Meet US Army Colonel John Alexander, a former Green Beret in Vietnam, world-renowned expert in non-lethal weapons technology, and explorer of fringe science and paranormal possibilities. In 1980, Alexander contributed an article, titled "The New Mental Battlefield," to the Army's Military Review, arguing that remote viewing and other psychic phenomena could be militarized. During his military career and after, Alexander has had his hand in research on remote viewing, UFOs, near-death experiences, zero-point energy, and a variety of other curious matters. To some conspiracy theorists and self-proclaimed victims of mind control, he is Darth Vader. I first interviewed Alexander in 1994 for my Wired column "Reality Check" and found him delightful. (The online archive is here, but a chunk of the article is missing.) At the time, Alexander was head of the nonlethal weaponry program at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I've followed Alexander since, and was delighted to read about him in Jon Ronson's fun book The Men Who Stare At Goats. (For the record though, Alexander told me that the book is riddled with factual errors. For example, he says that it wasn't staring that killed the goat but rather a karate chop administered earlier that day.) Science writer Jim Schnabel, author of the excellent book "Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America's Psychic Spies," recently interviewed Alexander for Fortean Times. From FT:
JS: I remember that you helped organise some “PK parties” in the DC area, with Boeing engineer Jack Houck, who had popularÂised these events on the West Coast. Apparently some high-ranking government officials attended those PK parties in the early 1980s, including John McMahon from the CIA, who somehow bent a spoon."Paranormal Soldier: John Alexander"
JA: Yeah, John was at one party. And I didn’t know it, but as a result of his experience he went back and caused some things to happen [in favour of psi-related programmes] at the Agency, that I didn’t find out about for a decade.
There was also one early party, organised by Jack, in which a woman named Anne Gehman held a fork that bent over with no direct physÂical force. That happened right in front of Major General Stubblebine, and got our attention. That’s why we got more serious about PK.
JS: Did you ever get any good video evidence of cutlery-bending?
JA: Jack had made some videos of it. But the problem was that although the really dramatic events happened on occasion, you would never know when it was going to happen. So it became sort of anecdotal. Nonetheless, it happened with sufficient frequency for us to keep going forward.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.