The Essential Guide to Remote Vi
The Essential Guide to Remote Viewing
The Secret Military Remote Perception Skill Anyone Can
Paul H. Smith, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Henry Reed, Ph.D.
Remote viewing—the term brings up the image of a spy
telescope. It’s a dramatic example of the loss of a boundary. For some it means
added power. For others, it spells added vulnerability. Can you really spy on
the secret life of others with remote viewing? Maybe so, maybe not.
When remote viewing came to the attention of the media
some years back, it was a big deal: The government has been secretly using
psychic spies! On the TV show, “Put it to the test,” one of the more prominent
remote viewers, Joe McMoneagle, was demonstrating the process. He was performing
a remote view of something he knew not what. Thanks to a remote camera, the TV
audience was able to see the target, a harbor. As Joe drew a diagram and
described the elements he saw, the TV audience could see that his sketching was
matching the visual elements of the scene. Then something happened, something
that was unscripted yet very dramatic. What the TV audience saw was that a large
ship was moving through the scene, temporarily blocking the view of the harbor.
As it did so, Joe began to pause and noted that somehow he couldn’t see the
scene any more, it was being blocked! It was a real time, dramatic demonstration
of the real time accuracy of remote viewing. On the other hand, unlike the TV
audience, Joe didn’t seem any the the wiser about what he was looking at.
viewing became a big deal. The secret was out. The various folks working for the
military as remote viewers began to emerge from the woodwork, each with a book
to sell. Some of my students helped me summarize all of them, and more, in a
The All Seeing Eye: A Remote Viewing Omni Reader.
Remote viewing has been perhaps the most successful commercialization of psychic
training in history, as many of the author’s formed private companies to share
their experience with those who could pay large fees. Furthermore, unlike most
ESP training seminars, remote viewing attracted a largely male audience! There
was something about the connotations of the label, remote viewing, that appeals
to the masculine mentality more than to the feminine.
Judging from the reports of the methodology, remote
viewing presents us with an odd question: How is it possible to accurately
perceive an ordinary scene with remote viewing, but not know what you are
looking at, whereas anyone looking at the scene with their physical eyes could
immediately recognize and understand the view? In one application of remote
viewing, the attempt is made to locate someone who has been abducted and is
hidden away somewhere. Remote viewers can describe the appearance of the
physical surroundings of the missing person, yet not provide the information
needed (address or geographic coordinates) to locate and retrieve the person.
Remote viewing does seem to exhibit the same bias as other ESP skills, namely it
is better at visual information than cognitive information.
One of my favorite remote viewing experiments involved
Ingo Swann, the psychic credited as the inventor of remote viewing. Unbeknownst
to Ingo, the researchers had created an optical illusion inside of a box. Would
Ingo “see” the box and its arrangement, or would he see the illusion? Or, maybe
both? If memory serves, it was the illusion he saw. In either case, the
experiment points to an important question, “is remote viewing capable of more
than noting physical attributes of a distant scene? Can it bring wisdom, or at
least improved understanding? That’s a question I put to the author of a new and
very different book on remote viewing.
Guide to Remote Viewing is the work of a
soldier gone academic, Paul H. Smith, Ph.D. It stands out from all the other
books on the subject. First, it is a very open discussion of the subject. Dr.
Smith is even willing to label it as an example of ESP—so many of the early
writings on the subject denied that remote viewing had any connection whatsoever
with psychic ability.
The commercial value of remote viewing is
absent except for one very important application—making money! Yes, it is true.
In a chapter responding to the question, “If ESP is real, why can’t we make
money by it?” Dr. Smith explains exactly how to do so, and tells the story of a
person who made a bundle. I’ve read of similar stories, and the method makes
sense to me. I’ll not spill the beans here, as I’d rather you read the book.
