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Remote Viewing

Remote Viewing (in regard to clairvoyance) is the psychical influence of a hypothetical universal information system involved in the interim integration, processing, disposal, and retrieval of information pertaining to remote objects and events in real-time. This is achieved through the act of an experient requesting and receiving information pertaining to remote current events via the systems working memory or short-term information storage. This system is actively monitoring and manipulating information at a constant with real-time constraints; operational deadlines between event to system response. The system captures, retains, and stores this information and can be requested by an experient in which is then conveyed intuitively or in the form of sensory hallucinations; primarily through the visual and auditory modalities. These hallucinations can also occur in other sensory modality including olfaction, gustatory, and somatosensory. (Kelly, 2011)


Remote Viewing (RV) refers to the attempt to gather information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means or extra-sensory perception. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance.[2][3][4] The term was introduced by parapsychologists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff in 1974.[5]

Remote viewing was popularized in the 1990s, following the declassification of documents related to the Stargate Project, a 20 million dollar research program sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government to determine any potential military application of psychic phenomena. The program was terminated in 1995, citing a lack of documented evidence that the program had any value to the intelligence community.[6]

One of the early experiments was lauded by proponents as having improved the methodology of remote viewing testing and as raising future experimental standards, but also criticized as leaking information to the participants by inadvertently leaving clues. [7] Some later experiments had negative results when these clues were eliminated. [8]

Remote viewing, like other forms of extra-sensory perception, is generally considered as pseudoscience [9] due to the need to overcome fundamental ideas about causality, time, and other principles currently held by the scientific community, and the lack of a positive theory that explains the outcomes.[10][11][12]

From World War II until the 1970s the US government occasionally funded ESP research. When the US intelligence community learned that the USSR and China were conducting ESP research, it became receptive to the idea of having its own competing psi research program. (Schnabel 1997)

Early Stanford Research Institute Experiments

In 1972 Stanford Research Institute (SRI) laser physicist Hal Puthoff tested remote viewer Ingo Swann, and the experiment led to a visit from two employees of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. The result was a $50,000 CIA-sponsored project. (Schnabel 1997, Puthoff 1996, Kress 1977/1999, Smith 2005) As research continued, the SRI team published papers in Nature (Targ & Puthoff, 1974), in Proceedings of the IEEE (Puthoff & Targ, 1976), and in the proceedings of a symposium on consciousness for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Puthoff, et al, 1981).

The initial CIA-funded project was later renewed and expanded. A number of CIA officials including John McMahon, then the head of the Office of Technical Service and later the Agency’s deputy director, became strong supporters of the program. By the mid 1970s, facing the post-Watergate revelations of its “skeletons,” and after internal criticism of the program, the CIA dropped sponsorship of the SRI research effort.

Sponsorship was picked up by the Air Force, led by analyst Dale E. Graff of the Foreign Technology Division. In 1979, the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, which had been providing some taskings to the SRI investigators, was ordered to develop its own program by the Army’s chief intelligence officer, Gen. Ed Thompson. CIA operations officers, working from McMahon’s office and other offices, also continued to provide taskings to SRI’s subjects. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005, Atwater 2001)

The program had three parts (Mumford, et al, 1995). First was the evaluation of psi research performed by the U.S.S.R. and China, which appears to have been better-funded and better-supported than the government research in the U.S. (Schnabel 1997)

In the second part of the program, SRI managed its own stable of “natural” psychics both for research purposes and to make them available for tasking by a variety of US intelligence agencies. The most famous results from these years were Pat Price’s description of a big crane at a Soviet nuclear research facility (Kress 1977/199, Targ 1996), a description of a new class of Soviet strategic submarine by a team of three viewers including Joseph McMoneagle,(Smith 2005, McMoneagle 2002) and Rosemary Smith’s [13] location of a downed Soviet bomber in Africa (which former President Carter later referred to in speeches). By the early 1980s numerous offices throughout the intelligence community were providing taskings to SRI’s psychics. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005)

The third branch of the program was a research project intended to find out if ESP – now called “remote viewing” – could be made accurate and reliable. The intelligence community offices that tasked the group seemed to believe that the phenomenon was real. But in the view of these taskers, a remote viewer could be “on” one day and “off” the next, a fact that made it hard for the technique to be officially accepted. Through SRI, individuals were studied for years in a search for physical (e.g., brain-wave) correlates that might reveal when they were “on- or off-target”.

