UFO research is replete with provocative, but elusive phenomena that cry out for explanation. But our problem these days is we have too many explanations and none that are definitive. We log sitings, take soil samples, talk to abductees, compare notes, go over and over the same ground, and much like the UFO, rarely touch down on anything firm. We'd like some real answers. We're left mostly with multiplying questions.
It's not surprising, therefore, that some of us would look around for other research paradigms that might yield some new perspectives on the problem. One such paradigm shift is represented in a recent book by Courtney Brown called "Cosmic Voyage." The book purports to be a report on the use of a "scientific" version of clairvoyance developed by the military called <remote viewing> to view alien sites both on and off the planet, as well as number of metaphysical locales and beings in other dimensions.
What's going on here? Is remote viewing real? And if so, can it give us scientific evidence of the existence of extraterrestials? And if it can, has Dr. Brown delivered up the goods? These are some of the questions that inform the following article by contributing writer, Michael Miley. We predict the debate will not end here.
In January of this year, a controversial book called <Cosmic Voyage> appeared in the bookstores claiming to be a "scientific discovery" of extraterrestials now visiting the earth. That in itself would be unworthy of note (since many such claims are made each year), were it not for the fact that its author, Dr. Courtney Brown, an associate professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, said he utilized the techniques of "scientific remote viewing" (SRV) to obtain his data. Remote viewing is the ability of natural psychics and specially trained people to obtain concrete information about distant people, places, and things, even when all normal sensory channels are blocked.
As it turns out, the book was strategically timed, since it followed on the heels of a bigger controversy that had brought the subject into the public eye. This was the disclosure, in November of '95, that the government had secretly conducted and funded a 24-year program in "psychic spying"-- at a cost variously estimated at $11 to $20 million dollars.
The press had a field day with this revelation, especially since the CIA, one of its sponsors, had concluded the first phase of the program's declassification by issuing a report (recently refuted by one of its directors, Dr. Edwin May) that stated that the project had had little operational utility, which is why it was being shut down.
Not two months later, Brown was making just the opposite claim. Not only was remote viewing real, it was cosmically powerful, a kind of personal omniscience that had near total accuracy when corroborated by groups in extended studies. And it could be used to obtain "scientific evidence" of the existence of extraterrestials now living on the Earth.
This article is an assessment of Dr. Brown's claims. What it shows is that controlled remote viewing is a real phenomenon, with both prima facie and scientific evidence. It presents a summary case for this evidence in both research settings and intelligence operations, but it also shows RVs limits and constraints. On the basis of those constraints -- which in part, are the controlled procedures that were developed in the government program, and the checks and balances that science requires for objective knowledge -- this article is highly skeptical of Dr. Brown's claims.
Put simply, Brown doesn't appear to have the baseline credentials for credibility in this field, according its professionals practitioners; nor were his data-gathering methods "clean enough" to encourage us to believe in his data. Brown's methods are an echo of training protocols, where the monitor, the person guiding the remote viewing process, always knows beforehand what the target is, so he can coach the trainee. But this training protocol is anathema for unbiased data-gathering. In short, Brown's book is scientifically dubious, except as a lesson of what ought not be done. But since he's claimed otherwise, it also may be something else: an exercise in arrogance or self-delusion, one that mimics the carefully developed protocols of controlled remote viewing to legitimize itself.
The Beginnings of the RV Project
By all accounts, the CIA's Remote Viewing (RV) project began at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) in 1972. At the time, Dr. Harold E. Puthoff, a physicist involved in laser research, had been circulating a proposal for researching plants and lower organisms, which came to the attention of a New York artist and psychic named Ingo Swann. Swann contacted Puthoff and suggested that if he were really interested in the boundary between the animate and inanimate, he should consider some parapsychology experiments Swann had been part of with Prof. Gertrude Schmeidler and others at the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) in New York City. These included experiments in "remote viewing," among others, where Swann could sense the weather in distant cities. Puthoff was intrigued and invited him to SRI.
