By Laurie Nadel, Ph.D.
Author, Sixth Sense: Unlocking Your Ultimate Mind Power
A psychic spy who participated in the Pentagon's remote viewing program from 1983 until 1990 claims that the British Ministry of Defense remote viewing studies of 2002 had more holes than Swiss cheese.
Major Paul H. Smith, currently President of the International Remote Viewing Association (www.irva.org) said: "The British media uniformly got it wrong. They reported stuff that wasn't in the report. They reported things that were not said that actually were in the report."
Major Smith, a retired U.S. Army officer, was one of the first members of the U.S. military recruited for the Pentagon's remote viewing studies. He recalled that when he was recruited into the U.S. Army’s remote viewing program, “It was like that scene from Men in Black.’” Major Smith is the author of Reading the Enemy's Mind: America's Psychic Espionage Program.
According to the BBC and other media outlets in the U.K., researchers under contract to the Ministry of Defense in 2002 tried to recruit psychics who advertised on the Internet. "That's what the news reports said. What really happened was this: The researchers tried to contact 12 people who claimed to be remote viewers," said Smith who was not asked to participate in the project despite his expertise. “I may have been asked by someone using a cover story that was so vague, I had no idea what he really meant,” Smith said.
Of the 6 self-described remote viewers who responded, "none showed any interest in participating” and the remaining 6 allegedly never responded to the query, according to him.
In seeking out experienced remote viewers for the MoD research program, Smith alleged that British researchers who used sloppy recruitment criteria. Thus, "recruiting remote viewers of the internet because their websites say they're remote viewers is a sure-fire recipe for questionable success."
A BBC Report of February 23, 2007, quoted a Ministry of Defense spokeswoman as saying, "The study concluded that remote viewing theories had little value to the MoD and was taken no further." However, if inadequate measures were taken to ensure sensible recruitment and protocol for the study, how can the results be fairly assessed? Said Smith, "When you put something together with people who didn't know what was going on, they did not have a good grasp of the protocol." He further alleged that the remote viewing researchers did not appear to have read such classic reference works as Mind-Reach by Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff or the studies reviewed in the Journal of Parapsychology.
In fact, the protocol was flawed because the MoD program was based on a report downloaded from the internet. A report that was never intended to serve as a model for beginners.
After reviewing a 168-page declassified report released under the British Freedom of Information Act, Major Smith learned that the manual in question was, in fact, one that he wrote in 1986. "The Coordinate Remote Viewing manual I wrote while assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency was never intended to be used to guide experiments," Smith said. "It was intended to help train viewers in applying practical remote viewing skills, rather than for research."
In defending his manual as a useful one for operational tasks, he said, "That manual wasn't meant for training." Although the manual was based on solid research by Ingo Swann, Hal Puthoff, Russell Targ and others who participated in remote viewing research at SRI International in Palo Alto, California in the 1980s, Major Smith maintained that had MoD program leaders actually read the Coordinate Remote Viewing manual, they would have known it was designed for operations not preliminary studies.
The Ministry of Defence remote viewing experiments which cost British taxpayers 18,000 pounds sterling asked blindfolded volunteer subjects who were kept in a secret location to describe the contents of sealed brown envelopes. These contained photos of a knife, Mother Theresa, and an "Asian individual." Perhaps an image of a dead parrot would have yielded more successful results.
Major Smith observed that although the MoD report concluded that 28 percent of these sessions produced positive findings, the British media made fun of the study. Which is too bad, according to Smith. Despite the lack of a proper research protocol, a 28 percent success rate has signficance for future research. He said, "Even though they had 18 sessions which is a drop in a bucket for a project like this, and they had no trained sources and used naive sources who had not done remote viewing before, the report concludes this study gives a baseline for how inexperienced viewers function. They can compare that in future research with experienced viewers."
Although the official statement from MoD is that "remote viewing has little value," Major Smith noted that the report was not dismissive of the experiments. Given the findings, he hypothesized that perhaps more research was conducted within MoD. However, he added, "It's possible someone at HQ said, 'This is just silly.'"
Not silly, however, is the ongoing negative publicity about remote viewing on both sides of the pond. The C.I.A. closed the door on remote viewing programs in 1995, despite a 12-year record of significant scientific progress. “The problem is that most scientists will see what they believe, rather than believe what they see,” said Russell Targ, a physicist who helped to pioneer the United States research program.
The negative reporting of this and other paranormal studies in Great Britain is contradicted by its own historical interest in this field. The Royal Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1880 and continues today. The Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh is one of the most respected paranormal research institutions in the world. Perrot-Warrick Research Unit at the University of Hertfordshire is also respected for its scientific research into psi phenomena. " The U.K. is further ahead on the power curve than the U.S. Europe has more serious laboratories than we do in the States," said Smith, adding, "The negative reaction to the Ministry of Defence study shows just how far down into the depths the public perception of psi has gotten in the media."