Guardian article on mind control, with comments
Allen L. Barker
alb at datafilter.com
Fri Nov 7 13:50:12 EST 2003
Below is a recent (Oct. 23, 2003) article about mind control from _The
Guardian_ newspaper. It is positive in that it takes the issue
seriously. I will add a few comments, though. First, the article
deals only with brain electrodes or implants. That is one means for
carrying out what is popularly known as mind control, or the
clandestine influencing of behavior and thought. But there are also
many other ways that such operations can be carried out. See the
index of my web page, for example, at
I will restrict my comments here to implanted devices.
The _Guardian_ article mentions that, according to John Lilly, the
military had films of donkeys being remotely steered back in the
1950s. This sort of steering by brain stimulation was recently
presented as new research -- 40 years later -- when conducted on rats
by open scientists. Let me give a couple more examples. The first is
a quote from _The Search for the Manchurian Candidate_ by John Marks:
They brought their technology to bear on subjects like the electric
stimulation of the brain. John Lilly had done extensive work in this
field a decade earlier, before concluding that to maintain his
integrity he must find another field. CIA men had no such qualms,
however. They actively experimented with placing electrodes in the
brain of animals and -- probably -- men. Then they used electric and
radio signals to move their subjects around. The field went far
beyond giving monkeys orgasms, as Lilly had done. In the CIA itself,
Sid Gottlieb and the MKULTRA crew had made some preliminary studies
of it. They started in 1960 by having a contractor search all the
available literature, and then they had mapped out the parts of
animals' brains that produced reactions when stimulated. By April 1961
the head of TSS was able to report "we now have a 'production
capability'" in brain stimulation and "we are close to having
debugged a prototype system whereby dogs can be guided along specific
courses." Six months later, a CIA document noted, "The feasibility of
remote control of activities in several species of animals has been
demonstrated.... Special investigations and evaluations will be
conducted toward the application of selected elements of these
techniques to man." Another six months later, TSS officials had found
a use for electric stimulation: this time putting electrodes in the
brains of cold-blooded animals -- presumably reptiles. While much of
the experimentation with dogs and cats was to find a way of wiring
the animal and then directing it by remote control into, say, the
office of the Soviet ambassador, this cold-blooded project was
designed instead for the delivery of chemical and biological agents
or for "executive action-type operations," according to a document.
"Executive action" was the CIA's euphemism for assassination.
With the brain electrode technology at this level, Steve Aldrich and
ORD took over the research function from TSS. What the ORD men found
cannot be said, but the open literature would indicate that the field
progressed considerably during the 1960s. Can the human brain be wired
and controlled by a big enough computer? Aldrich certainly tried to
Some of these projects may have been worked on at the Institute's own
several hundred-acre farm located in the Massachusetts countryside.
But of the several dozen people contacted in an effort to
find out what the Institute did, the most anyone would say about
experiments at the farm was that one involved stimulating the
pleasure centers of crows' brains in order to control their behavior.
Presumably, ORD men did other things at their isolated rural
Just as the MKULTRA program had been years ahead of the scientific
community, ORD activities were similarly advanced. "We looked at the
manipulation of genes," states one of the researchers. "We were
interested in gene splintering. The rest of the world didn't ask until
1976 the type of questions we were facing in 1965.... Everybody was
afraid of building the supersoldier who would take orders without
questioning, like the kamikaze pilot. Creating a subservient society
was not out of sight."
In December 1977, having gotten wind of the ORD programs, I filed a
Freedom of Information request for access to ORD files "on behavioral
research, including but not limited to any research or operational
activities related to bio-electrics, electric or radio stimulation of
the brain, electronic destruction of memory, stereotaxic surgery,
psychosurgery, hypnotism, parapsychology, radiation, microwaves, and
ultrasonics." I also asked for documentation on behavioral testing in
U.S. penal institutions, and I later added a request for all available
files on amnesia. The Agency wrote back six months later that ORD had
"identified 130 boxes (approximately 130 cubic feet) of material that
are reasonably expected to contain behavioral research documents."
