This story starts in 1930, when Albert Einstein contributed his preface to Upton Sinclair’s Mental Radio— Upton’s published experiments in to telepathy:
“The results of the telepathic experiments carefully and plainly set forth in this book stand surely far beyond those which a nature investigator holds to be thinkable…. In no case should the psychologically interested circles pass over this book heedlessly.” Signed, A. Einstein.1
Around that same time Einstein was coming to grips with quantum mechanics and nonlocality. Quantum nonlocality2 indicates that things (photons, electrons, even molecules and small diamonds3 ) separated by space and time4 can still be linked, or entangled. Quantum physicists are not put off by the possibility of telepathy, since —while telepathy seems to violate classical (Newtonian) mechanics— it fits nicely into the nonlocal nature of quantum mechanics.
In Mental Radio, Upton described his approximately 300 telepathy experiments. He would draw something, fold the paper closed, and ask someone else to draw it, sight unseen. His results were remarkable. (see sample at right).
Move forward about 35 years to 1970. Physicists Dr. Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ at SRI were contracted by the U.S. government from 1970 to 1995 to study psychic phenomena. SRI coined the term Remote Viewing (RV) because all previous terms (telepathy, clairvoyance, etc) all had too much baggage. RV is based on a presumption that we have a sense that can pick up a signal, but we must separate it from the noise, namely our analytical mind’s insistence on trying to name this vague, unclear perception.
Puthoff’s CIA-Initiated Remote Viewing At Stanford Research Institute is the best declassified summation from a hard-science perspective.
SRI’s remote viewing program had many remarkable results, and much (90+%) of it remains classified. One declassified result is explained by Joe McMoneagle, ‘remote viewer agent #001′, in an interview with Tom Csere 5 , “In 1979, most U.S. Intelligence agencies had become aware that the Russians had built what was the largest building under a single roof in the world. No one in these agencies, however, knew what was going on inside. I was asked to remote view this facility, and I said I thought they were building a submarine. I was also able to provide specific details about this submarine, including its size, armament, hull configuration, and even the projected date of launch. As a result of this information I provided, the intelligence community was later able to confirm the existence of the new Soviet “Typhoon”-class submarine–the largest in the world!”
SRI’s research sheds some light on Upton’s trials. In them, the receiver’s drawings always bear a striking resemblance to the original, but are almost always wrong. The resemblance goes beyond mere pattern matching. I did my own trials starting in 1991 after reading Mental Radio, and this is also true of mine. How do the similarities go beyond pattern matching? For instance, the angularity (straight, round, wavy, elliptical, slanted, etc.) in Upton’s trials are correct (you can check this out yourself when looking at my own trials, and I’ll highlight a few next). This is because—according to SRI— angularity is easier to perceive; the interpretation of the perceptions is hardest. Our analytical mind is not content to perceive something yet not know what it is, so it constantly ‘nags’ (names and guesses) at the signal, producing incorrect results.
The disconnect between perception and recognition happens when the hemispheres of the brain are disconnected6. It is also something we’ve all experienced. Groggy in bed, you open your eyes, and you see a shape in the corner. Your eyes aren’t mistaking you, but that sure looks like a pig in your bedroom. You sit up, wipe the sleep out of your eyes, look again, and it’s a pile of dirty laundry. Same object, your brain just missed the interpretation.
This disconnect is a key problem of Remote Viewing. Let’s look as some examples from my own trials. In the following example, it turned a ladder (two long lines intersected at 90˚ by four shorter lines at regular distances) in to a picket fence (two long lines intersected at 90˚ by four shorter lines at regular distances):
Since angularity easily perceived, Sydney produced a second drawing (to the right), correcting the slant, but again failing to identify the object. She was certain enough to write “several straight lines”.
The assignment of an incorrect item to a correct perception is called analytic overlay in traditional Remote Viewing, and deduction in a variant called Scientific Remote Viewing. We perceive adjectives, we feel compelled to make them into nouns.
Analytic overlay can turn a fork in to a paint brush, then a forearm.
When Kathy simply described the object “stick with something at the end”, she was correct.
