Sunday, 8 September 2019

Remote viewing the Stealth Bomber, August 1987

It has been claimed that the Remote Viewing project sponsored by the US Government from 1974-1995 scored a notable success when asked to try to perceive the Northrup B-2 Stealth Bomber which was currently in development behind a curtain of absolute secrecy (although its existence was known to the general public, no details were widely circulated).

In the book Remote Viewers by Jim Schnabel, there is a brief description of Mel Riley’s success with this target. Jim writes about “Riley’s sharply detailed sketches” and that the Air Force were so concerned with the accuracy that they ordered that no one else try to remote view this target. [1]

Paul Smith goes into more detail in his book Reading The Enemy’s Mind, quoting Fred Atwater, the project manager, on the sessions.

If I recall correctly, the first targeting was a set of coordinates, and we came back with an aircraft. And Mel’s now-famous drawings. When the first drawings came back, I showed them to the outside analyst, and I said, “Well, it looks like we’re looking at some kind of aircraft, but this is really weird. Please forgive the remote viewers, because sometimes they don’t draw accurately.” And the guy says, “No, I think this is the right aircraft you’re looking at.” [2]

Paul Smith illustrates this with a comparison of sketches by Mel Riley and himself next to photographs of the target, the B-2 bomber, as well as another combat aircraft, the Lockheed F-117 which was not the target of the sessions. [2] [3]

From Paul Smith's book, "Reading the Enemy's Mind"

From an online parapsychology course, 2015

Accounts usually give the impression of a bare minimum of sessions completed in order to get the reported results. However, the project (code number 8709) included four remote viewers supplying 31 sessions. Additionally, the blinding of the viewers to the target was highly suspect and there is evidence in the notes of some pretty overt leading questions. Further complicating matters, at least at the start, was the fact that another project (8711) was still underway. [4] Project 8711 was targeted at Iran and, specifically, an underground missile store. It had been running for two weeks and this may have caused some imagery to cross over. [5]

Project 8709 began on Thursday 30 July 1987, with a session with Mel Riley that did not get any relevant images. The second session was over a week later (10 August) with Lyn Buchanan and, given only encrypted coordinates, he started talking about an airport and was told he had acquired the target when he described the whine of jet engines.

Clearly, the interviewer was not blind to the target and gave cues to each of the four remote viewers on this project. For example, Angela Dellafiore began well: With only encrypted coordinates she described something that flies that was very technologically advanced. In her second session, the interviewer asked multiple times what was so secret about this object. She didn’t give a satisfactory answer and when her third session began she was instructed to talk about the “secret aircraft,” effectively telling her the target of the session.

A collection of sketches from various session notes

Mel Riley struggled early on with this project. His first two sessions were not successful but he had mentioned a “pointed object” which the interviewer told him to focus on in the third session. By now (19 August) Lyn Buchanan had been told that the target was a jet plane and Angela knew that the target flew, so Mel’s immediate description of a plane is an interesting development. Had he overheard something about this project in conversation between sessions? Very early in session three Mel mentioned the SR-71 and was then told that he had acquired the target.

Mel's "pointed object" that, in the following session, became an aircraft

Mel Riley's sketches from 19 Aug

Paul’s first session was on the 12 August 1987. His initial response was to describe a desert area with bivouacs. Even though he had been told explicitly that this was a new project he hadn’t targeted before, there seems to be some overlap with Project 8711 for which he’d already done three sessions in that month. On the other hand, that description could fit the area of the United States where the B-2 bomber was being tested, so his second session began with instructions to concentrate on the “object of special interest located at the bivouac area described in the previous session.”

Paul began by describing and sketching a rocket (“reminds me of a cruise missile”). As the session went on, the interviewer became more active in steering Paul in a certain direction. There isn’t a full transcript but the notes list a number of statements given by the interviewer that have the clear purpose of changing Paul’s rocket into a plane: “In an earlier drawing you started to add “side images” or projections and in this drawing you seemed to have started that again.” The interviewer’s interest in these “side images” reached a peak later on where, in succession, he says to Paul:

“Let’s objectify the term projections. You repeat that phrase frequently.”