Considering that Admiral Turner and other CIA officials had tried
to leave the impression with Congress and the public that behavioral
research had almost all ended in 1963 with the phaseout of MKULTRA,
this was an amazing admission. The sheer volume of material was
staggering. This book is based on the 7 boxes of heavily censored
MKULTRA financial records plus another 3 or so of ARTICHOKE documents,
supplemented by interviews. It has taken me over a year, with
significant research help, to digest this much smaller bulk. Clearly,
greater resources than an individual writer can bring to bear will be
needed to get to the bottom of the ORD programs.
A free society's best defense against unethical behavior modification
is public disclosure and awareness. The more people understand
consciousness-altering technology, the more likely they are to
recognize its application, and the less likely it will be used. When
behavioral research is carried out in secret, it can be turned against
the government's enemies, both foreign and domestic. No matter how
pure or defense-oriented the motives of the researchers, once the
technology exists, the decision to use it is out of their hands. Who
can doubt that if the Nixon administration or J. Edgar Hoover had had
some foolproof way to control people, they would not have used the
technique against their political foes, just as the CIA for years
tried to use similar tactics overseas?
As with the Agency's secrets, it is now too late to put behavioral
technology back in the box. Researchers are bound to keep making
advances. The technology has already spread to our schools, prisons,
and mental hospitals, not to mention the advertising community, and it
has also been picked up by police forces around the world. Placing
hoods over the heads of political prisoners -- a modified form of
sensory deprivation -- has become a standard tactic around the world,
from Northern Ireland to Chile. The Soviet Union has consistently used
psychiatric treatment as an instrument of repression. Such methods
violate basic human rights just as much as physical abuse, even if
they leave no marks on the body.
Tampering with the mind is much too dangerous to be left to the
spies. Nor should it be the exclusive province of the behavioral
scientists, who have given us cause for suspicion. Take this statement
by their most famous member, B. F. Skinner: "My image in some places
is of a monster of some kind who wants to pull a string and manipulate
people. Nothing could be further from the truth. People are
manipulated; I just want them to be manipulated more effectively."
Such notions are much more acceptable in prestigious circles than
people tend to think: D. Ewen Cameron read papers about "depatterning"
with electroshock before meetings of his fellow psychiatrists, and
they elected him their president. Human behavior is so important that
it must concern us all. The more vigilant we and our representatives
are, the less chance we will be unwitting victims.
Another early example of remote-controlling an animal is the Acoustic
Kitty program from the 1960s. In this project, a cat was surgically
wired up to serve as a listening device. An original document on the
project can be found at the National Security Archive:
Here is a _Sunday Telegraph_ article (apparently via the _Chicago
CIA tried to listen to Soviets with eavesdropping feline
November 6, 2001
BY CHARLOTTE EDWARDES
LONDON--The CIA tried to uncover the Kremlin's deepest secrets during
the 1960s by turning cats into walking bugging devices, recently
declassified documents show.
In one experiment during the Cold War, a cat, dubbed "Acoustic Kitty,"
was wired up for use as an eavesdropping platform.
It was hoped that the animal, which was surgically altered to
accommodate transmitting and control devices, could listen to secret
conversations from window sills, park benches or dustbins.
Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, said that Project Acoustic
Kitty was a gruesome creation.
"They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail
was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and
tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry,
so they put another wire in to override that,'' he said.
Marchetti said that the first live trial was an expensive
disaster. The technology is thought to have cost more than $14
He said: "They took it out to a park and put him out of the van,
and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the
van with all those dials, and the cat was dead.''
The document, which was one of 40 to be declassified from the CIA's
closely guarded Science and Technology Directorate, where spying
techniques are refined, is still partly censored.
This implies that the CIA was embarrassed about disclosing all the
details of Acoustic Kitty, which took five years to design.
The memo ends by congratulating the team who worked on the Acoustic
Kitty project for its hard work.
It says: "The work done on this problem over the years reflects great
credit on the personnel who guided it . . . whose energy and
imagination could be models for scientific pioneers.''
