Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Things That Happen (5): Remote Viewing

I am not sure where I first heard or came across Remote Viewing (RV). It could have been on TV when I was a child, but I believe it is more likely I came across it in my mid-teens (1981 - 1984) at a time when I was reading a great deal of books on astronomy and UFO investigation. I am sure I read about it in a book by writer, researcher and paranormal investigator Jenny Randels during the 1980’s about how the US government had dabbled for a time with it in their investigations into UFO’s and the abduction phenomena, before finally ditching the RV program after a brief affair with it during the grand search for Saddam Hussein’s scud missile launchers during the first Gulf War.

Remote Viewing (RV) is the ability to gather information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means or extra-sensory perception (ESP). I don’t strictly consider RV a field of extra-sensory perception—simply because it is too easy to lump it in with casual hokum like psychics, fortune-tellers, palm readers, card-readers and many P. T. Barnum-styled performers.

A Remote Viewer provides information about an object hidden from physical view, separated sometimes by a great distance. Usually the process of full controlled RV session is conducted by a Viewer and a Monitor. The Monitor provides the Viewer with very basic information about what is needed, avoiding prompts or leading questions. Often, the Monitor can simply request of the Viewer to describe basic geometrics, colour, and in highly advanced sessions, the RV can virtually ‘place themselves in the area’ and describe shape, colour, context and smell of the area they are remotely existing in—slowly, but surely, building up a full and accurate picture of the place or object they are viewing and where they are.

The description of Remote Viewing was officially coined by parapsychologists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff in 1974, but I believe the practice of a Monitor observing a Viewer remotely moving and observing a place or object and retrieving information dates back many, many hundreds of years. I don’t believe people really became familiar with the term Remote Viewing until after the first Gulf War when a multi-million dollar research program conducted by the US Military entered the public arena through the declassification of US Government documents. There is no doubt in my mind that this unusual disclosure resulted not from a liberal pro-Clinton administration, but the acknowledgement of the US Military that they had finally developed sophisticated detection and weaponry technology finally matching the true capability of the human mind.

The root of these technological developments span back to the early 1980’s and Ronald Reagan’s lapdog acceptance of the US Military’s insistence on pursuing billion-dollar investment in programs like the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI). The reality was the public perception backed a popular president and we remained a few years away from the disintegration of the Soviet Block of Republics and the collapse of the symbolic Berlin Wall. In so many ways, we were not quite ready for the inexact science of what had been learned about Remote Viewing, and short on conviction and a viable use with the recent technological advances delivered to the military, the RV program was put to pasture.

Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ joined the Electronics and Bioengineering Laboratory at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the early 1970’s and began their research into quantum mechanics and laser physics. Their work led them into areas of the paranormal. The focus of their paranormal work was to study psychics by using defined technological controls to prove or disprove the existence of extra-sensory perceptions in human beings.

Just like the acceleration in the space race of the 1960’s, when the US Government learned that the Soviets and China were researching the uses of ESP during the 1970’s, they too developed their own research centres, which included facilities investigating the use of Remote Viewing. Puthoff began a series of tests on Remote Viewer Ingo Swann in Germany and his tests came under the scrutiny of CIA personnel leading to them setting up their own sponsored program. Following the Watergate Crisis, and a scientific media scrutiny of all things governmental in the US by the late 1970’s, official backing of such research projects ceased.

The US Remote Viewing program did not lie low for too long. The US Air Force picked up the gauntlet for a while and began sponsoring projects for Stanford Research Institute (SRI). At SRI, Ingo Swann and Hal Puthoff developed a Remote Reviewing training program to enable any suitable people with a studied background of ESP skills to produce useful data for the government. Following the second Gulf War, senior US Military personnel believed that the intelligence garnered from RV sessions was just as accurate as anything they were getting from other lines of intelligence and that it had a serious part to play. By 2005, after the departure of Clinton and the arrival of Bush, together with considerable technological advances, little has been heard of the RV program at SRI, with the belief that the programs there have long lost any federal backing.

The most critical part of the Remote Viewer session is the subjective relationship between Viewer and Monitor. The process must never allow influence, stimuli or impurity to cross between Monitor and Viewer in an effort to rule out randomness during tests. The results of RV sessions can be viewed often as vague, introducing the possibility that the results are no more accurate than any performed act of popular ESP performed in magic tricks or modern proclaimed psychics. What is clear is that RV has come under more scientific scrutiny than any self-proclaimed or definitive psychic practice.

Whether Remote Viewing is a science of influence and randomness or a travelling plain for the human mind to discover and explore what is not in the physical realm of the body—it remains a fascinating area of human and spiritual exploration. The fact is I believe we all experience brief moments in our lives when we can and do know, perceive and experience things which we cannot touch, see or taste, but as God is our witness, we believe it was there, and we existed there with it—no matter we are told it was a thousand miles away at the time.

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