At SRI, Ingo Swann and Hal Puthoff also developed a remote-viewing training program meant to enable any individual with a suitable background to produce useful data. As part of this project, a number of military officers and civilians were trained and formed a military remote viewing unit, based at Fort Meade, Maryland. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005, McMoneagle 2002)

Decline and Termination

A struggle between unbelievers and believers in the sponsor organizations provided much of the program’s actual drama. Each side seems to have been utterly convinced that the other’s views were wrong. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005)

In the early 1990s the Military Intelligence Board, chaired by DIA chief Soyster, appointed an Army Colonel, William Johnson, to manage the remote viewing unit and evaluate its objective usefulness. According to an account by former SRI-trained remote-viewer, Paul Smith (2005), Johnson spent several months running the remote viewing unit against military and DEA targets, and ended up a believer, not only in remote viewing’s validity as a phenomenon but in its usefulness as an intelligence tool.

After the Democrats lost control of the Senate in late 1994, funding declined and the program went into decline. The project was transferred out of DIA to the CIA in 1995, with the promise that it would be evaluated there, but most participants in the program believed that it would be terminated. (Schnabel 1997, Smith 2005, Mumford, et al 1995)

AIR Evaluation of Remote Viewing

In 1995, the CIA hired the American Institutes for Research, a perennial intelligence-industry contractor, to perform a retrospective evaluation of the results generated by the remote-viewing program, the Stargate Project. Most of the program’s results were not seen by the evaluators, with the report focusing on the most recent experiments, and only from government-sponsored research.[14] One of the reviewers was Ray Hyman, a long-time critic of psi research, and another was Jessica Utts who, as a supporter of psi, was chosen to put forward the pro-psi argument. Utts maintained that there had been a statistically significant positive effect,[15] with some subjects scoring 5%-15% above chance.[16] Hyman argued that Utts’ conclusion that ESP had been proven to exist, “is premature, to say the least.”[17] Hyman said the findings had yet to be replicated independently, and that more investigation would be necessary to “legitimately claim the existence of paranormal functioning.”[17] Based upon the study, which recommended a higher level of critical research and tighter controls, the CIA terminated the 20 million dollar project in 1995.[6] Time magazine stated in 1995 three full-time psychics were still working on a $500,000-a-year budget out of Fort Meade, Maryland, which would soon be shut down.[6]

According to the official AIR report there was insufficient evidence of the utility of the intelligence data produced. David Goslin, of the American Institute for Research said, “There’s no documented evidence it had any value to the intelligence community.”[6]

PEAR’s Remote Perception Program

Following Utts’ emphasis on replication and Hyman’s challenge on interlaboratory consistency in the American Institutes for Research report, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab conducted several hundred trials to see if they could replicate the SAIC and SRI experiments. They created an analytical judgment methodology to replace the human judging process that was criticized in past experiments. They felt the results of the experiments were consistent with the SRI experiments.[18]

Distant Viewing and Stephan Schwartz

Parallel with the work at SRI, Stephan A. Schwartz, who had just left government as Special Assistant to the US Chief of Naval Operations, developed almost the same protocol which he called Distant Viewing.[19] To study this, he began a research laboratory known as Mobius. A central question in the seminal IEEE paper (Puthoff & Targ, 1976) was whether RV was electromagnetic in nature, or something else. Schwartz had begun to consider how this might be studied in 1973, after reading the work of Soviet Academician Leonid Vasiliev, the tutor for Russian psychic Nina Kulagina.[20] This work had eliminated all of the EM spectrum except for very low frequency ranges, known as ELF.