By coincidence, in 1966, a British film called "Spy With a Cold Nose"
featured a dog wired up to eavesdrop on the Russians.
It was the same year as the Acoustic Kitty was tested.
Martin Cannon relays Victor Marchetti's description of the technology
used in this experiment as "radio implants attached to the cat's
cochlea" (http://www.constitution.org/abus/controll.htm#31). Using
such a technology they would hear through the cat's own ears. A more
advanced form of such a technology would be able to also *send* sounds
to the cochlea. It could even process received sounds and send them
back as enhanced signals like an effects loop (or perhaps as adaptive
cancellation). See, for example,
for more information on that sort of application.
The final comment I wanted to make about the _Guardian_ article
concerns the problem of external leads to the skull making grooming or
hair care difficult. The article claims that this will be "a problem
for some time yet." But that is not the case, at least for advanced
systems. Here is a brief excerpt from an article by Jose Delgado in
_American Psychologist_, March, 1975. It is titled, "Two-Way
Transdermal Communication with the Brain":
The above-mentioned methodology has a common handicap: the passage of
intracerebral leads through the scalp to the terminal socket on top
of the head. Animals sometimes succeed in breaking off the leads.
In patients, the surgical wound usually heals without complications,
but the opening around the electrodes remains a potential source
of infection. In addition, the presence of sockets in a patient's
hair may be inconvenient for grooming.
To solve these problems, while retaining the advantages of two-way
radio communication with the depth of the brain, we have developed
transdermal technology, the description of which is the main purpose
of this paper. Precedents of transdermal stimulation of the brain
may be found in the work of Chaffee and Light (1934-1935), in which
a diode was used to rectify the waves received through the intact
scalp, and in the research of Harris (1946-1947), who implanted coils
subcutaneously, inducing currents from a distance of several feet
from a powerful primary coil. At that time, transistors and
microelectronics were unknown, and instrumentation, while ingenious,
Almost six years ago (Delgado, 1969b; Note 2), we described a
technique for multichannel, transdermal stimulation of the brain
in animals; two years ago we reported its successful therapeutic
use in a patient suffering from intractable pain (Delgado et al.,
1973). We have now completed the system by adding the multichannel
transdermal recording of depth EEG.
Another possibility, as yet little explored, is the sending of
information directly to sensory pathways or receiving areas of the
brain when there is damage of normal sensory receptors.
The most interesting aspect of the transdermal stimoceivers is the
ability to perform simultaneous recording and stimulation of brain
functions, thereby permitting the establishment of feedbacks and
"on-demand" programs of excitation with the aid of the computer.
We may also speculate that it would be possible to establish
direct brain-to-brain communication, between different individuals,
without the intervention of sensory organs.
Pattern recognition of anatomically localized brain waves, as a
triggering device for contingent stimulation of specific cerebral
structures in order to enhance or inhibit these brain waves and
to modify related behavior, offers great promise for therapy as
well as research. With the increasing sophistication and
miniaturization of electronics, it may be possible to compress the
necessary circuitry for a small computer into a chip that is
implantable subcutaneously. In this way, a new self-contained
instrument could be devised, capable of receiving, analyzing,
and sending back information to the brain, establishing artificial
links between unrelated cerebral areas, functional feedbacks,
and programs of stimulation contingent on the appearance of
predetermined wave patterns.
The transdermal stimoceiver is a system with four channels for
electrical stimulation and three channels for electrical
recording, to and from selected brain structures through the
intact skin. By means of wireless links, the whole system may
be used in completely unrestrained subjects. The instrument
consists of two disks implanted subcutaneously, ending in
electrodes implanted stereotaxically within the brain. As no
batteries are used, the life of the instrument is indefinite.
Power and information are supplied by RF. The system has been
tested in goats with suitable controls, demonstrating that
transdermal performance is similar to direct wire.
