by D. Trull
Enigma Editor

from ParaScope Website
recovered through Google Cache Services



Imagine a military intelligence operative with abilities reaching far beyond any network of informants or advanced spying technology. An agent able to probe the enemy's deepest underground bunkers, determine the exact location of a group of hostages, or physically incapacitate foreign leaders or entire armies. All from thousands of miles away, using only the power of his mind.

For decades, U.S. intelligence agencies have been engaged in a quest to find just such an agent. Efforts to determine intelligence applications for psychic abilities have centered around "remote viewing," a purported clairvoyant ability to spy on distant enemies.


In this special report, we'll examine the testing methods used to measure psychic ability and the conclusions drawn by two doctors who examined the Star Gate program at the request of the CIA.




1: Testing Psychic Abilities of SG Operatives
2: Psychic Functioning is Well Established
3: Parapsychology Has No Foundation
4: Unexplained Anecdotal Evidence
    Operation Star Gate Documents
















1. Testing Psychic Abilities of SG Operatives

The most recent series of remote viewing experiments by U.S. intelligence agencies was a Defense Intelligence Agency program codenamed "Star Gate," which was instituted in the 1990s.

As part of a decision in 1995 to declassify its research in parapsychology, the CIA commissioned an outside organization, the American Institutes for Research, to determine whether remote viewing is a viable intelligence option. AIR filed its report, "An Evaluation of Remote Viewing: Research and Applications," in September, 1995.

The report summarizes the history and methods of Star Gate and its predecessors, followed by independent reviews from two experts on parapsychology, Dr. Jessica Utts and Dr. Raymond Hyman.

The reviewers focus on two of the three primary objectives of the Star Gate program:

  • "Research and Development" - conducting studies to improve remote viewing for intelligence gathering

  • "Operations" - using remote viewing against foreign targets

  • A third objective, "Foreign Assessment" - which investigated any possible remote viewing capabilities of foreign powers - was outside the scope of the study

Testing Methodology

The bulk of the testing was conducted on a "beacon and viewer" basis. A person acting as the sender, or "beacon," traveled to a remote location or examined a photograph or other object.


In isolation, a remote viewer attempted to describe, through visual descriptions and drawings, the beacon's physical surroundings or what he was observing. In most instances, the beacons were simply looking at photographs from National Geographic.

With the data collected, a judge compared the viewer's descriptions to what the beacon was observing, and determined whether reasonably correct "hits" have been made. The number of recorded hits was matched against the number that could occur by random chance, providing a quantified measure of the remote viewer's success.

The AIR report (see below) also examines the results of a different testing technique called the "ganzfeld" method. In a ganzfeld experiment, the viewer enters a trance-like altered mental state, unlike the standard remote viewing method, whose viewers remain fully conscious and alert. Unlike the "beacon and viewer" method, ganzfeld viewers evaluate the end results themselves, without a third-party judge.

Another sort of test dealt with the topic of "remote observation." Citing the folk belief that it is possible to feel that one is being watched, these studies tested whether a person's physiology changed appreciably when a distant, hidden observer alternately looked at them and looked away.

Obviously, if it were actually possible for a remote agent to manipulate a subject's body chemistry, the implications for applications against a nation's enemies go far beyond mere information gathering.

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2. "Psychic Functioning is Well Established"

The first of the two experts commissioned to review Star Gate was Dr. Jessica Utts, a Professor of Statistics at the University of California/Davis.


Dr. Utts strongly asserts her belief that the tests she examined have proven remote viewing to be a real, measurable phenomenon.

"Using the standards applied to any other area of science," Utts writes, "it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted.... Such consistency cannot be readily explained by claims of flaws or fraud."

Central to the evidence Utts cites is a close similarity in "effect sizes" among test results. Effect size is a measurement method used in sociology to distinguish random chance (defined as zero) from a tangible effect (ranging from a small size of 0.2 to a large size of 0.8).

Utts presents results from a range of tests in which the numerical effect sizes are very similar across the board. She accepts this as proof that remote viewing can be successfully replicated in laboratory conditions, and thus is scientifically sound.

While the earliest remote viewing tests were later found imperfect, Utts reports that she found no flaws or loopholes in Star Gate's modern methodologies. (Problems with earlier scoring methods included unfairly permitting judges to use a process of elimination in matching descriptions to targets, or to give the viewer hints such as the beacon's driving time to his target destination.)

