1st Article on Edgar Mitchell.
There follows a partial excerpt from the Pacific sun, june 5th 1974. This will be updated and is a provisional file. Pacific Sun
May 30 - June 5, 1974
If you're so psychic, why can't you convince Ed Mitchell?
INTERVIEW BY STEVE McNAMARA
THE FIRST CLUE you have that there is something different going on is when you see his eyes. This is Edgar D. Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the surface of the moon and he is supposed to be as hard as nails. Yet this man here, this Ed Mitchell, age 43, has the eyes of someone exceedingly gentle. It is obvious that he is a driver; somebody who has pushed himself and his associate to the furthest limits throughout his life. But he is not insensitive; far from it. You can see in his eyes and in the way he talks that he is in an extremely lonely position.
Up there on the moon, a quarter of a million miles from earth, Mitchell was in strange surroundings. But he was far from alone. Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard was on the moon's surface with him. Command module pilot Stu Roosa was orbiting overhead. Messages were crackling incessantly back and forth from the moon to Houston. Billions of dollars worth of technological manpower and equipment were backing Mitchell's every move. He was supported by the largest and most lavishly financed team ever assembled for any purpose short of all-out war.
Now Ed Mitchell is alone. He left the nest of NASA. So did John Glenn, but Glenn signed on with the certainties of corporate life and conventional politics. Jim Irwin left the NASA nest, too. But Irwin opted for evangelical Christianity and is once again surrounded by people telling him what a marvelous job he is doing. All of the 12 astronauts to walk on the moon had their lives radically altered, Few, if any, took such a large step into the unknown as did Ed Mitchell.
Mitchell decided to bring scientific discipline to bear in the investigation of psychic phenomena, in the raising of consciousness, in the right application of human awareness. The result has been to place him squarely between two camps, and to make him a target for both, The fact that he is even interested in parapsychology means to most of his old pals in the technological world that Ed Mitchell, the "smartest' astronaut, the one with the Ph.D. from MIT, has turned into a nut.
To carry. out his lonely mission, Mitchell formed the Institute of Noetic Sciences, (Mitchell coined the word Noetic from the Greek word for mind.) The Institute has offices on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto and recently underwent a cutback in staff from seven to two. Mitchell says he takes no salary from e Institute and indeed spends a lot of time drumming up funds for Its projects. Again, you look at his eyes and see that he hates raising funds but Is forced by his convictions to do it. ("I'm sure glad he didn't decide to sell insurance," says Anita.)
To Mitchell, the validity of psychic phenomena is not surprising. He likens its status now to that of electromagnetic radiation 100 years ago. If you had insisted back then that the universe was glued together by mysterious, unseen waves, well, you would have been locked up. Mitchell says it is equally shortsighted to insist that the only reality is that which can be measured today by our five senses. Further, Mitchell believes that a breakthrough in this area will come within the next few years,
Right now Mitchell lives with Anita in a handsome house-with a pool in Atherton. ("It's one of your few certified Mickey mouse marriages," says the irrepressible Anita, What?! "We were introduced by Mickey Mouse at Disney World," says Anita. "Ed came there to make a speech.") Living with them are Anita's three children by a prior marriage: Kimberly, 12; Paul, 11; and Mary Beth (Muffie), 10. Plus a poodle named Puddles. Mitchell has two daughters by his first marriage: Karlyn, 21; a Phi Betta Kappa at the University of Texas; and Elizabeth, 15, who lives with her mother in Houston.
Mitchell has finished a 700-page book to which more than 30 authors have contributed. Entitled "Psychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science," it will be published by Putnam shortly.
How about Uri, the book by Andrija Puharich. There's some mighty far out stuff in there; space people
from beyond the Milky Way transmitting directly through Geller and his tape recorder...things like that. What do you think of it?
I really disagree with Andrija on that. I'm sure that it is based on his own private reality. But he does a lot of extrapolation of data beyond what one can reasonably do. And he has consistently resisted attempts to share his data with anybody else. He has a long way to go in convincing the rest of us that he's got something to say.
So you 're not a fan...
Andrija's book concerns me. You can only get people to confront so much. If you get that carrot too far, out front, then they're going to dismiss it. He is being wildly speculative and probably will turn off a lot more people than he turns on with that book. That's the thing that worries me.
How about that business of the space people causing his tape cassettes to disappear just after he transcribes them ? How many people are going to buy that?
