Russell Targ

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Russell Targ (born April 11, 1934) is an American physicist, parapsychologist and author.[1]


Targ was born in Chicago. He is the son of publisher William Targ. Russell was married to Joan Fischer Targ, who died in 1998. Russell and Joan had a daughter, Elisabeth Targ, who was a psychiatrist, and two sons Alexander, a physician, and Nicholas, an attorney. Targ was introduced to the paranormal by his father who had published the work of Erich von Däniken.[2]

Targ received a Bachelor of Science in physics from Queens College in 1954 and did graduate work in physics at Columbia University.[1]


At the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s and 1980s, Targ and his colleague Harold E. Puthoff co-founded a program of research into psychic abilities and their operational use for the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and Army Intelligence. These abilities are referred to collectively as "remote viewing". Targ and Puthoff both expressed the belief that Uri Geller, retired police commissioner Pat Price and artist Ingo Swann all had genuine psychic abilities.[3] They published their findings in Nature and the Proceedings of the IEEE.[4][5] The program was declassified and abandoned in 1995 after failing to provide any useful intelligence.[6][7]

Targ and Puthoff stated that their studies of Geller at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI)demonstrated that Geller had genuine psychic powers, though flaws were found with the controls in the experiments and Geller was caught using sleight of hand on many other occasions.[8] According to Terence Hines:

Geller turned out to be nothing more than a magician using sleight of hand and considerable personal charm to fool his admirers. The tests at SRI turned out to have been run under conditions that can best be described as chaotic. Few limits were placed on Geller’s behavior, and he was more or less in control of the procedures used to test him. Further, the results of the tests were incorrectly reported in Targ and Puthoff’s Nature paper.[9]

The psychologists David Marks and Richard Kammann attempted to replicate Targ and Puthoff’s remote viewing experiments. In a series of thirty-five studies, they were unable to replicate the results so investigated the procedure of the original experiments. Marks and Kammann discovered that the notes given to the judges in Targ and Puthoff's experiments contained clues as to which order they were carried out, such as referring to yesterday's two targets, or they had the date of the session written at the top of the page. They concluded that these clues were the reason for the experiment's high hit rates.[10][11] Terence Hines has written:

Examination of the few actual transcripts published by Targ and Puthoff show that just such clues were present. To find out if the unpublished transcripts contained cues, Marks and Kammann wrote to Targ and Puthoff requesting copies. It is almost unheard of for a scientist to refuse to provide his data for independent examination when asked, but Targ and Puthoff consistently refused to allow Marks and Kammann to see copies of the transcripts. Marks and Kammann were, however, able to obtain copies of the transcripts from the judge who used them. The transcripts were found to contain a wealth of cues.[12]

It was revealed that subjects were able to match the transcripts to the correct locations using only the cues provided. When these cues were eliminated the results fell to a chance level.[13] Marks was able to achieve 100 per cent accuracy without visiting any of the sites himself but by using cues.[n 1] James Randi has written controlled tests by several other researchers, eliminating several sources of cuing and extraneous evidence present in the original tests, produced negative results. Students were also able to solve Puthoff and Targ's locations from the clues that had inadvertently been included in the transcripts.[15]

Marks and Kamman concluded: "Until remote viewing can be confirmed in conditions which prevent sensory cueing the conclusions of Targ and Puthoff remain an unsubstantiated hypothesis."[16] In 1980, Charles Tart claimed that a rejudging of the transcripts from one of Targ and Puthoff’s experiments revealed an above-chance result.[17] Targ and Puthoff again refused to provide copies of the transcripts and it was not until July 1985 that they were made available for study when it was discovered they still contained sensory cues.[12] Marks and Christopher Scott (1986) wrote "considering the importance for the remote viewing hypothesis of adequate cue removal, Tart’s failure to perform this basic task seems beyond comprehension. As previously concluded, remote viewing has not been demonstrated in the experiments conducted by Puthoff and Targ, only the repeated failure of the investigators to remove sensory cues."[18]

Simon Hoggart and Mike Hutchinson described Targ as willing to believe and his research "for the most part, a sorry study in the range of human credulity."[19]


Books authored[edit]

Books co-authored[edit]

Journal articles[edit]

On lasers and wind shear[edit]

