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.

Feeling the Sun

We finally got a true spring day today and I sat with my cup of tea outside and it felt great to have the Sun shining on me. Would you be surprised to learn that solar storms can affect your emotional health and consciousness?

Many people feel that the Moon affects them, but a lot of research has pretty much shown that madness during Full Moons, increased suicide rates and other effects are more myth than fact. Still, I have read some of the same claims and research into the Sun’s effect on us.

But there are scientific studies that confirm links between solar activity and our bodies and minds.

When I was working and teaching full-time at New Jersey Institute of Technology, I learned some things about solar flares because the university has the Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research for ground- and space-based solar and terrestrial physics. They particularly have an interest in understanding the effects of the Sun on the geospace environment. That Center operates the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) and Owens Valley Solar Array (OVSA) in California.

A solar storm or eruption is a massive explosion in the Sun’s atmosphere. It releases a tremendous amount of energy and affects all layers of the solar atmosphere. The numbers are incomprehensible to most of us. Plasma heating to tens of millions of Celsius degrees and accelerating electrons, protons shooting at close to the speed of light are not concepts we can really understand.

Animals and humans have a magnetic field that surrounds them. Earth’s magnetic field protects the planet. Geomagnetic activity seems to have three seasonal peaks and these periods are said to correspond to a higher incidence of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and other emotional disorders.

The more obvious effects to point at are how electromagnetic activity of the sun affects our electronic devices. Their effects on the human electromagnetic field and the idea that our body can experience various emotions and changes is a newer theory and more controversial.

Here are some of the physiological effects of coronal mass ejections (CMEs)(which are quite brief) are said to have on us: headaches, palpitations, mood swings, fatigue and general malaise. The pineal gland in our brain is also influenced by the electromagnetic activity, which causes a production of excess melatonin, a hormone that can cause drowsiness.

Might CMEs cause physical sensations because of distortions of energy flow inside the body? Hot and cold sensations, sensations of “electricity” and extreme environmental sensitivity have all been “reported” by people.

But our bodies are said to also have an emotional response to these hidden waves of energy. Some of the claims I have read seem rather extreme, pointing to increases in addiction, health problems, depression, unhealthy relationships, repressed emotions and desires.

I have read a number of articles the past week from “Scientific Evidence that Geomagnetic Storms Are Making You Sick“(much of that research coming from Russia) to more New Age pieces that see solar storms as changing human consciousness.

At this point, I would say these connections are somewhere between science and belief, but are interesting enough to continue researching. Will they cause a shift in our consciousness? The Sun has been shining on Earth for a long time and I haven’t seen it happen yet.

I haven’t found a good guide to when to expect these solar storms, but I did find lots of suggestions for how to cope with their effects on us, including ​salt baths, magnesium supplements, ​drink a lot of pure water, ​meditate more or do stillness, relaxation & breathing exercise, ​gentle exercise, and staying away from negative people. I would recommend all but the first two in that list anyway!




The Noosphere and the Omega Point

Noosphere is a word is derived from the Greek nous “mind” and sphaira “sphere.”  It was introduced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in 1922 to mean the “sphere of human thought” and it was part of his idea of a cosmogenesis.

The concept was expanded in lectures given by Vladimir Vernadsky at Sorbonne so that the Noosphere was seen as the third in a succession of phases of development of the Earth. Phase one is the geosphere (inanimate matter) followed by the biosphere (biological life).

In this third phase of the noosphere, human thought  fundamentally transforms the biosphere. Teilhard believed that the noosphere would emerges and exist through the interaction of human minds. As mankind creates more complex social networks, the noosphere grows in awareness.

Teilhard de Chardin and Vernadsky and even others before them had no way of knowing that almost a hundred years later there would be social networks connecting human thought in a digital realm called the Internet.

Teilhard’s Law of Complexity/Consciousness attempts to explain evolution in the universe as ever increasing in its integration and unification. This progression would ultimately lead to an Omega Point of thought and consciousness.

