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Coherent consciousness and reduced randomness: Correlations on September 11, 2001

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The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) is an international collaboration of researchers studying interactions of consciousness with the environment. The GCP maintains a network of random event generators (REGs) located in over 40 host sites around the world. These devices generate random data continuously and send it for archiving to a dedicated server in Princeton, New Jersey. The data are analyzed to determine whether the fundamentally unpredictable array of values contains periods of detectable non-random structure that may be correlated with global events. In this paper we examine the data from September 11, 2001, for evidence of an anomalous interaction driving the REGs to non-random behavior. Two formal analyses were made, testing hypotheses based on standardized procedures for making predictions and performing a statistical evaluation. A number of post hoc and exploratory studies, including work by five independent analysts, provide additional perspective and examine the context of several days before and after the major events. The results show that a substantial increase in structure was correlated with the most intense and widely shared periods of emotional reactions to the events. Further analysis indicates that the non-random behavior cannot be attributed to ordinary sources such as electrical disturbances or high levels of mobile phone use. The evidence suggests that the anomalous structure is somehow related to the unusually coherent focus of human attention on these extraordinary events.
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Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness:
Correlations on September 11, 2001
ROGER D. NELSON
Director, Global Consciousness Project, Princeton, NJ
rdnelson@princeton.edu
Abstract—The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) is an international
collaboration of researchers studying interactions of consciousness with the
environment. The GCP maintains a network of random event generators
(REGs) located in over 40 host sites around the world. These devices generate
random data continuously and send it for archiving to a dedicated server in
Princeton, New Jersey. The data are analyzed to determine whether the
fundamentally unpredictable array of values contains periods of detectable non-
random structure that may be correlated with global events. In this paper we
examine the data from September 11, 2001, for evidence of an anomalous
interaction driving the REGs to non-random behavior. Two formal analyses
were made, testing hypotheses based on standardized procedures for making
predictions and performing a statistical evaluation. A number of post hoc and
exploratory studies, including work by five independent analysts, provide
additional perspective and examine the context of several days before and after
the major events. The results show that a substantial increase in structure was
correlated with the most intense and widely shared periods of emotional
reactions to the events. Further analysis indicates that the non-random behavior
cannot be attributed to ordinary sources such as electrical disturbances or high
levels of mobile phone use. The evidence suggests that the anomalous structure
is somehow related to the unusually coherent focus of human attention on these
extraordinary events.
Keywords: consciousness—anomalous interactions—random events—random
numbers—September 11, 2001—mind-matter interaction
Introduction
A glimpse of the extraordinary span of human consciousness may have come
from the horrific events of September 11, 2001. As we all know, beginning at
about 8:45 in the morning, a series of terrorist attacks destroyed the twin towers
of the World Trade Center (WTC) and severely damaged the Pentagon.
Commercial airliners were hijacked and flown directly into the three buildings.
The first crashed into the North tower at 8:45 and about 18 minutes later the
second airliner hit the South tower. At about 9:40, a third airliner crashed into
the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania, apparently due
to the heroic self-sacrifice of the passengers. At about 9:58, the South WTC
tower collapsed, followed by the North tower at 10:28.
Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 549–570, 2002 0892-3310/02
549
Thanks to CNN, BBC and other media, human beings all over the planet were
simultaneously feeling horror, shock, fear, dismay and fascination with the same
images and sounds. We were forged by the events into a collective
consciousness tuned to a single frequency. In apparent correspondence, over
the course of this tragic day, a world-spanning network of electronic devices
exhibited unmistakable patterns where there should have been none. Without
question, these events and the powerful reactions around the world qualified as
a‘‘global event’’. As such, this was an appropriate case study for the Global
Consciousness Project (GCP), an international collaboration involving research-
ers from several institutions and countries, set up to explore whether objective
measurement might reveal correlations between inferred special states of
consciousness on a global scale and the behavior of physical devices.
The project builds on experiments conducted over the past 35 years at
a number of laboratories, demonstrating that human consciousness can interact
with true random event generators (REGs), to somehow induce non-random
patterns that are correlated with intentional, mental efforts (Radin and Nelson,
1989). For example, small changes in the proportion of 1s and 0s are associated
with participantsattempts to change the distribution of numbers produced by
a physical random event generator in controlled experiments. The results show
a tiny but significant correlation with the participantsassigned intentions (Jahn
et al., 1997). The replicated demonstrations of anomalous mind/machine
interactions clearly show that a broader examination of this phenomenon is
warranted, and the research continues in a number of laboratories.
Variations on the theme include ‘‘FieldREG’’ studies that take the REG
device into the field to see whether group interactions might affect the
random data (Nelson et al., 1996, 1998a). In related work, prior to the GCP,
an array of REG devices in Europe and the U.S.A. showed non-random
activity during widely shared experiences of deeply engaging events. For
example, the funeral ceremonies for Princess Diana created shared emotions
and a coherence of consciousness that appeared to be correlated with structure
in the otherwise random data (Nelson et al., 1998b). Instead of the expected,
unpredictable sequence of random numbers, small changes in the mean value
indicated that something had introduced a non-random element that structured the
sequence, making it slightly more predictable. In graphical terms, instead of
a random walk (a ‘‘drunkards’’ walk), the data sequence showed a steady trend.
These experiments were prototypes for the GCP. In the fully developed
project, a world-spanning network of more than 40 devices collects data
continuously and sends it to a central server in Princeton, New Jersey, via the
Internet. The system is designed to create a continuous record of nominally
random data over months and years, gathered from a wide distribution of
locations. Its purpose is to document and display any subtle effects of
humanitys collective consciousness as we react simultaneously to global events.
