The Star Gate Project was a US government research program (funded by the Defense Intelligence Agency, and subsequently transferred to the CIA) that sought to investigate the effectiveness of Remote Viewing.
Remote Viewing is the purported ability to gather information on places (that one has not seen before) ‘from a distance’. In other words, the descriptional information is obtained through psychic functioning. Why would the military be interested in this? Well, it would be good to know what is hidden inside that Chinese aircraft hangar.
The Stargate movie and television franchise, where a Stargate device creates wormholes in space and time enabling Kurt Russell, James Spader,
McGyver Richard Dean Anderson and others to explore the universe, is not related.
The Star Gate Project was initiated in the 1970s and used more than 20 remote viewers to view distant locations. There were reported to be some intriguing successes, including the viewing and detailed description of an as-yet-unknown Russian submarine which spy satellites subsequently confirmed some months later (it was the Typhoon Class submarine for cold war history fans out there).
In the 1990s, a review of the programme was commissioned from the American Institutes (sic) for Research. It was published in 1994, and I’ll draw out some of the main conclusions:
When looking at forced choice laboratory research, the authors concluded that: “A statistically significant laboratory effort has been demonstrated in the sense that hits occur more often than chance.”
However, the root cause of these effects was unclear (paranormal functioning versus experimental/methodological effects, etc), and they went on to write: “Evidence has not been provided that clearly demonstrates that the causes of hits are due to the operation of paranormal phenomena; the laboratory experiments have not identified the origins or nature of the remote viewing phenomenon, if, indeed, it exists at all.”
In turn, operational effectiveness was discussed (after all the Star Gate project was meant to enrich military intelligence gathering): “The conditions under which the remote viewing phenomenon is observed in laboratory settings do not apply in intelligence gathering situations… although some accuracy was observed with regard to broad background characteristics, the remote viewing reports failed to produce the concrete, specific information valued in intelligence gathering. …The information provided was inconsistent, inaccurate with regard to specifics, and required substantial subjective interpretation.”
“The foregoing observations provide a compelling argument against continuation of the program within the intelligence community. Even though a statistically significant effect has been observed in the laboratory, it remains unclear whether the existence of a paranormal phenomenon, remote viewing, has been demonstrated. The laboratory studies do not provide evidence regarding the origins or nature of the phenomenon, assuming it exists, nor do they address an important methodological issue of inter-judge reliability.
Further, even if it could be demonstrated unequivocally that a paranormal phenomenon occurs under the conditions present in the laboratory paradigm, these conditions have limited applicability and utility for intelligence gathering operations. For example, the nature of the remote viewing targets are vastly dissimilar, as are the specific tasks required of the remote viewers. Most importantly, the information provided by remote viewing is vague and ambiguous, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the technique to yield information of sufficient quality and accuracy of information for actionable intelligence. Thus, we conclude that continued use of remote viewing in intelligence gathering operations is not warranted.”
The report actually came out after the CIA had terminated the programme, explaining that there was a lack of evidence the programme provided value to intelligence gathering.
So what do we make of all this? Well, the findings in favour of laboratory RV effects (albeit laced with caveats) lends credence to the idea that some form of paranormal functioning might be going on under particular remote viewing protocols. In turn, the lack of overall support for operational RV functioning suggests that remote viewing is not valid, or, that if it does work - it might only work within certain confines or under certain conditions. The history of Star Gate helps demonstrate how there are no definitive experiments in parapsychology - instead, it is about accumulating a body of data, taking proper stock, and then moving ideas, protocols and understanding forwards. It’s all about cumulative, circumstantial evidence.
You can read the full AIR report here: http://www.lfr.org/lfr/csl/library/AirReport.pdf