Another thing that makes Dr. Smith’s book unique: He
describes the various forms of remote viewing, and does so without prejudice,
even though many of the “forms” are also proprietary methods that serve more
commercial than scientific purposes. He gives a good chapter on how to learn to
do the original form of remote viewing. He presents the evidence for the reality
of remote viewing, and gives us good training on how to be skeptical without
become a denier.
Compared to the other books on the subject, Dr. Smith’s is
a refreshing read. He is a good story teller (not to mention a fantastic
artist!) and has earned his academic credentials. He has perhaps the most
information-loaded website of any remote
viewer practitioner, including previously secret documents from the infamous
admitted fan of Dr. Smith and his work. While other retired military were out making a bundle teaching
their brand of remote viewing, Paul H. Smith was working hard to develop an
academic standing on the subject. He has also been quite active in creating a
scientific society, The International Remote Viewing Association.
Paul is also an incredible
artist—I recommend that you enjoy a few minutes looking at his artwork
For another, after succeeding in his remote viewing work, Paul went on to get a
Ph.D. in the philosophy of science. His dissertation is about the process by
which the doctrine of “physicality” has to be replaced by a paradigm based in
consciousness. It’s an incredible effort, and for those with a deeper interest
in metaphysics, I would encourage you to download a copy of his
In my estimation, Paul’s
Essential Guide is required
reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the subjects. It creates
a respectable and open-hearted atmosphere for exploring what might become
something that will really make a difference for us. It is easy to trust what
you read in his book, as he is less interested in selling a unique method than
getting us all to embrace and explore a reality that opens more questions than
Reading his book has helped me settle
some long-standing questions. If we can think of remote viewing as a specific method of
harvesting unconscious information that has already present, via a psychic
connection, then remote viewing is not really a skill of psychic reception, but
rather a cognitive skill of retrieving such information. Remote viewing becomes
then a reliable process of demonstrating the psychic connection, not creating
it. I could see how the early remote viewing authors might deny that they are
dealing with a psychic phenomenon, and thus preserve their credibility. That its
name, remote viewing, would have connotations of conscious penetration beyond
boundaries, would appeal to the masculine principle, makes a lot of sense. That
remote viewing implies the non-locality of consciousness, and thus our
interconnectedness—a feminine principle—may, or may not be a sufficient aspect
for remote viewing to lead us to better relationships. Time will tell.
Paul is a great guy, very generous, and he agreed to an
Interview with Paul Smith, Ph.D.
There have been several books published on remote
viewing by folks who were in the military who tell the story of the use of RV
for such purposes. Your book also covers that topic, but from your point of
view, from your time in service. What makes it worth folks’ time to read your
version of that history?
I’m presuming this question relates to my first book, “Reading
the Enemy’s Mind” (RTEM), since that book
had more to do with RV history than my current one. So I’ll answer it from that
Nearly all the other books published about Star
Gate were written by the participants as memoirs or personal accounts. As such,
the authors relied largely on their memories to recount their tale, with very
little attention to objective research or to other participants’ perspectives or
input. Consequently, their content is subject to the typical lapses, errors, and
distortions one would expect from a memoir based on the foibles of human
Technically, my book is
also a memoir,
but I went into it alert to the weaknesses of my own memory. For that reason, I
relied much more heavily on interviews from and questions to other participants
(approximately fifty people, including multiple interviews with several of
them); on a contemporaneous journal I kept during significant periods of the
story; and on a fairly copious collection of documents, many of them
declassified not long before the completion deadline for the book. Though I
can’t rule out the occasional memory lapse, for those reasons the book is
probably the most accurate portrayal of the military’s remote viewing effort
RTEM is probably
also the most comprehensive treatment (though it runs competition with
Schnabel’s book). I didn’t confine my research and writing to just the seven
years during which I was assigned. Using interviews and documentation from the
entire 23 years the program existed, I cover material from the beginning to the
end that no one else does.
Of course, much of this holds true for my second book as
well, which was not meant as a memoir.
What do you make of the significance of the military’s
use of RV? Should we care? Does it make a difference?