Our research hypothesis predicts the appearance of increasing coherence and
structure, or non-random trends, in the globally distributed data collected during
550 R. D. Nelson
major events in the world. The events that comprise the sample of test cases
share a common feature, namely, that they powerfully engage human attention
all around the world, and draw us in large numbers into a common focus.
I take responsibility for the descriptions in this paper, but I will use collective
pronouns to represent the collaborative nature of this work. I also want to
acknowledge the fact that some of the terminology and images in these
descriptions are convenient metaphors rather than scientific entities. I like the
notion of a noosphere (Teilhard de Chardin, 1959), but it is clear that at this
point the idea remains an aesthetic speculation. We do not have solid grounds to
claim that the statistics and graphs demonstrate the existence of a global
consciousness. On the other hand, we do have strong evidence of anomalous
structure in what should be random data, and clear correspondence of these
unexplained departures from expectation with well-defined events that are of
special importance to people.
Method
Because this is an unusual and relatively complex experiment, the research
methodology requires a brief introduction. The GCP Web site and prior
publications present greater depth of description and discussion (Nelson, 1998c,
2001a). In a nutshell, the method is to collect continuous, concurrent streams
of data from electronic devices designed to produce completely unpredictable
and unstructured sequences of numbers. We identify events that powerfully
stimulate shared human reactions, make a priori predictions that specify the
analysis parameters, and then look at the temporally corresponding data to
determine whether they show significant changes from the expected random
quality. The following sections document the procedures in some detail.
Data Acquisition
We begin with a description of the physical data-acquisition system, and
a definition of terms used for the specialized equipment. At each of a growing
number (over 40 in early 2002) of host sites around the world, a well-qualified
source of random bits (REG or RNG)
1
is attached to a computer running custom
software to collect data continuously at the rate of one 200-bit trial per second.
This local system is referred to as an ‘‘egg,’’ and the whole network has been
dubbed the ‘‘EGG,’’ standing for ‘‘electrogaiagram,’’ because its design is
reminiscent of an EEG for the Earth. (Of course this is just an evocative name;
we are recording statistical parameters, not electrical measures.) The egg
software regularly sends time-stamped, checksum-qualified data packets (each
containing five minutes of data) to a server in Princeton. We access official
timeservers to synchronize the eggs to the second, to optimize the detection of
inter-egg correlations. Even if the computer clocks (which are notoriously
inaccurate) should have uncorrected drift, any mis-synchronization is expected
to have a conservative influence in our standard analyses. The server runs
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 551
a program called the ‘‘basket’’ to manage the archival storage of the data. Other
programs on the server monitor the status of the network and do automatic
analytical processing of the data. These programs and processing scripts are used
to create up-to-date pages on the GCP Web site, providing public access to the
complete history of the projects results. The raw data are also available for
download by those interested in checking our analyses or conducting their own
assessments of the data. Each days data are stored in a single file with a header
that provides complete identifying information, followed by the trial outcomes
(sums of 200 bits) for each egg and each second. With 40 eggs running, there are
well over three million trials generated each day.
Analysis
The database is a continuously growing matrix of trials, each of which has
an expected mean (l) of 100 and expected standard deviation (r) of 7.071
2
.
Deviations from the expected mean can be converted directly to approximately
normally distributed Z-scores (Z
i
5(m
i
2l)/r). For N eggs in the network, the
Z-scores can be combined across eggs using the Stouffer method (Z
s
5Z
i
/ÖN)
to form a new Z-score representing the composite deviation of the mean at any
given moment. This is an algebraic sum that becomes large when the eggs show
correlated deviations. The Stouffer Zis the elementary unit in the standard
analysis of data generated during the event of interest. If desired, the same
procedures can be applied to blocked data created by taking the mean over
a block of time for each egg. An alternative analysis addresses the variability
among the eggs using either a direct calculation of the variance (s
2
) across eggs
or a sum of the Z2
i, that is, the squared deviations. In contrast to the Stouffer Z,
this quantity is substantially affected by small differences among the physical
REG devices, so comparisons require the use of empirical error estimates and
statistical expectations.
The hypothesis for REG experiments in general is that the mean value of the
nominally random numbers will be shifted. In other words, the output of the
REG device will not be random as expected but will show a bias that is
correlated with the putative source of influence. In some experiments (in the
laboratory), an intention is assigned to shift the mean high or low, but in field
experiments, including the GCP, there is no specified intention. Therefore,
a significant deviation of the mean in either direction away from what is
expected qualifies as anomalous and interesting, especially if the deviations
of the eggs are not only large, but inter-correlated. The standard analytical
procedure looks at deviations of squared composite Z-scores (Stouffer Zs),
which are v
2
distributed with one degree of freedom (df), assuming a null
hypothesis. The experimental hypothesis specifies a positive accumulation in the
sum of these v
2
values across the time of the event that has been identified. That
is, we declare an expectation that the eggsoutput will tend to show increased
deviations from expectation during the pre-specified period of time and test this
552 R. D. Nelson
using a one-tailed v
2
accumulation (Zs2.. df, where df is the number of
seconds or Stouffer Z-scores). The formal hypothesis for each global event is
defined in a prediction registry and specifies the period of time, the resolution
(usually seconds, sometimes blocks of one minute or 15 minutes), a confidence
level, and any special requirements, e.g., signal averaging across time zones.
The standard analysis described here is used unless another procedure is defined
in advance for the registered prediction.
