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Parapsychology articles and news

Articles about Remote Viewing

I’ve found a number of good articles about Remote Viewing (RV) written by Mr. Gerald O’Donnell, founder of Academy of Remote Viewing and Remote Influencing. The articles appear in the American Chronicle and the latest one is from today.

The first article is The Quantum Physics of Remote Viewing and it tells about the history of modern science, gives a very short intro into some ideas of quantum mechanics and continues with the usual description how quantum psychics can explain such effects as non-locality and how it connects to remote viewing. He then states that our consciousness affects the reality by observing it and thus we create our reality.

I’ve been hearing these about these claims about Quantum mechanics explaining psi phenomena for some time now. Many New Age authors give these claims, including Deepak Chopra, Amit Goswami (a theoretical nuclear physicist), Dr. Fred Alan Wolf (Dr. Quantum) and other people. And although my understand of quantum mechanics is not good enough and some of these people actually are quantum physicist, I’m still not sure that they are right. First, as far as I know, these claims are based on one specific interpretation of quantum physics, which is not fully adopted to be the correct one. Second, if they are true, their implication is so significant that I my head somehow resists it, I guess. Similar to my previous post (See Is the media afraid of parapsychology research?), where it seems that we somehow disregard such difficult claims.

In his second article, The Real Secrets of Remote Viewing , O’Donnell, explains a lot about the different brainwaves, Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta and how they relate to performing Remote Viewing and affect behavior in general. He claims that in order to perform remote viewing well, one must be doing it while in the Theta state (4 to 5 Hz).

It is known that Theta state is best associated with deep meditation and with the mind’s psi ability, so I don’t have anything against his claims. The article is very long and also covers such topics Universal Mind and psychical research into remote viewing done by Soviets and western countries. I’ve been interested in the subject of Universal Mind about the time when I started this site and have written a three-part series about Universal Mind, as I understood it at that time. Read Universal Mind article – part 1 and from there to part 2 and part 3.

The latest article, The Remote Viewing Archives, by Gerald O’Donnell are a longer history of remote viewing and remote influencing research both in the Soviet block of countries and in the US, starting with the programs in SRI (Stanford Research institute) with such known figures as Ingo Swann, Dr. Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ in 1972. It is a very interesting article, since the history of these things is quite interesting and I’ve learned some new things as well.

What are your thoughts on the subjects of Remote Viewing?





  1. Let’s see, lab was open for 27 years, final report on RV experiments was published 2002 years before its closing, not sure when the RV experiments started but the publication of the first experiment was 1987, (and they were not doing the RV experiments when I visited the lab in the early 80’s) 2002 minus 1987, sorry, my math is poor — it doesn’t look like 25 to me.

    I did not say that it was minor personnel who had conducted the research — I said that it was a minor piece of their work. Something that was outside their main expertise and interest “Engineering Anomalies”, i.e., micro-PK. Five experiments out of hundreds does not constitute either a major effort nor a major level of expertise. It was your claim that you were speaking of the hands-down top research center in RV that lead me astray.

    No you did not say that the lab closed because of it — I misinterpreted what you were saying (some people admit their mistakes).

    The PEAR lab did get positive results overall. Their later difficulties *eliciting* positive results were not due to better controls or anything so they do not call into question the earlier results. I know that you believe, Bryan, that if you can’t take anyone off the street and have them teach inner city youths math that it means that it is scientifically *proven* that *no one* can teach math to inner city youths. But in the real world, human ability — including human ability to elicit human ability — varies. However much you want a lack of evidence to prove evidence of lack it just doesn’t — even in parapsychology which you appear to believe is required to follow different rules of logic and evidence than the rest of science.

    As for the closing — I’ve heard lots of things, mostly from people who just assumed things. The lab closed because Jahn retired. I suppose that since Jahn was the one who obtained the funding you can say that they lost their funding, but that is more than a little bit deceptive.

    You quoted Jacob about the MoD work but didn’t address what he said about it. If there had been a reasoned argument about the methods of evaluation you wouldn’t have heard a complaint from me. Instead you took one target out of context and made fun of it. No straw-man at all. If you want to address the evidence for RV, address the evidence for RV. If you want to address the MoD report, address the MoD report.

    Some of my “lectures” have been irrelevant — in this case because your own statements were so irrelevant to anything that was said that I was confused. As for being long-winded, oddly enough, it takes a bit more effort to back up claims logically than to make bald, unsupported pronouncements as you generally do. Sometimes, since this is a forum on parapsychology, I discuss things that I think may be of interest in a bit more detail than strictly necessary. So sue me.

