Thursday, December 11, 2014

Navy research project on intuition aims to optimize discoveries

By Steve Hammons

(A version of this article was posted 4/6/15 on the CultureReady blog of the U.S. Defense Language and National Security Education Office.)

The U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) has begun a four-year project to identify, understand and use “intuitive decision-making” and what is being termed “implicit learning.”

Based on other formal research and anecdotal reports over the years, the ONR study, called “Enhancing Intuitive Decision Making Through Implicit Learning,” will attempt to determine how rapid or apparently spontaneous intuitive impressions can be used by military personnel and others.

Often referred to as “gut instincts,” “hunches” and the “sixth sense,” scientific research indicates that these can be legitimate sources of accurate information and understanding. Intuition may be simply acquiring and processing information in different ways, researchers indicate.

Valid impressions can be arrived at via various kinds of information coming to us through normal sensory perception, absorption of past training and experience, our unconscious minds, our bodies and even somewhat mysterious areas of quantum physics, according to some research.

When these potential sources of information and understanding are used (often in combination) military personnel may be better-prepared to quickly integrate and process information, gain improved “situation awareness” and make rapid, effective decisions, ONR and other researchers point out.


According to a June 2014 article in the Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Army Times and Air Force Times, “the  new four-year, $3.85 million program to explore the phenomenon is a joint effort among ONR, DSCI Mesh Solutions, Charles River Analytics, Defense Group Inc., Northwestern University, University of California-Los Angeles and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

In a March 2014 media release from the ONR, more details about the new project were explained. “ONR has embarked on a four-year basic research program to enhance intuitive decision making through implicit learning. A team of scientists will study factors such as memory and perception to better understand how decisions are made and whether there are ways to improve premonition through training,” according to the press release which was also posted on the Navy News Service website.

The media release quoted Lt. Cmdr. Brent Olde, ONR Warfighter Performance Department's division deputy for human and bio-engineered systems: “A seasoned warfighter develops a gut instinct through experience.”

Olde was also quoted as explaining, “If we can characterize this intuitive decision-making process and model it, then the hope is to accelerate the acquisition of these skills through simulation and scenarios; thus, providing our sailors and Marines with years of experience in a matter of days and greatly improving their ability to make split-second decisions.”

Also included in the ONR press release were statements from Dr. Peter Squire, program officer for human performance, training and education in ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department. 

Squire said, “Ultimately, this is about sailors and Marines being able to harness their gut instincts in situations where they need to act quickly. But first, we have to understand what gives rise to this so-called ‘sixth sense.’ Can we model it? Is there a way to improve it through training?”

The article published in the Military Times also reported additional comments by Squire about stories of troops in combat who took actions based on intuitive-type perceptions: “These are quick decisions made unconsciously. Troops can’t tell you what made them stop or act, but we believe something different in what is usually a regular environment triggered a reaction.”

“At ONR, we push science to support our warfighters, to make sure they are equipped for a fair fight. But this also has implications for society at large,” Squire was quoted as saying.

The Military Times article included the following: “According to Squire, if the researchers understand the process, there may be ways to accelerate it – and possibly spread the powers of intuition throughout military units. The research could have applicability well beyond the military.”

The same article summarized the critical importance of these kinds of perceptions. “Troops often return from patrols with stories of how they survived intact through some hairy situation because they had a premonition something was amiss.


In recent years the U.S. Army has also initiated research into hunches and intuition. Those studies found that two kinds of American troops in combat areas seemed to be better able to detect hidden improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

One type included those troops raised in rural areas in a natural environment and who were involved in hunting and similar activities. They seemed to have better instincts and were possibly more alert about dangers around them. The other category was the Army soldier or Marine who grew up in tough urban settings where they had to be aware of danger from crime and assault.

This type of research is not new. Universities and previous defense-related research going back to the 1970s explored and utilized unconventional, alternative and complementary kinds of perception that humans are believed to possess naturally, and can be enhanced through training.

Probably the most well-known of these efforts is now referred to as Project STAR GATE. That program developed methods to attempt to acquire accurate and reliable information using human consciousness. 

