The Playground of Consciousness

Part 1: Experiments and Experience

Recommended reading

Margins of Reality
Margins of Reality

The Role of Consciousness in the Physical World. An account by Robert G. Jahn and Brenda Dunne of the first 20 years of research at the PEAR lab at Princeton University.

The Conscious Universe
The Conscious Universe

The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, by Dean L. Radin of the Institute for Noetic Sciences.

Miracles of Mind
Miracles of Mind

Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing. By Russell Targ and Jane Katra.

The Living Energy Universe
The Living Energy Universe

by Gary Schwartz and Linda Russek.

Science and Consciousness

To understand the entire Kosmos, including our thoughts, emotions, and everything that is thinkable or ‘conceivably conceivable’, we need to take a look at the consciousness side as well. We will look at investigations into the nature of interactions between consciousness and machines, and also at the nature of perception.

Consciousness and space-time

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research project was established in 1979. It evolved from a project proposed by an undergraduate student in electronics to build a device to test low-level psychokinetic effects. Over the next two decades, many thousands of experiments were conducted, and the program was expanded to include other types of psychic phenomena.

The experiments run roughly as follows. An electronic device called a ‘Random Event Generator’ generates either a + or a -. The device is tuned so that there is a chance of 50% either way. An electronic counter keeps track of the number of +’s en -‘s in a given span of time. The test subject is then asked to try to influence the device in either direction. The correlations between the stated intent of the subject and the output of the device are then studied using thorough statistical methods.

The exact details of the analysis would lead us too far. We will simply list some of the major conclusions of the research.

These findings confirm many of the results of our physics experiments. Consciousness does have an influence on physical matter. Intentions in the present can influence events in both the future and the past. Finally, spatial separation is not a prohibiting factor in the activities of consciousness.

Conscious perception

In another class of studies at Princeton, the ability of subjects to acquire information about spatially and temporally remote geographical targets, otherwise inaccessible by any known sensory means, has been thoroughly demonstrated over several hundred carefully conducted experiments.

One participant, the “agent”, to be stationed at a randomly selected location at a given time, and there to observe and record impressions of the details and ambience of the scene. A second participant, the “percipient”, located far from the scene and with no prior information about it, tries to sense its composition and character and to report these in a similar format to the agent’s description.

As before, we will simply list the most important results.

A variation of this experiment is to let the agent pick an object as a target and put it in a special place. The percipient is then to identify the object. Dozens of informal experiments show that:

Experimenter Bias

The so-called “experimenter effect” describes the observation that different experimenters, using similar methodologies with no detectable differences, may arrive at different experimental outcomes.

In 1997, Richard Wiseman, a skeptic, and Marilyn Schiltz, a ‘believer’ in psychic phenomena, worked together on a remarkable experiment.

Schlitz had designed a rigorous randomized trial evaluating whether subjects could detect another person staring at them from a distance (over a closed-circuit television system). The study yielded statistically significant positive results. When the skeptical Richard Wiseman failed to replicate the results, he invited her to England to repeat the experiment along with him in two separate but equal trials using the same subjects and the same equipment, and once again she got positive results and he got negative ones.

This is only one study, but it nevertheless points to an intriguing possibility, namely that the beliefs, intentions, and expectations of an experimenter may play an active role in shaping experimental outcomes. This is in stark contrast to the dominant scientific model of which explicitly has the absence of the influence of experimenter bias as one of the corner stones of its experimental methods.


More on remote viewing and the nature of perception can be found in the following places:

Introduction | Experiments and Experience | Science | Science and Consciousness | Consciousness | Expanding the Playground | The Dynamics of Creation