Interview: John C. Lilly, M.D. (Part 1)

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“YOUR GOD ISN’T BIG ENOUGH:”
An Interview with John C. Lilly

By MALCOLM J. BRENNER, FUTURE LIFE #20, August 1980

John Cunningham Lilly is that rare breed of scientist willing to talk openly about his belief in God—or, more precisely, his belief in his mind’s ability to simulate God with a reasonable degree of accuracy. An M.D. with psychiatric training, Lilly is best known for his sometimes controversial research on interspecies communications with bottlenose dolphins, a study he’s pursued for over 25 years (Man and Dolphin, Mind of the Dolphin, Lilly on Dolphins, Communication Between Man and Dolphin).

A self-described “permissionary” possessed of a sometimes dangerously insatiable curiosity about the workings of the human mind, Lilly has also immersed himself in sensory isolation tanks (Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, The Deep Self), experimented with hallucinogens and Sufi mysticism (Center of the Cyclone), deep dyadic relationships (The Dyadic Cyclone with Antoinette Lilly), and explored the fringes of his own consciousness in The Scientist, a “novel autobiography. ” With Antoinette Oshman Lilly, his wife, partner and “soulmate,” he has started the Human-Dolphin Foundation headquartered in Malibu, CA.

Lilly is currently conducting tests at a California oceanarium on a new computer program designed to overcome the difficulties of human-dolphin communication, Project JANUS (Joint Analog-Numerical Understanding System). Dr. Lilly was interviewed during the Second Annual Mind Miraculous Symposium of the Church of Religious Science in Seattle.

MB: How did the sensory isolation tank work you did at the National Institute of Mental Health in the early ’50s lead you to the dolphins?
JL: I began that work at the National Institute of Mental Health, just wondering what would happen if you freed yourself up from a lot of external stimulation, and lowered all the inputs to the lowest possible level; what would happen to your mind under those conditions? It was just curiosity, just that sort of extracurricular activity one does in one’s general research; they didn’t even know I was doing it on my own time. I was working on monkey brains, and I’d go off to the tank and come back to the lab with a different perspective.

When they got wind of this, they asked me to get deeper into it. I was floating around in the tank in 1954 and started wondering about these things. I was beginning to find that my freedom of thinking was immensely increased, freed up from the necessity of temperature and gravity and light and sound and all that. There was this huge freedom of imagination, of experiencing things inside, which isn’t there any other way that I know of. And I was just wondering whether there wasn’t somebody floating around 24 hours a day their whole life who might be experiencing this all the time, and who would consider it absolutely normal.

So I began to talk to various people about dolphins, Pete Scholander and various others, and got interested. And then the brain thing came in, looking at their brains, seeing if the substrate for mind was there. And it was.
MB: When you were doing that early tank work, did you have any of the type of apparent “contact” experiences with other civilizations or creatures from other planets or dolphins you wrote about in Center of the Cyclone?
JL: No, there was a period there from ’54 to ’58, when I left NIMH, where the dolphin work and the tank work were overlapping. I began to see that the dimensions of mind were far greater than I’d been assuming they were, and were assumed by psychiatrists and psychologists. And I didn’t own up to it at the time it was happening. I didn’t own up to it until I was free to set up a tank in the Virgin Islands without all this government support and financing.

In fact, none of the tank work was ever directly supported by government grants; it was all done extra-curricularly. And I didn’t realize how important it was until I began to see how my thinking was changing as a consequence of these experiences, and the kind of vastness of the whole business. The mysteries of the mind… I was really immersed in them. And I began to see that the dolphin mind was probably far greater than our consensus reality allowed our minds to be. That’s why I want to communicate.
MB: In the early ’60s, you got a lot of publicity from media like Life and Newsweek, and there was a big surge of interest in the possibility of interspecies communications with dolphins. Did that make your work more difficult? Did it make other scientists more skeptical of you because you’d “gone public” before your results were confirmed?
JL: That was unplanned; the results began to come out in sources like The Journal of Acoustical Research & Engineering, and the media got interested. They were reporting on what we were doing; we weren’t seeking them. Now, as to what you mean by “other scientists,” I don’t know.
MB: Other marine mammalogists.
JL: Well, I’m not a marine mammalogist. Never have been. I’ve never been a cetologist or a delphinologist in the narrow sense that those people call themselves. I’ve never approached dolphins that way; I’ve always approached them from the standpoint of mind. They won’t even assume dolphins have a mind, so right off the bat we’re in entirely different domains of discourse. I’ve never felt that conflict they’ve felt; it’s their conflict, not mine.

