The Stargate Program: A Government’s Foray In Psychic Phenomena

Male eye peeking throuth computer screen. Global surveillance or cybercrime concept.

The Cold War was a strange period in American History – paranoia was rife, nerves were tense, and governments were desperate. It was also strange timing in that it coincided with a zeitgeist of conscious awareness where love, psychedelia, and new age mysticism were the norm. But it seems that only at a time of this clashing cultural sentiment could something like the Stargate Program have come to fruition.

The Stargate Program was a CIA-funded project that intended to cultivate psychic phenomena, or psi, for espionage purposes. Over the course of its tenure, the program received roughly $20 million to hone the psychic abilities of its members, in order to pinpoint military targets for intelligence agencies.

Project Stargate is now allegedly defunct, though its surviving members remain strong proponents of their work from the program’s heyday. In fact, several former members continue to pursue related work within the realm of parapsychology and other esoteric fields.

And since the CIA recently released millions of documents related to its experimental forays during the Cold War, members of the program, including Maj. Ed Dames, Ed May, Russell Targ, Hal Puthoff, Joseph McMoneagle and others have experienced a renewed interest in their work and the proof they discovered in the anomalous reality of psychic phenomena.

Project Star Gate and Its Members

Before landing on Star Gate, the program went by a number of other codenames, such as GRILL FLAME, GONDOLA WISH, CENTER LANE, SUN STREAK, and its original moniker, SCANATE. The latter was an acronym/portmanteau for “Scan by Coordinates” which referred to the program’s main focus: remote viewing (RV).

Remote viewing is the ability to acquire information about a distant or non-local place, person, or event without using your physical senses or having any prior knowledge. Remote viewing is different from natural psychic receptivity in that it is a trained skill that anyone can learn; it’s latent in us all.

A trained remote viewer can identify specific details of a target irrespective to distance with significant accuracy, based solely on geographic coordinates. And those coordinates don’t have to be Earthly, they could be coordinates on a distant planet, like the time the CIA remote viewed an ancient civilization on Mars, or when Ingo Swann – one of the most illustrious members of Stargate – viewed the rings around Saturn before they were even discovered by NASA.

Swann was one of the program’s founding members who solidified his place in ufological history with his book Penetration: The Question of Extraterrestrial and Human Telepathy, which detailed his time in the Stargate program as well as his alleged contact with extraterrestrials and UFOs.

In fact, the method that became the standard for Project Stargate was developed by Swann, at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in coordination with Puthoff and Targ. The “Ingo Swann Method” forced subjects to slow down and not make inferential leaps when they started to receive information on a target. Swann knew targets weren’t revealed in an instant flash, but rather through a slow trickle of information.


In this episode of Beyond Belief Lyn Buchanan, one of the former members of Project Stargate, discusses remote viewing:

Essentially, he realized that during a successful RV session one subconsciously taps into a greater, shared system of consciousness – a universal consciousness. Swann would teach subjects not to be psychic, but rather to prevent their analytical mind from interfering with a vision, in order to prevent false positives. Viewers were taught to write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how bizarre or abstract, and to never jump to conclusions.

In those initial days at SRI, Swann worked with Targ and Puthoff, two physicists who have continued their work today in equally fascinating fields. Puthoff worked as a scientist for the CIA in other regards and is now a part of Tom Delonge’s UFO disclosure movement, To the Stars Academy. He is listed as a co-founder of the company and Vice President of Science and Technology researching lasers and exotic propulsion systems.

Targ is now retired but continues to author books and give speeches on ESP, including his now famously banned TEDtalk. During his presentation, Targ says he believes we live in a non-local spacetime, but that the idea is nothing new. The quantum learnings of Schrödinger and other physicists proved this in the past, leading Targ to believe there is a connection between psychic phenomena and quantum physics.

Another one of the more recognized and successful students of Project Stargate was Joseph McMoneagle. In 1981, McMoneagle viewed a clandestine Soviet shipyard, where the Russians were constructing a new type of submarine, bigger and more advanced than anything in the United States’ arsenal. McMoneagle viewed the hull being put together with a novel technique never before built in such a way.

When he described the hull being put together in two pieces, marine engineers laughed at him and wrote off his vision as nonsense. But eventually intelligence confirmed his revelations and the existence of the Russians’ Akula submarine, a behemoth capable of carrying up to 200 nuclear warheads. The discovery confirmed that Russia was ahead in the Cold War arms race.

Criticisms and Skeptics

Over the years skeptics have tried to disprove the work of Project Stargate or dismiss it as nonsense. The movie The Men Who Stare at Goats, was based on the program and meant as a complete mockery of it.

But if you ask Edwin May, a 20-year parapsychologist for Project Stargate and the director in its final decade, you’ll find a materialist perspective that strongly supports the phenomenon. May joined Stargate with a doctorate in nuclear physics and aspirations of winning a Nobel Prize, before possibly being the only person in the world to make a career for himself in parapsychology. And it was largely his pedigree which set up the program with its strict and rigorous standards, bringing the most legitimate approach to the study of something considered woo-woo.

When May took over as director, the name was officially changed to Stargate and given the designation of Limited Distribution (LIMDIS). Ostensibly it seemed they were on the cusp of something big. But then the program was labelled a waste of money by a conservative general who took over and eventually disbanded it. Or so we’re told.

Today May’s work continues, funded by nonprofit companies eager for a breakthrough. And though May is a staunch opponent of the mystical ideas surrounding the phenomenon, he has no time for anyone who won’t at least look at the evidence and admit there is a statistically significant anomaly occurring.

Maybe that’s why the program lasted as long as it did, but until there is some sort of indisputable proof, it will remain a contentious topic. And while the members involved in Project Stargate run the gamut in their beliefs, disagreeing with the ways they’ve chosen to present their work after the fact, one thing they almost all agree on is that psi is real.


In this episode of Buzzsaw Maj. Ed Dames discusses his time in Project Stargate and his contact with extraterrestrials using remote viewing:

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