Remote Viewing: Nothing More Than a Magician’s Trick?

It has been proven that only 7% of the population does not believe, whatsoever, in any kind of paranormal phenomena. Could it be that this isn’t due to the actual existence of such paranormal phenomena? And if so, why do so many people believe in these supernatural forces?

The growth of the Internet is the first thing to consider, and as knowledge of psi phenomena grows, so does the number of imitations. Fraud has become more prevalent, as it’s been made easy for people to claim supernatural ability and to accrue web followers. In fact, many people who claim to have supernatural ability have been unable to execute their abilities while under scientifically controlled conditions. Targ and Puthoff, famous scientists from within the remote viewing field, argue that their performances may have been strained by the scientific environment, but how can such abilities be validated unless regulated? (Perlman, 2001)

There is also a greater psychological process occurring here on the perception end of such events–a process that innately wires us to make sense of that which we cannot explain. Psychologist Bruce Hood argues that since birth, we have conditioned ourselves to “fill in the gaps” of unexpected events. He uses the term “intuitive reasoning” to explain how our brains build theories of the world to explain unobservable events– it’s all a matter of how we perceptually process information gaps.  When babies are shown a magic trick, in which an object is originally held in one’s hand, and then disappears “mysteriously,” most babies express shock in their facial expressions. As Dr. Hood argues: “I believe that these misconceptions of naive intuitive theories provide the basis of many later adult magical beliefs.” These intuitive theories are so strong that even the most rational of people and scientists can be biased toward irrational reasoning. (Hood, 2006)

The second part of Hood’s argument is that humans tend to perceive events as a unquestionably linked. He adds, “Humans are causal determinists; we cannot help but experience the world as a continuous sequence of events and outcomes.” For example, when we are thinking about someone and they call us, we can’t help but think this wasn’t a coincidence. In reality, these things are usually reigned by chance, but they stick out in our memories because they are unusual. (Hood, 2006)

It seems that belief in remote viewing could very likely be explained by the ideas of intuitive theory and causal determinism. When a remote viewers predictions match the actual site, we immediately think this is out of the ordinary, and so we may believe that this can only be explained by a supernatural ability–that because one statement is (perhaps even vaguely) accurate, remote viewing is unquestionably validated. But are we no more observant than our infant selves? Our response to such events is very similar to our responses to magic tricks–we immediately attribute our lack of understanding to paranormal activity before considering what other force may be responsible–be it fraud or chance.


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