By Louis Proud
Surprising new evidence reveals that the British Government showed an active interest in using psychics for espionage purposes. In a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by UFO author and investigator Timothy Good, it was discovered that the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) undertook a study between 2001 and 2002 to investigate the efficiency of remote viewing.
For those who don’t know, remote viewing – also called ‘travelling clairvoyance’ – is the ability to perceive places, persons and actions using psychic means. As is now well known, the US Army and various other tax payer supported government agencies, including the CIA, investigated and utilised remote viewing during the 1970s and 1980s.
Now that it’s been declassified, all of the documentation pertaining to the British MoD’s remote viewing study can be obtained from their website – or so they claim. In one section it states that the results they obtained were largely unsuccessful and “undoubtedly disappointing with no one achieving any useful performance as an RV subject.” However, given the fact that untrained novices were used in the study, as well as the fact that the remote viewing methods they employed left much to be desired, this is not surprising.
The MoD initially attempted to recruit 12 ‘known’ psychics who had advertised their abilities on the Internet. When every single one of them refused to be a part of the program, however, novice volunteers were drafted instead. One of the tests conducted involved blind-folding participants, and asking them to psychically determine the contents of sealed brown envelopes. Around 28% of the participants were successful in this endeavour. Most of them, the report states, were hopelessly off the mark.
According to a spokeswoman for the MoD, their £18,000 remote viewing study “was conducted to assess claims made in some academic circles and to validate research carried out by other nations on psychic ability.” She adds: “The study concluded that remote viewing theories had little value to the MoD and was taken no further.”
UFO investigator and author Nick Pope, who worked for the MoD for 21 years, suggests there may have been an undisclosed purpose to the study. Given its timing, he says, the study may have concerned military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It can only be speculated,” he says, “but you don’t employ that kind of time and effort to find money down the back of the sofa. You go to this trouble for high value assets. We must be talking about Bin Laden and weapons of mass destruction.”
In response to media criticism for “wasting taxpayer’s money” on a project seen as being ludicrous, MoD defended their actions, perhaps indicating they take the subject of parapsychology – a so called “pseudoscience” – far more seriously than they would have the public believe.
“I don’t think this was a waste of public money,” says Pope. “Many people will say so, but I think it is marvellous that the government is prepared to think outside the box. And this is as outside the box as it gets.”
Parapsychology – the scientific study of psychic phenomena – has been around since at least the 1800s. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s, when J.B. Rhine began conducting ESP experiments under controlled laboratory conditions at Duke University, that parapsychology became a legitimate scientific field. Since that time, knowledge in this area has rapidly advanced, and, thanks to improvements in experimental design, the presence of psi (psychic or paranormal phenomena) – which is generally weak and inconsistent – can now be detected far more easily. Also of aid to this process is the use of meta-analysis, a new statistical tool, whereby the results of many different studies can be successfully combined to render the aggregate result statistically significant.
In his fascinating book Entangled Minds, parapsychologist Dean Radin – a man with impressive credentials, who once served as a scientist at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) where he worked on a highly-classified program investigating psi phenomena for the US government – says we should no longer be trying to determine if psi exists, but how psi works. “After a century of increasingly sophisticated investigations and more than a thousand controlled studies with combined odds against chance of 10104 to 1, there is now strong evidence that some psi phenomena exist,” he explains.
In light of the fact that parapsychology is now a sophisticated and legitimate branch of science, and has been for many years, one can’t help but wonder why the MoD’s rather expensive remote viewing study was of such poor standard. It simply defies logic. Why, in other words, didn’t their study draw more heavily from the impressive body of knowledge accumulated over years and years of parapsychological research? And why didn’t their methodology follow the well-known and highly successful controlled remote viewing (CRV) protocols developed by Ingo Swann and utilised in STAR GATE and other programs? And how come, when they couldn’t recruit the twelve ‘known’ psychics for the study, they settled for novice volunteers?
By tracing the history of modern remote viewing, we can begin to answer these questions.
One of the most important figures responsible for today’s understanding of remote viewing is Ingo Swann, a scholar, artist, scientist and natural psychic. After acquiring a pet chinchilla, which, he discovered, “could read and apprehend” his thoughts, Swann developed an interest in psychic phenomena. When he began to move into the circles of those studying such phenomena, he soon became acquainted with Cleve Backster. Backster, a New York polygraph operator, is famous for his experiments in “primary perception,” in which he demonstrated, with the use of polygraph equipment, that every single type of living tissue, even the bacilli in yoghurt, possesses some degree of sentience. Swann worked in Backster’s laboratory for a year.
