Telegram from Gaia

It had to be the most gripping moment Dean Radin could think of, and nothing, he decided, was more gripping than the end of the O.J. Simpson trial, which had overtaken the Stopes ‘monkey’ trial as the American trial of the century.


From the moment that the white Ford Bronco had skittishly raced along the LA freeway, tens of millions of Americans per minute had watched the drama unfold on court TV.


And now, nearly a year into the trial, half a billion viewers worldwide had turned on their television sets, ready to watch the live broadcast of the fate of the Bronco’s driver, who was awaiting the jury’s verdict as to whether he had or had not brutally slashed to death his wife and her lover.

So many Americans had remained riveted to their television sets throughout the nine and a half months of the trial, the 133 days of testimony, the 126 witnesses, the 857 exhibits entered into evidence, the issues of racism, the DNA testing and bloody gloves, the staggering blunders of the police and forensic experts, the drama when Judge Lance Ito twice threw out the television cameras and roundly chastised the two squabbling legal teams, that it had cost the American gross national product an estimated $40 billion in lost productivity.


And now a year and four days after the jury had first been selected, this true-life drama which had made for so much compulsive viewing, which had cut so deeply into daytime soap opera viewing that it could command its own premium television advertising space, was about to come to an end.

Even the final moments had their unexpected dramatic cliffhanger. Just as the jury had reached their verdict and were assembled in the courtroom, Armanda Cooley, the jury foreman, realized that she’d left the form with their verdict written on it, sealed in its envelope, in the jury room. But even if she’d had it there, two lawyers for the defense, including Johnny Cochran, the head of Simpson’s ‘dream team’ of prominent attorneys, weren’t present. Judge Ito declared a recess.


The verdict would be read the following morning at 10 a.m. The world would have to wait one more day.

On October 3, 1995, an audience greater than that for three of the five previous Superbowls or for the ‘Who shot JR?’ episode of Dallas turned on its television sets. Judge Ito asked that the verdict be passed to the court clerk, Deirdre Robertson.


She and O.J. Simpson stood up. The world held its breath.

‘In the matter of People of the State of California vs Orenthal James Simpson, case number BA 097211. We, the jury, in the above-entitled action, find the Defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty,’ read Mrs Robertson.

O.J. Simpson, so impassive through most of the trial, broke into a triumphant smile.

O.J. was cleared on both counts. It was the final twist in the tale. Thetelevision audience was stunned by the jury’s decision, and so were five other silent observers - all REG computers, one at the PEAR lab, another at the University of Amsterdam and three more at the University of Nevada.


They’d been set to run continuously for three hours before, during and after the reading of the verdict.

Afterwards, Radin examined their output.


Three statistically significant peaks of highs had occurred in all five computers at exactly the same three moments: a small peak at 9 a.m. Pacific time, a larger peak an hour later, and then an enormous peak seven minutes after that.


These three blips corresponded to the three most important final moments of the trial: when the show first started, with the initial television commentary - the time when most people would have turned on their television sets - then the beginning of the broadcast of the actual courtroom proceedings, and finally the exact moment the verdict was announced.


Like everyone else in the world, these computers had snapped to attention to find out whether O.J. was innocent or guilty.1

The possibility that a collective consciousness might exist had been taking shape for many years in Dean Radin’s mind, perhaps even influenced by his mother, who’d been interested in yoga all those years ago. Certainly, this notion was a familiar concept in ancient and Eastern cultures. But others, like psychologist William James, had proposed that the brain simply reflects this collective intelligence, like a radio station picking up signals and transmitting them.


As Radin and his colleagues observed the apparent ability of the human mind to extend its boundaries, natural questions arose about whether the effects get larger when many individuals operate in unison and indeed whether a collective global mind ever operated as a unity.


If coherence could develop between individuals and their environment, was there also a possibility of group coherence?

