Capturing Global Consciousness
By Roger Nelson
The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) is an international collaboration of scientists, artists, and business people. It was created in 1998 by a group of researchers working in the boundary areas of physics and psychology, and has grown to include over 100 individuals around the world. Our purpose is to gather evidence and study indications of the subtle reach of human consciousness in the physical world on a global scale. We maintain a network of special instruments designed to produce random data that apparently are affected by human consciousness under special conditions.
The hypothesis of the GCP is that the continuous streams of data from these instruments will show anomalous deviations associated with "Global Events". We hypothesize an effect when there is a large-scale sharing of deep reactions to major news events. During the first four years of the GCP, the number of sites hosting our instruments (which we call "eggs") has grown to more than 65, with locations from Alaska to Fiji, on all continents, and in nearly every time zone. The world map below has a bright spot for each of the host sites.
We have registered over 200 formal experiments as of mid 2005. Each is defined by a prediction that the data will depart from expectation during special times such as the celebration of New Years, shocking events like the disaster on September 11 2001, natural tragedies such as the great earthquakes in Turkey, and large-scale meditation and prayer events like the Kumbh Mala in India. The results indicate strong correlations in some cases and virtually none in others, but overall they show significant evidence that something remarkable happens when we all are drawn into a community of interest and emotion. We have a hypothesis registry that records details of the cases we analyse, and the project hosts a website at http://noosphere.princeton.edu , with complete information about the history, technology, and methods of the project, as well as free public access to the database.
The Results page on the GCP website gives an up-to-date summary of the formal tests, and also has links to explorations that are sometimes even more interesting and informative than the primary analyses. We use simple graphs to display the often remarkably clear departures of the data from random behavior. The data for some events show patterns in several measures. For example on 9/11, there is an evident manifestation in the data of our intense engagement in the tragic events. In a much lighter mode, New Years celebrations bring us together in a shared consciousness that apparently affects the GCP network.
A composite across all the individual cases can be summarized visually in a chronological graph (below right) that shows the steady accumulation of differences of the formal data from expectation. If there were no effect, the jagged line representing the results would wander up and down randomly around the horizontal zero line. As the figure shows, the actual data show a steady trend. The overall statistics for the project, after six years of data accumulation, indicate a probability of less than one in 50,000 that the correlation of our data with global events is merely a chance fluctuation. This can't be taken as proof of an awakening global consciousness, but it is suggestive, and we can exclude reasonable alternative explanations such as electromagnetic radiation, excessive strain on the power grid, or mobile phone use.
We don't yet know how to explain the correlations between events of importance to humans and the GCP data, but they are quite clear. They suggest something akin to the image held in almost all cultures of a unity or oneness, an interconnection that is fundamental to life. Our efforts to understand these complex and interesting data may contribute insight into the role of mind as a creative force in the physical world. We can hope they will encourage awakening to conscious evolution.
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