Feb 23, 2007
LONDON. The Ministry of Defence has released a previously classified Report which shows that it financed ESP experiments in 2002.
The heavily censored Remote Viewing Report, made available in response to an application under the Freedom of Information Act, has excited a lot of media coverage and comment – much of it inaccurate (because it was based on a preliminary Press Association story that didn’t adequately reflect the significance of the research, rather than on the actual report).
Roy Stemman has read the Report and here provides the answers to the questions that are being asked, as well as putting them into paranormal perspective by discussing similar projects in the past.
Who decided that ESP research was necessary?
We are not told. In fact, all names and other identifying information have been blacked out in the heavily censored public version of the Report – which was designated “UK Secret” when it was produced in June 2002.
What was its purpose?
The hope, clearly, was that it would eventually lead to a reliable means of acquiring information at a distance, presumably of known enemies or of hidden weapons. But it went about this in a rather strange way. This could be because the first phase of the project was meant to be limited to assessing gifted individuals’ abilities on tasks that were not “subject sensitive”. “The second phase,” says the Report’s introduction, “could involve the selection of one or more individuals who it is felt can be ‘trusted’ to be used for the sensitive targets.”
So someone, somewhere, had “sensitive targets” in mind when the project was suggested and financed at a cost of £18,000.
When did it take place?
Its inception was early November 2001, just two months after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, and it is tempting that to link the two. It is questionable, however, that an experiment of this kind could have been put in place in just eight weeks. The much-thwarted search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, rather than a psychic hunt for Osama bin Laden, is more likely to have been the prime instigator for the research. Remember that during the 1990s weapons inspectors had found and destroyed a huge number of Iraqi missiles, warheads and chemical munitions, but it was widely felt the Iraqis had hidden far more.
That the project ultimately had specific targets is confirmed – perhaps accidentally – in the “Scope” section of the Introduction, which says: “Finally, the overall conclusion including recommendations for follow-up work including the search for XXXXXXX.“
Whoever or whatever it is that has been blacked out is meant to be a secret. But “weapons of mass destruction” would fit neatly over the obliterated words, which are of no more than 30 characters in length. But would the psychologists have used that term? Independent psychical researcher Mick O’Neill thinks not, suggesting “specific intelligence targets” or some other form of wording is more likely. He also points out that the code used alongside this particular deletion is S27 which indicates it relates to international relations. Had it been concerned with defence S26 would have been used.
But Nick Pope (right), who worked for the MOD for 21 years, argues: “While Bin Laden and Iraqi WMD may not have featured in the original thinking behind the study, those involved are unlikely not to have thought about these as potential RV targets, as the work progressed. In a sense, the DIS will have regarded RV as just another potential means of gathering intelligence – and like any intelligence-gathering capability, the issue is how to focus your capability on current requirements.” [See Footnote.]
Who were the researchers?
They are not identified apart from being described as psychologists.
What form did the psychic experiments take?
Although they are described as “Remote Viewing” (RV) sessions, they were really no more than simple extra-sensory perception tests, involving the blindfolded subjects being asked to discuss and draw their impressions of images sealed in brown envelopes. This may be because the initial sessions were meant to identify which individuals were the most gifted. The second phase of the project would then have worked with them on more ambitious psychic tasks, like locating a person or an object at a distance. Of course, holding an envelope contain an image of, say, a nuclear weapon may have lead a gifted subject to “locate” where it was built or was stored. But simply describing it accurately was all that the researchers were looking for in phase one.
Why were they blindfolded?
Blindfolds or goggles were used by the subjects in all but two of the sessions, presumably to reduce distractions. For the same reason, the tests were conducted in a rented building at a secret location. These attempts to enhance the results were only partly successful. Each time a subject wanted to draw what he was “seeing”, he had to remove the blindfold – so it could be more of an encumbrance. And even with these precautions, the monitors note that session 13 was “interrupted by electricity meter reader”.
Who were the subjects?
Again, they are not identified. What we are told is that the psychologists attempted to recruit 12 individuals who had been trained, by others or by themselves, as “remote viewers”, but their approaches to such individuals, identified through remote viewing websites, were either ignored or declined. They therefore conducted the research with “untrained RV subjects”. Their defence of this strategy is that the results would establish a baseline for novices which could be compared with experienced RV performers in later tests. Finding suitable subjects was clearly a problem as two of the psychologists were used as subjects in one session “but were both unhappy about undertaking this task and refused to take part in further sessions”.
What were the photographic targets?
Although not, apparently, “sensitive” all but three of the images have been blacked out in the report. Only pictures of Mother Teresa, a gas station and a half-open clasp knife, are published in the Report, but a question has been left under one of the obliterated photographs: “Asian individual (what colour is he wearing?)”