Soon after that, Swann participated in a series of psychic experiments for the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR). According to Time-Life, a typical experiment would take place as follows: “Swann would sit in an easy chair illuminated by a soft overhead light, virtually immobilised by wires that hooked him up to a polygraph machine, which monitored his brain waves, respiration and blood pressure. Puffing away on his cigar, he would, as he put it, ‘liberate his mind’; then he would be asked to describe or draw his impression of objects that were set out of sight in a box on a platform suspended from the ceiling.”
“At first,” says Swann, “I was not very good at this kind of ‘perceiving’, but as the months went on, I got even better at it.” The term “remote viewing,” coined by Swann and a research assistant at the ASPR named Janet Mitchell, was used to describe a particular kind of experiment conducted by Swann at around this time. Whilst in an out-of-body state, Swann would attempt to “see,” then report on the weather conditions in distant cities.
Swann became more heavily involved in parapsychological research, when, in 1972, he agreed to work at SRI for Harold Puthoff, a highly successful physicist. Puthoff, after reading the seminal book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain in which he heard about the work of Cleve Backster, was eager to conduct some parapsychological experiments of his own. The research project conducted by Puthoff – then later by him and another physicist named Russell Targ – was initially funded by the Sciences Research Foundation of San Antonia, Texas. Later on, when their successful remote viewing work at SRI began to gain wider attention, they started to receive funding from other government agencies, including the CIA.
In one early remote viewing experiment at SRI, Swann was accurately able to describe – and sketch in great detail – the features of a uniquely designed magnetometer buried six feet in concrete beneath the floor. Not only that, he managed to affect the equipment’s output signal, as displayed on a strip chart recorder. Another subject, a photographer by the name of Hella Hammid, was able to accurately describe five out of nine target sites, resulting in odds against chance of more than 500,000 to 1.
Thanks to the advent of coordinate remote viewing (CRV) – now called controlled remote viewing – numerous complications were eliminated. For example, it was no longer necessary for a person – known as the ‘beacon’ – to visit the spot that was chosen as the remote viewer’s target. This enabled remote viewing to be more easily used for espionage purposes.
CRV is a method by which coordinates are employed to identify the target to be viewed. The coordinates used, however, needn’t be geographical in nature. They can be, and usually are, completely random numbers. Once a particular target has already been ‘visited’ by a remote viewer, and this target has been assigned a set of random coordinates, it is possible for another remote viewer to ‘visit’ the same location – which could be any point in time and space – simply by focusing on the same set of coordinates. The theory behind how this works is based on Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious. “Once these numbers have been assigned,” writes British author and paranormal expert Colin Wilson, “they become part of the psychic ether, much as the letters assigned to a website on the Internet will enable anybody to access the site.”
During the Cold War, when the American government discovered they were lagging behind the Soviet Union in paranormal research, they grew concerned, thinking the Soviets might use their newly acquired knowledge for hostile purposes. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, published in 1970 by two Western authors named Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder documented that numerous scientists throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were starting to take parapsychological research – or ‘psychotronics’ – very seriously indeed.
“But interest in psychic phenomena within the ruling circles of Cold War leaders on both sides of the Atlantic remained very much a hidden agenda,” writes Jim Marrs in Psi Spies. “Officially, the United States had no interest in nonexistent phenomena.” However, a 1972 CIA report, released years later, proves agency officials were concerned about Soviet psychic research, even though, at the time, organisations such as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) were beginning to give parapsychology a bad name, as was the media.
As quoted by the editors of Time-Life, the aforementioned CIA report stated, “Soviet efforts in the field of psi research, sooner or later, might enable them to do some of the following: (a) Know the contents of top secret US documents, the movement of our troops and ships and the location and nature of our military installations. (b) Mold the thoughts of key US military and civilian leaders at a distant. (c) Cause the instant death of any US official at a distance. (d) Disable, at a distance, US military equipment of all types, including spacecraft.”
The first remote viewing research program conducted by Puthoff and Targ with CIA funding was named project SCANATE. Held at SRI, the program went on for two years, yielding some remarkable results. The CIA, happy with the success of the program, felt their money was being well-spent. A CIA intelligence consultant named Joseph A. Ball, who, according to Mind Wars author Ronald McRae, was commissioned to evaluate SCANATE, allegedly said the project “produced manifestations of extrasensory perception sufficiently sharp and clear-cut to justify serious considerations of possible applications.”