“Add the wings to your sketch.”

“Does it bother you if it turns into an airplane”

This is the most overt example of leading a remote viewer that I’ve seen in the entire Star Gate Archive and, if this weren’t enough, at the beginning of his fourth session Paul is told to focus on the “unusually configured aircraft.”

This fourth session took place on 20 August 1987 and, by now, each of the four remote viewers knew that the target was a secret jet aircraft. The sketches used to illustrate how accurate Paul Smith was in describing the Stealth bomber (as shown at the start of this blog) date from this session.

Paul Smith's sketch from his fifth session, on 24 Aug

Finally, although the Northrup B-2 was still shrouded in absolute secrecy at this point, Paul Smith appears to have been influenced by another previous attempt at guessing the appearance of the Lockheed F-117 fighter. In July 1986 a toy company, Testor Corp., released their imagining of the F-117 based on what was known in the public domain and basing it on the Lockheed SR-71. The model, which I recall gained quite a lot of publicity at the time, bears certain similarities to Paul’s later sketches and may have acted as a subconscious cue to the remote viewer.

Paul Smith's sketch and the Testor Corp. model [6]

In summary, the sketches illustrating the efficacy of remote viewing were selected from a much larger pool of sessions and were drawn after the remote viewer was no longer blind to the target.

[1] Shnabel, Jim. (1997) Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies (pp. 51-52) Dell Publishing, New York. (NB, Jim also writes that Joe McMoneagle did a session against this target but, if this is true, it must have been an informal session since Joe McMoneagle had retired from the project several years earlier. No session notes or any mention of sessions with any non-project viewers is present in the declassified documents.)

[2] Smith, Paul. H. (2005) Reading the Enemy's Mind: Inside Star Gate: America's Psychic Espionage Program (p. 371). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

[3], Smith, Paul. H. (2015) Remote Viewing: Antecedents, Conditions, People, Protocols, Applications, Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education Massive Open Online Course,, Saturday, February 7th, 2015

[4] Just to complicate matters, Project 8709 had two phases. The first was to remotely view the B-2 bomber and the second was to then attempt to remote view any Soviet counterpart currently being developed. The existence of a Russian stealth bomber had long been considered (and a reduced-radar aircraft, the Tupolev Tu-160, had just gone into service in April of that year) and the B-2 was used as a kind of calibration target to make sure the remote viewers were "online" before they attempted the Soviet target. However, phase two didn't begin until the later stages of the project and so for the sake of simplicity I have skimmed over this detail, except to note that Mel's sketch (21 Aug) and Paul's second sketch (24 Aug) are both from sessions targeted at the Soviet craft, not the American one.

[5] Usually, the use of different encrypted coordinates given to the remote viewer at the start of a session would be enough to inform them that they were working on a new target. However, Project 8711 had used two sets of encrypted coordinates and so a new set might not have had the usual effect of removing the remote viewers' preconceived ideas about the target.

[6] photographs of model taken from Popular Science, September 1986, p79

Thursday, 18 July 2019

I've written a book about Japan

After a recent trip to Japan I found myself a bit perplexed that there was no book about Matsue on the market (apart from Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan by Lafcadio Hearn, but that’s over a hundred years old). So I sat down and wrote one!

It’s an introduction to the city, but very much from my experiences there. I did a little research to add a little background, but it is by no means a history of Matsue. I thought I’d mention it here on the off chance it’d interest you. It’s on Amazon only (self-published Kindle, you see).

It’s subtitled The Storytelling City and, as I explain on Amazon, “Of course, every city can tell you stories, but Matsue is almost overburdened with them, stretching back over a thousand years. From myths described in ancient texts, through the tales of the Edo period and on to a Victorian ghost story collector, it seems as if every street has, over time, acquired some kind of fable. Around all of this is a small city of uncommon beauty and character.”

