The Null Device

Crazy Rulers of the World

I just watched the first part of Crazy Rulers Of The World, a documentary series by Jon Ronson (author of THEM, an exposé of conspiracy theorists, political extremists and other fellow travellers). It was very interesting; the programme was about the US military's paranormal research programmes, hatched in the heady collision of the post-Vietnam doldrums and the rise of Californian New Age spirituality. We met Lt. Col. Jim Channon, a wild-haired, wide-eyed hippy shaman-type who wrote the fantastically new-agey (not to mention lavishly illustrated) "First Earth Battalion" report, which envisioned a new US Army trained to sense plant auras and be at one with the universe; into confrontation, they would carry baby lambs, and wear loudspeakers from which emanated indigenous music and words of peace; if things got really heavy, this would change to discordant acid rock. Anyway, Channon's ideas inspired a lot of others to begin various less peaceful project, including the Fort Bragg "Goat Lab", where Special Forces would practice staring at goats and killing them with their psychic energy. One of the practitioners of this (now running a dance studio in the Midwest) claimed to have recently killed a hamster with psychic energy. Apparently he is being brought out of retirement to assist in using psychic energy to interrogate Iraqi insurgents, hopefully preventing another Abu Ghraib incident, or so he claims.

The convincingness of this programme was varied; parts of it, like the chakra-point weapon adapted from Channon's teachings and apparently being used to bloodlessly defeat Iraqi insurgents in hand-to-hand combat, looked like it could work, perhaps along similar principles to acupuncture or pressure-point tactics. The goat-staring and hamster-staring videos, however, seemed rather ambiguous; in both cases, nothing seemed to happen on the screen, though excuses were given (the goat experiment was only aiming for a "level 1" effect of lowering its heart rate, and the hamster could have been interpreted as collapsing and then trying to flee its cage; the experimenter didn't show the video of it dying, in case the Guardian columnist Ronson was a "bleeding-heart liberal").

Anyway, there are two more parts in this programme, not to mention a book titled The Men Who Stare At Goats, which should be interesting.

There are 11 comments on "Crazy Rulers of the World":

Posted by: Ben Leviathan http:// Mon Nov 8 05:30:29 2004

I scored an advance copy of The Men Who Stare At Goats a few months back and it's a very funny book. What is terribly annoying is that apparently a lot of these 'terror alerts' the DHS is always giving out are often based on psychic visions of disasters....


Posted by: Ben Leviathan http:// Mon Nov 8 07:51:25 2004

And it's interesting that they bring up Abu Ghraib, because in the book some of the ex-First Earth Battalion members claim that the torture of prisoners using sounds (including apparently subliminals) was research they wanted to do but couldn't because it is (apparently) very easy to fry someone's brain if you make a slight slip. Apparently the use of strange sounds against the Branch Davidian church at Waco was part of the same research.

Posted by: Chloe Mon Nov 8 19:54:11 2004

If the hamster-killer dance studio guy could really do such a thing... Do we really believe he'd be running a dance studio or working for the government?

BTW: It's hippie, not hippy. (Apparently... I get corrected all the time, I thought I'd pass it on. heh.)

Posted by: acb Mon Nov 8 22:46:37 2004

Apparently, they're bringing him out of retirement. Perhaps psychically killing animals/insurgents wasn't high on the Pentagon's wish list until recently.

Posted by: b Tue Nov 9 00:34:20 2004

There was an artible in the Australian weekend mag about this about two or three weeks ago, talking about the goats and the shaman and the jedi-soldiers. Freaky.

Posted by: gjw Tue Nov 9 03:48:37 2004

Surely Pentecostals summoning the power of Jay-sus is more the Bush administration's style? This all sounds very new-age to me, and everyone knows long hair is a tool of Satan.

Posted by: acb Tue Nov 9 09:42:57 2004

Neocons and Fundamentalists are two different groups. The Neocons are technocrats, and some of them have more in common with Robert Anton Wilson or the Extropians than with Billy Graham.

Posted by: dj Wed Nov 10 01:20:11 2004

What about Yogic Flying, a la the Natural Law party?

Posted by: acb Wed Nov 10 02:15:18 2004

Ronson didn't mention them (yet), though if the Moonies are in bed with the US Right, nothing can be ruled out.

Posted by: Ben-Baba Ali Gazebo http:// Thu Nov 11 00:15:33 2004

Funnily enough there is a section on the friction it caused with some of the brass who are big wheels in something called the President's Prayer Circle, which is a web site you log into to find out what GWB wants you to pray for that week. Apart from the fact that it has been spectacularly unsuccesful, the reasoning behind it is no different to that of the shamans and other nuts.

BTW I think 'Hippy' is like 'Lady' so the plural is 'Hippies'.

Posted by: Jamie Sat Nov 20 03:02:15 2004

After I heard Jon Ronson reading an excerpt on the radio last week, I ran out and I bought 'The Men Who Stare At Goats' just the other day and I've all but finished it.

It's... dare I use the term... unputdownable. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I must admit that the goat/hamster killing story sounded somewhat sketchy and devoid of any real evidence. Interesting none-the-less.

What got me was how so many of these seemingly unconnected scenarios are all tied in together somehow. The goat killing martial arts jedi types who have links to the 9/11 suicide pilots which is related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where they're using the psy-ops techniques.

The martian refugee thing is way out there. I'm not even going to start on that.

What scared me most was the thing.

A rollicking brilliant read from Mr. Ronson. I'll be telepathically ordering a copy of his other book, 'Them' ASAP.

P.S. Anyone seen any links/sites/images on the web of The Predato

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