Talk:Remote viewing

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Arbitration Committee Decisions on Pseudoscience

The Arbitration Committee has issued several principles which may be helpful to editors of this and other articles when dealing with subjects and categories related to "pseudoscience".

Four groups


Additional material available[edit]

At present, the article has little to say about the actual techniques that were used in the early RV experiments. Some time ago, this text was (wisely imho) dropped from the WP entry for SRI. While some of it is POV, I think that it also includes material (with several reputable citations) about the technical processes that were used for experimental testing, such as ELF shielding, faraday cages, EEG, etc. Any thoughts about including some limited amount of this text, possibly between the History and Scientific Reception sections? jxm (talk) 16:38, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

I added Alcock 1988 report to the Further reading section. This report from the National Research Council, published by the National Academies Press is weighty and contains a scholarly analysis of much of the material discussed in the article now. I suggest using it as a reference. - - MrBill3 (talk) 19:25, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

Infobox proponents[edit]

I'm confused by the Original and Subsequent proponents of remote viewing in the info box.

First, it seems to me that, according to the article, others (Guiley, Faraday, Rhine, etc) were the actual original proponents of RV, but they aren't listed there.

Second, Russell Targ is listed as both an Original and a Subsequent proponent, and yet Harold Puthoff is only an Original proponent. A quick skim over the article reveals nothing to indicate that Harold Puthoff renounced his beliefs in RV. If Targ is in both categories, why isn't Puthoff? -Ca2james (talk) 19:40, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

