[March 31, 1996] -- Vol. 10, No.1 of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, an international peer-reviewed research journal, presents the most complete discussion to date of the 24-year long government-sponsored ESP programs at SRI and SAIC. In addition to the official reports on the program by Prof. Jessica Utts, (University of California, Davis) and Prof. Ray Hyman (Univ. of Oregon) the Journal is publishing the first in-depth discussions by former program directors Dr. H. E. Puthoff and Dr. Edwin May and by former SRI researcher Russell Targ.
Both Puthoff and Targ discuss, among other things, declassified aspects of the code-named Scanate efforts at SRI to psychically view top secret facilities in the former USSR and elsewhere. They present the first released drawings of the Semipalatinsk, USSR facility comparing the psychically-obtained sketches with satellite reconnaissance observations. This is now possible because in July 1995, 270 pages of SRI reports were declassified and released by the CIA, the first, but not the only, sponsor of such programs as Grill Flame, Center Lane, Sunstreak and Star Gate. Although various unclassified aspects of the early work led by Puthoff and Targ have drawn media attention for some time, the bulk of the funded research was carried out between 1986 and 1995, directed by May. Building on the Puthoff-Targ findings, rigorous new tests were developed by May's team to try to identify the relevant variables and explore their dependence on space and time. Contrary to the implications of some media accounts, these efforts concentrated on developing proper scientific controls and were in fact guided by a Scientific Oversight Committee which included a Nobel Laureate, a former Major General, and internationally known professors of statistics, psychology, neuroscience and astronomy. It is estimated that more than 80,000 pages of program documents remain highly classified.
Much of the opposition of mainstream scientists to ESP phenomena of this sort traces to the perplexing lack of appropriate space and time behavior. Electromagnetic and gravitational forces diminish predictably with distance and, except in science fiction movies, never mysteriously propagate backwards in time. Taken at face value the ESP data suggest that information can be psychically accessed as easily across two continents as two doors down the hall. And apparent examples of bizarre time-shifting of perceptions abound.
One of the most curious results, reported by Targ, concerns a remote viewing by former Burbank police commissioner, Pat Price, in 1975. In one of the experiments Price described a target site, a swimming pool complex at Rinconada Park in Palo Alto, with "great accuracy." But he then went on to describe some non-existent water storage tanks at the psychically-viewed location. Targ discusses how 20 years later, in 1995 long after Price had died, he came across an Annual Report of the City of Palo Alto from 1913 that touted the "new municipal waterworks" built that year on the Rinconada park site. A photograph from 1913 shows two water tanks "just where Price had drawn them" 60 years later... long after they were gone! Skeptics would criticize this as "post hoc" interpretation, but numerous less dramatic examples of asynchronous perception suggest further study.
The retrospective reviews commissioned by the CIA in 1995 reached contrary conclusions. Jessica Utts, a professor of statistics at the University of California, Davis and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science states: "Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established." This is disputed in the dissenting report by psychologist Ray Hyman, a professor at the University of Oregon. However Hyman does agree with Utts on what the next steps should be, which in the Utts report is a recommendation for further funded investigation.
Whether this recommendation stands any chance of being implemented in today's budget climate is problematic. May's overall assessment of his program's results is that photographic reconnaissance quality data were psychically obtained in approximately 15 percent of the operational remote viewings. While this would be more than sufficient to interest scientists, such a success rate appears to be too unpredictable to make the grade for continued intelligence funding.
Most of the operational data remain classified, and in his commentary on the reports May argues strongly that virtually all high quality data and testimony of key individuals were deliberately excluded from the unclassified review process. He makes the case that owing to political considerations the ground rules of the review were determined so as to produce an outcome that could be used to justify terminating the program. This would explain why the CIA chose to, in effect, disregard the conclusions drawn by Utts in its official briefing to Congress.
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