Category Archives: Aliens Above, Ghosts Below

By Dr. Barry Taff

Learned Psi: Training to Be Psychic

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Learning to become psychic involves a fundamental restructuring of the way we process information both inside and outside ourselves. This can dramatically alter one’s life, and not always in a conventionally positive manner.”

Is it possible to take normal, healthy, emotionally stable people who do not think they are psychic, and who don’t recall having any prior psychic experience, and train them to become functionally reliable psychics?

The answer is both yes and no. That is, it appears that everyone may have some latent psychic potential that can be developed and honed with the right type of positive feedback and reinforcement. However, it’s crucial for such feedback to occur very close in time to when the person makes a correct or incorrect statement during a parapsychological test, because otherwise it will have little, if any, effect. In order for this learning paradigm to function properly, a person must slowly come to recognize which internal feelings and sensations are associated with accessing accurate paranormal information (signal), as opposed to inaccurate information (noise) in the form of primary process distortion and fantasy.

I suspect that only a very small percentage of the population, somewhere between five and ten percent, possesses such inherent faculties that are consistently demonstrable. This is somewhat comparable to the world of sports and athletics, in that most people can occasionally participate in some kind of sport when young, but very few have the strength, stamina, endurance, reflexes, and coordination that are necessary to become a professional athlete. We can still, however, do some basic things to maintain and even enhance our physical health and capabilities.

A direct analog to this can be found in the area of motorsports (of which I happen to be a passionate fan). While almost everyone can drive a car, few could tolerate the extremely high g-loading forces on the neck and arms that occur in Formula 1 and American Le Mans road racing, where the drivers’ bodies feel like they weigh four to five times their normal weight. Even fewer would have the stamina, endurance, depth perception, reflexes, and hand-eye-foot coordination to be competitive in such a grueling physical sport. But this doesn’t mean that all of us cannot learn to improve our driving skills on the road. Read the rest of this entry

Legacy’s End: The Rise and Fall of the UCLA Parapsychology Lab

Many people are curious about the real story of UCLA’s former parapsychology lab (not a department!), which existed from about 1967 through 1978. In the early 1970s I personally conducted research there along two fronts. One front was in the lab itself, where I conducted psi training research groups from 1971 through 1980. The other was in the field, where I investigated ghosts, hauntings, and poltergeists (as in the Entity and Hollymont cases). Both of these endeavors yielded considerable evidence that have helped us better understand the nature of psi at many levels.

The lab was located on the fifth floor of the former Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI; now the Semel Institute) at UCLA’s Center for the Health Sciences. In many ways it was a clearinghouse for various researchers and scientists to visit and share data, conduct their own research, or participate in ours. Each member of the lab sort of did his or her own “thing” in relation to the lab’s operations.

Many factors were involved in the lab’s demise, but chief among them was a series of events that, while they should have been fortunate, since they underscored the popularity and effectiveness of the lab and its research, apparently attracted too much media attention for UCLA in general and the NPI in particular to stomach. Read the rest of this entry

Welcome to the Teem: Dr. Barry Taff

We’re happy to announce the debut of a new column titled “Aliens Above, Ghosts Below” by parapsychology pioneer Dr. Barry Taff.

Dr. Taff’s presence here is particularly appropriate and compelling given The Teeming Brain’s intertwined focuses on the cultural, artistic, and philosophical experiences and meanings of horror, consciousness, creativity, and the paranormal. For it was his work as lead investigator on a bizarre case of purported supernatural assault in the 1970s that led to the writing of the book The Entity and the making of its famous movie adaptation, which so many of us can credit with having authentically freaked us out when we were young (an unsurprising effect for a movie that no less a luminary than Martin Scorsese included in his list of the “11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time“). Dr. Taff himself served as technical advisor for the film and was represented in it by the character named “Gene Kraft.”

Back in the real world, he played a key role in the early development of remote viewing. He had a doctorate in psychophysiology with a minor in biomedical engineering, and he worked out of UCLA’s parapsychology lab as a research associate in the 1970s. He has consulted for a multitude of businesses, government agencies, and law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In the entertainment world, he has appeared on dozens of television and radio shows, many of them ones you would expect (e.g., Coast to Coast AM; NBC’s The Other Side and Haunted History; ABC’s World’s Scariest Ghosts Caught on Tape) and others a bit more surprising (e.g., CBS News, Unsolved Mysteries). Most recently he appeared on the two highest-rated shows in the Sci-Fi Channel’s history, An Unknown Encounter and California’s Most Haunted. In addition to his work on the film adaptation of The Entity, he has served as a technical advisor or script doctor on the films Logan’s Run, Demon Seed, Altered States, and Poltergeist.

His 2010 book Aliens Above, Ghosts Below: Explorations of the Unknown represents a summation of his life’s work and thought up to now, and details not only his lifetime of involvement in parapsychological and paranormal investigations but his master theory of how psi, the paranormal, and UFOs may be connected, as well as his predictions for a future in which applied parapsychology might actually be harnessed and used for practical purposes.

We’re pleased to have Dr. Taff as a member of the Teem, and we invite you to join us in welcoming him. In his first column, titled “Legacy’s End: The Rise and Fall of the UCLA Parapsychology Lab,” he shares his firsthand account of what really went on at UCLA’s now infamous (and defunct, and disavowed) parapsychology lab.