INTELLIGENCE agencies won't talk about it, but they are
rushing to catch up with the Soviet Union in what one
scientist jocularly calls the "race for inner
space" psychic research.
Parapsychology is a field so full of
pseudo-scientists, flakes and outright charlatans, that
it's easy to debunk the whole idea.
But, there are legitimate laboratory
projects that may eventually unlock the mysteries of the
human mind. One of the most promising is the testing of
"remote viewing" the claimed ability of
some psychics to describe scenes thousands of miles away.
THE CIA AND the Pentagon have an
obvious interest in this phenomenon. If they could get
psychics to throw their minds behind the Iron Curtain
there'd be no need to risk the lives of human agents.
The CIA sent representatives to a
parapsychology conference in Virginia last December.
Besides the usual spoon bending which professional
magicians have debunked as a fairly simple trick
there was serious discussion of remote viewing. In fact;
the CIA is now seriously pondering the possibility of
raising "psychic shields" to keep Soviet remote
viewers away from our secrets.
I asked my skeptical associates Dale
Van Atta and Joseph Spear to find out how remote viewing
has become almost universally accepted in the
intelligence community. They gained access to top-secret
briefings on the subject. This is what they learned.
The CIA's latest remote viewing project
was code-named "Grill Flame," and was carried
out in part
respected academics: Harold Puthoff, formally with the
National Security Agency, and Russell Targ, formally with
Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif.
Puthoff and Targ conducted at least two tests
that produced astonishing results. They gave one psychic
the latitude and longitude of a remote location, and told
him to project his mind there and describe the scene. He
described an airfield, complete with details
including a large gantry and crane at one end of the
The CIA was impressed, but critical.
There was indeed an airfield at the map coordinates the
psychic had been given. The site was the Soviet's
ultra-secret nuclear testing area at Semipalatinsk,
Kazakhstan. But, there was no gantry or crane there.
Still it had been a while since any
U.S. spy satellites had taken a picture of the
Semipalatinsk base. So, the CIA waited for the next set
of photos and sure enough, there were the gantry
and crane, just as the psychic had described them. No one
in the U.S. intelligence agencies had known the equipment
was there, so the information couldn't have been leaked
THE SECOND test involved a Soviet Tu-95
"Backfire" bomber, which the CIA knew had
crashed somewhere in Africa. They were eager to find it
before the Soviets did, so they could take photographs,
and perhaps purloin secret gear from the wreckage.
So one of project Grill Flame's remote
viewers was asked to locate the downed bomber. He gave
the CIA the location within several miles of the actual