going above and beyond
- Feb 7, 2004
University of Albany Suspends Mind Control Implant Research Project
The University at Albany, N.Y., has shut down a research project investigating the claims of individuals who believe that they were surgically implanted with communications devices which can read and transmit their thoughts.
Professor Kathryn Kelley, a fully-tenured psychology professor at the University at Albany, has focused her work in recent years on surgically-implanted mind control devices. A brief statement released in August by university spokeswoman Mary Fiess said, "The university imposed the suspension [of Kelley's research] because of serious concerns that the experiment did not meet the standards governing such projects on campus. While we're working to gather all the facts in this case, we cannot comment further."
That same week, according to the Albany Times-Union, all professors and graduate students at the University at Albany were instructed in a memo to refer all calls "looking for information on any psychological research conducted in our department" to the university's public relations office.
Sources in the psychology department told the Times-Union that the school's Institutional Review Board closed the project after receiving a complaint filed last spring by a student who reportedly was not allowed to leave a lecture that was part of Kelley's experiment -- an alleged violation of National Science Foundation guidelines.
However, researchers also have ethical obligations to fully brief human subjects on the experiment in which they will participate, and to fully debrief subjects after the experiment is concluded. There has been no clarification of the exact circumstances of the student's complaint. Although Kelley has declined to speak to the press regarding the suspension of her research, colleagues told the Times-Union that she had privately claimed that "the university is violating her academic freedom."
University at Albany sociology Professor David Wagner, the outgoing chair of the Institutional Review Board, told the Times-Union that shutting down a professor's research was "quite rare." The suspension of Kelley's research is the first such incident at UAlbany since the early 1970s. The university reportedly considers the ongoing investigation of Kelley's work to be "highly sensitive."
In 1995, gunman Ralph Tortorici held a class of 37 students hostage at the University at Albany, claiming that the government had planted microchips in his body. Tortorici, who shot one of the students during a struggle, reportedly hanged himself in his state prison cell last summer.
Kelley earned her Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1977, and her earlier research had focused on issues such as date rape, risk-taking, and gender differences. In spring of 1998, according to the Times-Union, the university's psychology department first became aware of Kelley's interest in mind control technology when she posted a note on her office door announcing a lecture called "The Psychology of Invading the Self." The note reportedly described implant research funded by the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense with an annual budget of $2 billion. The note stated that the devices were typically implanted in "uninformed, unconsenting subjects" who were usually "federal prisoners and political dissidents."
Also in the spring of 1998, the school's Institutional Review Board approved a research project by Kelley to explore "advances in technology that affect interpersonal communication." Kelley filed a 16-page outline with the board which described her plans to investigate uses of technology for "monitoring and control." According to the Times-Union, Kelley's outline proposed "presenting a lecture to research subjects and then having them respond to 60 questions about how the case study she would describe affected their views."
A graduate student who worked on Kelley's project said that the research was intended to examine how people would perceive individuals with microchip implants, and whether there might be a social stigma attached to having such implants.
At the 1999 annual conference of the Eastern Psychological Association (www.easternpsychological.org), held in Providence, R.I., Kelley delivered a paper that examined microchip implant claims "as one of the indicators of schizophrenia."
In August 1999, Kelley delivered a paper to the "World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics" (www.iiis.org/sci97.htm) in Orlando, Fla., which described the use of devices she called RAATs -- Radio wave, Auditory, Assaultive, Transmitting implants -- which could be implanted in a subject during anesthesia. The only signs of implantation, Kelley wrote, might be tiny stitches visible in the ear.
"When (short-wave) operators transmit to or scan RAAT implants in victims, they can talk to the victims remotely and anonymously, and hear the victim's speech and thoughts," Kelley wrote.
Although her research was suspended, Kelley continues to teach classes at the University at Albany.
Source: Andrew Brownstein,
"Human Brain Implant Research Suspended At Major University,"
Albany Times Union (www.timesunion.com),
August 25, 1999.