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Price, Pat

Category: Magician

Pat Price -left- and Hal Putoff, 1974

Pat Price was a ‘remote viewer’ who worked for the Stanford research Institute in the 1970s. There is little reliable information I could find about him. 

He is said to have “died suddenly and mysteriously in 1975” allegedly due to “a Soviet assassination”.  There are all sorts of other conspiracy theories surrounding his death. 

But the reality may be a bit more prosaic as Price does appear to have had extremely serious heart disease.  In July 1975, in the midst of a lengthy CIA remote-viewing project relating to a suspected Libyan terrorism facility, Price died of an ‘apparent heart attack’ while visiting Las Vegas. Price had a history of heart disease and unhealthy living – “he smoked, and his breakfasts were Pop Tarts and Coca Cola,” according to Puthoff.

Here is a folksy biography which may or may not be true.

Price was a fellow in his fifties who just sort of turned up in SRI’s fledgling remote viewing research program in the spring of 1973.  He had been a gold-prospector in Alaska, a Christmas tree salesman, a building contractor, and somehow a town councilman in Burbank, California.  If you hadn’t known him well, you might have thought of the gray-haired, grizzled-looking Price as the down-to-earth type.  But beneath his regular-guy exterior beat the heart of a shaman.  He believed that he could evaporate clouds, and make red stoplights turn green.  At night in bed, he claimed, he could close his eyes and drift above the oceans of the world, spotting the dark shapes of submarines beneath the waves”. 

So perhaps he was a shaman.  But maybe and more likely a magician.   Some more…..

“At the time, Puthoff and his SRI colleague Russell Targ were running a tiny ($50,000) pilot project for a technically oriented office within the CIA.  Other offices at the Agency were potentially interested, and the big question was whether remote viewing had a useful espionage application.  SRI’s chief psychic subject Ingo Swann had come up with an early remote viewing technique that involved prompting a psychic with a target’s geographical coordinates.  From a scientific standpoint, this was obviously problematic, because it involved the leakage of target-related information, but the CIA didn’t necessarily care about that if they could get something that robustly worked.

On this occasion, so the story goes, a CIA officer gave Puthoff coordinates of another CIA officer’s vacation cabin in West Virginia.  Puthoff, who didn’t know what was at the coordinates, asked both Swann and Price to describe what was there.  Both men sketched out something totally un-cabin-like – essentially a military base of some kind.  Price’s “viewing” generated particularly detailed verbal descriptions:  “…large underground storage areas….  Looks like former missile site …  Personnel, Army Signal Corps…  Folders inside cabinet labelled:  Cueball, 14 Ball, 8 Ball, Rackup …”

The two psychics’ descriptions corresponded closely to a secret National Security Agency facility, tucked into the hills a few miles away from the vacation cabin.  But it was the detailed verbal descriptions provided by Price that really got people’s attention — and set off a security investigation.  Ken Kress, a young CIA officer helping to monitor the work at SRI, would later write in an official memorandum that “Price, who had no military or intelligence background, provided a list of project titles associated with current and past activities including one of extreme sensitivity.  Also, the codename of the site was provided.  Other information concerning the physical layout of the site was accurate.”

It does not appear to have occurred to anyone that Price was actually a very good medium capable of using bridges.  The reason he saw the secret facility was probably because the CIA agent was there and Price had been able to hop between the researcher’s composer and the CIA agent’s composer – all it needs is a handshake or a kiss [though I don’t suppose it was a kiss on this occasion – who knows].

After this, Price was formally included in the SRI research program, and contributed some remote viewing experiments that were later reported in Nature.  But for operational remote viewing, he soon began dealing directly with the CIA.  One of the Agency officers who worked with him was rather shaken after Price’s performances, saying he was “extraordinarily accurate, unbelievably accurate.”  Mediums often are.

A few years later, the Price story became even more complicated, after the FBI raided the Los Angeles office of the Church of Scientology.  Among the documents they found were records of briefings that Price, a Church member, had routinely given to a senior Scientology official about his SRI and CIA activities.  These included descriptions of highly classified operations and the names of undercover Agency personnel that Price had agreed, in his CIA and SRI contracts, to keep secret. 

Hal Puthoff, who was informed of all this by government officials in the late 1970s, described it as “the biggest betrayal I have ever experienced.”  But we also need to bear in mind that Puthoff and Swann had once been Scientologists – though both soon became ex-Scientologists – and it was through the Scientology connection that Price had first entered the picture. 

The FBI’s raid on the Scientology offices had been part of a lengthy investigation – eventually resulting in plea deals and jail terms – that concerned the Church’s alleged infiltration of U.S. government offices and theft of documents.  So Price was a sort of spy.

So we have the rather intriguing prospect of a medium employed by a research group to spy on behalf of the Scientologists by pretending he could remote view, when what he could actually do was read minds and all he needed was access to those minds to get the necessary information.

Nearly all Price’s remote viewing sessions had been done with CIA and/or SRI officials present from start to finish.

I think Ken Kress is probably closest to the truth when he says that he was “moved to wonder”, in a remarkable but rather obscure essay that appeared in 1999, “whether Price’s initial remote viewing of the NSA site in 1973 had been merely a dangle, that is, real information supplied by others so that a psychic double agent ingratiates themselves and achieves a penetration which eventually returns even more important information to his handlers?”

At one time, Kress had been criticized by skeptics within the CIA for his enthusiasm about Price and the SRI effort.  By the time of his 1999 essay, he had been away from psi research, and writing of Price’s treachery for years, and his enthusiasm about remote viewing had largely drained away.  He described himself as a “skeptical agnostic,” and concluded that the most real and remarkable talent of psychics such as Price was their ability “to instill the belief in unexplained capabilities” in the unwary.

Price was a medium and a clever one. But he needed a bridge and the CIA and FBI gave him one.

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