What Is Remote Viewing? – Exploring A Controversial Phenomenon

June 25, 2023 (Last updated on: July 8, 2023)
A woman in a trance state about to perform a remote viewing session.

Remote viewing, a form of extrasensory perception (ESP), has been a topic of both fascination and controversy in the scientific and intelligence communities for decades.

This psychic ability allows remote viewers to describe and locate people, places, and objects from a distant location without using traditional sensory inputs.

The origins of remote viewing can be traced back to the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the Cold War era that the United States government took an active interest in the subject. In the 1970s, the CIA’s Stargate Program was developed to investigate psychic phenomena, including remote viewing. The project was so secretive that its existence was not revealed until the 1990s.

The Science Behind Remote Viewing

Remote viewing involves utilizing psychic mechanisms not yet fully understood by modern science. Still, experts believe that the ability is within the reach of most people. At its core, remote viewing involves a psychic mechanism for accessing the consciousness and honing one’s awareness of a particular location, person, or object.

The U.S. military began experimenting with remote viewing during the Cold War. Much of this research was carried out by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), with funding from the CIA. The CIA’s Stargate program was created to investigate the use of remote viewings for espionage purposes.

Remote Viewing and The Central Intelligence Agency

The CIA’s involvement with remote viewing speaks to the importance placed on this phenomenon. From the early 1970s until the late 1990s, the CIA undertook various experiments using remote viewing techniques. The agency’s findings included identifying specific people, locations, and objects, such as airplanes, buildings, and hostages, all through just geographical coordinates. Using remote viewers to conduct military intelligence was significant in developing the project.

The CIA also established another program called “Project CF” for broader remote viewing applications. Psychologist Elizabeth Rauscher was an essential part of this program. She studied the nature of consciousness and authored the book “Mind Dynamics in Space and Time,” which deals with the effects of space travel on astronauts.

Remote Viewers and Their Experiences

Among the most notable remote viewers was Army veteran Joseph McMoneagle, who claims to have served as a psychic spy for the military. McMoneagle was involved in several projects, including Project Stargate and Project Star Gate. He wrote a book titled “Remote Viewing Secrets: The True Story of a Psychic Spy for the U.S. Military.”

Other remote viewers included Pat Price, an ex-police officer who died in 1975; Ingo Swann, a man who claimed to be able to bend spoons with his mind; Uri Geller, an Israeli magician who claimed psychic powers; David Morehouse, who wrote of his experiences in a book called “Remote Viewing: The Complete User’s Manual”; and Rosemary Smith, who worked as a psychic for US law enforcement.

In addition to their involvement in government programs, private organizations have also studied and employed remote viewers. Mel Riley, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and executive director of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), assisted in developing remote viewing technologies for clients worldwide.

Remote Viewing Techniques and Their Effectiveness

Many remote viewing techniques, including “Coordinate Remote Viewing,” involve using geographical coordinates to focus the mind on a specific location. One of the most important remote viewing techniques involves sensory shielding, where the remote viewer blocks out external stimuli and focuses solely on the subject at hand.

Some remote-viewing forms require viewers to sketch or draw what they “see” using colored pencils. In contrast, others involve visualizing the target and documenting their experiences in writing or using a computer. These methods have different levels of success and opportunities for cross-correlation.

Remote viewing is still used today, primarily in government agencies and intelligence communities. For instance, General Stubblebine is a renowned remote viewer and author. He believes that remote viewing is essential in maintaining national security and has traveled to various locations to present and train both government and civilian audiences.

Real-Life Applications of Remote Viewing

Remote viewing is a technique utilized to gather intelligence on world events and explore sensitive topics that are hard to inspect. It’s a form of extrasensory perception (ESP) in which a person can describe objects, places, or people without being in their presence physically.

During the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union looked into remote viewing to explore potential geostrategic locations and other sensitive topics. It was also used to locate missing people and objects, including aircraft lost in crashes.

The CIA’s Stargate Program was a significant component of the project. The CIA believed remote viewing could solve intelligence gathering in difficult locations or where conventional intelligence gathering was too risky. The program was successful in its investigations and helped significantly in intelligence gathering.

Skepticism and Debunking of Remote Viewing

However, as with all psychic phenomena, remote viewing has been met with skepticism. In his book “The Men Who Stare atGoats,” Jon Ronson described the CIA’s remote viewing experiments as bizarre and lacking scientific rigor. Ronson said the CIA concluded that remote viewing was unreliable for soldiers’ espionage and information transmission. Despite this criticism of remote viewing, the program’s findings were extensive, and many individuals believed in the validity of remote viewing’s success.

In contrast, others praised remote viewing as a breakthrough in psychic science. The idea of consciousness-based intelligence–gathering continued to gain widespread popularity, some even espousing the idea of mind control and psychic spying.

The Secret History of Remote Viewing

Stargate and remote-viewing projects were kept a secret for many years, and little was known about what went on behind closed doors. Only through the Freedom of information act did the public learn about the details of the experiments conducted by the Stargate program.

Some of the most significant blows to the program’s credibility came as a surprise, notably Stargate’s star psychic, Pat Price’s death from an apparent suicide. Such incidents and controversies such as theories on mass delusion, began with the program’s focus on consciousness research and extrasensory perception. Despite this, the program has still served governments in various ways.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

The intriguing title of Jon Ronson’s book refers to a specific incident in the history of the Stargate program. In 1979, General Stubblebine attempted to walk through walls using psychic power and went so far as to recruit soldiers specifically for their supposed psychic abilitises, as in bending spoons with their minds, as part of a failed attempt at espionage. The book illustrates the bizarre and sometimes dangerous measures that the program undertook.

Ronson’s book turned into a movie in 2009, played a significant role in shaping the public’s perception of the remote viewing program, which led to further investigations and studies of the program’s success and failures.

Reports Published on Remote Viewing and National Programs

Multiple reports have been published regarding remote viewing, including a study by the American Institutes for Research in 1995. AIR collected data from 152 trials to evaluate the validity of remote viewing. The report concluded that remote viewing is likely a natural phenomenon as an experiment, and participants could accurately describe specific people, places, and events with above-chance accuracy.

Further, many national programs have been developed to explore the potential applications of remote viewing, from searching sites to rescuing missing persons. An example is Major Ed Dames’s “Project Star Gate,” which developed new applications for the technique.


Despite the controversy surrounding remote viewing, the reality is that the technique has been used successfully both in the past and today. Its existence, backed by the CIA’s Stargate Program and other research from various scientific institutions, leaves little doubt that remote viewing is a genuine phenomenon.

In the future, as more research and experimentation are developed, there is no doubt that remote viewing will continue to play a significant role in military and intelligence-gathering operations. The science of consciousness and remote viewing has come alongside other directives spearheaded by the various intelligence community and military communities, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the protection of national interests.