MB: Between the period in 1968 when you released your dolphins and the beginning of Project JANUS, did you get discouraged about your dolphin research?

JL: Well, the time wasn’t right. The computers weren’t fast enough, small enough, and didn’t have large enough memories to do the job I wanted them to do.
MB: Between Aristotle in 350 B.C. and the resurgence of dolphin interest in the ’50s, due largely to your work, we have a terrible gap in our curiosity about these creatures. Why? How did we lose that closeness with the dolphins that the Greeks and some other ancient peoples had?

JL: The Mediterranean was much warmer in the time of the ancient Greeks, and they were much closer to the sea. And Aristotle was, I think, a kind of observing genius who got in contact with fishermen and people who were in close contact with the dolphins. And they must have had dolphins in captivity, caught in shallow pools or something like that, and they just were free with them, spoke to the dolphins, and the dolphins spoke back. It was this intimate contact, which we reproduced in experiments back in the ’50s and ’60s, which led to Project JANUS. In the modern oceanaria there isn’t much of this. It’s beginning, but it’s not there yet.
It’s shallow-water intimacy with the dolphins. Humans in deep water are pretty ineffective; dolphins in extremely shallow water are pretty ineffective, but you have to balance those two things together, and I think that just by chance the Greeks did that.
If you follow the history of humans since then, they got away from that, away from the sea. They stuck to deep water when they went to sea, and this tidepool thing just disappeared. The whole attitude—the belief systems and so on—were counter to it. The Jewish-Christian-Muslim ethic took over, and we totally moved away from that free-floating thing the Greeks had. The interest in dolphins as reincarnated humans and all that disappeared.
MB: One point Robin Brown makes in his book The Lure of the Dolphin is that, in terms of their morals and their scruples, the Greeks actually placed the dolphins above their own gods! One can detect a lot of the same thing in your writings—that there is a morality in the dolphins that prevents them from harming humans, under most circumstances.

