(1) PK on random number generators
on Friday, February 11, 2011
The advent of electronic and computer technologies has allowed researchers to develop highly automated experiments studying the interaction between mind and matter. In one such experiment, a Random Number Generator (RNG) based on electronic or radioactive noise produces a data stream that is recorded and analyzed by computer software.
In the typical RNG experiment, a subject attempts to mentally change the distribution of the random numbers, usually in an experimental design that is functionally equivalent to getting more "heads" than "tails" while flipping a coin. Of course the electronic, computerized experiment has many advantages over earlier research using, e.g., tossed coins or dice. In the RNG experiment, great flexibility is combined with careful scientific control and a high rate of data acquisition.
A meta-analysis of the database, published in 1989, examined 800 experiments by more than 60 researchers over the preceding 30 years. The effect size was found to be very small, but remarkably consistent, resulting in an overall statistical deviation of approximately 15 standard errors from a chance effect. The probability that the observed effect was actually zero (i.e., no psi) was less than one part in a trillion, verifying that human consciousness can indeed affect the behavior of a random physical system. Furthermore, while experimental quality had significantly increased over time, this was uncorrelated with the effect size, in contradiction to a frequent, but unfounded skeptical criticism.
Some parapsychologists believe that these results can be accounted for by ESP if the experimenter (or their participants) intuitively know the right moment to start their studies to get significant results. This is known as Decision Augmentation Theory. However, the apparent effect of focused mass consciousness on a world-wide network of RNGs (see the Global Consciousness Project) suggest that at least some of the time, there is an element of mind-matter interaction.