Utts goes on to speculate on a possible rational explanation for psychic ability. Noting that our five natural senses act as detectors of change (sight acts on change in motion, color and depth; hearing acts on change in volume and pitch, etc.), it is reasonable to expect that a psychic sense also detects change.

Targets containing a large amount of change, such as variations in color, were more successfully identified by remote viewers than other targets. Utts supposes that psychic ability may work by searching for high degrees of change, whether nearby or far away, whether happening now or in the future.

Despite her belief in the validity of remote viewing, Utts concludes that Star Gate can be of little, if any, use as an intelligence tool. Believing psychic abilities to be inborn, Utts contends it would not be possible to train a corps of agents as remote viewers.

She also deems the information gathered by the method too arbitrary and unreliable to be useful or accurate -- even though, as she further admits, "The same is probably true of most sources of intelligence data." Utts suggests that the government discontinue its inquiry into whether psychic ability exists and instead study why it exists.

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3. "Parapsychology Has No Foundation"

Dr. Raymond Hyman, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, is the other expert asked for an opinion on the Star Gate program.


While Dr. Hyman agrees with Dr. Utts that the test results do appear significantly higher than random chance would allow, and there are no obvious flaws in testing technique, he contends that Star Gate has proven nothing and that psychic phenomena have yet to earn a place in the scientific world.

The entire field of study known as parapsychology, Hyman asserts, has no cumulative foundation to build its findings upon. The discoveries of one generation of its students are gradually found to be bogus or inconclusive, leaving those who follow to start with a clean slate each time. This is fundamentally different from established science, where replicability of all known phenomena is a sacred hallmark.


Hyman calls parapsychology,

"unique among the sciences in relying solely on significant departures from a chance baseline to establish the presence of its alleged phenomenon."

It is partly for this reason that Hyman discounts the effect sizes that Utts submitted as proof.


An effect size reflects not a known property, but a measure of deviation from a known property. Furthermore, Hyman maintains that taking the average of a series of effect sizes results in a meaningless aggregation of numbers from which no real conclusions can be drawn. He points out that such figures can be shifted around to support a variety of different viewpoints with ease.

Hyman finds the testing methods to be sound and believes that the findings may represent a scientific anomaly. (He does object to the use of only one judge, familiar with the individual viewers, conducting all of the judging, rather than using a double-blind system.)

Nonetheless, a phenomenon's lack of an explanation constitutes only a null hypothesis, which is a necessary condition for establishing scientific fact, but not a sufficient condition.

Even in the best of circumstances, Hyman would not accept Star Gate as proof that psychic ability exists, because science does not accept new findings on the basis of one study conducted by one organization with no outside verification. Compounding matters is the cloak of government secrecy which isolated the affair during most of its existence -- a far cry from the open community spirit found on the frontiers of pure science.

Predictably, Hyman agrees with Utts that while Star Gate presents no useful applications for military intelligence, its findings are promising enough to merit continued research of another form.

The next step is to develop measurement methods for paranormal phenomena which define their occurrence in positive terms, rather than by their deviance from the expected norm.

"Without such a theory," Hyman writes, "we might just as well argue that what has been demonstrated is a set of effects -- each one of which [may] be the result of an entirely different cause."

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4. Unexplained Anecdotal Evidence

Even though the experts hired by the American Institutes for Research recommended that continuation of the Star Gate program was not justified, they both agreed that certain of the test results seemed unexplainable by conventional science. Actual remote viewing may have been demonstrated.

It is difficult to judge the anomalies that Utts and Hyman proclaim, because the AIR report reveals very little of the exact content of the tests: that is, actual beacons' images paired with corresponding viewers' descriptions. Instead, the report primarily offers obtuse bar graphs and spreadsheets of numerical test scores as evidence.

One "success" that is described in anecdotal detail involved two separate remote viewers who reported the location of a secret underground installation. Given only the "coordinates of the site" located in West Virginia, the subjects described the surrounding landscape and a government base hidden beneath.

The report does not name it as such, but this site would appear to be the infamous "Mount Weather" installation, also known as the Western Virginia Office of Controlled Conflict Operations, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Mount Weather reportedly houses a complete duplicate of the Federal government, secretly waiting on stand-by to run the United States in the event of a national catastrophe or declaration of martial law.


One of the remote viewers went so far as to name codewords and personnel associated with the base, and his accuracy was high enough to spark a full investigation into any possible leak for this classified information.

Hyman points out that these remote viewers may have been relying on foreknowledge of the Mount Weather facility rather than psychic powers. Considering that this particular test supplied the location up front, and that the majority of the remote viewers who participated were government employees, the possibility is a reasonable one.