Testing in the ELF range required a submarine, because the only shield for ELF is hundreds of feet of seawater. In 1976 Schwartz was offered the use of a small submersible, capable of the depth required, by University of Southern California Institute for Marine and Coastal Studies. In 1977, as the experiment was about to go to sea, he invited SRI to assist in the study. The Project, known as Deep Quest, was carried out with logistical support from the USC Institute. It took place off of Santa Catalina Island. Two remote viewings, one by Hella Hammid,[21] and one by Ingo Swann, described where target individuals were hiding in California. Both sessions were conducted while the submarine was at depth, and both were considered successful by the researchers. The targets were, respectively, a tree and a shopping mall. Swann commented his site “could be a shopping center or a city hall. It was, in fact The Red Mill Shopping Center. [22][23]”[24]

The experiment also tested a protocol Schwartz had devised involving multiple viewers.[25] [26] Although some in the remote viewing field believe “Both the research and applications fail to statically support a reality that multiple viewers increase the amount or the degree of accuracy about a specific target.”[27] Schwartz has always disputed this, and the results of his research would seem to support his position. In the Deep Quest experiment five remote viewers were given a standard navigational chart (Chart 5128 Catalina Harbor and Isthmus Cove 1: 10,000) and asked to locate an unknown wreck on the seafloor. They chose several sites, but there was a consensus on one and, in accordance with his protocol this is the one Schwartz chose to pursue. In addition to the location, the remote viewers described the site wreckage in detail, including unexpected objects such as a large granite block. They also described how the ship sank and stated the number of years in the past in which it had sunk. The entire project was filmed, and Dr. Anne Kahle, Supervisor of the Earth Applications and Climatology Group at the Cal Tech Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Commander Brad Veek, Associate Director of the USC Institute, as well as the entire crew of the research submersible Taurus, used in the experiment, witnessed all aspects of the Deep Quest Project. A radio homing device was dropped into the sea by a surface support boat, so that only the site sought would be the site located. The sunken vessel was found where it was supposed to be, and it was subsequently determined by Thomas Cooke of the Bureau of Land Management Marine Sites Board to be previously unknown. [28] The date range of the ship’s sinking, the strange stone block, and most of the other statements made by the remote viewers also were confirmed.[29] [30]

Schwartz has also published papers presented at scholarly meetings describing the discovery and the first modern mapping of the Eastern Harbor of Alexandria and the discovery of numerous shipwrecks as well as Mark Anthony’s palace in Alexandria, the Ptolemaic Palace Complex of Cleopatra, and the remains of the Lighthouse of Pharos. [31] as well as a buried building in the buried city of Marea in the Egyptian desert, a project undertaken to meet the demands of skeptics in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Alexandria. [32] All of this Egyptian research was filmed as it occurred, and witnessed by representatives of the University of Alexandria, and the University of Warsaw. Of particular note Schwartz always has chooses search areas that have been previously searched electronically, or arranges for such surveys before the fieldwork based on remote viewing is undertaken, so that the results of the two techniques can be compared. In 1984, Schwartz reported on the reconstruction of an Amerind site along the Pecos River, including independent analysis as to the accuracy of the material by two archaeologists. [33] Using these same techniques in 1987 he reported on the location of what may be remnants of one of Columbus’ caravels from his fourth voyage, although there was not enough material to make a definitive judgment [34]. [35] In 1989 Schwartz reported on the discovery of an the American brig, Leander, which electronic survey had failed to locate [36] [37] None of Schwartz’ work has been refuted, perhaps because Schwartz has all predictions notarized and turned over for vaulting by otherwise uninvolved third parties, before actual fieldwork begins, the work is always witnessed by multiple and often skeptical observers, and much of it is recorded on film or video, as it happens.

