiring that counts - in the end, anyway.
Beyond my appreciation of him as a bold physicist,
my first intimation that there was something else special about Hal came
in his car on the drive from San Francisco airport to Palo Alto. I was nervous,
filled with dread. But he seemed excited and wanted me to tell him everything.
So I began my yap and sad story - and on this or that point he would ask me how I interpreted whatever it was. In a certain sense I felt he was aiming at discerning larger meanings of things.
He had things to say, too, beyond asking questions. And this encouraged me to depart a little from my apprehensions and to begin asking him how he interpreted this or that.
I shortly became aware of two very rare phenomena,
at least to my way of thinking.
First, I became aware that Puthoff was actually LISTENING to what I had to say - this in a world where everyone appears to be listening but actually are not.
Second, I became aware that he and I were trying to DUPLICATE each other's "mental information processing grids" - as I later came to call them (and regarding which I'll have a great deal to say later on).
To try to make these phenomena more clearly identifiable,
I will try to adumbrate a little. The reason for adumbrating is that hardly
anyone in the future could figure out why Puthoff and I had a link (or a
bonding, if you will.) Which is to say, that since he and I were so dramatically
different in so many respects, hardly anyone could comprehend why we put
up with each other for so long.
With regard to the LISTENING issue, it is very
clear that most people listen only to what they want to hear, to what fits
in only with their own realities, their personal preconceptions, hopes,
aspirations and expectations.
Sometimes such people will appear to be listening to everything, but in actuality they are not. In the past, I used to think this non-listening was deliberate and sometimes mean. But I now know otherwise.
The fact is that although people seem to be listening,
they cannot actually hear what is being said if it doesn't somehow fit within
their existing frames of reference. What doesn't fit is simply not registering,
although people often have to pretend that it is.
My major source of learning regarding this came from, of all places, the publishing industry - which during the late 1970s adopted the maxim that in order to achieve a mass market success one must publish only what the general public can understand, or, better still, produce for that public what it wants.
With regard to Puthoff, I was very sensitive to
this non-listening issue. I had, of course, encountered it from childhood,
as I dare say most people have. But you see, I had just come out of six
months direct experience during which I had been made painfully aware that
most parapsychologists NEVER listened to what "psychic" subjects
had to say, and in fact sometimes even took extraordinary steps NOT to do
In his car zooming down the freeway, I gradually
became aware that Hal WAS listening to whatever I had to say about anything,
and as this awareness peaked into recognition I was mildly shocked.
And it was at that point I FELT I was actually talking to a real human being, one also equipped with a very fine and penetrating "mind" as I suppose we must call it, whatever it is.
The duplicating of mental information processing
grids is a little more difficult to articulate. I wish I did know how many
people have experienced this, but I don't. I think this phenomenon is relatively
rare, mostly because it takes two to tango here.
What most encounter, I speculate, are barriers of some kind, and I know for sure that many do experience others who do not or cannot really listen, much less duplicate. After all, one cannot duplicate what they can't hear even though they appear to be listening.
In any event, it is my studied conviction now that
real human beings can and do duplicate the mindworks of others. This of
course requires the art of stepping outside one's own frames of references
without the threat of those frames suffering invalidation.
As it was, Puthoff could LISTEN and could DUPLICATE.
I was later to learn that in the same way birds have feathers this was natural
and perpetual to him - and, of course, these complex faculties made of him
one of the most extraordinary diplomats I have ever encountered.
I now want to be exceedingly clear. Puthoff possessed
the extraordinary and highly developed faculties of what I'll call "true
listening" coupled with no defensive fear of duplicating. These combined
to make him an extraordinary, although somewhat low-keyed, diplomat.
I will submit that it was this trio of capacities which permitted Puthoff to take the "psi" phenomena we were to work on into the highest reaches of science, government, politics and the intelligence services - and succeed in doing so often against insuperable odds.
Whether or not people agree with the phenomena
we were to work with, even just ONE of these three characteristics is the
hallmark of great men and women everywhere. But one cannot duplicate others
very well if they don't partake of true listening (unless they be highly
achieved telepaths), while diplomacy is an art which must be learned, usually
at the cost of bitter experience.
I don't know if Hal ever realized it or not, and
so what I will say next may come as a bit of a surprise to him when he reads
From the moment I realized that he could and would listen to me and would and could duplicate what I had to say, whether it was worthwhile or now, I became clay or putty in his hands.
I think even the most dense will understand this, for I know that people everywhere and in all walks of life would give very much to find someone, anyone, who would really listen to them.
True listening is rare indeed, but without doubt the signal hallmark of the true and great human being. [It will be necessary ahead to dig deeper into this topic, because it proved to be of exceeding importance to the development and tutoring of controlled remote viewing.]
As to myself, I have some small component of the
true listening thing. But it is more my nature to observe and sense by non-verbal
methods. As it is, most would rather have someone really listen to them,
and many don't like to be observed and sensed for such seems intrusive,
whereas yapping-listening doesn't.
In any event, my affinity for Hal Puthoff began
when I realized he could and would listen to me, not just selectively so,
but in some kind of so far undescribed holistic sense. If I have to pick
the single thing that accounts for our long-enduring relationship, this
was that I could DEPEND on him listening to me - and I'm not at all ashamed
to admit that I sought this kind of thing as does everyone else.
