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How NASA and the CIA championed an unlikely scientific study

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Russell Targ has been at the forefront of the development of remote viewing (Image supplied)

In an exclusive interview with Independent Australia, Russell Targ, American physicist, parapsychologist and author of nine books dealing with the scientific investigation of psychic abilities, discusses the unlimited potential of 'remote viewing'.

Remote viewing (RV) is the focus of Russell Targ's latest books, The Reality of ESP: A Physicist’s Proof Of Psychic Abilities and Third Eye Spies: Learning Remote Viewing From the Masters.

As one of the co-creators in a 20-year-long Stanford University program investigating psychic abilities, Targ’s journey into the unexplained paranormal abilities of the human mind is an extraordinary one.

Understanding what remote viewing means is essential to the next steps in this unusual journey.

Perhaps the best explanation of remote viewing was given by Targ in an interview with the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota: 

You have to find the off switch in order to do remote viewing. This was all understood 2,500 years ago. Patanjali (a Hindu sage), a hundred years before Christ, wrote that in order to see into the distance and see into the future, you have to quiet the ripples in your brain waves. He said you could then see into the distance, see into the future, heal the sick and diagnose illnesses, all of which are being done presently...


People quickly learn to separate out their mental noise... People can learn to do this in one afternoon. And after that, it’s all practice. I describe learning to do remote viewing like riding a unicycle. It doesn’t make sense and then someone will spend an hour with you and then off you go. It goes from impossible to easy.

Extrasensory perception (ESP) is described as “sensing with the mind”.

The military, political, social and economic potential of remote viewing is exponential — only handicapped by a significant unwillingness of society to accept its possibilities.

RV was first initiated by Targ and Harold E Puthoff, who created the Stanford Research Centre in 1972. He and Puthoff also worked on the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency’s Stargate Project.

Ingo Swann, an American psychic and visionary artist who was also a co-creator of RV, participated in the Stargate Project. He taught Targ and Puthoff how to do remote viewing. Swann has described himself as a“consciousness researcher who had sometimes experienced altered states of ‘consciousness’".

Perhaps one of the most extraordinary examples of RV was Swann’s proposed study to Targ and Puthoff to remotely view the planet Jupiter prior to the Voyager probe in 1977. Both scientists had doubts about the resulting descriptions because of the impossibility of verification.

But one evening in 1973, Swann used his ability to see Jupiter. According to subsequent reports, it took him about three and a half minutes. Swann claimed to see bands of crystals in Jupiter’s atmosphere, like the rings of Saturn. Voyager’s probe five years later confirmed the existence of Jupiter’s rings.

Targ was a pioneer in the development of laser and laser applications which attracted a great deal of government attention. But he was keen to transition to utilising ESP specifically with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Targ told Independent Australia:

“I said, ‘I’ve built stuff for you for the last 15 years. I’m a genuine scientist who would like to teach people how to get in touch with their psychic abilities'.”

Government defence personnel wanted to be “shown something psychic”

Said Targ:

“I said, 'If I do something for you, you’ll think it’s a trick.' It would be embarrassing for them if they were looking for a kidnapped soldier to ask a mystic in California to find him. Instead, I’ll teach them how to do it. I’m very skilful in guiding people, giving them confidence they can do it.”

Targ guided one of the personnel to describe the location of his offsider. As a result, he was able to provide a very good description and drawing of a park and fountain where his offsider was subsequently confirmed as present at the time.

Implementation of an RV program was also spurred on as a result of a discussion with Werner von Braun, well known as “the father of space travel”, about the oxygen loss problems experienced during the historic Apollo 13 mission to the moon.

Werner von Braun indicated it would be good if astronauts could be taught to remote view problems with their spacecraft.

Targ approached the director of NASA to propose a support program to teach people to get in touch with their psychic abilities. 

NASA accepted.

Targ explained:

I had the promise of money, together with involvement of one of the astronauts. I went to the president of Stanford University and he agreed we could start a program there. What I started became a 20-year program known as the Stanford Research Institute [SRI] investigating psychic ability. The SRI was a $20 million [AU$30 million] program launched during the Cold War and supported by the CIA, NASA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Army and Air Force intelligence. That was the beginning of remote viewing.

There are four types of experiments:

  • remote viewing, in which a person describes places and events independent of space and time;
  • distant mental influence, where the thoughts of the experimenter can positively or negatively affect the physiology of a distant person;
  • whole field isolation, where someone in a state of sensory isolation accurately describes the visual experiences of someone else in another place; and
  • precognition and retrocausality, showing that the future can affect the past.

One RV experiment was financially empowering. In 1982, Targ and fellow parapsychologist Keith Harary used RV to predict silver futures in an attempt to raise funds for their research.  The results of their first experiment were highly successful, earning US$120,000 (AU$180,000) and a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal.

Their forecasts had been correct nine weeks in a row on changes in the silver futures market.

In another successful RV undertaking, RV was used by Targ and Pat Price, a psychic and retired police commissioner, to locate and identify the kidnappers of 19-year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst. Price was able to identify the ringleader in the police mug book. 

Price was also able to identify the type and location of the kidnap car, enabling police to find it in minutes.

Given the sheer extent of successful RV outcomes and the breadth of psychic possibilities, how did Russell Targ become so engaged in ESP?

Targ explained:

My father was very interested in magic. I used to go to the magic shops on 42nd Street in New York, I was an amateur teenage magician on stage. I became aware that there was real magic going on, that real magic and pretend magic was completely different. People were able to read minds and see into the distance. I became an aspiring physicist at high school.

At 89 years of age, Targ continues the long journey. 

As he once explained:

The teaching of remote viewing is principally giving people permission to do it. Society says it’s nonsense, that there is no such thing. What the remote viewing teacher has to do is use his conviction to convince a person to suspend their disbelief, quiet their mind, and describe their mental impressions of whatever the remote viewing teacher is offering as a hidden target.

Targ told IA he believes in encouraging and teaching children to make an investment in their psychic abilities: 

They need to know there’s more to them than just looking in the mirror and thinking this is who you are. You are a more spacious entity. RV should be taught in schools because it’s an ability we all have. It’s a natural ability.


Remote viewing gives you a more helpful view of life.

Sue Arnold is an IA columnist and freelance investigative journalist. You can follow Sue on Twitter @koalacrisis.

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