There are stories, poetry and philosophy, from Henri Bergson, Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung, and others that examine consciousness. But Teilhard’s Noosphere as a layer of intelligence enveloping the earth (which he saw as more spiritual than scientific) has been a starting place for  scientific research.

Remember the 70 “eggs” that generate random numbers and record departures from randomness that are part of the Global Brain?  The Noosphere is part of what is being studied by the Global Consciousness Project. They are looking at patterns that shouldn’t be there, but are there. Not mind over matter, but a connection of mind and matter.

In The Future of Man, Teilhard writes about intellectual and social evolution, the coming of ultra-humanity and the impact of scientific discoveries on traditional religious dogma.

Others continue to think and write about this topic: Manifesto for the Noosphere: The Next Stage in the Evolution of Human Consciousness is one such book. And Neurosphere: The Convergence of Evolution, Group Mind, and the Internet, as noted in its subtitle, is examining technology merging with the human body itself via electronic prosthetics, direct neural implants, and the blurring boundaries between human and machine. What Dulchinos calls the Neurosphere in that book might also be called the Global Brain, or God, Group Mind or the Noosphere.

Watch this news story for a simplified explanation.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who died in 1955, was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest, but he trained as a paleontologist and geologist. (He took part in the discovery of both Piltdown Man and Peking Man.) His ideas about the Omega Point and the Noosphere were not accepted by the Catholic Church, and it censured several of his books. The book he is probably best known for is The Phenomenon of Man. His idea that just as living organisms sprung from inorganic matter and evolved into ever more complex thinking beings, we humans are evolving toward an “omega point” is one I find hopeful, whether you see it, as Teilhard did, as being as being a convergence with the Divine, or as human progression.

The Global Brain

global consciousness

There is a project called the Global Consciousness Project (GCP) but is also referred to as the EGG Project. It is a parapsychology experiment that started in 1998.  It attempts to detect possible interactions of a “global consciousness” using physical measurement systems.

They monitor a geographically distributed network of remote hardware devices dubbed “Princeton Eggs” (short for electrogaiagram, from electroencephalogram a+ Gaia). An earlier version of the project was the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research project (PEAR).

Both believers in the project and skeptics have both said that GCP is trying to detect any “great disturbance in The Force.” The idea of a global consciousness is a concept that challenges not only our scientific view of reality but also our religious view of reality. If you investigate further, you can slip right into occurrences of transpersonal images in dreams (like people that have experienced angelic visions) which leads beyond dream interpretation and psychology to “spiritual emergence” and the transformative shift in our personalities.

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.

global brain

I first came upon this idea indirectly when I was a kid and a voracious reader of classic science fiction like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. I stumbled upon World Brain,  a collection of writings by the novelist, social reformer, evolutionary biologist and historian H. G. Wells. They were more than my young brain could grasp at the time, but I remember his idea. He wrote these back in the late 1930s and they describe his vision of a World Brain. He saw this as a new kind of free, synthetic, authoritative, permanent “World Encyclopaedia” that could help world citizens make the best use of universal information resources and make the best contribution to world peace.

In Wells’ time, there was no thought on an Internet, and computer networks were still more like sci-fi than reality in my childhood.  But in 1962, in the book Profiles of the Future, Arthur C. Clarke predicted that the construction of what H. G. Wells called the World Brain would take place in two stages: 1) the construction of the World Library 2) the construction of the World Brain, an artificially intelligent supercomputer. Humans would be able to interact with it to solve world problems. The “World Library” would be incorporated into the “World Brain.” Clarke predicted the “World Brain” would be ready by 2100.

It all sounds very close to the World Wide Web, the Internet itself, Wikipedia and Google’s attempts to collect all information. Wells’ gave 2000 as the date for his concept of a universal encyclopedia accessible to everyone from their home. Was he right, wrong or just damned close?

