the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) Vol.13

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======================================================================== Excerpted from the Fall 1988 "Skeptical Inquirer" - the Journal of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) Vol.13, No.1 To subscribe, call toll free 1-800-634-1 610========================================================================By Martin Gardner:NOTES OF A FRINGE-WATCHER - Reich the Rainmaker : The Orgone Obsession OF THE MANY fringe psychotherapies that flourished in the fifties, the two most bizarre were each foun ded by a paranoid egotist who had not the foggiest understanding of scientific method or even of the fields in which he cl aimed revolutionary discoveries. One was Scientology, the other was orgonomy. Orgone energy - an energy no physicist outside orgonomy circles has detected - was "discovered" by Wilhelm Reich (1897-1956), who began his tragic career an an Austrian associate of Freud. After being expelled from the German Communist Party, and later from the International Psychoanalytic Associ ation, Reich eventually settled in the United States, where he established a "laboratory" at Rangeley, Maine. Reich first discov ered orgone energy in living things, hence its name, but he soon became convinced that it was a primeval force responsible for t he evolution of the universe, for gravity, for life, and for the energy released in sexual orgasms. He announced that he had cre ated living cells from inorganic matter and that cancer cells are actually protozoa that "have a tail and move in the manner of fish." Orgone energy, he insisted, made the sky blue and caused stars to twinkle, as if physicists hadn't long understood such p henomena. Reich's main therapeutic tool was what he called an "orgone accumulator." It is a box about the size of a phone boo th, its walls made of alternating layers of metal and organic material. (One is on display in St. Louis's National Museum of Qua ckery.) There are no electrical connections. You sit inside to soak up orgone energy that accumulates inside the box like heat i n a greenhouse. The concentrated orgone is said to relieve symptoms of almost every illness from cancer to impotence. Smaller mo dels, such as the shooter box, the orgone blanket, and the orgone funnel, apply orgone to ailing body parts. Thousands of intelligent people with only a dim knowledge of science - including writers, artists, actors, educators, even philosophers - sat inside orgone boxes and believed they were enormously benefitted. The comic Orson Bean sang the praises of orgonomy in his b ook "Me and the Orgone." "WR: Mysteries of the Organism" was a comic film about orgonomy by Yugoslav filmmaker Dusan Makavejev, who had earlier been enamoured of Reich's ability to stir together psychoanalysis and Marxism. Unable to get published in mai nstream journals, Reich came more and more to resemble a movie version of the mad scientist. He likened himself to such martyrs as Socrates, Bruno, Galileo, and Jesus. Soon he was discovering that orgone had a destructive side he called "DOR," an acronym f or Deadly Orgone Energy. To dispel the DOR that accumulated in the atmosphere, Reich invented what he called a "cloudbuster"(Not e: See the now rare Donald Sutherland Video with that British Singer - Tom Mickus). It consisted of long parallel pipes, their e mpty interiors "grounded" by hollow cables to a source of flowing water. Like a lightening rod, the machine was supposed to draw DOR from the sky. To his amazement, Reich found that his machine would also condense clouds and produce rain. "One may create c louds in the cloud-free sky in a certain manner by disturbing the eveness in the distribution of the atmospheric orgone energy.. .The more clouds that are present and the heavier the clouds, the easier it is to induce growth of clouds and finally rain" (Sel ected Writings, p.444). This was topped by a still more sensational discovery. Reich observed that when his cloudburster was operating it attracted EA's. EA stood for Energy Alpha, Reich's term for a UFO. (Reich was fond of acronyms like HIG for Hoodlum s in Government, EPPO for Emotional Plague Prevention Office, and dozens of others.) EA's are propelled by orgone motors that gi ve off vast quantities of DOR. At first Reich thought this was an innocent by-product of spaceships, but soon became convinced t hat evil aliens were spying on him and intentionally damaging the area. Fortunately his cloudbuster drained the DOR from their m otors, forcing the EA's to flee. In 1954, when Reich banished his first EA, he recorded the great event in his notebook : "Tonight for the first time in the history of man, the war waged for ages by living beings from outer space upon this earth... was reciprocated...with positive results." The battle took place in Arizona. Here is how Reich's son Peter described it in A Boo k of Dreams, a touching biography of his father: I was just about to go back downstairs when I saw it, hovering in the south. I