Multiple Field REG/RNG Recordings
During a Global Event
R. D. Nelson Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research, School of Engineering/Applied Science, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. The Electronic Journal for Anomalous Phenomena (eJAP), 97.2.
Part I describes a multi-laboratory experiment to assess the hypothesis that changes in the behavior of random event generators (REG) might be correlated with the coordinated activity of large numbers of people. A specific prediction was made that the composite of data taken during a five-minute period of meditation shared by people all over the world would show a deviation from its theoretically expected mean value.
Part II describes a conceptual replication that was implemented during a different global event some months later. In this case there was no evidence for an anomalous correlation. Differences between the two applications are discussed as factors that may be relevant to the significantly different outcomes.
On January 23rd, 1997, a large number of people around the world participated in a global meditation organized by The Gaiamind Project. The event was planned for 17:30 to 17:35 Greenwich Mean Time to correspond with an unusual astronomical conjunction. This provided an opportunity to record data from random event generators (REG) in several laboratories during a time-period where very large numbers of people were engaged in a coordinated, meaningful activity. We predicted that this activity would alter the statistical behavior of the REG devices in a manner similar to findings in previous FieldREG experiments.
Data were obtained from 14 independent REG systems in seven different locations, all in the US or Europe. The combined result yielded a Chisquare of 23.9 with 14 degrees of freedom and a corresponding probability of 0.047. Although this outcome is not highly significant, the effect size is approximately nine times as large as that found in related laboratory experiments.
The results suggest that some condition or process that occurred during the global meditation was correlated with and may have caused a small change in the performance of random event generators set to address this possibility in a pre-planned, multi-laboratory, international study.
On January 23rd 1997, a large number of people around the world participated in a global meditation organized by The Gaiamind Project. The event was planned for 17:30 to 17:35 Greenwich Mean Time (12:30 to 12:35 Eastern Standard Time) to coincide with an unusual astronomical conjunction, and was promoted as a chance to honor the earth and to share an experience with others on a global scale.
The event provided an opportunity to record data from random event generators (REG) in several laboratories during a time-period where very large numbers of people were engaged in a coordinated, meaningful activity. Different types of random event (or random number) generators were used in various locations. All were well-calibrated sources of
true random event sequences, typically based on electronic white noise from diodes or resistors, with sophisticated sampling and counting logic to produce a sequence of independent binary events that can be written as data in computer files. The experimental hypothesis to be tested was the prediction that this activity would alter the statistical behavior of the REG devices in a manner similar to findings in previous
FieldREG experiments (Nelson, et al, 96; Nelson, et al, 97; Radin, et al, 96).
An invitation to participate, including a protocol description and a statement of the formal hypothesis, was sent on January 18, 1997 to internet mailing lists read by professional researchers with suitable equipment and a potential interest in the multiple-site experiment. In addition, the intention to make a scientific assessment in this manner was described in the literature and the website of the Gaiamind organizers. Extracts from the Gaiamind site were included in the invitation message to provide some background information. More information on the planning and publicity prior to the global event is available from the organizer at Gaiamind, and in the GCP archive.
The published invitation and instructions indicated the time and duration of the event with reference to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and Eastern Standard Time (EST), and specified the formal prediction and the measure to be used for its evaluation:
[T]he time set for the primary global meditation [is] from 1230 to 1235 EST. The prediction is for a deviation of the distribution mean from random expectation during this time period. I will make a similar prediction for the surrounding 5 minute periods, 1225-30 and 1235-40, but specify the global meditation time for a formal hypothesis test of a proposed anomalous influence ...
Data were recorded from two random event generator (REG or RNG) systems in Amsterdam by Dick Bierman and one in Utrecht by Dick Bierman and Rens Wezelman. Emil Boller and Holger Boesch ran two systems in Freiburg. Richard Broughton ran two systems in Durham. Joop Houtkooper ran one system in Giessen and Paul Stevens ran one in Edinburgh. Roger Nelson ran five systems in Princeton. The available data are thus from 14 independent REG systems in seven different locations, all in the US or Europe.
All the random sources included in this study are used in professional research applications, and are qualified as nominal random sources. In previous work (Nelson, 1997; Nelson, et al, 1997) resampling techniques have shown that non-active (control) data surrounding those identified as the experimental segments, conform to theoretical expectations. Hence, the comparisons here are with theoretical expectation rather than with arbitrary control data. Several different data formats were used, and the distribution parameters had to be inferred from the data in some cases, but since the raw data closely approximate random variates in all cases, these inferences are appropriate. For example, in his typical applications, Bierman constructs a Chisquare by summing Z2 for arbitrarily defined sub-segments that are about 4.3 seconds long, rather than taking experimentally defined segments as the unit of measure. Since the pre-stated protocol specified that the measure would be the unsigned meanshift of the data taken during the time of the meditation, the appropriate analysis required a calculation of this value from the raw data provided by each of the labs. The formal experimental hypothesis was that the segment means would show larger deviations than expected by chance, i. e., that the segment variance would be increased. This hypothesis was tested by normalizing the meanshifts as Z-scores and summing the squared Z-scores to yield a Chisquare distributed quantity with degrees of freedom equal to the number of segments. The following table shows the normalized deviation of the mean for each segment, and the corresponding Chisquare (1 df) and probability, with the experimenter and the location also indicated:
The same data can also be displayed graphically, as a cumulative Chisquare over the 14 independent recordings, which allows the relative sizes of the separate contributions to be visualized. Since the data were taken concurrently, the order in which they are displayed is arbitrary; of course, the final value of the accumulated deviation is not affected by the order. The figure also includes the expectation (df), which in this case is also the number of segments, and an envelope showing the locus of the 5% probability for so large a Chisquare as the number of samples increases. The last line in the table, and the last point on the graph both show the result when the data are concatenated across the 14 different devices. This overall accumulation represents a result that falls in the range considered significant by most scientists. It would occur by chance less than 5 times in 100 repetitions of the full experiment, and it supports the pre-stated hypothesis that the output of the various random event generators would deviate from expectation during the time of the global meditation.
