WHAT DOES ONE USE FOR EYES
IF ONE IS OUT OF BODY?
What with all of the socializing, parties, lionizing, meetings and the hints of secret activity going on, it might seem as if no RESEARCH was getting done.
This was not the case at all. I was, and am, a workaholic, demanding perfection or at least the best possible -- as was Janet Mitchell, Dr. Schmeidler, and, in a somewhat lesser sense, Dr. Osis. And with a sort of renewed enthusiasm, we proceeded to produce experiments of several kinds at the ASPR.
In order to throw my weight around within my newfound
glory, I suggested that we meet and TALK about what we were doing. Here
was a subtle shift -- because experimenters typically DID NOT talk about
experiments with subjects any more than experimenters would discuss experiments
with rats or guinea pigs.
As I explained (and was also later to explain in far more impressive surroundings), it was one thing to set up experiments merely to see if certain phenomena existed.
But something else was involved IF researchers
wanted performance from their subjects. How could a subject really attempt
something if the subject had no idea of what was involved? Running a rat
through an experiment designed to reward the rat with food if it did what
was wanted -- well that was one kind of experiment.
Running an human being through an experiment designed only to please the experimenters' expectations, an experiment with NO reward for the human subject if it did what was wanted -- well, that was ANOTHER kind of experiment.
Rats and guinea pigs got food as a reward for succeeding. Human subjects got . . . (nothing, perhaps a brief word of praise). I suggested that subjects who succeeded should be given a one-carat diamond. THAT ought to inspire them.
But more seriously, because of my long-term studies
of the literature, I had noted a definite lack of interest in what Psi perceptions
After all, psychics do not utilize their physical eye mechanisms to see what they "see." In the first instance, it seemed that their "seeing" depended on mental image pictures, although many in the past had said that they didn't "see" anything, but merely "sensed" whatever they did.
Some said they "heard" whatever they "sensed" -- and not a few had said that the "information" came from their toes or armpits -- or some other unusual anatomical place or part.
Even in my own case regarding the formal eight
out-of-body experiments the inner ASPR clique tried to demolish, I didn't
"see" all of the time. Sometimes I had clear, sharp mental image
pictures, other times a preponderance of fleeting, non-visual "impressions."
At other times all was foggy, or simply black, but with a sense of information
"coming through" anyway.
One day after a particularly good result had been
achieved, and before the ASPR feathers hit the fan, Dr. Osis had grown silent
and pensive. He sat down and wound his legs together like two snakes, put
his chin on his hand and looked at me with piercing eyes.
"I vonder, Eengo," he began, "vat ju use for eyes [pronounced `ice'] ven ju are OOB."
"Jes," I responded. "Zat's a very good question, eesn't it?"
We had not gotten around to going any further with
this back then. But now, back in the saddle at the ASPR, I did decide that
we should spend some time looking deeper into this. This activity would
comprise part of the 50 percent time guaranteed to me under our new working
I have already mentioned in an earlier chapter
that Dr. Carole Silfen had been brought into the ASPR work. She was a perceptual
psychologist, and so Janet and I met with her and handed over to her the
guidelines for this type of thing.
Dr. Silfen was a small woman with fine black hair I remember as naturally curly. She had pale olive skin that came off as pallor and dressed in a way that was neither fashionable nor unfashionable.
She was delighted, saying "Mostly I'm asked to overview other people's ideas, and no one asks me for suggestions or creative guidance. Parapsychologists are not interested in the intricacies of perception."
To get into this, we decided first to meet several
times to discuss the issues, and then to refine them until an experiment
could be conceived and designed.
Thus, on several days, Silfen, Mitchell, and sometimes Schmeidler commandeered the big table in the library room and locked ourselves in and others out -- somewhat to the disapproving eyes of her rulership, Fanny Knipe. "It IS supposed to be open to the PUBLIC, you know."
But, bless her alligator heart, Fanny had begun to smile at me.
In the end, several complicated experiments were
designed. But I will now single out one of them in detail -- because it
was the mother lode of much of what was to come in the years ahead.
