Remote Viewing

The name "Remote Viewing" was coined by microwave and laser researcher Hal Puthoff and gas laser physicist Russel Targ during a series of experiments designed to look for any evidence, no matter how slight, of "Extra-Sensory Perception" (ESP - the obtaining of information about a place or thing without the use of the "conventional" five senses).

These experiments took place in the early 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), an American government-funded research facility originally attached to Stanford University, and gained their most positive results using the following procedures:

  1. A researcher picks six map locations at random, within three hours driving distance of the University. He or she then drives to each of these locations in turn and records their impressions of the site on a portable tape recorder, taking photographs of any features which look visually interesting. On their return, the name of each location, along with its map reference, the tape and photographs are placed in an envelope, numbered from 1 to 6, sealed and placed in a safe in the laboratory.
  2. On the morning of the experiment, the researcher throws a die, and based on the number shown returns to one of the locations. This person is now referred to as the "target".
  3. Back at the laboratory, once enough time has elapsed to allow the "target" to reach their destination, a volunteer (the "subject") is seated in a comfortable chair in a dimly-lit, quiet room. Another researcher (the "monitor") sits next to them with a tape recorder and asks them to relax and clear their mind of all words. The subject is then told of the existence of the target, and instructed to form an image of the target's surroundings in their mind, describing any images or sensations which come to them, no matter how faint. Once the subject has overcome their natural self-consciousness, they start to describe shapes and colours; smells; impressions of spaciousness or claustrophobia; feelings such as "seasickness" or "vertigo". These impressions are all recorded, with the researcher directing the subject to "look up", "feel the surface" or asking for clarification of ambiguous phrases where appropriate. (This researcher does not know where the target is at this stage!)
  4. The tape is transcribed into a typewritten document. This document is passed to a panel of five scrutineers, along with the six envelopes. Each member of the panel gives a percentage score for how closely the description fits each location, and these scores are totaled to "rate" each location against the impressions received by the subject.
  5. The target returns, and reveals which location was correct. This is checked against the scores received, and the transcript is discussed with the subject to improve their chances of identifying a "real" impression as opposed to a flight of imagination at their next trial.

Targ and Puthoff were taken aback at the success of these trials, which scored odds of several million to one above chance in the first few dozen trials!

They went on to try variations on the procedure, to try to decide whether the success relied on a "telepathic" connection between target and subject, or if the subject was somehow projecting their consciousness. They found that in cases where the target just threw the die, but didn't return to the location, their results were just as good! Even more strangely, they found results significantly better than chance in cases where the die was thrown after the description had been recorded!

As the results seemed to be independent of the presence of an observer at the location, they tried a new series of tests where each envelope just contained the map coordinates of an easily identifiable site. These experiments were just as successful as the first series. Finally, they took some of their "best" subjects (those who could clearly describe buildings and spaces on a repeatable basis) and handed them slips of paper with a map reference, asking them to describe what they saw there. As before, the results were better than could have been expected, with a couple of the subjects even being able to draw pictures and sketch ground plans of the target area!

One test which didn't go entirely to plan happened when a researcher, trying to point a subject at a holiday cabin high in the mountains, mis-transcribed the map co-ordinates. The subject returned with a pencil sketch showing the ground plan of a secure base, complete with names of officers and projects read from signs on doors, the layout of guard posts and barbed wire and the position of satellite antennae! A military liason officer visiting the project confirmed that this was a U.S. military base, which did not appear on any map, and took the sketch away. Within a few weeks, the project had major military funding, with a spin-off project being run in parallel at Fort Meade in Matyland…

This story was documented in Targ and Puthoff's book "Mind-Reach". Since then, a number of books have been published about the NSA and CIA's use of these techniques for spying, under such codenames as "Grill Flame" and "Project Stargate" - more details in my next article

Peet, 30th May 1998