It is worth noting that although the overall result is driven somewhat by the large value from Edinburgh, this is by no means the only contributor. There is no evidence that the value is an outlier, even though the Chisquare is impressively large compared with most of the others. It is actually well within the range expected for this number of single degree-of-freedom Chisquare estimates.
The overall effect is not overwhelmingly persuasive in terms of statistical significance. However, it is most instructive to consider the effect size in the context of other estimates from field and laboratory studies. An analog to effect size that is particularly informative is the
time-normalized yield. This measure allows sensible comparisons of quite disparate experiments by describing the anomalous yield as a function of the time spent trying to produce it (Nelson, 1994). For the present database it is readily calculated: the p-value for the cumulative Chisquare corresponds to a Z-score of 1.984, and the time-normalized yield (Y) is this Z divided by the square root of the number of hours invested in the generation of the effect. For the 14 five-minute datasets, the total time during which the REG systems were
available to the hypothesized anomalous influence is an hour and 10 minutes, resulting in a yield, Y, of 1.836. This is approximately nine times as large as the time-normalized yield found in PEAR laboratory REG experiments and is a little larger than the strongest FieldREG effect sizes. Even without the Edinburgh result, the time-normalized yield (Y = 0.643) remains larger than the laboratory effects by a factor of three.
While the combined results are only tentative in terms of the confidence with which the null hypothesis can be rejected, they indicate that some condition or process that occurred during the planned time of the global event was correlated with and may have caused a small change in the performance of random event generators set to address this possibility in a pre-planned, multi-laboratory, international study. Other than chance fluctuation as an alternative explanation for the results (which the p-value addresses) other speculative explanations could be advanced. One that may have some merit would attribute the effect to specific intentions on the part of the experimenters or others who knew about the experiment. However, the study was not designed to, nor is it capable of rigorously addressing secondary questions of this nature. The results do confirm the experimental hypothesis, and they replicate findings in related experiments. Together with these they contribute to an impressive body of evidence for an anomalous, direct interaction of human consciousness with physical systems, even though the sources and mechanisms of the interaction remain obscure.
On June 13, 1997, an invitation was sent to the researchers who had previously contributed to the Gaiamind Global Event project (see Part I, above) to again take data during a world-wide meditation. The event was called Harmonic Convergence 2, and was organized via electronic mailing lists and the world-wide-web by Barbara Wolfe. It provided an opportunity for a replication in principle of the Gaiamind experiment. The event took place over a three-day period, and the published announcement described the specific intention as follows:
Next month, July 25-27, the world is asked to come together to give a free expression of love for our planet. This event is called Harmonic Convergence 2 (HC2) to honor the first Convergence held ten years ago. ... At 12 noon for the three days of July 25-27, stop a few minutes to meditate or pray to Mother Earth and Humanity. In this way, a band of 12-noon prayers will circle the planet for three days.
This lent itself to a protocol similar to that used previously, but tailored to this event. The protocol specified that data would be taken from 12:00 to 12:05 local time, on those three days, and be accumulated from several time zones and laboratories sampling the
consciousness field of the harmonic convergence. As in the Gaiamind project, the experimental hypothesis was that the mean of data taken during the specified 5-minute periods would deviate from chance expectation. The event differed in that there was no single time when all participants would meditate, since noon, local time, was specified.
Data were taken in Princeton by Roger Nelson and York Dobyns, in Durham by Richard Broughton, and in Freiburg by Emil Boller. The combined data comprise 21 5-minute segments from the various locations. For the analysis, the meanshift in each data segment was converted to a Z-score, and that was squared to yield a Chisquare-distributed quantity with one degree of freedom, for which a p-value could be calculated. The following table shows these values, with the experimenter, the location, and the day also indicated. The three days are represented unequally due to scheduling or hardware problems. The numbers or letters following experimenter initials identify particular REG devices.
The last line of the table shows the concatenation across the 21 different datasets. This result, with p = 0.788, is not statistically deviant, and it does not support the pre-stated hypothesis that the output of the various random event generators would deviate from expectation during the times of the Harmonic Convergence meditations.
The results in the HC2 experiment give no support to the hypothesis that random event sequences might be affected by meditations organized for a particular occasion in various places around the world. This is in clear contrast to the outcome for the earlier field REG study during the Gaiamind meditation, and certainly does not constitute a replication of those results. It is worth noting that the HC2 outcome thus provides some evidence that a speculative interpretation of the significant results in studies of this genre as a simple
experimenter effect is not viable.
These experiments have little or no specific precedent although they are related to laboratory experiments with random event generators (Jahn, et al, 97), and to other kinds of field REG experiments (Nelson, et al, 96; Nelson, et al, 97; Radin et al, 1996; and Bierman, 1996). Given the limited background, we can only speculate on the reasons for the significant difference in outcome. It is possible that the result in the Gaiamind experiment was simply a statistical fluctuation, despite its low probability, or, similarly, that the low signal-to-noise ratio buried a possible effect in the Harmonic Convergence experiment. However, the general consistency across the 21 data segments shown in the HC2 experiment argues against such an interpretation. The two applications do, on the other hand, differ in ways that may offer some insight. The Gaiamind event was simultaneous and singular; it was focused on just one time period that was synchronized for all participants around the world; it focused on the symbolism of an extraordinary astronomical conjunction; it was far more widely publicized and recognized, and considerably more people were actively engaged in the event.