Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Reality of ESP: A Physicist's Proof of Psychic Abilities
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on April 14, 2012
`The Reality of ESP' by Russell Targ is an adventure into a world that most scoff at and find experimental results nothing more than pure pseudo-science at best. Targ's book, however, can be a real mind changer. Events are described relating to remote viewing, i.e. locating objects thousands of miles away simply through mental processes, predicting both the past and the future. Targ makes these events believable and compelling, not just through statistics, but by giving us concrete, verified examples, phenomena too startling for most to accept. Some of the events are truly stunning, even scary, but explained partly in terms of the quantum mechanical concept of non-locality related to the author's construct of non-local awareness. In physics, this concept is aptly illustrated by photon entanglement, that is the behavior of two individual photons simultaneously emitted in opposite directions but where one photon behaves based on the behavior externally imposed on the other after they have long been separated.

While `The Reality of ESP' may not change the minds of skeptics who cannot get themselves to believe in anything that seems foreign or impossible based on their training, Targ gives some remarkable examples of remote viewing and pre-cognition that will make even the most hardened non-believers rethink their inflexible position. Simply put, the author shows how far we are from knowing everything about man's mental capabilities and the nature of the universe. It would be worthwhile to reflect and at least keep an open mind to those who have explored the realm of what is considered impossible. Targ describes remarkable experiments and their equally remarkable results that can't help but be disturbing, yet offer new breathtaking insights into the unknown, even to physicists like myself.

Robert J. von Gutfeld, PhD
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on October 2, 2013
Like any of these books, you should at least attempt to determine if the facts
are accurate, complete and credible. Much of this cannot be done but in a few
cases I was able to make some headway.

The author begins with the topic of remote viewing. He offers persuasive evidence
that something inexplicable is going on based on experiments funded by the CIA
and Army. Pictures are given that are very impressive. When you look up remote
viewing on wikipedia, you get a different opinion. For one thing, it states that
the program was terminated in 1995 "after it failed to produce any useful intelligence."
However, when you click on a link connected to this statement it actually says that
it didn't produce any "actionable" intelligence. Having worked in the intelligence
community for most of my career, I can say that these are two very different things.
Most useful intelligence is not actionable. For instance, it was highly debated
(according to public sources) whether the intelligence gathered about the whereabouts
of Bin Laden were actionable or not. The final decision was made by the President.
Actionable means we are willing to drop a bomb on a foreign country, e.g., Pakistan,
because we are so sure of the intelligence. I doubt any psychic intelligence will
ever fit into this category because of its very nature. That doesn't mean it isn't useful.
I have seen other research on using remote viewing in archaeology that is also impressive.
Many of the results, however, are junk. The author himself implies a success rate of
no more than 65%. Still, the point is that something inexplicable may be happening.
See, for example, the pictures on pp. 119 and 120.

On pp. 127-128, the author indicates his belief that the 9/11 flights had unusually
low occupancy in an effort to show that some people may have had precognitive
recognition of the tragic events that followed. He quotes that for flights 11
and 77 the occupancy rates were just 51% and 29%, respectively, and claims that
this was low. I have roughly verified these occupancy numbers from a published
FBI report. There they state that the occupancy rate was 53% and 38% for the
two flights. However, they also averaged the occupancy rates for AA flights
11 and 77 from January 9, 2001 through September 4, 2001 and found that the average
occupancy rates for the two flights was 38% and 26%, respectively. So, contrary
to what the author states, both of the flights had "higher" occupancy on 9/11
than the average over the previous part of the year. The report does not mention if there
were more or less cancellations (a different thing) for these particular flights.
The occupancy evidence does not seem to indicate, by itself, any precognitive abilities
on the part of the passengers.

On pp. 143-147, the author discusses a paper by Darryl Bem, from Columbia University,
entitled "Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences
on Cognition and Affect". I remember when this paper came out in 2011 and
the media attention it garnered. It was very exciting. However, almost immediately,
other papers came out claiming that the statistics were wrong, e.g. "Why Psychologists
Must Change the Way they Analyze their Data", by Wagenmakers, et al. Several other
papers came out either defending the statistics or refuting it. In the refutations,
the evidence for psi seems to disappear. So what are we to make of all of this? There
seems to be a battle going on in the research community over the statistical analysis of the
data and also of the methodology of the experiments. In the case of the Bem experiment,
there are at least two other researchers who have attempted to replicate the results
and found nothing. Most of the research published so far does not look good for Bem.

The author gives a brief discussion of spoon bending and SRI's work with Uri Geller.
Targ states that he himself had an episode where a metal rod bent in his hand. The
SRI videos of Geller for forced choice ESP experiments are available on the internet
and seem hard to explain if they are not fraudulent. Geller's inability to bend a
spoon on the Carson show is also interesting.

He then goes on to provide specific examples which may indicate survival after bodily
death. Among these are the reincarnation cases studied by Stevenson which are well
documented and hard to explain, at least for some of the cases, except by paranormal
means. Other examples include a "ghost" girl and an interesting chess game played
between two grand masters, one living and one dead. What is not mentioned is that the
game took something like a decade to complete (apparently because of the schedule of
the living grand master). There is an analysis of the game which is consistent with
the style of play used by the dead chess master. If it weren't for the long time
frame of the game, I would have considered this to be good evidence. Because of the
long breaks between moves, I cannot help but think that there may have been some
opportunity for fraud, however unlikely.

The book ends with various theories on how psi might work and how to do remote viewing.

