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Perceptions of a paranormal subject.

Editor's Note. The following paper is based on a dinner address Mr. McMoneagle presented at the annual banquet of the Rhine Research Center on February 21, 1997. It is being published in the Journal at my invitation. The Journal does not ordinarily publish experientially-based papers authored by psychic practitioners. However, an exception has been made in this case because, in my opinion, Mr. McMoneagle has unusual, detailed insight into the process of his remote viewing, as well as an exceptional ability to articulate that insight. Because remote viewing is one of parapsychology's foremost research paradigms, such an account could be especially valuable to researchers as well as to others interested in the topic. Of course, the degree to which Mr. McMoneagle's experience generalizes to other successful remote viewers remains to be seen.

Remote viewing has had much exposure in the media since November 1995. For those who have never heard of remote viewing, it is the ability of a subject to describe a target person, place, object, or event of which they have no knowledge, regardless of distance or time. The difference between remote viewing and any other psychic functioning is that remote viewing is always done under rigorous scientific control.

Within a research program, the intended target for a remote viewing is randomly chosen from a pre-set or pre-selected group of targets. The target is unknown to all participants within the actual experiment, and the results are independently judged by someone who has not been privy to or part of the information collection process.

Unfortunately, even these simple but well-established distinctions between remote viewing and other psychic functioning have been generally ignored or overlooked by the media. This probably results from the near feeding frenzy generated by the Central Intelligence Agency's disclosure of their use of remote viewing for intelligence collection purposes. As a result of this disclosure, I am now allowed to refer to this project, which is known as Stargate.

Stargate actually began on or about October 1978, as Project Grillflame, a Department of Defense initiative designed to see if potentially psychic Army personnel could be identified, trained, and used to collect intelligence information through psychic means. (An additional focus of the project was trying to determine what the Soviets and Chinese were doing in their own efforts at paranormal research.) Over the course of 17 years, the program was also known as Centerlane and Sunstreak; it became Stargate under the aegis of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

After 17 years of operating in the shadows, public exposure of the program was disclosed as a result of the American Institutes for Research report dated September 29, 1995, which was delivered unclassified to the U.S. Congress in November, 1995. This report was compiled at the request of the CIA, which had the task of evaluating the program prior to assuming management authority of the program from the Defense Intelligence Agency. Although the report findings were generally negative, it did bring the extent of the project to light.

I will not go into a lot of reasons why I believe this report to be totally bogus, other than to say quite simply that it commented on the efficacy of remote viewing for intelligence collection without reviewing 99 percent of the intelligence material collected by remote viewing. I believe this to be an unconscionable action. In other words, they tried to sweep under the rug, without comment, 17 years of support to nearly all the intelligence agencies in America.

Nevertheless, the media - many of whom still blindly and irrationally support the deficient AIR report - and even some short-term participants in the project have created a rather foggy picture of what remote viewing is. In some cases, they are even presenting remote viewing as something it is not.

It is not a panacea, nor is it a solution for the difficulties of gathering certain kinds of information. At its current level of functioning, remote viewing is very difficult to use for locating things, such as missing persons, lost objects, etc.

Depending on the talent of individual subjects, their accuracy ranges and fluxes; even a simple question like, "Can remote viewing be trained?" must be answered with a yes and a no. But, while these issues can be argued - and will be - one thing is true: remote viewing is real, it should be studied, and it could be a valuable asset in understanding the nature of human beings.

There were essentially two parts to the Stargate project: the collection or applications side, and the research and development side. The actual research and development was done only within the research, while applications work or information collection was done within both.

Since the very beginning of the project, specific and narrow selection criteria for subjects were used. These criteria were applied to hundreds of intelligence personnel within the Army intelligence and security command in the hopes that a handful of candidates could be identified who would best guarantee a possibility of success in attempts to use psychic functioning to collect intelligence.

I was among the first six men and women who were recruited to become army remote viewers. My viewer number was 001. I worked as a remote viewer for the army from 1978 until my retirement in the latter part of 1984. I then started my own research company, Intuitive Intelligence Applications, Inc., and was subsequently hired as a consultant by Stanford Research Institute in 1985. When the SRI lab closed in 1991, the research and development side of Stargate was moved to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and I moved with them. That lab closed in November of 1995 at the termination of the project. I am now a research associate at the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory, where I am privileged to continue working with Dr. Edwin May.

