Thursday, 7 July 2016

Ingo Swann’s remote viewing of Jupiter

With Juno in orbit around the planet Jupiter, I felt like going back and looking at another space probe that visited Jupiter, only this time, it was the mind of a psychic that travelled, not a piece of high-tech equipment.

By the Spring of 1973 the SRI research into remote viewing, funded by the CIA and lead by physicists Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ, had been going for around half a year.

Ingo Swann, a psychic who worked extensively on the project, was tired of Earth-bound co-ordinates and wanted to see if it were possible to remote view extra-terrestrial locations. With that in mind, Ingo arranged with another psychic, Harold Sherman, to remote view Jupiter and then compare their findings to the data from the probe Pioneer 10 which would fly by that planet in November/December of that year.

Although it wasn’t part of the CIA-funded work, Targ and Puthoff agreed to carry out the session with Swann according to SRI protocols. Sherman carried out his session in Arkansas, many hundreds of miles from SRI in California. The sessions took place simultaneously at 6.00pm PST on 27 April 1973.

This session has been reported as a great success for Ingo Swann as he saw a ring of rocks circling the planet: something that no one had even imagined at that time. As far as astronomy was concerned, Saturn was the only planet with a ring system.

There are many different versions of this story. Most get confused between Pioneer 10 (which did not detect Jupiter's ring in 1973) and Voyager 1 (which was the first to detect them, but that wouldn't happen for another six years, in 1979). Also, some versions of events specifically state that Ingo describes a ring of rocks, and that after the session was over they took this information to astronomers who all dismissed it as nonsense.

The original transcript is available online at this site linked to in this sentence. Although this is dated 1995, the section containing the transcript is very close to the version given in Mind Reach (1977) by Targ and Puthoff, and is also broadly similar to the version as told in Swann's book To Kiss Earth Good-bye (1975), so I think that part is pretty reliable.

EDIT 29/01/17: this contemporary transcript is now available on the CIA site (links to a pdf).

The passage that is usually quoted with reference to rings around Jupiter is:

"Very high in the atmosphere there are crystals... they glitter. Maybe the stripes are like bands of crystals, maybe like rings of Saturn, though not far out like that. Very close within the atmosphere."

This phrase “maybe like rings of Saturn” together with a sketch of a ringed planet, is considered evidence that Ingo Swann saw Jupiter's rings before they were scientifically detected.

However, this is not a “ring of rocks” as some versions state. It's a band of crystals. And this raises the question if this “band of crystals” was actually recognised as a ring of rocks at the time, or if that interpretation was only arrived at after the data from Voyager 1 was known in 1979.

It is instructive to look for reports on Swann's remote viewing session before 1979, to see if it mentions Jupiter's ring system.

The first I found was an article in the National Enquirer, 9 September 1975. In the paragraph where it talks about Swann's findings, it reads:

“Swann said Jupiter possessed a poisonous “bitter cold” atmosphere “of myriad colors – yellow, red, violet, some greens, like a giant fireworks display.” He said that he saw what looked like a “tornado” and also observed “winds of terrific velocity”. He detected “powerful magnetic forces.”

No mention of any rings around Jupiter, even though the story claims that science later confirmed all of his findings.

The next one I found was from the San Fransisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle for 10 April 1977. It read:

“Each [ie, Swann and Sherman] spoke of glittering ice crystals, winds of terrific velocity, great mountain ranges and powerful magnetic forces.”

Again, no mention of any rings.

Also in 1977, Targ and Puthoof's book “Mind Reach” was published. This described some of their (non-classified) work into remote viewing. One of the episodes they wrote about was Swann's mission to Jupiter, but they don't mention any ring system, either. In fact, quite the opposite. They wrote:

“The descriptions sounded reasonable; nothing was particularly at variance with any known facts.”

I doubt they'd say that if Swann had just told them that Jupiter had a ring system. So this source, too, doesn't include Swann's prediction.

Swann wrote about this session himself in 1975 in his book To Kiss Earth Goodbye. His version of the famous sentence comparing Jupiter to Saturn reads: "maybe the stripes of Jupiter are like bands of crystals, like rings of Saturn" which doesn't sound like a description of a ring system.

It's difficult to find an exact point where the claim begins to be made. The best I can make is in 1982-83. In 1982 James Randi wrote about Swann and Sharmer's session in his book Flim-Flam, but there is no mention of any rings. Meanwhile, in 1984 in the Skeptical Inquirer, we find a quote:

“Earlier, they had discovered the rings around Jupiter years before their existence was scientifically established by satellite photographs.”

This sentence is referenced to the November 1984 issue of a sci-fi magazine named Analog. This appears to be the earliest I can find of the claim. Unfortunately, SI is only in snippet view on Google Books, and I can't find Analog magazine for 1984 at all, so I can't check out their references.

I think this inability at recognising Ingo's “band of crystals” as a “rings of rocks” tells us that this is an example of a bit of creative interpretation. Also, it's worth mentioning that later in the transcript from 1973 Ingo Swann talks about “those cloud layers, those crystal layers” so I think it's safe to assume the “bands of crystals” were referring to the bands of colours already seen across Jupiter's visible surface from Earth and had nothing to do with any as-yet-undiscovered ring system.