    • Topher, dude, you said, “Not only was the PEAR work not on RV, but, …” I cited the head on PEAR saying they did extensive research on it, 25 years of research on it. That paper also backed up what I said about there data.

      Now you write, “As for being long-winded, oddly enough, it takes a bit more effort to back up claims logically than to make bald, unsupported pronouncements as you generally do.” What has gotten into your head? Someone right here is trying to refute cited, verifiable evidence with his own say-so. Look closely – can you figure out who that is?

      Topher, this is not the first time. You could be the unsupported pronouncement poster-child. Specific citations available upon request.


      • You claimed that the PEAR researchers were probably the ones with the most experience in RV. They did a total of 5 experiments with one publication in a peer reviewed journal listed in the publications list. I said that PEARs major focus was not RV but micro-PK. In my restatement that you quoted above, I did leave out the word “primary”. Their RV work is minor: in terms of the work done at PEAR, in terms of the assembled evidence on RV phenomena, on its impact on RV research. I forgot about it so I was wrong in a minor way. You claimed its importance — you were wrong in a major way.

        Since you were claiming that it was a major center for RV work and that they stopped work when they didn’t get the “results they wanted” I misinterpreted you to be claiming that the lab stopped work (i.e., closed). I was wrong, I admit it — mislead about what you were saying by your grossly incorrect statements.

        You make a claim without any support. Sometimes I just state the facts that contradict your assertion as I know them from personal experience. Sometimes when someone says “grass is always a deep purple color” one just says “no, its generally green or brown” without spending time researching a technical citation to prove it. If you disagree with me you can cite something to support your initial claim — as, rather unusually, you did here. More of that would be fine.

  2. Topher Cooper wrote:
    “Not only was the PEAR work not on RV, but, to the best of my knowledge they continued to get consistent, positive results in tests with multiple modalities right up to the end.”

    On the other hand, Robert Jahn along with Brenda Dunne wrote the paper, “Information and uncertainty: 25 years of remote perception research” (Technical Note PEAR 2002.01), the first sentence of which reads: “Extensive research into the phenomenon of remote perception (also known as “remote viewing”) involved some 800 experimental trials performed over four distinct eras of investigation.”

    Section IX presents their final data set. They score it six ways then note, “Although there was reasonably good agreement among the six scoring recipes, the overall results of these distributive data were totally indistinguishable from chance”. Section X begins, “Given the systematic deterioration of the experimental yield, further generation of data was suspended pending a clearer understanding of the underlying problem.”

    Before you lecture on my fallacies and errors, get a freekin’ clue. When responding to one of Jacob’s articles, a position Jacob had actually taken is not a straw-man. I think he’s buying the lines now just as he accepted the “close guess” description then.

    Skepticism is roughly 10% about how the natural world works and 90% about how people get fooled. Most RV today is using “protocols” that are doing just the right things to encourage people to see connections that are not really there. That’s what I was writing about, and Topher, you missed it.

    But you nailed my mocking sarcasm bit. I was afraid I was too subtle there, but fortunately you were there to explain it.


    • OK, you were right. A minor side activity at the PEAR lab was some RV work. You were acting like you were talking about a major activity of the lab over its entire 25 year history. There last RV results were weak, but that isn’t why they closed the lab as you strongly implied. Note that the publication you site was 5 years before the lab closed. And it is ridiculous to claim that PEAR people “probably” had the most experience with RV experiments. Four experiments (I only remember one peer reviewed publication, but I could be wrong) and an internal report hardly makes them the world’s leading experts.

      No I didn’t think that there was anything subtle about your sarcasm (though I wondered if you thought it was). I was pointing out the irony of defending your fallaciously substituting logical argument with mockery with that sarcasm. Using a fallacy to justify the same fallacy.

      That something sounds silly (or can be made to) doesn’t make it wrong. “Those idiots who believe that the world is a sphere, must think that people in Australia hang from a network of cables.” “Who would be so stupid to believe that heavy objects fall at the same speed as light ones, we’ve *known* that that is not true since Aristotle” “Apparently a beam of light knows how fast you are traveling and, intent on confusing you, adjusts its speed so you always get the same result trying to measure how fast it is going” I’m going to resist the temptation to go on (though I admit, its fun). Mockery is just evidence that you don’t believe that your logical arguments really makes your case.