The important qualities of the standard analysis are: (a) All the procedures are
well understood and widely used in statistics, (b) normalization is straightfor-
ward and based on a well-characterized mean and standard deviation, (c) v
2
values are additive, so the results from separate eggs or minutes or occasions can
readily be combined to give an overall picture, and (d) the analysis represents
the basic idea that the eggs will exhibit a degree of correlated behavior if they
somehow respond to events in the world.
Predictions
The tests for the overall GCP hypothesis depend on a Prediction Registry to
establish the timing and analysis parameters for each event. This time-stamped
registry is available for public inspection on the GCP Web site. Because we
often cannot identify relevant events before their occurrence, we use categorical
specifications to help select a reasonable sample of cases to represent the
hypothesis. On the basis of prior experience, we postulate broadly engaging,
emotionally salient events and situations as the conditions that we expect will be
correlated with anomalous and significant deviations in the REG data-streams.
We set the criteria for global events restrictively, to identify very few occasions
with broad scope and impact for a large number of people around the world.
Each prediction identifies the period of time during which a deviation is
expected in the data, and it provides the information needed for analysis. It may
be helpful to note that each formal prediction is in some sense a new
‘‘experiment,’’ so that the full database may be thought of as a large number of
replications of a simple experiment. There are three distinct categories for
predictions. In some cases, they address known events, such as New Years Eve
celebrations and other widely observed holidays, and certain globally interesting
scheduled events, such as World Cup Soccer and the Olympics. Also known
ahead of time, but with no regular schedule or repetition, are widely publicized
ceremonies such as the Princess Diana and Mother Teresa funerals. In this
category we also may place unusual cosmic events, such as full solar eclipses.
Finally, there is a large category of unpredictable events that gather worldwide
attention, such as major earthquakes, the fall of the Berlin wall, the assassination
of Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, the detonation of atomic weapons in India and
Pakistan, or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The times we use for
archiving the data, and hence for the predictions and analyses, are registered
unambiguously in coordinated universal time (UTC or GMT).
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 553
A prime source of predictions is inevitably the international news services,
such as CNN and BBC. The reports of a major story identify its scope and
usually provide enough information to specify the timing. Relatively local
events also may be considered for predictions if they involve powerful
engagement of many people in some part of the world. Obviously, we cannot
discover or assess all possible global events, so the selection is arbitrary and
constitutes a fixed sample from an indefinitely large population. Some
predictions may have two aspects, one referring to the moments of the actual
event and one that looks at growing world consciousness of the event. The first
might be envisioned as representing a ‘‘psychic’’ reaction that might occur if
there were something like an independent global consciousness or, alternatively,
an immediate effect from intense local reactions. The second type represents
a more ordinary conscious engagement across large numbers of people because
of media coverage.
Controls
Control data are needed to establish the viability of the statistical results.
Because predictions for the GCP are situation dependent, we need specially
designed procedures to ensure that the statistical characterizations of the
complex array of data are valid. There are several components in the control
procedures. We begin with quality-controlled equipment design, with special
attention to the exclusion of electromagnetic and environmental influences. The
data are further processed through a logical XOR stage that inverts exactly half
of the sample bits. This eliminates any physically induced bias of the mean, at
the cost of possible effects on higher moments of the distribution. The resulting
data-stream will show normal, expected variation, but no trends attributable to
spurious physical sources. The REGs are empirically tested by thorough device
calibration based, typically, on one million 200-bit trials. In addition, resampling
procedures are used to examine the distribution of parameters in control
segments from the actual data. See Nelson et al. (1998a) for more detail and
examples. Finally, we conduct another type of control analysis, based on
a complete clone of the GCP database, with all trial values replaced by values
created from a high-quality pseudo-random algorithm. Details are beyond the
scope of this article, but the control analysis essentially duplicates the formal
analysis using the pseudo-random database, which is expected to show only
normal variations. The combined force of these efforts ensures that the GCP data
meet rigorous standards and that the active subsets subjected to hypothesis
testing are correctly evaluated against expectations established by theory and
appropriate control and calibration data.
Results
The Introduction and the description of methodology should make it clear that
the tragedies of September 11, 2001, are an obvious test case, a global event that
554 R. D. Nelson
should, according to the general hypothesis, affect the EGG network. Two
formal predictions were made for the major events on September 11. There are
some less-directly associated events later, but we will focus on these two
examples, plus some contextual analyses that are helpful for interpretations. The
standard analysis yields an inferential statistic for the formal cases, as described
previously. The relative consistency of the anomalous effects leading to that
statistic can be visualized in a graph showing the progressive departure of the
data from expectation, which is a random walk centered on a horizontal path at
zero deviation. The data from all the eggs are combined in a single score for
each second (the Stouffer Zdescribed earlier), these Z-scores are squared, and
the cumulative deviation from chance expectation of the resulting sequence is
plotted.
Composite Deviation of Means
The primary formal prediction for September 11 was modeled on that made
for what seemed to be a similar event, namely, the terrorist bombings of U.S.
embassies in Africa in August 1998. I had taken a cursory look at the global data
coming in for September 11, but the specific prediction was based on the prior
model, and was made without knowledge of the actual results. It specified
a period beginning an arbitrary 10 minutes before the first crash and continuing
to four hours after, thus including the actual attacks plus an aftermath period of
a little more than two hours following the last of the major cataclysmic events.
Figure 1 is the graph of data from this formal prediction, with the times of the
major events indicated by boxes on the zero line. It shows a fluctuating deviation
during the moments of the five major events, as increasing numbers of people
around the world were watching and hearing the news in stunned disbelief. The
apparently random fluctuation of the EGG data continues for almost half an hour
after the fall of the second WTC tower. Then, a little before 11:00, the
cumulative deviation takes on a trend that continues during the aftermath period
and ultimately exceeds the significance criterion, with a final probability of
0.028 (v
2
is 15332 on 15000 df, with 37 eggs reporting).
