8 Bizarre Military Investigations Into the Paranormal  

Chad Glapion
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Governments all over the world attempt to gain whatever military advantage they can. Sometimes, these attempts even draw governments into the world of the strange and unknown. This list will delve into times the military investigated the paranormal for use in warfare.

Though some cases are bolstered only by rumors or anecdotal evidence, others include documented proof, and even admissions from the militaries themselves. At times, governments were simply acting at the behest of citizen requests; at other times, investigation of the paranormal seemed like the best way to stay ahead of foreign threats. Regardless of the reasons, this list will demonstrate military involvement with some very strange events.

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Both the US and the USSR May Have Investigated Psychic Weapons
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ESP, or extrasensory perception, is an umbrella term that applies to using remote viewing, telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis, and a host of other psychic abilities. 

Reports of government investigations into ESP go back to at least the 1970s. According to sources cited in the New York Times, in 1977, "President Carter ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct a high-level review of psychic research behind the Iron Curtain in an attempt to assess a possible Soviet threat."

This report showed that the Soviet Union was, in fact, researching ESP. Determined not to lose in the psychic arms war, the CIA decided to begin their own research on psychic abilities under Project Stargate. (This project was the basis for the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats.) 

According to several reports and interviews with ex-Pentagon officials, the Pentagon spent roughly $20 million dollars on ESP research from 1972 until the mid-nineties, though the Pentagon denies this claim.

In his book The Mind Race, physicist Dr. Russell Targ claims he worked on a decade-long, ''multimillion-dollar'' program researching "remote viewing" for the Defense Department, trying to discover if some individuals can "see" things happening thousands of miles away - with some success, he claims. Other scientists claim to have worked with the Pentagon on developing psychic abilities to "see" the secret locations of missiles. 

Project Blue Book Investigated More Than 12,000 UFO Sightings Over 18 Years
Project Blue Book Investigated... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 8 Bizarre Military Investigations Into the Paranormal
Photo: George Stock/CIA/via Wikipedia

Project Blue Book was the longest-running government investigation into UFO phenomena, in operation from 1952 to 1970.

In June 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine flying objects while flying over Mount Rainier in Washington state. A multitude of later reports caused the US government to begin Project Sign. However, one year later, they produced only a single inconclusive report. Project Grudge followed, but was similarly short-lived.

Dissatisfied with their previous efforts, top military officials and physicists formed a panel tasked with investigating UFO phenomena. Officials called this new investigation Project Blue Book (named after the blue booklets used for exams in some colleges and universities, supposedly to indicate the seriousness with which the military was finally taking this mission).

From 1942 to 1969, Project Blue Book investigated over 12,000 UFO cases. Many of the projects findings are available online. In the end, the controversial Condon Report concluded that there was nothing unnatural about any of the UFO sightings they had studied - they were all either misidentification of conventional objects (airplanes, clouds, stars), hallucinations, or hoaxes.

The FBI Investigated Thousands of Cattle Mutilations and Declared Some Still Unsolved
Cattle Mutilations is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 8 Bizarre Military Investigations Into the Paranormal
Photo: meghcham1/flickr/CC-BY-ND 2.0

The FBI became involved in investigating cattle mutilations - or “bovine excision," as it's also called. Farmers and ranchers across America found cattle cut with surgeon-like precision just hours, or even minutes, after they were seen alive. There were no signs of predators, the animals were reportedly drained of blood, no footprints were found at the scene, and the animal’s sexual organs were often removed.

Some argued that natural predators, parasites, and other environmental factors were to blame. Others suggested more outlandish explanations, from aliens to cryptids to Satanic cult rituals. 

In 1979, the FBI launched Operation Animal Mutilation, investigating thousands of cases of "unexplained livestock death" (including 8,000 cases in Colorado alone).

The final FBI report concluded that most of the mutilations were the result of predators, but conceded that some cases still defied explanation.

The UK Ministry of Defense Spent Thousands Trying to Train Psychics in Remote Viewing
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Shortly after 9/11, the British government began research into psychic abilities. Officials believed that abilities like remote viewing could prove useful in defense of the country.

The Ministry of Defense reached out to 12 professional psychics. However, these seasoned veterans declined to participate in the study. In their place, the MoD hired a group of volunteers.

The first round of the study was simple. The rookie psychics were tasked with figuring out the contents of sealed envelopes by staring at them. 28 percent of the time, the psychics came out on top, though one participant reportedly psychic-ed himself to sleep.

Once the initial reports came in, officials decided that remote viewing would not aid defense. After news of the investigation came to light, many UK taxpayers were none too happy learning around 18,000 GBP had been used to fund this research.