Recently unearthed documents show the CIA’s attempts to gain an understanding of the USSR’s wacky ventures into “extrasensory” telepathic communication during the heat of the Cold War.
Three CIA documents, dated between 1963 and 1964, were recently obtained by the Government Attic, a transparency website that publishes declassified government documents.
Peppered with strange anecdotes and outlandish ideas, one of the most interesting documents shows a conversation between a CIA agent and Professor D A Kerimov from the University of Leningrad about the USSR’s “cybernetics research” and “extra-sensory perception” while they shared a few “social drinks.”
In other words, they were drinking alcohol and discussing the latest forays into Soviet mind-control technology, presumably a fairly common topic of conversation among Cold War spies.
Professor Kerimov explains that he had heard scientists in Kyiv were working on a project that managed to “tap” the brain activity of a skilled musician as they played the piano. This brain activity, somehow, could then be recorded and played back into the forearm of a non-musician, allowing them to play the piano with perfect mastery. The Soviet scientist, funnily enough, refused to go into detail about this research and the CIA agent notes that some of these stories are “fairly dubious”.
Another project saw researchers develop a "simulated frog's eye" for the purpose of airport surveillance, while a further avenue of research explored the possibility of direct communication between humans and computers via telepathy.
One of the boldest claims in the conversations surrounds the supposed ability of people to exhibit “extra-sensory perception”. Professor Kerimov suggests they had evidence that some people are capable of picking up brain “waves” from others and even using this ability to predict “future random events”. Kerimov conceded that these ideas have not been taken too seriously in the past, but they were slowly gaining traction among his peers.
The CIA agent finishes the report by noting that not much hard evidence came from the conservation, but they note that the USSR’s exploration into extra-sensory perception didn't appear to be a national security threat.
"When I asked him what concrete developments have already taken place as a result of cybernetics, he was not really prepared to provide an example,” the agent wrote.
"I would say that at no single point, except the fairly dubious story about tapping messages from the forearm, did I learn of a single new Soviet development in advance of the US state of the art,” they added.
Indeed, the US intelligence services were no strangers to madcap mind control technology throughout the Cold War, whether it was the infamous MKUltra and Project Stargate or creating remote-controlled dogs. In 1983, the CIA wrote an obscure report about the "Gateway Experience," claiming that an altered state of human consciousness may be able to transcend space and time. They even tried to talk to Martians by interviewing a psychic as they “visited” Mars 1 million years ago during a trance.
Just imagine what the Soviet spies' reports back to the USSR sounded like.
[H/T: VICE Motherboard]