watched it for a minute. It pulsated and glowed. Then I ran to get daddy. He was sitting in his work room at a long desk writing in one of his red ledger books. "Daddy, I spotted one. In the east. It looks pretty big." [Peter went to summon Reich's daughter, Eva, and her husband, Bill.] Bill pulled out his binoculars. "Boy, it sure i s something," he said, handing the glasses to Eva. She looked for a while and said, "I knew it wou ld come ." Daddy took off his hat and pushed his hand through his long silvery hair. "I wish I knew if this was an attack or if they were just observing the Earth." * * * I moved the cloudbuster slowly from one side of the EA to th e other. I let it draw on the right side for a while and then dipped it slowly like a baby's cradl e on a yo-yo and rubbed back and forth at the sky beneath it before coming back up to the other side. I let the cloudbuster orunize on either side... "Why its gone!" Bill s aid... Daddy said, "That was very good Peeps, very good. You are a real good little soldier because you have discovered a new way to disable EA's. I am very proud of you." Reich's las t and craziest book, "Contact with Space", was published posthumously in a limited edition and is now extremely rare. It tells o f his efforts to save the world from the CORE (Cosmic Orgone Energy) men, Reich's term for the aliens from space. "On March 20, 1956, 10 P.M." the book opens, "a thought of a very remote possibility entered my mind, which I fear will never leave me again. Am I a spaceman? Do I belong to a new race on earth, bred by men from outer space in embraces with earth women?" What inspired t his thought? It was seeing the science-fiction film "The Day the Earth Stood Still", about a spaceman who comes to Earth in a flying saucer to save us from self-destruction in a nuclear war. "All through the film," Reich says, "I had a distinct impre ssion that it was a bit of "my story" which was depicted there, even the actor's expressions and looks reminded me and others of myself as I had appeared 15 to 20 years ago." In 1956 the Food and Drug Administration, convinced that orgone boxes were dam aging the health of gullible people by keeping them from needed medical care, ordered Reich to stop shipping them across state l ines. Reich defied the injunction and was hauled off to court, where he served as his own attorney. The court proceedings sketch a tragic picture of a man seriously ill with delusions of grandeur and persecution. Sentenced to jail for two years and fined $ 10,000, Reich entered Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary persuaded that President Eisenhower, whom he greatly admired, knew of his g enuis and would pardon him. Reich died in prison of a heart attack, at the age of 60, a few weeks before he was to be released. To the end he believed his persecution was a conspiracy by a group of "red fascists" inside the FDA who were trying to steal for Russia the secret Y factor he claimed was necessary to operate another of is inventions, a motor that ran on orgone energy. One might have thought that today's orgonomists (science cults never die, they just slowly fade after the death of their c harismatic gurus) would confine themselves to Reich's youthful contributions to psychoanalysis, which are reasonably sane and st ill greatly admired by many psychiatrists, but no - most of them buy it all. Almost all of Reich's books, including some of the funniest (unconsciously funny, of course, because Reich had no sense of humour), are back in print by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux , and a raft of books have been written about him. The worst is by Colin Wilson, England's intrepid journalist of all things occ ult. The most reliable biography is "Fury on Earth" (1983) by Myron Sharaf, whose own wife had an affair with Reich. As Reich's third wife, Ilse Ollendorff, discloses in her canid biography, Reich was intensely jealour of her, while insisting on the Victor ian freedom to have sexual romps of his own. In 1967 the remnant faithful founded the semi-annual "Journal of Orgonomy" , and a year later, the American College of Orgonomy. In 1987 the new "college" moved its headquarters from Manhattan to Princet on, New Jersey. Patricia Humphrey, wife of conservative Republican Senator Gordon Humphrey from New Hampshire, was chairperson o f a committee that raised $2.5 million for a college building and is now conducting a drive for an additional $3 million. The most active rainmaker associated with the college is Dr. V. James DeMeo, Jr. He got his B.S. degree from Florida Internat ional University, Miami, in 1975, and his master's in 1979 from thje University of Kansas, Lawrence. His thesis (available from Ann Arbor's University Microfilms, ID number 13-13336) is titled "Preliminary Analysis of Changes in Kansas Weather Coincidental to Experimental Operation with a Reichian Cloudbuster." His Ph.D. thesis (University of Kansas, 1986) is "On the Origin and Dif fusion of Patrism: The Saharian Connection." Formerly an assistant professor of geology and