For twenty years, Neil Strauss has somehow managed to slip the subversive into the mainstream, covering alternative music and culture for two decades as a journalist and writing six New York Times best-selling books, including Emergency, a first-hand account of learning to live off the grid in the face of the current world crisis. His latest book, out today (March 15th), Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead, collects the best moments of his two-decade career, including moments of truth with Timothy Leary, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and remote viewers, as in the excerpt below.
Russell Targ is, by all appearances, a stereotypical nerd genius, with pants pulled past his belly button, moplike gray curls, thick black-framed glasses, and a high, pinched voice. In the 1950s, he made his reputation by helping to develop the laser. But in 1972, his life took a turn for the surreal when he and another physicist found themselves with a contract from the CIA. For the next two decades, he was at the forefront of one of the strangest chapters of the Cold War: psychic espionage.
This is not a conspiracy theory, like the rumor that the military covered up a UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico. This is actual fact: For twenty-three years, the U.S. government funded the research and development of teams of psychic spies trained in a type of ESP known as remote viewing, in which, with pen, paper, and brain, they attempted to tune into events taking place in locations and times outside ordinary sensory perception.
These spies claim to have psychically penetrated Russian nuclear laboratories, visited hostages in the American embassy in Tehran, and scoured the globe for secret terrorist camps. Asked after his presidency about unusual events during his term, Jimmy Carter recalled an incident in which a psychic in the program found the location of a downed Russian spy plane in Zaire.