JL: Ethics. It’s taught. The Greeks worshipped dolphins; they had a dolphin cult. Temples to them were found in the Negeb desert in Jordan, for instance. It was a very, very different socialized belief system which disappeared. And the modern point of view, which we started going after, was just sort of empirical approaches to them based on all sorts of considerations the Greeks didn’t have, such as their large brains, their behavior in captivity—those sorts of things.
MB: Do you think the Greeks kept dolphins in captivity for religious purposes?
JL: Yeah, I think that the original Delphic oracle, before the gal who was breathing vapors from a vent in a volcano, was probably a seaside thing that was never written up, in which certain people began to use dolphins speaking in air as oracles—spiracle oracles, you might say. But that’s speculation.
MB: You said earlier that you weren’t expecting a “breakthrough ” at this stage of Project JANUS. Is it fair to ask what you are expecting?
JL: A lot of hard work, one step after the other. For a while we’re going to have to be really restrictive, because it’s going to be a lot of hard work by a very few people. It’ll be a while before we can get our feet on the… get our feet wet. We don’t talk about “getting our feet on the ground’’ any more.
MB: What level of communication do you think you can achieve with the equipment you now have?
JL: I don’t know; that’s open-ended. Imagine starting out with humans, say, somebody that didn’t know your language, with the JANUS program. Now, in the JANUS software there is a program which chooses alternate tables of frequencies; one for the dolphins, based on their frequency discrimination curve, and one for humans, based on ours, and we’ve been working with humans on this. Turns out that there are new gestalts that develop. For instance, if you type H-E-L-L-O and activate JANUS, it comes back with the frequency for H, and the frequency for E, the frequency for L, and repeats it, and the frequency for O. This makes a little tune. And that word has been used so many times around the lab that everybody knows when the computer’s saying “hello!”
MB: Like the tones on a touch-tone phone?
JL: No, it’s not, because the touch-tone phone is designed so you can’t do that. Each button has two tones, so a pure tone won’t affect it; they’re fouling you up on that. It doesn’t have the clarity it would if they were pure sine waves. The basic idea is quite different, actually. What does the phone have—12 buttons?—of which we only use 10 for normal dialing. And we have 48 buttons, each one of which gives you pure sine waves, and each of which you can remember, without trying to untangle multiple frequencies. So you’re hearing pure tones the way you would keying a synthesizer with only one oscillator instead of three.
MB: But you type in ”hello” and what comes out is a characteristic tune?
JL: A gestalt, right. An easily recognizable acoustic gestalt. It looks as though we will be doing a very peculiar job, which reminds me of Herman Hesse’s Bead Game in Magister Ludi, in which they’re combining mathematics, logic and music in a very complex game. And that’s what we’re doing, really—developing a whole new vocabulary in the acoustic sphere which is representable by ordinary typewriter script. John Klemmer came up and started playing with it, and he wants to write music this way. So now you can type out music on an ordinary typewriter. For instance, we worked out what that theme they used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind means, where they start communicating with the aliens. You have these five notes. Well, it turns out that on the JANUS program those are S, U, Q, B and K.
MB: Not much of a message…
JL: Yes it is, because anybody who’s seen CE3K recognizes it instantly. So you’ve got all these new degrees of freedom in the acoustic versus the symbolic typing. For instance, we can type out a very long message on JANUS, put it through a phone line, bring it back into JANUS, and JANUS will type out what those sounds mean.
MB: Why did you decide on a computer system, rather than a frequency-shifting real-time vocoder, as described in Mind of the Dolphin?
JL: I wanted a system that is more easily, reliably reproducible than a human talking.
MB: Punch a key on the computer and you always get the same sound out the other side?
JL: Right. It’s an elementary approach where you have a chance of learning new things about the dolphins’ perceptual systems. Then you can eventually design something that’s much more sophisticated, based on the basics you discover with this approach.

It’s what you might call a survey apparatus. You’ve got a general purpose computer you can reprogram; general purpose interfaces you can reprogram through the computer so the voice can be reprogrammed, the ear can be reprogrammed. So you can try different approaches. We’re initially starting with pure sine waves as the output to the dolphins, from about 3,000 to 40,000 Hz., and varying the duration. We’ve had to modify our initial guesses to match their frequency-discrimination curve a little better. We may then add clicks, continuous FM whistles and tones.
This is just the initiation, the opening-up of the whole field. JANUS is the first system that has total round-trip feedback, where the computer has a voice and ears, instead of dictating to the dolphins, as some other researchers are doing. They ignore what the dolphins have to say, mainly because they don’t have the sophisticated approaches that allow the computer to hear and interpret the sounds.
MB: Will the computer have a memory system that will allow it to build up a vocabulary of dolphin sounds?
JL: Not initially, though we will be building that up through the transitional symbolic vocabulary. We’re starting with 48 symbols, which is a sufficiently large population so we can get a large number of different strings. English has 44 phonemes in it. That should appeal to the dolphins; they like long strings and complex strings, a great variety of sound. And we’re covering their frequency-discrimination curve where they’re best at it, the way English covers the human curve.
MB: So the objective of JANUS is to set up an intermediary language between humans and dolphins?
JL: Yeah. Now language… we’ve set up a code system to develop any number of languages, and we’ve tried to arrive at a reproducible standardized system, which you can’t do with a vocoder, because of the variations in individual voices… yet vocoders have degrees of freedom this doesn’t have. The vocoder will respond to different kinds of voices, and the dolphins will answer in different voices. But here, we’re requiring a rather narrow slot in performance on their part, which we can record and follow.