What was different about Radin’s thoughts was that he was trying to work out how to test it scientifically. It was Roger Nelson who had first thought to see if a REG machine could pick up evidence of a collective consciousness. The idea grew out of an experience he’d had one day while he was studying some data at the PEAR lab.


It was 1993 and Nelson was a 53-year-old doctor of psychology, unofficially looked upon as the coordinator of experiments at the PEAR lab, a natural hand at directing, the fellow who got everybody together to make sure the job got done.


He’d come to the lab in 1980 for a year-long sabbatical from teaching at a college in Vermont, but then one year turned into two, and before long he informed his college that he wasn’t coming back. The PEAR work was intoxicating for the Nebraska-born Nelson, red-bearded and rustic-featured, another philosopher scientist drawn, even as a child, to the scientific frontier.

Nelson had been sitting up in the civil engineering department at Princeton, creating graphs for the distributions of the scores for multiple REG runs. As he examined the graphs for runs where people had put out one set of intentions (HIs) and graphs for the opposite intention (LOs), there was nothing out of the ordinary.


As expected, the graph of the HIs was shifted a little to the left, and that of the LOs was shifted a little to the right.


Roger then pulled up the statistics for the third test, when people were not supposed to have any intention toward the machine. It was supposed to be a baseline, with a shape that was virtually indistinguishable from those of pure chance when the machine was running by itself, with nobody trying to affect it. The graph was nothing like that. It was all squeezed together.


In the very center, there was a neat and obvious exception, a little bar jutting up, resembling nothing so much as a clenched little fist. There it was, wagging at him in reproach. Nelson laughed so hard at it that he fell off his chair. How could he have failed to recognize this? Even trying not to think of anything might create its own focus of energy.


Your mind couldn’t help it. Intending not to have any effect on a REG machine was like trying not to think of elephants. Perhaps any sort of attention, by its very act of focusing consciousness, could create order. The mind was always carrying on - noticing, thinking.

We think, therefore we affect.

There had already been some evidence of this in the PEAR lab. Nelson had seen that certain people, often women, had more dramatic success in influencing the REG machines when they were concentrating on something else.2


Nelson began by testing this with a device he’d named Cont-REG - shorthand for keeping a REG machine running continuously to see if it registered any more heads or tails than usual in the ordinary course of the day and then establishing what had been going on in the room during the moments of effect.

Out of that grew another idea. Everyday observing requires a very low state of attention. You take in many sights, sounds and smells around you in the course of your ordinary activities. However, when you do something that really engages your mind and emotions - listening to music, watching a gripping moment of theater, attending a political rally or a religious service - you concentrate with every pore of your body.


You attend to it in a state of peak intensity.

Nelson wondered first whether the ability of consciousness to order or influence depends upon how intent the observer is. And second, if it does for individuals, what would be the effect of more than one person? He’d seen from the PEAR data that bonded couples - people who were intensely involved - had a more profound effect on the REG machines than individuals. It suggested that two like-minded people created more order in a random system.


Suppose you assemble an entire crowd, all focusing intently on the same thing. Would the effect be even greater? Was there a relation between the size of the crowd or the intensity of interest and the size of the effect? After all, he thought, everyone had had moments in their lives where the consciousness of a group event could almost be felt. A REG machine was so exquisitely sensitive that it might just pick up on this.

Nelson decided to test out this theory with meetings that were to hand.


Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne were already planning to attend the International Consciousness Research Laboratories in April 1993, where a group of senior scholars met twice a year to exchange information about the role of consciousness. Later that year, Nelson planned to attend the Direct Mental Healing Interactions (DHML) group, held at the Esalen Institute in California, which promised to be a powerful conference of a dozen scientists examining how to conduct research on healing.


In Hollywood, a certain awe was reserved for people who were ‘good meetings’. In Nelson’s case, the question was whether a REG machine would pick up the good vibrations as well.

