When you hear the word “Stanford”, what comes to mind? You might think of Stanford's cutting-edge research in areas like computer science or economics. But did you know that 50 years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) studied psychic activities?
Although SRI officially split from Stanford University in 1970, it still used the Stanford name after its split. It's hard to imagine a name now synonymous with world-class research attached to a subject at best taboo and at worst pseudo-scientific. However, in 1972, SRI researchers Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff were determined to understand psychics and how they could harness their mysterious powers. Oh, and did we mention that the CIA was also involved in the experiments?
Targ and Puthoff focused on one medium in particular: Uri Geller. Originally from Israel, Geller had convinced Targ, Puthoff and the CIA that he had special paranormal powers. A CIA document stated that as a result of Geller's success in their experimental trials, Geller "convincingly and unambiguously demonstrated the ability for paranormal perception."
But not everyone was convinced by Geller's psychic powers. Ray Hyman, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, was asked to investigate Geller and SRI's study. Hyman concluded that Geller was a fraud with no real paranormal powers. But what Geller had, according to Hyman, was the power to create an illusion using his clever "public relations campaign".
This academic year has been marked by many moments of illusion and disillusionment, from the fall of cryptocurrency trading platform FTX to the story of Stanford impostor Will Curry. But what do we do once we fall into illusion or disillusion? The articles in this magazine explore just that.
Sophia Artandi '26 takes us through current and past issues surrounding speaking out and activism by faculty to explore how our perceptions and value judgments have changed over time. Writer Sarayu Pai '23 explores the history and cultural impacts of novelist Ken Kesey and the band The Grateful Dead. Press Office Editor Oriana Riley '25 talks to Stanford students about Duck Syndrome and how it persists despite most being aware of its existence. Arts and Life Editor-in-Chief Sofia Gonzalez-Rodriguez '25 and Editor-in-Chief Itzel Luna '25 examine the future of CSRE programs. Writer Cameron Duran '24 challenges our brains in his article "Spot the Difference". Sebastian Hochman '26 explains how some disciplines are considered hobbies at Stanford while others are considered careers. Finally, Michelle Fu '24, Kris Nino '25 and Judy Liu '26 share with us several fictions.
We hope the stories in this magazine inspire you to reflect on the illusions in your own life. Who knows, you might be living under one right now.
Thanks for the reading -
Caroline Stein '24