I'm not. And I don't know anybody else that will, unless he lets somebody else in there to observe with him. And that we've tried and it doesn't happen. I understand enough about the field to reaise that there is a capricious element in some of these things. It causes me sometimes to say that there is a cosmic joke aspect to the universe. But if that's the case, then let's treat it as a joke until such a time as we can explain it within science.
Some very strange, extra-scientific things happened with you and Geller while you were doing the experiments at SRI. Can you describe them?
Uri was discussing his ability to transport things; he has a story he likes to tell about transporting a camera case from Israel to New York. He kept trying to tell that story and I think he was in a fit of pique because we kept telling him to concentrate on the job at hand and quit horsing around. And so I said, "If you're so damned smart, bring back that camera I left on the moon and I'll believe that story but in the mean time let's get on with it. And it was within a few hours after that that two lost tie clasps of mine rematerialised, or reappeared.
What were the circumstances?
Totally inexplicable things. I don't particularly like to talk about it because it reduces your credibility. But nevertheless I know something happened here that's kind of important.
So what happened?
We were finishing lunch in the cafeteria at SRI and Geller was eating a dish of ice cream. He bit down on something in the ice cream and it cut his mouth so he was swearing at it. I fished it out of the ice cream, scraped it off and washed it off and was surprised to see what it was.
And what was it?
It was the ornament part of a tie clasp that I had lost in Houston two years before.
You are sure it was the same one?
Oh, yes, no doubt about that. And I had never been to the SRI building before and Uri had never been to Houston.
Did anything else happen?
About 30 minutes later, when we had gone back to the lab, the clasp part of it fell on the floor behind Hal Puthoff. And about 30 minutes after that, as we were standing in the laboratory, this other tie pin showed up I had lost that in Houston at the same time as the other one.
It must be a tremendous strain for somebody like yourself, trained scientifically, to experience things like this.
Oh, it is. It's a tightrope all the time. I can accept the possibility of phenomena that I certainly can't establish in the laboratory yet. But I have seen enough that I know those are real events. What this is showing is that Geller really doesn't have control. He has an amazing ability, that causes these things to happen. We can theorize about why it is' and I think that that my theory is probably pretty close to correct, but it doesn't help us gain control. Going from this sort of happening to a well controlled experiment is a bitch .Instances such as that are likely to turn oft the scientific community far more than they are to help us. So I don't talk about them. And I wish Geller would stop talking about them. Even though we know they're true and even though Puharich thinks what he is saying is true. I wish he wouldn't talk about it until we have a better handle on what it is we are dealing with.
I guess it's a problem of getting funding to prove something that scares some people to think that it can be proved.
It's a chicken and egg process. We know what we know. But it takes money to prove it. If we say what we know we scare people off. If we say nothing then nothing will happen. It's a son of a gun.
But you do have an idea, a theory that explains these events?
Right. You'll have to grant me some postulates. Let us assume that we are dealing with an energy mechanism, trainable by the mind, or usable through mental powers. Let us further assume that there are certain individuals, such as Geller, who for some reason have found the key to making this happen, somewhat at will, but also don't really have control over it.
But how do they make it work?
Let us presume that what makes this happen is intention. Let's presume also that it is a real energy form. What this is teaching us is that thoughts are things, they're real, they're powerful and they do influence the physical world. You are back to Jungian archetypal theory. It gives you incentive to learn to control those thoughts and to recognize that you are influencing a lot more by your thought process than you believed you did.
You were interested in all this before you went to the moon. How did that happen?
t was about eight years ago, a result of just not finding answers elsewhere. I've always been on this philosophical search for the meaning of life and so forth. I had pretty much wandered to other disciplines of thought, hadn't found the answers I was looking for and somewhat in desperation, at the suggestion of some other people, looked at parapsychology. I got into it and found out that there was more there than I'd thought. I couldn't discount it and I just got trapped,
So it, wasn't like you stepped onto the surface of the moon and Zap you were transformed...
Being on the moon has its awesome moments. You can't, help but be awed by what you are seeing. But you have to reaise that when you're up there you are programmed to do a job and you are so busy that you don't have time to be philosophic, poetic or whatever. Norman Mailer be damned. We're busy!
But something happened, sometime.
The really profound experience came on the way back. And that really didn't have anything to do with parapsychology. I only later started to see the tie-in. Up to that time my parapsychology was simply an intellectual search for avenues of knowledge. What happened on the way back happened fairly quickly. It was a field consciousness experience. There's a range of consciousness open to human beings and it goes from material consciousness at one end to what we call field consciousness.