Confirmation bias, or the “tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs”7 seems to be the most common objection to such experiments. The last sentence of the previous section has been called confirmation bias by detractors. Many things can be described as a stick w/something at the end! This is true, but that description also fails to describe just as many—if not more— things. But if it describes ‘many things’ is not at issue. What is at issue is if this session result in toto describes this target more accurately than it describes the other targets of the other trials. In toto would mean the entire session, the text plus the drawings, taking into consideration how the placement, size, repetition/similarities etc. of the drawings conveys the confidence and intent of the viewer. One could even ask the viewer about the session: what order were these items drawn in? What is the significance of the order? Which do you feel most confident about?
Confirmation bias is ruled out with blind judging. Blind judging goes something like this: perform some trials. How many? Well, a minimum to determine statistical significance; at least four8. (Flip a coin four times and if it comes up heads every time, that is statistically significant).
Take the targets and the sessions and ‘un-match’ them… mix them up. Ask a judge who has not seen them to match the sessions to the targets. If there is no effect (meaning just confirmation bias), the judges matches will be no better than chance. Given 20 trials and only confirmation bias, a judge will not be able to match many more than two. If the effect is real, the judge’s matching will exceed chance.
I have not done blind judging on my trials, but Targ has done it on a number of his trials, and his blind judging results showed odds of almost a million to one against chance9.
I show you all the targets and sessions, so you cannot be a blind judge. You can, however, perform a blind judging thought experiment. Take the above session received image, then compare it to my other 20 targets, and ask yourself, which target does this best match? Were you a blind judge, do you think you would have selected the correct target from the 20 sessions? Clearly such a thought experiment is flawed, however its value shows that “stick w/something at the end” coupled with her drawings is not so vague that it would apply to most, or even many, or arguably even a few of the target sessions.
Given that confirmation bias demands that of 20 trials a blind judge wouldn’t be able to match many more than two, of my 20 trials, do you think you would have correctly matched more than two? Yes, again a flawed question, but Targ’s blind judging has already established the overwhelming statistical significance against chance.
Back to my examples and the errors introduced by hasty deduction/analytic overlay:
The earth and moon becomes first a circle (with pole indicators) with a bruised peach, proportionately sized and precisely distanced and positioned relative to the primary object’s north pole, then finally “Gorby”, a fair deduction to my depiction of the moon.
Even in 1993 I suspected there was a problem with the assignment of an object to my perceptions. So in this next session I made 3 drawings, successively top to bottom. The yin yang target is at first received as a circle half black and half white. In my second drawing it becomes two such circles. In the final, refined drawing it becomes a white circle eclipsed by a black one:
Sometimes you get a direct hit:
(Enjoyed these? Check out my full set of 22 ‘mental radio’ sessions).
SRI developed a specific protocol to keep the analytical mind otherwise occupied while the signal comes through, reducing the noise of the analytical mind. Analytical mind is a butt-insky. It’s not content to be shut off, it’s best to give it something else to do while you are focusing on the signal. That is the core tenet of the RV protocol.
On to some of my own RV sessions. I’ve only done about 20 so far, so I’m a novice, but I’ve already had mind blowing results.
The targets were assigned by my brother. He selected a target, labelled it, circled it (technically problematic, but ok for practice), and assigned it a random 8 digit number. He gave me only the number. I completed 9 pages of protocol paperwork (analytical mind loves paperwork). Page 9 is what you see to the right, called the Site Template.
This one was my “holy moly this works!” moment. Remember, I’m still a novice, so for this little training, it shows impressive results!
The second one my brother said I totally missed when he saw it, but that’s because he was expecting to see some of the objects in the picture (a lander, a rover, an astronaut), but there was also the assumption that I was to view the photo rather than the event.
Remote Viewing is a non-local perception, meaning an event can be viewed from any perspective and even over a range of time. This is not that surprising since our brain stores memories the same way.
The site template states “viewed from above”, and the target (the moon) looks just like that when viewed from above it. Descriptor words accurately describe the moon as old, natural, rough, hard, stone-like. Yes, I got some descriptors wrong, but I’m still learning. It accurately describes craters (inanimate, smooth, cling), it even describes what we did there (pick off surface things). It depicts a rocket orbiting the moon (machine, angled wrong way, hollow, smooth, artificial, perfect), and a wavy line going from the moon, through the rocket, to somewhere off the template.