According to McRae, the AiResearch Manufacturing Company of Torrence, California, another consulting firm, was also contracted by the CIA to evaluate SCANATE, reaching essentially the same conclusion as Ball.
As well as Swann, another notable member of the SCANATE team, and an equally successful remote viewer, was a former police commissioner named Patrick H. Price, who died suddenly of a heart attack in July of 1975. As a result of conducting a highly successful operational test for the CIA, in which his descriptions of a missile and guerrilla training site in Libya were confirmed by the CIA’s Libyan Desk officer, Swann helped ensure that government funding for project SCANATE would continue. Also of help to this process was the publication of SRI’s remote viewing research in a prestigious technical periodical, Proceedings of the IEEE, the editor of which was almost fired for choosing to deal with such controversial material.
By the late 1970s, when the SRI team began receiving sponsorship from the US Army instead of the CIA, an operational unit of soldiers trained in remote viewing – known by many as the ‘psi spies’ – was created in order to help gather intelligence during the Cold War. One of the first units of remote viewers created by the US Army was called GRILL FLAME, previously named GONDOLA WISH. According to Joseph McMoneagle, one of the original psi spies, the Army interviewed around 3,000 people for GRILL FLAME, selecting, in the end, a total of six.
Early on, the members of GRILL FLAME practised remote viewing using a variety of different experimental methods. Consciousness-altering techniques such as Transcendental Meditation (TM) and biorhythm were tested, but proved to be of little value. Remote viewing in an out-of-body state was also found to be largely unsuccessful, in that, although it could be achieved, the viewer would often lose interest in the mission at hand, focusing instead on the awe-inspiring nature of the experience. The team decided, in the end, to adhere to Swann’s structured CRV methodology, as this produced the most consistently accurate results.
While in an out-of-body state, Robert Monroe, founder of the Monroe Institute for Applied Sciences – which, among other things, was used to screen remote viewers for GRILL FLAME and other programs – discovered he was being ‘observed’ by a group of strangers, one of whom appeared to be a powerful female psychic. He felt they were trying to probe his mind. Shaken by the experience, Monroe asked the GRILL FLAME team to investigate the matter. They soon discovered that the Soviet Union had a psi spies team of their own. “The Soviet KGB,” says Marrs, “laboriously screened more than a million people in an effort to locate ‘super naturals’, persons with the greatest amount of psychic power. These super psychics became the Soviet Union’s psi spies, sometimes assigned to seek out their Western counterparts.”
For many years, the two teams indulged in a game of harmless psychic cat and mouse with each other, but that’s as far as the matter went. According to former military remote viewer Mel Riley, the two teams had a kind of “gentleman’s agreement” with each other, which involved keeping the existence of the opposing team a secret from their respective bosses, so as not to cause trouble for each other.
In 1985 GRILL FLAME came under control of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). From that point onwards, the unit codename underwent several changes. GRILL FLAME became CENTER LANE, then SUN STREAK, and finally STAR GATE.
According to many of the original psi spies, the unit went downhill once it was placed under civilian control during the late 1980s. At around this time, two female trainees named Angela and Robin showed up. Called “the witches” by the others, they practised channelling, tarot card reading and automatic writing in place of CRV, consequently obtaining poor results in their work. The entire unit became something of a joke, especially when congressmen began to visit for psychic “readings.” By 1990, all of the military-trained psi spies had left the unit, leaving “the witches” in charge. Some of them retired. Others joined different units within the US Army.
During its full operational period, before things went awry, the psi spies unit provided information of critical intelligence in hundreds of very specific cases. “On scores of occasions,” writes Swann, “this information was also described within government documents as being unavailable from any other source(s).” He continues: “Also contrary to popular belief, the program operated throughout its history under the very watchful eyes of numerous oversight committees, which were both scientific and governmental. During the seventeen and a half years it ran, it provided support to nearly all of the United States intelligence agencies.”
Early on, most of the operational missions conducted by the psi spies involved investigating targets in the Soviet Union. Being highly classified and concerning issues of national security, the unit received little or no feedback about the success of these missions. One of the most talked about missions that the psi spies were asked to undertake was conducted by McMoneagle, who managed to correctly describe, in thorough detail, a new type of Soviet Submarine, which was then being constructed in a secret facility in Severodvinsk.
