Jon Ronson’s forays into the bizarre have entertained me in the past, particularly his assault on the insanities and private hells of those who believe that giant lizards control the IMF, or those who think that a KKK cook-book will somehow improve that organizations’ image (cf: Them: Adventures with Extremists). Only Ronson would have the balls to ask Denis Healy about his membership in the Bilderburgers. His latest probings take the form of The Men Who Stare at Goats. Intrigued by an expose on the use of music from Barney the Purple Dinosaur as an interrogation technique against Iraqi insurgents, Ronson decided to delve further into the New Age origins of modern PSYOPS, a world where the head of US Army intelligence in the late 1970s and early 1980s tried to levitate, where whacked out Special Forces personnel were “trained” to stop goat hearts from beating by thought in preparation for assassination missions, and military investigations into the belief that Abu Gharib prison is haunted by evil and was affecting US military personnel there. Ronson also uncovered the existence of the First Earth Battalion Operations Manual, in which troops were instructed to “carry with them into hostile countries ‘symbolic animals’ such as baby lambs. These would be cradled in soldier’s arms. The soldiers would learn to greet people with ‘sparkly eyes’. They would then gently place the lambs on the ground and give the enemy an ‘automatic hug.’” “Discordant sounds” would also be employed as would “psychoelectronic weapons” which were designed to direct “positive energy” at crowds.

Yes. He’s serious. He did the research.

-Sean M. Maloney, PhD