      And as near as I can tell, nothing I criticized in your statements was a direct response to anything that Jacob said.

      There are people out there fooling others and frequently themselves about RV. That there are people offering fake cancer cures does not diminish the work of serious oncologists. The *experimental* protocols allow, quite reasonably, non-literal and vague impressions — in fact, most elicitation methodologies work at discouraging and avoiding premature literal interpretation of the impressions — but use blind judging to make use of that information validly and statistically. In attempts to do practical applications of RV, such as its application to archeology, the blindness is enforced by the ignorance of everyone involved as to the details of the target, although statistical evaluation of these is not the point.

      • Topher Cooper wrote:
        “OK, you were right. A minor side activity at the PEAR lab was some RV work. You were acting like you were talking about a major activity of the lab over its entire 25 year history”

        Did I get the title wrong? Was it actually “25 years of research in which remote perception was minor side activity”? Let me double-check… no I had it right “25 years of remote perception research.” Maybe that research was by someone on the periphery of PEAR… let’s see… isn’t Robert Jahn the man you just told us ran PEAR? That first sentence in the paper, “Extensive research into the phenomenon….” Do we need to look up the words?

        “There last RV results were weak, but that isn’t why they closed the lab as you strongly implied.”

        Weak yes; in their words, “totally indistinguishable from chance”. Then: “Given the systematic deterioration of the experimental yield, further generation of data was suspended”. Now check what I wrote: “Their fifth data set shows purely chance results; then they stopped collecting data because they were no longer getting the result they wanted.”

        At the time they closed I heard it was due to lack of funding. Contrary to your reporting I did not say anything about it here.

        “And as near as I can tell, nothing I criticized in your statements was a direct response to anything that Jacob said.”

        Earth to Topher: What you’ve been criticizing is going on in your own head. You had me using a straw-man position after I quoted Jacob taking it. I noted PEAR’s RV experiments and you responded as if I said SRI. When it occurred to you I might mean what I wrote, by Topher-logic it came out “Bryan’s error might be much more egregious than I thought.” You claimed I “strongly implied” a reason for PEAR’s closing but I had not even mentioned here that they closed.

        At least you got to give more of your long-winded irrelevant lectures. No matter that you don’t really understand the subjects and keep getting spanked on the facts, because the other side will be just as ineffectual as they keep correcting you and re-explaining some detail of what they said. Those you-said-this/no-I-said-that threads are *so* interesting for the readers.


  3. I was using a conventional phrase when I referred to the rhetorical fallacy of analyzing the “weakest” or “poorest” evidence instead of the strongest. A more accurate statement would have been for me to have referred to analyzing data selected from “among the weakest”. The point is, valid criticism examines only the best evidence — weak evidence is logically irrelevant.

    The “poorest” evidence for light pressure is a demolition project performed at the same time as someone shining a flashlight on the building. That doesn’t justify citing a Crooke’s radiometer (those light-powered whirligig glass bulbs) as evidence for light pressure (its actually powered by differential heating of the two sides of the vanes). If you want to examine the evidence for or against the idea of light exerting pressure you have to look at the best experiments. The failure of the flashlight or the radiometer is simply irrelevant to the question.

    I think you are more than a little confused about PEAR. PEAR mostly conducted experiments in micro-PK. If you are talking about the SRI experiments, they produced significant results for years. A change in CIA administration threw the lab into disarray and as would be expected of any activity involving human performance results declined. An evaluation that put requirements that were one of the worst cases of bias I have ever witnessed (“Restrict your attention to the weakest results, do not interview anyone involved in more successful results, oversight to be done by people with a stated bias against the research, do not make use of evaluators with no stated bias in any capacity, do not consider the independent replications, no evidence from the attempts at practical application to intelligence work to be included). The executive summary admitted that there was statistically significant evidence of positive results but faulted it for lack of evidence and concluded that it was not a practical aid to intelligence gathering. The actual report, however, found *strong* statistical evidence for an effect, excellent experimental controls, and slipped in (via a technicality in the remit) discussion of the extensive successful independent experimental replications. This was on the deliberately selected weakest dataset. Overall, combining this result with previous evaluations of earlier work shows very powerful evidence for an effect. The work on practical application for intelligence (not done at SRI) is still classified and the validity of the many claims by people involved of many successes as an *adjunct* to what Bryan calls “AV” is anyones guess.

