If you’ve never heard of remote viewing, you haven’t listened to enough Art Bell in your life. Wikipedia explains it pretty well:
Remote Viewing (RV), refers to the attempt to gather information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means or extra-sensory perception. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance. The term was introduced byparapsychologists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff in 1974.
Remote viewing was popularized in the 1990s, following the declassification of documents related to theStargate Project, a 20 million dollar research program sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government to determine any potential military application of psychic phenomena. The program was terminated in 1995, citing a lack of documented evidence that the program had any value to the intelligence community.
Yes, the U.S. government spent money to determine whether or not they could spy on the enemy with psychics. And people still wonder why faith is a bad idea. In this case, it cost the taxpayers a lot of money that could have been spent on spy satellites instead of woo-woo.
In any case, Twitter has teamed up with Richard Wiseman to determine if there’s anything to it. Right off the bat, I have a little problem with his methodology, but I’m not going to have too much of a fit about it. In a nutshell, he’s asking viewers to choose from one of five photographs, only one of which is his actual location at the time when people are supposed to be remote viewing him. Yet, for him to consider the experiment a “hit,” he’s demanding a majority of viewers picking the correct one.
Of course, far less than a majority could be significant, given enough repetitions. In other words, if he repeats the trial twenty times, and on fifteen of those trials, thirty-five percent or so of the people pick the correct photograph, that would be statistically significant — especially if there was no detectable pattern to the misses.
The point of this entry is not to quibble over technique, though. I’m actually quite happy to see the twitter community embracing the idea that science can prove things. One of my goals as a blogger and writer is to help spread the idea that not only is science interesting and fun, it’s also the best way to approach every aspect of life! It’s not just for geeks. It’s for everyone who wants their life to be filled with reality and truth.
I don’t have particularly high hopes for this experiment. It will be poo-poo’d by the ivory tower dwellers as so much claptrap, and in a way, they’re probably right. It’s a fairly gimmicky way to demonstrate that a particular quackery is… um… quackery. On the whole, though, I’m happy that it’s being done. Maybe Mythbusters is catching on. Maybe we’re finally getting out of the cultural drought where science has been looked at as too difficult, too dangerous, or too geeky for the average person to get involved.