Jahn and Dunne headed off to their meeting with a box and a laptop computer, which represented the REG program and the computer recording the data, and kept it running throughout their conference. Nelson did the same at his Esalen meeting. What they were looking for was whether this steady shift from random movement would indicate some change in the ‘information’ environment and be related to the shared information field and collective consciousness of the group.3


The main difference between these and the ordinary REG trials was that the group wouldn’t be trying to influence the machine in any way.

When they all returned to Princeton and analyzed the results, they discovered that some undeniable effect had taken place. They decided to carry out a series of these experiments. At another, similar event - this time, the Academy of Consciousness sponsored by ICRL - the data was even more decisive.


A big central incline in the graph corresponded exactly with the point during the meeting where there’d been an intense, twenty-minute discussion concerning ritual in everyday life, which had captivated the audience.


Nelson also examined log books and audio recordings of group members made at the time. Many of the fifty attendees had remarked upon the discussion as a special shared moment. Without knowing of the outcome of the REG machine, one member had reported that a change in the group’s energy had been almost palpable.4

With his own Esalen study, Nelson discovered that the most riveting moment of the meeting had also produced a strong deviation from randomness in the data.

The results were intriguing, but the idea needed to be tested further, in all sorts of venues. To best accomplish this, though, he needed a device that was truly portable. The hardware had been cumbersome and unwieldy, requiring its own power supply. Nelson thought of using a Hewlett Packard palm computer, which was not much bigger than a pocket tape recorder, with a miniaturized REG device sitting on top, plugged into the serial port, kept in place with a piece of Velcro.

Nelson wasn’t interested in whether he’d got more heads than tails since no one would be expressing an intention. All he wanted to determine was whether the machine had deviated in any direction away from its 50–50 random activity.


Any change - whether more heads or more tails, or sometimes more heads and then sometimes more tails - would be construed as a departure from chance. This called for a different statistical method of analyzing the data from that used by the PEAR lab for its ordinary studies. Nelson decided to use a method called ‘chi square’, which entailed plotting the square of each individual run.


Any unusual behavior, some prolonged or extreme deviation from its expected random heads-or-tails-type monotony, would easily show up.

Nelson had called these experiments in ‘field consciousness’, or ‘Field-REG’, for short. The name had had a neat double entendre. It was a REG out in the field, but also a device used to test if there was such a thing as a ‘consciousness field’.

Nelson decided to try his FieldREG on events of every variety - business meetings, academic meetings, a humor conference, concerts, theatrical events. He sought out compelling events that would keep the audience riveted - moments when a great number of people were all engaged in the same intense thought at the same time.5


When a member of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) expressed an interest in the PEAR work, Nelson loaned him a FieldREG and the machine attended fifteen of their ritual pagan gatherings - including Sabbats and those held during the full moon.6

The friend of a PEAR colleague, the artistic director of a large musical review called The Revels, which is mounted in eight US cities each December to see in the New Year, approached Nelson about trying out a FieldREG trial with his show. It seemed perfect: it had ritual, it had music, it had audience participation. Roger viewed the production and asked the artistic director to pick the five most engaging portions of the show that would most affect the audience and hence the machine.


The FieldREG attended ten shows in two cities in 1995 and several performances in eight cities in 1996. As if on cue, each moment that Nelson had predicted caused a glitch in the machine’s data.7

A definite pattern was emerging. The machine was moving out of its random movements into some sort of order precisely during moments of peak attention: special presentations at meetings, the climaxes of humor conferences, the most intense moments of a pagan ritual.


For a REG machine, whose movements were so delicately minuscule, these effects were relatively large - three times what it was for individuals at PEAR trying to affect the machines on their own. In the pagan sessions, the FieldREG had veered wildly off course twice, both during full-moon rituals, recording many more tails than usual.

One CUUPS group member was not surprised when Nelson told him the results.

‘On the whole,’ he remarked, ‘our Sabbats are not very personal or intense, whereas the moons sometimes are.’ 8

The particular activity didn’t really matter.