    And the existence of questionable enterprises like PsiTech is again undisputed and irrelevant. You seem to have a firm commitment to replacing critical evaluation with fallacious logic, mockery (an accusation you counter, oddly enough, with mocking sarcasm), and inaccurate descriptions of the evidence.

    • It just occurred to me that Bryan’s error might be much more egregious than I thought. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed that he typo-ed “PEAR” for “SRI”. After some thought it occurred to me that he might have actually meant PEAR (that “25 years” would seem to indicate that). Not only was the PEAR work not on RV, but, to the best of my knowledge they continued to get consistent, positive results in tests with multiple modalities right up to the end. The PEAR lab was the personal project of Robert Jahn, past Dean of the Princeton School of Engineering. He is now in his 70’s and has retired. Therefore the lab closed, after having amassed an immense amount of careful systematic evidence for micro-PK over its 25 years.

  4. Reading the glowing accounts of the RV pitchmen, one could easily forget what a failure psychic methods turned out to be. Safe and inexpensive as RV is by intel agency standards, it is not worth the price. RV results are useless; belief in them, much worse than useless.

    The mechanism underlying most remote viewing is the human tenancy to see pattern and correspondence in the random and arbitrary. So-called RV “protocols” call for volume and vagueness in recording impressions, creativity and flexibility in matching with targets. Good RV data: “curving upwards, downwards”, a drawing showing a 20 degree angle, an impression of stress mitigated by hope. Anything specific is a premature analysis, to be written down but judged meaningful only if correct.

    Think Bryan-the-skeptic is just painting RV in a bad light? We’ve seen the reality right here. Earlier this year, Jacob, site-master, cited a BBC report of U.K. Ministry of Defense study and wrote:

    “to me the 28% percent getting a close guess sounds like an astounding achievement. Although, by MoD standards this might not be enough for reliable intelligence work, from the parapsychology researcher’s point of view, this looks like a strong evidence for the existence of psi and validity of remote viewing as one of the best performing uses of psi.”

    Øystein located the actual report of the study:

    Where is any close guess? The first trial was a picture of Mother Teresa with “Mother Teresa” and “Who is this?” written under it. The remote viewer drew a circle in a box and some pyramids, with labels “white tower”, and “step structure”. One label was tagged “AOL”, which is probably RV-protocol talk for “analytical overlay”. This arbitrary gibberish scored as the subject possibly accessing features of the target. That was the first trial, and none scored higher.

    I kid you not: Remote viewing could not distinguish a woman from a building. Yet by the time things got reported here, such failure was recast as strong evidence for psi. How did conclusions go so wrong? Step by step. The experimenters classified arbitrary guesses as possibly accessing the target. BBC reporters called the best-scoring guesses “close”. Jacob took the reported percentage of close guesses to be strong evidence for psi.

    For fascinating and inspiring stories about technical methods of intelligence gathering, I suggest looking up the Venona project and Edwin Land’s impetus to the development of reconnaissance satellites. The real world is much more interesting than the psychic nonsense.


    • And here we see a careful application of one of the principles of Skepticism (not to be confused with the principles of skepticism, critical thinking or science):

      $ When evaluating an Untruth always use the poorest available evidence for the Untruth — remember good evidence is always a fluke and can be dismissed out of hand. But be not deceived by any trace of positive evidence remaining in your selected test, it too is a fluke. Remember it is more important to present things so that they look silly than to present any facts that might make things look positive — we are dealing with an Untruth so we know in advance that anything that looks positive is incorrect and can be ignored.

      This was the results of a preliminary investigation on the part of untrained, inexperienced investigators who had to abandon their protocol (using expert viewers) and use untrained, inexperienced users which they presented as a “base-line” without much expectation of success, since all the literature strongly advocates trained experienced viewers and experimenters. No one involved, nor anyone with any experience judges the results as “strong evidence”. Most of the report is classified making evaluation difficult. Part of the standard protocol is to recognize that correspondences may not be particularly literal. The particular case Bryan makes fun of was only marked as perhaps having some weak correspondences between target and call — not by any means a hit.

      • Topher thinks I was looking at the poorest available evidence? Compare to my actual worst RV example: PSI Tech on the Elizabeth Smart abduction. From PSI Tech’s web site before Elizabeth Smart’s return to her family: “The investigation had three goals from the outset: 1) Find out if Elizabeth was alive 2) Pinpoint her location 3) Identify the abductor.”