Oh, there are plenty of skeptics for the global consciousness idea. A good number of intellectuals question the methodology of the GCP in their data selection and interpretation. These people point to the anomalies reported by GCP as the result of “pattern matching” and selection bias. In 2003, a New York Times article dismissed it by saying that “All things considered at this point, the stock market seems a more reliable gauge of the national—if not the global—emotional resonance.”

If this seems irrelevant, I would point you to some widely accepted contemporary books that all talk about the idea of a collective intelligence: Howard Bloom’s Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, Pierre Levy’s Collective Intelligence, Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, and James Surowieki’s The Wisdom of Crowds.

Collective consciousness was a term coined by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858–1917). He meant it to mean the shared beliefs and moral attitudes which act as a unifying force within society.

So, if the Global Brain is a worldwide intelligent network of people connected by information and communication technologies that creates an “organic” whole, does the Internet fulfill the definition? The Net is growing faster, more intelligent, more ubiquitous and more encompassing. It connects into a single information processing system. Is it the Earth’s brain?

The Global Brain is the title of a book from 1982 by Peter Russell in which he argues that the billions of messages and pieces of information flying back and forth are linking the minds of humanity together into a single, global brain. Add to that bookshelf Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century by Howard Bloom who describes the network of life on Earth as one that is a “complex adaptive system.”Each of us plays a sometimes conscious, sometimes unknowing role in this global brain. He feels that the World Wide Web is the latest step in the development of this brain. Blooms’ path to this brain goes all the way back to the big bang and our bacterial ancestors created multi-trillion-member networks 3.5 billion years ago.

From H.G. Wells to now, a global networked brain is always seen as a way of eliminating poverty and war. The political, societal and economic aspects of it are discussed books like Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks and Thomas Stewart’s  The Wealth of Knowledge.

The global brain has also appeared in a number of fictional works – think of the Borg from Star Trek, ideas in The Matrix films and .

Psi is a term from parapsychology derived from the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and from Greek psyche meaning mind or soul. The term was coined by biologist Bertold P. Wiesner in 1942 as a way to have non-theoretical manner of referring to extrasensory perception and psychokinesis.

Back to the Global Consciousness Project which Roger D. Nelson developed based on the earlier twenty years of controversial experiments at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab.  One of the results of that early investigation was that electronic random number generators and random event generators (REG) seemed to be influenced by human consciousness.

Outside the laboratory, investigators examined the outputs of the generators in the field before, during and after group events from theater presentations, to religious rituals, the football World Cup, TV broadcasts like the Academy Awards, and after events like the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The results showed promise and it was decided that a permanent network of continuously-running REGs was justified which resulted in the Global Consciousness Project.

If you read my earlier post on Terrance McKenna’s Timewave theory, you would see that his plotting of novelty is pretty close to the measurements that GCP is making. Both ideas have a hypothesis that events which elicit widespread emotion or draw the simultaneous attention of large numbers of people may affect the psi/energy/force of the global brain/consciousness and it can be measured by the output seen on the random number generators.

On the skeptical side, two independent scientists, Edwin May and James Spottiswoode, did their own analysis of the data collected around the September 11, 2001 events and concluded there was no statistically significant change in the randomness of the GCP data during the attacks.

So it goes. The network keeps expanding whether or not we recognize it.

Princeton Mind-Matter Interaction Research from Psyleron on Vimeo.

A very brief synopsis of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory of Princeton University, whose research into mind-matter interaction forms the foundation of Psyleron Technology. Watch interviews with key PEAR lab staff, as they explain their experiments, including random event generators, their findings, and finally some of their implications. This is footage edited from Aaron Michels’ The PEAR Proposition – an 8-hour DVD set detailing the PEAR laboratory and its discoveries. You can find it on the Psyleron website.

Read about the PEAR project in Consciousness and the Source of Reality by the project investigators Robert G Jahn and Brenda J. Dunne.