viewing experiments (the respectable modern way of describing
second-sight or clairvoyance) by the US intelligence services has been
the subject of much speculation but concrete facts have been thin on the
ground. Now, a detailed account of one remote viewing experiment, conducted by
Puthoff and Russell Targ at Stanford Research Institute in 1974, has
been recently declassified and released in sanitised form on the
National Security Agency website. (Click
Here to view). The
report makes interesting reading for several reasons; first because it
is so detailed and second because its CIA author judged the experiment to be
unsuccessful from a military standpoint. Yet in reality, the experiment
was, if anything, too successful for comfort and provoked a panic
reaction from the military authorities.
In the experiment, the subject (known only as SG1J but actually Pat
Price, a retired police commissioner) was informed of the existence of a top secret Soviet military
base at a place called Semipalatinsk "25 to 30 miles south west of
the Irtysh River" in Siberia. It is inconceivable that the subject could have
had any knowledge of such a secret installation by normal means and he
was given only its map coordinates. Not only was it one of the
Soviet Union's most secret nuclear weapons centres, but it was also
physically very remote, and some 10,000 miles away from the site of the
Over three days, Price was asked to describe features of the
Russian base by paranormal means in a number of remote viewing sessions. In several
important respects, the experiment was considered a failure by
the military officer tasked with analysing the results. Price failed to draw the
perimeter of the site even though he was asked twice. When pressed for
details he made remarks like, 'I'll come back to that', but
seldom did. And when pressed further for concrete specific facts, he did
what many 'psychics' do -- he produced a stream of specific facts that
proved to be incorrect. He thought, for example, that the site was connected with the Soviet
space programme and 'saw' cosmonauts in space suits when it is in fact a
purely military weapons installation.
However, Price made one statement that proved to be astonishingly
accurate. He said that he could see a mobile gantry crane built on a
huge scale -- its wheels taller than a man. The crane he said was 150
feet tall and its railed tracks 50 feet apart. He also said this crane
ran on tracks over an underground building and made a number of detailed
sketches, almost of engineering drawing quality.
In his analysis, the anonymous evaluating officer wrote, '[Price]
supplied the most positive evidence yet for remote viewing with his
sketch of the rail-mounted gantry crane. It seems inconceivable to
imagine how he could draw such a likeness to the actual crane at [Semipalatinsk]
1) He actually saw it through remote viewing, or 2) he was
informed of what to draw by someone knowledgeable of [the site].'
The analyst continued, 'I only mention this second possibility
because the experiment was not controlled to discount the possibility
that [Price] could talk to other people - such as the disinformation
Section of the KGB. That may sound ridiculous to the reader, but I have
to consider all possibilities in the spectrum from his being capable to
view remotely to his being supplied data for disinformation purposes by
In his final, overall report on the experiments, the officer had, for
reasons not fully explained, become much more skeptical. He says, quite
baldly, 'The remote viewing experiment of [Semipalatinsk] by [Price]
proved to be unsuccessful.'
reality, the experiment was too successful, as one of the
experimenters, Dr. Russell Targ, has subsequently revealed on his
Here). Says Targ, 'This trial was such a
stunning success that we were forced to undergo a formal Congressional
investigation to determine if there had been a breach in National
Security. Of course, none was ever found, and we were supported by the
government for another fifteen years. As I sat with Price in these
experiments at SRI, he made the sketch shown, to illustrate his mental
impressions of a giant gantry crane that he psychically "saw"
rolling back and forth over a building at the target site!'
The Price experiment is not conclusive evidence of remote viewing.
But it does represent a remarkable controlled experiment that deserves
to be taken seriously scientifically. The huge gantry crane at the
target site was purpose built and thus a rare feature anywhere -- indeed
a feature that the overwhelming majority of people have never seen. That
Price's identification should be merely a guess thus has a very low
probability and, as an explanation, is lacking in credibility.