A third remote viewer identified the existence of a rail-mounted gantry crane in the then-Soviet city of Semipalatinsk. Despite the uncanny accuracy of the description, the official who analyzed this viewer deemed his test results unsuccessful, since the bulk of his observations were erroneous.

Another anecdotal report, appearing only in a censored document given as an appendix, describes apparent successes in the remote viewing of North Korea. Viewers identified possible rail tunnels leading into the Republic of Korea. Unlike the others, this particular case appears to go beyond mere testing to attempt discerning information which the U.S. government does not already possess.

The document states,

"the indicator regarding rail line camouflage is extremely important since it provides a possible answer to the controversy over rail line activity south [deletion] where rails allegedly no longer exist."

Of the pool of remote viewers studied, six were judged to perform at a level significantly higher than the rest.


The report provides no further specifics about these six and what they "saw," but both expert reviewers managed to use their existence to support their viewpoints.

Utts argues that since the same testing methods were used in every case, all results should have been equal; since some viewers were able to distinguish themselves from the rest, their abilities must therefore be valid. Hyman, on the other hand, points out that statistical methods used in the study can permit the few high scorers to overshadow the wild inaccuracies of other viewers.

Subjects scored much higher on "free response" tests, in which they described a target in their own words, than they did on "forced choice" tests, which involved selecting the correct target out of a list. Additionally, the successes of tests conducted without a distant person acting as a beacon raised the question of whether a beacon is necessary at all.

In another test, meanwhile, interaction between two distant minds produced a striking and unexpected result. Remote observation experiments, which measured whether a person can affect the body chemistry of another merely by looking at the person, yielded markedly more positive results when the two subjects were of the opposite sex.

One could interpret these findings as evidence that remote viewing is a potent, organic ability that functions independently of formal trappings and external assistance. Maybe it is an unrecognized aspect of the human condition that influences our everyday communication and behavior patterns.

Who knows -- maybe this property that the CIA attempted to use for the purposes of war could even be a component of human sexual dynamics: the most complex intelligence operation of all.

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Operation Star Gate Documents

  • AIR Report - Executive Summary
    Summary of the American Institutes for Research report prepared on remote viewing at the request of the CIA.

  • AIR Report - Full Text
    The full text of the American Institutes for Research report prepared on remote viewing at the request of the CIA.

  • Parapsychology in Intelligence
    This report appeared in the Winter 1977 issue of Studies in Intelligence, the CIA's classified internal publication. A CIA paranormal expert provides a historical overview of the agency's investigation and use of psychic spies.

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An Evaluation of Remote Viewing
Research and Applications

Michael D. Mumford, Ph.D.
Andrew M. Rose, Ph.D.
David S. Goslin, Ph.D.
Prepared by
The American Institutes for Research
September 29, 1995



Executive Summary

Studies of paranormal phenomena have nearly always been associated with controversy.


Despite the controversy concerning their nature and existence, many individuals and organizations continue to be avidly interested in these phenomena. The intelligence community is no exception: beginning in the 1970s, it has conducted a program intended to investigate the application of one paranormal phenomenon -- remote viewing, or the ability to describe locations one has not visited.

Conceptually, remote viewing would seem to have tremendous potential utility for the intelligence community. Accordingly, a three-component program involving basic research, operations, and foreign assessment has been in place for some time. Prior to transferring this program to a new sponsoring organization within the intelligence community, a thorough program review was initiated.

The part of the program review conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a nonprofit, private research organization, consisted of two main components. The first component was a review of the research program. The second component was a review of the operational application of the remote viewing phenomenon in intelligence gathering.


Evaluation of the foreign assessment component of the program was not within the scope of the present effort.



Research Evaluation

To evaluate the research program, a "blueribbon" panel was assembled.


The panel included two noted experts in the area of parapsychology: Dr. Jessica Utts, a Professor of Statistics at the University of California/Davis, and Dr. Raymond Hyman, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. In addition to their extensive credentials, they were selected to represent both sides of the paranormal controversy: Dr. Utts has published articles that view paranormal interpretations positively, while Dr. Hyman was selected to represent a more skeptical position.


Both, however, are viewed as fair and open-minded scientists. In addition to these experts, this panel included two Senior Scientists from AIR; both have recognized methodological expertise, and both had no prior background in parapsychological research. They were included in the review panel to provide an unbiased methodological perspective. In addition, Dr. Lincoln Moses, an Emeritus Professor at Stanford University, provided statistical advice, while Dr. David A. Goslin, President of AIR, served as coordinator of the research effort.

