Over the past 50 years, billions of dollars have been spent visiting our nearest neighbor in space, the moon. It's the only extraterrestrial body humans have ever walked on. Besides the United States and Russia, Japan, China, India and the European Space Agency have all sent robotic spacecraft moonward.
Probably the most prolific of these missions, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), is stockpiling close to 1 million pictures of the lunar surface that are so sharp, you could see a coffee table nestled among the boulders.
Astrobiologist and physicist Paul Davies recently said that LRO's public-accessible photos should be perused by a citizen science program to look for any alien artifacts left on the moon.
But why bother? says a group of parapsychology sleuths who accuse NASA of hiding evidence of aliens on the lunar surface. Their wild tales sound like an amalgamation of Hollywood sci-fi movies: "Apollo 18," "Minority Report" and "Alien."
They say that a psychic technique called remote viewing allows people to take an armchair visit to other planets. The mind-travelers draw images of alien-looking things that are supposedly transmitted from a definitely out-of-body experience (potentially) millions of miles from Earth.
In the 1960s, when psychoactive drugs became widely popular, I assumed that claims of tripping to other worlds were purely imaginary. Consider this remote viewing experience reported in a discussion forum:
"…i relaxed in my chair, and pointed myself up there. I saw 6 or seven aliens looking right at me grinning and smiling. they had red eyes like the reddit alien but no antenna. As soon as I saw these creatures i immediately felt hurt …"
The roots of remote viewing can be traced to several U.S. Government sponsored parapsychology studies from the 1970s to 1990s. When funding was canceled in 1995, an executive summary concluded that the remote viewing test results were at best "vague and ambiguous."
Government involvement (and gullibility) alone doesn't legitimize what is clearly a pseudoscience that ranks alongside astrology, ghost hunting, and "telekinetic" spoon-bending.
As with any pseudoscience, there are no physical underpinnings to the outlandish claims of remote viewing. In other words, no natural particles or fields capable of carrying information into the human brain, independently from the five senses, have ever been quantitatively measured in a physics laboratory.
And, as is typical of a pseudoscience, remote viewing claims contradict fundamental physics such as the speed of light barrier and causality.
But pseudoscience dies hard. A group called Transception Incorporated, self-described as an Austin, Texas based psychic R&D operation, sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden that nominates the Apollo 16 crew for the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
But there are strings attached.