What seemed most important was the intensity of the group, the ability of the activity to keep its audience spellbound, and it helped if there was some sort of collective resonance in the group, particularly some context that was emotionally meaningful to them. At the humor conference, the machine made its biggest deviation during an evening keynote presentation, which was so funny the audience had given the comic a standing ovation and demanded an encore. What was clearly most important was that everyone was focused in rapt attention, all thinking the same thought.

What appeared to be happening was that when attention focused the waves of individual minds on something similar, a type of group quantum ‘superradiance’ occurred which had a physical effect.


The REG machine was in a sense a kind of thermometer, measuring the dynamics and coherence of the group. Only the business and academic meetings had no effect on the machine. If a group was bored and its attention was wandering, in a manner of speaking the machine was bored, too. It was just the intense moments of like-mindedness which seemed to gather enough power to impart some order on the chaotic purposelessness of a REG machine.

The idea of sacred sites intrigued Nelson.


Were they sacred because their use over the centuries had invested them with that quality, or had there been a quality about the site - the configuration of trees or stones, the spirit of place, its very location - that had been there from the beginning, leading human beings to naturally select it for that purpose? Ancient peoples had been sensitive to the earth’s signals, able to read and pay attention to certain configurations such as ley lines.


If there was something different about the place itself, had a type of collective consciousness coalesced there like an energetic whorl, or had some sort of energetic resonance always existed? And would any of this register on a REG machine?

Nelson decided to seek out several sites in America that had been sacred to Native Americans. Nelson and his machine observed a medicine man performing a ritual healing ceremony at the Devil’s Tower monument in Wyoming, a place considered sacred by certain tribes.


Later, he walked around Devil’s Tower himself with a PalmREG in his pocket, and then visited Wounded Knee in South Dakota, the site of the massacre of an entire Sioux tribe. Nelson surveyed the desolation, the cemetery and the monument to the dead. He fell into a deep quiet.


Later, when he looked at the data for the two places, it was beyond doubt: his machine’s output was definitely being affected, and with a far larger effect size than ordinary PEAR studies, as though there were some lingering memory of the thoughts of all the people who’d lived and died there.9

The perfect opportunity to look closer at the nature of collective memory and resonance arose during a trip to Egypt. Nelson decided to attend a two-week tour of Egypt with a group of nineteen colleagues, planning to visit the main temples and sacred sites of the ancient Egyptians, where they would carry out a series of informal ceremonies, such as chanting and meditation.


This trip would give him the chance to see whether people engaged in meditative activities at these sites - the kind of activities, in a sense, for which the sites had originally been built - had even more effect on the machines. Nelson kept a PalmREG running in his coat pocket during visits to all the major sites - the great Sphinx, the Temples of Karnak and Luxor, the Great Pyramid of Giza.


The PalmREG was on while the group meditated or chanted and when they were simply wandering through the temples, and even during moments when he was on his own, touring or meditating. He also kept a careful record of times when various activities had occurred.

When he’d returned home and compiled all his data, an interesting pattern emerged. The strongest effects on the machine occurred during times when the group was engaged in a ritual such as chanting at a sacred site. In most of the main pyramids, the effects had been six times that of ordinary REG trials at PEAR and twice those of ordinary FieldREG trials.


These were among the largest effects he’d seen - as large as those for a bonded couple. But when he put together all the data of the twenty-seven sacred sites he’d visited, while simply walking around them with no more than a respectful silence, the results were even more astounding.


The spirit of the place itself appeared to register effects every bit as large as the meditating group.

Of course, as he was carrying around the PalmREG in his pocket, his own expectations might have affected it - a well-known phenomenon referred to as the ‘experimenter effect’. It could have been the collective expectations and awe of the other visitors - after all, he was never at the sites on his own. But some other controls demonstrated that the situation was a little more complicated.


Again, when the group attempted chanting and meditation in other sites which were not deemed to be sacred but were nevertheless interesting, the effects on the PalmREG were significant, but smaller.


