Monday, November 03, 2008

Review of Remote Viewing: A Theoretical Investigation of the State of the Art

I'd like to welcome Fran Theis in her first contribution to Public Parapsychology. Below is her review of Dr. Marilyn Isabelle Schmidt's book, Remote Viewing: A Theoretical Investigation of the State of the Art.

Over the years I've picked up the habit of thumbing through the bibliography of a book to get a sense of where the author may be coming from before giving my attention to the preambles. Dr. Schmidt's bibliography didn't disappoint, and showed her book to be based on scholarly concepts and solid research. I've long thought the academic world needed a book that would present a basic overview of the state of the art, something science-based that could create a foundation for courses of study in the field of Remote Viewing (RV) at the high school as well as university level. Perhaps this is the book.

For the practitioner of RV, Remote Viewing: A Theoretical Investigation of the State of the Art not only provides a succinct history of practices leading up to today's acceptance of RV as a useful tool, but is a good overview of where investigation of the human ability to perceive anomalously stands at the moment. It isn't by any means a ‘how-to’ book, but is more like looking under the hood of an airplane to see how the engine might work than learning how to fly it.

My second pleasant discovery occurred on page three of the Introduction, where Dr. Schmidt placed her Definitions of Technical Terms and Acronyms. What wonderful common sense to start the reader out with an understanding of the author's sense of the meaning of terms right from the get-go. I’m surely not the only one who has read on in a book, too lazy to thumb to the back for clarification, and realized too late the author and I weren't using common meanings for terms.

Unfortunately, I disagree with one of Dr. Schmidt’s term definitions, her definition of remote viewing! Dr. Schmidt defines remote viewing as: “An experimental technique for obtaining information about a site remote to the viewer without ordinary use of the senses...” I object to the word “experimental” because the human capacity for remote viewing has long been shown to exist, starting with Targ and Puthoff's paradigm-changing experiments at the Stanford Research Institute, and as demonstrated in numerous works in her own bibliography, not the least of which is Dean Radin's brilliant meta-analysis, The Conscious Universe. Were I able to rearrange her book, I would have Dr. Schmidt insert her wonderful description of remote viewing in the first paragraph of her concluding remarks, which starts by describing remote viewing as “ innate ability that all humans have...” (p. 190) into her Definitions section. The dichotomy of her two definitions makes me wonder if she began her research thinking conservatively that remote viewing is unproven, and eventually came to the conclusion that it is a commonly manifested human capability. There is much yet to be discovered about anomalous cognition. In that sense, much experimentation needs to be done in regard to remote viewing, but the capacity for remote viewing itself has been demonstrated to such a thorough extent that anyone who has done her homework, as Dr. Schmidt certainly has, should understand that the capacity has indeed been proven.

Serious investigators of the subject of remote viewing will find Remote Viewing to be consistently well annotated. Dr. Schmidt has done a highly professional job of letting out the string so the reader can backtrack to find further information on subjects of interest. One of my personal pet peeves is to find mention of research on a subject without the author having followed up with attribution. This book is one of the better examples of how to properly present serious support for a very important subject.

I was saddened to find an omission regarding a historically significant remote viewing done by Pat Price with Russell Targ at SRI. Price’s target response showed two pools of water in a park-like setting that at the time seemed like a target miss. Dr. Schmidt seems unaware that several years after that particular remote viewing was done Russell discovered that Price was indeed accurate, because he had viewed how the site looked many years in the past. To Targ's surprise, the viewing had been a retro-cognition! When the RV was originally done, the investigators had not yet learned to specify the exact year, day and time for targets. Today, a properly trained remote viewer would not make such a mistake. If there are reprints of the book, I hope Dr. Schmidt will consider adding an update and a mention of how important proper targeting through time is to remote viewing.

Dr. Schmidt and I are in complete agreement on some of her recommendations for further research. I, too, believe that much can be learned from the subjective process of remote viewing, and envision a day when the study of spontaneous anomalous experience can be given the emphasis that laboratory experimentation has been given to date.

Any student serious about knowing the nuts and bolts of remote viewing and who wants a general overview of the state of the art will be served by investing in Dr. Schmidt's scholarly work. She's done the leg work for those who would like to have a sense of the basics of the field, and her bibliography will point the way to more in-depth study of the aspects of remote viewing that individually inspire. Dr. Schmidt tells us the book was originally presented as her doctoral dissertation. I have no doubt she received the highest praise from her committee, and hope she will go on to sell many hundreds of copies to students and teachers who will utilize this substantial contribution to remote viewing literature. The survey of concepts presented here has the potential of providing starting points for student essays and scholarly updates on issues and experimentation for years to come. I, for one, am grateful to Dr. Schmidt for making the effort to do the work to produce such a fine addition to a field about which I am passionate.

* Fran Theis, MS, APR, is CEO of Theis Communications, Inc., an international public relations consultancy. Her Master of Science is in Broadcasting Communication from Boston University, and her Bachelor of Arts is in English Literature. She is accredited in public relations by the Public Relations Society of America. Fran has been trained in Controlled Remote Viewing through Stage VI by Paul H. Smith, author of the original military CRV Manual, and Gabrielle Pettingell. Fran is a member of the International Remote Viewing Association, Society for Scientific Exploration, and the Parapsychological Association.

1 comment:

docwat said...

Thanks for the pointed review on RV
with the parts that you had issues with ! I'm just beginning research
on RV and will use this as a resource (at the beginning rather than the end)...most appreciated !