This could be answered on more than one level. The first
is the actual military/intel application—did the results justify the effort? The
answer to this is “partially.” Some of the operational results did in fact make
a difference to a tactical or strategic situation. The long-term value of these
successes is harder to evaluate, as is often the case involving other, more
conventional means of intelligence collection. For example, the vast majority of
the reconnaissance satellite take is of little relevance, and even that which
proves to have intelligence value may affect things only for a little while.
Only occasionally does it have lasting, world-changing consequences, and
sometimes that isn’t known for years. The same could be said for what remote
viewing accomplished in the military, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Where the military involvement
does make a difference is in the grander scheme of things. That remote viewing
(along with related phenomena) is real has profound (and paradigm changing)
implications for our understanding of human nature. In researching
consciousness, especially ESP, there have been discoveries, breakthroughs, and
evidence produced over many decades. This has often and easily (and
unreasonably) been dismissed by the mainstream as the product of a few gullible
researchers, frauds, or eccentrics. But when it turned out that both the CIA and
the military intelligence agencies had engaged in researching and applying
non-local consciousness for almost a quarter of a century—and that there were
concrete, observable fruits of that effort—it became much harder for the
mainstream to shoo the phenomenon away with a mere wave of its figurative hand.
This was especially true since by 1995 the
military had become one of the most respected institutions in the US—far above
Congress, the clergy, and even educators. Surely if the military pursued it for
so long, so the reasoning went, there must be something to it. To be sure, this
hasn’t silenced the skeptics. But it has placed a rather large obstacle in their
path to rejecting anything that doesn’t fit into their world view.
It seems that the study of RV has a strong commercial
aspect. Science, ideally, works in a transparent manner, whereas it seems that
there is a strong commercial proprietary aspect of the RV scene. What’s your
take on that?
The key here is the use of
“ideally.” Much of science today is performed in a proprietary environment.
Wholly-owned corporate labs conduct a large proportion of the science now being
done, which of necessity places it in a for-profit environment. Universities
have increasingly focused on the value of the intellectual property created by
its professors and graduate students and gain revenue from licensing out patents
on discoveries made in university laboratories. One of the rare science
environments where business applications are not in the forefront are the
government labs; still, much of that research—even non-defense related—is
done in an envelope of secrecy.
And even here successful research is often spun
off into the corporate sphere for further development (consider both the
Internet and GPS systems). Admittedly, remote viewing does have a somewhat
different spin to it. This is so for several reasons. First, early adopters
(including even some of the original military personnel) felt the need to modify
or adapt the original methodologies to suite their own particular tastes or
personalities. The result is a plethora of xRV methodologies, each keyed to an
individual or particular RV school reminiscent of the early days of
psychoanalysis—or of an emerging (and typically fragmented) religious movement.
Further, remote viewing has been orphaned by the very
womb that gave it birth, the government. Where in science there is funding, then
research, then application and profit generation, which then reseeds the funding
part of the cycle, remote viewing (and remote viewers) must be self-funding—and
there is no longer a government budget to provide the initial development
funding for the cycle. This means that anyone who has ambitions that require
engaging in RV any more than a few hours a week or month have to do it in such a
way that it pays at least some of the bills and puts food on the table. This
automatically throws it into a business model which, to be successful, has to
offer something different (hence proprietary) than anything else competitors
offer. This reinforces the urge both to elaborate on original formulas, and also
to make things more proprietary.
The term, “remote viewing” suggests that we see things
as if looking through a telescope. Seeing at a distance seems magical enough. RV
even seems to leave out the subjective factor in perception, as if RV is like a
camera. Is there a subjective factor? Is that why folks like Stephan Schwartz
used a group approach, to factor out the subjectivity?
Any perception is inherently
subjective and, since it is a perceptual process, remote viewing is no
exception. This subjectivity is one of the roots of what remote viewers call
“mental noise,” much of which is composed of judgments made by the analytic part
of the mind on incomplete perceptual information.