Panel members were asked to review all laboratory experiments and meta-analytic reviews conducted as part of the research program; this consisted of approximately 80 separate publications, many of which are summary reports of multiple experiments.


In the course of this review, special attention was given to those studies that,

(a) provided the strongest evidence for the remote viewing phenomenon

(b) represented new experiments controlling for methodological artifacts identified in earlier reviews

Separate written reviews were prepared by Dr. Utts and Dr. Hyman. They exchanged reviews with other panel members who then tried to reach a consensus.

In the typical remote viewing experiment in the laboratory, a remote viewer is asked to visualize a place, location, or object being viewed by a "beacon" or sender. A judge then examines the viewer's report and determines if this report matches the target or, alternatively, a set of decoys. In most recent laboratory experiments reviewed for the present evaluation, National Geographic photographs provided the target pool. If the viewer's reports match the target, as opposed to the decoys, a hit is said to have occurred.


Alternatively, accuracy of a set of remote viewing reports is assessed by rank-ordering the similarity of each remote viewing report to each photograph in the target set (usually five photographs). A better-than chance score is presumed to represent the occurrence of the paranormal phenomenon of remote viewing, since the remote viewers had not seen the photographs they had described (or did not know which photographs had been randomly selected for a particular remote viewing trial).

In evaluating the various laboratory studies conducted to date, the reviewers reached the following conclusions:

  • A statistically significant laboratory effort has been demonstrated in the sense that hits occur more often than chance.

  • It is unclear whether the observed effects can unambiguously be attributed to the paranormal ability of the remote viewers as opposed to characteristics of the judges or of the target or some other characteristic of the methods used. Use of the same remote viewers, the same judge, and the same target photographs makes it impossible to identify their independent effects.

  • Evidence has not been provided that clearly demonstrates that the causes of hits are due to the operation of paranormal phenomena; the laboratory experiments have not identified the origins or nature of the remote viewing phenomenon, if, indeed, it exists at all.



Operational Evaluation

The second component of the program involved the use of remote viewing in gathering intelligence information.


Here, representatives of various intelligence groups -- "end users" of intelligence information -- presented targets to remote viewers, who were asked to describe the target. Typically, the remote viewers described the results of their experiences in written reports, which were forwarded to the end users for evaluation and, if warranted, action.

To assess the operational value of remote viewing in intelligence gathering, a multifaceted evaluation strategy was employed.

  • First, the relevant research literature was reviewed to identify whether the conditions applying during intelligence gathering would reasonably permit application of the remote viewing paradigm.


  • Second, members of three groups involved in the program were interviewed:

    • (1) end users of the information

    • (2) the remote viewers providing the reports

    • (3) the program manager


  • Third, feedback information obtained from end user judgments of the accuracy and value of the remote viewing reports was assessed.

This multifaceted evaluation effort led to the following conclusions:

The conditions under which the remote viewing phenomenon is observed in laboratory settings do not apply in intelligence gathering situations. For example, viewers cannot be provided with feedback and targets may not display the characteristics needed to produce hits.

The end users indicated that, although some accuracy was observed with regard to broad background characteristics, the remote viewing reports failed to produce the concrete, specific information valued in intelligence gathering.

The information provided was inconsistent, inaccurate with regard to specifics, and required substantial subjective interpretation.

In no case had the information provided ever been used to guide intelligence operations. Thus, remote viewing failed to produce actionable intelligence.




The foregoing observations provide a compelling argument against continuation of the program within the intelligence community.


Even though a statistically significant effect has been observed in the laboratory, it remains unclear whether the existence of a paranormal phenomenon, remote viewing, has been demonstrated. The laboratory studies do not provide evidence regarding the origins or nature of the phenomenon, assuming it exists, nor do they address the important methodological issue of interjudge reliability.

Further, even if it could be demonstrated unequivocally that a paranormal phenomenon occurs under the conditions present in the laboratory paradigm, these conditions have limited applicability and utility for intelligence gathering operations. For example, the nature of the remote viewing targets are vastly dissimilar, as are the specific tasks required of the remote viewers.


Most importantly, the information provided by remote viewing is vague and ambiguous, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the technique to yield information of sufficient quality and accuracy for actionable intelligence.


Thus, we conclude that continued use of remote viewing in intelligence gathering operations is not warranted.