[Note: This is an interview Paola Harris did with Courtney Brown on 17 April, 2000. It was previously published on her Italian web site].
Harris: Do you mind if I tape this so I don't make mistakes? I'm taping this with a regular tape with a telephone system here in Rome.
Brown: yeah, Okay
Brown: Thank you very much for asking for this interview. I saw your web site and it was very interesting.
Harris: The people in Italy found out that I had worked with Dr. J Allen Hyneck in the '80's and they started asking me to do UFO research and so that's how I got involved.
Brown: That's an exciting field for you to be in. That's great.
Harris: Well , Let me explain your book was given to me about a month ago because I'm really interested in remote viewing. I had been interested in Ingo Swann when he came out with his web site and his book Penetration and I thought, how come all of a sudden this work which I thought was top secret government project becomes public and people can talk about it?
Brown: Yeah, well there are actually two sides to it. Ingo's stuff is very, very up front. I don't see any remote possibility for him to deceive anyone for any reason. You know, he states that he's tried to clear up things on record as he's getting older, and he wants to get on with other things. I can't see any reason, or at least any profit motivation, for selling Penetration. The first seventy pages is riveting. I don't think he intended to write a spellbinder or anything like that. So I find him very credible. I, by the way, don't know Ingo. I've only spoken to him once for five minutes on the phone. We've exchanged only one letter, and I wish I had been able to know him better. So if I say anything dealing with Ingo, it's only third hand information, but it's always great, great positive stuff. I wish I'd known him.
Harris: You never worked with Ingo . Did you ever work with Hal Putoff at the Stanford Research Institute, or any of those people?
Brown: No, we have our own institute here, The Farsight Institute
Brown: They have an interesting story, but they have a lot of legacy stuff goes back to the seventies and eighties.
Harris: So did you develop The Farsighted Institute?
Brown: I developed Farsight Institute. What happened was that SRI International, which used to be Stanford Research, part of Stanford University, well, they were contracted by the government to research remote viewing. Apparently, the luminaries in the field are very up front about the CIA's involvement in terms of the funding, but also there was the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as well. The DIA is the intelligence wing of the Pentagon. And that more recently has become very up front. The Defense Intelligence Agency of the Pentagon really had operational purposes for this. It was a very new phenomenon. The government wanted to know how to use it for espionage purposes right away, and the scientific illuminaries such Russell Targ and Hal Putoff wanted to do basic science. I mean, you just can't get something like this and throw it immediately into operation.
Harris: I know
Brown: What the mechanism is, how it works, can it be reliable, what's going on? And so they were always under tremendous time pressure and funding for sure. I get this from published sources.
Harris: Well, I know Hal Putoff, and I just did another interview with Paul Smith. I don't know if you know Paul Smith.
Brown: Of course he's one of the people I know of very well, but I do not know him personally.
Harris: Okay. These people talk about the original Stanford Research Institute
Brown: And so this is the legacy of this whole thing that the Stanford group started, how the first initial investigation started, under tremendous financial stress and personal pressure, because the government always wanted results within months. They wanted operational information out of it, and so it's sort of a two-edged sword. They tried to get as much basic science out of it as they could, given the fact that their funding was going to run out soon unless they did get some practical stuff out of it. So they had some remote viewing scenarios which were very successful in getting target information, and then the U.S. government worked with those people, back and forth. But with these results, the U.S. Army came into it strongly. That's where the DIA came in. They developed a remote viewing squad that was trained in techniques that Ingo Swann predominately developed, new methods of accessing this information, and when the US Army came into it, Paul Smith was part of that. There was another Special Forces (again, U.S. Army) remote viewing group as well that worked with a different noted psychic, Dr. Richard Ireland. He trained Glenn Wheaton who now runs the Hawaiian Remote Viewer's Guild (www.hrvg.org), and their very effective methods are much different from the Ingo Swan derived methods.
Harris: Right, right.
Brown: And it goes on and on
Harris: But your involvement ? Was it military work? Can you talk about that?
