"My understanding is that such "PsyOps" was also the topic of a book called Men Who Stare at Goats and that the US military intelligence still uses these techniques for intelligence gathering.
"Is "remote viewing" just a renaming of a spiritual ability of really intuitive people with good imaginations to describe scenes they have not physically viewed (Maria of Agreda and Anne Catherine Emmerich come to mind) or is it some dangerous new-age psychic dabbling?"
Excellent question which led to some very interesting research!
To answer your main question, Remote Viewing (RV) is considered to be a psychic ability used by people who claim to be able to “see” objects or places remotely through the use of clairvoyant powers. This special ability allegedly enables a person to see into the past, the present, and the future.
Laboratory testing of RV involves a psychic who sits in a room with an experimenter while one or two other people who are part of the experiment visit randomly selected geographic locations outside the building, such as airports, bridges, parks, etc. The people who visit these locations then attempt to “send” information about the location to the subject at a predetermined time.
In the late 70’s, two parapsychologists named Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, developed the RV paradigm after claiming to have completed more than 100 experiments with RV of which “most” successfully proved the existence of this power. In some cases, their findings were described to have been “spectacularly successful” with at least one subject being able to demonstrate precognition by correctly describing the locations to be visited by an experimenter not only before they were visited, but before they were even chosen.
These results were so impressive the US government and military became involved in researching its possible use for intelligence gathering and other possible military uses.
However, attempts to replicate Targ and Puthoff’s work were unsuccessful and never proved anything beyond chance performance. It was only after reviewing the actual transcripts published by Targ and Puthoff, which were reluctantly handed over for inspection by other researchers, that various methodological problems were discovered that cast doubt upon their conclusions. They also found that the descriptions given by the psychics about remotely viewed locations often included vague descriptions of trees, buildings, water, and the sky that could be found almost anywhere.
The Joan of Arc book that you mention was written by a psychic and RV proponent named Joe McMoneagle, a retired U.S. Army Warrant Officer with interests in near-death-experiences, out-of-body travel and unidentified flying objects who worked on experiments conducted by the U.S. Army Intelligence and the Stanford Research Institute. McMoneagle wrote a series of books called the Evidential Details Mystery Series which is based on his remote viewing of past incidents such as the death of Joan of Arc, the sinking of the Titanic, the car crash that killed Princess Diana, Custer’s Last Stand, and other historical events.
As for the US military’s involvement in these types of psy ops for intelligence gathering purposes, RV was never sufficiently proven under laboratory conditions and the CIA eventually abandoned study of this phenomenon. As this declassified document from CIA agent, Dr. Kenneth A. Kress, explains, an inadequate understanding of the mechanics of paranormal functioning, coupled with poor reproducibility under laboratory conditions and the kind of bureaucratic bottlenecks that occur within government agencies, has caused RV to remain a controversial topic.
“Agencies must commit long-term basic research funds and learn to confine testing to only those abilities which at least appear reproducible enough to be used to augment other hard collection techniques,” he wrote in 1978.
Until this happens, “Parapsychology…can then rise or fall on its merits and not stumble over bureaucratic charters and conjectures proposed by people who are irrevocably on one side or the other of this controversial area.”
The book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, is about a secret U.S. Army project known as the Stargate Project which worked primarily with RV but was terminated and declassified in 1995 after the CIA concluded it had never proven itself useful in intelligence gathering.
Psychic abilities such as the remote viewing of distant places and times and predictions about the future may seem similar to revelations made to the saints, but with the difference that these abilities are not sought by saintly recipients. Instead, they are given by God for specific reasons such as how Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel warned the Israelites about future events or impending dangers.
Although the revelations received by Anne Catherine Emmerich and Maria of Agreda may seem to be similar to Remote Viewing, there are marked differences between the two.
For instance, as stated above, the revelations were received by women who were not seeking these insights but merely received them in prayer. In the case of RV, psychics are actively seeking these insights which opens them up to demonic entities who have the power to mimic them.
It should also be noted that the Church does not require belief in the revelations given to Anne Catherine Emmerich and Maria of Agreda whereas remote viewers claim their revelations are to be believed as accurate.
It’s also important to note that the subject matter of the revelations to Anne Catherine Emmerich and Maria of Agreda concern serious matters of faith in which they likely received assistance from God who has the power to facilitate these abilities. According to the Jesuit theologian, Augustin Poulain, “it is therefore prudent to admit that they received special assistance from God, preserving them not absolutely, but in the main, from error.” This is different from remote viewers who claim their powers come from themselves and their own special abilities.
Needless to say, because of all of the above information, and the fact that remote viewing is a form of divination, it should not be practiced by Christians.
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