Putting The `Esp' Back Into Espionage

FEARS OF AN "ESP GAP" HAS prodded the Defense Dept. to launch research on psychic spying in the 1970s. Hoping to harness extrasensory perception for gathering military intelligence, the Pentagon has since spent $20 million on Operation Stargate.

The secret program came to light when the CIA ordered an outside evaluation. Surprisingly, Jessica Utts, a statistician at the University of California at Davis, said Stargate's results conclusively support the existence of at least one form of ESP, called remote viewing. This involves describing a scene that the psychic cannot see, such as a movie clip playing in another room.

Another auditor, Ray Hyman, a psychologist at the University of Oregon in Eugene and a famous debunker of psychic phenomena, disagrees with Utts. Although Hyman says the evidence favoring ESP now "seems better than it ever has been," he says that it doesn't necessarily rule out alternative explanations.

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