“Remote Viewers”: Scientologists and Psychic Spies

RV-cover1997 | Remote Viewers: the Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies | Jim Schnabel

  • ISBN-10: 0440614058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440614050

Scientologist believe that their training can enable them to separate their spiritual essence from the body and “exteriorize” – a sort of ‘astral travel, if you will.

It is hardly surprising, then, that Scientologists and ex-Scientologists were involved in a curious US military programmes to spy on their country’s enemies using supposed psychic powers – an enterprise that persisted for years and wasted millions of dollars.

Much is made of the connection between Scientology and the covert research community. As is often the case, the truth is far more banal than speculation.

It was true that two of the most prominent ‘psychic researchers’ were ex-Scientologists and there were other connections between the programme and Scientology. However, this was a time when fringe ideas were abroad in US culture, and the interest in ‘Psi phenomenon’ pre-dated Dianetics and Scientology.

For example, John W Campbell, the Science fiction pulp editor who serialised “Dianetics” in “Astounding Science Fiction”, and gave Hubbard his big break, was fascinated by the now-forgotten ‘Hieronymus machine’ which was supposed to amplify Psi powers in human beings.

We notice the Scientology connection now, but  not have forgotten the many other strange ideas and groups which were also involved, because Scientology is the only fringe group that survives (essentially unchanged) to this day It is hardly surprising to find that people who were involved in one irrational dead end (Scientology) would also be attracted to another (Remote viewing).

This book mentions Scientology on two pages only. It is included here because it perfectly illustrates the social atmosphere that Dianetics and Scientology emerged from. Against the background of cold war insecurity,  even  the military (that most conservative of organisations) was taken in by fringe ideas, partly because they felt that they could not overlook any possibility, however strange and unlikely it seemed.

Why did the US remote viewing programme persist for so long, when it repeatedly proved to be of no practical use whatsoever?Crystal-Ball Perhaps one reason was bad science, encouraged by the isolated conditions of a classified programme.

The researchers ‘wanted to believe’, and the ‘psychic talents’ wanted to serve their country. The result was that researchers furnished the ‘psychics’ with too unconscious hints, and their assessments were subject to ‘confirmation bias’ – they over-emphasised apparent successes and discounted total failures.

The situation was very much that which obtains when a civilian psychic performs a ‘cold reading’ (a process which is described in the video clip below). This process is also surprisingly similar happen during Scientology auditing.

2007 | Extract from TV Series “The Enemies of Reason” (episode 1: Slaves to Superstition)
Channel 4 UK |Richard Dawkins interviews the professional illusionist Derren Brown on the subject of  Cold Reading
View Online | Download as .mp4



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