An email interview for the Daily Prince

On Tue, 18 Apr 2006, Jessica Lucas wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> I'm a writer for the Daily Princetonian, and I was wondering if you
could talk to me about the website and the
Global Consciousness Project. I'm writing a story on what this is, what
it does, and who runs it, as well as who else is involved. Please let me
know if I can call to speak with you over the phone or if you would like
to answer questions via email. 

I said, "Let's try email."

> Great!  Thank you so much for your cooperation.  I have included my
questions below, but please feel free to add anything else you would
like to. The story is for tomorrow, so your responses as soon as you can
get them to me, would be tremendously appreciated.

To which I responded:

That's a short time, but I will see what I can do for you.

Here are her questions, and my brief answers:
> Could you describe this Global Consciousness Project (basically, how
would you summarize the project so that I can get a personal description
rather than from the website)?  What is its aim or purpose? What do you
hope to achieve?

The GCP maintains a network of Random Event Generators (REGs) producing 
at each of 60 sites around the world a random number each second, 
continuously over months and years. We examine the resulting matrix of 
synchronized, parallel data sequences to see if there is any non-random 
structure corresponding to major events such as natural or man-made 
disasters, terrible accidents, or grand celebrations. Statistical analysis 
shows that there are such correlations, and they cannot be attributed to 
ordinary electromagnetic fields, bad data, or mistakes.

The system is designed to test the general hypothesis that special states of
human consciousness on a global scale may influence the data. Perhaps we
can see the first glimmerings of a noosphere -- a shell of intelligence
for the earth.

> What motivated you to become interested in/involved with this type of
research?  What type of work do you do/have you done before that
provides an interesting perspective or gives you experience for the GCP

I'm interested in the subtle aspects of consciousness as it manifests 
directly in the world. From 1980 to 2002 I was part of the Princeton 
Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) group, doing laboratory experiments 
with individuals, looking at the effects of intention, studying 
interactions of mind and matter. I applied the same technologies and 
analytical tools in field experiments looking at coherence and resonance 
in groups of people. A natural progression led to the creation of a
network of REGs around the world to ask the same questions but with 
a global perspective.

> What are the other subjects that converge in such a multidisciplinary
field and how do they interact? In what ways do you and other researchers 
on this project interact with intellects from these other areas?

We are a multidisciplinary group, bringing to bear expertise in psychology, 
sociology, physics, statistics, and, in particular cases, more specialized 
fields such as seismology. There are about 100 people involved in the GCP, 
with 20 or so from different fields interacting directly in design and 
analysis work for the project. Our modes of interaction are exactly like 
any other international academic or research field: conferences and working 
meetings, papers and correspondence.

> How did it get started?

I asked friends around the world to collect data from their REG equipment 
during some "global" events such as Princess Diana's funeral in 1997. 
The combined results of a dozen independent datasets showed significant 
departures from expectation. This was a prototype for the permanent system 
we call the Global Consciouness Project or GCP.

> With whom do you collaborate?

Scientists, artists, programmers, business people around the world. Many 
are at universities and research institutes, some are at industrial labs, 
some are fully independent.

> How does this project relate to PEAR?

The GCP is independent from PEAR, but we use technology developed at
PEAR, and my colleagues there provide friendly support and valuable 
technical consultation.

> How do you analyze the data generated by the REG and other experiments
that are done? What results/data have been gathered so far and what
kinds of conclusions, if any, have been made?

We use canonical (standard) statistical procedures, including a number 
of signal processing and time series tools. We have a formal series of 
hypothesis tests that are literally replications. The current bottom line 
shows an accumulation of positive results that have odds against chance 
of about 100,000 to one. Many other analyses enlarge the perspective and 
strengthen the conclusion that our data do show structure where there 
should be none.  We cannot claim this is due to a "global consciousness" 
but it is an attractive model.

> What are the implications of this research and any discoveries it may
lead to?

There are scientific and philosophical implications of the results, 
suggesting a direct participation of consciousness, attention, engagement 
in what happens in the world. This means, among other things, that we 
have the capability and the responsibility for conscious evolution. 
The results imply that consciousness is a creative force in the world; 
they suggest that what we wish for or envision becomes more likely.

Two fundamental questions with broad implications are:

1) What does it mean for physics and statistics that truly random numbers 
depart substantially from expection and show structure where there should 
be none?

2) What is the practical importance and the philosphical implication of 
anomalous departures from expectation that are correlated with matters 
of human interest?