Harold E. Puthoff

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Harold E. Puthoff
Born (1936-06-20) 20 June 1936 (age 80)
Nationality American
Occupation Physicist and parapsychologist
Known for Gravitational and paranormal research

Harold E. Puthoff (born June 20, 1936) is an American physicist and parapsychologist.[1]


In 1967, Puthoff earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.[1][2][3] Puthoff has published his papers on polarizable vacuum (PV) and stochastic electrodynamics topics, which are examples of alternative approaches to general relativity and quantum mechanics. In the 70s and 80s he directed a CIA/DIA-funded program at SRI International to investigate paranormal abilities, collaborating with Russell Targ in a study of the purported psychic abilities of Uri Geller, Ingo Swann, Pat Price, Joseph McMoneagle and others, as part of the Stargate Project. Both Puthoff and Russell Targ became convinced Geller and Swann had genuine psychic powers.[4] However, magicians and skeptics have claimed Geller employed sleight of hand tricks.[5] Puthoff has invented and worked with tunable lasers and electron beam devices, concerning which he holds patents, and he is co-author (with R. Pantell) of Fundamentals of Quantum Electronics (Wiley, 1969), published in English, French, Russian and Chinese. In 1985, Puthoff founded a for-profit company, EarthTech International in Austin, TX. At about the same time, he founded an academically-oriented scientific research organization, Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin (IASA), also in Austin, TX, where he is Director.[6] Independent of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, IASA pursues more focused research on topics specifically related to energy generation and space propulsion, with funding from anonymous donors.

Currently, Puthoff is the CEO of a privately funded research organization called EarthTech International, Inc. This organization is dedicated to the exploration of new frontiers in the physics of spaceflight energy and propulsion. The activities of EarthTech primarily center around investigations into various aspects of the zero-point energy. Among its technical activities EarthTech evaluates claims of devices (so called "over-unity" devices) that are said to release more energy, presumably extracted from the ambient Zero Point electromagnetic field, low-energy nuclear reactions, or some other source, than they consume from conventional power sources.[7]

Puthoff and Earth Tech were granted a US Patent 5,845,220[8] in 1998 after five years delay. The claims were disputed that information could be transmitted through a distance using a modulated potential with no electric or magnetic field components. The case is used for educational purposes in patent law[9] as an example of a valid patent where "The lesson of the Puthoff patent is that in a world where both types of patents are more and more common, even a competent examiner may fail to distinguish innovation from pseudoscience."


Puthoff took an interest in the Church of Scientology in the late 1960s and reached what was then the top OT VII level by 1971.[3] Puthoff wrote up his "wins" for a Scientology publication, claiming to have achieved "remote viewing" abilities.[10] In 1974, Puthoff also wrote a piece for Scientology's Celebrity magazine, stating that Scientology had given him "a feeling of absolute fearlessness".[11] Puthoff claimed to have severed all connection with Scientology in the late 1970s.[12]


Uri Geller was studied by Russell Targ and Puthoff at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Targ and Puthoff declared to have demonstrated that Geller had genuine psychic powers, though some speculated that there might have been flaws with the controls in the experiments and Geller was caught using sleight of hand on many other occasions.[13][14] According to self-proclaimed skeptic Terence Hines:

Geller turned out to be nothing more than a magician using sleight of hand and considerable personal charm to fool his admirers. The tests at SRI turned out to have been run under conditions that can best be described as chaotic. Few limits were placed on Geller’s behavior, and he was more or less in control of the procedures used to test him. Further, the results of the tests were incorrectly reported in Targ and Puthoff’s Nature paper.[15]

The psychologists David Marks and Richard Kammann attempted to replicate Targ and Puthoff’s remote viewing experiments. In a series of thirty-five studies, they were unable to replicate the results so investigated the procedure of the original experiments. Marks and Kammann claim to have discovered that the notes given to the judges in Targ and Puthoff's experiments contained clues as to which order they were carried out, such as referring to yesterday's two targets, or they had the date of the session written at the top of the page. They concluded that these clues were the reason for the experiment's high hit rates.[16][17] Terence Hines has written:

Examination of the few actual transcripts published by Targ and Puthoff show that just such clues were present. To find out if the unpublished transcripts contained cues, Marks and Kammann wrote to Targ and Puthoff requesting copies. It is almost unheard of for a scientist to refuse to provide his data for independent examination when asked, but Targ and Puthoff consistently refused to allow Marks and Kammann to see copies of the transcripts. Marks and Kammann were, however, able to obtain copies of the transcripts from the judge who used them. The transcripts were found to contain a wealth of cues.[18]