The formal test thus indicates a significant departure from expectation, but it
is not especially persuasive by itself, given the enormity of the event. Moreover,
the outcome appears to be dependent on a fortuitous specification of the timing
in the formal hypothesis. It is therefore important to examine the larger context
by looking at the behavior of the eggs over a longer period, before and after
September 11. We find that while there is nothing unusual in the data from
preceding days, the opposite is true following the attacks. During most of
September 11, 12, and 13 there is a strong trend indicating correlated behavior
among the eggs. Figure 2 uses the same cumulative deviation format as before to
display the nine days from September 7 through 15, with the time of the attacks
on September 11 marked by a black rectangle. It is apparent that shortly before
the terrorist attack, the wandering line takes on a strong trend representing
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 555
a persistent departure from what is expected of random data. A small probability
envelope inserted at that point provides a comparison standard to indicate the
scale of the deviation. The slope of the graph beginning just before the first
WTC tower was hit and continuing for over two days, to noon on the 13th, is
essentially linear and it is unusual. A permutation analysis using the 11 days of
data suggests that it has a chance probability of approximately 0.012.
This multi-day perspective places the four-hour formal specification in a larger
context, and we also can look at finer details. Calculation of the second-by-
second tail probabilities for the squared Stouffer Z-scores (v
2
s) for September 11
reveals an extreme value that is equivalent to a Z-score of 4.81, occurring at
10:12:47, EDT, not long after the first WTC tower collapsed. A Z-score this
large would appear by chance only once in about a million seconds (roughly two
weeks). It is not terribly unusual to find such a spike in our three-year database,
but it is thought provoking that one does occur within the brief time-span of the
attacks, about an hour and 45 minutes. The ratio of this period to the mean time
between spikes of this magnitude is 1/192, which arguably represents the
probability that the spike is just a chance occurrence. A large cluster of
relatively strong deviations occurs during the period from about 09:30 to 12:30,
corresponding, roughly, to the most intense period of time on September 11.
Fig. 1. Cumulative deviation of v
2
based on Stouffer Zacross eggs for each second, from 08:35 to
12:45 EDT, September 11, 2001. The separate events of the terrorist attacks are marked
with rectangles on the line of zero deviation. A smooth parabolic curve shows the locus of
a 5% probability against chance.
556 R. D. Nelson
Variance of the Data
The second formal prediction addressed the variability of scores (the sample
variance, s
2
) for each second among the 37 eggs over the course of the day of
September 11. It was a test of Dean Radins emailed hypothesis that this
measure would show strong fluctuations: ‘‘Id predict something like ripples of
high and low variance, as the emotional shocks continue to reverberate for days
and weeks.’’ Although this was only a partial specification, it effectively
predicted that the variance around the time of the disaster would deviate from
expectation. I added the necessary specifications for a formal analysis,
predicting increased variance among the individual eggs at the beginning
followed by low variance after the intensely disturbing events. The intent was to
specify a degree of variability in the data that might correspond to the reactions
of people engaged by this uniquely powerful emotional imposition. As Figure 3
shows, compared with empirical expectation, the variance exhibits normal
random fluctuation around the horizontal line of expectation until about three or
four hours before the attack, and then takes on a steep and persistent rise,
indicating a consistent excess of variance that persists until about 11:00. Shortly
thereafter, a long period begins during which the data show an equally strong
and persistent decrease of variance. In this figure, the X-axis shows Eastern
Fig. 2. Cumulative deviation of v
2
based on Stouffer Zacross eggs for each second, from
September 7 through September 13, 2001. The time of terrorist attacks is marked with
a rectangle on the line of zero deviation. A smooth parabolic curve beginning at the time of
the attacks provides a 5% probability comparison standard.
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 557
Daylight Time (EDT), allowing a direct reading of the timing of the strong
deviations. We note, incidentally, that the distinctive shape of the graph is
suggestive of a classic ‘‘head and shoulders’’ graph seen in stock market analysis
of leading indicators (Walker, 2001).
For a visual indication of the likelihood that the data show merely random
fluctuation, a comparison can be made with the pseudo data generated for
September 11, 2001, and plotted in the same format. In contrast to the real data,
there are no long-sustained periods of strong deviation in the algorithmically
generated data. While it is not a rigorous test, this comparison with the pseudo
data indicates that the variance measure is unusual around the time of the
attacks. It is difficult to make a direct calculation of probability for this analysis,
but a conservative estimate is included in the formal database. It is based on
assessing the rise and fall of the variance measure surrounding the period of the
attacks. The estimate was made by extrapolating a 5% probability envelope to
accommodate the full, extreme deviation, and comparing its length to the much
shorter period that covers the actual time of the striking rise. The resulting
estimate is p50.096. Independent analyses by Peter Bancel and Richard Shoup,
described later, suggest much a smaller probability, as does a simple
permutation analysis. The latter provides an estimate for the probability of the
Fig. 3. Cumulative deviation of variance across eggs for each second on September 11, 2001.
Times of the separate events in the terrorist attack are marked with rectangles on the zero
line. The light gray curve labeled ‘‘Pseudo Data’’ shows a control calculation using
a pseudo-random clone data set for the day.
558 R. D. Nelson
extreme excursion of p50.0009, based on 10,000 iterations. The corresponding
permutation p-value for the clone data is 0.756.
