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.

Doing Intention

I don’t really feel guilty that I have read Dan Brown’s booksAngels and Demons, The DaVinci Code, and last month, The Lost Symbol. As an English major and teacher for many years, I have read a lot of the books that get shelved in the “Literature” shelves, so some fast fiction reads are completely justified.

I like that Brown touches on a lot of other books and topics that I end up wanting to now more about. In The Lost Symbol,  a book that he mentions is The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World. That book got a nice sales spike , and brought attention to its author’s work.

Dan Brown writes:

“…human consciousness, as Noetic author Lynne McTaggart described it, was a substance outside the confines of the body. A highly ordered energy capable of changing the physical world. Katherine had been fascinated by McTaggart’s book The Intention Experiment, and her global, Web-based study – theintentionexperiment.com – aimed at discovering how human intention could affect the world.”

Some people have compared the intention experiment (and “doing intention”) as a kind of praying without religion.  Lynne McTaggart interviewed many intention masters in her research including Qigong masters, Buddhist monks, master healers – and also scientists.

In simple terms, if a group of people (10, 1000, a million, millions…) direct their intentions towards a single purpose will it have an effect on events? What if the people are disconnected and distant from each other and the event?

I told a friend the theory and he said, “Oh, like the Force in Star Wars movies?”  That makes it seem silly, but it’s not he worst analogy.  A catastrophic event occurs on Earth and millions turn their attention and intentions towards it. Could that be measured?

It seems to me to be related in a way to McKenna’s Time Wave where intention is described (somewhat differently) as novelty.

Is her work real science? I don’t know.  Is The Lost Symbol real literature?

Here’s McTaggart interviewed on quantum physics, consciousness, time and intention, interviewed by Alan Steinfeld.

Even if you are a scientist based at Princeton University, that doesn’t mean you will be taken seriously when you work in these realms. The Global Consciousness Project, also called the EGG Project, is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists, engineers, artists and others.

On their website, noosphere.princeton.edu, they describe their work this way:

We collect data continuously from a global network of physical random number generators located in 65 host sites around the world. The archive contains more than 10 years of random data in parallel sequences of synchronized 200-bit trials every second.

Our purpose is to examine subtle correlations that may reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. We predict structure in what should be random data, associated with major global events. When millions of us share intentions and emotions the GCP/EGG network data show meaningful departures from expectation. This is a powerful finding based in solid science.

Subtle but real effects of consciouness are important scientifically, but their real power is more direct. They encourage us to help make essential, healthy changes in the great systems that dominate our world. Large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world. Knowing this, we can use our full capacities for creative movement toward a conscious future.

Can they track something happening in a global consciousness that coincides with an event – for example, the election of President Obama? They believe they can.

The history of controlled laboratory research on interactions of human consciousness with physical random systems tracks the development of microelectronics and computers. The first large database experiments were conducted by Helmut Schmidt, at Boeing Laboratories, in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The number of experiments and investigators grew over the next decade, and in 1979, Robert Jahn, at Princeton University, established the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory to focus on an engineering approach to the question whether sensitive electronic devices including random components might be affected by special states of consciousness, including strong emotions and directed intention. The PEAR lab closed in 2007.

Noetic theory or noëtics is a branch of metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of mind and intuition, and its relationship with the divine intellect.

Can out collective thoughts change what happens in the world?