Recently, while at a Phoenix, Arizona conference on UFOs, crop circles, alternative archaeology and other such fringe matters, I encountered, to my surprise, a true American hero. A straightforward and unassuming man whose father was a well-respected Alaskan congressman, Dr. Nick Begich has been waging a long and often lonely campaign to raise the public’s awareness of the extraordinary perils and potentials of new technologies that can act upon the brain and influence our cognitive and somatic capacities, often without us knowing about them. At first, many of the military initiatives and scientific research projects described by Dr. Begich sound like science fiction — the stuff of Philip K. Dick’s most paranoid visions — but they are quite real, and in many cases already available. A huge trove of documents, articles and public testimonies assembled by Begich’s team can be found at the website of The Lay Institute.
Confronted with this information, I was shocked at first, and wondered why it is almost never discussed in the media or public sphere. My next reaction was to want to run away from thinking about it ever again. Unfortunately, as Begich makes clear, the only protection we have against misuse of these discoveries is an increase in public knowledge and debate about them. The legislative system we inherited from the 18th Century was not set up to deal with the current scenario, where rapid-fire developments in technology and science have immediate political meaning and potentially great social consequences. It is up to civil society — and us as individuals — to step into this breach. The consequences of not doing so may be severe.
Dr. Begich began his work studying the HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) Project, an array of radio frequency transmitters in Alaska designed to affect the ionosphere, an atmospheric sheath that protects the Earth from solar rays. Beyond potentially influencing missile guidance systems and changing weather patterns, HAARP can also be used, potentially, to affect the brainwaves of civilians over a large geographical area, causing inexplicable agitation or aggression by beaming ELF (extremely low frequency) waves or high-frequency pulses beyond the threshold of our auditory capacity. Dr. Begich objects to HAARP because of this capacity, and because it changes the delicate ionosphere. Although we don’t know much about the ionosphere, we are treating it as an arena in which to “plug and play” our experimental technologies.
In the last decades, a huge amount has been learned about the electromagnetic environment of the human brain and body. This knowledge, as Dr. Begich discusses in his latest book, Controlling the Human Mind: The Technologies of Political Control or Tools for Peak Performance (Earthpulse Press, 2006), could lead to tremendous advances in healing and in methods of self-development, or to weapons that “pierce the very integrity of the human being.” Potentially, memory, emotion and cognitive function can be transformed by these technologies.
Dr. Begich isolates a spooky trend in military thought that sees the human being reduced to the status of a “data-processing system” that can be affected or incapacitated depending on the energy inputs it receives. As one article, “The Mind Has No Firewall,” from Parameters, the U.S. Army War College Journal, put it, “The body is capable not only of being deceived, manipulated, or misinformed but also shut down or destroyed — just as any other data-processing system.” Electromagnetic or acoustic energy waves can alter the individual’s “hardware system” and manipulate the “data” stored in their psyche. According to Dr. Begich, technologies already exist that can “shift a person’s emotions using remote electromagnetic tools,” and “transfer sound in a way where only the targeted person” hears a voice in their head.
Interestingly, developments in these areas could lead to breakthroughs in healing, to tools that greatly increase cognitive function and even amplify “abilities of individuals for anomalous phenomena” — psychic capacities — according to a military analyst. Biofeedback techniques have been proven to accelerate skills-based learning and to successfully treat children with ADD. Use of “binaural beats” can harmonize relationships between the two hemispheres of the brain, while tools focusing on the energy fields of the body can augment acupuncture and other treatment modalities.
Begich calls for an end to government secrecy about study of mind and behavior control techniques. He notes that the area of mind modification technologies is “changing so rapidly that the science is being formed faster than the applications can be fully recognized.” Considering the enormous potential of these tools to help liberate the mind or control it at a level beyond anything previously known, the U.S. public should demand to have a rigorous “precautionary principle” put in place.
Philip K. Dick is great fun to read, but few of us would want to live in one of his maniacal, paranoid dystopias. Unfortunately, the powerful knowledge we are now accessing about the intricate workings of our energetic systems could lead in that direction, if we don’t take action.
Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (Broadway Books, 2002) and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl (Tarcher/Penguin, 2006). His features have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Wired and many other publications.