A written report of this experiment was produced on July 26, 1972, entitled "Report of an Out-of-Body Experiment Conducted at the American Society for Psychical Research: Participants: Dr. Carole Silfen, Janet Mitchell, Ingo Swann."
The report was prepared "for record purposes only. For several reasons it cannot be considered a test-perfect experiment in the traditional sense of experimentation, and thus must be disqualified from that area of interest. From the study of the phenomenon, however, several important effects have become both visible and possibly measurable."
The report begins with an overview, called SITUATION
"On the assumption that there is an out-of-body phenomenon at hand to be studied concerning discovery of characteristics of the phenomenon, it is to be assumed also that the point or vehicle of perception exterior to the body must assume, at different locations, the functions performed by the visual system and the brain in the body.
"Within the body/visual system it should be noted that the sense of vision is owing to the effect of light on the retina of the eye.
"Only vibrations [frequencies] of light over an extremely limited range of the electro-magnetic spectrum are capable of stimulating the human retina. The mechanism of sight depends upon rays of light reflecting from objects.
"These rays of light are bent by the cornea so as to fall on the retina. The brain interprets the size, shape and distance of the objects seen.
"One layer of the retina consists of rods and cones, connected with endings into the optic nerve. The perception of light depends on the rods, while color perception is considered a property of the cones.
"Assuming the possibility of perceiving exterior to the body at a distant location, the center of perception at the distant location would be compelled to somehow duplicate all the functions of the eye system, be able to properly select the appropriate light vibrations reflecting from objects, as well as performing the analytical functions of the brain in the correct interpretation of size, shape and distance of those objects thusly brought into view.
"The magnitude of the abilities desirable for such form of perceptions non-dependent on the visual/brain system, if they could be measurably indicated, would be by implication very impressive."
"SITUATION 2: In testing for the validity
of such presumed out-of-body perception, it was felt necessary to design
a test situation in which not only the target might be reported by the subject,
but that the point of view at the proximity of the target might also be
located by virtue of certain variables constructed within the target.
"A target situation was constructed which could be viewed from a multiple of points, yielding thereby possible differences of perception, construction, shape and form in the response of the subject to it.
"This situation can be better visualized in theory by imagining a person standing to the far right of a doorway. He would look through the doorway and view whatever could be seen on a direct line from where he was standing.
"However, if the viewer moved to the far left of the doorway, his direct line of vision would now be on a different line."
"On July 26, 1972, Dr. Carole Silfen arrived with her new target device. Ingo Swann, the subject, was not permitted to see the contents of the box or the openings through which the targets were to be viewed. [The report shows a drawing of the device, a rather large black box with two openings and a light housing unit on top of it.]
"Ingo sat in a room adjoining both the EEG equipment chamber and the target room. He was connected to the EEG equipment with electrodes that are in turn attached through the wall to the EEG equipment. He was thus prevented movement during the experiment.
"The target box was then uncovered in the
target chamber [another room.] Both the subject chamber and the target chamber
were darkened. When all was ready, Ingo is assumed to have moved exterior
to his body taking a position in front of the first target window. He endeavored
to ascertain the target. His viewing of this target lasted 50 seconds.
"At this point Ingo and Dr. Silfen exchanged one or two comments about whether he should describe or draw the target. It was decided that he would draw it.
"He asked whether there was something red
in the target, and Dr. Silfen replied that was correct. Ingo quickly sketched
his perception of the target as he saw it through target window 1, and then
went on to do the same with target window 2. At no time was Ingo disconnected
from the EEG electrodes and vision between the subject and target chamber
The APPARATUS and the STIMULI (i.e., the targets)
are described in Appendix A to the report.
"APPARATUS: The rectangular viewing chamber was constructed of 1/2 inch plywood with outside measurements of 30 X 18 X 25 inches. The entire chamber was painted in flat black. The top of the chamber was removable, for easy access to stimulus arrangements. Mounted flush with the inside surface of the camber lid was a 9 & 1/2 inch milkglass surface rimmed with chrome, behind which was a lighting fixture, illuminated by a 100 Watt bulb.
"Two 6 inch square viewing windows were cut in the chamber. The front window was positioned 7 & 1/2 inches from the top of the chamber and 5 & 3/4 inches from the right side. The second window was cut in the left side of the box, positioned 7 & 1/2 inches from the top and 6 inches from the front.