  • —; Kavaya, M.J.; Huffaker, R.M.; Bowles, R.L. (1991). "Coherent lidar airborne windshear sensor: Performance evaluation". Applied Optics 30 (15): 2013–26. doi:10.1364/AO.30.002013. 
  • —; Ames, L. (27 May 1996). "Lidar wind sensing at cruise altitude for flight-level optimization". Proceedings SPIE. Air Traffic Control Technologies II, April 8-12, 1996 2737. Orlando FL: SPIE. doi:10.1117/12.241057. 
  • —; Steakley, B.C.; Hawley, J.G.; Ames, L.L. et al. (1996). "Coherent lidar airborne wind sensor II: Flight test results at 2 µm and 10 µm". Applied Optics 35 (36): 7117–27. doi:10.1364/AO.35.007117. 

On remote viewing[edit]

  • —; Puthoff, H. (1975). "Information transfer under conditions of sensory shielding". Letters to Nature. Nature 251: 602–7. doi:10.1038/251602a0. 
  • Puthoff, H.E.; — (March 1976). "A perceptual channel for information transfer over kilometer distances: Historical perspective and recent research". Proceedings of the IEEE 64 (3): 329–54. doi:10.1109/PROC.1976.10113. 

On precognition[edit]


  1. ^ Martin Bridgstock wrote in Beyond Belief: Skepticism, Science and the Paranormal, "The explanation used by Marks and Kammann clearly involves the use of Occam's razor. Marks and Kammann argued that the 'cues' - clues to the order in which sites had been visited - provided sufficient information for the results, without any recourse to extrasensory perception. Indeed Marks himself was able to achieve 100 per cent accuracy in allocating some transcripts to sites without visiting any of the sites himself, purely on the ground basis of the cues. From Occam's razor, it follows that if a straightforward natural explanation exists, there is no need for the spectacular paranormal explanation: Targ and Puthoff's claims are not justified."[14]


  1. ^ a b Russell Targ. "Gale Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology". (Gale). Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  2. ^ Gardner, Martin (March/April 2001). "Notes of a fringe-watcher: Distant healing and Elisabeth Targ". Skeptical Inquirer 25.2. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  3. ^ Targ & Puthoff 1977.
  4. ^ Targ & Puthoff 1975.
  5. ^ Puthoff & Targ 1976.
  6. ^ Mumford, Michael D.; Rose, Andrew M.; Goslin, David A. (29 September 1995). An Evaluation of Remote Viewing: Research and Applications. American Institutes for Research. 
  7. ^ Waller, Douglas (11 December 1995). "The vision thing: Ten years and $20 million later, The Pentagon discovers that psychics are unreliable spies". Time. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ Randi, James (1982). The Truth about Uri Geller. Prometheus. ISBN 9780879751999. 
  9. ^ Hines, Terence (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus. p. 126. ISBN 9781615920853. 
  10. ^ Marks, D.; Kammann, R. (17 August 1978). "Information transmission in remote viewing experiments". Letters to Nature. Nature 274: 680–1. doi:10.1038/274680a0. 
  11. ^ Marks, D. (9 July 1981). "Sensory cues invalidate remote viewing experiments". Matters Arising. Nature 292: 177. doi:10.1038/292177a0. 
  12. ^ a b Hines 2003, pp. 135-6.
  13. ^ Marks, David; Kamann, Richard (1980). The Psychology of the Psychic (2nd ed.). Prometheus. ISBN 9781573927987. 
  14. ^ Bridgstock, Martin (2009). Beyond Belief: Skepticism, Science and the Paranormal. Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 9781139482547. 
  15. ^ Randi, James (2007) [1995]. "Remote viewing". An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (online ed.). James Randi Educational Foundation [St. Martin's]. 
  16. ^ Hansel, Charles Edward Mark (1980). ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Reevaluation. Science and the Paranormal. Prometheus. p. 293. ISBN 9780879751197. 
  17. ^ Tart, C.T.; Puthoff, H.E.; Targ, R. (13 March 1980). "Information transmission in remote viewing experiments". Matters Arising. Nature 284: 191. doi:10.1038/284191a0. 
  18. ^ Marks, D.; Scott, C. (6 February 1986). "Remote viewing exposed". Correspondence. Nature 319: 444. doi:10.1038/319444a0. 
  19. ^ Hoggart, Simon; Hutchinson, Mike (1995). Bizarre Beliefs. Richard Cohen Books. p. 151. ISBN 9781573921565. 

External links[edit]