It was this particular thing which made a kind
of virtual-reality communication possible between us, at least as far as
I am concerned. And it was out of that virtual-reality interchange that
remote viewing and all its discovered phenomena emerged, were researched,
Puthoff possessed at least two other characteristics
which should be noted in this memoir, for they were meaningful regarding
what was to come.
First, this true human being hardly had a shred
of a mean streak anywhere within him - and I would assume that the lack
of a mean streak is a concomitant of the true human being.
There was not a taint of scumbaggery about him - and which is also to say that in my appreciation he was not a used condom filled with vindictive acid ready to spurt out. Indeed, he had to be severely pushed for a very long time before he could or would get it together to push back.
I know he got angry about this or that, for I sensed as much. But it hardly ever showed. When driven up against a wall, Puthoff never bitched. Rather, he took definitive and constructive action, the surprise of which usually sent his antagonists running never to return.
In my memory, he only took me to task once and
bluntly pointed out why and how I had overstepped my bounds - although I
know I drove him to the point of distraction many more times than that.
After THAT dressing down, I promptly ceased being sloppy about overstepping my bounds and forthwith took great care that I did not - unless there was MORE than adequate reason to do so.
The second characteristic refers to what is commonly
called "rebound" or "recovery" potential. I can recall
many times when things, trends and events got Hal down - at least for ten
minutes. The comeback rebound usually then promptly occurred, along with
completely renewed enthusiasm.
On my part, it could take me two weeks to get over something - and, like most people, I like to hold on to some of my more profound resentments long past the time, as the actor Bette Middler says, I should "get over it." I know that resentments don't matter, and that one just as well get on with what does matter.
I don't know that Hal consciously knew that resentments don't matter, or if he ever deliberately thought about the matter. But I do know that resentments were somehow always deactivated, and slid off of him like water off a duck's well-oiled feathers.
As you will see in the chapters ahead, it is rather
a marvel that Hal put up with me through so many years. Indeed, I have to
admire him for having done so, since I do admit that few others have survived
such a task.
But in this, whether rightly or wrongly, he extended to me perhaps the most premier honor of my life - and, although the mere word cannot do justice, I must take the opportunity in this memory book to thank him for it. And so I do.
Harold E. Puthoff was born in Chicago on 20 June
1936, but grew up in Florida.
As strange as it may seem, he and I never discussed our early years very much except in snippets and flashbacks most of which I've forgotten. In any event, it's not necessary to reconstruct his early life - save to say that it probably was a typical American one, and thence progressed by the usual educational steps culminating which his Ph.D. received from Stanford University.
Both he and I discovered that we felt ourselves
to be future-oriented, and in this sense the past seemed to matter little
except as regards information retrieval from it. I had been close to other
future-oriented individuals before and since, and as a group they tended
not to cling to their own past, or at least not give it undue importance.
This tendency makes for clear conversation and speculation about what lays ahead, and if there are misfortunes in their past such people tend not to moan about them, more or less not dragging them into their future.
There are people whose past means something to them. But there are some people to whom it doesn't.
Although I considered myself a future-oriented type, Hal was much more of a where-are-we-going type than I was. But we both were interested in the future, the unknown, in discovery, in destiny. So we didn't talk much about the past, at least in any solidly egocentric manner.
After his doctorate at Stanford University, Hal
became a lecturer there in the electrical engineering department, and supervised
Ph.D. candidates in electrical engineering and applied physics. By 1969,
when he was thirty-three, he had a patent on a tunable Raman (infrared)
laser he had invented, and had co-authored a textbook entitled FUNDAMENTALS
OF QUANTUM ELECTRONICS which quickly became a standard volume in physics
The field of laser physics was on a great upswing
by then, and by all accounts, as many later told me, Hal Puthoff was destined
for laser engineering limelight, a field in which his scientific reputation
had already achieved luminosity.
A short while earlier in New York, Cleve Backster
had advised me that Puthoff was a genius. Others I later met in the Silicon
Valley area said so, too, and I accepted this as a matter of fact, albeit
somewhat intimidated by being in the near proximity of a genius..
How and why it was that Hal's interests changed
from laser physics to biofield measurements was never clear to me, and so
I'll not be able to articulate much in this regard. We did discuss the matter,
but somehow whatever we discussed has faded.
In any event, Hal had quit teaching at Stanford
University and had moved over to Stanford Research Institute (SRI), which
was where I found him in the summer of 1972. SRI was known as the nations
largest "think tank" after the Rand Corporation, and for a long
time had constituted the research arm of Stanford University whose funding
came largely from government contracts, often of the military research kind.
I'm now going to ask the reader to accept one thing
on my say-so.
As you will see in the chapters ahead, the "relationship" between Dr. H. E. Puthoff and Ingo Swann was to be punctuated by many remarkable - how shall we say it - FIGHTS.
Even so, these hardly ever extended past our "work." As a person Hal and his perceptive wife, Adrienne Kennedy (of whom I'll have more to say later,) ALWAYS treated me personally with respect, kindness, warmth, and sometimes undeserved graciousness, and both often went out of their way to do so.
My concept of Hal as a great human being was consistently present within me through the years and I NEVER had any reason to change it one iota. And this concept of him has not changed until this day.
For how could it? Great men ARE what they are. It is only the failure of perception on the parts of others which may be in question. And I do not believe that my perception regarding Hal Puthoff is in question.