According to Marks, when the cues were eliminated the results fell to a chance level.[19] James Randi has written controlled tests by several other researchers, eliminating several sources of cuing and extraneous evidence present in the original tests, produced negative results. Students were also able to solve Puthoff and Targ's locations from the clues that had inadvertently been included in the transcripts.[20]

Marks and Kamman concluded: "Until remote viewing can be confirmed in conditions which prevent sensory cueing the conclusions of Targ and Puthoff remain an unsubstantiated hypothesis."[21] Substantiation was soon in coming in a series of experiments carried out by the Dean of Engineering Robert Jahn and co-workers at Princeton University and published in the Proc. IEEE (1982).


  • Pantell, Richard H.; Puthoff, H. E. (1969). Fundamentals of Quantum Electronics. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-65790-5. 
  • H. E. Puthoff, CIA-Initiated Remote Viewing At Stanford Research Institute, 1996, from Biomind Superpowers, the website of Ingo Swann, also said to be an ex-employee of Project SCANATE.
  • Puthoff, H. E. (2002). "Searching for the Universal Matrix in Metaphysics". Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology. 2: 22. 
  • Puthoff, H. E. (2002). "Polarizable Vacuum (PV) Approach to General Relativity". Foundations of Physics. 32 (6): 927–943. doi:10.1023/A:1016011413407.  arXiv eprint
  • Puthoff, H. E.; and Little, S. R. "Engineering the Zero-Point Field and Polarizable Vacuum for Interstellar Flight".arXiv eprint


  1. ^ a b Gale Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology: Harold E. Puthoff
  2. ^ Jack David, Michael Park. (1978). Playback: Canadian Selections. McClelland and Stewart. p. 68. "Hal Puthoff, has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He worked for the Naval Security Group in Washington and then for the National Security Agency."
  3. ^ a b Hugh Urban. (2013). The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton University Press. p. 113. "A physicist with a PhD from Stanford University, Harold Puthoff joined Scientology in the late 1960s and quickly advanced to the OT VII level by 1971."
  4. ^ Russell Targ, Harold Puthoff. (2005). Mind-Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Abilities. Hampton Roads Publishing Company.
  5. ^ Ben Harris. (1985). Gellerism Revealed: The Psychology and Methodology Behind the Geller Effect. Calgary: Micky Hades International.
  6. ^ Harold Puthoff at the Parapsychological Association
  7. ^ EarthTech International
  8. ^ "Patent US5,845,220". European Patent Office. US Patent Office. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  9. ^ DANIEL C., RISLOVE. "(Page 1304) A CASE STUDY OF INOPERABLE INVENTIONS: WHY IS" (PDF). University of Wisconsin Law School. University of Wisconsin Law School. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Puthoff, Hal, Success Story, Scientology Advanced Org Los Angeles (AOLA) special publication, 1971.
  11. ^ Celebrity magazine, Minor Issue 9, February 1974.
  12. ^ Harold Puthoff, "Harold Puthoff Responds on Zero-Point Energy," Skeptical Inquirer, September/October1998.
  13. ^ James Randi. (1982). The Truth about Uri Geller. Prometheus Books.
  14. ^ Charles M. Wynn, Arthur W. Wiggins. (2001). Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction: Where Real Science Ends...and Pseudoscience Begins. Joseph Henry Press. p. 163. "In reality, however, Geller, an experienced magician and showman, simply bends the objects when no one is watching. But, you may argue, millions of people were watching him on TV! Geller is a master at an essential tool of the magician: misdirection or distracting peoples' attention. He is quite good at projecting an air of innocence that belies his actions. That he can fool so many people is a tribute to slight-of-hand artistry, not psychic power."
  15. ^ Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 126
  16. ^ David Marks, Richard Kammann. (1978). Information transmission in remote viewing experiments. Nature 274: 680–81.
  17. ^ David Marks. (1981). Sensory cues invalidate remote viewing experiments. Nature 292: 177.
  18. ^ Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 135
  19. ^ David Marks, Richard Kammann. (1980). The Psychology of the Psychic. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1573927987
  20. ^ James Randi. (1997). "Remote viewing" in An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. St. Martin's Griffin.
  21. ^ C. E. M. Hansel. (1980). ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Reevaluation. Prometheus Books. p. 293

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