Swann showed up and did some dazzling things, according to Puthoff, including influencing and describing the interior of a metallically shielded magnetometer located in a vault below the Physics Department building at Stanford University. Puthoff was impressed enough to publish his observations in the proceedings of a scientific conference a few years later; but it was only few short weeks after Puthoff had circulated a draft of his findings that a pair of "suits" from the CIA showed up at SRI, holding the draft in hand. They were concerned with the level of parapsychological research being funded by the Soviet security services, and they wanted to do some threat analysis. Could Swann show his stuff, and if they were impressed, would Puthoff consider conducting a pilot program at SRI along similar lines? Swann showed what he could do and so the CIA provided about $50,000 for initial funding of the project.
So began a CIA-sponsored project in remote viewing that continued under various auspices for 24 years. The initial research component was lodged at SRI from 1972-1990. A separate component was conducted at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) from 1991-1995, under the auspices of the National Security Agency (NSA). Dr. H. E. Puthoff oversaw the first portion as Director of the Cognitive Science Program at SRI from 1972-1985, when the baton was passed to Dr. Edwin May, who ran the show from 1985-1995.
Its military operational side was conducted by a unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, first under the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), where it was formalized as GRILLFLAME in mid-1978; then under other intelligence agencies, primarily the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), where it became known by various other names throughout its history (i.e., CENTER LANE, SUN STREAK, STARGATE) until its termination in 1995 by the CIA. Intelligence oversight of the program was conducted variously by different people, including Admiral Stansfield Turner, Director of the CIA ('77-81), Maj. General Ed Thompson, Assistant Chief of Staff ('77-81), and Maj. General Albert Stubblebine ('81-84), who succeeded Maj. Thompson.
It was during the early days of the project that the sometimes rather dazzling potential of remote viewing became known to its practitioners and observers. In mid-1973, Swann and another remote viewer named Pat Price simultaneously remotely viewed an NSA listening post at the Navy's Sugar Grove facility, solely on the basis of geographical coordinates. Swann drew a map of the building and grounds, while Price provided information about the interior including codewords, which were later verified by sponsor sources.
Later, on July 10, 1974, Price remotely viewed an unidentified research center at Semipalatinsk, in the USSR. Price's drawings showed an anomalous gantry crane at the site (see Figures 1 and 2) which was later verified by a drawing of a satellite photograph, conclusive evidence to his observers that Price had indeed remotely viewed the installation as if he'd been there. In a memoir published by Dr. Russell Targ, one of Price's observers and a project participant, Targ recounts how Price felt as he remotely viewed the site: "I am lying on my back on the roof of a two or three story brick building. It's a sunny day. The sun feels good. There's the most amazing thing. There's a giant gantry crane moving back and forth over my head...."
In a later example, on May 7, 1987, another remote viewer named Joseph McMoneagle would be tested against a domestic target, this time with CIA representatives acting as remote "beacons" for the viewer. McMoneagle's task was to home in on the beacons' surroundings at specific times, with their locations unknown to him. They could be anywhere within a 100 mile radius of the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory at SRI. The primary target for the session was a 50-MeV electron accelerator located at a remote site near Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. During the 8am session, the target person was located in building A at LLNL; at 4pm, he was driving through the windmill electric power farm at the Altamont pass; at midnight, he and the SRI personnel were located within the accelerator building at the remote site. (See Figures 3, 4, and 5). Fuzzy set analysis gave Joe a 95% accuracy on the windmill farm and a rating of 100% reliability on identifying the site. For the combined three targets, his accuracy was 77% and his reliability 78%.
Development of the Protocols
As good as these results are, they merely underscore the question that was on everyone's mind from the very beginning: how do you repeat these results reliably, with different viewers, over time? Swann, Price, and McMoneagle were "natural" psychics. However, since both the military sponsors of the program and the scientists involved were both concerned with strict controls and repeatable, accurate results, everything came back to the age old problem that had plagued psychical research in the past: what could they do to make it a predictable, more reliable tool for collecting data?
First, scientists wanted to be sure that there was no way the viewer might be "cued" to get the results, and so double-and triple-blind experiments were set up where the viewer, his monitor, and even the "tasker" (the one who held the sealed envelopes with the targets) were blind to the target. (These research protocols were later replicated at other institutions around the world, as in the precognitive remote perception experiments conducted at Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory and in the ganzfeld experiments done at the University of Amsterdam, among others. Their results gave statistical support for the existence of psi.) Swann got the brilliant idea that geographical coordinates could be used as a "target address" so as to not cue the viewer (hence SCANATE, for scanning by coordinate), but critics complained that someone with eidetic memory might memorize a complete map of the world (though this criticism couldn't account for details about every site). Later experiments showed that any random number, or no number at all, worked just as well. Somehow, the "unconscious" just "knew" what the target was.
