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Remote Viewing in a Group Setting 

(rev. 12/28/99)

Russell Targ
Interval Research Corp., Palo Alto, CA 94304

Jane E. Katra
Palo Alto, CA 94031

Abstract – Remote viewing (RV) is a perceptual ability whereby individuals are able to describe and experience objects, pictures and locations which are blocked from ordinary perception, either by distance, shielding or time. RV is usually carried out as a team effort, consisting of a viewer who is attempting to describe a target, and an interviewer who assists the viewer in extracting images and sensations from his or her subconscious processes.

We report a remote viewing experiment carried out at a conference in Arco, Northern Italy, with a class of 24 participants, many of whom were healers and “energy workers.”  Based on previous work of the authors, great attention was given to creating a feeling of community and coherence of intention within the group during the three-day class. In the fourth of the five sessions of the class, a formal remote viewing experiment was conducted, with class members working in pairs, wherein each person served alternately as viewer and interviewer. Viewers were asked to describe a picture of an outdoor scene, encased in an opaque sealed envelope which they would be shown immediately after the session. The interviewer was then directed to take the viewer’s sketches and written impressions, to the front of the room, and rank order the material (1 to 4) against the four possible pictures from a pre-set target package. In this blind ranking protocol, 6 first place matches would be expected by chance from the 24 viewers. Instead, 14 first place matches were achieved. The binomial probability of this outcome is
5 10-4 , with an effect size (Z / (N)1/2 = 0.64.

Accepted for publication by The Journal of Scientific Exploration


The remote viewing (RV) protocol that was developed in 1972 by scientists at Stanford Research Institute has now been in the public domain for more than 25 years.  This perceptual processing technique pertains to the acquisition and description by mental means, of verifiable information about the physical universe which is blocked from ordinary sensory perception by distance or shielding, and generally considered secure from such access (Puthoff & Targ, 1976).  The authors have experience conducting RV studies over many years, in which effect sizes,  Z / (N)1/2 = 0.6 and greater are not unusual. We have often attributed this degree of success to the energy and positive expectation the experimenters bring to each session. This importance of experimental ambiance and communicated expectation was described in detail in a 1990 Parapsychological Association Conference panel, “Increasing Psychic Reliability” (Targ, 1991).  ESP experiments in group and class room settings have traditionally had low effect sizes, 0.2 or less. This is principally due to lack of coherence of feelings, attention, seriousness of purpose ,and motivation in the group; combined with the use of unselected and untrained subjects, and a lack of trial by trial or otherwise timely feedback to the subjects (Honorton & Ferrari 1989). The purpose of the experiment described here was to determine if we could overcome these obstacles, and carry out a successful experiment in a group setting with people previously unknown to each other.

The Arco Experiment

For a phenomenon thought in many circles not to exist (Hyman, 1996), we have learned a great deal about how to increase and decrease the accuracy and reliability of RV.  Remote viewers can often contact, experience and describe a hidden object, or a remote natural or architectural site, based on the presence of a cooperative person at the location, geographical coordinates, or some other target demarcation -- which we call an address.  Shape, form and color are described much more reliably than the target's function, or other analytical information. In addition to this vivid visual imagery, viewers sometimes describe associated feelings, sounds, smells and even electrical or magnetic fields. Blueprint accuracy can sometimes be achieved, and reliability in a series can be as high as 70%. With practice, people become increasingly able to separate out the psychic signal from the mental noise of memory, analysis, and imagination. Targets and target details as small as 1 mm can be sensed. Again and again we have seen that accuracy and resolution of remote viewing targets are not sensitive to variations in distance (Targ & Katra, 1998).

With this goal in mind, the authors accepted an invitation to conduct a 15-hour remote viewing workshop at the 20th International Astra Meeting, called “Rights of Passage,” in Arco, Italy, October 12 – 15, 1999.  Astra publishes a widely read metaphysical magazine in Italy, and conducts an annual conference on a variety of esoteric subjects, in cooperation with residents and city officials of the town of Arco in the foothills of the Italian Alps.  We signed up to introduce a class of 24 Italian students to spiritual healing, and teach them how to do remote viewing.

Outline of the Workshop

We had five three-hour sessions with our 24 students. Everything that we wished to communicate to our students had to be translated into Italian, sentence by sentence.  In the first morning session we described our proposed program, and introduced the students to the idea of remote viewing and spiritual healing. An overview of the material was presented, together with numerous slides from previous experiments, showing what can and cannot be expected from remote viewing. We discussed the necessity of separating the so-called psychic signal from the mental noise, which consists of memories, imagination, and analytic guessing as to what the target might be.  We shared our belief that remote viewing is a natural and widely distributed ability, and that everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, has the potential to do as well at RV as demonstrated in the examples that had just been shown. The emphasis of this session was on how to do the mental processing for real-time remote viewing with immediate feedback. The session ended with each participant doing RV of a “small, interesting object” that the authors had brought for them to psychically observe and describe. This was, of course, not a double-blind trial, since the person guiding the students in their efforts knew the object. The purpose of the exercise was to show the students the variety of questions that an interviewer can ask regarding the shape, texture, size, weight, type of material, color, possible use, etc., as he leads the viewer to look for surprising mental images. After the trial, the students were each given a small opaque paper bag, and asked to put small object into it, and bring it to the next morning’s class.