Jupiter, from a 1961 illustration (From Astronomy by Patrick Moore)


Anonymous said...

It seems that at first, the proponents decided to downplay or ignore the ring description and drawing as an insignificant miss, and the skeptics hadn't known much about the mention of the ring. And when it was discovered, the proponents decided to use it as further evidence, while the skeptics either were unaware of the ring description or decided to ignore it (I haven't seen a great amount of modern skeptics discuss the ring much aside from you). I guess this is a typical situation where proponents overplay the hits and downplay the misses, and skeptics do it the other way around.

Ersby said...

Hello, and thanks for the comment. I have to disagree with you, though, about proponents downplaying or ignoring Ingo Swann's description of a ring system because they didn't have the courage of their convictions. The main issue I have with claim is that I can find no evidence that such a description was ever made.

There is now, in my blog post, a link to a contemporary transcript of Swann's and Sherman's remote viewing sessions. There is no reason for any claim to be glossed over in this document, yet there is no mention of any ring system.

As I mentioned in the blog post, I can't find any trace of this claim until after the rings were discovered by Voyager. After this point, the part of Ingo Swann's session where he is talking about the stripes around Jupiter comparing them to Saturn's ring (I'd imagine this is when the drawings of Jupiter and Saturn were made) was re-interpreted as describing a ring system. If you know of a source which can definitely be dated at before 1979 in which Swann's description of Jupiter's rings is discussed, I'd be very happy to see it.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

What I had meant by the ring was the drawing in the middle of the page to the right, the one with a sphere and a line around it, which does kind of resemble Jupiter. In the literature that you cite that were published before 1979, no rings are mentioned in some of them, and in Swann's own account he says that the stripes are the rings. Only after the rings were discovered by Voyager do they interpret the "bands of crystals" as the Jupiter ring. That was what I had meant by proponents downplaying or ignoring it until 1979.

Ersby said...

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you. I certainly agree that the meaning of "bands of crystals" was changed to fit new data after 1979. But I don't see how that could be described as a hit.

When you said “in Swann's own account he says that the stripes are the rings” which account are you referring to?

At the risk of seeming over-zealous, let me spell out my reasoning against the notion that Swann had seen Jupiter's ring system back in 1973.

For a start, I'm unconvinced by the use of “stripes” as being a synonym for “rings.” At the very start of Ingo Swann’s transcript it begins:

“There’s a planet with stripes. I hope it’s Jupiter.”

So, it’s clear that he’s not using “stripes” to describe a ring system here, otherwise he wouldn’t have realised it was Jupiter. Additionally, in his book “To Kiss Earth Good-bye” he talks about this part of his session, but this time he describes them as “bands of many colours” across the cloud covering. I really don’t see how this can be construed to mean a ring system.

Finally, far from being downplayed or ignored, this particular part of Swann’s remote viewing can be found listed as one of the successes: several sources list “glittering crystals” as one of the correct predictions that Swann made.

Hope this clears a few things up.

Anonymous said...

As for Swann's account, I'm talking about the quote "maybe the stripes of Jupiter are like bands of crystals, like rings of Saturn".

I've read the report, and I agree with your reasoning about the wording, even though I think the issue is still quite unclear. He says that it's like the rings of Saturn, but very close to the atmosphere. In addition, there is the picture with a sphere and a line around it is supposed to be (did he mean for that to be the hydrogen mantle?). These points make it confusing to decide whether he had seen the rings or not. For now, I guess I will take the more conservative way and say that he didn't see them.

Ersby said...

Ah, I see. I think the sentence “maybe the stripes of Jupiter are like bands of crystals, like rings of Saturn” is referring to the composition rather than the shape. This seems to make more sense, especially taking into account further references to “cloud covering” and being inside the atmosphere of Jupiter.

Thanks for your input. I’m happy I got the chance to clarify some of my points.

Anonymous said...

No problem. And that is a good point about the composition rather than the shape. What's your opinion on the drawing with the sphere and ring I had mentioned?

Also, off topic (as in it's about a different remote viewing session): do you know where I could find some of the information about the LTC Higgins viewing? I'm having trouble locating the specific documents at the moment.

Ersby said...

My impression of the two sketches is that one is Jupiter and the other is Saturn. They could've been doodles that Swann made as he was talking. For example, as he spoke about the bands of Jupiter (he draws Jupiter, emphasises a band across it) having crystals like the rings of Saturn (and then he draws Saturn). That's just a guess, of course.

Meanwhile, the RV work to locate Higgins stretched across two projects 8808 and 8925. So if you go to the CIA reading room (url below, though I expect you already know it) and search for "Higgins 8808" or "Higgins 8925" quite a lot of stuff pops up.

Additionally, the spreadsheet hosted at the url below has been a great help to me in finding stuff in the archive. Hope that helps.

Keith Croes said...

Just found your blog thanks to a live-stream interview Richard Dolan did yesterday with Russell Targ. Targ obviously still believes that Ingo Swann described the rings of Jupiter prior to NASA's photos. Have you discounted all of Swann's remote viewing reports?

Ersby said...

It's not possible to discount them all because he did so many and we have little detail regarding the background of the experiment. I'll try and track down that interview, see if there's anything new. I'm also looking forward to the release of the film and I'll try to write a review about it in the next few weeks.