Next, some model of how the remote viewing worked was necessary in order to enhance the ability in those that had it, or to develop it in people in whom it was latent. Puthoff and Swann discovered that drawing the blind target seemed to enhance the quality of the result, and long-term analysis showed that artists and image analysts often made the best remote viewers (as with a later remote viewer, Army Sgt. (Ret.) Mel Reilly (78-90)). What this meant, Swann and Puthoff speculated, was that drawing was closer than language to the psychic center of the individual, and that quick sketches were more direct translations of the "inner knowledge" of the collective unconscious.
Third (and here's where the hard work lay), what set of protocols and disciplines might be set up to train people to get in touch with the faculty and to screen out all the extraneous "noise" from the conscious mind? While other theories of how remote viewing works have been developed since then, this was the working model at the time. The noise postulated by the model included memories, expectations, fantasies, "analytic overlays" (judgments on the data coming in), indeed any conscious mental data that might "snow the signal" of the remotely viewed target. Somehow, as in meditation, the conscious mind needed to be clarified, so that the unconscious might speak more clearly.
Since Swann believed remote viewing was an innate species ability that only needed to be brought out, Swann and Puthoff set about creating a disciplined training program to help budding remote viewers to learn to separate the signal from the noise. Experiments with untrained people, even Maj. General Ed Thompson, seemed to prove Swann correct about everyone's innate ability to remote view, but training this ability remained to be seen. In point of fact, people were screened for their natural ability and those that didn't have much talent apparently didn't do as well as those that did, but the training went forward. (This point is critical: in the case of Brown, we are asked to believe that talent is irrelevant if you're properly trained and that anyone can achieve a high degree of accuracy. Apparently, that's false. And what if Brown has no talent and was trained poorly?)
Nonetheless, once the training and viewing protocols were set up -- the techniques of controlled remote viewing -- means had to be devised to analyze the data that was obtained. The baseline, of course, was direct feedback on the target whenever possible. However, various analytical and quantitative methods were developed not only for the purpose of determining the detailed accuracy of the operational data, but to develop a profile -- a database if you will -- on the strengths and weakness of the individual viewer. Such a database could be used to help train the viewer or used to select that viewer for particular targets in the future, thus encouraging better data for that kind of target.
Army Sgt. (Ret.) Lyn Buchanan, one of the unit's remote viewers who also had an extensive background in computer technology, was tasked with database administration from '84-92. According to Sgt. Buchanan, establishing a public database on a viewer's history is one of the ways to establish the viewer's credibility. And what databases like that show is that the accuracy of any remote viewer or group of viewers over time is variable. Never does it yield "nearly total accuracy, virtually all of the time," even in studies, as Dr. Brown claims (p. 4). If it seems to do so, the data is probably suspect and self-justifying. And again, accuracy is never just a judgment of probability. Research and operational targets always required feedback on some level, and RV was only used in tandem with other intelligence gathering methods.
That said, there had to be some way to judge the probability of accuracy on unknown targets, or for targets about which little was known. Simple consensus (8 out of 10 viewers agree with viewer X) was not sufficient, since the 8 could be wrong, or influenced subconsciously (and perhaps even psychically) in some kind of "chain reaction." Here again, the database of a viewer's performance over time could help, but so could a procedure called "online checking" or "bracketing." I.e., for any session, pick three targets. Targets A and C are known to the tasker, but not to the monitor or viewer. Target B is the unknown target. If the remote viewings of A and C have n percentage of accuracy during any given session, then the probability of the viewer being accurate on B is also n percent. But it's only a probability. The problem, of course, is compounded when Target B is of an ontologically different order than A or C. Are we entitled to extrapolate from the known to the unknown when the reality of a target is ambiguous and questionable?
As we shall see, this last consideration is entirely ignored in Dr. Brown's book.