Remote viewing results become relatively
objective in those cases where for whatever reason a viewer establishes a wider
bandwidth connection allowing a richer flow of information during the
session—but such “clean” sessions are not the most common. Group remote viewing
can help ameliorate (though not solve) the noise problem by bringing many noisy
results together from which error correction techniques may extract the accurate
data. This “consensus” process is common in many “noisy” fields of research.
Toward the end of the book you generalize from remote
viewing to remote sensing of all sorts. Is remote viewing another name for
clairvoyance, or is it in reference to a specific methodology of harvesting
non-local information from an observer? If you simply relax and “see” at a
distance, is that remote viewing? Or do you need three people, one who knows why
a target is being tasked, one ignorant (of the purpose and target) person to
conduct the session, and one ignorant person to do the viewing? If so, then it
doesn’t seem that learning to do RV is actually of any help to the viewer, that
they can’t use it for their own needs, because they have to be uninformed in
order to do real RV, and can only do idiosyncratic (of their own personal style)
This is several questions masquerading as one, so I will
break it down:
Is remote viewing another name for
There is obviously a family resemblance. But
there are distinct differences as well. Clairvoyance, French for “clear seeing”
is considered a strictly visual experience. Despite its name, remote viewing
includes input from all the sensory modalities—sight, hearing, smell, taste,
touch. (This is why I wish Ingo Swann had named it “remote perception” instead.)
Further, clairvoyance is often used as an entrée into the Metaphysical (e.g.,
alternate spiritual realms, angelic domains, and so on). Remote viewing’s
creators conceived of RV as a very concrete way of exploring more earthly
locations, events, etc., and they eschewed metaphysical explorations.
Is it a
methodology for harvesting non-local information from an observer?
If I understand this question correctly, the answer is no. Obtaining information
from an observer implies telepathy. But remote viewing does not require an
observer (other than the person doing the viewing). Rather, it seems to work
very well without one.
Does it take three people to do remote
You are probably referring here to the three
main roles in RV: Tasker, monitor, and viewer. The monitor works with the viewer
during a session, helping him/her through the process and giving encouragement.
But, since the rules are that neither the viewer nor anyone with him/her before
or during the session should know anything about the target, then a third person
must be involved to decide what target to choose so neither the viewer nor the
monitor are exposed consciously to that information until after the session.
The answer to this is, that two people (a
tasker plus the viewer working solo) can be enough, and sometimes just one (the
viewer) if he or she has access to a blind target pool that has been
self-created or made available somewhere else (such as on a website).
This leads to the third question…
Does this mean that a remote viewer can’t
use it for his/her own purposes?
Another way to ask this is, how can remote
viewers find answers to questions dealing with their lives or circumstances if
being blind to the target is a requirement? The easy answer is, they can’t—for
very good reasons. If a viewer (or a clairvoyant, or any other psychic for that
matter) is not blind to the task or target, then the chances of getting a wrong
answer are pretty high. Being witting to the target means that everything the
viewer knows, assumes, can guess, or already believes is right there present in
his or her mind during the attempt to view. There is no way to guarantee that
the results aren’t just a mishmash of preconceptions and guesses. (One wonders
how many psychics have caused their personal relationships damage because they
thought they were getting impressions that their girlfriends/boyfriends were
cheating on them when no such thing was happening!)
But there is a work-around. If a viewer knows another
viewer, they can exchange blind viewing tasks, and those taskings could involve
personal questions posed blindly to the partner-viewer. Of course, that means
they have to be comfortable with each other remote viewing the opposite viewer’s
Is there any published evidence in a peer reviewed
journal showing that training improves RV performance?