"Three rows of 1/4 inch holes were drilled in the floor of the chamber, 6 inches, 12 inches and 18 inches respectively from the rear of the chamber. The stimuli were mounted in these holes in appropriate arrangement."
"THE STIMULI: Two stimulus arrangements were
prepared, so that the views from each of the two windows would be entirely
"The stimulus arrangement for the front view consisted of three overlapping squares of different colors and sizes, arranged to give an illusion of depth. The square closest to the viewing window was painted red, and measured 5 inches square. It was positioned 5 & 1/2 inches from the right side of the chamber, 18 inches from the rear, and 11 & 1/2 from the floor, measured to the nearest surfaces.
"The second square [behind the red square] was painted yellow, and the third square [behind the yellow one] was green.
"The stimulus arrangement for the side view consisted of a black square with a white bulls-eye target measuring 3 & 3/4 inches in diameter. This target was mounted on the surface of the right [inner] side of the chamber. The black square appeared darker in hue than the black interior surface of the chamber."
"It can be seen from the drawing of the experimental set up that should a viewer position himself directly in front of the [front] target opening, say about 1 foot back, he would naturally perceive three colored overlapping targets receding from the front.
"However, when the target box was set up, it was placed on two folding chairs, the back of the front chair obscuring nearly 50% of a direct frontal view of this target window. This was not noticed at the time."
"A frontal view of [front] target 1 should have presented a series of receding, overlapping, colored squares. Ingo's drawing, however, shows only part of the front square denoted as red. This view was possible only from the lower left corner of the window. Ingo did not "see" the chair back inadvertently blocking the right half of the window. The photo taken after the experiment from the lower left corner of the window shows that only the red corner of the foremost target was visible, and Ingo's drawing conforms exactly to the photo taken from that viewpoint.
"In the case of the second [side window] target, it can be seen that Ingo adequately saw the rectangular opening of the target aperture, the structure to the left (which was the side of the red target), and the general location and shape of the black square bearing the three concentric white circles. As he indicates, `vision disappears' in relation to these three circles.
"Study of this target revealed that the black square and circles were painted with an highly reflective gloss paint while the inside of the box was painted with a flat black paint. This created an extreme difference between light absorption and light reflection.
"Thus, as has been noticed in past experiments, the albedo content of this particular target might have obscured vision in this area. This, however, could be measured."
We all were excited by these results, of course, since it could now be shown that OOB vision DID assume a specific point with respect to the target materials, and that this specific point could be located by comparative analysis between the drawings and the targets.
In other words, the viewing of the targets WAS NOT going on within the subject's head or imagination.
The actual point of the viewing was quite near the targets themselves, while the physical body of the viewer was locked up in a room about fifty feet away from the target box.
The chair back blocking most of the front view
was fortuitous. Without her knowing it, two lab helpers had placed Dr. Silfen's
box on two folding chairs instead of a table. But Dr. Silfen KNEW that the
target arrangement was supposed to consist of THREE colored targets. Neither
Janet nor I knew anything about the box or targets in advance.
The chair back DID block a visual frontal view,
and if I had reported three targets from that viewpoint, then a problem
would have come up regarding getting the target "telepathically"
from Silfen. Analysis of the experiment showed that I saw only a corner
of the first target painted red -- and this eliminated explanation via telepathy.
With regard to the bulls-eye target, although I
first reported the black square and three concentric circles, I then said,
This has to do with intensity of albedo reflection of light, and which, if too strong, wipes out even eye vision. One literally cannot see something from which light is reflecting too strongly. One sees only the light, but vision of the object disappears. This is completely understood by perceptual researchers.
Drs. Silfen, Osis and Schmeidler were extremely
excited by the results of this experiment -- for it was highly suggestive
that indeed a point or vehicle of perception exterior to the body DOES assume
"at a different location the functions performed by the visual system
and the brain in the body."
The report's final comments stated: "Factors
of light reflection, arc of measurement, size of target perceived in relation
to point of perception, etc., suggest that for the first time out-of-body
perception can be taken out of the realm of `claim' into the realms of physics
and mathematics. It is hoped that this type of experiment will be replicated
soon to support this first occurrence."