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Russell Targ remote views San Andres Airport, 1974

Russell Targ’s only formal remote viewing experiment is a well-known example of psychic functioning, and was recently featured in the article about him on the Society for Psychical Research’s Psi Encyclopedia. However, very little is known about it: it was conducted at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) during the time when Targ and Puthoff were being funded by the CIA. As such, there was a considerable amount of secrecy surrounding this work.

Furthermore, this experiment has never been written up in any real detail, neither for peer-reviewed publication nor internal memo for the CIA. Instead, details about it are scattered across several different sources. I thought it’d be worth putting together as much information as possible to give a little more context to this remarkable event.

What was the purpose of the experiment?

This was a long-range remote viewing experiment, with Hal Puthoff acting as the beacon. He went on a business/pleasure trip to Costa Rica in April 1974. The trip lasted ten days and “a week of remote target viewing” was carried out, with each session taking place at 1330 PDT (1430 CST, the time zone in Costa Rica) at which point Hal would take notes of his current location, including taking photographs.

The experiment was first mentioned in Progress Report No. 2, which is dated 24th April 1974. This is actually a week or so after the sessions were complete, but it’s clear that the report was written some time before publication.

How many sessions was the experiment designed to last?

Seven sessions, taking place in consecutive daily sessions.

Who were the remote viewers?

There were two remote viewers, Pat Price and Hella Hammid, with Russell Targ filling in for an absent remote viewer on one day.

In the book Mind Reach, Targ and Puthoff state that one was in Los Angeles and the other in Menlo Park (ie, at SRI). They did not specify which one was which, but it is more likely that Hella Hammid worked from Los Angeles while Pat Price was at SRI.

However, according to Targ and Puthoff’s 1974 paper “Remote Viewing of Natural Targets,” Hella Hammid was the only remote viewer on this project. Pat Price, despite being mentioned in other parts of the same paper, has been removed entirely from this version of events.

Were the remote viewers blind to the target?

Not completely. In Progress Report No. 3 we learn that the two remote viewers were told that the beacon was Hal Puthoff and he was travelling in Costa Rica.

Which remote viewer did not arrive for the session?

In Targ and Katra’s book Miracles of Mind, it is Pat Price who is absent. However, it is troubling how much Targ’s 1998 version of events differs from the classified documentation. According to this book, the experiment took place in April 1973 (it should be April 1974. In fact, Pat Price hadn’t even joined the team in April 1973) and each session happened at 9.00am (not half past one in the afternoon).

And, of course, in the 1974 paper which removed Pat Price from proceedings, Hella Hammid is named as the psychic who did not turn up.

However, it appears that neither attended. The classified report “Perceptual Augmentation Techniques: Part Two” states that the experimenter “acted as a subject in one experiment on a day in which S4 [ie, Hella Hammid] was not available and the other subject arrived late.” Bearing in mind the quote from Mind Reach telling us that Hella Hammid was based in Los Angeles, if we consider the use of the phrase “not available” it seems to me that Targ already knew Hammid couldn’t submit a session for that day and so when Pat Price did not arrive in time on Friday, Russell Targ submitted his own remote viewing session rather than have one day with no remote viewing data at all.

Was the experimenter blind to the target?

Varous accounts talk about keeping Hal Puthoff's itinerary a secret from the subjects, but there's no mention of doing the same for the experimenter Russell Targ. In Progress Report No.2, when the experiment is first described, it says that the experimenter would also attempt to blind match the session transcripts to the beacon’s target pictures after Puthoff had returned. However, no attempt to complete this part of the protocol was made. Does this mean that Russell Targ had become non-blind to the targets before the judging process could take place? How long was the gap between Puthoff’s return and the photographs being developed? Targ and Katra’s book states “several weeks” but, given the many inaccuracies in that version of events, one has to wonder if this is another mistake.

What happened on the day that Russell Targ did his remote viewing session?

Friday 12 April 1974 was Good Friday that year.