Brown: I'll get to me in just a second. But anyway, what happened was, after a while, the US Army, the Pentagon, realized that the information about remote viewing was going to become open.. They allowed a few of these people to go out and teach it. This is information that was told to me by two of those who were in the original RV/DIA unit. There's a lot of information that goes back and forth that eventually gets back to me. So what happened was that the government really wanted the remote viewing stuff to stay in the new age community, and to stay out of the mainstream. Now I'm not putting down the new age community. That's how the government saw it. As they saw it, in the new age community RV would hang around in new age book stores and healing and metaphysical places and coffee shops, all these non-mainstream places. That's not how I view these people, but that's what the government wanted. They wanted it to stay out of mainstream science where it might get the funding, and possibly get a lot of attention.
Harris: Now I need to ask you a question right in here, because this is where I have all my biggest arguments. If they wanted it to stay there, why would they fund something they don't consider science?
Brown: No that's not true, they have funded it all through out, even now. They do two things. They say they don't fund it but they do fund it.
Harris: But it is science, isn't it?
Brown: Yeah. It is science. We are strictly a scientific institute.
Harris: Yeah, I understand . I always believed this was scientific, but I have problems with the people that put it in the goofy new age category.
Brown: The whole idea was to put it in there and then never let it get out very far. Now I have been told this by people formerly in the military, actual people sitting in front of me talking. I won't tell the names of those people. I don't want to get into it; they didn't want their names published. Point blank, they were told by their upper ups, that the remote viewing stuff could only be let out only so much, anything beyond that would be shut down, and nothing would stop them (the DIA) from shutting it down. There would be no holds barred. It would be all oriented around disinformation . They knew it was going to get out, but they thought they could control it better if it was out and it was laughed at, or at least marginalized, rather than if I got out and was taken seriously because you really don't need too many experiments before you realize it's real. So they had to make people afraid to do the experiments that would put most scientists on guard because they don't want to risk their reputations. So the big money won't go after it.
So, really what happened is that remote viewing is very real, but it's still very marginal in the scientific community. So what happened was that these Army guys went out to teach, and I'd made friends with two of them, and one in particular. I paid cash to learn and to be professional at it. But I looked at it from an academic's point of view.
Harris: Are you still working at Emory University?
Brown: You can always get my whole academic and professional background at www.courtneybrown.com
Harris: Okay and you're still at Emory University right?
Brown: Yeah, but when I'm at Emory, I do nothing related to The Farsight Institute or remote viewing
Harris: Okay, no. I just needed it for the article. You're still a professor?
Brown: Yep. Again, you can get all that information publicly and everything, all my published books, my Vitae, my academic books, and lots of other stuff, on my own personal web site: www.courtneybrown.com
Harris: Have you had problems at all like Harvard professor John Mack and other people with this material?
Brown: The president of Emory University is very very good. He understands that these things are separate, and that the scientific community has not yet put the stamp of approval of what I do. He understands that it's separate, and people are allowed to pursue their separate ideas as long as I don't do it in my political science classes. It's separate. It has nothing to do with what I do at The Farsight Institute. What I do at Emory University is teach political science. So anyway, what basically happened is that I originally learned the Ingo Swan version of RV from one of these ex-military guys, then we departed company and I founded my own institute. We've trained over one hundred seventy five people to do remote viewing. I re-did the RV protocols from my own "professor of science" perspective. I realized this stuff (as it was coming out of the Army) was very operationally oriented rather that science oriented, and so I changed it. I modified it. I adapted it. It wasn't just me, we had all of our researchers doing it. But our own procedures clearly evolved from Ingo Swann's procedures. They have a historical connection to them. And if you look them over, you can see how they evolved from the Swann procedures. But we have evolved our own procedures and vocabulary/language for it. We also publish our own web site, www.farsight.org, which has a huge library of free stuff. We are formally a IRS non-profit research and educational institute and we do only basic science in remote viewing. We publish our basic science on our web site.