The third one is an example of cueing, or rather how to assemble a verbal description of what I want to target. The cue was: cnn.com/tomorrow when I log in/lead story.
The image and associated descriptor words sure resemble a boat with a concerned crowd on it. Notice every descriptor word for [x] and [a] matches the target.
Keep in mind the CNN headline did not yet exist at the time of my session, demonstrating the ability to perceive near future events. Did I pick up on the intent of the CNN staff to publish this story? Perhaps, but I did not specify when I would log in other than tomorrow, and CNN may have run different headlines throughout the day.
Confirmation Bias Redux?
One critic has called this session confirmation bias, insisting that such a vague session would match any CNN headline. So I did a follow on test. For a time, whenever I thought to do it, I would visit CNN and capture their lead story.
These 11 additional headlines certainly make confirmation bias seem unlikely. Notice of the entire set of 1 dozen headlines, only the target shows a photo of a concerned crowd with no outlet in a hard oval shaped enclosure.
Skeptics have had difficulty reproducing these effects, but this has been attributed to “errors in methodology, or subtle influencing of percipients by experimenters that diminishes the effect”10. Said another way, “experimenters’ attitudes can influence the outcome of experiments”11. A variant on peer pressure, participants in experiments can be influenced to create certain outcomes, and—as we all know from peer pressure— this need not happen overtly, or even consciously. Throw ESP in the mix and peer pressure goes to a whole new level. People’s behaviors are often influenced by the desire for praise and admiration, as well as an aversion to disapproval. If I know you may look more favorably upon me if I validate your hypothesis (or worse, that you may question my integrity or intelligence if I invalidate your hypothesis), I may be inclined to produce results that validate your hypothesis. And if ESP is real, I may be picking up on the experimenter’s opinions even if I haven’t met him. Given that, if ESP really were real, it would be unreasonable to expect an experimenter who has already concluded ESP to be ‘magical thinking’ to ever produce anything other than false results!
A variant on experimenter bias is internal bias. Gertrude Schmeidler determined “that subjects who believe in psi obtain, on the average, higher results than those who do not believe in it.” She called this “the sheep – goat effect”.12
These Personal Examples Lack Sufficient Scientific Rigor
That is true. I’m not a scientist, and these examples are for my own edification, not everyone’s. If a first-hand witness doesn’t sufficiently document (with independent verification and gaining publication in a peer-reviewed journal) watching a bear knock over a tree, that does not mean it didn’t happen.
If you find these examples interesting, I urge you to try it for yourself.
There’s No Theory
Another objection is that this can’t be true because there is no theory explaining how it works. Such a logical fallacy is easily countered: everything that is true in the observable universe at one time lacked a theory; the absence of the theory does not preclude it from being true.
We have not yet found the specific mechanism that permits ESP; to be deterred by this is to deny history— we were taking advantage of the utility of both vitamins and hormones before each had been isolated (discovered). Rupert Sheldrake addresses the ‘no theory’ objection in his 2008 Google Tech Talk; in short, there is plenty of science for which there is no theory, and there are actually a number of theories supporting psi: Rupert’s own theory is called morphic resonance, and there are a number of quantum theories as well.
Quantum physics tells us that we live in a nonlocal universe, meaning, items separated by space and time can still be entangled. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene, in his book The Hidden Reality, notes that while Newtonian Physics deals with the macroscopic, Quantum Physics deals with the microscopic, and for the most part, these two realms don’t interfere with each other. The nuance may be beyond me, but macroscopic diamonds have been entangled at room temperature13, suggesting that quantum entanglement may indeed impinge on the macrosocopic. Moreover, in which realm do thoughts reside? The macroscopic? The microscopic? The answer is both: quantum influence upon neurons is validated by recent research14,15
“The prevailing neuroscientific paradigm considers information processing within the central nervous system as occurring through hierarchically organized and interconnected neural networks. The hierarchy of neural networks doesn’t end at the neuroaxonal level; it incorporates subcellular mechanisms as well. When the size of the hierarchical components reaches the nanometer range and the number of elements exceeds that of the neuroaxonal system, an interface emerges for a possible transition between neurochemical and quantum physical events. ‘Signal nonlocality,’ accessed by means of quantum entanglement is an essential feature of the quantum physical domain. The presented interface may imply that some manifestations of altered states of consciousness, unconscious/conscious shifts have quantum origin with significant psychosomatic implications.”