Other formal predictions were made for events related to September 11. These
include the Silent Prayer during the memorial events in Europe and the U.S.A.
on September 14, the Musicians and Actors benefit concert on September 22,
the Maharishi Effect meditations during September 23 to 27, the beginning
of bombing in Afghanistan, October 7, the ChildrensPledge of Allegiance,
October 12, and an Internet-promoted, magical Binding Spell on Bin Laden,
October 15. The Silent Prayer event showed a marginally significant deviation
opposite to the prediction, while the others all showed modest positive
deviations, with probabilities ranging from 0.29 to 0.04. Details may be found
on the GCP Web site.
Exploratory Work by Independent Analysts
The formal hypothesis testing is augmented by exploratory analyses that add
breadth and depth to the picture. Interpreted carefully, they help understand the
data, and they can be a primary source for future analytical questions. Five
people have contributed independent assessments.
Dean Radin produced a variety of analyses of the September 11 events. One
sample is presented here, and more can be found on the GCP Web site and in
papers addressing the effect of location and correlations with news events
(Radin, 2001, 2002). Radins treatment of the low-level data is different from the
GCPs standard approach. Instead of a composite (Stouffer) Zacross eggs, he
calculates the t-score per egg, squares the equivalent Z-scores, and sums these
and their degrees of freedom across eggs. This v
2
distributed quantity is
converted to a Z-score (symbolized here as Z
v
), to serve as a basic unit in further
analyses. This measure is essentially equivalent to the inter-egg variance
discussed earlier, and responds to excess absolute deviations of the individual
egg scores, while the standard analysis responds to signed, correlated deviation
of the eggs. Radin uses sliding window smoothing or moving averages of the
data across time. This can make interpretation difficult because the results
depend very heavily on the choice of parameters, such as the window width and
centering. Because he generally tries several sets of parameters in exploring the
data, the probabilities associated with his findings should be adjusted for
multiple testing, probably by a factor of 5 to 10. Radin feels that while
exploratory data analysis is not an appropriate tool for formal hypothesis testing,
it is a necessary next step in attempting to understand statistical anomalies, and
it often proves to be valuable in developing future hypotheses. In any case, he
reports that nearly every analysis he tried with respect to September 11, from
one-second resolution to nearly a years worth of surrounding data, revealed
unexpected statistical structure on that day.
Figure 4 shows the one-tailed odds against chance associated with moving
average Z
v
-scores calculated with a six-hour sliding window for the data from
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 559
September 6–13. The Z
v
variations show a particularly large excursion on the
day of the attacks, corresponding to a peak of Z53.4, a value which then drops
to Z
v
523.1 over the next seven hours. A permutation analysis shows that the
likelihood of finding a 6.5-sigma drop in Z
v
-scores (based on a six-hour sliding
window) in one day and within eight hours or less is p50.002. Radin identifies
the major spike in this graph as occurring at about 09:30 on September 11.
However, the algorithm that he used for the sliding window averages the data for
the six hours preceding the plotted point. Thus, in terms of the original,
unsmoothed data, the spike incorporates some large deviations early in the
morning, and the peak weight of the moving average actually centers at 06:30,
somewhat more than two hours prior to the first WTC hit. To help assure that
there was no mistake in the processing, the same calculations were made using
the clone database of algorithmically generated pseudo-random data. These
‘‘control’’ data show only expected random variation; none of the pseudo-
random excursions approaches the magnitude of the spike on September 11.
Peter Bancel has taken another perspective, focusing on the correlation of the
eggsoutput over time (Bancel, 2001). He computes the autocorrelation function
of the second-by-second inter-egg variance using Fourier techniques. This
assesses the degree of predictability within the composite data sequence over
a range of lags. The resulting coefficients are normalized as t-scores and plotted
in Figure 5 as the cumulative deviation from expectation for all lags up to four
hours, calculated over the 24-hour UTC window for September 11. For
Fig. 4. Odds against chance for the moving average of Z
v
across eggs using a six-hour smoothing
window, from September 6 through September 13, 2001. The Y-axis is a log scale; ‘‘0’’on
the X-axis marks the beginning of each day. Adapted from figure by Dean Radin.
560 R. D. Nelson
comparison, the same calculation is shown for 10 days surrounding September
11, from the 5th to the 15th. The significant rise in the curve over the first two
hours of lags indicates that the data were strongly autocorrelated during
a substantial portion of the day. That is, a common external source was partially
defining the output of the REG devices on September 11. Detailed examination
shows that this result was driven by several clusters of aberrant data, and notably
by a strong, persistent deviation in the average Z-score across eggs during the
period from 9:50 to 11:50.
Richard Shoup also has examined correlations over time, as well as other
aspects of the GCP data. He uses the same treatment of the raw data as Radin,
and hence is also looking at a measure of variability among the eggs. The
analyses are particularly concerned with determining whether the September 11
data really are uniquely deviant in the context of long time-spans, and he
concludes that they are, based on assessing four months of data (July through
October, 2001). One aspect of this effort addresses the question of whether there
is similar behavior across the eggs, instead of the expected random relationship,
during the time of interest. Figure 6 is a sample from an extensive array of
analyses (Shoup, 2001a). It shows the cumulative deviation of the moving
average of v
2
s calculated by summing the squared Z-scores per egg for each
Fig. 5. Cumulative sum of normalized autocorrelation coefficients for the second-by-second inter-
egg variance measure, calculated for all lags up to four hours. The time period is the 24-hour
UTC day of September 11. The smooth curves show a 0.0005 threshold and the 65%
probability envelope. Adapted from figure by Peter Bancel.
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 561
second for 32 eggs with complete data. The smoothing window in this case is
one hour, and it uses data from the past relative to the plotted point. The X-axis
shows time in UTC, which was four hours later than New York time on
September 11. This analysis assesses the generality of the large correlated
increase in variance beginning around 8:00 UTC, by dividing the eggs into two
groups in several different ways and plotting a separate curve for each group.