Even when the members of the group seemed attuned to each other - during a solar eclipse, attending a special astrology session, or a sunset birthday party - the machine’s effects were also small, not much greater than the effects observed during a standard REG trial. Nelson even monitored a series of his own focused ritual - during prayer at a mosque or certain ritual walks and while observing and trying to ‘decode’ hieroglyphics.


Many of them had been involving to Nelson - some deeply moving. Nevertheless, the machine’s output deviated a little, but no more than it would have if he were home in Princeton, sitting in front of a REG machine. Clearly, some resonance reverberated at the sites, possibly even a vortex of coherent memory.

Both the type of place and the activity of the group seemed to play contributing roles in creating a kind of group consciousness. In the sacred sites where chanting hadn’t taken place, simple group presence, or perhaps even the place itself, held a high degree of resonating consciousness. The machine had also registered an effect, even in the midst of the more mundane activities or places, so long as the group’s attention had been aroused.


And no matter how deeply engaged Nelson had been on his own, he could not match the effect size of the group.

There was one other remarkable element of his data. During his trip to the Great Pyramid of Khufu on the Giza plateau, the PalmREG had veered off its random course with a positive trend during two group chants inside the Queen’s Chamber and the Grand Gallery and then had a strongly negative trend in the King’s Chamber, where they’d carried on their chant.


A similar situation had occurred at Karnak. Nelson was amazed once the results had been plotted on a graph; both of them formed a large pyramid. It was hard to keep from thinking that, on some level, the PalmREG had been experiencing Nelson’s trip in parallel.10

Dean Radin had been at the Direct Mental Healing meeting and had seen Nelson’s weird data. As Radin had been an associate of Nelson’s and a co-author of the PEAR data meta-analysis, he was a natural candidate to replicate Nelson’s work.

With his first studies, Radin, like Nelson, discovered that these effects happen when a FieldREG is present in the room or at the site. But what about at long distance? The most obvious vehicle for long-distance like-mindedness was television. Everybody watched television, particularly the popular shows.


Would they all be thinking the same thing while they watched?


To test this, Radin needed something beyond a sitcom - an event that would guarantee an audience on the edge of its seat.11


The O.J. Simpson trial verdict would later represent a natural choice. But for his first study, Radin chose the Sixty-seventh Academy Awards in March 1995, which, with its estimated viewer size of one billion, was one of the biggest audiences he could think of. This audience comprised people in 120 different countries, so their contribution in mass attention would be coming from around the world.

To further demonstrate that the effects happened instantaneously at any distance, Radin used two REG machines, placed in different spots. One sat about 20 yards from him as he watched the event on March 27, the other was in his lab about 12 miles away, running on its own and not in front of a television set.


During the broadcast, both Radin and his assistant painstakingly noted down, minute by minute, the high interest and low interest moments of the show. Any moments of peak tension, such as the announcement of the winners for best picture, best actor or actress, were timed and noted as ‘high coherence’ periods.

After the show ended, he examined his data. During the highest interest periods, the machines’ degree of order increased to such a level that the odds against it having occurred by chance were 1000 to 1.


During the low interest periods, on the other hand, the degree of order was at a lower level, with odds against it having occurred by chance no greater than 10 to 1. Both computers were also run for four hours after the event, and during this control period, after a tiny high, possibly reflecting the end of the awards ceremony, both quickly returned to their usual random behavior.


Radin replicated his own experiment a year later, with similar results. He got the same kind of results with the Summer Olympics of July 1996 and of course the O.J. Simpson trial.

Radin tried out his machines on the Superbowl of 1996 and even general prime time TV on all four major television stations one evening in February of that year.


During the most important moments of the Super-bowl game, the machine deviated slightly, but the effect wasn’t anywhere near as marked as it was during the O.J. Simpson trial or the Academy Awards. This may have to do with one simple problem with a sports event - the fact that groups of people react differently and passionately to each play, depending on which team they are rooting for.