Look again! Faraday etc. are described as proponents of research into psychic phenomena, not remote viewing. And the fact that Puthoff stopped being active in the field doesn't mean he renounced his beliefs. There is no contradiction there. --Brian Josephson (talk) 20:10, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
OK, so Faraday, et al don't belong in with the Original group. And as I thought, Puthoff didn't renounce his beliefs. Why, then, is Targ included in both the Original and Subsequent groups? I see no reason for him to be included as a Subsequent proponent. Or am I missing something? -Ca2james (talk) 02:40, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
The reason for the difference is that Targ continued working on RV while Puthoff moved to other subjects like zero-point energy. I agree that it is confusing to have Targ and not Puthoff in the second list and will therefore remove him as we are agreed on this and I don't think it's that controversial, but people should be free to suggest alternatives as it may still be open to misinterpretation (but one can't put very much in an infobox). I considered changing 'proponents' to 'investigators' but people such as Swann weren't really investigators (they did not investigator other people). --Brian Josephson (talk) 07:25, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you! It is difficult to convey enough information in a limited infobox. I have another question/suggestion. Currently the article uses the pseudoscience infobox template but since the article is part of a series on the paranormal, why not use the paranormal infobox template instead? The paranormal template has a "Coined by" field that could be used in place of "Original proponents". If we were to keep the pseudoscience infobox, I'd suggest changing "Original proponents" to "Founders" and "Subsequent proponents" to "Adherents" or "Practitioners". -Ca2james (talk) 14:53, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
It looks to me as if the paranormal template is in fact the one used here (yes? -- go into 'edit' to see), and this template has been doctored so the word 'pseudoscience' is there and cannot be edited out (try it -- replace it by paranormal and preview the result). This is the kind of silly thing that happens when editors impose their PoV, but here is a global change, rather than one that biases just one article. --Brian Josephson (talk) 16:53, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
@Brian: No, the paranormal template is the small box under the pseudoscience infobox. It appears that there has been significant opposition to the use of this pseudoscience infobox over the years with some attempts to eliminate it. The usual argument is that whether or not an issue can be so described it is appropriate to do so within the article...NOT a hardwired infobox template. It is I believe currently being left up to talk page consensus. I vote with you for removal or replacement of this infobox template. (Though I am for such a designation within the body of the article.) Juan Riley (talk) 17:40, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
To be specific something like the following could be inserted in place of the pseudoscience infobox Juan Riley (talk) 18:03, 1 June 2014 (UTC):
Remote viewing
Claims The alleged paranormal ability to perceive a remote or hidden target without support of the senses.[1]
Year proposed 1970
Original proponents Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff
Subsequent proponents Ingo Swann, Joseph McMoneagle, Courtney Brown
Since the categorization as pseudoscience is made in the first paragraph of the lead, I have decided to be bold and eliminate it in the infobox...using the infobox immediately above. Juan Riley (talk) 18:22, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
Good. Evidently infoboxes are more complicated things than I had assumed they were.
To change the subject a little, a ;ong time ago there was a TV series which included a nice demo of RV, where the research assistant acted as viewer, and you can see her describing the randomly selected location almost as if she was there herself. A single demo like this proves nothing of course, but it is quite instructive. What do you think of including it? The URL is --Brian Josephson (talk) 18:46, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
I would view it as specious...without some serious documented scientific controls it amounts to little more than another Uri Geller performance. Juan Riley (talk) 18:53, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
You seem to be doubting the integrity of the people who produced the programme (broadcast by the BBC). Have you actually watched the video, and do you understand the experiment? --Brian Josephson (talk) 19:07, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
You know that the fundamental basis of scientific experiments is repeatability and quantifiability. On trust? This type of "theatrical" demonstration fails not only those essentials but also double blind controls on the participants. To quote Feynman: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool." Juan Riley (talk) 19:27, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
I did not suggest that this was science. The demonstration did however make clear certain things and I think many people who were unfamiliar with RV experiments would have found it instructive. Are you suggesting that viewers were deceived, and if so in what way? --Brian Josephson (talk) 19:37, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
How would I know how people could fool themselves and/or others in such a theatrical demonstration? Tis a Russell Teapot argument to say I need to know the details. Moreover, we will be hit with a "this is not a forum template" if we discuss this too much longer. Juan Riley (talk) 19:44, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
Clearly you are not prepared to look properly into this question, so let's leave it now. It is the common refuge of the sceptic to say 'there must be something wrong', armchair criticism of the kind described in Dan Drasin's 'How to Debunk just about Anything'. --Brian Josephson (talk) 19:52, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
Here we go with Russell's Teapot again. 'Taint my role to debunk extraordinary (to be polite) propositions, 'tis the proposer's onus to scientifically establish them. Juan Riley (talk) 19:57, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. And according to the analysis of the statistical expert appointed to assess the Stargate investigations, RV functioning was definitively established in that investigation. Sceptic Hyman agreed that he could not find a flaw, and had content himself with saying 'I am not convinced there isn't a problem', the universal 'get out of jail free' card. Anyway, this is a fruitless argument and I'm going to uncheck 'watch this page'. --Brian Josephson (talk) 20:16, 1 June 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ Blom, Jan. (2009). A Dictionary of Hallucinations. Springer. p. 451. ISBN 978-1441912220


In the early 1970s Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ joined the Electronics and Bioengineering Laboratory at Stanford Research Institute (SRI).[5] In addition to their mainstream scientific research work on quantum mechanics and laser physics, they initiated several studies of the paranormal.

the above quote makes it seem as if they were doing quantum and laser work while at SRI. Is that actually true? what became of that work?-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:21, 1 June 2014 (UTC)

Seems to be no references to those assertions given or that I am aware of..have only begun to read thru this article. Certainly I am skeptical of QM claims--but just my knee0jerk reaction. Juan Riley (talk) 20:31, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
Just checked to confirm that none of the "physics" references in Targ article ascribe his affiliation as SRI. Doesn't say that others might not exist but up to '72 xenon laser paper his affiliation is given as Sylvania. Juan Riley (talk) 20:49, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
I haven't seen any published work on lasers attributed to SRI nor as JR said any affiliation with SRI listed on any laser work published by Targ. What mainstream scientific research was going on in quantum mechanics at that time? Is there any mainstream publication on quantum mechanics attributed to SRI or giving SRI as the author's affiliation? - - MrBill3 (talk) 08:27, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
QM is to some degree involved in all laser and electro-optics. To my knowledge, Targ was certainly not involved in any fundamental research on QM. Puthoff on the other hand could have had some involvement. On the other hand, in this case (the RV article not the Targ article) documenting the backgrounds of all the actors is not necessary. Juan Riley (talk) 22:56, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
I.e., I will rewrite to eliminate the questionable clause and start with "They initiated several studies...." ...revert if there is significant disagreemtn. Juan Riley (talk) 23:00, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Primary sources[edit]

