Remote Viewing in a Group Setting (rev. 12/28/99)
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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