In 1998, scientists began an experiment to see whether they could physically detect a change in global consciousness during large-scale emotional events such as natural disasters. In December 2015, they finished collecting data from some 40 countries spread across the world throughout 500 major events.
How the Experiment Works
The data came from random event generators (REGs). These are machines that continuously produce bits randomly every second. It’s like a coin flipper: there’s a 50 percent chance it will turn up one way or the other.
Earlier Princeton University experiments had suggested human intention could influence the bits to deviate from chance expectations. Put simply, if someone wanted it to be tails, it was more likely to be tails.
Dr. Roger Nelson coordinated these Princeton experiments for more than 20 years. He went on to direct the Global Consciousness Project (unaffiliated with Princeton), which applies the same principles on a larger scale.
The project set up REGs all over the world to see if they would deviate from chance expectations during significant global events. Nelson and his colleagues decided that after 500 such events the first phase of the study would end.
The first of these 500 events was the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania in 1998. The last was a complex “event” on Dec. 12, 2015. Two major happenings coincided: an agreement was reached during the global climate change summit in Paris and on the same day one of the largest global meditations ever took place.
While the researchers looked at the “effects” of individual events like these, it is the statistical data from many years and many events that was important.
Nelson wrote in a Global Consciousness Project (GCP) blog post: “The result is a definite confirmation of the general hypothesis … that great events on the world stage which bring people together in shared thoughts and synchronized emotions will be correlated with changes in the behavior of our network of random sources.”
He also explained on the GCP website: “There are many repetitions of events or types of events, such as New Years, religious holidays, giant organized meditations, and unfortunately also terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. So we have plenty of replications, and indeed we see that the faint signal which otherwise is buried in statistical noise does rise out of that noisy background to make a persuasive statistical bottom line.”
Last year at a Society for Scientific Exploration conference he reported that the odds against chance are trillions to one.
GCP entered the next phase this year, investigating further the correlations discovered in its REG data.
Other Explanations for Anomalies?
In a 2010 article titled “Exploring Global Consciousness,” Nelson explained how GCP considered other explanations for the variance from chance.
“One might suppose that the result is due to experimental flaws such as the inadequate shielding of … [REGs] from background electromagnetic fields or bias due to methodological errors.
“The GCP design addresses these eventualities by physically shielding the RNGs from electromagnetic fields and by logical operations in software which cancel output bias arising from environmental influences.”
Nelson’s team would choose major events then look at the deviation from chance (50:50) during that time period, rather than looking at deviations or spikes on the REGs then trying to find a global event to correspond to it.
This latter method could have led to biased selections—the possibility that the researchers could find some global event on any given day to correspond to the spike on the REGs.
How Does Consciousness Affect Machines?
The connection between an REG machine and human consciousness is unclear. It’s part of what GCP hopes to further investigate, but Nelson maintained: “The correlation is clearly related in some way to consciousness and possibly to what we have operationally defined as ‘global consciousness.'”
He can only speculate, but he imagines consciousness could be a field that becomes more coherent during these global events. Consciousness may be the “seat of a nonlocal, active information field,” he said, noting that this is not a standard, well-defined physical construct.
“Such a field can somehow be absorbed by the REG devices,” he said, “which then show patterns where none should exist.”
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