The Global Consciousness Project

What is the nature of Global Consciousness?

Blog years


Roger Nelson

GCP blog

This (archived) page is the repository for the occasional updates I have been sending to the GCP mailing list every two or three months over the years.

GCP/EGG Update December 18 2008

Perhaps the most remarkable events in recent months are political. In the past, we have seen only modest apparent response of the Egg network to politics, but that changed for the 2008 US Presidential primaries and election. There are three or four formal events looking at special moments in the primary and national campaigns, as well as some informal, but intriguing explorations. Most of these can be found in the Results Table, and several of the most interesting are linked to the report on the Egg network's response to Barack Obama's election.

Also very powerful, though less pleasing to consider, are the deep and persistent economic problems we talk about as a financial meltdown or crisis. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to identify any event to study using our formal procedures. Undeterred, however, we have done some interesting explorations of the first days of October when the stock markets around the world plunged precipitously to levels not seen for many years. We did also set one formal event looking at the bailout failure in late September. It shows an effect that, although not significant, is much larger than average.

Sports fans, and almost anyone from Philadelphia, will appreciate the apparent response to the long-awaited success of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. They have hoped and been frustrated for some 25 years for a World Series victory, and at last it has happened. The formal test shows a modest departure, but when we look in an exploratory mode at the 24 hours of extraordinary celebration following the final game, the deviations are extreme. It is worth noting that sporting events have not been especially strong sources of effect in the network—except when there is a celebratory quality, as, for example, in the opening ceremonies for the Olympic games.

I have been making changes in the appearance of GCP's home page, and adding or making more accessible some functional bits like What's New?, a convenient search box, and a donation link. This is clearly inspired by our intention to create a new version of the website using modern technology and style. That is coming along, but it will be some time still before it is ready.

We have also created a YouTube presence that consolidates a number of videos on the GCP for more facile access. Two of these are news pieces, one from CBS2 in New York (03:10 min) and one from NBC11 in San Francisco (05:27 min), which offer interesting perspectives. A lecture by Peter Bancel at a conference in Munich is presented in 5 segments of about 10 minutes each. As time allows we will add other examples, such as talks by Dean Radin on the GCP. In the meantime a Google search on global consciousness or gcp youtube will reveal a number of these and other good shows.

GCP/EGG Update October 14 2008

For the moment, this will be just an outline of what is happening and what's coming up. This is a very busy time, perhaps commensurate with the amazing array of things happening in the world. For the GCP most of what is happening is good, and I want to describe that and give you some idea of plans.

Several new events, including a couple that have a different quality. For example, we have taken one sample that might reflect the long drawn out financial mess—the first US Bailout vote, which failed to the great surprise and consternation of many people worldwide. We need to work out a way to look more broadly at this. Again we have looked at some sharply defined political events in the US nomination speeches. A quite different focus was a GCP event defined to coincide with the Peace Intention Experiment. Interesting results that have similarity to previous assessments of TM social calming work.

Some new eggs in place and in the offing, a replacement in California, new ones in Finland and Peru, and one coming up in Bulgaria. More info later.

Conference talks, papers, and a powerpoint or two have been placed on the GCP website. You can find them under the listings at papers mostly in the pdf subdirectory. More later. You can get information (and consider joining the organizations) from the websites of the SSE and the PA. The next conference is Utrecht II, in the Netherlands. You can ge info about it on the Parapsychology Foundation website in their Lyceum section. Later I will add links.

Our most exciting news is that we are in the midst of designing and implementing a new version of the website. It will have modern navigation and gradually will be filled with more succinct pages of explanation. The main functions will be much the same—results, status, download, etc. But we will have some new aspects including a more effective mailing list (probably in the form of a membership list with opt in and opt out possibilities), a director's blog, and a forum for member interaction and discussion (probably moderated). The new site will have many options and possibilities like those provided by modern content management systems.