To put this into simple English:
(1) For a long time, science, psychologists, and even most parapsychologists held that nothing could leave the body -- and so whatever occurred as claimed out-of-body must be explainable via some internal psycho-mental mechanisms. It was for this reason that Dr. Osis had been given a very hard time regarding his OOB experiments -- since they were UNSCIENTIFIC within the prevailing science wisdom.
(2) Dr. Silfen had designed a very simple experimental set-up via which lines of perceptual sight could be measured as extending from a certain "point" which could be precisely located by the measurements. This simple experiment COULD HAVE BEEN done fifty years earlier, but no one had bothered to do so. Silfen's experiment gave evidence that "something" did leave the body and organize its perceptual self at a particular point of reference to the target. That "something" also moved its point of reference from window 1 to window 2.
NOW. Something additional must be explained. Back
in 1972, the out-of-body experience DID NOT have the currency it was to
have in later years, especially regarding death-bed and clinical death experiencing.
Dr. Osis had been the first exponent within parapsychology to study it in depth, first fully reporting his research in his 1961 book DEATHBED OBSERVATIONS BY PHYSICIANS AND NURSES.
This book launched a psycho-political resistance to Osis -- since his work moved much too close to the problems of the existence of the soul, reincarnation and true EXTRA-sensory experiencing that was not a mere figure of speech.
SCIENCE did not like any of these ideas, and so most parapsychologists petitioning to be received as scientists did not like them either.
In other words, Dr. Osis was doomed -- except for
one important factor. This factor was the support of Chester F. Carlson,
the American physicist who invented the Xerox process to become universally
utilized and which made him multimillionaire. Carlson WAS interested in
OOB and Dr. Osis's work.
Carlson died in 1968, but the continuing position of Osis as Director of Research at the ASPR was tied to the large endowment Carlson has set up for the ASPR. All those parapsychologists who became members of the ASPR board and who didn't like OOB stuff could only make life and research difficult for Osis -- but they couldn't get rid of him. However, within a few years, they drove him into early retirement.
THIS was the actual reason the ASPR publishing committee refused to publish his first OOB experiments that involved my humble self.
I, of course, had learned a bitter something along
these lines. And so, after the Silfen experiment was done, I said: "OK,
some science has been done. So let's now consider the psycho-political aspects."
"If you prepare an official report, then certain parapsychologists will begin pissing in their pants again. Instead, let's prepare a very unofficial, groveling report and circulate it unofficially but widely -- and do this BEFORE the ASPR board is aware of it."
Everyone involved balked at this. So I drew rank
on them. "Look, we can say that this experiment was done within the
scope of the 50 percent time allotted to ME. Since we have progressed with
this idea under that concept, then no parapsychologist will seriously consider
anything that had any hint it was my idea to begin with."
Everyone still balked. "Then," I said, calmly, "I'm outahere this time for good."
Everyone then agreed -- and thus it was done.
I designed the scheme for this covert distribution
of information. The ASPR had, at that time, some 8,000 supporting members
who paid annual dues at $15 per head. Five hundred of these received the
The subscribing members got very excited -- and demanded MORE research along these lines. Against this onslaught the obstinate members of the ASPR board could do nothing -- and MORE research was undertaken.
Well, after all it IS true that science is one
thing, and that politicking, planning and plotting is another. The Chinese
have an old proverb that goes something like "If water cannot get in
one way, it will circulate and find another way to do so."
Dr. Silfen's experiment has always carried an additional
luminosity to it, one that is completely lost in the history of remote viewing.
It was the break/make point between experiments
that merely fiddled with phenomena and experiments attempting to discover
PROCESS that might be involved.
After all, most people think Psi perceptions "just happen" without bothering to think about why and how they happen -- and about this a great deal is going to be narrated in chapters ahead.
A PLEA: When I was organizing my archives for this
book, I attempted to locate Dr. Carole Silfen. She has vanished, and is
not locatable via any lists of psychologists or in any telephone directory
in the United States.
So if anyone knows of her whereabouts or what happened to her, I'd be very appreciative, with my thanks in advance.