Though this research-and-operational program appears to be more forward-leaning in its goals and methods than the new ONR implicit learning project, there seem to be several areas of significant overlap.

Based on the successes of Project STAR GATE, a former Navy SEAL officer developed the concept of “transcendent warfare” that he explored in a graduate-level research paper. The transcendent warfare model involves learning more about new discoveries related to human perception and using that knowledge in appropriately robust ways. The ONR research project also appears to dovetail with transcendent warfare ideas.

The validity of different (though complementary) modes of human perception, and processing those perceptions, appear to be well-established by much previous research. 

The new ONR project reportedly attempts to further explore these abilities and add to existing training and education efforts about them.

For more information see:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New thinking proposed to prevent, mitigate damage from ‘insider spies’

By Steve Hammons
An article by intelligence reporter Jeff Stein published in Newsweek magazine and dated Sept. 6, 2014, explores an innovative new proposal by a private-practice psychiatrist who has worked with the U.S. intelligence community.

The article, titled “Building a Better Mole Trap,” examines the concept put forward by David L. Charney, MD, to prevent and mitigate the damage to the U.S. by “insider spies” – U.S. defense and intelligence personnel who make a decision to give classified and sensitive information to international adversaries, competitors and “frenemies” of the U.S.

Charney has worked as a psychiatrist with U.S. insider spies who were caught and he says he derived much insight and understanding about their motives and, importantly, their regrets about spying. Charney believes that different approaches based on psychiatry and the practical nuts-and-bolts elements of spying can prevent insider spying in the first place and also stop it once it has begun.

Additionally, if classified information was given to adversary nations’ intelligence services, Charney’s proposal aims for a prompt and thorough “damage assessment” to mitigate harm from the spying.

So what is Charney’s bright idea? It’s actually a combination of many elements that he explained in a recently-published white paper. Part one was titled “True Psychology of the Insider Spy.” Part two was “Proposing a New Policy for Improving National Security by Fixing the Problem of Insider Spies.”

Charney calls for the creation of a “National Office for Intelligence Reconciliation (NOIR).” The word “noir” is also French for “black,” an appropriate descriptive element of the problems of, and solutions for insider spying.


Based on his experience as a psychiatrist who has had contact with the intelligence field, Charney claims many insider spies are motivated by personal problems and crises of the kind that many people face from time to time. These can include marriage and family problems, financial stress, professional frustrations, self-esteem issues, life disappointments and similar challenges most of us face sooner or later.

Due to these kinds of very human stressors, an otherwise dedicated and patriotic member of the defense and intelligence community might be seduced by adversary intelligence agents to become an insider spy, according to Charney.

And once this terrible step is made, there is no turning back. Charney says the insider spy soon realizes he is trapped and in the clutches of ruthless intelligence agents from another nation’s government and has reached a point of no return. Life in prison probably awaits if he is caught, which will probably happen eventually.

If the insider spy thought things were bad before, he now realizes they have become much worse for him. But the insider spy must stay on the path of continued spying because there is no option to change course. Damage to the U.S. continues through the ongoing spying. It’s a lose-lose situation, Charney points out.

According to the NOIR proposal, a number of interventions would be implemented to prevent and resolve insider spying. These include, but are not limited to, establishing channels for insider spies to turn themselves in and be granted reduced penalties for their spying.

The NOIR concept includes specific ideas for how this could work in real life and the significant benefits for the U.S. defense and intelligence community, becoming a win-win scenario, Charney says.

Charney has submitted his well-thought-out proposal to key decision-makers and a wide swath of people in the defense and intelligence community as well as to other professionals and the general public. He and his associates have developed a very effective website.

In the “About” section of the site, the effort is explained further: "NOIR for USA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and promote to the US Intelligence Community, policymakers and the public the NOIR concepts and ideas which are intended to improve our national security by fixing the problem of insider spies in an innovative way.”

The section also notes, "Dr. Charney is joined in his efforts by former CIA clandestine service officer John Irvin, who is researching, writing and briefing NOIR concepts. Assisting in the marketing and communications is Cindy Kwitchoff, former Program Manager of the CIA’s counterintelligence awareness and training program.”

