Mind-Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Ability

by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff
Delacorte Press/Eleanor Friede, 280 pp., $8.95

The Search for Superman

by John L. Wilhelm
Pocket Books, 286 pp., $1.95

Mind-Reach is the latest and most sensational of a spate of new books by “paraphysicists,” a fast-growing breed of trained physicists who have taken up psychic research. Margaret Mead writes the enthusiastic introduction. Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, provides an equally ecstatic foreword. Eleanor Friede, editor and co-publisher of Mind-Reach, is the former Macmillan editor who launched. Bach’s book.

In case you ever wondered why Bach’s ridiculous story became a best seller, the answer is now clear. It is about a bird who raises his consciousness until he can perform such paranormal feats as flying through solid rock. The supergull caught the fancy of millions of supergullibles of the “me generation,” eager to expand their inner space. Bach was inspired to write his story after hearing a “clear, deep voice” call out the bird’s name when he was alone on a beach. He has since contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ, authors of Mind-Reach, and has become one of their most talented psychic subjects.

The fame of P and T, as they are often called, rests mainly on their validation at Stanford Research Institute of Uri Geller’s ESP powers. This dismays them. Their work with Uri, they say several times, was only 3 percent of their psi research. Most of the book is about what they consider far more revolutionary: their experiments on “remote viewing,” the clairvoyant perception of distant targets. They are convinced that everyone has this ability. “So far we have not found a single person who could not do remote viewing to satisfaction.”

The protocols are simple. A subject sits in the laboratory with one experimenter while one or more other experimenters visit a sequence of randomly chosen spots within a half-hour’s drive. The subject and the inside experimenter are kept ignorant of these targets. When the outside experimenters are at spot A, the subject tape records his impressions and makes rough sketches of what he “sees.” These reports, unedited and unlabeled, are shuffled in random order and given to a “judge,” usually an SRI research analyst who is a friend and booster of P and T. The judge is taken to spots A, B, C,… where he does his best to correlate reports with targets. He also weights each match with a number from one through nine to indicate how closely he thinks the report and target correspond. A statistical analysis is then made of the “blind matching.”

P and T say they have tested more than twenty subjects and in every case the judges matched reports and targets to a degree that violated chance. Moreover, when a report is correctly matched, P and T contend that the accuracy of the sketches far exceeds what could be expected from chance. Their book is filled with drawings alongside target photos. The correspondences are indeed striking.

A question at once arises. Were the photos taken before or after the sketches were made? It is typical of the book’s exasperating…

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