A while ago, I had begun some posts on the best evidence for the existence of the “soul”, and discussed such things as out-of-body experiences (OBE’s), near-death experiences (NDE’s) and the like. I’d like to return to this and bring up another line of inquiry: mind-machine interaction.
The research in this area follows this general approach: a random number generating device is set up, usually based on the quantum uncertainty of radioactive decay, which produces a set of binary bits (0’s and 1’s) in a true random order. In simpler terms, they point a Geiger-counter at a piece of radioactive stuff – measure the time between “clicks”, and then make the machine say either “yes” or “no” depending on how long it was between clicks. This is a completely random process. Nothing in the world can precisely predict when the next “click” will occur.
The next step is to take test subjects – sit them down at some kind of feedback device which shows the “yeses” and “nos” and ask them to use their mind to make the machine produce more “yeses”. There are lots of variations, but you get the general idea. Technically, this can be thought of as “psychokinesis” – influencing a physical object with the power of the mind.
Let me stop the explanation for a moment and ask just what this would prove, if it were successful. Clearly it doesn’t prove the existence of God, angels, heaven or an immortal soul. But what it WOULD prove would kick open the theoretical door to various interesting possibilities, because it would prove that human consciousness is not confined to the chemical reactions in a human brain, but is somehow connected, via human intention, to objects outside itself. And – not to keep you in suspense, the experiments are successful. The effect is small, but it is measurable, and consistent over an enormous number of trials – reducing the possibility of this being a chance effect to insignificance..
Just in case you are tempted to think that this is some kind of electromagnetic field effect of the human body – the experiments have also been done with the random number “pods” thousands of miles away from the test subjects. The effects are the same.
To make things even more bizarre, the test subjects are equally good at influencing a run of random numbers in the FUTURE. The tester “wills” for a future run to have more “yeses” than “nos”, and sure enough, that’s what happens.
And just to make this totally mind-boggling, the effect seems to be just as pronounced BACKWARDS IN TIME. The test subjects try to influence a series of numbers ALREADY PRODUCED by the random number pod at an earlier time. Provided these numbers have not been observed before the test, the effect is the same.
This suggests that human consciousness is both non-local and non-temporal. While this does not demand that we accept the full-fledged idea of a “soul”, at the very least it argues strongly for something like panpsychism.
When I had discussed these results with a skeptic a year or so ago (I was focusing on the Princeton research) he admitted the research was impressive, but questioned why the results had not been replicated elsewhere. I have since learned that they have – on many occasions and in many trials. The Princeton work itself was a duplication of earlier work by physicist Helmut Schmit of the Mind Science Foundation in Texas. In many trials of remote influence on random number generators, experimental statisticians found the odds against chance results to be several million to one. To quote Ray Hyman, a respected critic of psi research:
“By almost any standard, Schmidt’s work is the most challenging ever to confront critics such as myself. His approach makes many of the earlier criticisms of parapsychology research obsolete. I am confinced that he was sincere, honest, and dedicated to being as scientific as possible… the most sophisticated parapsychologist I have encountered. If there are flaws in his work, they are not the more obvious or common ones”.
A number of papers by Schmidt and similar researchers can be found here:
These results were replicated in a massive body of research, involving millions of trials over the course of 27 years, by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR). Their composite results were found to be unlikely to occur by chance to the degree of 10^-8 for formal trials, and 10^-12 for all trials.
Numerous papers and publications from PEAR can be found on their website here:
Successful results in smaller trials have been obtained by:
Dick Bierman and Debra Weiner
Joop M. Houtkooper
And a number of others. An analysis of all these smaller trials combined gives positive results 5.31 standard deviations from the norm.
In summary, this research is very difficult to ignore, and the effects are verifiable with a high degree of certainty. There is an interaction between human consciousness and targets removed in time and space. Human consciousness is more than simply a local chemical effect in a brain.