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For the past seven years, random number generators have been running all over the world, electronically flipping 200 coins each second, with the intention of measuring a global consciousness. The Global Consciousness Project (GCP), originating from Princeton, have named these random event generators Electrogaiagrams (EGGs) and are using them to test whether a human consciousness extends a field around the earth which can change the results of random events. They claim that when an important event occurs, such as the 9/11 terrorist attack or the Indian Ocean tsunami, the random event generators start to display patterns that should not exist in truly random sequences.

Not only does the GCP detect spikes of less-than-random activity around some important events, but according to the project it actually predicts them, too. In the aforementioned 9/11 attack there was a bizarre spike of non-random activity four hours before the attacks; as for the Indian Ocean tsunami, analysts say that the EGGs detected it 24 hours in advance. “We may be able to predict that a major world event is going to happen,” says Roger Nelson, the project leader. “But we won’t know exactly what will happen or where it’s going to happen.”

As it stands now it will be difficult for the GCP to predict events since they examine data from the EGGs after an event occurs. In each study, an important event is chosen, ranging from the funeral of Princess Di to an Oprah Winfrey special airing on television. They then analyze a certain timespan around the event to test if the EGGs created numbers that are conclusively too patterned to be random.

Naturally there are many criticisms towards the GCP. First, how is one to determine what a significant event is? Then, how does one know how close a non-random event had to have occurred for it to be a significant relation? Also, wouldn’t it be easy to see a pattern before or after an important event and then claim it was responding to a global consciousness? Even if all these questions were answered, the project gives no solid explanation of how human consciousness would extend a field or affect random number generators.

While this project could be a case of scientists looking too hard at raw data to find patterns, the GCP disagrees. “We’re perfectly willing to discover that we’ve made mistakes, but we haven’t been able to find any, and neither has anyone else,” says Nelson. “Our data shows clearly that the chances of getting these results by fluke are one million to one against.” Also, the data the GCP releases are controlled experiments with defined criteria.

Even so, it is easy for a project like this to construct a hypothesis that cannot be disproved – any patterned data confirms the hypothesis, whereas any that does not are simply some other effects of global consciousness. However, until someone comes up with solid evidence that the GCP is fruitless, the EGGs will continue to flip their virtual coins, trying to see into the future.