Overall, I found the book to provide "some" evidence for ESP but I wouldn't call it
proof. On the other hand, if I had experienced as many things first hand as
Russell Targ has, I might change my mind. One really solid, personal experience
might really make me a believer.
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on June 1, 2012
Does this book really "prove" the reality of ESP, as it claims in the subtitle?

It depends on your prior beliefs. If you started with the stance that you don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, but you're curious about ESP and will let the data guide you, then yes, you are very likely to come away from this book (or any of the others written by Russell Targ) with confidence that ESP is indeed real. If you start from the position of a confirmed believer in ESP, then you will also enjoy this book because it will confirm what you already believe.

If, however, you hold a strong belief that ESP is impossible, then you probably wouldn't have picked up the book in the first place. But even if you did, and you actually read it, it wouldn't sway your belief much. It's not because the evidence doesn't exist, or that it isn't "good" enough, but because beliefs strongly modulate our perceptions and opinions. Fortunately, science is powerful enough to advance beyond personal beliefs, and the science underlying Targ's claim is substantial.
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on May 11, 2012
This is a wonderful book. For those of us who have ESP experiences and accept them as such, this book will offer confirmation and a wealth of scientific data to support the sanity and truthfulness of these experiences. For those who have not had such experiences, it offers a tried and tested method whereby each person will be able to learn to experience them. For those who are skeptical of even the possibility of these experiences, this book is problematic. I would urge any such skeptic to read this work and test the hypotheses used to found their skepticism. It will undoubtedly come up wanting.

I will be unreservedly recommending this work to anyone interested in the subject and particularly those who have formed strong opinions about the impossibility of ESP. Russell Targ looks at the subject from the perspective of an experimental physicist and finds compelling scientific evidence to confirm that something very much like ESP can be demonstrated without fail under laboratory conditions. As any physicist would, he seeks to find a model that will help us describe just how it is that such experiences are possible.

All we have to do is to read this excellent book. I intend to buy many copies for friends and am deeply grateful that Mr. Targ has had the courage and wisdom to write this compelling work.
Eugene Bourgeois
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on July 11, 2014
I read this book to learn about ESP and found that it was interesting at first, but degenerated into ghost stories, seances, and out of body experiences. It covers various studies that were funded by the CIA, and the material can be dry at times. Some of the chapters were difficult to understand if not incomprehensible, but, on the plus side, the book was not too long.

My own view of ESP is that it exists. Haven't we all had an experience where we foretold the future in a dream or some similar event? I remember flipping a coin with a friend and guessing heads or tails. How did I call the results correctly twenty-five times in a row? My friend thought I was cheating. I was in a zone. Don't athletes get into similar zones?

Getting back to the book, reading about the author's various studies and experiments was interesting, but I had to wonder how could I completely believe the results and the confusing statistics used as support. Well, I thought of a method that would convince me and others. Mr. Targ states that he made $120,000 in the commodities market by using ESP to predict trends in silver futures. My recommendation would be for him to continue his winning streak and use the profits, not for greed, but to prove his case and fund future studies. This would also show the CIA that they should have continued their support.

I don't regret reading the book because I did learn about various aspects of ESP such as precognition, remote viewing, and psi. There were several interesting discussions that were provocative. Targ discussed matter versus mind versus consciousness. Other topics included quantum physics and does matter consist of particles or waves or both. There was also a good review of entangled pairs and how their intertwined actions cannot be explained. Physics and quantum mechanics cannot explain all of the phenomena that we experience. I do believe that metaphysics must have its place - we need to rely on spirituality and metaphysics for some explanations and cannot rely totally on physics. Science is a slice of the metaphysical spectrum; just as UV light is a portion of the light spectrum.

In summary, I think the author is headed in the right direction, but, unfortunately, his presentations come up short.
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on April 20, 2014
Russell Targ is a specialist in Remote Viewing and that is not my training or interest but he has also done decades of experiments with ESP. This is a very forward thinking book here. Questioning String Theory, ahead of many other scientists whose careers depended on it, this man is an original skeptic but what his experiments found will surprise you. The CIA, Army and Police use ESP(Targ prefers to call it PSI) and if the public doesn't believe in it, I guess that just makes it all the more easy for secret branches of government like the CIA.

Shout out to Jane Katra who worked on the previous book,Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spritual Healing (Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing)
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on April 6, 2014
A mainsteam author of something that has been considered alternative thinking for many years. A bit dry, but maybe all serious writing is like that. A helpful section on how to cultivate the ability ion oneself without having to go to school.
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on September 13, 2014
The is 'the' essential introduction to the historical, scientific, sociopolitical, practical, and phililisophical foundations of local awareness, some of which is known under the rubric of ESP. While there are other excellent texts on the subject (by this author and others e.g., Limitless Mind, Opening to the Infinite),' The Reality of ESP should be on everyone's 'must have/reference/refer' list.
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on June 23, 2013
This is a comprehensive book on the historical pioneering efforts of laser physicist Russel Targ (formally of Stanford Reasearch Institute) to develope the process now called Remote Viewing. I myself have taken formal training to become a professional Remote Viewer and can recommend this book as a good inspiration for anyone considering developing their own innate skills. This particular book however is light and vaugely general if the reader is seeking a "how to book" on the skill. In person training of Remote Viewing is highly reccomended.
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on July 5, 2014
This book is more of a journal of his life and education. It talks about other people's trials and experiments.. Doesn't really talk about any proof of psychic abilities.... I never did read about how to clear out mental chatter either.
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