Preposterous though it may sound, significant deviations have been noted in the randomness of data from these RNGs around times of major events in the world. Immediate questions, of course, include “Is this a real effect?” and, if so, “What is going on?”.

Update 11/02 : Publication in Foundations of Physics.
Update 5/04: 9/11 effect also seen in GotPsi Card Test data [paper]
See also: Premonitions of 9/11

A disturbance in the Force…?

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 have profoundly shocked the entire world. But perhaps their influence propagates even more deeply than we imagine, even into the fabric of reality itself, perhaps even into events prior to their occurrence. In popular culture, this might be called a “disturbance in the Force”, but new and innovative science may have something much more serious to say about the matter.

Since 1998, the Global Consciousness Project has been monitoring the outputs of 40 or more random number generators (RNGs) around the world. Each of these RNGs generates 200 bits of random data every second and sends them to a server at the GCP. The generators are based on physical devices considered fundamentally random, not merely deterministic computer algorithms. It is these data – not the “global consciousness” hypothesis – that we are most interested in.

Preposterous though it may sound, significant deviations have been noted in the randomness of data from these RNGs around times of major events in the world. Immediate questions, of course, include “Is this a real effect?” and, if so, “What is going on?”.

Roger Nelson, Director of the GCP, and Dean Radin at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and others have been analyzing data from the RNG network on and around September 11. Some preliminary analyses found striking anomalies, four of which are shown below. Note that the apparent deviation from randomness began several hours before the events in New York and Washington. See the GCP web site and especially Dean’s draft report for more information on these graphs and extensive statistical analyses of the data before, during, and after the events.

Randomness and Causality

Why is this of interest to us at the Boundary Institute? Because our theoretical and experimental work have focused specifically and directly on the concepts of randomness and causality in physics. Our theoretical work strongly suggests, and we have been saying for some time, that certain random physical processes (such as the “collapse” of the wave function in quantum mechanics) may not be as random and indeterminate as assumed, and in fact may be dependent on other factors and thus influenceable at a fundamental level under certain conditions. And contrary to common assumption, these phenomena and new theory are not in major conflict with existing physics. A great deal of experimental evidence tends to support this hypothesis as well.

Now, far more significant events seem to have registered in random devices all over the globe. On the surface, these events seem to support the perennial and appealing idea that thoughts can have effects on physical reality. Perhaps so, but this remains to be properly established. It is still possible that some prosaic explanation will be found for the observed data, although none have been sufficient so far.

We do not know whether the effects shown in these analyses will hold up under further scrutiny. If they do, we do not necessarily subscribe to the hypotheses that the GCP or anyone else has put forth to explain them. In any case, anecdotal one-time occurrences, no matter how dramatic, are no substitute for careful scientific investigation and experimental replication. However, at the very least,this apparent deviation in the randomness of physical devices under certain conditions needs to be analyzed further and studied closely by science.

If these effects persist through further analyses, and the randomness of fundamental physical processes can be influenced by external global or local events, the implications for both science and society could be very large indeed. As just one example (highly speculative, to be sure), if these effects are real, it might be possible to predict some large-scale calamities in advance by careful observation of random devices such as the generators of the GCP.

Such speculations are easy to make, of course, while research in this area is very difficult and fraught with pitfalls. But only by solidly confronting this data and bringing to bear the full power of science will we eventually find out what really happened to the GCP’s random number generators on September 11.

Three Independent Analyses (Dec 2001)

It has now been over 2 months since the terrible events of September 11. In addition to the analysis by Roger Nelson at the Global Consciousness Project, several independent analyses have been made of the data from the GCP Random Number Generators with regard to those events. These reports include some quite different interpretations of the same data, and thus represent science in progress, not just final results cleaned up for publication after all the dust has settled. They are provided here to stimulate further discussion of these provocative phenomena.

Global Consciousness Project Analysis for September 11, 2001,
by Dean Radin, Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Boundary Institute, 2001 (PDF)

“Based upon an analysis of 3 months of GCP data, I conclude that a statistical anomaly occurred that was associated with the date, time and general
location of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There is also evidence that the anomaly began to appear a few hours before the widely visible
events unfolded.” [Report also available on the GCP web site]

Global Consciousness Project: An Independent Analysis of the 11 September 2001 Events,
by Edwin May and James Spottiswoode, Laboratories for Fundamental Research, 2001 (PDF)

“We also provide verification of a separate analysis posted by Dr. Dean Radin, but we differ markedly with regard to the posted conclusions. Using Radin’s analysis, we do not find significant evidence that the GCP network’s EGG’s responded to the New York City attacks in real time. … We conclude that the network random number generators produced data consistent with mean chance expectation during the worst single day tragedy in American history.” [If this report is read carefully, it actually gives strong evidence for the reality of the effect! – rgs]

EGG Anomalies, by Richard Shoup, Boundary Institute, 2001 (PDF)

“Analysis and interpretation of random number streams can be problematic and contentious as attested by the two somewhat differing reports by Radin and by May and Spottiswoode concerning the GCP EGGs with regard to September 11, 2001. Our analysis lies somewhere in between these two, but closer to the first. We find that something quite unusual did happen in the RNG network on September 11, and discuss anomalies at three different time scales. Especially interesting is a significant correlation among the RNGs which seems to have occurred uniquely on September 11. These anomalies are provocative and may support hypotheses other than global conciousness. Further investigation is strongly urged.”

Correlations of Continuous Random Data with Major World Events, by R.D. Nelson, D.I. Radin, R. Shoup, and P.A. Bancel, 2002 (PDF)
Published in Foundations of Physics Letters, Volume 15, Number 6, December 2002

“The interaction of consciousness and physical systems is most often discussed in theoretical terms, usually with reference to the epistemological and ontological challenges of quantum theory. Less well known is a growing literature reporting experiments that examine the mind-matter relationship empirically. Here we describe data from a global network of physical random number generators that shows unexpected structure apparently associated with major world events. Arbitrary samples from the continuous, four-year data archive meet rigorous criteria for randomness, but pre-specifed samples corresponding to events of broad regional or global importance show significant departures of distribution parameters from expectation. These deviations also correlate with a quantitative index of daily news intensity. Focused analyses of data recorded on September 11, 2001, show departures from random expectation in several statistics. Contextual analyses indicate that these cannot be attributed to identifiable physical interactions and may be attributable to some unidentified interaction associated with human consciousness.”