Deflecting a Cheap Shot: Remote Viewing and the Nazca Lines

(Featured image courtesy Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA)

Some people love to find fault. Some of them are journalists—or at least pretend to be. Such is the case with a website named “MuckRock,” which bills itself as “a non-profit collaborative news site that gives you the tools to keep our government transparent and accountable.” Given that there is an abundance of rich fodder in the area of government transparency and accountability these days, one wonders why the MuckRock folks would waste their time on a tiny government program closed down and, seemingly, abandoned more than twenty years ago. Yet they do. The Star Gate remote viewing program has lately been one of MuckRock’s targets.

I’ll focus on one particular article as a classic illustration of lazy journalism gone awry. As are so many media articles on the Star Gate program, the article is written in a mocking tone. I will try to avoid mockery in return (though I can’t guarantee that my self-control won’t fail from time to time). The article is “From the department of “Nailed It:” Army psychics take on the Nazca lines,” by Emma Best and reports on a single remote viewing session done in the Fort Meade remote viewing unit in March 1990. The session is six pages long. The viewer is “052,” and the monitor is “018.” Though the Muckrock author doesn’t know who the participants were, I do. Viewer 52 was Capt. Linda Anderson, at the time a very new recruit to Star Gate. “018″ was Lyn Buchanan, serving as a training monitor for Linda. Ms Best is right—this is not a great session. It is, in fact, just the sort of session one might expect a novice to produce. Best’s article shows what happens when you pass judgment on something you don’t know anything about, and lay too much weight on trivialities—oh, and analyze things against which you already have a pre-existing bias.

Author Emma Best mistakenly believe that the remote viewer actually believed grapes were present at the Nazca Lines target
Author Emma Best mistakenly thought that the remote viewer actually believed grapes were present at the Nazca Lines target.

For example, right off the bat Best complains that “the psychic also described and drew a ‘bunch of grapes’ which they felt were located at the site,” then adds gratuitously, “None of the Nazca line drawings are of grapes.” But the excerpt pulled from the actual session clearly shows that the reference to grapes is the viewer declaring “bunch of grapes” as an AOL, or analytical overlay. That means (if only the MuckRock author knew what she was actually looking at) that the viewer didn’t believe there were a bunch of grapes at the targeted site—only that some pattern there reminded her of the shape of grapes. I don’t blame the author for not knowing this. I blame her for passing judgment based on ignorance.

Best gets a dollop of forgiveness when we note that the monitor in his comments on the session tries to explain the grapes AOL by noting that on the back of one of the feedback pages (torn from a National Geographic) was a photo of grapes. Now, an experienced viewer would not have been given a pass for describing grapes when the target was the Nazca lines. I can see why Best may have concluded that 018 was trying to explain away an error. But Linda, remember, was a trainee, and inexperienced. Also remember, she declared it to be AOL. Other comments Lyn makes show he was explaining how he had offered suggestions and corrections. The grapes comment seems pretty evidently to be in that context.

The remote viewer did not necessarily believe there was a waterfall at the target, as claimed in the MuckRock article. Instead, the viewer felt that something was confusing about the target, and the idea of
The remote viewer did not necessarily believe there was a waterfall at the target, as claimed in the MuckRock article. Instead, the viewer felt that something was confusing about the target, and the idea of “waterfall” was part of the confusion.

I do quibble with Lyn’s assessment that there were “no discernible incorrect” impressions in Linda’s session. It seems to me there were at least a few—the mentions of water qualify, though some of these were also listed as AOLs. (Also note on page 4 of her transcript she lists another confusion–she hears “water sounds,” but is confused because there is “no water.”) And other perceptions seemed ambiguous at best. But I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what Lyn meant, and now 27 years later he may not himself remember.

Perhaps MuckRock does good work on other topics, but this article is not an example of quality investigative journalism. My wife was a daily newspaper reporter for twenty years, doing investigative and government reporting for much of that time. She finished her career with five years as the managing editor of legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning muckraker Jack Anderson’s Washington Merry-go-Round column. So I know how reputable investigative reporting works. Jack wrote the forward for my own memoir of my time in the Star Gate Program, Reading the Enemy’s Mind. He began reporting on the remote viewing program in 1979 as a skeptic. But as Jack learned more about Star Gate over the years he came to approve of it, as perusal of his numerous columns on the topic shows. I’m not an expert in investigative journalism, but I know it when I see it. And Emma Best’s article (as well as other MuckRock articles on the Star Gate program) is not it.

Captain Linda A. at her desk in the remote viewing program in the early 1990s
Captain Linda Anderson at her desk in the remote viewing program in the early 1990s.

Ms Best’s pulling a single remote viewing session out of context and holding it up as an example makes an implied logical fallacy. “See,” she seems to be saying. “Look how bad this session was. They’re all like that.” That’s called a fallacy of composition (making the assumption that a constituent part represents the whole), and no competent investigative journalist should fall for it. To show you that all the Star Gate sessions are not like that, I offer below one of my own, done under similar circumstances, also with the Nazca Lines as the target, and also preserved in the official archives. Capt. F. Holmes Atwater (known today in the RV community as “Skip”) was my monitor. Other than that, the only difference was that I had been in remote viewing training for quite a bit longer at the point I did this session than had Linda. (Note that I, too, got “water” at the start, but soon abandoned that notion as incorrect.  But also note something I didn’t myself know until doing a little exploring on Google Earth. There is a river just over half a mile from where the Lines begin.) Also observe the evolution of perceptions as I got deeper into the session and better connected with the signal; early impressions were of three-dimensional structures, but these impressions eventually subsided and I narrowed in more fully on the actual data.) A typed transcript of my (nearly illegible) handwritten summary on page 17 of the transcript is posted below the embedded pdf.

To those who have already made up their minds that it can’t be real, remote viewing may seem not just incredible, but unbelievable. Yet it is real. In the Star Gate Program we didn’t get every session right (no human’s perceptual system, and certainly no intelligence collection discipline is ever always right).  But anyone with any degree of honest objectivity will find a surprising number of remote viewings we did get right. And there are many other startling remote viewing successes since produced by everyday folks who have learned the same skills I and my military colleagues did.



“Structure(s) at the site is/are manmade, have many angles, go for a long distance, and in several different directions at different times.” [I crossed out “It/they are low, patterned, straight, curv[ed]”  [I then came back to this page after several more pages to add: ]

“Site is some sort of representational pattern covering a very broad area, with perhaps symbolic and/or devotional purposes; it is made of lines and strips involving very rough, rocky textures. Organization & cooperation were intrinsic in the construction. Site has a very old, perhaps ancient sense about it. Structures at site represent animals, birds, & people. Purposes are apparently affiliated with cosmology, religion, & mysticism. Construction involved group dynamics & working together toward a common goal. (A labor of love, not a labor of force)”