The NOIR concept clearly seems ready for prime time. But can the powers-that-be in the U.S. government understand and implement the intelligent and insightful recommendations of Charney and his associates?


Although Charney has found that many or most insider spies are motivated by personal psychological stressors and dilemmas, he also recognizes that some are truly motivated by moral and ethical beliefs and perspectives. These are a somewhat different category of insider spies and potential insider spies, he states.

In the recent Newsweek article, an email from 29-year CIA veteran Carlos D. Luria to Charney is noted (reportedly with Luria’s permission). Luria told Charney, “I liked the steps toward reconciliation though I fear that the ‘moralists’ in our dysfunctional Congress will tar and feather you for even suggesting them.”

Luria was referring to the flexibility proposed by Charney regarding the harshness of punishment for insider spies who voluntarily reverse course, turn themselves in and help with a full damage assessment.

Another key point was made by Luria about the motivations of some insider spies. He wrote that the “motivational matrix” contributing to insider spying can sometimes include moral and ethical concerns about U.S. society and the U.S. government.

Luria is quoted in the Newsweek article as explaining that this motivational matrix “as CIA’s case officers know, is a complex one, usually embracing a host of factors, but the one to which I believe your paper gives short shrift is the conscious and deliberate willingness to risk and sacrifice oneself for ideological reasons.”

According to the Newseek article, Luria wrote Charney that, “It is what drove [the Russian moles] Popov, Penkovsky, Tolkachev, Kuklinski and a host of others to volunteer their services to CIA. It was the insufferable disparities of Britain’s social order that motivated Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five [to spy for the Soviet Union]. It was the U.S. carpet bombing of non-strategic North Korean villages that tipped [British double agent] George Blake to volunteer to serve the KGB.”

Luria is also quoted as saying that some U.S. personnel may be disillusioned by “the shameful atrocities of Abu Ghraib” and could be “motivated to work secretly to undermine an unconscionable foreign policy.”

He also notes that, “The joblessness, the ever-growing income disparity, the seemingly reckless excesses of NSA’s intercept programs, the greed of Wall Street and the total paralysis of Congress provide plenty of reasons for disaffection.”

Luria may have a point. The "more perfect union” that our founding fathers aimed for is still a work in progress. 

From the pre- and post-Revolutionary War land-grab from Native Americans and destruction of Native American societies to African-American slavery to multi-ethnic discrimination to exploitation of working Americans and ongoing injustices of many kinds, with millions of Americans (including children and adolescents) living in poverty and hopelessness, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for dissatisfaction with American society.

The Vietnam War era certainly was a wake-up call for many Americans about the serious mistakes our government and military can make. More recently, the invasion of Iraq immediately after the 9/11 events as well as the way that invasion was conducted raised many serious questions and much soul-searching by many patriotic Americans, including those inside the defense and intelligence community.

Moving forward toward “a more perfect union,” two elements of interest may provide insight and give us more ideas about possible solutions: 

1) A concept called “transcendent warfare” put forth in a graduate-level academic research paper by a former Navy SEAL officer and more recently by a U.S. State Department professional

2) The experiences of the World War II U.S. Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion and Military Intelligence Service (MIS) 
 Army units comprised of Japanese-Americans


“Transcendent warfare” refers to the concept proposed by a now-retired SEAL officer in his 2001 graduate paper at the Marine Corps War College, Marine Corps University, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia. The paper was titled “Unconventional Human Intelligence Support: Transcendent and Asymmetric Warfare Implications of Remote Viewing.”

The SEAL officer’s paper explored the discoveries in human consciousness that resulted from research and operational activities in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s and funded by the U.S. defense and intelligence community. After a series of classified code names for the program, it has generally come to be known as Project STAR GATE.

This was leading-edge and forward-leaning research at the time (and still is), much like Charney’s NOIR concept. And, like Charney’s proposals, the nature of human psychology and human consciousness was the key element.

The idea of using advanced consciousness to gather intelligence using methods that came to be known as “remote viewing” was so far-out that many people doubted the validity and usefulness of such an approach. Many people still have trouble accepting the validity of the research findings and operational successes (many of which remain classified).

