Russell Targ is a physicist and author of several books on extra-sensory perception (ESP) and psychic abilities. As a senior staff scientist for Lockheed Martin he was one of the forerunners in developing peaceful applications of the laser, and he helped to launch an investigation into psychic abilities by the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s-1990s. The project was known as Stargate.
Keith “Blue” Harary has a doctorate in psychology from Duke University and the Union Institute. Since the age of 17 he has worked extensively in studies of sensory-altering experiences, and those of personality and perception. In the early 1970s he was studying at Duke and living in the lab of the school’s Psychical Research Foundation for $35 a month. His background in psychical experimentation earned him an invitation to be a consultant in a classified program. The program was called Stargate.
The “Stargate Project” was the code name given to one particular study funded and endorsed by the U.S. Federal Government to research the potential for psychic abilities to be used in the military. The program began in 1972 and was carried out at the expense of nearly $1 million each year – a total of $20 million USD – until its termination in 1995. Fourteen research labs were used for 22 remote-viewers to collaborate on the project with government personnel from the CIA, FBI and a number of military agencies and departments.
Stargate focused on a concept called “remote viewing,” or the apparent ability to see physical evidence at great distances. Precognition – the ability to see into the future – and Telekinesis – the ability to manipulate objects using only the mind – were also under study. It was based on previous information gathered about psychic phenomena by The AmericanSociety for Psychical Research and the Stanford Research Institute. At the same time during the Cold War the Russian military was also conducting similar psychic experiments and research.
During one psychic experience Harary was asked for the description and location of an unidentified person. He described a scenario in which a man who appeared to be suffering from pain on one side of his body would soon be on an airplane. Three weeks later a plane dispatched by President Carter brought the American hostage Richard Queen home. Queen had been held by Iranian militants during the Iran Hostage Crisis. At that time, he suffered severely from multiple sclerosis affecting the nerves on just one side of his body.
Harary’s account, among others, seems to point to the positive, viable aspects of the project’s research. But, criticism and controversy swirl around the project’s costly experiments and inconclusive results. After its completion in 1995, a statistics professor at the University of California, Jessica Utts, analyzed the project. Despite her findings showing that the project’s “gifted psychic subjects” achieved a score 5%-15% above normal chance – at the project’s close and following Utts’s report – the federal government officially declared that the project lacked any value in intelligence operations.
Again, while Harary’s prediction and Utts’s data seem to support the merits of the project, the amount of irrelevant, vague and inconclusive information that was gathered alongside any positive findings detracts from the study’s overall value. For the project to have been a success, there would need to be overwhelming evidence indicating that the “gifted psychic subjects” could truly and accurately view things at a distance, predict future events, and move objects using only their minds. None of these psychic phenomena occurred decisively. A problem with the findings that did support the potential for psychic abilities could be external factors. Although the scientists did what they could to prevent tainted results, it is impossible to control all variables in an experiment. For example, Harary openly admits to having acquired information about the ongoing Iran Hostage Crisis via the news, which could have influenced his vision. Harary has even claimed in separate reports about different studies that some subjects have tendencies to exaggerate their visions. It’s not too hard to imagine that the “stars” of the Stargate Project may have taken their “stardom” a bit too seriously.