The curves all show much the same pattern, indicating strong correlation
beginning at about 4:00 or 5:00 EDT and continuing for the entire day. Shoup
establishes that no such correlations are seen in arbitrarily selected ‘‘control’’
days.
Ed May and James Spottiswoode took a severely critical look at the
September 11 results (May & Spottiswoode, 2001). They began with a thorough
examination of the nature of the data and concluded that the GCP network of
REGs does exactly what it is designed to do: it produces a continuing swath of
random data, indistinguishable from theoretical expectations. They then
selected certain of the formal and exploratory analyses to see whether they
could find any way to discount them. They determined that their analysis of the
primary formal hypothesis test confirmed the GCP analysis, but went on to say
that its hypothesis formulation was unclear, that the specified time was
fortuitous, and that the result was not very impressive, given the magnitude of
the global event. For the exploratory analysis, they focused on Dean Radins
Fig. 6. Cumulative deviation of the moving average of v
2
s calculated by summing the squared Z-
scores per egg for each second, using a smoothing window of one hour. Separate curves
show several pair-wise comparisons of subgroups of the eggs to give a visual impression of
their correlated anomalous deviation. Adapted from figure by Richard Shoup.
562 R. D. Nelson
sliding window approach and demonstrated that, as noted earlier, the result is
dependent on the size of the window. They showed that apparently strong
spikes can be made to disappear, or to appear, by judicious selection of the
parameters.
Comprehensive Results
Although this paper is most concerned with the events of September 11, the
formal predictions and analyses related to the terrorist attacks and the aftermath
are only a small part of the GCP database. It is not practical to provide details of
the other analyses here, yet the September 11 results should be viewed within
that context. In a sense, each individual prediction is another replication of the
basic experiment, and the full database is a concatenation of the evidence for the
general hypothesis. In other words, the proper test of the hypothesis that there
will be structure in the EGG data correlated with noteworthy events in the world
is an accumulation of evidence from a growing database of specified global
events.
At the end of January 2002, 98 formal predictions had been made over a three-
year period. The individual results can be cumulated over time to provide
a summary of the GCP experiment as a whole. Figure 7 shows the accumulating
excess of the v
2
s over their corresponding degrees of freedom for the 98
analyses. It culminates in a composite probability for the whole array of events
that is 8.3 310
28
. The dotted lines show probability envelopes for the
cumulative deviation from chance expectation, which is plotted as the horizontal
black line at zero deviation.
As is the case with any experiment using statistical measures, there is intrinsic
variation in the results, but about two-thirds of the cases have a positive
deviation, and 21% are independently significant at or beyond the 5% level. The
composite probability that chance fluctuation can account for the total deviation
from expectation is less than one in a million. Tables and graphical displays on
the GCP Web site give up-to-date summaries of the formal results (Nelson,
1998c). Most of the table entries contain a link to a complete description of the
detailed analysis for the event, and in many cases, further explorations and
investigations that provide illuminating context for the formal prediction.
Discussion
The accumulating evidence for an anomalous effect on the GCPs network of
REG devices placed around the world is strong. Multiple, independent analyses
show unmistakable structure in data that should be genuinely random. There is
a small but highly significant statistical deviation from theoretical expectation
for the REG outputs, integrated across all the active devices, and it is correlated
with global events identified by experimenters without knowledge of the data or
results. We do not have a theoretical understanding of the sort that must underlie
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 563
robust interpretations, but several potential explanations for the results may be
considered.
Perhaps the first proposals that come to mind are spurious physical effects that
arise directly out of the extreme conditions of a day like September 11. For
example, since the eggs are electronic devices, perhaps some combination of
extraordinary stresses on the power grid, or unusual electromagnetic fields, or
huge increases in mobile phone usage might have altered the REG outputs. Such
influences would center on New York and Washington, of course, while the
eggs are distributed around the world. Their average distance from New York is
more than 4000 miles (;6400 km), and the anomalous effects are broadly
distributed across the network. Moreover, the design of the research-grade
instruments includes both physical shielding (minimal in the Orion devices) and
a logic stage that literally excludes first-order biasing from electromagnetic or
other physical causes. Finally, empirical studies show no diurnal variation of
inter-egg correlation to correspond with the strong diurnal fluctuations of natural
and manmade electromagnetic fields (Radin, 2002). Thus, we are forced to look
elsewhere for the source of the induced structure.
The patterning is statistical in nature (a small, correlated mean shift, alteration
of variance across the eggs, autocorrelation over long lag times) and is similar in
Fig. 7. Overall results for 98 formal experiments over the past three years. The data curve shows
the cumulative deviation from chance expectation of the individual ‘‘bottom line’’ v
2
s for
the separate events. Expectation is shown as the horizontal line at zero. Dotted curves show
the 5%, 1%, and 0.1% probability envelopes.
564 R. D. Nelson
scale to what is seen in laboratory research and in field applications of the REG
technology. Indeed, this similarity raises the question of why the effects are not
stronger, given the large number of REG devices and the very large numbers
of people who may be regarded as sources. In fact, there is no substantial
evidence to support the assumption that multiple REGs will necessarily yield
a compounded effect, or that multiple ostensible sources will increase effect
sizes. For example, when larger effect sizes for pairs of participants have been
reported, the attribution is not to the number of people but to the quality of the
relationship (Dunne, 1993), and in the FieldREG studies there is no correlation
of group size and effect size. The same general principles may apply to the data
reported here. The effects appear to be dependent on the nature of the situation,
including obviously subjective aspects, and not on simple physical parameters,
such as the location of detectors relative to the focus of a correlated event, the
number of detectors, or the number of people involved. On the other hand,
a preliminary analysis of the September 11 data suggests there may be an effect
of geographic location (Radin, 2001). The potential for serious, objective
assessment of questions like these is enormous, given the continuous and
growing database, the wide distribution of the REG network, and the unending
variety of potentially instructive events.
