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  • Bryan Williams

Collective Consciousness During the "World's Largest Ghost Hunt?"

Random number generators (or RNGs, for short) are small electronic circuits designed to produce random sequences of binary numbers (i.e., random strings of "1"s & "0"s) based on the activity of natural physical processes such as radioactive decay and the noise produced by streams of electrons, which are inherently unpredictable. Since the 1960s, they have been frequently used in parapsychological experiments to determine whether humans are capable of influencing physical matter solely through the use of their mental will, without any direct physical contact - in other words, whether they are capable of the psychic ability of psychokinesis (PK, or "mind over matter," as it's more commonly known). And indeed, statistical evaluations done on the hundreds of PK experiments that have been conducted since that time do seem to indicate that the people participating in these experiments were able to mentally affect the random sequences produced by the RNGs to a small but significant degree, making them become less random (or "ordered") than would be expected by chance. If "mind over matter" is a genuine human ability, then does it occur in real-world situations? To find out, parapsychologists also began taking RNGs out into the field and seeing how they behave whenever groups of people seem to be sharing a common level of attentional focus, emotion, or social rapport with each other. This might occur during such moments as:

  • When people have a productive group meeting (a time when many of them may say that they felt they were all "on the same page");

  • When the attention of many individuals is collectively drawn by the occurrence of a high-profile news or social event;

  • When people all celebrate together (such as on New Year's Eve)

  • When people rally together to support a common goal, purpose, or cause

During these times, these "field RNG" studies have generally found that the random number sequences being produced by the RNGs also tend to become less random than would be expected by chance. What might that suggest? Perhaps it suggests that there's an aspect of human consciousness which is capable of extending outward to subtly influence matter in the physical world in such a way that it helps create more "order" in the surrounding physical environment than usual. In a sense, it would seem that when people collectively focus their thoughts, emotions, and actions toward a common purpose, there's something in the physical world that shifts every so slightly, seemingly in conjunction with their shared mental focus - a hypothesized "collective consciousness" effect. Might the same kind of thing happen when paranormal investigators from around the world come together at the same time to act as though they were all part of one large team (in line with the concept of "paraunity")? This was the question which motivated a field RNG study that I've been carrying out over the past two years during the "World's Largest Ghost Hunt," a massively-coordinated group event held annually to observe National Ghost Hunting Day. Using data produced by a subset of RNGs actively running in a globally-distributed RNG network established and maintained by the Global Consciousness Project, the aim is to determine whether any small shifts from expected randomness may occur as the investigators simultaneously search for spirits at allegedly haunted locations in various geographic regions (including the United States, Canada, Colombia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, India, Malaysia, and Australia). An article which summarizes this study and the findings obtained so far for a general readership can be found at this link in Adobe PDF format. (Readers who like technical details can access a more detailed report found at this link.) This study is ongoing, and we have yet to see what further data might reveal, come the next observance of National Ghost Hunting Day on September 29th...

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