The entire section "Persinger claims" is based on primary sources. See the policy No original research at § Primary, secondary and tertiary sources for an explanation of what a primary source is. See also the essays Independent sources and Third-party sources. The policy Neutral point of view at § Due and undue weight and § Fringe theories and pseudoscience also provides guidance as does the guideline Fringe theories. This section needs a secondary source finding this original research notable and providing evaluation/commentary/context etc. It should not rely on the extraction/summary/interpretation of a WP editor from the original publications. - - MrBill3 (talk) 03:16, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

Okay - agreed, point taken. I don't know if there've been any reliable follow-up studies on this Persinger work that would serve as a secondary source; maybe someone else can explore that issue. For that matter, I'm not sure where the whole Persinger section came from in the first place. It seems way too Ingo Swann-specific, and maybe should be moved to that page instead.
OTOH, if we treat Persinger's paper as a primary source, shouldn't we therefore also view Putoff & Targ's Proc. IEEE (1976) and Nature (1980) papers in the same way? Hmmmm...... jxm (talk) 05:51, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
I think the whole Persinger section has to go if no secondary source is found.
Puthoff & Targ's publications are used only as a reference that they were published in those particular journals, which are both rather notable journals. The discussion of the substance of the research in those articles occurs later in the WP article and has multiple secondary sources. The notability of those articles is supported by 1)The prestige of the journals 2)Extensive discussion/evaluation etc in multiple secondary reliable sources. I certainly wouldn't use Puthoff & Targ to support a claim of fact based on their original research/it's primary publication, and indeed this article instead uses the secondary sources extensively, see the section "Scientific reception" if you read the secondary sources, you will note many of them discuss Puthoff & Targ's publications specifically as well as other work in the field.
I have added some tags to the section "U.S. government-funded research" as much of the sourcing is primary and/or low quality or involved. - - MrBill3 (talk) 06:35, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

I don't think James Randi's flim flam book should be included in the references as it he admitted that some of the information he presented in the book is not true. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:52, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

I agree entirely. Randi has completely impeached himself as anything resembling a reliable or authoritative source. He was a lounge-lizard illusionist seeking sensational attention, and his whole life was illusion built on pretense and dishonesty—all, of course, while holding himself up as the king of the moral high ground. Surely we can do better for authoritative sources. I'm going to add a few with some relevant facts from each.Celestia Jung (talk) 18:58, 11 May 2017 (UTC)

Fiction presented as "fact"[edit]

Please don't write false information on this page and state it as "fact." I had corrected this following false statement, then someone came back and reverted it to this fiction:

"The term was coined in the 1970s by physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, parapsychology researchers at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), to distinguish it from the closely related concept of clairvoyance."

The "source" given for this false claim is Joe Nickell at the Skeptical Inquirer, and he merely states the claim without any foundation at all. This is clear violation of Wikipedia:Verifiability. In the edits I'm doing now, I cite at least five valid sources proving that Nickell's claim is patently false—including Russell Targ himself, who states flat-out in his cited book, page 23, that: "Ingo coined the term remote viewing." That is not a "primary source," because it's Targ talking about Swann, not Targ talking about Targ. Nickell should be disallowed entirely as a source for writing such blatant falsehoods. I have marked the other cites to his article as "citation needed."

