Sunday, March 11, 2018

#1978: Joe McMoneagle

Joseph McMoneagle is a retired U.S. Army NCO and Chief Warrant Officer involved in the US Army “remote viewing” (RV) program at the Stanford Research Institute back in the days, and part of the Stargate Project in the 1980s (later defunded after “no discernible benefit had been established”). As opposed to the US Army, McMoneagle seems to still think that remote vieing actually works and that the military ought to (or could) use paranormal abilities for military intelligence gathering – after retiring from the military he even ran an RV business called Intuitive Intelligence Applications, Inc., claiming to be able to “help a wildcatter find an oil well or a quarry operator know where to mine.” McMoneagle has also weighed in on near-death experiences, out-of-body traveling and UFOs. Charles Tart and Dean Radin are apparently fans.

According to McMoneagle, RV is possible and generally accurate, and isn’t confined to mundane boundaries such as time, which means that it can be used to remote-view also into the past and the future. So, yes: McMoneagle claims to be able to foretell the future, and to have used his abilities to foresee a Chinese nuclear facility, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Red Brigades, Muammar Qadhafi, as well as the existence of the Soviet “Typhoon”-class submarine in 1979. You have to take his word for it, though. As for his level accuracy, his claims have varied, but he admits that it doesn’t always work. And you ought to be aware that “ninety-eight percentof other psychics “are kooks. He is different, though, because.

His predictions for the period 2002–2006 included the passing of a teenagers’ “Right to Work” bill, a new religion without the emphasis of Christianity, a science of the soul, a vaccine for AIDS, a movement to eliminate television, and a “temporary tattoo” craze that would replace clothes. Slightly worse hit rate than random guessing, in other words, presumably due to his rather shaky ability to assess likelihoods and distinguish reality from delusion. McMoneagle has also claimed to have worked on missing person cases in Washington, San Francisco, New York and Chicago. In particular, McMoneagle has used his abilities as a time machine to make various observations about things like the origin of the human species. As McMoneagle sees it, humans evolved from creatures somewhat like sea otters rather than primates and were created in a laboratory by creators who “seeded” the earth and then departed.

At least he’s been given ample screen time. In a National Geographic Channel episode, parapsychologist and certified loon Edwin C. May tested McMoneagle’s ability to “remote view” six locations in the San Francisco Bay area, with “mixed results”. In 1994 he was featured on an ABC network special – also with May – where May asserted that that “[s]cientists don't like to use the term ‘miracle’ very often, but this is as close to one as you can imagine.” May, of course, is no scientist, though he seems to fancy himself one. Brian Dunning, who is, found the only impressive thing about McMoneagle’s demonstration to be the show’s editing and the narration job which “made it look like the most amazing and miraculous psychic feat in history” by editing a 15-minute test down to 2 minutes to make it look as successful as possible. In 2004, McMoneagle got an opportunity on Channel 4 to describe his technique for traveling “out of body” to Communist China to remotely view a trigger mechanism in a military nuclear weapons laboratory. It was understandably hard to verify the success of the effort, but that’s life. It’s worth noting that May was one of the central “scientists” of Project Stargate, who – strikingly – never wanted to reveal his methods or experimental setups (of which he was the sole judge); the ABC incident shows that he thinks subjective validation is a reasonable method of inquiry. You add the numbers.

McMoneagle’s books include
  • Mind Trek: Exploring Consciousness, Time, and Space Through Remote Viewing (1993).
  • The Ultimate Time Machine: A Remote Viewer’s Perception of Time and Predictions for the New Millennium (1998) (including his predictions for 2002–2006)
  • Remote Viewing Secrets: A Handbook (2000)
  • The Stargate Chronicles: Memoirs of a Psychic Spy (2002)

Diagnosis: McMoneagle is presumably what counts as a celebrity in the parapsychology community, and appears to be a genuine loon, although there are other alternative explanations for his behavior. In any case, people still fall for this nonsense, which is flabbergasting.

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