Princeton University research shows collective action works

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on April 06, 2020

What effect is it? Questions such as whether or not millions of people clapping or lighting lamps at the same time will drive away the coronavirus are as yet unanswered

Zomato staff in Mumbai have the flashlights on their phones on as they mark the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Mumbai on Sunday. - Paul Noronha

There is something in it. The body of scientific knowledge in this area is as yet inchoate and more research is underway, but several researches, notably by a professor at Princeton University, USA, have established that when people collectively take an action, it has an effect.

What effect is it? Questions such as whether or not millions of people clapping or lighting lamps at the same time will drive away the coronavirus are as yet unanswered. But going by the three-decades-long research work at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Labs, it is clear that collective action impacts ‘reality’.

In 1997, Roger Nelson (then) of the Princeton University, who is an “experimental psychologist” set up a Global Consciousness Project “to assess the possibility of a subtle reach of consciousness in the physical world on a global scale.”

His method was to set up 100 random number generators – computers that randomly generate numbers expressed in 1s and 0s – every second. (Two of them are in India Bengaluru and Chennai.) The random numbers generated are fed into a central computer in the US, where another computer analyses them.

Usually, the number of 1s and 0s in a number are roughly the same. But it was observed that when a global event happened and millions of minds were focused on it, the number of 1s and 0s were not roughly the same. This was seen when Princess Diana died, when 9/11 happened and more recently, on March 22, when Indians clapped.

The conclusion (arrived at before March 22) was that when human consciousness becomes coherent, the behaviour of random systems change. In more scientific terms, the GCP website explains it thus: Random number generators (RNGs) based on quantum tunnelling produce completely unpredictable sequences of zeroes and ones. But when a great event synchronises the feelings of millions of people, our network of RNGs becomes subtly structured.” The odds that such a rogue behaviour by random number generators is due to chance, according to Nelson, is one in a trillion.

The message is, collective consciousness impinges on physical reality.

Dr Nelson, an octogenarian who works from his home office today, was however not the only one to take an interest in parapsychology. Dr William Tiller of the Department of Materials Science, Stanford University, has also studied telepathic connections intensely. He says, “For the last four hundred years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call 'physical reality.' Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today's world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct.” Dr Tiller has established an Institute for Psychoenergetic Science (

Nelson’s PEAR Lab has also experimented into telepathic phenomena such as ‘remote perception’. In “several hundred carefully conducted experiments”, they placed an ‘agent’ in one location and a ‘percipient’ thousands of miles away, and tested whether the percipient could ‘see’ through the agent. Yes, he could.

The experiments indicated “some anomalous channel of information acquisition well beyond any chance expectation.” In a 1997 paper on the topic, Nelson says that the results to “beyond confirming the validity of this anomalous mode of information acquisition”. He concludes that the analyses “demonstrate that the capacity of the human consciousness is also largely independent of the distance between the percipient and the target and similarly independent of the time between the specification of the target and the perception effort.”

Nelson was perhaps inspired into these experiments (as Tiller was) by an erstwhile Soviet program during the Cold War. The object of the program was to ‘remote perceive’ US military secrets. This may sound like some mumbo-jumbo, but the book “Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain” by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, available in Amazon, gives a good record of the program.

Alarmed by the Soviet program, the United States launched its own study, at the SRI International, California. A man called Ingo Swann, a renowned psychic of New York, was the first ‘Remote Viewer’ to collaborate with the investigating physicist, Hal Putoff, at SRI. The results again were counter-intuitive. Remote perception was indeed possible.

According to Mahadeva Srinivasan, a former BARC scientist who collaborates with Nelson, about 5 per cent of the US’ 23-year study has been declassified. The declassified stuff has been captured in another book called ‘Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Secret Spies”, by journalist Jim Schnabel. This book too is available on Amazon.

The bottom line is that there is an “unknown information transfer mechanism in all these phenomena, involving interaction between mind and matter” and these have been brought in the scientific circles under the broad term ‘Subtle Energies”, points out Srinivasan. There is an International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM), which monitors the progress in this field.

“If the evidence emanating from these studies is taken cognizance of then one must concede that modern science has missed out on some very important facets of reality,” says Srinivasan.

Published on April 05, 2020

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