Radin also figured it might have something to do with the number of commercial breaks continually chopping up the game, especially as the advertisements shown during Superbowl have become as popular as the game itself. It was sometimes difficult to distinguish times of high interest from times of low interest and the results showed it.

In his other study of primetime TV, Radin had assumed that both the machines and human observers would peak in the key moments of any show and dribble off at the end, when commercials are usually shown. This is exactly what happened. Although the effect size wasn’t enormous, the machine’s greater tendency to order peaked just when the audience would have been most involved in the TV shows.

Wagnerians are a fanatical bunch, thought Dieter Vaitl, a colleague of Roger Nelson’s, at the Department of Clinical and Physiological Psychology at the University of Giessen.


Over the years, the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, the opera house Wagner had built for himself, had become something of a sacred site to which Wagner aficionados make an annual pilgrimage for the Wagner festival. These were true Wagner fanatics, intimate with every note, every waxing and waning of emotion, happy to sit through 15 hours of the Ring cycle.


Festspielhaus attendees, in the main, were Wagnerian experts. This, in short, represented the perfect audience for a FieldREG trial.

In 1996, Vaitl, who was very Wagnerian himself, with his sleek pompadour of white hair and his proud demeanor, attended the festival with a FieldREG machine at his side, recording the first cycle of the various operas. He repeated his experiment the following year and the year after that. In total, the REG machine sat through countless hours of Wagner - nine operas, from Tristan und Isolde to Götterdämmerung.


As a whole, over the three years, the trends were consistent, showing an overall change in order in the machine during the most highly emotional scenes or those with the most poignant music, such as choir parts.12

In this instance, the PEAR lab couldn’t match Vaitl’s results. They’d also had a FieldREG machine attend a wide variety of operas and shows in New York City, but the results showed the machines did not react to a significant degree.13


Obviously, audience attention required a Wagnerian type of intensity to have any affect on the machine. Vaitl concluded that a resonance might be more likely to be created when the audience knows the music well and is tuned into it.

An even more interesting result had come from Radin’s other close associate, Professor Dick Bierman in Amsterdam, who had often attempted to replicate his studies. Bierman decided to try out the FieldREG in a home reporting poltergeist-type effects - strange movements or displacement of large objects, usually thought to be caused by ghosts (hence the name, poltergeist, which means ‘noisy ghosts’).


In some quarters, poltergeists are not believed to be anything more than an intense energy emanating from an individual, often a tempestuous adolescent. In this instance, Bierman installed a REG machine and compared times the family reported a poltergeist effect and the heads-and-tails random output generated by the machine. The same moments the house reported an object flying around, the machine also demonstrated a deviation from chance.14


It may be that an individual with that type of intensity is creating the poltergeist experience through intense quantum effects in The Field.

Legend has it that the sun always shines on the heads of Princeton alumni, not simply through life but on the day they actually graduate. The local folklore was that even when rain was forecast, it somehow held off until after the commencement exercise was finished. Roger Nelson enjoyed attending the graduation day with his wife every year and had on more than one occasion remarked on the good weather.


He now began to wonder whether this was more than simple coincidence.


The FieldREG studies had left him with questions about how this type of field consciousness might operate in real life. It occurred to him that the collective wishing of the entire university community for a sunny day might actually have an effect in chasing rain clouds away.

He gathered together all weather reports for the past thirty years and examined what the weather had been like before, during and after the Princeton graduation. Mainly he was looking for the daily rate of precipitation. He also examined the weather of the six towns surrounding Princeton, which were to act as controls.

Nelson’s analysis showed some strange effects, as though some collective umbrella surrounded Princeton just on the day its students graduated. In the thirty years, 72 per cent (or nearly three-quarters) of graduation days had been dry, compared with only two-thirds (67 per cent) of days in the surrounding towns.