There’s No Evidence
In every discussion of this nature, there is always someone who throws out the rhetorical ‘where’s the hard science?’ question, or just smugly states that ‘there’s no evidence’.
In response to such claims, Dean Radin has compiled a list of peer-reviewed journal publications on Psi Research; and that is just a list of what he could find online, there’s more in book form: Distant Mental Influence by Dr. William Braud and The Reality of ESP: A Physicist’s Proof of Psychic Abilities by Russell Targ, to name two.
Even If There Is Evidence, It’s Not Proof
The scientific threshold of proof is quite high, and that’s a good thing. Russel Targ, in his latest book The Reality of ESP: A Physicist’s Proof of Psychic Abilities, addresses the ‘no proof’ counterclaim:
“Scientists usually defined proof as overwhelming evidence, so strong it would be logically or probabilistically unreasonable to deny the supported argument. Proof establishes knowledge for the truth of the conclusion — such as aspirin preventing heart attacks, in which case the evidence was so strong that the National Institutes of Health stopped experiments to avoid killing off the untreated controls.
“What I present here is not a mathematical proof but rather published experimental evidence from Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and from laboratories across the country. Based on all these decades of data, I believe it would be logically and empirically incoherent to deny the existence of some kind of human ability for direct awareness or experience of distance events that are blocked from ordinary perception, such experience being commonly known as ESP.”
Targ details a number of double blind experiments whose statistical probabilities against chance were 10 times higher than the threshold the NIH used to determine that aspirin lowers the risk of heart attacks. From a statistical perspective, it becomes unreasonable to deny those results as proof, and yet accept as proof the NIH’s evidence that aspirin prevents heart attacks.
The suggestion that it is unscientific to entertain such theories due to alleged lack of evidence (I say alleged because it is simply not true) is further undermined by fact that string theory is so popular in scientific circles. The complete absence of evidence16,17 in support of string theory has not deterred string theory from gaining many advocates, and being considered ok—or even forward thinking— as a discussion topic. This seeming contradiction is hard to reconcile.
If You Think You Can Prove Psi, Why Don’t You Apply for the Randi Prize?
Debunker and pseudo-skeptic James Randi has offered a $1 million prize for any proof of psi. Rupert Sheldrake addresses this thought in his 2008 Google Tech Talk.
Unfounded Certainty = Blind Faith
When someone claims certainly that the notion nonlocal consciousness is not worthy of scientific inquiry, there is clearly a disconnect. That disconnect is considered by Stephan A. Schwartz’s in his False Equivalencies and the Mediocrity of Nonlocal Consciousness Research Criticism:
“As normal-science research continues to get closer to the edge of the “known,” it pushes so intensely and with such specific focus that its explorations produce just the opposite effect from that desired. Not only does such research fail to strengthen the paradigm, which was its original purpose, but it produces still more anomalies. Ironically, at the end of the paradigm’s lifespan, the better the instrumentation the more intractable the challenge presented by anomalies. When this happens, the science enters a state of crisis from which there is no turning back. This is the phase we are now entering, and why a nonfact based Denier movement has arisen.
“In Science, God, and the Nature of Reality: Bias in Biomedical Research, biomedical scientist Professor Sarah S. Knox of the University of West Virginia Medical School frames this issue very clearly:
Since [critics contend] there is no plausible mechanism within a materialist frame of reference to explain them, paranormal phenomena can’t possibly be valid. This is the same reasoning that the learned men of Galileo’s day used when they refused to look in the telescope. This attitude is nowhere more evident than in the number of scientists who are willing to volunteer as “expert” commentators on television programs about paranormal phenomena, astonishingly undeterred and unembarrassed by their complete lack of knowledge concerning the existing experimental data. These “experts” smile condescendingly as they explain that the phenomena under discussion can be explained by chance occurrence, brain abnormality, etc., depending on the topic at hand. Since the belief that causality can only be found in matter reigns supreme, there doesn’t seem to be any requirement that these “experts” support their claims with actual data. They need only introduce the possibility that the same outcome might have been achieved through some other means, to convince their naïve audience that it is all ‘hocus pocus.’”
