Mar 24, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Remote-Viewing and ESP: From the 1950s Onward

When it comes to the matter of government agencies secretly working on the phenomenon known as Remote Viewing, most people will think of the CIA. That's not the case. It may come as a surprise to know that the FBI were involved, too, and as early as the mid-1950s. With that said, let's have a look at some of these other examples in which the CIA wasn't involved.  It scarcely seems feasible to imagine that in the summer of 1957, a secret and lengthy FBI file was opened on a young girl and an employee of the local railway company who, elements of the FBI believed, had perfected the ability to use ESP as a tool of espionage. Just occasionally, however, truth really is stranger than fiction. One month earlier, a document titled Extra Sensory Perception was prepared by the FBI that outlined the remarkable story: "One of our agents attended a private exhibition of extra sensory perception given by Mr. William Foos, resident of Richmond, Virginia, and a high school graduate employed in a minor capacity with the C. and O. Railway. About two years ago he became interested in extra sensory perception and began experimenting with members of his family. He claims to have achieved amazing success."

FBI Files Cover 570x395
(Nick Redfern)

In a partly blacked-out section of the document, the FBI recognized the seemingly endless applications that Foos’ talents offered the secret world of both international and domestic espionage: "Should his claims be well founded, there is no limit to the value which could accrue to the FBI – complete and undetectable access to mail, the diplomatic pouch; visual access to buildings – the possibilities are unlimited insofar as law enforcement and counter-intelligence are concerned. As fantastic as this may appear, the actuality of extra sensory perception has long been recognized – though not to the degree of perfection claimed by Mr. Foos. It is difficult to see how the Bureau can afford to not inquire into this matter more fully." And inquire into it the FBI most certainly did, as did the CIA. An additional FBI document provides additional data: "Mr. Foos explained that, in February 1957, he inadvertently discovered a method of teaching others to see through barriers. He explained that his hope and intentions were to use this discovery in teaching the blind to see through Extra Sensory Perception, and that in teaching his daughter, Margaret, how to perceive objects beyond physical barriers, he realized that this knowledge and ability had serious and dangerous implications as well as practical value in Military and/or Diplomatic operations."

The FBI continued: "Mr. Foos had Margaret seated at a card table and requested an observer to blindfold her. Two cotton pads were placed over her eyes and held in place with a dark elastic band that fastened behind the head. So blindfolded, Margaret demonstrated ability to read, distinguish colors, locate verses in the Bible, and trace handwriting." Very impressive; however, things took a downward turn when the FBI was informed by the CIA that 'Foos has insisted on using a particular type of blindfold which raises a question regarding the possibility that Foos is using a blindfold material which permits his daughter to have a considerable area of vision through a tiny aperture in the blindfold cloth.' As a result, the FBI started looking closer into the possibility that there was deception at work. A further document stated:

"Foos may be attempting to commercialize on a 'fake trick' he and his daughter have perfected." It was also stressed, however: “On the other hand, there is a possibility that Foos does have extrasensory perception abilities. This, of course, is something we cannot afford to overlook in our work. But we should not, however, under any circumstances allow Foos the privilege of indicating to outsiders the FBI is interested in his work." Ultimately, and after further investigation, the FBI washed its hands of the Foos affair. Indeed, the last entry in the file, dating from 1960, states: "Recognizing the value of such activity to our counterespionage work, we thoroughly checked the claim and had to conclude that his alleged powers had no scientific basis." The FBI’s ESP file was firmly closed. Now, let’s take a look at the Air Force.

In 1978, the Air Force’s Foreign Technology Division (FTD) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, USA, prepared a document titled Paraphysics R&D – Warsaw Pact for the Defense Intelligence Agency. It provided up to date information on the way in which the then-Soviet Union was looking at utilizing ESP and psychic phenomena in the field of warfare. In its report to the DIA, the FTD defined "paraphysics" as "the investigation of unusual (paranormal) mental functioning." One of the most fascinating mysteries investigated by the FTD that could conceivably have had vital and welcome Intelligence-related applications was, the DIA learned, reported at the Third International Psychotronics Conference by G. P. Krokhalev, a psychiatrist from Perm, Russia. "His experiments involve attempts to have 'mental images' appear on photographic film," recorded the FTD, adding: 'He claims to have recorded this effect under controlled conditions. As an example, a person who could visualize images well, even to the point of hallucinating, was able to specify the image beforehand that was later observed on the film.'"

The project continued: "Although much of his work appears to be very non-professional, his later experiments with the apparent recording of mental imagery appear reasonably well controlled. However, no firm evaluation can be made of his experimental procedure or results at this time. Other researchers, such as L. Vilenskaya, have apparently observed some of Krokhalev's experiments and judged them valid." The FTD continued: “This form of apparent psychoenergetic-type process is not new to parapsychological researchers. Krokhalev's investigations appear similar to those reported in the US by Dr. J. Eisenbud, who is a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado Medical School. Dr. Eisenbud conducted extensive controlled investigations into the alleged ability of a subject, Ted Serios, who appeared to cause specific images to appear on films when under intense concentration. Eisenbud's recent work appears to be valid but is subject to the same evaluation difficulty as most all investigations involving such phenomena."

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(Nick Redfern) The U.K.'s Ministry of Defense

The FTD concluded: "Since the early 1960's, USSR researchers have expressed an interest in Eisenbud’s work, along with all the other forms of apparent psychoenergetic processes. There has also been recent evidence of similar research, apparently with positive results, in a Japanese research laboratory." Now, let’s take a look at what the Brits have done in this field: In 2007, the British Ministry of Defense admitted that between 2001 and 2002 it had undertaken a secret, 168-page study to determine if remote-viewing and psychic phenomena might prove to be valuable in terms of intelligence-gathering. The documentation, declassified as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the MoD by British UFO researcher and author Timothy Good, was heavily blacked-out by MoD censors upon its release. According to Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the MoD between 1991 and 1994, this was because "the MoD believes their release would compromise defense interests in relation to the working practices of the Defense Intelligence Staff."

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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