        They had completed part (1) early on, and reported, “a few of our top people tasked our TRV skills to see if Elizabeth was still alive. Unfortunately she wasn’t. Using Technical Remote Viewing we can tell with great accuracy, if a person is deceased in a matter of minutes. In Elizabeth’s case, we knew she had already been killed by her abductor.” It took PSI Tech many more sessions with over a dozen professional remote viewers to (2) pinpoint Elizabeth Smart’s location to a one-mile radius in which she wasn’t, and (3) accuse a man of abducting (and killing) her who didn’t.

        Now *that’s* a selected example of weak remote viewing. Note that those were trained experienced remote viewers, and PSI Tech is still in business. For a few hundred dollars they’ll teach you the psychic skills they used to crack the Elizabeth Smart case.

        The lab researchers with the most RV experience are probably the PEAR guys. For 25 years, as their experience grew the phenomenon shrank. Their fifth data set shows purely chance results; then they stopped collecting data because they were no longer getting the result they wanted.

        Topher thinks I’m making fun of RV. Attempting to learn about a subject by sitting in place and jotting down whatever nondescript doodles and phrases come to mind — why would anyone make fun of that?

        Fortunately, there’s an alternative that really does work: AV. Actual viewing succeeds repeatably under test conditions. Secret government agencies use AV to gather reliable intelligence. AV can work for you!

        • I wouldn’t consider PSI Tech as any serious remote viewing organization. Although, Maj. Ed Dames, who established it got quite a lot of publicity, mainly on Art Bell’s Coast To Coast AM show in the late 90ies, his predictions have all been very incorrect, from what I remember.

          Let’s say that I’ve seen better demonstrations of RV on the internet than the ones given by Ed Dames or his company.

        • For a well controlled experiment with some astounding results, see:

        • Why do you think that was well-controlled? I haven’t really studied the report, but the basic design looks weaker than the blind random-digits-only setup popular today. One quote reads:

          “He was asked specifically whether these four buildings he saw might really be the surface elements of an underground building. He failed to either pick up the lead or to remotely view correctly because he said…”

          So there’s a non-paranormal channel: the experimenters knew the target. Some of the questions were leading, and they followed up for details when the viewer got something right.

          Was it an astounding performance? Hard to tell from this distance. Was it, as stated, a well controlled experiment? I just now looked at the report, but that claim strikes me as ludicrous.


  5. I think we can make a stronger statement than that. We can think of QM (Quantum Mechanics) as having two parts: the mathematical theory itself and various interpretations of exactly what that theory means. The usual route of “explaining” psi in terms of QM is that QM includes something called “remote entanglement” which says that sometimes two particles can be connected in such a way that they are inexorably linked, however far apart they are. In some interpretations, including the dominant Copenhagen interpretation, this can result in a kind of instantaneous influence of one on the other. The supposed explanation of psi posits that such an entanglement exists between a mind and something else and this entanglement allows communication.

    The theory of QM as it now exists is unambiguous, though — the instantaneous connection between entangled particles cannot carry meaningful information — its just not that kind of connection. This is not a matter of interpretation but a fundamental property of the underlying theory.

    More knowledgeable writers say other things, however, that can get mistaken for this.

    One commonly discussed possible connection between QM and psi, says that while QM theory does not provide an explanation for psi, it suggests — indeed demands — that the underlying nature of the universe is less bound by strict limits of time and space than conventional physics admits to and that this, while not providing an explanation for psi, does make it much more plausible that such an explanation can be found.

    Another possible connection, not altogether distinct from this, is that the current mathematical theory is subtly wrong (as historically, theories of physics have been) and in need of slight adjustment. Such an adjustment (e.g., the modified QM of Stapp) would allow, under the right conditions actual information transfer to occur and this might explain psi (such an explanation still has to overcome the difficulty of establishing the necessary entanglements — which are very fragile and fleeting things).

    A third connection is less direct but *does* have to do with interpretation. The original Copenhagen interpretation left rather vague exactly what constitutes an “observation”. Some found associated “observation” with “conscious observation”, though that has never been the mainstream. In the last couple of decades there has been a lot of progress in understanding the characteristics of what is needed from an “observer” and the argument for consciousness as a requirement has become weaker and weaker — but there is still legitimate room for that possibility (though it requires some real work to interpret some modern experiments in those terms). This gives a “special role” and therefore special properties to this something we refer to as “consciousness” and from this we may suppose that something else that seems to be seen only in connection with consciousness, psi, may also relate to its special properties.