|True skepticism does not begin by being anti-anything. The processes of open consideration and examination (i.e., research) will ultimately establish whether something exists or not. ~ Ingo Swann|
Can Remote Viewing Be Trained?
During a recent interview on an episode of "Sightings on the Radio With Jeff Rense," Dr. Ed May firmly stated that it is not possible to train someone to remote view. In the course of the interview, Dr. May commented that "...there aren't very many Jascha Heifitzes in the world that can play a violin, but almost all of us can make a violin squeak." The radio host responded with the remark that it therefore didn't seem to "make much sense" to "line up to pay the $3000 for the ten day RV courses, to teach the public and the individual how to remote view," since "we can all do it [RV] to a small degree." And how good we can become at the RV skill, he suggested, "is such a highly individualized idea."
In other words, just because everyone can "make a violin squeak," [by analogy, remote view to a minimal extent], but very few ever reach the stature of the noted concert violinist Heifitz [become exceptional remote viewers], it seems foolish to pay somebody a relatively large sum of money to provide training to enhance remote viewing ability.
Dr. May agreed with this, concluding that after a good deal of research he "found no evidence to date that you could actually train remote viewing...None." In keeping with the metaphor, he subsequently added a caveat that, while he couldn't teach someone to become as proficient as Heifitz if the person lacked "that natural gift," he could teach someone to "go from squeaks to a recognizable tune," but that it would be unethical to charge exorbitant amounts of money for what May could essentially teach "in about a paragraph."
While I teach people to remote view (and it takes considerably more than a paragraph), I was not the target of Dr. May's remarks. He was specifically referring to two other training practitioners. But the issue does concern me - not only because it indirectly calls into question what I do, but because it can lead to misunderstandings on the part of those who are not fully informed about the remote viewing field.
Since he is one of the best-known researchers in the field, Ed May's opinion carries much weight. Yet I disagree implicitly with his conclusion about training. He is, of course, entitled to his opinion - perhaps even more entitled than most; however it is still possible for him to be wrong. I have until now hesitated to contest Dr. May's assertions on this matter, believing that there is already too much contention in the remote viewing community. But I have finally decided that the issue is important enough that it needs to be discussed. My remarks are not an attack, and I hope they are not construed that way.
A serious misunderstanding was expressed in the course of the radio interview of just what it means to "train" someone in anything. One of course does not "train" an elephant to fly like a bird (Dumbo notwithstanding!), nor does one "train" a human being to live without oxygen (as do anaerobic bacteria). Instead, training helps a person develop skills that exploit some innate ability he or she already has.
One can, for instance, "train" a person to read, since each of us in general has the ability to see, the mental apparatus to make sense of what we see, and a capacity for language. Once one is taught the visual symbology (the alphabet) and the structure (syntax and grammar) relating to written language, one acquires the ability to read. It sounds simple, yet it takes years of "training" and practice to develop an acceptable proficiency at it. And as with any human skill, some of us ultimately are able to read better than others, because some of us have stronger capacities in certain areas than do our fellows.
But there is in addition a second misunderstanding - that those of great stature in a specific profession or skill arrived at the pinnacle they occupy only by virtue of some great gift or talent they have for that particular thing. This is, of course, patently ridiculous. Nearly everyone has heard the old saying, "Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." Even when he became highly advanced as a violinist, Heifitz certainly had a teacher or coach who helped him refine his skills and hone his movements to make him the virtuoso he finally became (and, in fact, advanced violin teachers are expensive - a friend of mine who is an accomplished violinist tells me some charge anywhere from $350-$400 an hour or more). Of course, beyond the helping hands of teachers and instructors there is always a certain stage to which a genius must progress on his or her own. But this is only a small distance in comparison to the ground already covered with the assistance of others over years of lessons and practice that went before.
Further, though there are few with the stature of a Heifitz, or an Einstein, or a Michelangelo, there are nevertheless large numbers who are exceptional or even "just" quite good (there are, after all, far more excellent symphony orchestras exist than do violinists of Heifitz's caliber to staff them). There are still more who are fully competent. And virtually all of them got to where they are through training.
As for talent, it might be worthwhile to question why it is suggested that there are only a minuscule number (a figure of 1-2% was cited in the radio interview) among the population that have the "talent" to become exceptional remote viewers, while the rest of us are doomed to be mere "squeakers," sawing away at the violin strings. From my experience with art, I find that there are far more people than most of us imagine who individually have the "talent" to be at least competent, and often excellent artists. They number in the thousands, perhaps millions, lacking only the skills that instruction and practice would give them. Most of them are locked into job, family, or financial concerns and are never able to realize their abilities, or they come to those abilties only later in life. I'm convinced that nearly anyone can, for example, learn to draw at least competently, if properly motivated and trained. Protestations of "I just don't have the talent" are usually made out of ignorance, not lack of true ability. In my experience, the same goes for remote viewing. Let me be a little personal here.
I'm not normally comfortable singing my own praises, but I know from my own results as a consequence of extensive training that I am quite good as a remote viewer. I have been told the same thing by the analysts and operations personnel who monitored and evaluated my operational remote viewing work. But before I started training in 1983, I was not "psychic" in any sense that I knew of. In fact, I flunked altogether out of a junior high ESP science fair project in which I was a subject. I was not recruited into the Ft. Meade remote viewing program because of any psychic/remote viewing abilities that I had demonstrated, but primarily because I was competent in other skills and disciplines - showing that I was able to learn complex skills - and had somewhat of an artistic bent (unusual for an Army officer, but useful for a remote viewer). What made me good as a remote viewer was extended training under Ingo Swann's excellent protocols, and a good deal of practical experience - plus, I suppose, a certain degree of native ability.
I have seen this combination work with many people who began with no demonstrable "psychic" skills, but who at the close of training were at least competent, and often exceptional remote viewers. To be fair, I have been most closely associated with controlled remote viewing training, and therefore cannot vouch for what other "methods" that Ed May says he evaluated as to whether people could be trained in them. Perhaps he's right and they can't be taught to others. I still wonder, though.
Nonetheless, in my experience CRV training has been nearly always successful to a greater or lesser degree depending on the level of motivation, preparation and innate ability of a given student viewer. More have done well than not, but virtually all of those whose training I have either supervised or otherwise been associated with have produced data that could not be accounted for in any other way than that they had learned remote viewing skills. Some students have been amazingly successful, and indeed might well one day become Heifitzes of remote viewing. And all but a few have easily and rapidly surpassed the "squeaker" level of remote viewing.
To return to our violin metaphor, my experiences and observations in teaching remote viewing seem to mirror the results one might expect from any typical population of violin students who persist through advanced instruction. Some of them excel, most range from competent to good, and some end up only as mediocre or even poor performers. Does this mean that the excellent few just naturally play well, and that for the rest violin lessons are a waste of time and money? The answer is as obvious for playing the violin as it is for the innumerable other skills that humans teach one another - and precisely as it is for remote viewing as well.11/15/97 1997 by Paul H. Smith, Remote Viewing Instructional Services, Inc. All rights reserved.
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