“As the British Society for Psychical Research puts it, opposition to this area of research is “often against its implications and not the quality of its evidence.”
“It is long past time that we recognize that just as with climate change, and evolution denierism, the quality of the criticism aimed at nonlocal consciousness research is in false equivalency to the research itself.”
Science is in a state of crisis. Evidence is mounting supporting nonlocal consciousness; eventually our paradigm will change to support this. Until it does, the counterarguments of deniers will be backed by belief— blind faith — not a rational response to the evidence presented.
How can a random number convey so much information?
The mere intention of focusing one’s attention on a particular matter is what enables the signal to come in, the random number is merely a token of the target, and of little real importance. Joe McMoneagle posits that it is intention, attention and expectation that enable the perceptions to come in.
ESP in Dreams
The conscious mind seems to hinder reception (which is one reason we typically have little awareness of such perceptions… our minds are constantly chattering, drowning out the signal). With this in mind, I wanted to see if I could use dreams to produce reasonable results. The procedure is simple: before going to bed, ask yourself a question that you would like answered (alphanumerics are incredibly difficult to perceive, so better results will come from questions whose answer can be portrayed without numbers or words… kind of like charades). In the morning mull over any dreams that stand out. Keeping in mind that signals come in incomplete and get perceived metaphorically, look for metaphors in the dream to arrive at the answer.
I have had many astonishing precognitions that are fodder for future posts. Several of them weren’t mere metaphors, but were astonishingly clear perceptions of me (and my wife) that—once the presaged moment came to pass— bowled me over because of their shocking precision.
But those examples are mere anecdotes. This example is more concrete: I wanted to see if I could predict if a stock would end the day up or down. Turns out I actually predicted the shape of the chart during the day:
“AAPL will rise quickly in the morning and hit a wall and plateau before lunch. The afternoon is less certain but I feel that Apple will close the day up, with the highest price of the day to be at lunchtime.”
Here is the day’s chart:
For the record, that day I had lunch around 1:30.
The U.S. Government spent $20 million between 1970 and 1995 on this18, and its umbrella project is known as Project Stargate. Prior to its shut down in 1995, the CIA commissioned a study by the American Institutes for Research to evaluate the program’s effectiveness. The study found that the phenomena was real but produced no actionable intelligence. According to Dr. Harold Puthoff, the main reason the study found no actionable intelligence is because 98% of the data was classified and the AIR had no security clearance, hence, “they weren’t cleared to see the really good stuff”.
Why should I care?
Remote viewing is possible because we have another sense. This sense is not limited to perceiving dimensionality (angularity, mass), color, texture, etc. It can also perceive emotions, aspirations, expectations, intentions, outcomes and more, and is not limited to the present or even the past. Like any other sense, it is always on, though we may choose to ignore it. It mostly operates below our conscious awareness (impacting us nonetheless), and teachable skills are available to raise it to conscious awareness, so we may use it as yet another layer in our informed decision making process.
Yesterday, I set an empty wine glass down on the counter. A small voice in me said, “that will fall and break there”. I ignored the affront to my choice of where to place a wine glass. Less than a minute later I brushed up against it and it fell and broke.
Could it be that I knew that placing the glass there would result in it breaking? Did I ignore a valuable sense (other than common sense) that could have resulted in an unbroken wine glass? What does it say about me if I am offended by such a sense? If I heeded the voice and moved the glass, and so it did not break, does that mean that the voice was not precognition? On the flip side, if the perception was precognition, was the glass at that point destined to break, and any warning would have made no difference? Is this perception fact or forecast? (My experience leans towards forecast, and Russell Targ suggests too that it is forecast, but that is for another post).