I am now editing the article to correct the fictions to fact. I have also added a link to the only existing contemporaneous record of the 8 December 1971 experiment, with Swann and Janet Mitchell, at the American Society for Psychical Research, for which the term remote viewing was coined by Swann at the time. This is a historic record, on file at the University of West Georgia, and the images of the contemporaneous record that Mitchell made are on a page of a valid book publisher who sent two researchers there to research the papers. There is no rational cause for erasing the availability of this historic record of facts.

I have also linked to documents that the CIA has released to the public, and have cited the CIA's own journal, Studies in Intelligence, where the events documented with the CIA documents are described by the CIA officer who oversaw the events, Kenneth Kress. (A pseudonym, but one approved by the CIA for the agent to use in writing the journal article.)

All of the information I have put into my edits is 100-percent verifiable. It is without bias or "slant." None of it at all is "original research." The CIA is a third party to all the named individual participants, so is a valid secondary source. The information is all 100-percent neutral fact—unlike the very biased Nickell.

Please do not keep writing fiction into these pages and passing it off as "fact." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Celestia Jung (talkcontribs) 21:55, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

Edited to add: Sorry; forgot to sign. Also, the "Arlington Institute Presents" citation was a dead link. I removed it with my edits. Also, under the "Remote viewing" box on the right of the page, where it says "Original" and "Subsequent," this needs to be changed, given that Ingo Swann clearly, inarguably was "original," and Targ and Puthoff were "subsequent proponents." I have further CIA documents that prove that, and I will post them when I have a chance.Celestia Jung (talk) 22:07, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

The sources for the changes you wish to make need to be objective and independent, per our independent sources policy. Jim Marrs is an author of WP:SENSATIONal conspiracy/UFO books, so not a reliable source. And of course anything by Chalet Books is definitely a WP:FRINGE source, as noted by the disclaimer on their site. A publisher that "takes on subjects the mainstream won't touch" is not a reliable source for facts to be written in Wikipedia's voice. Same goes for "official documents" hosted on the site. I've looked over Reading the Enemy's Mind: Inside Star Gate: America's Psychic Espionage Program by Paul Smith, however I don't think Smith is quite objective or independent, as he seems to be in the business of selling "remote viewing" learn-at-home instructions. Not sure about Targ's book; it would help if some mainstream sources could back up a claim that differs from our higher quality sources (Sorry, Kendrick Frazier and Joe Nickell are considered excellent sources for mainstream scientific opinion). Although we could probably get away with specific attribution, e.g. something like, "The term was coined in the 1970s by physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, parapsychology researchers at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), to distinguish it from the closely related concept of clairvoyance, and according to Targ, Ingo Swann had suggested the term during experiments at the American Society for Psychical Research". - LuckyLouie (talk) 02:44, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
I've added a slightly better copyedited version of the above suggestion here, which is consistent per WP:FRIND and WP:ATTRIBUTEPOV guidelines. - LuckyLouie (talk) 03:10, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
I'm afraid you're still writing fiction and passing it off as "fact." You have been given positive proof, in the form of a contemporaneous document that's in the permanent collection of Ingo Swann's papers at the University of West Georgia, collected and presented by responsible researchers, and you refuse to accept it it because it's on the site of a publisher you don't like and so smear with the broad brush of the WP:FRINGE—when it doesn't even apply. That article at Chalet Reports doesn't have a single breath of "fringe" anything in it; it simply reports on papers supplied to it by an accredited and well recognized curator of such collections at an accredited and well recognized university. Even in attempting to smear them you seem to write fiction: LuckyLouie: "A publisher that 'takes on subjects the mainstream won't touch' is not a reliable source for facts to be written in Wikipedia's voice." Please link to where that's said on the Chalet Reports site, or retract the claim.
LuckyLouie: "Kendrick Frazier and Joe Nickell are considered excellent sources." Not by me, and I just proved conclusively—with numerous sources—that Nickell wrote a flat-out lie about who coined the term "remote viewing." You still haven't addressed the matter of Wikipedia:Verifiability in those claims. They can't be verified, because they are fiction. I don't use sources who willfully lie, and at all relevant times Nickell had implied notice and constructive notice that what he wrote was false. If he's so sloppy a researcher that he didn't bother to find out the facts before spouting off, then he is not a reliable source at all. If Frazier just parroted Nickell (or vice versa), two people telling the same baseless lie don't make it true, no matter who they are. I'm about to post further proof that is irrefutable and that can't be twisted to fit a set of biases such as Frazier and Nickell manifest.
LuckyLouie: "I've looked over 'Reading the Enemy's Mind: Inside Star Gate: America's Psychic Espionage Program' by Paul Smith, however I don't think Smith is quite objective or independent, as he seems to be in the business of selling 'remote viewing' learn-at-home instructions." I really don't care if he sells hens' teeth; it's irrelevant to his statement about the source of the term "remote viewing." You must have overlooked this part of his bio: "Dr. Paul H. Smith [was] one of the longest-serving remote viewers in the Star Gate military psychic espionage program. Dr. Smith was personally taught controlled remote viewing by the legendary Harold E. Puthoff, Ph.D. and Ingo Swann, the originators of remote viewing." That goes to his unique percipient knowledge of the origin of remote viewing and the use of that term for it, and he says unequivocally on page 56 that in the wake of the 8 December 1971 viewing at ASPR, Swann, in discussion with Dr. Karlis Osis, Dr. Gertrude Schmeidler, and Janet Mitchell, came up with the term "remote viewing."
Also, the second paragraph I had posted—supported by CIA documents—goes vitally to the dates on which the CIA first tested Swann, in conjunction with Puthoff, which was before Swann actually joined the SRI program with Puthoff and Targ. It was only months after the August tests that the CIA gave the longer contract on 1 October 1972 to Puthoff, et al. You deleted that wholesale, with no reason given. I make note here that in making your wholesale reversion to my edits, you also wiped out the vital CIA documents that I had cited. I'm going to fix it, and am adding more.

