Here’s a bewildering coincidence that relates two of my recent blog entries. This came to my attention a few days ago, while I was watching Bobby Fischer Against the World. At the time I just about fell out of my chair. (I’m clumsy that way.) But, true to form, I’d forgotten to mention it until something reminded me this morning.
Back in my post a few weeks ago about The Hunt for Zero Point, I mentioned the discredited “scientific” research into ESP and remote viewing that was carried out at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s. Actually, what I wrote was:
This was the same Hal Puthoff who, working with Russell Targ at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s, wrote a couple of papers for Nature claiming to have irrefutably proven the existence of ESP by testing Uri Gellar [sic] under laboratory conditions. The same Hal Puthoff who, working with Russell Targ at the SRI, was completely hoodwinked by Gellar [sic], and later James Randi. The same Hal Puthoff who, working with Russell Targ at the SRI, wrote an entire book about their supposedly rigorous and scientific examination of remote viewing.
My point here had been about the questionable credibility of Hal Puthoff, who served as a science advisor to the author of the book. But thanks to having read Mindreach way back when, I happened to know that Puthoff’s partner in crime during the Uri Geller/SRI days was this Russell Targ fellow. Not an easy name to forget.
The new Bobby Fischer documentary comprises many conversations with people who knew him. Some of the names I recognized from the chess world, but many others I didn’t because as I say I’m not much of a player. Fischer’s mother and sister both died back in the 90s, so there were no interviews with family members… except one. On the topic of his growing insanity and descent into virulent antisemitism, the documentary plays part of a conversation with the widower of Bobby’s sister, Joan Fischer. While this man is relating an anecdote about a particularly difficult interaction with his brother in law, his name flashes up on the screen…
…and I have to rewind the DVR. Because I’m thinking, “I couldn’t possibly have read that correctly.”
But yeah. Bobby Fischer’s sister was married to Russell Targ. The same Russell Targ as mentioned above.
If the information at the bottom of this brief summary of Joan Fischer Targ’s life is correct (and I have no idea if it is) it would appear that she did share some unconventional beliefs with her husband.
Digging a little further… Oh, wow. Isn’t this interesting. Joan Fischer Targ passed away in 1998 of a cerebral hemorrhage, at the relatively young age 60. Her daughter with Russell Targ, Elisabeth Targ, tragically passed away in 2002, at the extremely young age of 40, of a brain tumor. Elisabeth was a psychiatrist who studied schizophrenia (not surprising, given her famous uncle), but it appears much of the focus of her work was on parapsychology and “remote healing”. This obituary in the SF Gate has a great quote: “She was raised to be polite, inquisitive and psychic.”
Interesting family. I wish my parents had raised me to be psychic.
How very sad, though, that Russell Targ lost his wife and daughter within four years of each other. That’s incredibly tragic.
Digging still further… Russell Targ wrote an autobiography in 2008: Do You See What I See? Lasers and Love, ESP and the CIA, and the Meaning of Life. According to an excerpt at the ethically dubious Google Books, at the time of Targ’s marriage to Joan Fischer, he was “deeply engrossed” in Ayn Rand’s salon, along with a young and cranky Alan Greenspan.
Wow. This guy got around.