So at one end of the spectrum you have this rather rigid system we’ve devised, and at the other you have a somewhat more flexible system. We’ll probably meet in the middle somewhere, so there’s more flexibility and it’s more like a voice.
MB: Now, if I were a dolphin inputting into JANUS, would I have to input in the same pure sine wave tones JANUS puts out to me?
JL: Well, we had a gal who put a pair of headphones on—we used the human scale on this —and she had a Moog synthesizer, the keys on it marked like a typewriter, so you can tell just what you’re typing out. She was typing things in, listening to the tune, then singing it back into JANUS through a microphone. And she could make the transfer; she would type out words on the synthesizer, hear them, then with her own voice sing to JANUS, and JANUS would type out the same thing. But she’s an expert singer.
MB: So you don’t anticipate nearly as much trouble on the dolphins’ part as it would be to phonate in air, as you were doing earlier?

JL: Oh, no, this is all underwater. Though they have started to phonate in air, mimicking JANUS’s output. Apparently they’re eager to learn.

MB: Have you received widespread public support for Project JANUS?

JL: Enough. We’ve always had just enough.

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Read Part 2

Did U.S. Navy conduct secret ESP tests with marine mammals? This guy said so, and I’m trying to find out.

 

NavyPhin

Today, while investigating this web post from 2007, I received some startling information. According to SRI, while the author, Steve Hammons, says this paper is unclassified, the project it was written for apparently isn’t! Whether I can even acquire a copy of the paper described here is in doubt, and I am told I may have to ask the sponsor of the research for permission.

It would be interesting to know who laid out the cash for this research, and what, if anything was learned.

As a former investigative reporter, I know how to file a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request, but I’d prefer to ask nicely first, as a FOIA request is a royal pain in the ass to the person receiving it. At the same time, I’m wondering what, exactly, have I stumbled into in my relentless quest for the truth about dolphins? What findings would warrant keeping this paper secret for more than three decades?

Is there a marine mammal equivalent to the nefarious “Men In Black” who are reported to harass UFO witnesses? If you find wet, webbed footprints leading up to my door, and scales on the doorknob… don’t come in.

This post was scanned in from a hard copy of The American Chronicle web site in the author’s possession. All rights remit to the author. Illustrations added for shits and giggles by me.


 

Navy dolphins may be
 deployed: Did secret ESP research involve them?

The American Chronicle

Steve Hammons

February 14, 2007

This week, the U.S. Navy 
announced that up to 30 dolphins 
and other marine mammals may be
 used to patrol Puget Sound near Seattle to protect Kitsap-Bangor 
Naval Base from terrorist activities.

Dolphins and marine mammals can 
locate underwater swimmers and 
objects and assist with a variety of 
additional tasks.

But what other interesting
 intelligence developments are
 emerging about dolphins that 
involve sensitive and fascinating 
insight into human consciousness?

Tucked within a declassified 
bibliography of “Project STARGATE”
 reports on extrasensory perception 
(ESP), “anomalous cognition” and 
“remote viewing” is a research
paper titled “A Remote Action 
Investigation with Marine Animals.”

DOLPHINS AND ANOMALOUS 
COGNITION

The Navy has been working with
 dolphins and marine mammals 
since the 1960s.

The creatures have been 
operationally deployed several 
times, including in war zones and
 probably for activities not routinely 
disclosed.

The dolphins, sea lions and other
 animals are trained and coordinated by the Navy’s Marine Mammal 
Program at the Space and Naval 
Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR)
 on San Diego’s Point Loma 
peninsula, home to many Navy
 activities.

The dolphins and marine mammals 
have reportedly learned to 
communicate and work well with 
their human counter parts.

As well as conducting various 
operations, Navy research on 
dolphins and marine mammal 
intelligence and sonar-like 
perception has also been conducted.

Marine mammals apparently were also subjects of research as 
part of a “Program Plan for Anomalous Mental Phenomena.”

This effort was conducted as part of government investigations
into remote viewing and anomalous cognition.

A declassified bibliography of research papers completed from
1976 to 1990 includes an unclassified 1987 report titled “A Remote Action Investigation with Marine Animals” Dr. Edwin
 May and Dr. Charles Pleass.