No, there is no peer-reviewed
published evidence either way. To go beyond that full but short answer, I will
say there are lots of domains with no published evidence that training improves
the skill! Indeed, a skill where such evidence were demanded would be quite rare
(actually, I can’t think of any off the top of my head). We pretty much
universally assume that training of any skill improves performance, usually
because we can see that (most) people are better at it after training has
occurred than before. The same holds true with RV. The real question (and
challenge, issued from certain quarters), is whether training improves RV
performance more than merely learning it seat-of-the-pants. But this is a fairly
bizarre demand. In what other skill domain would such a challenge even occur to
someone to make?
What motivates this challenge, and upon whom is
the burden of proof? Certain people assert that training makes no difference
based on evidence they themselves claim exists but have failed to produce. Until
there is a real reason (instead of unreasonable demands) to engage in what would
amount to a quite laborious research program, I don’t expect such evidence to be
Why do some RV “experts” often deny that remote
viewing is psychic? What’s the difference? Or is it mainly a political move,
trying not to alienate folks and gain acceptance from the general public?
denial started with Ingo Swann. I had several discussions with him, trying to
get to the bottom of his rejection of the term psychic, and the best I can say
is that he felt the word came with too much baggage and too many inaccurate
assumptions in the public mind (he would probably deny that I have understood
his objection, but reading between the lines I think this is what it boils down
He wanted to refer to it all as “just
perception.” When I pointed out that lumping it all under that term didn’t make
a distinction between remote viewing and other ESP and non-ESP related
perceptual experience, I still hit push-back. I think most “experts” reject the
term psychic for the general reasons I just mentioned. They’re just more
inclined to admit it than Ingo was.
I think if pressed hard enough any of those who could
justifiably be considered "experts" would eventually admit that "Yes, remote
viewing IS a form of what is popularly called 'being psychic." But for the
purposes of differentiation they avoid using the term with regard to RV.
Frankly, remote viewing IS a form of being psychic. It's just not the same as
what comes into most people's minds when the word "psychic" is mentioned. But
then, neither is Ganzfeld or presentiment or other form of demonstrable
ESP-based effect. Yet in their own ways those things fit (uncomfortably) under
the "psychic" umbrella as well.
What would be the most socially constructive use of RV
to improve life among us?
I don’t know. But I regularly encourage folks to come up
with suggestions! However, I might answer a similar but different question:
What is the
most constructive thing that might come of remote viewing?
My response: Remote viewing promises to lead us to a more enlightened and
universal view of what we really are as humans—that we really do transcend our
bare physical natures.
Or, as Bob Monroe often said, it may lead us to
realize that “we are more than our physical bodies.” That understanding, widely
enough recognized, might well change the very foundations of how we treat each
other and ourselves.
You seem to think
that advances in science and philosophy will do the trick. Charles Tart came out
with a book several years ago,
The End of Materialism,
which makes pretty much the same point as your
There have been other demonstrations of anomalous cognition, the Ganzfeld work
and the dream telepathy at Maimonides... both of these have received positive
reviews. So there's plenty of evidence, as well as the needed new philosophical
expositions. Yet what has happened? Not a whole lot in terms of the world's
attitudes, and relationships, a change which I agree could come from non-local
reality. But what will really bring about this change? More science? More
philosophy? More first-person accounts of the practical use of non-local
awareness? Wouldn't it help a lot if there were some use of RV that folks could
apply and change their attitudes and behaviors?
As recent psychology research has pretty much definitively showed, even good
evidence will not dissuade people from embracing the particular context of
belief that they are most comfortable with. This underscores Kuhn's thoughts on
dominant paradigms and how hard they are to change. You've heard the quip
(attributed to various quantum physicists at one time or another) "Science
progresses on death at a time." Well, that's the state we're in with ESP. It so
happens, though, that if an approach can consistently make money for anyone who
tries it, and enough people find out about it, then the old paradigm's "Old
Guard" will get trampled underfoot and their resistance to it will be moot.
(This is, of course, the hope with ARV; but scientists are having a hard time
operationalizing it consistently, and lay folks who are playing with it by and
large don't broadcast their results beyond the circle of ARV connoisseurs.)