The other day I thought I’d check out the Australian Skeptics Facebook Page. I didn’t have to scroll far to see someone advertising their conference on Remote Viewing – The bloke’s name is Stephen Hamper. While he was quite confident in his belief, he was less than impressive when asked for evidence.
So, what is remote viewing?
Having read and liked the explanation given at Skeptic’s Dictionary, I’ll lift it from there:
Remote viewing (RV) is a fancy name for telepathy or clairvoyance, the alleged psychic ability to perceive places, persons, and actions that are not within the range of the senses.
Kicking over some stones
On my little quest for knowledge about Remote Viewing I came across a forum where people were posting their “Target Reference Numbers” or TRNs. They are basically a way to file your “targets”; which, in good practice should not be used on yourself, but rather someone else – Like me, for instance.
Am I PSI?!
After reading it I thought “Great! I’ll give this a go!” I should point out that I followed the instructions and conducted my “remote viewing” session first. This comprised of me tracking down a pen and some paper.
Having prepared, I began to scribble and came up with this little masterpiece:
I’m going to stop right here and explain how some of this may seem to work; one of the phenomena is subjective validation, which occurs when two unrelated or sometimes random events are perceived to be related on the basis of a preconceived belief or some kind of expectancy – and of course, when a hypothesis is SEEKING a relationship between the two events. This is basically confirmation bias – you expect something is going to happen, and when it does (or as similar as you are willing to accept it does) you consider it a HIT.
For Example, my scribble It’s utterly useless. I did not spend any amount of time trying to do a “session”, yet let’s look what happens when we go looking for similarities between the my scribble and the target.
So, what was the image I was Remote Viewing?
And what have I got?
VIOLA! I can Remote View! We can draw similarities between the two. The beak, the Head, it’s all there. That’s a WIN!
Which means what? I’M PSI! It’s so obvious! .. No. Far from it.
Let’s step back. I didn’t need to do much square-peg in to birdhouse-circle stuffing to get a correlation between the two.
This goes to show without an ounce of effort a vague scribble can be compared to an image, a photo, etc – and when you’re looking for it – might make you think you can remote view!
There are a number of other things that can be done to make Remote Viewing seem plausible, and for that, I refer to PROJECT ALPHA – Where a couple of ballsy magicians fool PSI researchers, despite having told them how to catch them out.