An updated view of Project STAR GATE activities was presented in a 2010 graduate paper by a U.S. State Department professional. It was titled “Anomalous Human Cognition: A Possible Role within the Crucible of Intelligence Collection.” The paper was submitted as part of academic requirements at the National Defense Intelligence College and was cleared for open publication in 2010 by the Department of Defense Office of Security Review.

These papers and a robust amount of open-source information about remote viewing and Project STAR GATE provide ongoing insight for us about human nature, human consciousness, advanced scientific discoveries and how these and many other puzzle pieces might fit together.

The research from Project STAR GATE appears to be directly applicable to Charney’s NOIR concept. Advanced human consciousness involves getting good intelligence information and then making intelligent decisions.

This is key to Charney’s ideas of reaching out to the defense and intelligence community and U.S. government decision-makers and hoping they will also make intelligent decisions based on the credible intelligence about human psychology that Charney puts forth.


On the challenging issue of the low morale that many Americans sometimes feel about our checkered history as a nation, our leadership in Washington, DC, missteps of our defense and intelligence activities, the functioning of our society and other problems, it might be helpful to look at the experience of a unique group of American patriots during WWII.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, first- and second-generation Japanese-Americans in Hawaii and California faced tough scrutiny by our defense and intelligence community. Were there spies and saboteurs among them? Were they loyal to America or Japan, or torn between the two?

In Hawaii, where Japanese-Americans were well-integrated into the community, there reportedly were fewer attempts to randomly suspect or imprison them. However, in California, in part due to racial prejudice and hate-mongering, patriotic Japanese-American farmers, merchants and professionals, and their families were forced into harsh detention camps for the duration of the war.

Meanwhile, many young men from these families and communities joined the U.S. military, in part to prove their patriotism. Many ended up in the famed and highly-decorated Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion, fighting in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

Others were assigned to a top-secret Army intelligence outfit called the Military Intelligence Service or simply the “MIS.” MIS personnel were sent to the Pacific theater, where they served in nearly all major campaigns and battles including in China and Burma.

MIS personnel were involved in many types of intelligence and counterintelligence activities. These included interrogating prisoners, intercepting and translating radio messages, and translating captured maps and documents.

They infiltrated enemy lines and helped flush out the island caves where Japanese soldiers and civilians hid. They helped convince many Japanese troops to surrender. MIS personnel also were active in psychological operations and information operations.

They did all this while many of their family members were behind barbed-wire fences in detention camps located in harsh and remote environments back in the U.S.

After the war, more than 5,000 MIS personnel worked in Japan during the occupation by the U.S. from 1945 to 1952. They were assigned to the occupation military government in disarmament, intelligence, civil affairs, finance, education and land reform. The MIS also helped develop the Japanese constitution.

The story of the 442nd RCT/100th and the MIS tells us that Americans and others can be conflicted and can have grave concerns about the actions of the U.S. government and its many moving parts at any given time.

And many of these concerns can be very legitimate. Injustices and inappropriate activities by elements of the U.S. government and within American society are very real indeed.

But, the more perfect union awaits us. It may be within our grasp. We must look for it, visualize it, use our perception and situation awareness to see and feel it.

As the retired Navy SEAL officer noted in his research paper when addressing the current issue of unconventional warfare, “The real challenge for the United States is not asymmetric warfare, but rather what this writer calls transcendent warfare, the ability to conceptualize and subsequently actualize an entirely new form of warfare that transcends all previously known models." 

The SEAL is correct. We need to transcend the old models, recognizing and acting on new intelligence obtained from innovative and state-of-the-art research. And this is where Charney’s NOIR concept seems to fit in.


For more information about NOIR, visit their website and read the Newsweek article.

For more information about remote viewing and Project STAR GATE,  read the research paper by the State Department authorthe report by Hal Puthoff, PhD, and visit the International Remote Viewing Association website.

For more information on the 442nd/100th and MIS, visit the Go For Broke National Education Center website.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Heavenly views: Sedona, Arizona, joins ‘Dark Sky’ towns

By Steve Hammons

Sedona, Arizona, just got more beautiful, if that is possible. Sedona is home to the world-famous “red-rock country” of magnificent stone formations and welcoming red earth located in the high-desert of central Arizona.