Must run. Off to the airport and Europe. After the conference in Utrecht we will have a few days to explore Amsterdam, and to see friends who live there. I hope you are all well and thriving, even in this time of turmoil. I know it is very bad for some people, but it is my hope that the system will have learned something. Indeed it may be that because of the global repercussions and focus, there will be movement toward each other, in recognition of our interdependence.

GCP/EGG Update July 15 2008

As befits the long hiatus, there is a very long list of things that might be noted, but I will just hit some high points. One is meetings with remarkable people (for Gurdjieff fans this will be recognizable) or just plain meetings. In March we went to the Bial Symposium in Porto, Portugal, and it was excellent. Half the participants were mainstream psychophysiologists at the top of their game, the other half were my remarkable colleagues in the business of consciousness research at the edges, people like Dick Bierman, Etzel Cardena, Dean Radin, Stephan Schmidt, Caroline Watt, and others you may recognize as leaders in psi research. A big, interested audience, and respectful exchanges. I think the GCP talk aroused the most critical comments, but it probably is the most out material encountered in contexts that definitely are scientific.

Equally delightful was the more recent meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, which is always at the head of the class for academic gatherings. This year's meeting was exceptionally good, with several topics that deeply interest me, and some really rmarkable presentations. I would recommend anyone interested in the frontier sciences check out the SSE, and join the organization, which justifies the support of its members. It is designed to be a forum for serious research in topic areas that don't get a hearing in the normal sciences—parapsychology, ufo research, alternative medicine and healing, cryptozoology, and so on. Smart people, with actual open minds, able to listen carefully even if skeptical, and to ask honest, helpful questions that help make the science better.

We took a few extra days after the SSE, which was in Boulder, Colorado, to explore the Rocky Mountains, and to visit old friends in Breckenridge, on the western slopes. Beautiful territory, which always makes me think humans cannot destroy everthing after all—these mountains are magnificently massive. On the other hand, so are the oceans, and we are far along a destructive path that is changing them profoundly, killing the corals and sharks, overfishing everywhere, and of course poisoning ourselves with heavy metals and hormones in every seafood bite.

Back to a more joyous outlook, the price of oil is finally waking more of us to a realism that has been missing in our perceptions of the planet. So the upset over high prices and the dangers of mal-distributed wealth are pushing us closer to a conscious recognition of the nature of our shared planetary home. As Buckminster Fuller so clearly understood, there is enough, more than enough for all. We only need to organize what we have (and in the process, of course, organize ourselves). That still is far in the future, but I wonder if this pressure to organize, to perceive more clearly our interconnected nature might underly the subtle but deeply meaningful findings of the Global Consciousness Project. We can see our capabilities and responsibilities more clearly in the bright light of necessity, and that light is coming up—as we speak.

And back to the listing of what's been happening, just a few examples. The paper by Bancel and Nelson, mentioned in the last update, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. It will be a couple of months still, but if you want a preview, let me know. This is a foundation and background for a series of papers detailing the first 10 years of the project. The project started collecting data at the beginning of August, 1998, and while we won't be doing any grand celebration, we have a couple of anniversary items in mind. We have begun the process of rebuilding the GCP website to have an up-to-date presence and more fluid navigation. We will have a professional redesign and in the process will also work to simplify some of the main descriptive pages and make them more readable. This will cost a bit, so if you or people you know would like to contribute, please check out the donations page.

Ummm—the list: The deep analysis continues to yield interesting results, some surprising, others confirmatory, all informative. Let me make a real list of examples.

