Thursday, March 3, 2016

Random Coincidence, Or Something More?

As humans, we often try to make sense of this world we live in. We can undertake truly esoteric tasks to try to uncover a piece of the puzzle, and here’s one I’ve come across that is strange enough to be worth sharing.

In August 1998, Princeton University began something called the Global Consciousness Study which set out to find if there is such a thing as an “interconnected human consciousness on a global scale”. The existence of such a phenomenon would help explain how far-flung cultures adopted skills like written language without being in contact with other more developed societies, and more common experiences like deja-vu.

The study involved 60 random number generators across the globe. They call these generators “eggs” and all that these machines do is produce random numbers. At the same time, there are computers that guess what those numbers may be. In the realm of probability, there will be instances where the random numbers and guesses match. But that is not where the peculiarity lies.

In 2013, the Princeton scientists released 14 years of data that showed the number of matches and their timing. What was discovered was that more matches occurred around the time of important world events (911, Princess Diana’s death, the Pope’s funeral, the Concorde crash), when millions of people focused their awareness on one thing. Skeptics think it is silly to try to measure consciousness in such a way, but I think finding patterns in random data produces revelations rather than insights. If this ramble has piqued your curiosity, this short 3-minute video explains the rationale of the study and results. There’s talk of “conscious interactions” and a phenomena among data scientists known as “the drunkard’s walk.” I think I know which is the livelier road to take.

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