When it comes to the dawn of the modern computer age, most of us think of rebel visionaries and college dropouts working out of their parents’ garage; whiz kids who became billionaires before turning thirty, by tinkering with clunky prototypes that held the promise of revolutionizing the world in ways previous generations could not even dream of.
All the multinational companies that were born out of those success stories are all too happy to uphold this romanticized version of history for their clients. But like ALL versions of history this one is also woefully incomplete, because it leaves out a key element in Silicon Valley’s past that those tech giants are either unaware of, or just too embarrassed to acknowledge — it leaves out PSI phenomena.
In his presentation for the 61st Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association on the campus of the Institute for Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California, Dr. Jacques Vallee spoke about this ‘hidden history’ of Silicon Valley, and how the world wide web we’re so proud and dependent on owes a big debt to psychical research and the study of the untapped potentials of human consciousness, since it was at the famous Stanford Research Institute (SRI) that their scientists were involved in two major programs that ended up working in tandem: the ARPANET and the Stargate “psychic spy” program.
The ARPANET, as everybody knows by now, was the precursor of the modern Internet and developed at the behest of the Department of Defense’s ARPA (now called DARPA) in order to create a computer network capable of enduring a nuclear conflagration. In the early 1970s Vallee was stationed at SRI’s Augmentation Research Center – where many important technological breakthroughs were achieved for companies like Xerox and Hewlett Packard, such as the mouse interface – collaborating on the ARPANET project; but, as he explains in the presentation below, he soon became involved in the Stargate program as an ‘unpaid consultant’ and became a good friend of both the researchers and some of the individuals with alleged psychic abilities they were testing, including Ingo Swann and Uri Geller.
It was out of this little-known collaboration between the two departments at SRI (the computer scientists and the psychic researchers) that some of the protocols later adopted by Stargate’s remote viewers came to be, like the use of latitude and longitude ‘coordinates’ – which mimicked the ‘virtual addressing’ system in which computers can locate non-local information not stored in their databases, similar to how viewers can retrieve information they have no knowledge of.
Vallee also explains how he served as a ‘gateway’ in order to conduct an early experiment with psychics on one of the first commercial networks (TYMNET) in 1975. Instead of using the typical Zener cards – which Swann found insufferably boring! – the psychics were asked to describe rare minerals acquired from geological collections, either on a double-blind format or while being held by the geologists. One of the people who participated in the experiment was Richard Bach, the world-famous author, and with Ingo Swann they were both the ones who obtained the higher scores.
In an age in which the illusion of Western supremacy is embodied in the monolithic shape of a smartphone, and when many geeks are anxiously awaiting for the Singularity promised by their techno-prophets, these missing pieces in the incomplete history of Silicon Valley are a sobering reminder that many of the cybernetic breakthroughs we take for granted were brought to us by people who had a great deal of interest in the mystery of Consciousness – and who had no qualms about ‘hacking’ their own consciousness using mind-altering substances… but that’s another long story. The ultimate objective of ARPANET was the augmentation of human intellect, and as such the people involved in laying the foundation for our modern world wide web, saw their goals converging with those of their SRI colleagues working on other types of ‘radical’ ideas, like the study (and practical harnessing) of extra-sensory perception; both groups saw themselves as peers and pioneers pushing the boundaries of Science on different fronts.
Which is why Vallee’s final admonition to his audience of parapsychologists is so important: Psi research should lead, not follow. Parapsychologists shouldn’t obediently wait until Physics deigns itself to come up with an adequate model which could explain what they observe in the lab, but the other way around. In doing so, and making proper use of the modern tools conceived by their old Silicon Valley colleagues, Parapsychology could become instrumental in laying the basis for a much-needed upgrade in modern Science.
But perhaps the most shocking (yet hardly surprising) thing Dr. Vallee said in his presentation was in response to a question from the audience, with regards to the topic for which he’s most famous for: UFOs. When asked about his opinion on the current situation in the field of ufology, he revealed he’s in the process of shipping *all* of his former research into the care of two institutions for archival and safe-keeping purposes. “I want to go out to do something else” he stated to an audibly gasping audience, making it clear how even though he’ll forever remain interested in the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects and close encounters with non human entities, he’s ultimately disappointed with how ufology remains “too superficial to really get into the roots of the problem” and wishes to spend the remainder of his life on more fruitful endeavours.
The last adieu of a heretic among heretics? At the very least, something to think over for those who still compare Tom Delonge’s To the Stars to the Second Coming. Whatever the case, Dr. Vallee will forever be remembered in the annals of Impossible History as someone who led, instead of merely following.
PS: TDG and yours truly receive an unexpected shoutout a few minutes prior to Dr. Vallee’s presentation, when Dr. Dean Radin briefly shows to the audience an article I wrote titled “Jacques Vallee and the Mystery of the ‘Alien Alloys'” before introducing Jacques. You don’t have to be psychic to deduce this was my immediate reaction.
UPDATE (19-08-2018): It has come to my attention that the video I originally linked to for this article, which was the one recorded during the live streaming of the convention, was taken out of Youtube. I replaced the link with another video which offers a better angle of Dr. Vallee and his Powerpoint presentation, and is of a much better resolution.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that both the brief introduction given by Dr. Dean Radin –in which one of my TDG articles briefly appeared on the screen– AND the questions from the audience by the end of the presentation were edited out of this version. Whether that was a decision taken by the Parapsychological Association to make the presentation more professional and ‘TED-like’, or there were some ulterior motives behind it –like leaving out the portion in which Dr. Vallee announced his apparent retirement from the field of UFOlogy– I can’t really say.
One thing I do know, is that this article made quite a ruckus in the online UFO research community since its publication, which surprised ME more than anyone else! Apparently I had been the first one who bothered to watch the entire video, and in doing so catch that little bombshell by the end of it; which I didn’t even think was the most important thing out of the whole presentation, otherwise I would have included it from the get-go in the title –which I didn’t.
I did feel it was my journalistic duty to report on it though, given the stature of Dr. Vallee in this field; but also as a personal commentary on UFOlogy’s current situation with regards to Tom DeLonge and To the Stars. If someone like Vallee shows such little apparent interest in the ‘revelations’ coming from Luis Elizondo –which is MY personal interpretation of his words when he says “ufology remains too superficial to really get into the roots of the problem,” then maybe we should take that into consideration.
Besides, that cat was out of the bag way before this article was up, given the fact that Vallee’s words were streamed before a live audience following the Parapsychological Association’s annual convention through Youtube.
But, whether he really means to quit UFOlogy or move on to do something else, is a question that can only be answered by Dr. Vallee himself.