  1. Two independent measures, Netvar and Covar show significant effects for formal events
  2. Odds against chance explanations are now on the order of a million to one or smaller
  3. But the effect size is very small, on the order of 1/3 to 1/2 sigma (Z ~ .3 to .5)
  4. We have good evidence that there are some event categories that consistently have negative effects (opposite to prediction)
  5. The independent measures are correlated, indicating both are driven by the events
  6. The Network measures are driven primarily by inter-REG correlations, not effects on individual devices
  7. Structure in the data is dependent on distance, with effects diminishing slowly as inter-REG separation increases
  8. Time structure also appears, with effects maximized for event periods on the order of 1 to 2 hours
  9. Categories of events produce different effects, with some subsets yielding strong Netvar results, other strong Covar deviations

The list is longer, but enough for now. The most important summary statement is that we are beginning to see progress toward models that have two important qualities. Good models help shape the questions and analyses that lead to deeper understanding. Ultimately they are precursors to theoretical descriptions which not only clarify and explain how the effects are produces, but help bring other thoughtful observers to look carefully at this work. We need more hands and eyes to develop an understanding and descry the implications of these suggestive data.

I hope you are all well, and ready for the next days and years. These are momentous times. The change to come soon in the American presidency may be the beginning of a richer and more generous political movement. (Take a look at the data for Obama's nomination.) We need great leaders in these times. It is always important, but with so much in flux, so many challenges, this era seems especially to require of all of us the best we can be, and with inspirational leaders in business and government (and indeed in our news and entertainment) we will move more surely toward our potential as humans.

GCP/EGG Update Mar 17 2008

I've been thinking about an update, and did not realize how long it's been—nearly three months. Time flies when you're having fun goes the saying, so it must be that I am having fun. On with the job!

Beyond the holiday season, it has been a busy time, with a fair amount of work in my other occupations, helping the Society for Scientific Exploration in a couple of committees—including public relations; and as the President of the Parapsychological Association, with many attendant missions also including publicity. I recommend both of these organizations to anyone with more than a passing interest in science at the edges of what we know. Join one or both of them, even if you don't think you are likely to participate or go to meetings etc. Your presence in the membership adds weight and vitality, and because these organizations treat controversial topics and are consequently small, they benefit greatly from your support. I may have mentioned this before, but the meetings are my favorites among academic gatherings, and I am not alone.

Peter Bancel and I have just finished a very nice paper documenting the basics and the primary findings of the GCP/EGG project. It is in the review process now, and will, we think, be published in a few months in Journal of Scientific Exploration (the SSE journal). If you would like to see a preprint, write to me. This paper is the foundation for a series of others looking at deeper analyses, and some very interesting findings. Among the basic discoveries are some that are only possible because the data are generated in a globally dispersed network. For example, the primary effect, which is significant with million to one odds, is driven by correlations among the random devices. In other words, it is the interaction or relationship over distances up to thousands of kilometers that counts. Does that sound a little like the interactions of human thought and emotion we have sought to capture?

Speaking of emotion, my wife and I are off to Portugal in a few days, to attend the 7th annual Bial Conference in Porto. The theme is Beyond and Behind the Brain: Emotions. I will give a talk on the appearance of emotions in our operationally defined Global Consciousness. It is quite striking to see the clarity of effects from emotions, and perhaps more important, to see how very similar the relationships are to ordinary human emotional reactions. The big effects are in the presence of love and fear. And factors like the level or power of the emotions do just what we expect from personal experiences. I'm looking forward to the meeting, which will include several old friends, and, I suspect, some new ones. And then Lefty and I will take a few days to enjoy Portugal, one of those places which maintain an old-fashioned human scale and a relaxed emphasis on good food and friendly relations.

Occasionally I get a suggestion to look at a Ted Talk and sometimes they are phenomenal. Here are two, one by a neuroscientist talking about experiencing a stroke from the inside, and ultimately about the enlightenment she comes to by having the busy half of her consciousness turned off for a time. This is 20 minutes long, but quite something. Jill Bolte Taylor.

The second is a brilliant short talk by Robert Thurman who is the first American to be ordained a Tibetan Monk by the Dalai Lama. He is a scholar, author and tireless proponent of peace.

What is most penetrating in Thurman's talk is his recipe for happiness (he uses different terms), which amounts to being connected to others, to accepting the consequences of allowing yourself to be compassionate. It is a way to become whole, and to become richer by giving some part of your self to others.