Aliens in New Mexico
A minor but troubling chapter in the history of remote viewing is now being written. Watchers of The Discovery Channel caught a glimpse the trouble on the evening of March 12, 1996. That night, a 1-hour documentary was aired on Controlled Remote Viewing as a part of their "SPY WATCH" series week. The program, narrated and written by Jim Schnabel, was called "PSI FILES: THE REAL X-FILES" and among the people interviewed was an RV project monitor, Maj. (Ret.) Ed Dames. Dames, by most accounts, was Courtney Brown's teacher, a connection which Brown has consistently refused to admit, but which I was able to confirm, as shown below.
A little background here. Dames joined the RV unit after 1984, according to Buchanan and McMoneagle, but has claimed (or others in his group have claimed in documents circulating on the Internet) that he became operations and training officer in 1983 for Swann's RV unit after Swann left. However, Swann apparently left the INSCOM project in 1984, and ended contact with SRI in 1988. Dames has also claimed that he was one of Swann's star pupils, his protege, "the keeper of the technology," as he says on "THE REAL X-FILES." He states there too, that as he got bored with the usual operational stuff, he and others turned their remote viewing talents to viewing anomalous targets, such as UFOs and aliens. What really happened, according to Buchanan, is that Dames as a monitor tasked remote viewers with UFO targets without their prior knowledge and was told to stop because training targets required concrete feedback. Nonetheless, Dames became increasingly preoccupied with "RV ufology."
As for being an operations and training officer, McMoneagle says that Dames was not what he claims. It should be known that McMoneagle was one of the most highly respected and longest serving members of the project, serving from '78-95:
"1. There were seven (7) commanders of the unit from 1977-1995, none of them were named Dames.
2. Dames was a "monitor/interviewer" of remote viewers, not a remote viewer.
3. Dames assignment to the unit was post 1984. He may not therefore lay claim to any knowledge preceding that time period - classified or otherwise.
4. Dames had no connection with the research portion of the project at any time, and knows nothing about it."
Nonetheless, Dames has promoted himself as remote viewing instructor, teaching a set of protocols termed Technical Remote Viewing (TRV). It's also clear is that he was passionately interested in aliens and UFOs. Of course Mr. Dames can be interested in anything he likes, but it's his views on the topic in the public record that are relevant here, as well as his use of remote viewing to justify those views. If Dames' views are common knowledge, then it's a simple matter of comparing those views to Brown's to see if they share the same views.
To find out Dames' views, I called PsiTech, Dames' company, in Beverly Hills, Calif., but got no return call. I then contacted MUFON in Albuquerque, New Mexico (where the headquarters of Dames' PsiTech used to reside) and spoke to Carolyn Duce-Ashe, editor of the NM MUFON News. She sent me back issues of their journal, dating to January 1993. In the journals, Duce-Ashe interviews Dames on a number of occasions, reporting also on the TREAT V Conference that Dames attended on March 21 in Sante Fe (see "Treat Speaker Turns Heads, Alleging ET Colonies," UFO Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1993). At that conference, Dames made predictions about a big upcoming UFO event remotely viewed by PsiTech's specialists, spoke of aliens hibernating underground in New Mexico, and put forward the notions that the aliens are a dying species being moved to the earth. Other topics on Dames' mind during this period were the Galactic Federation of interstellar races, alien sites on the moon, and the Cydonia region with the "face" on Mars. Readers of Brown's book will recognize these themes.
I then called former state co-director for NM MUFON, Richard Rowlette, to see what he had to say about Dames. Rowlette stated that he his wife Maria had Col. (Ret.) John Alexander and his wife Victoria over for dinner sometime in the late summer or early fall of 1993. Said Rowlette: "Dames also came and he brought Courtney Brown with him, where he was introduced as Ed Dames' student."
The timeframe fits. Brown's first session in <Cosmic Voyage> is on 9/2/93 (chapter 7) at the training office of his monitor. The topic of the session? "Martian Civilization: Apex." The protocol is Type 6, with both the viewer and monitor front-loaded.
