Remote Viewing: What Constitutes Proof?

Remote Viewing Goes To Eleven.

Okay, one quick follow-up to the Shermer/remote viewing post. It’s about how we categorize success where remote viewing is concerned. When Ray Hyman laughs off the success rate of remote viewing (15% psychic hits; 85% psychic misses by his count), should he be laughing? It depends on how we’re counting.

As a spy program for the military or CIA, yeah, 15% sucks. Shut the program down, by all means. As a statistical value wherein 15% represents chance, yeah, that’s pretty awful, too. But as proof that an as-yet scientifically unproven element of psychic aptitude really does exist? It’s gold.

We’re not talking about psychically influencing coin flips, here. We’re talking about visualizing what is sealed inside an envelope. In the case of the classroom exercise Shermer took part in, what’s in the envelope is a picture. In the case of military remote viewing, what was in the envelope was a set of “coordinates.” Numbers. I can’t remember if they were actual coordinates or just random numbers–if you know, please post in the comments. I’m too lazy to look it up.

So, you’ve got a target in an envelope to which the remote viewer is blind and the viewer starts sketching out what they visualize is in the envelope–or what is represented by the numbers. An accurate hit means that either what they sketch is the target or that the act of sketching aids them in being able to verbalize the target. Either way, what we end up with is a human who is perceiving something they can’t know. (If it’s coordinates or random numbers, obviously they are not perceiving what’s in the envelope but, somehow, the thought or intention of the person who wrote them. One of the big flaws I see with military remote viewing is they never tackled the question of how this works, they just knew that it did and went with it. But, if we live in a multiverse comprised of other choices we never made, yada-yada, who is to say that they are reading from this version of the person who put that in the envelope? Perhaps they end up reading some alternate version of the universe, which influences the exactness of the psychic hit. Or not. Just a possibility. I digress….)

Okay, that’s basically what remote viewing is. It’s a gussied up psychic ability. My contention is that the success rate of such a thing does not fall into the language of statistics. It just doesn’t. If even one hit is exact, that warrants uncorking the champaign. I think the dude writing “Stonehenge” when the target was Stonehenge counts as an exact hit. I think Michael Shermer admitting that, “I, myself, had picked up on a grassy field with a statue or monument near London” is close enough. I think him hiding behind the statistical probability that it’s chance is, how Penn and Teller say, bullshit.

Statistics? Irrelevant. If you have a picture hidden in an envelope of Stonehenge and I, an American in America, gain the impression that it’s  Stonehenge and draw Stonehenge, that’s it. Game over. We don’t have to guess at what constitutes failure since the rest of the class is drawing circles that may or may not be fuzzy hits. I’ve hit it exactly. And not just me, Michael friggen Shermer. And not just us but other Westernized people 15% of the time. I wonder what that hit rate would be for, say, a First Peoples shaman?

This gets me to another rub: cultural bias. Anyone else here think that if a shaman living with/in/as nature looked at our scientific studies and charts trying to prove or disprove the reality of remote viewing he or she would actually be the only one with a right to a smirk? Not Shermer. Not Carr. Hey, how about the people who have built successful cultures around the very things we are arguing about discovering or discarding as nonsense?

Perhaps when we live with/in/as nature, these “psychic” connections grow stronger. The signal grows stronger without all the noise of thoughts and judgements and egocentrism and problem-solving inherent to a people who must fix and upgrade their buildings and pavements and online access, which they’ve invented to “conquer” and be able to freely ignore nature. Or perhaps that’s another conversation for another time.

Go back to the original article. Look at what Joe McMoneagle drew and look at what his target was. He drew the target! That doesn’t mean he can predict the future or alway get it right or even mostly get it right. I find his books overblown nonsense, for the most part, truth be told. But if he never got it right again, he did that once. (And he did get it right numerous times.)

I think the old adage “If even one UFO turns out to be alien, that’s enough,” applies here. Not statistics.

Michael Shermer’s Prison of Belief

Remote viewing (RV) is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using subjective means, in particular, extra-sensory perception (ESP) or “sensing with mind”.
Wikipedia

The images and verbiage below are taken from an article written by Aaron Saenz titled,
FMRI Reads The Images In Your Brain – We Know What You’re Looking At:

The images on the left were shown to test subjects at UC Berkeley while their brains were scanned by fMRI. Then a computer program used its understanding of how the brain codes structural and semantic information to guess which image, among thousands best fit the activity it saw in the fMRI (see on the right). While the left and right images aren’t identical, they all agree semantically and structurally. A similar process has been shown to work with video.

