The CIA studied psychics. No, we didn’t misspell physics, and this isn’t the plot of Stranger Things. Between 1972 and 1995 the CIA, the Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency studied psychic abilities for experimental research and intelligence operations.
But why? Simple - it was the '70s and the Russians were reportedly doing it too, so why not, right? #coldwar. In a previous edition of The New Feed, we wrote about how to access declassified government files - well, isn’t this meta - in 2017, roughly 12 million records on the CIA's psychic study were released (some files were released as early as 2001). The project had many names as it evolved and changed hands between different agencies. But it's generally referred to as Project Stargate, as this was the last name it held.
In addition to studying ESP and psychokinesis, researchers were particularly interested in studying remote viewing - the ability to perceive and describe information about a person, place or object from a distance. This was particularly appealing as the viewer could relay information about any location the CIA wanted intel on from the safety of a secure room. The remote viewers involved in the study worked on a number of intelligence operations over the years - locating hostages, gathering key operational intel and tracking down fugitives.
One of the more captivating documents released is the transcript of a remote viewing session in which the subject was given a sealed envelope (which was not opened until after the session) and told a set of coordinates. The subject was then asked to describe what they saw. Over the course of the session, the subject described details of dust storms, pyramid-like structures and encounters with very large, thin beings who seemed to be in the midst of an extreme weather event. What was inside the envelope?
“The planet Mars. Time of interest approximately 1 million years B.C.”
In 1995, the CIA released a report claiming the project had been a failure - analysts stated that while there had been some success in the trials, remote viewing did not produce actionable intelligence.
Image by Scott Rodgerson