On a Clear Day, Part 1: Traveling to the 2015 IRVA Conference
24 Jun 2015 · by Brennan Storr · Be the first to comment!
It's been fourteen merciful years since I've been a student and yet every early morning alarm still feels like the first day of school. Exactly how early that alarm comes and why determines which year of school the morning resembles, placing today's 3am wakeup ahead of a 6am flight somewhere between "year I realized exactly how much I talk" and "first day of high school." The reason I'm taking the flight - I'm on my way to the 2015 IRVA (International Remote Viewing Association - more on that later) Conference down in New Orleans - saved the day from sliding into "First day of Grade 12/realizing I have no plans for the future" territory.
The conference, which runs from Friday, June 26 to Sunday, the 28th at the Hyatt French Quarter, popped up on my radar at the beginning of the month when I heard author John Herlosky being interviewed on the podcast Grimerica. Herlosky had written "A Sorcerer's Apprentice: A Skeptic's Journey into the CIA's Project Star Gate", about his experiences taking remote viewing classes under former Star Gate member David Morehouse. Herlosky's descriptions of the classes, along with the sights he had allegedly seen, captured my interest and when he offhandedly mentioned last year's IRVA conference, I was immediately curious as to whether it was an annual event; a little research told me it was and that this year it's being held in New Orleans, a city I've been looking to re-visit after a brief stopover some years ago.
Three weeks and some poor financial decisions later, I'm standing in SeaTac airport, sweating and waiting for my discount American Airlines ticket to bounce me to Dallas before touching down in the Big Easy somewhere around 8pm local time.
The quick explanation of Remote Viewing is this: using psychic abilities to see faraway places. The longer version, while not sounding any less unlikely, gives the whole thing a little more context.
Back in the late 1960s, the United States got wind that the Soviet Union was investigating paranormal phenomenon as a possible means of warfare; according to Lyn Buchanan, an former member of the American remote viewing program, the Soviets had gotten even further than that, seeming to pick certain US military secrets right out of the air. Either way, in 1972 Dr. Hal Puthoff, of Stanford Research Institute, communicated to the CIA the results of some experiments they had been conducting. Those experiments, called "remote viewing", involved a small group of psychically gifted test subjects using a series of protocols to mentally "see" faraway places, and hooked the CIA enough they awarded a $50,000 exploratory contract to SRI.
A 1973 study done by the RAND Corporation comparing the state of US and Soviet investigations into the paranormal concluded that the Soviets, whose methods involved trying to work seemingly supernatural events into a scientific framework, were far more likely to succeed than the Americans, who insisted on classifying all such phenomenon as psychological aberrations. The report suggests unease at the implications of such phenomenon might eventually cause governments on both sides of the Cold War divide to drag their heels on paranormal research and this would turn out to prophetic - Joe McMoneagle, who retired from the remote viewing program into the private sector in 1984, claims to have been told at various subcommittee hearings, that he was practicing witchcraft and for this would burn in hell.
The program, which would go through various name changes and military homes (CIA to Air Force to Army to DIA back to CIA) was eventually canceled by the CIA in 1996 after the agency commissioned a study which concluded the program - then unfortunately named "Star Gate" - had never produced statistically significant results and was thus not a credible source of intelligence. Critics of this report claim the CIA only allowed the investigating body access to 3% of the program's total operational output, essentially "cooking the books" and canceling the program on false grounds. To those who supported remote viewing as a scientifically sound arm of the intelligence apparatus, the CIA's decision had nothing to do with operational efficacy and everything to do with the religious wingnuts in Washington finally getting their way.
Regardless of the government's opinion on the subject, remote viewing is alive and well in the private sector, apparently used for the purposes of search and rescue and lord knows what else. Given that the conference cost me $435 for three days, there's presumably money in it. Or maybe the money's in holding conferences about it.
Either way, I know remote viewing works, because I've done it. Only once, but I've done it. That, however, is a story for another time.
Keep checking back here for updates throughout the week.