Sunday, April 9, 2017

Remote Viewing = Pseudoscience

Remote viewing (RV) is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target, purportedly using extrasensory perception (ESP) or "sensing with mind".

Remote Viewing experiments have historically been criticized for lack of proper controls and repeatability. There is no credible evidence that remote viewing exists, and the topic of remote viewing is generally regarded as pseudoscience.

Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object, event, person or location that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance. 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.

Remote viewing was popularized in the 1990s upon the declassification of certain documents related to the Stargate Project, a $20 million research program that had started in 1975 and was sponsored by the U.S. government, in an attempt to determine any potential military application of psychic phenomena. The program was terminated in 1995 after it failed to produce any actionable intelligence information.

A specific application of remote viewing, called Associative Remote Viewing (ARV) gained popularity in the last decade. ARV is a method mostly used by individuals and groups to predict future outcome of an event that has not yet occurred. Individuals use this method to make profits by predicting outcomes of sports events or stock market moves. Successful ARV making money projects include: Keith Harary and Russell Targ earned more than $100,000 by predicting changes in silver futures market in 1982, Greg Kolodziejzyk's 13-year (1998-2011) ARV experiment which yielded $146,587.30, Colorado ARV experiment. A typical ARV trial can be automated by software like ARV Studio.

Scientific Reception

A variety of scientific studies of remote viewing have been conducted. Early experiments produced positive results but they had invalidating flaws. None of the more recent experiments have shown positive results when conducted under properly controlled conditions. This lack of successful experiments has led the mainstream scientific community to reject remote viewing, based upon the absence of an evidence base, the lack of a theory which would explain remote viewing, and the lack of experimental techniques which can provide reliably positive results.

Science writers Gary Bennett, Martin Gardner, Michael Shermer and professor of neurology Terence Hines describe the topic of remote viewing as pseudoscience.

C. E. M. Hansel who evaluated the remote viewing experiments of parapsychologists such as Puthoff, Targ, J. B. Bisha and B. J. Dunne noted that there were a lack of controls and precautions were not taken to rule out the possibility of fraud. He concluded the experimental design was inadequately reported and "too loosely controlled to serve any useful function."

The psychologist Ray Hyman says that, even if the results from remote viewing experiments were reproduced under specified conditions, they would still not be a conclusive demonstration of the existence of psychic functioning. He blames this on the reliance on a negative outcome—the claims on ESP are based on the results of experiments not being explained by normal means. He says that the experiments lack a positive theory that guides as to what to control on them and what to ignore, and that "Parapsychologists have not come close to (having a positive theory) as yet".

Hyman also says that the amount and quality of the experiments on RV are way too low to convince the scientific community to "abandon its fundamental ideas about causality, time, and other principles", due to its findings still not having been replicated successfully under careful scrutiny.

Martin Gardner has written the founding researcher Harold Puthoff was an active Scientologist prior to his work at Stanford University, and that this influenced his research at SRI. In 1970, the Church of Scientology published a notarized letter that had been written by Puthoff while he was conducting research on remote viewing at Stanford. The letter read, in part: "Although critics viewing the system Scientology from the outside may form the impression that Scientology is just another of many quasi-educational quasi-religious 'schemes,' it is in fact a highly sophistical and highly technological system more characteristic of modern corporate planning and applied technology". Among some of the ideas that Puthoff supported regarding remote viewing was the claim in the book Occult Chemistry that two followers of Madame Blavatsky, founder of theosophy, were able to remote-view the inner structure of atoms.

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