On Monday, Aug. 4, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) notified the city of Sedona and Keep Sedona Beautiful that Sedona had earned the rare designation as an International Dark Sky Community. There are only six communities in the U.S. who have achieved this designation.

Now, residents and visitors can enjoy the fantastic red-rock beauty during the day and appreciate to a greater degree the nighttime views of the stars and planets, and behold other sights as well.

According to an Aug. 6 news report in the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic newspaper, IDA representative John Barentine said the criteria for earning the Dark Sky Community status are challenging but do-able for many communities.

"We keep the bar set pretty high. That's the reason there aren't thousands of them," Barentine was quoted as saying.

But communities can start looking at the issue of nighttime light pollution and start making changes, he told the Republic. "We think that the solutions are simple, and that first people just have know that there's a problem to address," Barentine said. He added that improving the view of the night skies can be achieved by communities of many sizes.


The Arizona Daily Sun newspaper in Flagstaff, Arizona, noted in an Aug. 7 article that the eight communities worldwide that have achieved the IDA’s Dark Sky Community rating are Flagstaff, Borrego Springs, Calif.; Homer Glenn, Ill.; Beverly Shores, Ind.; Dripping Springs, Texas; Isle of Coll in Scotland; and Isle of Sark in the Channel Islands, UK, and now, Sedona.

The IDA website points out that, “Once a source of wonder – and one half of the entire planet’s natural environment – the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze.”

“Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars; poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the U.S. alone,” the IDA claims.

The Daily Sun article also noted that Flagstaff will be the site of the Dark Skies and Emerging Technology Conference Aug. 18-20. The event “will bring together Southwest dark-sky advocates, municipal and business officials, the outdoor lighting industry and public land managers,” the Daily Sun reported.

“The goals include identifying new lighting technology and evaluating its cost and safety, along with developing a framework for collective dark skies protection across the Southwest,” the article explained.

Night lighting in communities, towns and cities can be used wisely or unwisely, according to the IDA. Their website points out that, “We promote one simple idea: light what you need, when you need it. We know some light at night is necessary for safety and recreation.”

“We work with manufacturers, planners, legislators, and citizens to provide energy-efficient options that direct the light where you want it to go, not uselessly up into the sky.”

"IDA is the recognized authority on light pollution," according to their website. "Founded in 1988, IDA is the first organization to call attention to the hazards of light pollution, and in 24 years of operation our accomplishments have been tremendous.”

“Our approach of public awareness and extensive partnerships is improving nighttime lighting on six continents. IDA acts on numerous issues to create a platform as expansive as the sky itself.”

Sedona’s recent accomplishment in being designated an International Dark Sky Community may have benefits beyond those noted by Sedona community leaders, the IDA and those working to reduce light pollution in the U.S. and worldwide.


The moon, stars, planets, meteors, comets and amazing views of our Milky Way galaxy may not be the only fascinating things in Sedona’s night skies. The area has long been known for interesting and unusual energy phenomena emanating from the red earth and red rock as well as unidentified lights and objects in the region’s skies.

And there could be a connection.

Research has indicated that the Sedona area rests on unique geological formations that include high levels of iron oxide in the region’s sandstone and limestone, combined with volcanic basalt embedded with high quantities of quartz. This combination is believed to affect Earth's natural magnetic energy in the Sedona region. Quartz crystals themselves emit magnetic forces as well.

Additionally, ancient volcanic activity in the Sedona region has created tunnel-like “plugs,” now filled with a different mineral composition, which “tend to produce intense, somewhat ‘circular’ magnetic anomalies,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

In Sedona, "Geologic structures often produce small magnetic fields that 'distort' the main magnetic field of the Earth," according to the USGS.

These geological and magnetic conditions are believed by some people to be the source of the so-called energy “vortexes” in Sedona. Visitors from around the U.S. and around the world come to Sedona to explore and experience these alleged unusual forces which are believed by some to affect human consciousness.

