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.

Does Your Dog Know When You Are Coming Home?

dog wink

It is a phenomena that most pets owners have observed. Their dog or cat seems to know hen you or another familiy member is coming home. This doesn’t mean that it knows it is 6 pm and that you always come home at that time. It could be that it senses its owner arrival from a random errand. It’s not the sound of your car coming down the street or the sound of you walking up the path to the door. The animal just knows.

This has been called “animal telepathy.” The rather controversial biologist, Rupert Sheldrake, has been studying this for quite some time.

Sheldrake, a biologist and author, is probably better known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance. If animal telepathy sounds like science at the fringe, then morphic resonance is beyond the fringe. It posits a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory and he gets lots of criticism for his theories that push beyond traditional science.

He worked in developmental biology at Cambridge University and he was Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in India.

In a podcast he says that modern science is mired in various dogmas – boundaries that trap thinking. These boundaries are the lines you’re not supposed to color outside of or cross. Doing so jeopardizes your standing in academia and your field.

Sheldrake does not believe that science is really the realm of free inquiry, or is very open to new ideas. He put forward this idea in his book, Science Set Free.

bookThis post’s title focuses on his followup book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. That book covers his research into the telepathy he proposes existing between humans and animals, particularly dogs.

He believes that this kind of interspecies telepathy is real and that morphic resonance explains why it is possible.

In his 2003 book, The Sense of Being Stared At, he explored telepathy and precognition. In keeping with his view on the practice of science today, he feels that our mechanistic view of the world is a delusion.

He is quite a divergent thinker and has to take his punches for writing about “pseudo-scientific” theories. His distrust of science doesn’t win him many friends in science. His theories on the consciousness of atoms and stars are hard for scientists to accept. What seems to really annoy Sheldrake is that many of them refuse to even listen to his talks or read about his work. It is just dismissed outright.

I am not so much a proponent of his theories as I am a proponent of being open to this kind of very divergent kind of thinking. Morphic resonance means that memory is inherent in nature. That means that an ant colony or pigeons or tomato plants inherit a collective memory from all previous incarnation of their kind. It also posits that they have an interconnectedness. It is call “telepathy” for lack of a better term, but it really needs a better term because to the average person “telepathy” has connotations of mind-readers, ESP and other related-but-not-the-same phenomena.

Does Sheldrake encourage these associations? He does by the connections he makes to paranormal subjects such as remote viewing. His criticisms of traditional science and even his non-traditional explanations of standard subjects like memory and inheritance in biology work against his acceptance by the science ruling class.

And I don’t know if he much cares for their approval any more.

He has found support in the New Age movement with New Age voices (like Deepak Chopra), but those are people who also operate outside of conventional science and receive similar criticisms.

I first came upon his work in an article I read years ago on Carl Jung’s ideas about the collective unconscious. Jung believed that there are collective memories that are shared across individuals. This includes some of our behaviors which we inherit through repetition over generations. Jung called theses archetypes. Sheldrake takes this a step further. Jung assumed these archetypes were transmitted to the next generation through physical and traditional inheritance. Sheldrake attributes it to morphic resonance and rejects the explanation that they are passed on by “mechanistic biology.”

That is quite radical and, for many, dangerous thinking.

That means that your dog is learning from other dogs. And not just from the one next door and the ones at the dog park, but from those living thousands of miles away.

I have owned a number of dogs in my lifetime (none currently) and I know that I would be included in the group that feels they know much more than we do about certain phenomena. My mom  would tell me that my dog, Romper, would get excited five or ten minutes before I came home, and head for the door that I would enter. It wasn’t just the clock time, since that varies. (Though it would be amazing enough if the dog knew it was 6 p.m.)  It was not a crossed signal from a I-want-to-go-out moment she was having. It was something else.

