Scientific Studies and Claims
According to psychologist David Marks in experiments conducted in the 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute, the notes given to the judges contained clues as to which order they were carried out, such as referring to yesterday's two targets, or they had the date of the session written at the top of the page. Dr. Marks concluded that these clues were the reason for the experiment's high hit rates.
Marks has also suggested that the participants of remote viewing experiments are influenced by subjective validation, a process through which correspondences are perceived between stimuli that are in fact associated purely randomly. Details and transcripts of the SRI remote viewing experiments themselves were found to be edited and even unattainable.
The information from the Stargate Project remote viewing sessions was vague and included a lot of irrelevant and erroneous data, it was never useful in any intelligence operation, and project managers changed the reports so they would fit background cues.
According to James Randi, controlled tests by several other researchers, eliminating several sources of cuing and extraneous evidence present in the original tests, produced negative results. Students were also able to solve Puthoff and Targ's locations from the clues that had inadvertently been included in the transcripts.
Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire and a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) has said that he agrees remote viewing has been proven using the normal standards of science, but that the bar of evidence needs to be much higher for outlandish claims that will revolutionize the world, and thus he remains unconvinced:I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do. (...) if I said that a UFO had just landed, you'd probably want a lot more evidence. Because remote viewing is such an outlandish claim that will revolutionize the world, we need overwhelming evidence before we draw any conclusions. Right now we don't have that evidence. —Richard Wiseman Daily Mail, January 28, 2008, pp 28–29
Wiseman also pointed at several problems with one of the early experiments at SAIC, like information leakage. However, he indicated the importance of its process-oriented approach and of its refining of remote viewing methodology, which meant that researchers replicating their work could avoid these problems. Wiseman later insisted there were multiple opportunities for participants on that experiment to be influenced by inadvertent cues and that these cues can influence the results when they appear.
Psychologist Ray Hyman says that, even if the results were reproduced under specified conditions, they would still not be a conclusive demonstration of the existence of psychic functioning. He blames this on the reliance on a negative outcome—the claims on ESP are based on the results of experiments not being explained by normal means. He says that the experiments lack a positive theory that guides as to what to control on them and what to ignore, and that "Parapsychologists have not come close to (having a positive theory) as yet". Ray Hyman also says that the amount and quality of the experiments on RV are way too low to convince the scientific community to "abandon its fundamental ideas about causality, time, and other principles", due to its findings still not having been replicated successfully under careful scrutiny.
Science writer Martin Gardner, and others, describe the topic of remote viewing as pseudoscience. Gardner says that founding researcher Harold Puthoff was an active Scientologist prior to his work at Stanford University, and that this influenced his research at SRI. In 1970, the Church of Scientology published a notarized letter that had been written by Puthoff while he was conducting research on remote viewing at Stanford. The letter read, in part: "Although critics viewing the system Scientology from the outside may form the impression that Scientology is just another of many quasi-educational quasi-religious 'schemes,' it is in fact a highly sophistical and highly technological system more characteristic of modern corporate planning and applied technology." Among some of the ideas that Puthoff supported regarding remote viewing was the claim in the book Occult Chemistry that two followers of Madame Blavatsky, founder of theosophy, were able to remote-view the inner structure of atoms.
Various skeptic organizations have conducted experiments for remote viewing and other alleged paranormal abilities, with no positive results under properly controlled conditions. Some of the organizations would provide large monetary rewards to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural power under fraud-proof and fool-proof conditions. For the largest paranormal research institution, the James Randi Educational Foundation, out of all of the applicants who applied for the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, nobody has even passed the preliminary tests.
Read more about this topic: Remote Viewing
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