The images and verbiage below are taken from remote viewer Russell Targ’s website:

Livermore Valley Foothills Windmill Farm target site photo, with sketch by Viewer a hundred miles away, showing poles, hills, “moving electricity in the form of a grid” and “halo probably not visible to the eye,” at the top of the poles. (Remote Viewer: Joseph McMoneagle. This trial was carried out with Dr. Edwin C. May in 1987.)

The computer’s ability to read thought in the brain and the remote viewer’s to read thought in an envelope are equally impressive. Neither are exact and arguably the remote viewers have a less successful hit ratio. But that they get any target right is amazing enough and calls for study. So why is it that skeptics like Michael Shermer are highly impressed with the computer trick but not the psychic one?

I recently watched a youtube video series produced by Skeptic Magazine and hosted by Shermer. In it, Shermer takes remote viewing classes under Dr. Wayne Carr, a licensed psychologist trained in military remote viewing. One of Shermer’s classmate gets a hit on the first try when he not only draws the correct target, but writes its name, “Stonehenge.” Shermer is unimpressed because Dr. Carr could have told the man the target before class. There were no controls. Of course this wasn’t an issue until Shermer was confronted with the reality that a man produced a psychic hit. Then, suddenly, the very thing Shermer set up for the camera wasn’t enough. He had to conduct a controlled experiment that he would inevitably rig to fail. By that I mean anything less than the man (and woman who also took part) writing the word of the target sealed in an envelope–or drawing it with extreme precision–would be made out as a failure by Shermer.

Presumably, the remote viewer only gets one shot. If more than that, certainly not more than the video shoot schedule allows for. In other words, even a failure during the controlled experiment is meaningless. You need repeated tests. That’s science. But Shermer isn’t interested in science. He’s interested in the appearance of science. He’s interested in rational reductionism; anything that gets in the way of his materialist belief system is to be smirked out of existence.

Sure enough, the teacher, Dr. Carr, saw success where Shermer saw failure in that controlled experiment. Maybe it was a successful hit; maybe it wasn’t. The point is, it’s clear Shermer would keep stacking the deck until he got the failed result he wanted. If that’s untrue, why didn’t he set these tests up beforehand? Why didn’t he tell all involved just what it would take to pass his sniff test? He didn’t because he never expected anyone to be so accurate as to make remote viewing a viable issue. Nor did he expect to successfully remote view Stonehenge himself….

“I, myself, had picked up on a grassy field with a statue or monument near London. Was I remote viewing?” Shermer asks us.

To tell us no, we cut to another psychologist, Ray Hyman, a professor at the University of Oregon. He poo-poos the notion of remote viewing because, “At best these remote viewers get about 15% of what they say correct.” With a laugh he goes on to tell us that this means they get it wrong 85% of the time.

Sorry, guys. Hate to break up the chuckle-fest but I believe the correct scientific response you’re looking for is, HOLY CRAP! WITH THE PROPER TRAINING HUMANS CAN READ WHAT’S IN A SEALED ENVELOPE 15% OF THE TIME!? HOLY CRAP!

Right?

Since the computer at Berkley is at least as good as the remote viewers, shouldn’t Shermer demand that he be in the room with the programmers to make sure they aren’t just feeding the correct responses into the system? Why does he take the doctors at Berkley at their word but not the doctor involved in remote viewing? Why does he believe one psychologist over another? Or over his own sketch of the target he was tasked to blindly read?

Does Shermer not see the flaw in assuming that both he and the other man who wrote “Stonehenge” got it right for different reasons, neither of which is that remote viewing works? Did Dr. Carr tell Shermer the target before class, too? If not then one got it right by chance and the other by con. Let’s disregard the rest of the class who also got it right but didn’t jot down the word. They’re all chance, too, because if you drew a circle then Dr. Carr considered it a hit. Therein lies the skeptical argument–you see what you want to see. And that’s not without merit. It’s with quite a bit of merit, actually. But Shermer, by his own admission, did not see and doodle basic shapes.

“I, myself, had picked up on a grassy field with a statue or monument near London.”