In statistical terms, this meant that Princeton had some magical dry effect around graduation time and was drier than usual, whereas all the surrounding towns were as wet as they should be around that time of year. Even on the one day when there’d been a flood of 2.6 inches of rain in Princeton, curiously the rain had held off until the ceremony had finished.15

Nelson’s study of the weather in Princeton was only a tiny gauge of whether people could produce a positive effect on their environment.


For twenty years, the Transcendental Meditation organization had systematically tested, through dozens and dozens of studies, whether group meditation could reduce violence and discord in the world. It was the contention of the founder of Transcendental Meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, that individual stress led to world stress and that group calm led to world calm.


He’d postulated that if 1 per cent of an area had people practising TM, or the square root of 1 per cent of the population were practising TM-Sidhi, a more advanced and active type of meditation, conflict of any variety - rates of shootings and other crime, drug abuse, even traffic accidents - would go down. The idea of the ‘Maharishi’ effect was that regularly practicing TM enables you to get in touch with a fundamental field that connects all things - a concept not unlike the Zero Point Field.


If enough people were doing it, the coherence would prove infectious among the entire population.

The TM organization had elected to call this ‘Super Radiance’ because just as superradiance in the brain or in a laser creates coherence and unity, so meditation would have the same effect on society.


Special groups of yogic flyers have assembled all over the world, carrying out special ‘meditation intensives’ targeted at specific areas of conflict. Since 1979 a US Super Radiance group ranging in size from a few hundred to more than 8000 has gathered twice a day at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, to attempt to create greater harmony in the world.

Although the TM organization has been ridiculed, largely because of the promotion of the Mararishi’s own personal interests, the sheer weight of data is compelling. Many of the studies have been published in impressive journals, such as the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Mind and Behavior, and Social Indicators Research, which means that they would have had to meet stringent reviewing procedures.


A recent study, the National Demonstration Project in Washington DC, conducted over two months in 1993, showed that when the local Super Radiance group increased to 4000, violent crime, which had been steadily increasing during the first five months of the year, began to fall, to 24 per cent, and continued to drop until the end of the experiment. As soon as the group disbanded, the crime rate rose again.


The study demonstrated that the effect couldn’t have been due to such variables as weather, the police or any special anti-crime campaign.16

Another study of twenty-four US cities showed that whenever a city reached a point where 1 per cent of the population was carrying out regular TM, the crime rate dropped to 24 per cent.


In a follow-up study of 48 cities, half of which had a 1 per cent population which meditated, the 1 per cent cities achieved a 22 per cent decrease in crime, compared with an increase of 2 per cent in the control cities, and an 89 per cent reduction in the crime trend, compared with an increase of 53 per cent in the control cities.17

The TM organization has even studied whether group meditation could affect world peace. In one 1983 study of a special TM assembly in Israel, which tracked the Arab-Israeli conflict day by day for two months, on days when the number of meditators was high, war deaths in Lebanon fell by 76 per cent, and local crime, traffic accidents and fires all decreased.


Once again, confounding influences such as weather, weekends or holidays had been controlled for.18

The TM studies, as well as Nelson’s FieldREG work, in their own small, preliminary way, offered hope to an alienated and Godless generation. Good might well be able to conquer evil after all. We could create a better community. We had the collective capacity to make the world a better place.

Radin was being a bit facetious when he came up with the idea. He and Nelson had been at Freiburg at a conference in late 1997, and the talk had been about whether they ought to bring some physiological measurements like EEG into studies using REGs.

‘Why not look at Gaia’s EEG?’ Radin remarked at one point.

Nelson immediately pounced on it.


As an EEG reads the activity of an individual brain, by attaching electrodes over its surface, so they might be able to take readings of the mind of Gaia, as many people liked to refer to the world. James Lovelock had coined the name, after the Greek goddess of the earth, with his hypothesis that the world is a living entity with its own consciousness.19


Perhaps they could set up a network of REGs dotted all over the world. The world EEG would be run continuously, taking a constant temperature of the state of the collective mind.