A particularly thought-provoking aspect of the anomalous changes in the data
is that they appear to begin before the major events. Because our measures are
statistical and necessarily have an error distribution around the trends and point
estimates, these indications must be regarded with caution. They are present,
however, in multiple analytical perspectives, and we should consider some
provisional interpretations. The major trends began to appear on the order of two
to four hours prior to the first crash. Certainly no ordinary physical source such
as electromagnetic disturbances would seem to be a candidate. If ordinary
waking consciousness were the source, it would seem it could only be
attributable to a small number of people: the terrorists who knew what was
coming. Alternatively, the hypothesized ‘‘global consciousness’’ that later would
be intensely aware might have had a premonitory cognition or feeling at an
unconscious level that was registered in the data from the EGG network. There
are a number of laboratory studies that document an analogous ‘‘precursor’’
response in humans about to be presented with a shocking stimulus (Bierman &
Radin, 2000).
In any case, the formal data from the EGG network definitely show
anomalous deviations that are consonant with our general hypothesis. Many of
the individual events have results that, in addition to their statistical
contribution, also exhibit temporal patterns that are subjectively striking,
perhaps even meaningful. Indeed, when we look for further insight from
subjective or aesthetic perspectives to complement the hard-edged, scientific
analyses, there are a plethora of indicators that seem meaningful. Discussion of
these is beyond the scope of this article, but many examples from contextual and
exploratory studies are discussed in a special section of the GCP Web site
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 565
(Nelson, 2001b). Of course, we try hard to understand what the data say, and,
having looked long and carefully at the subtle patterns, we can attempt
explanations in a rudimentary form. It is obviously important to identify the
attempts as speculative and provisional, but having said that, I would like to
describe a picture that appeals to me aesthetically. More general discussion of
alternatives and cautions can be found on the GCP Web site.
One way to think of these unexpected correlations is to consider the
possibility that the instruments actually have captured the reaction of an
inchoate global consciousness. The network was built to do just that: to see
whether we could gather evidence for effects of a communal, shared mind in
which we are participants even if we dont know it. Groups of people, including
the group that is the whole world, have a place in consciousness space, and
under special circumstances they—or we—become a stronger presence. Based
on experimental evidence that both individuals and groups manifest something
suggestive of a consciousness field, the GCP grew out of the hypothesis that
there could be a global consciousness capable of the same thing. Pursuing this
speculation, we could envision an integrated global mind that pays consistent
attention to events that inspire strong coherence of attention and feeling among
its constituents. Perhaps a useful image is an infant just beginning to develop an
integrated awareness, but already manifesting recognizable emotions in response
to the enveloping comfort of cuddling or the intense discomfort of pain.
The hypothesis we set out to test is that the REG devices we use may respond
to the concerted effect of large numbers of people turning their attention in one
direction, becoming deeply absorbed in one focus. There are alternatives to such
an explanation of the deviations as an effect of communal consciousness,
including that the experimenters themselves might be the source of anomalous
effects. This is a viable hypothesis according to professional parapsychologists
(White, 1976), and we can accept the possibility that such an ‘‘experimenter
effect’’ may contribute to the overall result. The characteristics of the individual
events and their correlated outcomes, however, suggest that a broader and more
comprehensive source is a major contributor. In the full database of formal and
exploratory analyses, there are several instructive parallel cases. For example,
my expectation, and that of my colleagues, for the Omagh bombing event in
Northern Ireland was exactly the same as for the embassy bombings in Africa.
They both were egregious travesties, and they both were the most prominent
international news items when they occurred. Yet the results for these two
analyses are completely different; one showed a huge effect, the other none at
all. The tragedy in Nicaragua in October 1998 from flooding and the collapse of
the Casitas volcano showed no response, contrary to our expectations. The
bombing in Iraq produced no response, while that in Yugoslavia yielded a highly
significant deviation. New Years Eve, which clearly meets the criteria for
global interest as well as the experimentersexpectations, appears to produce
quite different results each year, but in the three New Years we have assessed,
the data around midnight are nonetheless unmistakably structured, not random.
566 R. D. Nelson
Either of these models—communal consciousness or experimenter effect—
begs for an interaction mechanism. One suggestion is to co-opt the essential
qualities of field theory for a ‘‘consciousness field’’ that carries information
(Nelson, 1999). This is not completely out of touch with models in physics, and
might be formalized in terms of David Bohms concept of ‘‘active information’’
(Bohm, 1980). Other efforts to describe a mechanism that could produce the
anomalous results in these experiments draw on the ‘‘observer’’ requirements of
quantum theory. The idea is that future observation collapses a superposition of
possibilities into a state that may represent reality (Schmidt, 1982; Walker,
2000). A recent formalization of this approach argues that no major changes to
physical theory are required to address anomalous effects of consciousness
(Shoup, 2001b).
The terrible events of September 11 were a powerful magnet for our shared
attention. More than any event in recent memory, they evoked extraordinary
emotions of horror, fear, commiseration and dismay. The EGG network reacted
in a powerful and evocative way. While there are viable alternative
explanations, the anomalous correlation is not a mistake or a misreading. It
can be interpreted as a clear, if indirect, confirmation of the hypothesis that the
eggsbehavior is affected by global events and our reactions to them. This is
startling in scientific terms because we do not have widely accepted models that
accommodate such an interpretation of the data. More important than the
scientific interpretation, however, may be the question of meaning. What shall
we learn, and what should we do in the face of evidence that we may be part of
a global consciousness? Of course, this is not a new idea or a novel question.