Scientific Analysis

According to psychologist David Marks in experiments conducted in the 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute, the notes given to the judges contained clues as to which order they were carried out, such as referring to yesterday’s two targets, or they had the date of the session written at the top of the page. Dr. Marks concluded that these clues were the reason for the experiment’s high hit rates.[38][39]

Marks has also suggested that the participants of remote viewing experiments are influenced by subjective validation, a process through which correspondences are perceived between stimuli that are in fact associated purely randomly.[40] Details and transcripts of the SRI remote viewing experiments themselves were found to be edited and even unattainable. [41][42]

Others have said that the information from remote viewing sessions can be vague and include a lot of erroneous data.[16] A 1995 report for the American Institute for Research contains a section of anonymous reports describing how remote viewing was tentatively used in a number of operational situations. The three reports conclude that the data was too vague to be of any use, and in the report that offers the most positive results the writer notes that the viewers “had some knowledge of the target organizations and their operations but not the background of the particular tasking at hand.”[16]

According to James Randi, controlled tests by several other researchers, eliminating several sources of cuing and extraneous evidence present in the original tests, produced negative results. Students were also able to solve Puthoff and Targ’s locations from the clues that had inadvertently been included in the transcripts.[43]

Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire and a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) has said that he agrees remote viewing has been proven using the normal standards of science, but that the bar of evidence needs to be much higher for outlandish claims that will revolutionise the world, and thus he remains unconvinced:[44]

“I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do. (…) if I said that a UFO had just landed, you’d probably want a lot more evidence. Because remote viewing is such an outlandish claim that will revolutionise the world, we need overwhelming evidence before we draw any conclusions. Right now we don’t have that evidence.” Richard Wiseman Daily Mail, January 28, 2008, pp 28-29 [44]

Wiseman also pointed at several problems with one of the early experiments at SAIC, like information leakage. However, he indicated the importance of its process-oriented approach and of its refining of remote viewing methodology, which meant that researchers replicating their work could avoid these problems. [12] Wiseman later insisted there were multiple opportunities for participants on that experiment to be influenced by inadverted cues and that these cues can influence the results when they appear. [7]

Psychologist Ray Hyman says that, even if the results were reproduced under specified conditions, they would still not be a conclusive demonstration of the existence of physic functioning. He blames this on the reliance on a negative outcome — the claims on ESP are based on the results of experiments not being explained by normal means. He says that the experiments lack a positive theory that guides as to what to control on them and what to ignore, and that “Parapsychologists have not come close to (having a positive theory) as yet”. [45] Ray Himan also says that the amount and quality of the experiments on RV are way too low to convince the scientific community to “abandon its fundamental ideas about causality, time, and other principles”, due to its findings still not having been replicated successfully under careful scrutiny. [11]

Science writer Martin Gardner, and others, describe the topic of remote viewing as pseudoscience. [9] Gardner says that founding researcher Harold Puthoff was an active Scientologist prior to his work at Stanford University, and that this influenced his research at SRI. In 1970, the Church of Scientology published a notarized letter that had been written by Puthoff while he was conducting research on remote viewing at Stanford. The letter read, in part: “Although critics viewing the system [Scientology] from the outside may form the impression that Scientology is just another of many quasi-educational quasi-religious ‘schemes,’ it is in fact a highly sophistical and highly technological system more characteristic of modern corporate planning and applied technology.”[10] Among some of the ideas that Puthoff supported regarding remote viewing was the claim that two followers of Madame Blavatsky, founder of theosophy, were able to remote-view the inner structure of atoms.[10]

Selected Remote Viewing Study participants

  • Ingo Swann, one of the founders of remote viewing
  • Pat Price, one of the early remote viewers
  • Russell Targ, cofounder of the Stanford Research Institute’s investigation into psychic abilities in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Joseph McMoneagle, one of the early remote viewers.[45] See: Stargate Project
  • Courtney Brown, founder of the Farsight Institute
  • David Marks, the critic of remote viewing, after finding sensory cues and editing in the original transcripts generated by Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s

