The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tried to tap into psychic phenomena, like those observed in pop fiction like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, to possibly assist in their intelligence operations.
According to Ask Molly, a segment through which people can ask questions about the agency’s operations, the CIA enlisted the help of scientists and researchers to investigate the concept of ‘remote viewing’ in 1972. The phenomenon of remote viewing involves people being able to see things in different locations, without being physically present there themselves.
Molly, the pseudonym adopted by CIA for its public information avatar, says that the CIA eventually concluded that the phenomenon had some merit, but it was too ‘unreliable, inconsistent, and sporadic’ for intelligence purposes.
The road to making this judgement, Molly says, was several years long and spanned multiple organizations. The CIA turned over its research to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 1977 and the project was named STARGATE. Later, the project was termed GRILL FLAME. The research was handed back to the CIA in the 1990s, who got involved on the condition that an independent study group would be employed to evaluate it.
In 1995, researchers from the American Institute for Research eventually publicized their findings, in a report that is available on Google with the title An Evaluation of Remote Viewing.
Molly furthered that the CIA, in collaboration with the US Army and DIA, also declassified their records for the public after the US Congress requested them to do so. The documents are available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room.
While the published research was CIA’s first deep dive into psychic phenomena, its historians said that the agency’s interest in the field predates 1972. According to CIA’s history staff, the organization has been keen to understand ‘extra sensory perception’ and other parapsychological topics. Molly says that a 1947 memorandum in this regard, speculates whether hypnotized individuals could be used for long-distance communication.