Harris: I know. I noticed you have tapes to learn these procedures but do you have classes to where people can attend?
Brown: We don't have classes, at least right now. But we still teach lots of people RV, as I will explain. We formerly taught a whole bunch of people in personalized classes here in Atlanta. Like any college or university, we did not do this for profit. But it was taking too much of our time. We could not get our research done . We were interested (just like Putoff and everybody else) in doing basic science research. So we decided to stop teaching and for a year and a half, we just didn't do any teaching. But so many people asked us about training that we decided to come out with a large free downloadable audio course (plus a free printable text) that was just perfect with nothing omitted, and we have been giving it away freely to visitors to our web site. But we really have a very active research agenda. We have some real advances that we've discovered, problems that have been around for a couple of decades, and we're right now in the process of writing them up, getting them out, getting them published. And that's what we're really focusing on. There have been some problems that have plagued people doing research for a long long time.
Harris: Do you want to go into any of them?
Brown: Towards the end of the original SRI days, Ed May and those at SRI used a method for evaluating this remote viewing process which was supposed to be scientific that went like this: You have a remote viewer view a target "blind," in the sense that they're not supposed to know anything about it in advance. Then the RV data are given to a panel of judges who compare the data to a list of, say, five targets, one real and the others decoys or false targets. They're not told anything about what the correct target is, of course. They are given all the possible targets to try to figure out which one it would most likely be. Basically, they would say things like, "Okay that's clearly a sketkch of the Empire State Building and it's certainly not a sketch of a desert." In situations in which they would be dealing with a number of possible targets on a shelf, they might observe that the RV data really looks like a vase and not a pen, or a cup, or plate. They would have five, say, different possible targets. So, they would be trying to remote view one target out of the list and then they would take the RV data and try to determine which was the correct target.
And the problem was that while sometimes they would get the correct results, other times they get results in which very nice picture would show up, or a nice bit of descriptive information of one of the targets on the list, but it was the wrong target. It was very clear that the description wasn't of the correct target, but it was a description of one of the possible targets. It was correctly describing one of the targets but the wrong one, meaning that target wasn't the one that was picked by the random throw of the dice, or whatever.
Harris: That wasn't the one that was actually given to the person?
Brown: These targets were chosen dynamically, meaning some event like throwing dice or something else was done to determine which target was actually going to be used. So the instructions to the viewer would be to remote view the correct one.
Harris: But wouldn't he be given the coordinates?
Brown: Well, sometimes they'd be given coordinates but that's another aspect of the whole process. We don't need to be getting into technicalities. The basic idea was that they would be told there was a target and there would be a set of procedures they would be using to do this. Thus, a viewer would be told to describe the target. And let's say the possible targets were a plate, a cup, a pen, and a basketball. Well, the person would say the target is a pen, and then the random procedure would decide the correct target. The correct target was the plate but the description was of the pen and so the blind judges would say this person is describing the pen. But really, which was the correct one? What actually makes one target the correct one and the other targets incorrect? Does the randomization procedure really do this?
Harris: The plate.
Brown: The plate, but this person is describing a pen. So the pen is chosen as the correct target. And low and behold, it turns out that the random procedure picked the plate instead. But, you know the viewer had no idea that the pen was one of the targets when the viewing was done. I mean the person giving the instructions just says there is a target, and so the remote viewer would just describe one of the targets, and they had no idea which kind of target would be there. But they would end up describing one of the five targets. So the real question was how could a person accurately describe one of the wrong targets? What make a target a target? Is it because a random number procedure picked that spot on the shelf and said it was correct? Or is there some other process at work? So we spent two years investigating this problem. We first duplicated all SRI and SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) results. And we found that indeed there was a problem. When you have targets on a list , you often get very good results of the wrong target. Very good results. Everything is correct. But it's not the one you want to get.
Harris: Okay I was going to ask you that. At least it was a sciencific exploration.
Brown: Ed May moved the program to SAIC when he was the last director at SRI. He moved the program from SRI when they closed down the lab. So we invested two years looking into that research and we have research under review right now which we think resolves the issue. We really think we understand the issue.