Real-Time System Model

The method utilized by experients of remote viewing phenomena is comprehensible via the convergence of the mechanics and laws pertaining to the universal information system and the experient. Since the system is theoretical, so too is its and the experients natural laws and mechanics. The system, in respects to real-time monitoring and manipulation, is based on a subsystem in which stores sound-based information and continuously produces its contents in a loop as opposed to linearly. It is also based on a visuo-spatial subsystem in which stores visual and spatial information. The visuo-spatial subsystem can be further broken down into a visual subsystem in which the subsystem monitors and records the shape, size, color, and texture of objects and a spatial subsystem in which the subsystem monitors and records the orientation or location of objects. In addition, an episodic subsystem may exist in which integrates the aforementioned sound and visuo-spatial subsystems, and information pertaining to other subsystems. This subsystem, or possibly a component of a subsystem, is considered episodic in that it is assumed to bind visuo-spatial and sound based information into a unitary episodic representation. It is assumed that the systems capability of real-time monitoring is not a separate system from the universal information systems long-term system storage, but rather its representations are a subset of the representations in long-term system storage. In regards to real-time subsystem associations with a probabilistic subsystem, the most crucial requirement of the real-time subsystem is predictability as a means to eliminate potential temporal failures such as delays between events and system response, which could otherwise result in reduce performance or possibly catastrophic failures. (Kelly, 2011)

Neurological Causation & Interpretive Processes

There have been correlates found between remote viewing phenomena and working memory in experients of remote viewing phenomena. This may suggest a part played by the parietal lobe and the basal ganglia in which are identified crucial for working memory function. These areas could be concluded as at least partially responsible for interpreting signals pertaining to real-time events as psychological and physiological conditions caused by injury to these regions of the brain are in correlation with several disorders reported by experients of remote viewing phenomena including reduced learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy, dyslexia, autism, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and epilepsy. However, interpretive subsystems are theorized to be external to the experient. Their objective is to mediate transmissions between the system and the experient by translating the signal for the receptor. In the case of an experient receiving information from the system, the information is deemed properly mediated and comprehensible to the experients mental interpretive processes pending the onset of mental interpretive processes. Information interpreted is either immediately accessible consciously by the experient, or in the case of subconscious reception, is delayed and results in spontaneous experiences. (Kelly, 2011)