I’m sorry, what was that, Michael?

“I, myself, had picked up on a grassy field with a statue or monument near London.”

One more time?

“I, myself, had picked up on a grassy field with a statue or monument near London.”

Are you sure?

“I, myself, had picked up on a grassy field with a statue or monument near London. Was I remote viewing?”

YES!

Shermer claims to have experienced alien abduction earlier in his life, but calls it a hallucination attributed to sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. Dr. Tyler Kokjohn has told me that the type of hallucination he puts together is not attributable to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. (I stand corrected. It could not be attributed to sleep paralysis; it could be attributed to sleep deprivation/exhaustion.) Now, Shermer is claiming that he remote viewed Stonehenge. But he’s attributing that to chance. I suppose. Actually, it’s not clear what he attributes it to because the expert he cut to laughed off remote viewing. Perhaps it’s time Michael Shermer asks himself what he’s so afraid of that he has to make even his own experiences go away.

Whether he was abducted or successfully remote viewed or not, the question remains: What are you afraid of? Parts of the world outside of your understanding and control? Are you afraid of being conned because you don’t want anyone to think you’re gullible? What?

The world has mysteries, folks. Existence IS mystery. Ironically, some people won’t entertain that fact unless a manmade robot tells them it is so. It begs the question: Who is the robot? Rather than see it as a lifestyle choice, “skeptics” like Shermer would answer, “That’s the point! We’re all meatbots!”

But we’re not all. Those of us with free will choose to exercise it and explore. Anything less is a prison. That’s not the world I want to live in. Especially if it doesn’t reflect reality.

And.

Spoiler alert.

It doesn’t.

Weird Dream Stuff–Even For Me

Eye See YOUThis morning I found myself trapped in the loop of dreams where I “wake up” into another dream, think I’m awake, but then something happens and I realize I’m still dreaming.

It began with a nightmare. Nothing scary happened in the nightmare except that I realized something was completely off and when that happened I heard the whirring sound in my left ear that is typical when I’m having a nightmare. I felt fear well up in my stomach and my skin go alert. I was awake enough to witness the physical process of a nightmare as it was happening. I took inventory of my senses and sensations as they arose. Then I thought I had thoroughly woken up, gone to work, and told my friend Rosie about all this–but something in the workplace setting was completely wrong and I knew I was still dreaming.

This waking up into another dream, realizing I was dreaming, and waking up again, cycled over and over until I wound up semi-awake having remote viewing type visions (short clips of random things that feel more real than dreams) for what felt like 1-5 second durations.

At some point I was, in real life,  lying on my stomach catering to my right side watching these things and wondering what they were. Who were these people in these visions? Were they real or imagined?

I reflected on the initial nightmare that set this off. In it, my mother babbled an incoherent sentence to me. I thought that if everything in a dream represents some aspect of you, then the babbling didn’t fit. In fact these fleeting images didn’t fit. What was I telling myself? Nothing! It doesn’t make sense unless it’s not my unconscious communicating with me. I wondered if these images of people were a manifestation of one intelligence–much like I wonder about alleged alien phenomena, although I didn’t hearken back to that lying in bed. What I actually thought was, ‘Is the Prince of Darkness in my dreams?’

And a voice answered. She was an elderly woman who was also me. I mean, the answer was clearly me talking to myself doing an impression of an old lady. Anthony Perkins, much?

She/I responded, “Why? Do you want the Prince of Darkness to enter your dreams?”

No! That’s a dumb question–of course not!

And as I was lying there having this conversation with Old Lady Me, I was touching this fabric hanging over my bed with my right hand. I was rubbing it between thumb and index. It was coarse maybe like a scarf material. Laying there, eyes still closed, semi-awake, I realized I don’t have anything hanging over my bed. This is impossible, yet here I am feeling this thing with my own hand!

I dropped my arm to my side. My hand plopped comfortably to the mattress. And then I realized that that never happened, for my real right hand was tucked under my chin and my fingers were going numb.

Wow! What the hell just happened there?

I opened my eyes and switched positions. Nothing in the room. Just me trying to get comfortable. And then… back into the cave of dreams reflecting more wake-up attempts until I finally pried myself out of bed at around 9:30am.

Now, here I am writing this before going off to work to tell Rosie all about it. At least I think that’s what’s happening.