Harris: I liked your first book .
Brown: Actually, Cosmic Explorers is my second book. It reports my own personal application of remote viewing. It's also in paperback now, originally published by Penguin Putnam. It is a much different book than Cosmic Voyage, my first remote viewing book. It's more recent, and it has a hundred pages of methodology in it describing the remote viewing procedures used at Farsight. It also has updates in the sense that it continues the information presented in Cosmic Voyage. But it's a better book because every book I write is better than the one I did before.
Harris: No, I understand and I know here you're coming from but we're at ground zero here with remote viewing. Nobody ever considered remote viewing scientific or valid. I've been fighting to get my article published on remote viewing in two Italian magazines with the possible titles "Government Remote Viewers: The Psychic Connection." Well, the response from the editors is "this isn't science." Well, I said "if it isn't science, why is the government funding it?"
Brown: Well, the best place to get any information on remote viewing right now is our web site www.farsight.org. There's no place you can get more, and it is all free. The information is not necessarily about the history of it, but about the science and mechanics of it. Have you had a chance to look at it?
Harris: I went over your web site this morning.
Brown: Now if you go to the resources section you'll find SRV Learning Area. That has the free downloadable audio course, a printable text of Scientific Remote Viewing. The audio course and text have all the procedures. They're pretty clear. you don't have to pay a dime, and you don't have to buy tapes or anything like that. Everything at www.farsight.org is free.
Harris: Now I've got to ask you an obvious question, Courtney. I really think, and this isn't just my feeling but don't people have to have the ability before hand to be as good as you are now, a little bit of intuitive ability? There must be some way of testing those who are more prone to be a good remote viewers. Is that true?
Brown: We haven't found any limitations like that. What we have found is it really takes a lot of hard work and determination, persistence. Just like playing the violin. I mean if you play it, you'll make squeaky sounds at the beginning, but if you keep at it you'll eventually get it.
Harris: Yeah, but there's some better people who play the violin, the people who take lessons...
Brown: I understand. There is a level of talent.
Harris: And do you have that? Or did you have that, I want to ask you on a personal level.
Brown: Well, people have said I have that. All of the stuff I've published so that people can make their own judgments. We don't know the limits of the training process right now. People often take a few classes and then try to evaluate themselves. But we really don't know how far you can push this. So, people look at my work and say, that's what I do, and they see all this stuff published on the web and say "Oh, you must be just really gifted at this." But the reality is I work hard at this, and I deeply feel that others can be as good or better than me.
Harris: Oh, I realize that you work hard at it.
Brown: But I remote view at lot, meaning a number of times a week.
Harris: Okay, so do you do it with other people? You use monitors, right?
Brown: No, no we don't. None of us at the institute use monitors anymore. We just do solo sessions.
Harris: You don't use monitors?
Brown: Monitors are good for training. That's when Cosmic Voyage was written. When I was still a baby at this stuff. Cosmic Explorers is also all solo stuff . And all the stuff we have on our web site is also solo stuff. All of us just do solo stuff now. And we have gotten to the point where we don't like monitors. There are some very good reasons for using monitors for research, but those are very commonly encountered. When you're good enough you can just do solo stuff. Again, we have an entire manual available for free, which is extensive. It's like a hundred pages of material. We have a library of remote-viewing sessions that people can look over, and we even also have the Real Audio so you can listen to some sessions recorded live. For example in my area of the Institute's web site, found from the Resources area of the web site, there are three of those recorded sessions. We've recorded them live so you can actually hear what was going on in the room. You can actually hear words spoken. Also, for six months we carried on a public demonstration on remote viewing, which you can also see on the web site. We had a tenured Associate Professor of medicine at George Washington University, Dr. John David Berman, pick the targets for us. He's head of their ethics committee. The really interesting thing about it was that we did "time" experiments for the demonstration. We would do the sessions first and then put typed and encrypted transcripts of them for people to download from our web site. You needed a password to remove the encryption. Lots of people downloaded them onto their computers. And while they were downloading them for a week or two, John would, he likes to be called David, then decide on the target that was he was going to choose. Again, the sessions were already done in the past. And he would say, OK I've decided the target is, let's say, "the Eiffel Tower." Actually, for one of the targets in the public demonstraton he said the target is the Eiffel Tower when it was being constructed. So that would be the target and he would then send us the target via email. Then we would post the password to unravel the transcripts and everyone would see how well we did.
