That time DARPA paid Duke U $335K to investigate ESP in dogs. Yes, dogs

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Hey look these guys wanna pay us a lot of money to investigate ESP in Dogs… Wow we can do some half assed actual research to find the ‘duh’ answer and also get a lot of beer with the rest of the money, sure say yes.


That just seems wrong:

Huh? Am I reading this wrong? @frauenfelder’s headline seems to be the opposite of what the article says.

It seems like in the 70s through maybe the 90s, there were several studies on ESP in humans (“remote viewing,” as a “passive”, “inexpensive” way to see the enemy with “no known defense against it,” according to the slides).

In the 1950s there was a study to see how good a dog’s sense of smell was.

The two seem completely unrelated, except that the word “sense” is in both, and the fact that the army considered the study a secret, possibly leading the author to initially think that it related to ESP. But it had nothing at all to do with ESP, as the article says.

Regardless, I like how Mark emphasizes “Yes, dogs” as the funny part, instead of “yes, ESP.” Although they didn’t actually study ESP in dogs, once you decide to study ESP then using dogs seem as reasonable as anything else.


and what college researcher is gonna say no to all that easy beer money?


This article is about studying dog’s sense of smell. Smell is a sensory perception, not an extra-sensory perception. Whoever wrote this needs to drink some more coffee. Or get off the crack.


That time DARPA paid Duke U $335K to investigate ESP in dogs. Yes, dogs

Not paid in Swiss Francs, not in Pounds Sterling, not even in gold bullion. Dogs.


Over a third of the grant spending as accounted for as “Miscellaneous” and “Overhead.” That’s some mighty fine itemizin’, Duke.


Or off the righteousness and/or clickbaitiness. It wears out when overused and then becomes comical.

That said, if it’s military money where’s the problem? Siphon them out as much as possible, at least they won’t be used to bomb anybody.

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Dogs who stare at goats?


The DOD mail to the lead scientist at the end of the project:

Your theories are the best kind for increasing popular understanding, your methods are quick, and your conclusions are highly contrarian! You are a great scientist, Dr. Venkman!

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It sounds better than we built a bar and had a really big bender.


I don’t know how it was in the 50s, but now overhead is a specific charge on the budget of research grants, and usually accounts for about 1/3 of the budget. Overhead is the money that goes to the department / university to pay for support costs: secretaries, libraries, IT staff, utilities, office supplies and so forth. It includes everything except salaries and direct spending by the researcher. All of those things are required but you can’t generally attribute particular spending to a particular project. The various departments that get money in part from overhead itemize their actual expenditures, but it is not billed to the funding agency in that fashion.

There is also a difference between the budget and the billing. A budget would have large line items for things like supplies that include “inexpensive” consumables such as chemicals and glassware. After the money was spent, the university would have an actual record of those purchases, but they wouldn’t necessarily be individually itemized in the budget when the grant is awarded.

Overhead in the corporate world is even higher, 50% and up.


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