geography at Illinois State Universi ty, Bloomington, he is now assistant professor of geography at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls. DeMeo's cl oudbuster, which he calls "Icarus," consists of ten parallel aluminum pipes, 3 inches in diameter and 18 feet long. The space in side the pipes is, as Reich specified, "grounded" by empty tubes to a source of nonstagnant water. When not in use, the lower en ds of the tubes are stoppered and taken out of the water. The pipes can be raised, lowered, and swiveled by electrical controls to point at any spot in the sky. In an interview in Bloomington's Daily "Pantagraph" (August 9,1983), DeMeo explained that water grounding was necessary because of a not-yet-understood property of water that relates it to air pressure and magnetism: "For e xample, when you soak in a tub of hot water, the water draws tensions from your body." In analogous fashion, the water alters th e atmostphere's "tension parameter." To cause rain, the pipes are aimed not at the clouds but at nearby areas to relieve t he "tensions" that prevent the clouds from releasing rain. "Every phase of Reich's orgone theory was derived experimentally," DeMeo wrote in reply to angry letters in the Pantagraph. He accuses his critics of the same prejudice that persecuted Galileo a nd that provokes "otherwise calm and rational people into fits of irrational rage." In a "National Enquirer" article that som eone sent me undated, DeMeo put it this way: "The theory is simple enough. The atmosphere stagnates into deadly orgone and my ma chine simply conducts energy from the stagnant area." He claimed 13 rainmaking successes out of 15 attempts. When the machine is on, birds tend to flock around it, and to fly away when it's off. Cumulus clouds of moderate size dissipate when the pipe s of Icarus are pointed toward them, but they grow larger when the pipes are aimed to one side. In 1987, at the Arid Lands Co nference in El Paso, Texas, DeMeo gave a paper on "A Cloudbursting Expedition into the Southeast Drought Zone, August 1986." Fun ded by the American College of Orgonomy, DeMeo and his associate Robert Morris, a Reichian therapist, took two cloudbusters into Georgia and South Carolina to relieve a major dry spell. From August 6 through 12 they moved the machines from place to place, at 13 different sites. DeMeo claims huge success in triggering rain. The cloudbusters operated poorly, however, in "areas where nuclear plants were located....In those cases the orgone continuum around the cloudbuster became over-exercised, eliciting a mild to severe oranur reaction" that made everybody feel "uneasy." ORANUR was Reich's acronym for Orgonomic Anti-Nuclear Radi ation. DeMeo and Morris identify themselves as co-directors of Rainworks, and of the Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory. DeMeo is tireless in traveling around the country giving profitable lectures and weekend workshops on orgone biophysics. He also makes and sells a variety of devices, such as the orgonotester ($1,500) and a pendulum that oscillates with orgone energ y ($150). At the close of his El Paso lecture he thanked Fred Westphal for his help. Westphal is a philosopher at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, and the author of two philosophy textbooks published by Prentice-Hall. There are rival Reichian grou ps. Courtney Baker, M.D., son of the founder of the American College of Orgonomy, heads the Institute for Orgonomic Science, whi ch issues an annual periodical. Lois Wyvell, former editor of the college's journal, now publishes her own quarterly, "Offshoots of Orgonomy". Jerome Eden, in Carrywood, Idaho, issues a newsletter, heavily UFO oriented, from his Center for Orgonomic Education. These and other splinter groups are sharply hostile toward one another, and toward Mary Higgins, administrator of the Reich Infant Trust Fund, which owns and operates the Reichian Museum, in Rangeley. Eva Reich has unsuccessfully sued the fund f or access to her father's papers, and Higgins has repeatedly sued Reichian groups for copyright infringements. Lore, Reich's oth er daughter by his first wife, is an orthodox Freudian analyst in Pittsburgh, with no interest in orgonomy. When Reich first observed that heat inside his orgone box rose above room temperature, he wrote to Einstein asking for a meeting to discuss this discovery. They met in 1941. Later Einstein wrote to Reich that the temperature does indeed rise, but there is a simpler e xplanation than concentrated orgone. Reich called this the "Einstein affair." Poor Einstein! In Reich's eyes he lacked the visio n to see the discovery of orgone as ushering in a new Copernician Revolution, and one that would save our planet from the twin d angers of a nuclear holocaust and an attack by extraterrestrials.===================================================================== ===Source: THE CRUCIBLE 416-244-9999 - 24Hrs - 12/24/9600 Baud================================================================= =======

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