Hi Luckylouie, Before I go to the trouble of editing this wiki, do you consider a retired deputy director of the KGB to be objective and independent source? Otherwise I just won't bother with the edit with this update. (i ask first, as we have Nobel Laureates on here arguing with people who so strongly object to anything which threatens there worldview?) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nemesisevangelion (talkcontribs) 21:37, 10 February 2018 (UTC)

This isn't even arguable. Any reasonable person can see that the vast weight of relevant sources attribute the term "remote viewing" to Swann's creation at ASPR—including both Targ and Puthoff! (See my new edits and citations.) I may be wrong—and I hope I am—but what you keep doing here with this matter militates toward a conclusion that you have some kind of vested interest in keeping patently false statements by a handful of people alive as a myth, while suppressing well-documted facts. At the very least, it seems that you are uninformed about the genesis of remote viewing and important documented historical facts about it. I invite you to inspect your own motives in this matter, and consider recusing yourself from further edits on this topic until you become better informed and more impartial. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Celestia Jung (talkcontribs) 05:57, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
I have explained the relevance of the encyclopedia's editorial policies regarding sourcing, and offered an in-text attribution to Targ's crediting the term "remote viewing" to Swann, which you have apparently rejected. Please note that the topic of the article falls under WP:FRINGE guidelines, which is why your attempts to showcase (in the article lead section) various laudatory claims about the effectiveness of remote viewing from a document written by Targ and Putoff to the CIA gives WP:UNDUE weight to fringe views. I'm sorry that you don't agree with Wikipedia policies and guidelines, but edit warring is not a practical solution here. We operate by WP:CONSENSUS rather than argumentation, and continued disruption of the article and the Talk page could result in sanctions. Additionally, an Arbitration Committee decision enables discretionary sanctions regarding fringe science and pseudoscience to be used against an editor who repeatedly or seriously fails to adhere to the purpose of Wikipedia, any expected standards of behaviour, or any normal editorial process. - LuckyLouie (talk) 18:01, 23 May 2017 (UTC)

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