When they were searching for a name for it, another colleague of Nelson’s came up with ‘ElectroGaiaGram’, or EGG. Nelson liked the term ‘noosphere’, coined by Teilhard de Chardin to reflect the idea that the earth was encased in a layer of intelligence.


Although Nelson would develop this idea into the Global Consciousness Project, a project at Princeton but separate from PEAR, EGG was the name that stuck.

If it was true that fields generated by individual consciousnesses can combine during moments of like-mindedness, Nelson wished to see if the collective reaction to the most stirring events of our time would have some sort of common effect on highly sensitive gauges such as REG machines. The O.J. Simpson trial had been a first attempt at this, running machines in different places and comparing the results.

Nelson began with a small group of scientists, who turned on their REG machines in August 1998. He eventually gathered together a network of forty scientists running REGs all over the globe. The project generated a tidal wave of data.


Continuous streams of data pouring out of them were sent over the Internet, to be matched with dramatic moments in modern history - the death of John F. Kennedy Jr, and the near impeachment of Bill Clinton; the Paris crash of Concorde and the bombing of Yugoslavia; floodings and volcanic eruptions and the New Year’s celebrations of Y2K.

Even before EGG started it had its first real test in prototype form, when the world’s most beloved princess was suddenly killed in a Paris tunnel. Data recorded before, during and after the Princess of Wales’ funeral was compiled and compared with the official schedules of events. During all the public ceremonies for Diana, the machines had veered off their random course, an effect that was 100 to 1 against chance.20

However, when Nelson looked at similar data taken during the funeral of Mother Theresa soon after, there had been no untoward effect on the machines. Mother Theresa had been ill and her death had been expected. She was elderly and had lived a full and productive life.


Clearly, the tragedy of the young and troubled princess captured the heart of the world, and the REGs had picked it up.21


American elections and even the Monica Lewinsky scandal didn’t seem to stir the world. But New Year’s celebrations, major disasters and tragedies sent a shiver through the collective spine that duly showed up on the machines. Not surprisingly, one of the most profound effects was felt during and immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.22

These initial results left Nelson and Radin with many tantalizing questions. If there was such a thing as a world mind, perhaps little flashes of inspiration in it could account for the most monstrous and magnificent moments in human history, or maybe negative consciousness was also like a germ that could infect people and take hold.


Germany had been depressed in every sense after the First World War.


Could this dispiritedness have affected the Germans on a quantum level, making it easier for Hitler, that most intoxicating of speakers, to create a kind of negative collective, which fed on itself and condoned the grossest of evils? Had a collective consciousness been responsible for the Spanish inquisition? The Salem witchcraft trials? Did collective evil also create coherence?

And what of man’s greatest achievements? Could a sudden gust of inspiration occur in the world mind? Could some coalescence of energy be responsible for the flowering of art or higher consciousness in a certain age? For the ancient Greeks? The Renaissance? Was creativity also infectious, accounting for the explosive creativity in Vienna in the 1790s and the burgeoning of British pop music in the 1960s?


The Zero Point Field provided a likely explanation for certain unexplained physical synchronicities - such as the scientifically verified coming together of menstrual cycles among women in close proximity.23


Could it also account for emotional and intellectual synchronicity in the world?

It was the first inkling that group consciousness, working through a medium such as the Zero Point Field, acted as the universal organizing factor in the cosmos. But so far, with the technology to hand, Nelson had only the first glimmers of evidence, a tiny deviation from random activity. All he could do thus far was measure a single pebble or at best a handful of sand - the quantum effect of an individual or a small group on the world.


One day, he might have the capacity to measure the effect of the entire beach, for that was the ultimate point. The beach should only be measured in its entirety. The sand of the entire shore is indivisible.

Twenty-five years after Edgar Mitchell had experienced collective consciousness viscerally, scientists were beginning to prove it in a laboratory.24

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