I would add that, contrary to some of the information being circulated by the media, Dr. May has been the head of the research side of the remote viewing effort since 1986 at SRI, and at SAIC. He was responsible for managing the lion's share of funding spent in support of this classified program.

Over the course of these years, I have been a subject in thousands of remote viewings within both research and applications divisions, all of which were performed under strict controls. As a result of these subjective experiences, I have made numerous observations about the phenomena of remote viewing, a few of which I would like to share.

For some, remote viewing appears to be a simplistic method of testing paranormal functioning, as shown in Figure 1. This view is certainly supported by the media, as well as by some of the people who now claim expertise, even though such expertise may be based on only a few months' experience.

According to the simplistic viewpoint, remote viewing requires only:

1. A target (place, person, object, or event) 2. A remote viewer (subject) 3. Production of a result (with remote viewing) 4. Judgement of the result (independent) 5. Production of a statistical result (based on the judging)

In the simplistic view, there is no concern for the target, how it is made up, what it contains, or in what kind of a pool it is stored. In some cases, this view of remote viewing has led to its being used to acquire information about aliens, UFO's, and alternative dimensions - a poor choice of targets, given that feedback is required to validate a result.

I would suggest that, as shown in Figure 2, remote viewing should probably be viewed as a complex system, rather than a simple process. What I mean by this is summed up by the term anomalous cognition, or AC: irregular or unusual knowing.

Remote viewing is not telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, or clairsentience, but it is a combination of two or more of these modes of perception. Whether we like it or not, it also includes a subject's unconscious memory, internalized analysis of information, internally-generated noise, and leaps of logic.(1)

The target is a line of communication beaming out or emitting all sorts of transmissions - size, activity, sounds, function, feelings, patterns, tastes, similarities, and even noise. (In fact, within the complex system, noise may be the sum of one or more of these emissions. Currently, we do not know this to be true, but we also do not know it to be false.) The targets and subjects, two unique elements in a remote viewing experiment, are probably what primarily drive the results of remote viewing experiments in the laboratory.

From a research standpoint, this interactive system of targets and subjects complicates the study of remote viewing enormously by increasing the number of variables that need to be observed. When these variables are addressed collectively, however, they may provide us with an approach necessary to understanding the underlying mechanisms of all paranormal functioning.

For example, we can dissect a target by analyzing its potential modes of information delivery, particularly modes which we assume to be paranormal, such as clairaudience, clairvoyance, and clairsentience. The resulting categories can provide us with structure, function, and content: sense of size, activity, function, sounds, patterns, feelings, tastes, similarities and differences.

A study of clairaudience within an attenuated protocol would look something like Figure 3. I call this an attenuated protocol because the protocol or controls are established so as to force the study of only a specific paranormal function. The assumption behind this approach is that all paranormal modes of information delivery are communicated independently. But, in reality, they probably can no more be separated from one another than we can separate our feelings about the world around us or leave them in a closet back home.

Maybe attenuating the information line increases target noise; maybe it reduces the subject's processing of information - I don't know the answer. But, based on my experiences while remote viewing, I can say that much of the information, even though fragmented, was delivered "multi-media," or synesthetically. For example, I could expect to hear a pattern, smell an activity, taste a sound, or feel a color. The technique of remote viewing seems to bring the information through intermixed, and this synesthetic aspect of remote viewing does not seem to be method-sensitive.

For a moment, let us assume that when all paranormal methods of information delivery are combined, they constitute a full or complete "communications line." We are then faced with the interesting implication that targets and their content somewhat control this communications line, that is, the amount of information they communicate by virtue of their content.

Another implication is that the part of the information package, what some call "noise," might be important to paranormal perception. Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation regarding noise and the part it plays in psychic perception. Most believe that it clouds or corrupts input. A classical view is that noise is "subject-generated." That is, the subject - if allowed to analyze his or her input - will generate information that is not relevant to the target, thus interfering with the psychic process. Reason tells us that this is possible, but, to date, there is no proof that this is true.

I would like to propose that noise might actually be necessary to the complex system and is only partially subject-generated. I would suggest that a great portion of what is perceived as noise in a target comes from the target itself, and that noise may actually be a background or canvas against which the other, more dominant, elements can stand out.

