Alas, it's true, if you believe Jon Ronson, author of The Men Who Stare At Goats.
From the product description on Amazon.com:
In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known accepted military practice -- and indeed, the laws of physics -- they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them.Actually, wacky as the above reads, we know that the CIA - in conjunction with the army - dosed unsuspecting soldiers and civilians with LSD and basically screwed with people's minds for years back in the '50s. There's also the "remote-seeing" adventures of GRILL FLAME, and CENTER LANE by the Defense Intelligence Agency and INSCOM, and STAR GATE and SCANATE by the CIA. Then there's MKULTRA; well, the list of wackiness goes on and on. We learn of a connection to Scientology; many of the people involved in these various occult investigations for the military were paid-up Scientologists, apparently because they're familiar with Dianetic psychology and those engram gizmos, the E Machine:
Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren't joking. What's more, they're back and fighting the War on Terror.
With firsthand access to the leading players in the story, Ronson traces the evolution of these bizarre activities over the past three decades and shows how they are alive today within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and in postwar Iraq. Why are they blasting Iraqi prisoners of war with the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Why have 100 debleated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces Command Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? How was the U.S. military associated with the mysterious mass suicide of a strange cult from San Diego? The Men Who Stare at Goats answers these and many more questions.
For those of you not in the know, the Church of Scientology was invented out of whole cloth by L. Ron Hubbard, a writer of rather bad science fiction stories in the '30s and '40s; he based his Church on Dianetics, The Science of the Mind, a book he wrote on a bet with - I have been told - Ray Bradbury. In Scientology, e machines are used to "audit" the supplicant, and advance him/her to the next level of Clear, until they come into the full possession of the knowledge that they are the reincarnations of 250 million-year-old outer space lizards. The e machine is Hubbard's contribution to mind/machine interface technology, although it's really just a fancy skin galvometer.
Hubbard aside, a good deal of the esoteric & psychic research was done for the military at (or via the auspices of) the Stanford Research Institute, in Menlo Park, California. Yeah, that Stanford Research Institute (as in Stanford University), the same people that brought us Tide laundry soap, Disneyland, those magnetic strips on your bank checks, diamagnetic levitation, and the Stanford-Binet IQ test.
And Uri Geller's back as well, according to Jon, so you know reality is really gonna get wanged some more.
This is your money the government is spending on this stuff, by the way; don't think that these programs are over; many are still chugging along. As Amazon.com puts it: Ronson tells of one ex-Army employee who claims to have killed a goat and his pet hamster by staring at them for prolonged periods of time. Like Ronson's original source, this man says he has been reactivated for deployment to the Middle East.
Thanks and a tip of the hat to Chris Locke at Mystic Bourgeoisie