In a recent presentation about his work at SRI, Hal Puthoff explained how he “had a chance to trick” the remote viewers by jumping on a plane and flying to a nearby Colombian island in time for the session. An online airline timetable archive has a LACSA timetable for 1973 which, if we assume that airline timetables don’t change drastically from year to year, confirms that there was a service from Costa Rica to San Andres, Colombia on Fridays (another LACSA timetable dated 1979 has the Friday service still listed). Hal Puthoff would’ve taken the flight from San Jose Airport in Costa Rica to San Andres Airport, but would’ve had to have taken the next flight back or remain there until Monday, meaning he was only on the island for about an hour.

Despite Targ and Puthoff supplying contradictory reports in different accounts, we can be pretty sure that it was Pat Price who did not arrive on time at SRI that day. During these early days in the project, they were still assuming that remote viewing happened in real-time: moving the remote viewer’s perception through the past or the future had not yet been attempted. As such, Pat Price’s absence at that specific time was a problem. Russell Targ has since described his decision to submit a session himself as being done in a spirit of “the show must go on.” Russell Targ’s sketch is dated 4/12/73 (getting the year wrong) and it lasted from 1:25-1:30.

What were the results of the experiment?

Twelve remote viewing sessions were completed: Six by Pat Price, five by Hella Hammid and one by Russell Targ. On his return, Hal Puthoff correctly matched five of these twelve sessions to his seven daily reports, two for Price, two for Hammid and Targ’s session, at odds of 50 to 1 (we shall assume that the notes were given to him with the dates removed).

The content of the sessions by Price and Hammid is largely unknown, except for brief mentions of descriptions of Puthoff relaxing by a pool, in his hotel room or in a jungle environment near a flat-topped mountain (this last session has been credited to both Price and Hammid in different accounts).

The photo that usually accompanies Russell Targ’s sketch is not the same photo that Puthoff took. His two photos were taken from the ground. The aerial photo doesn’t appear until 1977, in the book Mind Reach.

The response to this result was positive, but guarded. An anonymous review of the SRI work to date written in 1975 points out that the full data had still not been submitted, and so any definitive conclusion could not be drawn.


Progress Report No. 2: Perceptual Augmentation Techniques, CIA-RDP96-00791R000200040004-9

Review of Perceptual Augmentation Techniques, CIA-RDP96-00787R000200150004-2

Perceptual Augmentation Techniques: Part Two – Research Report, CIA-RDP96-00791R000300030004-9

Karen Wehrstein (2018). ‘Russell Targ’. Psi Encyclopedia.. Retrieved 6 October 2018.

Targ, R., Katra, J. (1999) Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing,” New World Library, Ca, USA.

Targ, R., Puthoff, H. (1974).  Remote Viewing of Natural Targets. Conference on Quantum Physics and Parapsychology, Geneva, Switzerland, August 26-27, 1974.

Targ, R., Puthoff, H., (1977) “Mind Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Ability,” Delacorte Press

Dr. Hal Puthoff, PhD, on CIA History of Top Secret Remote Viewing

Sunday, 2 September 2018

A Review of “The Star Gate Archives. Volume 1: Remote Viewing”

This book, “The Star Gate Archives. Volume 1: Remote Viewing, 1972-1984: Reports of the United States Government Sponsored Psi Program, 1972-1995” was compiled and edited by Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha and published by McFarland in 2018. It is the first of four volumes from May and Marwaha covering the US government sponsored program investigating remote viewing as an intelligence gathering tool. Future volumes will cover Remote Viewing from 1984-1995, Psychokinesis and Reports on Operational Remote Viewing.

This first volume contains reports written by those working at SRI during the first half of the program, predominantly Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ. They are neatly formatted and constitute the least redacted versions of these reports that exist. The most notable example of this is the 1983 report Project Grill Flame: Operational Tasks which I have only ever seen before in a heavily censored form, with entire pages missing, but is now available in all its glory.