Harris: Well, when he sent you the target, how did he send it to you? I mean,did he send you the word.
Brown: No not just a word. He would actually just e-mail us that the target is the Eiffel Tower, plus other aspects of the target, like the time.
Harris: But you know the reason why I asked you about the Eiffel Tower that I just read the first book and there are only numbers for the target and there's only coordinates.
Brown: Well, the target coordinates. Well sometimes we do use target coordinates and I explain all of that in Cosmic Explorers. But they're only an aid, a crutch for the remote viewer to get started with. Those aren't essential. The person who writes the target doesn't need to know those.
Harris: Okay I'm trying to understand this, so what now?
Brown: So let me go back a little bit, you will understand it. We do the sessions first before the target has been determined. We post the session, typed and encrypted transcripts of those sessions, which has been encrypted with PGP, which is a publicly available encryption program.
Harris: Okay, go ahead.
Brown: We post the typed and encrypted transcripts up on the web so that anyone can download them. And so then they have copy of what the transcripts are so they know we can't change them afterwards. Then we need a target. Only then does John David Berman pick a target for us. He can't see the transcripts either because they're encrypted.
Harris: He picks the target after you've already done the remote viewing?
Brown: That's exactly it. See we're a scientific institute. We were doing "time experiments".
Harris: Can I play this back to you so I don't get confused? Okay so in other words you're doing the remote viewing before you ask somebody to pick a target but you've already done it because you're going into the future. Are you going into the future? If so,we've got some serious problems with time here!
Brown: I'm actually collaborating currently with a physicist, a retired physicist from a major research university, and he has been very clear with the all of this. Physicists do not understand time right now. No one really does.
Harris: Courtney, I have to ask you some questions because this is just for my own personal benefit. Okay, you went ahead and did this remote viewing, and after that you asked this gentleman to pick a target.
Brown: All this information is still up on the web site, you can go to it and follow everything exactly as it happened.
Harris: I have a million questions here. So when the gentleman then gave you the target, for the most part, was it usually accurate?
Brown: Well, now let me see. We completed 13 experiments with that six-month demonstration. I'll talk about my results: there was only one time out of thirteen that I didn't describe fairly well what was there. Often the results were exceptionally clear.
Harris: Oh my God. So you RV something that he had not chosen yet? I have been trying to figure this out for myself.
Brown: The thing is, most people would be confused. All you need to do is go to our web site. You can actually click on every experiment . Start with the most recent and go back.
Harris: Where is it?
Brown: If you go to the home page you'll see this. On the home page there is a big graphic of a hurricane, and a person's face, the Parthenon, the U.S. capital building, and so on. And down in the lower left you can see the public demonstration. It's there. Click there and then you will get to a page that has all the stuff for the public demonstration. You get to see the whole thing for all 13 experiments.
Harris: So how many people were doing this? You were doing it and how many others?
Brown: We had two viewers for each experiment. All experiments that we put up followed exactly the same format: two viewers using Dr. John David Berman (the medical professor) who would pick the target after the sessions were posted in encrypted format.
Harris: That's incredible...
Brown: We would then post the passwords to de-encrypt the transcripts together with the scans of the sessions after Dr. Berryman chose the target. If we didn't have the transcripts available in advance so that people could download them and later de-encrypt them on their hard drive, then they would have said "Oh, they faked the sessions." But having the transcrips stored in advance is very convincing.
Continue with part 2: Paola Harris interviews Courtney Brown (part 2)