A Disturbance in the Global Consciousness

Mandelbrot animation

The current pandemic made me think about the fringe concept of global consciousness. If there is such a thing, certainly what is happening globally now would have to be affected. How could we measure that disturbance?

There was a project called the Global Consciousness Project (also known as the EGG Project) which was a parapsychology experiment that started in 1998 to attempt to detect interactions of a “global consciousness” using physical measurement systems.

Some people referred to this as an attempt to detect any “great disturbance in The Force” as an allusion to Star Wars. When Obi-Wan Kenobi, sensing the destruction of Alderaan, said “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened,” he might have been speaking about the current pandemic.

The idea of a global consciousness challenges science and religion. The idea of a “global brain” is not new and when the Internet emerged some people thought it was a global neural network. But while we can see trends and memes emerge online, there isn’t a way to measure changes in global consciousness.

The Global Consciousness Project was based at Princeton University (probably not something the University puts in the catalog). They would monitor a geographically distributed network of remote hardware devices that were popularly known as “Princeton Eggs.” An EGG was the abbreviation for ElectroGaiaGram, from electroencephalogram + Gaia. There was an earlier project called Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR).

There is still a website at noosphere.princeton.edu but the GCP is now privately funded through the Institute of Noetic Sciences and is self-described as an international collaboration of about 100 research scientists and engineers.

“Noetics” from the Greek noēsis/ noētikos, meaning inner wisdom, direct knowing, intuition, or implicit understanding. In philosophy, noetics is a branch of metaphysics concerned with the study of mind as well as intellect, and the science of noetics covers the field of thinking and knowing, thought and knowledge, as well as mental operations, processes, states, and products through the data of the written word.

I don’t see any updates in the past 5 years. There was a post for December 12, 2015, when two complementary historical moments coincided in the Climate Agreement and World Peace Meditations (GCP Event #500). I remember that I checked the website a few weeks after the events of September 11, 2001.

The story of the GCP is interesting as a scientific collaboration of researchers recording the effects of mass consciousness in response to major global events.

Roger Nelson was in charge at one time (still?) at GCP and he had conducted psi research at the PEAR laboratory from 1980 to 2002. When I described his interest and research in psi, psychology, physics, philosophy, and the arts, a friend said it sounded like the Ghostbusters.

I had some doubts when GCP studied theater presentations, religious rituals, sports competitions such as the Football World Cup, and television broadcasts such as the Academy Awards.

The GCP maintains a network of hardware random number generators (RNG) which are interfaced to computers at 70 locations around the world. They record the output of the RNG every second and send it to a server in Princeton.

Is it real? There is a rabbit hole you can go down to explore this deeper. Dean Radin, chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, has written extensively on all this – and considers whether telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis are possible. For him, the science says yes.

Radin also worked on the US government’s top-secret psychic espionage program known as Stargate. Want to go down that hole? Try Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities and The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena both by Radin.

If you’re not a reader or prefer visuals, try this video. Several filmmakers have explored some of the Global Consciousness Project and the idea that telekinesis and the power of the human mind to impact physical matter and the universe is very real. This one by German film producer Thomas Zintl is “Dimension 5: Mind over Matter” (2005) and features GCP. He interviewed scientists and academics doing consciousness research, visited laboratories, and includes comments from skeptics as well as clips from documentaries about well-known PSI practitioners.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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