The vortexes may be the outflow and inflow of Earth's natural magnetic energy, changed by the iron oxide and quartz in the region, then emerging through the volcanic plugs and returning to the ground nearby. That's the view of some researchers like electrical engineer Benjamin Lonetree. He has examined Sedona’s geology and its apparent effect on human consciousness.

Could the factors affecting Sedona’s magnetic fields also have traits similar to a natural transistor, transmitter or receiver? Lonetree speculates that this is possible.

If that is the case, other unusual or anomalous sightings in Sedona’s skies could be connected in some way.

One thing seems certain – Sedona residents and visitors looking up into the night sky will have an excellent view of whatever is above, from the glorious cosmos to interesting anomalous lights and objects that we are learning more about.

What better place for such a connection than planet Earth’s newest International Dark Sky Community?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Future of human consciousness involves ‘third eye’ pineal gland?

By Steve Hammons

The pineal gland is a small, pine cone-shaped gland variously reported to be about the size of a grain of rice or a pea, and located in the center of the human brain between the two hemispheres, above and behind the pituitary gland.

It is also referred to as the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri, epiphysis and "third eye." The name “pineal” is derived from the root word “pinea,” Latin for “pine cone.” 
From ancient human history to modern scientific research, the pineal gland is linked with human consciousness, special awareness and perception. It has been explored as part of various spiritual traditions throughout human history.

René Descartes, the French philosopher (1596-1650), called the gland “the seat of the soul” and referenced it in some of his writings.

The gland contains photoreceptor cells and tissue, rods and cones, like those in the eye. And, reportedly, like the eye, it is connected to the brain’s visual cortex.


The pineal is involved in the production of the hormone melatonin, a chemical that responds to, and regulates our responses to light and darkness, the seasons and sleep patterns. The gland is also associated with the production of the important neurotransmitter serotonin.

Other species of animals also have a parallel gland. The pineal gland contains magnetite, the magnetic material found in birds and other animals that is believed to be associated with navigation. The pineal appears to be possibly or partially inactive or dormant in other species too, like it is in many or most humans.

The so-called “opening of the third eye,” or increased activation of the pineal, is associated with an alleged neurological phenomena often called “the rising of the kundalini” in the Yoga tradition. 

This process is suspected to be the manifestation of some type of cohesive energy that integrates and rises within and around the spinal cord and in the brain and human consciousness. It apparently involves some type of sub-neurological quantum energy.

Medical researcher Rick Strassman, MD, of the University of New Mexico, has conducted research suggesting to him that the pineal gland may be associated with the neurotransmitter dimethyltryptamine (DMT), nicknamed “the spirit molecule.” The pineal is also associated with other neurotransmitter chemicals linked to certain types and levels of consciousness.

In addition, the gland is believed to be connected with aging. The pineal goes through phases of transition in childhood, puberty and adult aging. The pineal may become less active as we age.

The accumulation of certain chemicals in the body and other factors in our modern environment might also play a role in diminishing the healthy functioning of the gland, some researchers claim. However, there are theories about how healthy activity of the pineal gland can be restored.

Various forms of meditation, Yoga, health practices and other innovative approaches are reported to help activate the pineal gland. Many people believe that these kinds of activities assisting with the stimulation of the pineal help people perceive and tap into spiritual and quantum dimensions and realities. General psychological, emotional and physical health might also be improved. 

During the opening of the third eye a number of cascading physiological, neurological, biochemical, psychological and emotional effects may occur, according to some researchers.

The process may occur sporadically and intermittently, and it may have components that are disorienting, confusing or even upsetting to the person experiencing them.

At the same time, many of these effects may be quite pleasant or even blissful, giving the experiencer the feeling of connectedness and wholeness with larger spiritual realities that can reportedly be very comforting and insightful.

What each of us has become accustomed to as our “normal” consciousness might be changed in significant ways by the activation of the pineal gland and the kundalini process.

If increased healthy activity of the pineal gland were to occur within the human population at a more robust rate and scope, and effective perception of spiritual and quantum realities also increased as a result, human evolution could take a leap forward.

Such a development might be helpful in getting us to, and past an important tipping point in the development of our species.