The View From Here

In the Cold War, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. saw "remote viewing" as a weapon. What about now?

Suppose that everyone was naturally intuitive ... but that time and society and work and friends and family and bad times and good times helped teach you to ignore your natural urges. Suppose that society and all the above things taught you that you needed to find the answers to stuff outside yourself; that they taught you that you needed "experts' to help you find the answers. And suppose that someone, one of many, figured out that this ability was there! And that you could tap into it at any time. And this person wasn't taken seriously by society, which dictates that you find the answers outside yourself, but this person was taken seriously by a group of secretive, combative, paranoid, militaristic, folks who thought, "Wow, what a perfect weapon ...." Suppose these militaristic folks figured out how to teach people to tap into this amazing ability at will.

From Manual for Remote Viewing by Prudence Calabrese, director of TransDimensional Systems

In 1972, during the height of the Cold War, the CIA launched a classified project to train and utilize psychic spies. The "remote viewing" project, based out of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), was a direct response to the U.S.S.R.'s similar training of military personnel for long-distance spying and, while the American government was far from comfortable admitting an interest in parapsychology, it was less comfortable missing out on what Charlie Rose, a Democratic member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence,once called "a hell of a cheap radar system." The project, which purported to develop a systematic strategy for accessing latent clairvoyance, operated surreptitiously for 24 years, under such evocative code names as GRILLFLAME, SUN STREAK, STARGATE, and CENTER LANE, before it was finally declassified and terminated in 1995. But, by that time, government-trained remote viewers had already set out on their own, working for hire in the private sector and training civilians who were interested in remote viewing themselves.

One such person was Prudence Calabrese, a scientist who was studying nuclear physics and working at a cyclotron facility designing magnets when she "had a moment of self-realization."

"The things that I was looking for -- the answers to life, what the universe holds, who are we? -- weren't going to be found in any tiny particle in nature," Calabrese says. "They wouldn't be found in a church or another person. Everything I needed to know I already had."

In 1995, while the mainstream media was in a frenzy over the estimated 11 million to 20 million tax dollars wasted on "mind readers," Calabrese saw a Nightlinespecial with Ted Koppel interviewing former SRI project monitor and analyst retired Major Ed Dames. Fascinated with remote viewing, Calabrese signed up to be trained by civilian remote viewer and Emory University associate professor of political science Courtney Brown. Brown had studied under Dames, and founded the Farsight Institute, a nonprofit research and educational organization focused on remote viewing, after releasing the much-maligned Cosmic Voyage, a record of extraterrestrial visits to Earth as well as alien sites, on and off this planet, supposedly gleaned during his Scientific Remote Viewing® sessions. Calabrese was a quick study. She found herself acting as vice president of Farsight for two years until, disillusioned with what she deemed to be nonscientific protocols, she quit Farsight to start her own company, TransDimensional Systems.

An intelligent, seemingly down-to-earth mother of four, Calabrese has, in her short tenure as instructor, personally taught more individuals remote viewing techniques than any other trainer. She claims to have worked for two recent presidential administrations, as well as numerous police departments with unsolved cases, innumerable civilians searching for missing family members, and countless high-tech companies looking to get the jump on the competition. She employs several full-time staffers and 10 freelance viewers who work from their homes, zeroing in on targets known only to the client. She also speaks at seminars and conducts intensive weeklong classes all over the world.


I arrive at the Finnish Brotherhood Hallin Berkeley, a little disappointed by the quaint, white stucco building, but heartened to learn the class is being held in the basement. The room is cool and impersonal, despite the cookies and candy strewn across one table. Calabrese is as nondescript as the setting: athletic, with short brown hair, utilitarian overalls, an easy, if not heartfelt, laugh, a firm handshake, and serious, direct eyes.

Although an essay posted on TransDimensional Systems' Web site, "The Grey Dude: One Woman's Perspective," chronicles Calabrese's ongoing nighttime visitations with an alien who imparts information packets that are often prophetic in nature, Calabrese takes care to frequently downplay the New Agey expectations her work engenders. She doesn't wear long, flowing purple scarves. She doesn't claim to know whether the alien that visits her is a hallucination, a psychic conversation with herself, a government deception, or the real deal. She doesn't claim to know anything for certain. She just claims that something happens.

"Most people assume that remote viewing is going to answer all those questions and mysteries that have followed them around in life," writes Calabrese in the manual I received in the mail. "In reality, this new vision of reality increases uncertainty ... and you are left with even more questions than you started with. ... The actual experience of "viewing' can leave the viewer feeling frustrated, even disappointed."

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