A person feels at one with the universe, perceiving the universe. I think that's probably the way Jim Irwin felt when he said he felt he was in the presence of God. All of a sudden it was, "Hey, there's something I'm feeling that's different," It's not a cumulative awareness of any sort. It is a sudden change of consciousness state.
Getting back to parapsychology, do you think everyone has roughly equal abilities, or is it like some people can jump higher than others?
I think everybody has the latent abilities, but how you can develop it varies. There's no reason to believe everyone is equal in these areas any more than we are equal in other areas.
Skeptics scoff because somebody like Geller can't turn his powers on and off at will.
You're dealing with a subjective phenomenon instead of a physical objective phenomenon. We know nothing about dealing with subjectivity. You can't treat a subject like a little black box. There are some very subtle internal states here and we don't have the knowledge to do it right. We're fishing.
More researchers seem to be moving in this direction, if not actually getting together. I understand that John Wheeler of Princeton, the particle physicist who is the father of the Black Hole theory of the universe, is now at Oxford studying philosophy.
That's precisely what we want to set up at the Institute here. There would be five chairs: one each in the physical sciences, behavioural sciences, medicine, philosophy and theology. They would study in concert. We would get eminent people to take a couple years' sabbatical and bring their field of expertise into the study of metaphysics.
You think it word work?
The old structures certainly aren't working. We need new modes of thought. They have gone about as far as they can go taking the animal apart. Now it's time to look at other approaches. And to try to put things together.
But you seem firmly determined to maintain a scientific approach, to keep arm's length from the occult. Where do you draw the line?
Let's put it this way: As a discipline, science is marvelous. As a belief structure, it's disastrous. But at least it is a coherent body of thought to proceed from. Religion has its ups and downs and there's no cohesiveness to it at all. The Western social structure is built primarily on a scientific base so that's the departure point you should take.
You think progress is being made?
I think we'll probably make a breakthrough soon. We will probably perfect the mechanisms to detect these energy fields. We'll probably come up with a better theory as to how all of this works, how it relates to body mechanics and relativity. When that happens it will be a whole new wonderland to look at.
Many defenders of strict rationality tend to go bananas when confronted with views of this sort. Does all the flak bother you?
That's when I tend to walk away from it, because I don't need it. I take the point of view, "that's your problem, fella."
But isn't it wearing?
Oh yeah. It used to upset me a great deal. It doesn't anymore. I won't put energy into the negative aspects. It's a hard lesson to learn and I am still learning it. I try my best not to give any sort of energy to a ridiculous emotional point of view. Whether it be pro or con. The kooky psychics - and Lord knows we're surrounded by them - want to come rushing in and tell you, "I know how it works. If you'll just listen to me, man, we've got this problem solved." Go peddle your papers; I really haven't got the time. Because I know it's not so.
I gather that you don't do much except work.
It's not because I don't want to. But this has been a tough start-up period in the last couple of years.
In some of the things written about you, there are allusions to a smart-ass attitude I don't see at all. Did you used to push people around?
Well, you might say that ... and then I straightened up. But there are certain limits beyond which I won't go, and when I get to that limit that's it, that's as far as I go. In the NASA program you are working at limits all the time. I achieved, a reputation of being right, being adamant about it and refusing to waste my time doing something else. So, yeah, I'm a pretty hard driving guy. I stress and drive the people that work with me. I have high expectations and I don't put up with incompetence.
Does any body else ever prevail?
It takes a guy that's pretty sure of himself to stand up against me for very long, because I'll push him. If he really knows what he is talking about and is willing to stand by his convictions, I'll back down. But if he's wrong he'll put his tail between his legs and run because I haven't got time for mushy people.
What do you see for the institute in the immediate future?
We've regrouped, reorganized. We spent a year in image building, with a fairly high profile. We've now cut
back to a low profile. We're trying to make good on the things we've been talking about. We're launching a national fund raising campaign. We're-examining our plans and programs to sharpen the focus toward better science and more productive avenues. Our big goal is this five chair approach. That would give this field the most credibility and would be the easiest thing to sell.
A final question: do you see the universe as a random event?
I don't subscribe to the idea that the universe is planned down to the minutest detail. But a process is specified and within that process there is randomness only from your point of view. If one could get the proper point of view, presumably the point of view we ascribe to God or to ultimate life, then things are patterned, non-chaotic. So it isn't really randomness vs. non-randomness. It is chaos vs. order, and the universe is an orderly process.
Since this article about Edgar Mitchell was written he has achieved most of his goals and finally completed his latest book which is fascinating and astonishing. It reveals what he has been doing. “The way of the explorer” Putnam (available soon).
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