If I were to graph a picture of a paranormal communications line in a target, it might look something like Figure 4. The vertical lines represent all the information available in a target, and the bottom line represents what kinds of information are available in a target. The locations of the dashed lines are variable, moving up or down, according to the entropy of the target, which I have always viewed as the chaotic interplay of possible target emissions. These emissions are constantly shifting between being a well-defined element of a target (at peak influence), and becoming a fluctuating background of noise (at ebb).

If I am correct, the targets that are chosen for any given target pool can have a major impact on the stability of the results in an experiment in which they are used. There may be "too much" target information, or "too little." Too much would flood the system with target-generated noise, and too little would not provide enough information for processing by the subject, which would encourage the introduction of subject-driven noise. Figures 5 and 6 show how this might look within a target.

The target shown in Figure 5 displays too much detail and has an overwhelming gestalt (i.e., an impression of the picture as an integrated system, instead of as separate elements). So many details jam the dynamic system of subject and target with target-generated noise. The only thing you might be able to pull out of this image would be a gestalt, but this overall sense of the picture would be so general as to be lost in the end.

Figure 7 presents good detail, but not enough of a gestalt. Since the detail is largely repetitive, it does not support the lack of gestalt or overall knowledge of the target.

Since sound, activity, tastes, and feelings drop below the hypothetical threshold of perception,(2) the predominant source of noise could be subject-generated. Generally, I would expect artistic or imaginary targets such as Figure 9 to do poorly in comparison to live or real targets. Nearly all of the information generated by this target within a dynamic system would be lost completely in subject-generated noise.

Does this mean that a target like the above could not be remote viewed? No. There is another side to this coin. The further one delves into subject-generated noise, the more one comes to understand that everything, from unconscious memory to individual methods developed for analyzing input, will heavily affect the result. An exceptionally good remote viewer might be able to make the enormous leap of logic necessary in providing a good remote viewing for such a target.

Figure 11 shows a good target. There is nothing overwhelming about it, but it delivers a good level of information across the board - not too much, not too little. Balance among the elements of the target can reduce the background noise within the target's entropy.

So far, we have talked about the targets and the impact they may have on what they communicate. But what about the subject? Do you know, in all the years I have been doing this thing called remote viewing, I have never had anyone tell me what they "expected" me to do - other than, perhaps, "nail the target!" Unfortunately, this can mean a lot of things. As I said before, few have paid much attention to the content or lack of content within a target, or to what role this content might play within a dynamic system. But even fewer have looked at what the subject is actually doing while remote viewing, or the expectations being levied on the subject.

Figure 13 is what is commonly assumed to be a "current model" for subject processing. I have chosen a pyramid to represent the mental functioning or processing that goes on inside a subject's mind during a remote viewing. In a classical view, the lower section is the psychic input or gestalts produced by the target within the subject's mind - the desired "signal." The upper portion is where the subject begins to think about the material or analyze its content, and this is commonly labeled noise. In nearly all cases, the upper portion is defined as "not desirable" to the process. In fact, current training is designed to condition a subject to automatically reject any processing within the analytic or higher-level thought processes (this was particularly true in the military portion of the project).

However, in the complex, or hypothetical, model of remote viewing, we see there is a great deal more going on. The horizontal lines in the middle of the pyramid in Figure 14 are not fixed. Within the dynamic system, they actually shift up or down, depending on the condition of the target. Therefore, how much information the target is capable of conveying, versus how much subject processing of various kinds is required, is variable - constantly shifting up or down, and having a dynamic or interactive effect, one on the other.

As presented in the dynamic system, the bottom section of the pyramid represents a varying amount of psychic information (and noise) delivered from the target. The second section up is how much analysis is possible, based on this varying amount of psychic information.

As can be seen in the pyramid, I have listed something called eidetic memory within the first stages of upper level processing. Eidetic memory is extraordinarily accurate and vivid recall. In this case, I believe eidetic memory and the part it plays in remote viewing is probably unconscious to the subject, but it is occurring. At this point, however, it is only necessary to acknowledge its presence and the fact that it does play a role in the subject's upper level analysis.

The third, or uppermost portion of subject processing is the real noise-maker. It is the inevitable leap of logic, or the unavoidable conclusion. In research, the "logical conclusion" is usually neither necessary nor required for collecting sufficient data to prove or disprove contact with a target. However, in an applications scenario, a conclusion of some detail is nearly always expected or demanded. This explains the expected and severe drop in percentage rates for target comparisons between applications, on the one hand, and research targets, on the other (This was not addressed by the esteemed AIR review panel, I might add.) However, it also explains why the exceptional detail produced on an applications target is so hard to believe when it is accurate, as such accuracy will almost always seem to defy logic.