  1. Kelly, Theresa M. (2011) Clairvoyance: A Quantum Approach – A Textbook of the University of Alternative Studies. Charleston, South Carolina USA.
  2. Leonard Zusne, Warren H. Jones (1989). Anomalistic psychology: a study of magical thinking.
  3. Search for the Soul by Milbourne Christopher, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1979
  4. Kiss the Earth Good-bye: Adventures and Discoveries in the Nonmaterial
  5. Parapsychological Association website
  6. Time magazine, 11 December 1995, p.45, The Vision Thing by Douglas Waller, Washington
  7. Wiseman, R. & Milton, J. (1999). “Experiment one of the SAIC remote viewing program: A critical re-evaluation. “
  8. Randi & Clarke, An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural “Remote viewing”
  9. Bennett, Gary L. (NASA, Washington, DC) (1994). Heretical science – Beyond the boundaries of pathological science.
  10. Gardner, Martin, Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?: Debunking Pseudoscience ISBN 0393322386
  11. Ray Hyman, The Evidence for Psychic Functioning: Claims vs. Reality Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 1996
  12. Wiseman, R. & Milton, J. (1999). “Experiment One of the SAIC Remote Viewing Program: A critical reevaluation”
  13. ^ Reading the Enemy’s Mind: Inside Star Gate, America’s Psychic Espionage Program by Paul H. Smith, Tom Doherty
  14. May, E.C., “The American Institutes for Research Review of the Department of Defense’s STAR GATE Program
  15. An assessment of the evidence for psychic functioning Julia Utts
  16. “An Evaluation of Remote Viewing: Research and Applications” by Mumford, Rose and Goslin
  17. Hyman, Ray. “Evaluation of a Program on Anomalous Mental Phenomena”.
  18. “Precognitive Remote Perception: Replication of Remote Viewing” (1996). Journal of Scientific Exploration 10 (1): 109–110.
  19. Stephan A. Schwartz
  20. Uri Geller
  21. Schwartz, S. Deep Quest: An Experiment in Deep Ocean Psychic Archaeology and Distant Viewing. Invited Paper.
  22. Opening to the Infinite by Stephan A. Schwartz, Nemoseen Media, 2007
  23. The Mind Race: Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities by Russell Trag and Keith Harary, Villard Books, 1984
  24. Schwartz, S. The Use of Intuitionally Derived Data in Archaeological Fieldwork.
  25. Opening to the Infinite by Stephan A. Schwartz Nemoseen Media, 2007, pp. 171-201
  26. The Ultimate Time Machine by Joseph McMoneagle, Hampton Roads Publishing Co.,Inc.,1998, p.30
  27. On camera interview with Thomas Cooke, PhD by Glen Winters, 1977
  28. Schwartz, S. Deep Quest: An Experiment in Deep Ocean Psychic Archaeology and Distant Viewing. Invited Paper.
  29. Opening to the Infinite by Stephan A. Schwartz Nemoseen Media, 2007, pp. 180-201
  30. Schwartz, S. with Side-scan Sonar Survey by Harold E. Edgerton. A Preliminary Survey of the Eastern Harbour
  31. Schwartz, S. The Marea Probe: An Experiment in Applied Parapsychology involving the Location, Reconstruction…
  32. Schwartz, S. with De Mattei, R., and Schlitz, M. The Pecos Project
  33. Schwartz, S. and De Mattei, R. The Caravel Project.
  34. Schwartz, S. and De Mattei, R. with independent archaeological evaluation by Roger Smith, (Institute for Nautical
  35. Schwartz, S. and De Mattei, R. The Discovery of an American Brig: Fieldwork Involving Applied Archaeological
    Remote Viewing
  36. Schwartz, S. and De Mattei, R. The Discovery of an American Brig: Fieldwork Involving Applied Archaeological
    Remote Viewing.
  37. Marks, D.F. & Kammann, R. (1978). “Information transmission in remote viewing experiments”, Nature, 274:680-81.
  38. “A comprehensive review of major empirical studies in parapsychology involving random.. by Alcock, J.
  39. Marks, D.F. (2000). The Psychology of the Psychic. Amherst, New York:Prometheus Books.
  40. “The Psychology of the Psychic” by David Marks and Richard Kamman, Prometheus Books. Amherst, New York, 2000
  41. Flim Flam by James Randi, Prometheus books, New York, 1987, 9th printing
  42. Remote viewing at the Randi Educational Foundation
  43. Penman, Danny (January 28, 2008). “Could there be proof to the theory that we’re ALL psychic?”
  44. Ray Hyman, The Evidence for Psychic Functioning: Claims vs. Reality Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 1996 [1]
  45. Mind Trek: Exploring Consciousness, Time, and Space Through Remote Viewing by Joseph McMoneagle, Hampton Roads

Further Reading

  1. Kelly, Theresa M.(2013) Quantum Psychics – Scientifically Understand, Enhance and Control Your Psychic Ability,
    Charleston, South Carolina USA (ISBN: 9780557034024).
  2. Kelly, Theresa M. (2011) Clairvoyance: A Quantum Approach – A Textbook of the University of Alternative Studies. Charleston, South Carolina USA.
  3. David Marks, Ph.D., “The Psychology of the Psychic (2nd edn.)” Prometheus Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57392-798-8
  4. Courtney Brown, Ph.D., Remote Viewing : The Science and Theory of Nonphysical Perception. ISBN 0-9766762-1-4
  5. David Morehouse, Psychic Warrior, St. Martin’s, 1996, ISBN 0-312-96413-7
  6. Jim Schnabel, Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies, Dell, 1997 , ISBN 0-440-22306-7
  7. Paul H. Smith, Reading the Enemy’s Mind: Inside Star Gate — America’s Psychic Espionage Program.
    ISBN 0-312-87515-0
  8. Buchanan, Lyn, The Seventh Sense: The Secrets Of Remote Viewing As Told By A “Psychic Spy.” ISBN 0-7434-6268-8
  9. F. Holmes Atwater, Captain of My Ship, Master of My Soul: Living with Guidance. ISBN 1-57174-247-6
  10. McMoneagle, Joseph, The Stargate Chronicles: Memoirs of a Psychic Spy, Hampton Roads 2002, ISBN 1-57174-225-5

External links

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