Patrick H. Price – Savior, Savant, or Sacrifice?

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The Watergate hearings began in earnest in May of 1973. All of Washington feared the end was near. Wagons were circled. Anything the least bit nefarious was to be swept under the rug. It was all coming to a head.

For a little over a year at that time, two little-known California physicists had been receiving secret funds from the CIA to research a phenomenon known as “remote viewing” – the ability to see in detail a far away location while safely ensconced within the confines of a secure location. The researchers had brought in Uri Geller and Ingo Swann, two professional psychics (or magicians, depending on your point of view) for this purpose.

The CIA, whether because of impressive results or the heat of Watergate, decided to suspend all further funding for the project when the phone rang for Harold Puthoff. Whether by luck or by design, on the line was Pat Price.

Why “by luck or by design”? In the late 1960s, Price, then the Police Commissioner of Burbank, California, first met Puthoff and Ingo Swann through Scientology.

But the story gets muddled. At one point, Puthoff said he had never met Price prior to Price contacting the SRI. And the idea that Price called Puthoff in May of 1973 contradicts the CIA’s record that said Price started working with SRI in March of 1973.

Price was no stranger to publicity and/or controversy. He was, after all, a politician before he was a police commissioner.

According to the April 30, 1952 issue of the Los Angeles Evening Citizen News article “Story of Crime Questioned” newly elected Burbank City Councilman Patrick Price “previously silent in the investigation of organized crime in Burbank, took time out in council session yesterday to blast the Burbank Citizens Crime Prevention Committee.” He said of the Burbank Citizens Crime Prevention Committee, “I can’t help but feel that the people of Burbank are being defamed. Others living outside the area will not think it a fit community in which to live…. There are 29 men on the Burbank Citizens Crime Prevention Committee, 28 of whom are board members or officers of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce. They are the people who made the charges. I can’t help but feel they are subverting the real facts.”

And Price was a police commissioner before he was… what exactly was he?

At the height of the MKUltra hearings in 1977, the Chicago Tribune wrote CIA Director Stanfield Turner told reporters during a breakfast meeting, “U.S. intelligence operatives have discovered that the Soviet Union is spending money and time researching whether office and psychic methods could be used to spy on other nations… Turner declined to be specific, but confirmed reports that the Russians are studying persons who claim to be able to read minds, ‘teleport’ themselves to secret meetings, and foretell the future.”

At this same breakfast, Turner said “the agency found a man who could ‘see’ what was going on anywhere in the world through his psychic powers.” This man was Patrick Price.

Could the all-seeing man the CIA found do this? Turner didn’t reveal how effective this mystery man was, but he did say “the agency dropped the project in 1975.” All the CIA Director said of the man was “‘He died, and we haven’t heard from him since.’”

Pat Price died of an apparent heart attack in a Las Vegas hotel room in July of 1975.

But let’s go back to June of 1973. In a now highly chronicled series of meetings, Swann and Price both independently “discovered” a super-secret government facility in Virginia. Only the CIA gave them coordinates to a vacation property. It turned out, upon further review, it really was a super-secret government facility.

Skeptical, the CIA asked SRI to get “more info.” Price came through with secret code names, the labels of folders inside file cabinets, and the names of personnel.

Well, this had all sorts of intelligence agencies scampering to find the leak. Officially, there was none. It appeared Price had really cracked the code all the way on the other side of the country. The CIA hired Price as a contractor, and Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ had a secure line to future funding.

But at what price (no pun intended)? It was acknowledged by Puthoff and Targ that they were targeted by the Soviets. Presumably, someone as notable as Pat Price might have also fallen into Russian crosshairs.

It’s not hard to figure out why.

Paranormal instrument maker James Hickman, when he was interviewed by William Stuckey, for Science Digest, said, “Let’s suppose we have a world in which a number of people had the ability to interfere psychically with defense machinery and computer tapes. Such a person would be a dangerous weapon. And what if the ruling powers distrust him? They could put him in a cell, but psychic ability is not limited by distance and probably not by time, so he could still jam things up. His brain would probably have to destroyed. Perhaps he would be killed.”

Are you familiar with the literary term called “shotgun on the wall effect”? It means, if the author goes out of the way to tell you there’s a shotgun on the wall, chances are it’s going to play a part sooner or later.

Hickman’s last statement might be considered a similar type of foreboding. But is it foreboding if it already happened? Remember, the Stuckey piece was published in October 1976. Perhaps, rather than the “Shotgun on the wall effect,” Hickman’s statement might be thought of as a psychic projection (as in, “Me thinks the Lady doth protest too much”).

The weirdness continues. Jeffrey Mishlove, at the time the first PhD candidate in parapsychology at Berkeley, said, “If this hypothetical psychic were truly talented, death probably wouldn’t even stop him.”

Let’s look more at the key players here.

Stuckey called Puthoff “the anchor to the establishment.” A respected laser physicist, he wrote a quantum physics textbook, his work on faster-than-light projects made the leap to psychic phenomenon understandable. More intriguing, Puthoff once worked for the National Security Agency (“NSA”) and spoke perfect Russian.

Targ on the other hand, had a more traditional academic background. He was one of the inventors of the carbon dioxide laser, a core element in research that attempted to capture thermonuclear fusion to provide electricity. He did, however, have a paranormal connection. He developed a physical machine to facilitate ESP training. He also was a stage magician.

Targ’s ability to understand stage magician’s techniques helped him spot frauds in his research. Stuckey says this came in handy and may be why Uri Geller didn’t fare too well in the SRI experiments.

Puthoff and Targ’s paper “A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer” was published in the March 1976 issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE. The two classified three of the subjects in this paper as “experienced” psychics: Ingo Swann, a self-proclaimed psychic, Pat Price, a former Burbank, California police commissioner (“who had ‘an uncanny ability to solve crimes but was unaware of his abilities until – get this – he enrolled in a Scientology course’); and an SRI staff member [Duane Elgin] who had no knowledge of his talent until he once accurately called 34 consecutive tosses of a coin.”

Stuckey says “proof is already rolling in: Some of their more spectacular experiments have been duplicated by Bell, by the University of California/Berkeley’s Rauchers, and by noted University of California/Davis parapsychologist Charles Tart.

In the fall of 1976, Tart published a book through the University of Chicago Press detailing his new theory of “an oscillating wave through time.” Stuckey concludes his article with this quote from Tart: “Dedicated parapsychologists are not the type to do secret research. Most of us see this work as saying something quite important about the nature of man and the universe, and not just a tool for the military establishment, which doesn’t have a good track record.”

Clearly, the secret was out. The US was deeply involved in paranormal research. What better way to “drop the project” than by having its superstar die prematurely and “of natural causes.”

Many believe Price was killed either by the Soviets or by the CIA itself. Years later, Uri Geller, now thought to have been actively involved in the espionage profession, when asked about Price, told Targ “knowing Intelligence, knowing what’s happening around the world, and having worked for certain agencies, I know a little more about his story. And people who are so valuable, are never taken out.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean “certain agencies” wouldn’t want to make it appear they were taken out. That would definitely cause other agencies to move on.

Great conspiracy stuff. It’d make a great movie. But is it reality?

Folks like James Randi, Ray Hyman, and Banachek have devoted their lives to expose the tricks that illusionists use. They don’t believe Iago Swann, Pat Price, et al had psychic abilities. They believe people researching psychic phenomenon are merely experiencing what amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy. They see what they believe but avoid seeing what they don’t believe.

And if you think this self-deception is limited to the “science” of remote viewing, you haven’t been paying attention.

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