Processing always occurs from the bottom of Figure 14 towards the top. Overall gestalts are received mentally, usually as unwashed, unvarnished "factoids" with strong connections to the actual target. They come rapidly, usually in fragments, and are hard to perceive at all. When combined and analyzed, these gestalt-laden fragments generate a higher level of understanding about the target. If sufficient higher level understanding is present, it might be an easy step to make a leap of logic and have it be right.

In actuality, this smooth and completely balanced operation in regard to a remote viewing target does not happen very often in the lab. Within applications scenarios, where larger leaps of logic might be expected, it occurs less frequently. The complexity of this problem should not be a surprise, nor should it dampen any scientific zeal. Astronomers recently validated decades spent searching for asteroids by observing the first actual strike on a planet. I would say we have a leg up on them.

In all cases, at any rate, these portions of the processing pyramid are variable and have a decisive impact on the remote viewing session. Using our previous target sub-headings as examples, we can see the different emphasis of stress applied to differing portions of the processing effort in Figure 15.

Some targets seem to almost force a leap in logic that is nearly impossible to make, while the more optimized targets reduce the necessity for leaps of logic altogether. A well-selected target might support the processing model as shown in Figure 16.

There are other affects on remote viewing that can easily be seen when research protocols are compared to applications protocols, and they are important to both the target and subject:
Research Applications

Multiple targets in a pool Always a single target
(impacts on expectation) (impacts on expectation)

Expectations can vary among A singular shared
participants (generalizes the target) expectation (limits target

Minimal reward for success Maximum reward for success

Eidetic memory connection is not Eidetic memory connection
guaranteed more likely guaranteed

No familiarity with target pool Familiarity with target pool
(encourages leaps of logic) (generates fewer leaps of

Target normally photographs Targets are live
(lower target entropy) (greater target entropy)

Less impact from feedback Greater impact from feedback
(lower viewer curiosity) (higher level of viewer


Based on what I have presented as a hypothesis, the following should be clear:

1. We need to establish a well-designed and thought-out selection of targets which can be combined into a baseline pool that supports a balance of processing within the subject.

2. Such a pool of targets should be extensive.

3. Once designed, this target pool should be passed out to all labs attempting to study remote viewing. This will not only reduce target-generated noise, but it will allow development of cross-lab judging, evaluation, and statistical methods.

4. Testing with such a pool would help identify better and more stable subjects.

5. These subjects could then be trained early on to understand the degree of processing they are expected to achieve.

6. I believe these steps would stabilize both the target and subject pools, allowing incremental changes within the target pools - first to prove the overall hypothesis, then to establish and understand the underlying mechanisms that drive paranormal functioning within remote viewing.

Regarding the mental processing going on within a subject, there are now a multitude of training courses blossoming across the country. Whether good or bad, they all, almost without exception, stress a need for reducing "analytic overlay" and increasing "structure." I am not sure any of this is wise. In fact, based on my own observations (which now span nearly two decades), I believe such a conclusion may even be destructive, both to the subject and to scientists who are trying to understand what is going on.

Subject analysis is not usually discussed as being necessary to remote viewing (except as related to issues concerning a "reduction" of subject-induced noise). This view will even hold true with a majority of subjects, because, contrary to historical belief, many subjects never progress beyond an ability to describe a gestalt. If they do not progress beyond a description of the gestalt, then they will never understand the difference between gestalt information and information produced through analysis. This higher level processing is absolutely essential to all cognition, so I have always viewed these elements as essential to whatever I am doing within remote viewing.

Subjects who have experienced both the research and application sides of the remote viewing issue, those who have garnered sufficient experience and progressed well beyond the production of gestalt will agree with what I am saying. Subject processing is not only critical to the result, but defines or differentiates the average result from an exceptional one.

1 Author's note: Leaps of logic - a quick or natural conclusion about something which is based on a limited perception or limited source of information.

2 Author's note: Hypothetical threshold - a threshold of perception above which information can be differentiated from noise, and below which noise prevents the perception of information.
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Author:McMoneagle, Joseph W.
Publication:The Journal of Parapsychology
Date:Jun 1, 1997
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