The afternoon session was experiential, and dealt with meditation, group coherence, and spiritual healing. There was great attention given to building rapport and trust between the experimenters and the students, as well as among the students.  To achieve this there was a lengthy guided meditation with music, and a guided experience of “energy sharing” among pairs of students.

In the third session, the second morning, the students divided themselves into pairs. They took turns being interviewers and viewers for each other’s bagged objects. This activity was also not a double-blind trial, but it gave all the students a further opportunity to experience looking for mental pictures corresponding to something outside their experience. We did not want to use pictures for this training, because we hoped to keep their mental slates clean for the pictures we would use in the formal experiment in the next session.

The fourth session, October 14, 1999, 3 – 5 PM, was a formal experiment which we  describe below. The final session was carried out the next morning, and included a discussion of the experiment, and the spiritual implications of psychic abilities. We asked, what do the spiritual healer, the mystic, and the psychic all have in common? We proposed that they are all in touch with their non-local interconnected mind and their community of spirit. In the spirit of the conference, we suggested that as we approach the millenium, in every area of human activity we are experiencing a climax in which science and religion are finally becoming coherent in the exclamation of a single unified truth. Recent research in areas as different as distant healing and quantum physics are in agreement with the oldest of spiritual teachings of the sages of India who taught that “separation is an illusion,” suggesting that we have an inner knowledge of time and space.

In this final session we observed that the in-flow of information that is the hallmark of remote viewing, and the out-flow of intention that plays a part in facilitating distant healing are on either side of the quiet mind and the stillness that can arise between them. Perhaps narrowly focusing on the omniscience of ESP is just a trap that prevents us from discovering who we really are, and how we might direct our life’s attention. Whenever any one person demonstrates an ability beyond the ordinary, it can be seen as an inspiration to the rest of us, indicating an immense and still largely undeveloped human potential.

Experimental Protocol

The formal experiment in the fourth session was a demonstration of ability test, to determine if the students could actually show some RV capability.  Before leaving for Italy, we had prepared 24 file folders, each with four target pictures. The 8 X 10 color pictures were carefully selected from the 20,000 Corel Professional Photos available on a set of 200 CD ROMs, which were made available to us by Dr. Edwin May, of the Laboratories for Fundamental Research. The pictures each contained a central focus, such as a mountain, waterfall, light house, wind mill, bridge, tall building, ruins of various descriptions, pyramid, trees, coast, etc. Each group of four pictures was carefully assembled so as to have as few overlapping pictorial elements as possible. One picture from each group was then put into an opaque, tamper resistant envelope, which was sealed.  These pictures were selected to provide a representative mixture of possible targets, so as to avoid any accidental stacking, if for example we had an over representation of water falls, or bridges. Each envelope was keyed by number to the target folder to which it belonged.

To carry out the experiment, the group again divided themselves into pairs. From each pair, the person who was to be the first interviewer came to the front of the large dimly lit meeting room and was given a sealed envelope containing a picture. Each interviewer then proceeded to elicit from their partner, his or her impressions of the picture that was in the envelope. Or, equally valid, they could describe their impression of the same picture, as it would be shown to them for feedback right after their session. They were asked by each interviewer to make little sketches, and write down any key words reflecting their mental pictures, which corresponded to the target picture.

When the interviewer felt that he or she had a coherent description from the viewer, he or she brought the remarks and sketches to the front of the room, and gave their material to one of the two assistants. The sealed envelope was then carefully opened under the wooden table, and the picture inside was randomized into the folder with the other three pictures of its set. Since these pictures had all been used previously, many of them had little wrinkles around the edges, so that possible wrinkles caused by handling in this experiment was not thought to be a factor. The folder was then given to an assistant who spread the four pictures out on a table. The interviewer was then asked to rank the four pictures from 1 to 4 in accordance with their estimation of best to worst match to their viewer’s description. It is important to point out that neither of the assistants working with the interviewer had any knowledge of which of the four pictures was the target picture. After the assignment was made, the correct picture was identified, by the person with the target folders, and the interviewer took the correct target picture (regardless of its rank) back to the viewer for feedback.