So thirty years ago Delgado published in the open literature things
that even many scientists today want to deny up and down are currently
possible. His remark above about "At that time, transistors and
microelectronics were unknown, and instrumentation, while ingenious,
was primitive" is quite ironic in 2003. His instrumentation was as
primitive compared to current electronics as those early researchers'
instrumentation was compared to his. At the time, integrated circuits
were just beginning to become commonplace. Now whole computers can be
integrated into a microchip, and extreme miniaturization is possible
(as in "smart dust"). As far as I know, nanotechnology was not even a
word back then.
Some recent studies have come out analyzing multiple single-cell brain
recordings. The recordings are of hundreds of cells, at most, but the
results are quite strong. It has been shown that it is possible to
infer place information from hippocampal recordings -- even in the
"dreams" of mice. It has been shown that monkeys can learn to use a
brain-machine interface to control a robot arm. Single-cell
recordings should provide a much more stable, replicable signal than
traditional EEG recordings do. Given that, it is strongly likely that
with the right few hundred cells "stimoceivered," and the right
pattern recognition software, the inference of even subvocalized
thoughts could be carried out with high accuracy. (See
for excerpts from a 1975 feasibility study based on EEG readings.)
Here are a couple of additional links related to brain implants. The
first is about a planned implementation of such a remote monitoring
system in California in the early 1970s. It was killed due to public
protests. The second link is to an article by a group representing
people who allege that they have been used as nonconsensual subjects
or targets of such technology -- just as nonconsensual subjects were
exploited for human radiation experiments. It is almost certain that
there are some nonconsensual victims of such experimentation in the
population. The situation is the same with various other mind control
techniques which have been devised and tested on nonconsensual and
Basic decency, human dignity, and fundamental human rights demand
that people claiming such horrible abuses at least be given a fair
hearing. There *should* be serious investigations from the
governmental end: to find such victims, notify them, and help
them deal with the sequelae of what they have been through. Any
ongoing abuses should obviously be ended immediately. Barring that
(given how shamelessly governments tend to operate) open scientists,
medical professionals, and the press should understand the true
situation and treat these people as human beings and as *they* would
want to be treated if it happened to them.
Thursday October 23, 2003
"The possibility of scientific annihilation of personal identity, or
even worse, its purposeful control, has sometimes been considered a
future threat more awful than atomic holocaust... These objections,
however, are debatable."
So wrote Dr Jose Delgado in his 1969 book Physical Control of the
Mind: Toward a Psychocivilised Society. Delgado documents the myriad
applications of electrical stimulation of the brain, from helping the
blind see again to keeping criminals and dissidents under remote
control. The Spanish neurologist's hopes rested on a device he called
the "stimoceiver". Once inserted into the required part of the brain,
the remotely operated stimoceiver could stimulate it electrically. In
a dramatic demonstration in the early 1960s, Delgado entered a
bullring and, at the press of a button, stopped a charging bull dead
in its tracks. Delgado saw great potential in his creation, but he did
note one possible problem: "The existence of wires leading from the
brain to the stimoceiver outside of the scalp... could be a hindrance
to hair grooming."
Modern day proponents of the mind control conspiracy use Delgado's
stimoceivers to support their suspicions; but how far has the
Last year US scientists revealed a team of rats that could be
remote-controlled from a laptop. Electrodes in the rodents' brains
activate their pleasure centres while steering them left or right. A
tiny backpack acts as a receiver. The robo-rats were presented as the
very latest in biotechnology, but in his memoirs the late neurologist
John Lilly, who began his career working on the electrical stimulation
of animal brains, recalled seeing a military film of a donkey being
remotely steered up a hillside in the 1950s.
Whether we have the technology to control another human mind, brain
implants are now being used to help the victims of paralysis. Dr
Philip Kennedy of Neural Signals has developed an implanted device
that allows JR, a paralysed 53-year-old volunteer, to move a mouse
cursor around a computer screen using thought alone. There are no
wires - a small antenna, connected to the implant, pokes out of the
top of JR's skull.
We may be approaching Delgado's psychocivilised society, but that hair
is going to be a problem for some time yet
Mind Control: TT&P ==> http://www.datafilter.com/mc
Home page: http://www.datafilter.com/alb
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