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The Almighty Buck Government

Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
KentuckyFC writes "During the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union battled on many fronts to demonstrate their superior technical and scientific achievements. While the race to put a human in space and then on the Moon is famous, a much less well-known battlefront was the unconventional science of parapsychology, or psychotronics as the Soviets called it. Now a new review of unconventional research in the Soviet Union reveals the scale of this work for the first time and the cost: as much as $1 billion. The Soviets had programs studying how "human energy" could influence other objects and how this energy could be generated independently of humans using a device called 'cerpan'. The Soviets also had a mind control program similar to the CIA's infamous MKULTRA project. Interestingly, the Soviets included non-local physics in this work, such as the Aharonov-Bohm effect in which an electromagnetic field can influence a particle confined to region where the field strength is zero. And they built a number of devices that exploited the effect, although research in this area appears to have ended in 2003."
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Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @09:23AM (#45669623)
    I know, I was just paraphrasing what I call "Space Nutters". There are people who really DO think that way, and are very earnest about it. To me, the fact that these people don't use the computers they keep talking about to learn actual history is very funny.

    These same people also keep talking about all these "benefits" that space technology brings to a society, but when I point out that Russia beat America most of the time no one seems eager to move there. That is also very funny to me.

    WWII was the biggest impetus for technology in the 20th century, THEN we went into space.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Thursday December 12, 2013 @09:24AM (#45669631)

    The program sounds like it had a nutty origin (like the analogous U.S. programs), but from this part:

    Interestingly, the Soviets included non-local physics in this work, such as the Aharonov-Bohm effect in which an electromagnetic field can influence a particle confined to region where the field strength is zero. And they built a number of devices that exploited the effect, although research in this area appears to have ended in 2003.

    That sounds like legitimate physics research. Research into the principle of locality [wikipedia.org] is unlikely to produce a mind-controlled teleportation beam, but it has yielded a better understanding of quantum mechanics.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @09:36AM (#45669701) Homepage

    The big risk of a diversion campaign like that is if the imaginary technology turns out to be real... then we've just inspired our enemies to perfect it, while we've wasted our time.

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:05AM (#45669891) Journal

    One to indicate whether the dollar amount is inflation adjusted or not. I Imagine a $ with an arrow hat on the | So it's an up arrow and an S. That will work for talking about historical figures in current day.

    There is another problem though that is wanting to work backward, either by date or rate. So I would suggest the arrowed $, number and a divisor $14.7m/3.5 this would indicate to divide 14.7 by 3.5 to get the original dollar amount.

  • by bunratty (545641) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:12AM (#45669939)
    How do you know it's nutty pseudoscience before you perform the experiments? It seems to me that performing the experiments and testing hypotheses is science, but dismissing an idea as nutty without performing an experiment is pseudoscience. It's belief without evidence that makes something pseudoscience, even if it's believing an idea is nutty.
  • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:32AM (#45670095)
    Well said. Many people seem to think that everything has been discovered.
  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:47AM (#45670241) Homepage Journal

    If you run 20 bullshit double blind experiments, 10 of them are going to show positive correlation to the hypothesis, and 1 will show improbably high correlation. Far more still if your testers have any unconscious control over the data.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @11:25AM (#45670645)

    For "unconventional science" read "mumbo jumbo". Parapsychology does not qualify as science, unconventional or otherwise. It only qualifies as quackery and bullshit.

    Because it's been rebuked by research. Conducting that research, however, is what science is all about: test claims to see if they're correct.

    Heck, you could do parapsychology research today and, as long as it's properly conducted, it would be science. It's unlike such experiment would do more than confirm what's already known, but that doesn't make it "mumbo jumbo".

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @11:37AM (#45670787)
    You're right. NASA should totally fund an expedition to disprove the existence of the magical pink unicorn that many people have theorized lives on the dark side of the moon. Point being: yes, experiment, but sometimes even the decision to pursue a particular avenue of investigation is questionable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @12:25PM (#45671287)

    Yes, well, we've learned a lot about neurology, biochemistry, and physics that suggests none of these psychic phenomena could have a first principles explanation without invoking some kind of unmeasurable "energy" production, transmission, and reception, controlled in some invisible but nevertheless conscious manner. Yes, something we can't measure and can't explain may nevertheless be real, but with our improved understanding of the basic principles, it's moved so far off into the realm of unlikely that it's difficult to justify the experiments. We don't have resources to pursue every idea at it's optimal level of funding, so we need to prioritize somehow.

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @12:25PM (#45671295)
    But if NASA weren't already going there, would it be worth spending a couple billion to investigate the pink unicorn? Probably not. That's what the soviets did.
  • by claytongulick (725397) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:13PM (#45671839) Homepage

    Yes, it really would. At one point just about every major piece of technology and science we have today would have been considered supernatural/metaphysical. Given the abundance of anecdotal evidence of "parapsychological" effects, it is completely reasonable to perform controlled experiments in order to evaluate whether those effects can be reproduced. That is the very nature of science.

    It is also completely reasonable and scientific to periodically continue to perform those experiments as our tools and understanding grow, and to continue to ensure that the earlier falsification was justified and correct.

    . If you're willing to entertain anything more than that then you're dealing with quasi-claims for which no amount of evidence can be used to substantiate or disprove them.

    String theory?

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