The results from this scientific study are an apparent manifestation of the ancient
idea that we are all interconnected, and that what we think and feel has effects
everywhere in the world. The discovery of patterns in the GCP data that appear
to reflect our shock and dismay implies that these insensate but labile electronic
random generators can ‘‘see’’ the effect of massive, shared emotion and
attention. The challenges posed by this unexplained effect are great, but it may
be an unexpected source of incisive questions about the span of human
consciousness.
Conclusion
The GCP is an extension of laboratory REG experiments and non-intentional
FieldREG experiments to a much larger domain, using a network of REG
sampling nodes distributed around the world. The data from multiple,
independent devices running in parallel, continuously over months and years,
can be a rich resource for a variety of purposes, including correlation with
special moments in time, as described in this article. It also may be instructive to
attempt correlations with other variables, such as the geophysical and
cosmological data that have shown some promise in psychophysiological and
Coherent Consciousness and Reduced Randomness 567
parapsychological research. Thus far, the main focus of the project has been on
the question of whether any evidence of a communal global consciousness can
be seen. A definitive answer will require patient, continuing data collection
combined with creative assessment techniques, but already it appears that by our
simple measures there is robust evidence for part of the picture. Anomalous
departures of the data from expectation are demonstrably correlated with global
events that are important to human beings.
Excellent technology, sound experimental design, rigorous analysis, and
sophisticated controls exclude ordinary physical and environmental variations as
spurious sources. Although the effects on the GCP data may be modulated by
experimenter expectations or other subjective influences, the most consistent
correlate, and hence the most likely source of the apparent effects, is the
relatively high coherence of widespread attention during events with a strong
global focus. This report on the data from September 11 is the best description
we can give of empirical measurements and effects that are essentially
mysterious. We do not know how the correlations that arise between electronic
random event generators and human concerns come to be, and yet the results of
our analyses are unequivocal. The network responded as if the coherence and
intensity of our common reaction created a sustained pulse of order in the
random flow of numbers from our instruments. These patterns where there
should be none look like reflections of our concentrated focus of attention, as the
riveting events drew us from our individual concerns and melded us into an
extraordinary shared state. Maybe we became, briefly, a coherent global
consciousness.
Acknowledgments
The Global Consciousness Project would not exist except for the immense
contributions of Greg Nelson and John Walker, who created the architecture
and the sophisticated software. Paul Bethke ported the egg software to Win-
dows, thus broadening the network. Dean Radin, Dick Bierman, Jiri Wacker-
mann, and others in the planning group contributed ideas and experience.
Rick Berger helped to create a comprehensive Web site to make the project
available to the public. The project also would not exist but for the commit-
ment of time, resources, and good will from all the egg hosts. Our financial
support comes from individuals including Charles Overby, Tony Cohen, Rein-
hilde Nelson, Michael Heany, Alexander Imich, Richard Adams, Richard
Wallace, Anna Capasso, Michael Breland, Joseph Giove, and an anonymous
donor. The Institute of Noetic Sciences provides logistical support as a non-
profit home for the project, and the Lifebridge Foundation has provided gen-
erous support for documentation of the GCP. Finally, there are very many
friends of the EGG project whose good will, interest, and empathy open a nec-
essary niche in consciousness space.
568 R. D. Nelson
Notes
1
Three sources are in use: The PEAR portable REG, the Orion RNG, and the
Mindsong MicroREG. All three use quantum-indeterminate or thermal
electronic noise. They are designed for research applications and are widely
used in laboratory experiments. They are subjected to calibration procedures
based on large samples, typically a million or more trials, each the sum of 200
bits.
2
Data are collected continuously at all host sites over months and years. There
naturally are some missing data from individual eggs due to hardware
malfunctions, loss of electrical supply, and similar causes. Summary statistics
are made from all valid data; no replacement values are needed.
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... Although some 'essence' of life may or may not be responsible for these observed effects, there are many theories grounded in physical bases which further suggest that consciousness itself may play a role in the physical realm [19] and this idea has been supported with convergent quantification of physical parameters [20]. Furthermore, a theory of 'global consciousness', capable of introducing anomalous deviations in random physical systems, has recently been examined with evidence suggesting that large-scale events which induce emotional reactions in people across the globe might affect the outcome of many random event generator (REG) devices located around the planet [21]. If this hypothesis is correct in any manner, then this might suggest that immediate gatherings of human groups should be capable of eliciting similar effects during periods of heightened emotional states. ...
... Indeed, this theory could find further support through comparison with previous research in this area, particularly those examining 'global consciousness' effects on a much greater scale. Specifically, the Nelson [21] study which explored potential REG effects within a global network of devices during the events of the September 11, 2001 attacks found much larger effects than those obtained within the smaller group settings employed in the present study. However, it should also be noted that this study in particular [21] also revealed directional effects opposite of those anticipated by our previous hypotheses. ...
... Specifically, the Nelson [21] study which explored potential REG effects within a global network of devices during the events of the September 11, 2001 attacks found much larger effects than those obtained within the smaller group settings employed in the present study. However, it should also be noted that this study in particular [21] also revealed directional effects opposite of those anticipated by our previous hypotheses. However, it may also be that varying " modes " of negative emotion (e.g., fear, pain, sadness, disgust) are associated with varying degrees of effectiveness and/or overall event count profiles. ...
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