The first group of 12 viewers received 8 first place matches (p = 0.0028, h = 0.863). The second group of 12 obtained 6 first place matches (p = 0.0544, h = 0.52). The overall result of the experiment found 14 first place matches for the 24 students ( p = 0.0005, h = 0.69), with a 58.3% hitting rate. There were 2 second place matches, 4 third place matches, and 4 fourth place matches.

In Fig. 1 we show the single drawing produced by the first viewer to finish the RV task. Within one minute of his interviewer receiving the target picture in its envelope, she was back at the front table with a sketch in her hand. The viewer in this case was a highly regarded Italian energy healer, who was being interviewed by his wife, who was known as a psychic practitioner in her own right. After seeing the four possible pictures, it took the interviewer no time at all to identify the correct one with the pillars. In the illustration the word “cielo” is Italian for sky. It is interesting to note that the viewer here was in no way limited in his drawing by the edges of the paper he was given. Figure 2 shows a drawing made by a psychotherapist, who was interviewed by a good friend. This interviewer also had no difficulty choosing the correct picture from the four offered, which in this case was the picture with the domed buildings with cross-hatched windows.

Figure 1. Sketch  by viewer 1 at top, together with actual target picture and three decoys.

Figure 2. Sketches by viewer 2 at top, together with actual target picture and three decoys.


Teaching remote viewing is one thing, but teaching it entirely though a translator seemed like a daunting task, because of our belief in the importance of intimacy and coherence in the process. We discussed this experiment here, as a possible guide to other researchers who are called upon from time to time to demonstrate or teach psychic abilities in a group setting.  We did not carry out a double-blind comparison of this approach with other possible methodologies. However, what we describe here reflects many years of success in eliciting psi from inexperienced students. It was the success of this experiment that made us feel that it was worth while to describe our approach.

We believe that the success of this experiment can be attributed to several factors. First, and probably most important, all of the participants were self-selected to take part in a remote viewing training program for which they had to pay in advance. Also, the 20 women and 4 men in the class all considered intuition to be at least a moderately important part of their professional work as healers, therapists, and physicians. We further believe that it was helpful to have found a way to give the students practice in remote viewing with an interviewer through the use of small objects, while not contaminating their mental imagery with pictures resembling their target pictures. Thus, we were able to create “first timers,” who actually had some practice in remote viewing. It is likely that the use of large, clear, colorful, easy-to-describe targets was an additional helpful element.  Finally we wish to point out that the effect sizes seen in this experiment are analogous with effect sizes seen in the recently published future forecasting experiment by the authors (Targ and Katra, 1995), and the 36 trial experiment carried out many years ago with six army volunteers at Stanford Research Institute (Targ, 1994). These intelligence officers achieved an overall effect size of 0.63, comparable to the 0.69 seen in this experiment. We consider these results typical for a well conducted RV experiment. It should also be pointed out that these experiments differed from many of the usual RV cases, in that no one knew the correct answer at the time of the experiment. Therefore, this study would be considered one of the clairvoyance type, with only the final feedback providing a  possible pre-cognitive channel.


We wish to sincerely thank Dr. Dean Radin for his thoughtful help in the initial design of the formal experiment described here, and also for his technical assistance in preparation of the paper for publication. If any measure of success is to be claimed for our approach to teaching remote viewing, an equal measure of credit must be given to our enormously talented and intuitive translator Giorgio Cerquetti, who conceived and organized our participation in the conference. And we also very gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Astia conference which underwrote the costs of the entire program.


Honorton, Charles and Ferari, Diane C. (1989). Future-telling: A meta-analysis of forced-choice precognition experiments. Journal of Parapsychology, December, 53, 281-209.

Hyman Ray, 1996, “The Evidence for Psychic Functioning: Claims vs. Reality,” Skeptical Enquirer Magazine, March/April.

Puthoff, H.E. & Targ, R. (1976).  "A perceptual channel for information transfer over kilometer distances: Historical perspective and recent  research."  Proc. IEEE, Vol. 64, No. 3, March, pp. 329-254.

Targ, Russell, William Broad, Marilyn Schlitz, Rex Stanford, and Charles Honorton (1991)  "Increasing Psychic Reliability: A panel discussion presented at the 33rd annual conference of the Parapsychological Assn., Chevy Chase, MD, Aug. 16-20, 1990," Journal of Parapsychology, 55, p. 59.

Targ, Russell (1994). Remote viewing replication evaluated by concept analysis.  Journal of Parapsychology, Vol. 58, September.

Targ, Russell; Katra, Jane; Brown, Dean; & Wiegand, Wenden (1995).  Viewing the future: A pilot study with an error-detecting protocol.  Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 9: no. 3, 367-380.

Targ, Russell and Jane Katra, 1998, Miracles of Mind: Exploring nonlocal consciousness and spiritual healing, New World Library, Novato, CA

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