Room with an Alien View
Front loading -- where the monitor knows the target beforehand -- is a practice that came out of the teaching protocols. Its purpose is to give a person in training immediate feedback. However, translated to a real-world data-collection scenario, it's a sure way to muddy the data, violating as it does the basic definition of what remote viewing is. In a scientific setting, double- and triple-blind experiments are key (where the viewer, monitor, and even the tasker are blind to the target). In an operational setting, front-loading serves the purpose of targeting a known target for additional data. However, when it's an unknown and unverifiable target, front-loading is a sure prescription for possible self-deception, especially if the viewer front-loads himself.
An analysis of Cosmic Voyage yields the following data:
-- Timeframe: 1 year
-- Target pool: 40 preselected targets, 15 additional monitor-selected targets unknown to viewer added along the way.
-- Total sessions: 34 sessions
-- Metaphysical, unverifiable targets: 26 sessions
-- Targets with "ground truth" (physical) touchpoints: 8 sessions
-- Type 1 sessions: Solo, front-loaded, with target selected by viewer: 9 sessions
-- Type 4 sessions: Monitored, viewer blind and monitor front-loaded: 28 sessions
-- Type 6 session: Monitored, viewer and monitor front-loaded: 1 session
-- Reality Checks: 2 sessions
-- Interval between start of training and 1st documented Reality Check (the "open" bracket): 6 months
-- Interval between 1st and 2nd documented Reality Check (the "close" bracket): 3 months
-- Other mundame targets used for online checking are not well-documented
-- No objective, independently-judged tests are given of Brown's RV accuracy
-- All targets were front-loaded, either by Brown or his monitor
-- The monitor, when used, was never blind
-- The monitor/viewer relationship is a closed, preselected one. That is, no data is ever collected that is outside of either the monitor's or viewer's frame of reference or target pool. That is, no sessions are double- or triple-blind.
-- The viewer, right from session 1 onward, is clearly training on unverifiable targets.
Put in plain English, the emerging picture probably looks something like this: Ed Dames, a monitor and trainer with publicly professed views on aliens and UFOs, trains Courtney Brown on a pool of targets that they both select beforehand. Brown, while still in training and with no publicly documented profile of accuracy on mundane "real" targets, turns his brand-new skills to metaphysical, unverifiable ones. Together, they gather their "data." After the initial sessions, they have lunch together and worry over the fate of the aliens, based solely on the result of their RV findings (despite the lack of concrete feedback). Secure that the history of RV's accuracy in Intelligence work would support him, and secure in the idea that Dames' derivative version of RV was a viable interpretation of the protocols, Brown emerges from the sessions believing in the scientific accuracy of his data. Since his findings are corroborated by TRVers at PsiTech, where accuracy is judged by "majority rules," doubt doesn't play a big part in his mind.
The result, of course, is no big surprise: Brown's viewing data supports Dames' data. But in point of fact, it <is> Dames' data <a priori>. Brown's been "front loaded" during their discussions to believe what Dames believes, even as Dames is front-loaded with the targets as the sessions take place. And what of Dames' original data? Is it good? Is it bad? We have no way to judge its quality or origin. Because it's supported by the UFO literature, just as Brown's is, it has an air of credibility. But that literature itself is highly problematic.
In short, Brown's data cannot be objectively corroborated by PsiTech TRVers or anyone else. By definition, it's contaminated. And anyone who's read his book has also been "front loaded" or contaminated by that dirty data. Future remote viewing experiments that target UFOs or aliens will have an especially big hurdle overcoming these results, or establishing the believability of any data they do obtain.
My conclusion is a sad one. I began this project in search of a new paradigm for researching UFOs and aliens -- and I found it. It had been carefully developed over 24 years by a group of dedicated people (though it wasn't used primarily on anomalous targets). What I then found was a couple of space cowboys, drunk in the heart of the temple, destroying the covenant.
[The author: Michael Miley is a freelance writer and researcher of transpersonal psychology, the new physics, and the UFO/alien phenomenon. He can be reached on America Online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Lyn Buchanan, Joe McMoneagle, P.J. Gaenir, Tom Burgin, Ingo Swann, Harold E. Puthoff, Edwin May, Carolyn Duce-Ache, Richard Rowlette, and "Mr. X" for help with this article.
Source Books: Brown, Courtney. Cosmic Voyage: A Scientific Discovery of Extraterrestials Visiting Earth. Dutton/Penguin, 1996]
Original file name: CNI - Miley.RV.long article
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