The reports are ordered chronologically, which helps give the reader some sense of progression but one should be aware that this is not a history of the project. There are no engaging characters or dramatised versions of events to capture your imagination. It is all quite dry and matter-of-fact in its presentation but this is to its benefit. As there is no attempt at making things seem astonishing and breathlessly exciting, the reader is left to draw their own conclusions from the undoubtedly similar examples of drawings and target photographs. Without the prompting of a narrator, these conclusions seem all the more impressive.

But the reader needs to tread carefully and bear in mind that these reports were written not just to show the efficacy of remote viewing, but also to secure funding. As such, there are no dissenting opinions. Every report is from SRI and only SRI, and so the more critical documents that one finds in the Star Gate Archive are entirely absent [1].

Even taking into account the SRI-only nature of the source, there are still some disappointing gaps in the book. Keith Harary’s apparently successful prediction of the release of hostage Richard Queen is mentioned in passing, but there are no detailed documents on the session. Perhaps they’ve been lost or perhaps they’ll be in Volume 4. The 60-trial experiment done with Uri Geller is also not included, apart from the sparse one-paragraph description of it in the paper published in Nature magazine. (Neither of these are in the online Star Gate Archives, but I was hoping that May and Marwaha might have had access to previously unpublished work from SRI.)

Similarly, the impressive results listed in Project Grill Flame: Operational Tasks are not backed up by contemporary documentation elsewhere in the book. This is important because careful reading of the differing reports in the book can throw up some curious anomalies. For example, on pages 365-366, there is a brief section on a remote viewing of Ramenskoye Airfield that took place in 1976. Here the report from 1983 claims that the information provided to the remote viewer were geographical coordinates and, then, “Viewer having noted an airfield at correct location first scan, viewer asked for additional detail on same for second scan.”

In this version of events, the remote viewer, was targeted on an airfield, they mentioned an airfield in session one (and drew a map as an overview of the area) and then gave more detail in session two.

But on page 173, there’s a subtly different version dated 1977. Here it describes how the first session focused on a dam, and that there was no mention of any airfield at all. The second session was run with the criteria that, should the remote viewer mention an airfield, he’d be asked for more information about it. So there was no “correct location first scan” as maintained in the 1983 version while the session on the dam has been forgotten about. (As an aside, the failure of the remote viewer to get the correct target in 1977 was blamed on incorrect coordinates, but putting those coordinates into Google Maps shows that they are perfectly fine.)

So, in conclusion, this book is a valuable resource for anyone researching the remote viewing project. Having these reports in this format and in chronological order really helped me get an overview of the early SRI work. But one has to bear in mind that this is not an impartial record of events. This is the evidence at its most positive, polished to the nth degree, whose target audience at the time was people with funding.


[1] Two examples of such reports:

The Grill Flame Scientific Evaluation Committee, also known as The Gale Report

Snyder’s “Summary and Critical Evaluation of Research in Remote Viewing” Part one and Part two.

Monday, 16 July 2018

A Corpse Not Buried For Nineteen Years

On this day two hundred and fifty years ago (16 July 1768), a woman was finally laid to rest in London after an apparently very literal interpretation of the terms of a will meant that she remained unburied for almost two decades.

According to the Gentleman's Magazine and the Annual Register for 1768, a close relative of the woman passed away and left a clause in his will that she should receive an annual sum of £25 "as long as she is on the Earth." According to the website Measuring Worth, the value of £25 in the mid-eighteenth century in today’s money is at least £3,150 and possibly much higher.

Hence, when the woman died, her husband did not have her interred but instead rented a room above a stable in South Audley Street where she was placed in a "decent coffin." Thus, fulfilling the terms of the will (at least the meaning if not the intention), he continued to receive the yearly sum. The Annual Register put the rent of the room at £5, giving him a clear profit of £20 a year.

It wasn't until the husband died that the landlord, wanting to do some work on the building, discovered the body. After this she was laid to rest having served her husband for rather longer than "til death us do part."


The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol 38, 1768. p 347
Annual Register for the year 1768, p 138