Another mission noted for its stunning success was undertaken in May of 1978, in response to a plane crash that occurred in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The plane, a Soviet Tupolev-22 bomber, was seen as being invaluable to the Americans, who wanted to recover the wreckage in order to examine its communication equipment. Two remote viewers working independently of one another, Frances Bryan and Gary Langford, each managed to draw detailed sketches of the area where the plane crash occurred. The plane was eventually located within barely 5 kilometres of the spot they had both described.
The story of military remote viewing hit the mainstream press in late 1995, but not before the CIA had arranged for the American Institute of Research (AIR) to conduct a biased review concerning the value and success of STAR GATE. Their aim was to discredit remote viewing and other psi abilities, in order to thwart public interest in the subject. Jessica Utts, a professor of statistics with a positive opinion on psi phenomena, and Dr. Raymond Hyman, a professor of psychology and luminary of CSICOP – in other words, a fanatical sceptic of anything remotely ‘paranormal’ – were chosen to lead the review. “It was a good strategy to select evaluators from opposite camps; it gave the appearance of balance to the evaluation – an appearance that is deceiving,” writes W. Adam Mandelbaum in his book The Psychic Battlefield.
The report evaluated only three remote viewing projects, which were carried out within one year towards the end of STAR GATE, a period of decline for the program. The other 16 or so years that it ran (though under numerous different codenames) were totally disregarded. Moreover, according to Dr. Edwin May, former director of remote viewing research, the AIR panel was denied access to an estimated 80,000 pages of program documents, due to their highly-classified nature. And, to make matters worse, the panel interviewed only three remote viewers involved in the program, all of whom were of “the witches” variety, in that they commonly relied upon tarot card reading, automatic writing and other unconventional methods to obtain their information. Ergo, only the very weakest data was used in the AIR evaluation.
The AIR report states, “The evidence accrued from research, interviews and user-assessments all indicate that the remote viewing phenomenon has no real value for intelligence operations at present.” It also mentions, however, that a “statistically significant effect” had been observed in laboratory remote viewing experiments. Despite these findings, the report goes on to mention that, “no compelling explanation has been provided for the observed effects… to say a phenomenon has been demonstrated we must know the reason for its existence.”
One can’t help but wonder if the real purpose of the British MoD’s remote viewing study was to further discredit the phenomenon. It was, after all, something of a joke – especially in comparison to the remote viewing program undertaken by the US government. Or, perhaps, as Nick Pope suggests, its real purpose has not been disclosed to the public.
In his book Psi Spies, Marrs claims that several separate unofficial sources have informed him the US government’s remote viewing program never truly ended. It only ended in the eyes of the public – just as the CIA intended. According to these sources, says Marrs, “the remote viewing methodology was simply moved to even more secret government agencies where its use continues today.”
‘MoD Defends Psychic Powers Study’
‘Defence Chiefs Spend £18,000 on a Mystic Experiment to Find Bin Laden’s Lair’
Ministry of Defence – Remote Viewing
http://www.dailygrail.com – ‘Remote Viewing Revelation’
Buchanan, Lyn, The Seventh Sense (Paraview Pocket Books, New York, NY, 2003)
Graff, Dale E., Tracks in the Psychic Wilderness (Element Books, Inc, Boston, MA, 1998)
Gruber, Elmar R., Psychic Wars: Parapsychology in Espionage – and Beyond (Cassell plc, UK, London, 1999)
Mandelbaum, W. Adam, The Psychic Battlefield: A History of the Military-Occult Complex (Thomas Dunn Books, New York, NY, 2000)
Marrs, Jim, Psi Spies (AlienZoo Publishing, Phoenix, AZ, 2000)
McMoneagle, Joseph, Remote Viewing Secrets (Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., Charlottesville, VA, 2000)
Radin, Dean, Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Perception in a Quantum Reality (Paraview Pocket Books, New York, NY, 2006)
Wilson, Colin, Alien Dawn: An Investigation into the Contact Experience (Virgin Publishing Ltd., 1998)
LOUIS PROUD is a writer and researcher specialising in anomalous, or Fortean, phenomena. His articles have appeared in New Dawn, Paranormal, FATE, and Nexus magazines, and he has been interviewed on such programs as “VERITAS Radio,” “Paranormal Realms,” and Whitley Strieber’s “Dreamland.” He is the author of Dark Intrusions and The Secret Influence of the Moon, and his latest book is Strange Electromagnetic Dimensions: The Science of the Unexplainable. Louis lives in Burnie, Tasmania, Australia. Visit his blog http://louisproud.net and check out his YouTube Channel.
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