The research by May and Pleass was conducted for SRI 
International, Menlo Park, California. SRI has been one of the 
primary research entities conducting investigations into remote
 viewing and anomalous cognition for the U.S. military and
 intelligence services.

Most people have heard about SRI in connection with Project 
STARGATE, the program that researched ESP, now often referred 
to as anomalous cognition and the techniques called remote
 viewing. The program had several other code names during the
 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Remote viewing is a combination of ESP-type methods developed 
by the military and intelligence agencies to gather intelligence and
 to assist in counterintelligence activities.

The research report connecting remote viewing researchers to
 marine mammals seems to indicate an association that many
 people are already aware of, and others probably will find 
intriguing.

Developing ESP skills in humans is one thing. Examining telepathy 
and other kinds of anomalous cognition in a highly intelligent
 species like dolphins takes this kind of research in an even more 
interesting direction.

DOLPHIN-HUMAN ENCOUNTERS

People of many cultures who have lived near the sea and been 
exposed to dolphins and other marine mammals have had tales to tell. Legends and lore about dolphins offer fascinating looks at
 connections between our two species.

Throughout history,
 dolphins have been
 said to be a friend
 to humans. Stories
 of humans being 
rescued at sea, or 
being guided at sea 
by dolphins can be
found in many 
cultures too.

Much has been 
written about
 anecdotal reports, 
ancient and recent,
 of interesting
 encounters between
 humans and 
dolphins.

Personal authentic experiences have been reported by many 
people about unique and significant interactions with dolphins.

And, some people have written about possible telepathy among
 dolphins, and between dolphins and human.

Although these reports often come from credible people, they are
 also difficult or impossible to verify scientifically.

DOLPHIN RESEARCHER JOHN C. LILLY

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(Photo montage © 1983 Malcolm J. Brenner for Future Life magazine.)

Many scientists have researched dolphins, whales and other
 marine mammals. Probably the most well-known of these is the 
late John C. Lilly, M.D. (1915-2001).

Lilly was a physician and psychoanalyst who focused on
 biophysics, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, electronics and
 computer theory. He also studied consciousness – human and 
dolphin consciousness.

The 1973 movie THE DAY OF THE DOLPHIN was based on Lilly’s 
work. George C. Scott starred as a character similar to Lilly.

george-c-scott

The 1980 film ALTERED STATES was also based on Lilly’s
 consciousness research.

ALTERED STATES

Explaining his view of dolphins, whales and other cetaceans, he
 said, “They (cetaceans) have been on the planet now with brains 
our size or larger for 25 million years. We’ve only been here with 
our present brain size about two-tenths of a million years. So
 they’ve been here something on the order of 25 to 50 to 100 
times the length of time we have.”

Lilly authored many books on consciousness and other subjects 
which have been read by millions worldwide. These include MAN 
AND DOLPHIN and LILLY ON DOLPHINS: HUMANS OF THE SEA.

In his later years, Lilly lived on Maui, Hawaii, and spent much
 effort involved with dolphin research and understanding.

RESEARCH CONTINUES

We now know that dolphins have a large brain dense with 
neurological wiring, comparable to the human brain. The
 functioning of the dolphin brain and entire neurological system 
has been studied extensively.

Unknown-1

Research indicates that these creatures are highly intelligent and 
may possess powers of perception that humans do not yet fully 
understand.

But, maybe researchers have discovered more than the general
 public knows about.

Maybe the research by Drs. May and Pleass contains important 
insight into consciousness that seems especially crucial at this 
time.

The human-dolphin connection may be a type of inter-species
 relationship that has unique aspects. It might teach us about 
human beings and our often-difficult human-caused problems on
Earth.

The Navy dolphins and marine mammals, working so closely with 
humans, may have valuable insight about us.

Maybe we should listen to them.

The American Chronicle and its affiliates have no responsibility for the views, opinions and information communicated here.

 The contributor(s) and news providers are fully responsible for this content. In addition, the views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the American Chronicle or its affiliates.

Steve Hammons
Steve Hammons

 

Steve Hammons

Steve Hammons

Steve Hammons

Stay tuned, more details will be released as they emerge!