The wine glass example is dubious but illustrative. As I inquire about this topic, it seems to validate suspicions I’ve had about the mechanics of mind. I wonder: could my life be made better or worse through repeatedly heeding or ignoring this sense? What do others perceive about my inner thoughts? Is it impossible for me to truly hide my feelings about someone? If I can’t, then wouldn’t I bear some responsibility for their behavior towards me? Maybe others can pick up on emotions in me that even I haven’t acknowledged. As long as I don’t shore up my messy emotions, they are out there for the world to perceive and respond back to, and I can’t fault the world for not shoring up their messy emotions in turn. What is its relationship to creativity? To intuition? To invention? What of ownership of thoughts? Are all my thoughts truly mine?
It gets deeper: by what mechanism is it possible for us to perceive things that by all current scientific understanding we should not be able to perceive? What does it say about the nature of time if I can perceive something that hasn’t happened yet? What does it say about free will? Is the tired New Age saw “everything’s connected” actually true?
Keep Reading: More About Remote Viewing
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- Mental Radio, Upton Sinclair, Preface [↩]
- Wikipedia: Quantum nonlocality [↩]
- Wikipedia citation note: quantum entanglement of small diamonds [↩]
- Science Magazine, May 22, 2013: Physicists Create Quantum Link Between Photons That Don’t Exist at the Same Time [↩]
- Psychic World, Summer 1998, Tom Csere [↩]
- http://www.wimp.com/braindisconnected/ [↩]
- Wikipedia: Confirmation bias [↩]
- Russell Targ, The Reality of ESP, A Physicists’s Proof of Psychic Abilities, p. 77: “for an experiment to reach minimum statistical significance, it has to achieve at least one-in-twenty odds against chance occurrence (0.05). Therefore, we calculated that if all Hella’s transcripts were matched in first place, we would have to carry out only for trials. The simple calculation says that any one of 4 targets, times any one of 3, times any one of 2 represents the 24 possible arrangements. And one divided by 24 (one in four-factorial) equals 0.04, which is less than the 0.05 demarcation line for significance. That is, the probability of four correct without replacement is one in four factorial (1/4!) = 0.04.” [↩]
- Russell Targ, The Reality of ESP, A Physicists’s Proof of Psychic Abilities, p. 71, Hella Hammid “acheived statistical significance of almost one in a million [1.8 x 10-6] that her impressions could have occurred by chance” [↩]
- Wiseman and Schlitz, 1997, The Journal of Parapsychology, vol. 61, Sept. 1997 [↩]
- Experimenter Effects in Scientific Research: How Widely are they Neglected?, Rupert Sheldrake, Journal of Scientific Exploration 12, 73-78 12, 73-78, 1998 [↩]
- Mario Varvoglis, Ph.D., The Sheep – Goat Effect [↩]
- Science Magazine, December 2011, vol. 334 no. 6060 pp. 1253-1256 Entangling Macroscopic Diamonds at Room Temperature; K. C. Lee, M. R. Sprague, B. J. Sussman, J. Nunn, N. K. Langford, X.-M. Jin, T. Champion, P. Michelberger, K. F. Reim, D. England, D. Jaksch, I. A. Walmsley [↩]
- Discovery of Quantum Vibrations Inside Brain Neurons Supports Controversial Theory of Consciousness [↩]
- Frecska E, Luna LE., “Neuro-ontological interpretation of spiritual experiences”. Neuropsychopharmacol Hung. 2006;8:143–153. MEDLINE [↩]
- Brian Greene, The Hidden Reality, p. 113 “Making contact with data, experimental or observational, is the only way to determine if string theory correctly describes nature. It’s a goal that’s proved elusive. String theory, for all its advances, is still a wholly mathematical undertaking.” [↩]
- Russell Targ, The Reality of ESP, A Physicists’s Proof of Psychic Abilities, p. 16 “This model should be contrasted with string theory, which is a model for subatomic physics that is presently hanging by a thread. String theory predicts that elementary particles are one-dimensional in extent, rather than zero-dimensional points in space. However science is an empirical subject, meaning that all accepted theories must be based on evidence to support them. And after forty years of investigation by thousands of physicists, to date no version of string theory has ever made and experimentally verifiable prediction that could not be explained with another, simpler theory. By contrast, ESP rests on more than a century of experimental research from laboratories all over the planet. Thus, in my opinion, string theory is more airy-fairy than ESP.” [↩]
- Wikipedia: Project Stargate [↩]