As fringe as Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas may seem, others have suggested even further interconnectedness. I was watching a video on the “interspecies Internet” on a TED talk. Could there be an Internet that connects us with dolphins, apes, elephants and other highly intelligent species? Cognitive psychologist Diana Reiss, musician Peter Gabriel, computer engineer Neil Gershenfeld and Vint Cerf (one of the fathers of the Internet) talk about the idea. Their own interest cross in talking about Reiss’ work with dolphin communication via a keyboard, Gabriel’s casual experiment in playing music with a bonobo (a great ape), Gershenfeld’s work on the internet of things and Cerf’s work on the very earliest guiding principles of the internet.

I always remind my students that there is the Internet and there is the (World Wide) Web. And they are not the same thing.

Rupert Sheldrake’s website is http://www.sheldrake.org

The Exegesis

“I am a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist; my novel & story-writing ability is employed as a means to formulate my perception. The core of my writing is not art but truth.”   –  Philip K. Dick  from The Exegesis

I heard the writer  Jonathan Lethem talking about the writer Philip K. Dick and a 900-page book he co-edited which comes from thousands of pages written by PKD. The collection is called the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. It becomes the final work of an incredibly imaginative author. It’s a big book and one I could never read all the way through. So, once again, I borrowed a copy from the library so that I could explore parts of it.

Exegesis (from the Greek, meaning “to lead out”) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text. It is often used with religious texts and many people associate it with the exegesis of the Bible.  Today it is likely to be used to mean a critical explanation or exploration of the meaning, significance or relevance of some text.

Dick is known as a science-fiction writer and futurist who explored reality and perception, space and time, monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, altered states and the human and the divine. The Exegesis comes from 8 years of his attempts to document some visionary experiences he had in which the universe was “transformed into information.”

He tried to understand it by writing through it, and he came up with a number of theories. He wrote several novels known as the VALIS trilogy that also deal with it. Co-editors Jackson and Lethem try to guide us through Dick’s actual exegesis and also make some connections with Dick’s life and other writing.

More people have encountered the imagination of Philip K. Dick through the movies that have been based on his writing like Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau and Minority Report.

Who was Philip K. Dick?

He was born December 16, 1928.  He was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose later works shifted to his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. It seems that he also used his own experiences with drugs, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in books like A Scanner Darkly. (Non-readers can watch the A Scanner Darkly film version)

He published 44 novels, and approximately 121 short stories, and yet lived most of his career in near-poverty.


Here’s the strangeness. After a dental visit in February 1974 during which he was given sodium pentothal (for an impacted wisdom tooth), Dick has a life-changing experience at his front door.

He went to his front door expecting a prescription delivery and encountered a woman who was going door-to-door. She was wearing a gold Christian fish-pendant known as the ichthys and as the sun glinted off it, the reflection generated a “pink beam.” Dick ultimately concluded that this “intelligent” beam imparted wisdom and clairvoyance to him.

After that day, he began to have strange visions. At first, he thought it was from his medication, but after several weeks of these visions, he began to attribute them to the beam.

As an example, one instance when the pink beam returned he learned that his infant son was ill. He took the child to the hospital and the vision and diagnosis were confirmed. Dick called these experiences “2-3-74” for February–March 1974.

You can take his visions as real paranormal experiences, or you can see them as delusional, but Dick was a believer. He describes in his writing visions as geometric patterns and even pictures including Jesus and ancient Rome. In fact, he began to be convinced that he was living a double life. In one world he was the Philip K. Dick writer we know, and in the other, he was “Thomas”, a persecuted Christian in the first century A.D.

He wrote about the change that occurred within him as the “transcendentally rational mind” which he referred to as “Zebra,” “God” and “VALIS”. His semi-autobiographical novel Radio Free Albemuth is about these experiences and they continue in The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, which make up the VALIS trilogy.

Dick died on March 2, 1982, the result of a combination of recurrent strokes accompanied by heart failure. I have read articles that attribute his visions to those strokes or their precursors. I’m sure many readers of his late writing (or this post) will see it as a man gone mad.

But, perhaps, the one universal exegesis is our own attempts to arrive at some critical and rational explanation, through whatever exploration we do, in order to discover the meaning and significance of our own life.