Swann, Ingo (1933– )
Prominent American psychic research subject, parapsychologist,
and author. Born September 14, 1933, at Telluride,
Colorado, he studied at Westminster College, Salt Lake City,
Utah, receiving a double bachelor’s degree in biology and art.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served three years in Korea,
after which he worked for twelve years at the United Nations
Secretariat while pursuing an independent art career.
Swann’s active participation in parapsychology research
began in 1969 when he was 36 years old. During the next twenty
years he worked only in controlled laboratory settings with
scientific researchers. Although he lectured widely on the importance
of psychic faculties and potentials, he has never publicly
demonstrated his abilities. Because of his participation in
hundreds of thousands of experimental trials, author Martin
Ebon wrote of him as ‘‘parapsychology’s most tested guinea
pig,’’ and Psychic News and other media often refer to him as
‘‘the scientific psychic.’’
During the 1950s and 1960s, because of psychic potentials
partly evident in childhood, he became actively interested in
occult and parapsychological literature and in a variety of novel
mind-development programs which took positive approaches
to the enhancement of ESP potentials.
Swann early distinguished between psychic phenomenon and
psychic mind-dynamic processes. He especially noticed that while
parapsychology researched the existence of paranormal phenomena
(such as ESP, telepathy, and psychokinesis), there was
little interest in the mental processes involved in producing evidence
of them. From this distinction he slowly developed
unique theoretical approaches to process enhancement of psi perceptions,
which was in keeping with ancient descriptions of Siddhis
as found in various Eastern Yoga literature and Abraham
Maslow’s developmental abilitism theories.
In 1970–71 Swann experimented with Cleve Backster in attempting
to influence plants by mental activity. In 1971–72
psychokinetic experiments involved successfully influencing
temperature recorded in a controlled setting devised by parapsychologists
Gertrude Schmeidler and Larry Lewis at City College,
New York. This involved PK effects upon target thermistors
(temperature measuring devices) in insulated thermos
bottles at a distance of 25 feet from Swann. (For a report, see
G. R. Schmeidler, ‘‘PK Effects Upon Continuously Recorded
Temperature,’’ Journal of the American Society for Psychical
Research, no. 4, Oct. 1973).
Swann was also the subject of experiments in out-of-thebody
travel, or psychic perception at a distance. These took
place during 1971–73 at the American Society for Psychical
Research. They involved Swann sitting in a chair and attempting
to project his consciousness into sealed boxes on a small
platform several feet above his head, in which there was a target
symbol completely shielded from view. Swann was monitored
by electrodes that would have recorded any movement from
the chair.
Under these difficult laboratory conditions, Swann nevertheless
scored significant successes in describing the targets. In
one test he was actually able to state correctly that a light that
should have illuminated the target was inoperative. There was
no normal way of ascertaining this fact without opening the
In 1972–73, at the American Society for Psychical Research,
Swann began suggesting experimental protocols to test for the
existence of mind-dynamic processes that would enhance ESP
perceptions. Together with Dr. Karlis Osis, Dr. Janet Mitchell,
and Dr. Gertrude Schmeidler, he coined the term ‘‘remote
viewing’’ to describe the experiments in which subjects attempted
to view targets at a far distance. His original remoteviewing
protocols were later utilized and expanded upon in
collaboration with the researchers Dr. Harold E. Puthoff and
Russell Targ. Other laboratories ultimately repeated various
kinds of remote-viewing experiments.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Swann, Ingo
Swann’s successes on the East Coast attracted the attention
of the quantum physicist, H. E. Puthoff, at the Stanford Research
Institute, in Menlo Park, California (later renamed SRI
International). From late 1973 until 1989 Swann worked principally
at SRI’s ‘‘psychoenergetics project’’ established by Puthoff
to examine important psi faculties (rather than psychic phenomena
per se).
One of the first most remarkable experiments involved a
successful attempt to influence the stable magnetic field of a
super-cooled Josephson junction inside a quark detector (a
complex apparatus designed to detect subatomic particles).
The apparatus was completely inaccessible, being encased in
aluminum and copper containers and buried in five feet of concrete.
When Swann mentally visualized the hidden target, significant
variations were recorded in sine waves. This PK effect
was reported at a conference on quantum physics and parapsychology.
On April 27, 1973, in another extraordinary experiment,
Swann ‘‘visited’’ the planet Jupiter in a joint ‘‘psychic probe’’
shared by fellow psychic Harold Sherman. Swann’s drawings
made during the experiment showed a ‘ring’ of tiny asteroids
around the planet which scientists at the time said did not exist.
The existence of the ring was later scientifically confirmed in
From the first experiments, Swann was increasingly considered
a very unique test subject because, at the command of the
experimenters, he could reproduce and sustain the desired effects
over time at a significant rate of success. Throughout the
history of parapsychology, other test subjects had been temporarily
or spontaneously successful. But these subjects typically
suffered from the well-known ‘‘decline effect’’ or ‘‘psi-missing
effect’’ which statistically erased the successes, and thus permitted
skeptics to believe that the successes were due to some outside
factor other than claimed human psi abilities.
Most books and articles written after 1973 about parapsychology
and psychic matters refer to Swann’s work in some way.
Many analysts of science and parapsychology generally concede
that his work and the high levels of official sponsorship it
obtained gradually influenced positive reevaluations of the validity
of psi in human experiencing.
After nineteen years on the cutting edge of psi developments,
the ‘‘longest run’’ of any subject on record, Swann retired
from full-time research to undertake independent research
into the problems and states of consciousness. In final
interviews regarding the dimensions of his past work, he stated
that the long-term stresses of laboratory work and the constant
need to defend the validity of psi faculties and exceptional experiencing
had taken their toll. He occasionally accepts invitations
to lecture but refuses to talk with the media. In a paper
read at the United Nations in March 1994 (entitled ‘‘Scientists
find the basis for seventeen-plus human senses and perceptions’’),
he stated that psi faculties and exceptional experiencing
are not purely scientific issues. Their discovery and development
involve larger social, philosophical, political, and
religious problems not amenable to objective research and rational
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Puthoff, H. E., and Russell Targ. ‘‘Physics, Entrophy, and
Psychokinesis.’’ In Proceedings of the Conference on Quantum Physics
and Parapsychology, Geneva, August 26–27, 1974. New York
Parapsychology Foundation, 1975.
Schmeidler, Gertrude R. ‘‘PK Effects Upon Continuously
Recorded Temperature.’’ Journal of the American Society for
Psychical Research 4 (October 1973).
Swann, Ingo. Cosmic Art. New York Hawthorn Books, 1975.
———. Natural ESP A Layman’s Guide to Unlocking the Extra
Sensory Power of Your Mind. New York Bantam, 1987.
———. To Kiss Earth Goody-bye. New York Hawthorn Books,
1974. Reprint, New York LaurelDell, 1975.
———. Star Fire. New York Dell, 1978.
———. Your Nostradamus Factor Accessing Your Innate Ability
to See into the Future. New York Simon & Schuster, 1993.

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