The PEAR Lab
(Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab) will be closing at the end of February of 2007. It is regrettable that the experimental research challenging the cherished dogmas of our scientific world view is not allowed to continue.
The research group was directed by Robert G. Jahn and studied both machine mind interactions and remote perception. Reader can find a brief description of these experiments in Wikipedia but just to make clear for myself what is involved I see the trouble of reproducing the description of machine mind interaction experiments here.
REG (Random Event Generator) experiment serves as a prototype for machine-mind interaction experiment.
- Random noise was sampled with given frequency which varied from experiment to experiment and the outcome was coded into a bit.
- The experiment involved three different intentions. Intention to produce bits 1 ("high"), bits 0 ("low"), and observing the data generation without any effort to affect the outcome.
- The operator reported in the beginning of each trial her intention. The result of a particular trial was r= 200N(bit=1)/N(bits). In the absence of any effect the result should have been r= 100. The result of the run involving 8×10^5 trials per intention with 200 bits per trial was r(high)=100.026 and r(low)=99.984. The difference corresponds to 3.8 or 3.8 standard deviations. The deviation is 3.8 times large than the expected margin of error in the measurement and can be regarded as statistically significant.
This experiment served as a template for several other experiments such as remote experiment in which the device was influenced from distance; pseudo experiments in which operator was replaced with random analog noise source; a random mechanical cascade in which experimenter tried to affect the trajectories of macroscopic polystyrene balls falling through an array of pegs; a pendulum experiment in which operator tried to affect to motion of pendulum.
The conclusions were following. Human mind can affect random physical processes to a small but statistically significant degree. The effect seems to disappear when genuinely random sources are replaced with deterministic one (pseudo random sources). Different individuals produce different results. The effect shows long term fluctuations, which can be partly but not completely explained by changes in the operator pool.
Could quantum critical systems be more interesting than machines?
From the point of view of TGD inspired theory of consciousness, the attempt to affect random noise is certainly not the optimal experimental situation if one wants to detect strong effects. The optimal choice of system to be affected by intentional action would be a macroscopic quantum critical system. In TGD Universe high temperature super-conductors would be one example of such systems. Another system of this kind would be capacitor very near to the voltage at which di-electric breakdown occurs. Cell membrane provide one example of this kind of system.TGD also predicts that dark matter corresponds to a hierarchy of macroscopic quantum phases with increasing value of Planck constant responsible also for the very special properties of living matter.
The power of dogma
In TGD Universe, my own biological body would be a quantum critical system and I could argue that I experience the effects of intentions on living matter every day! I think that many readers would agree with me. Why should then people be burned on stake for suggesting that our intentions might have small effects on the material world outside our biological body? One can understand this irrational behavior only by realizing how enormous is the power of dogma.
So what happens when I raise my hand according to scientific explanation? "I decide to raise my hand and it raises!" would be the spontaneous answer of an innocent layman. Wrong! According to the belief system of an orthodox materialistic scientist wishing to keep his job, there is no intentional action involved. The scientist admits that there is some small quantum mechanical non-determinism in atomic length scales and below but in human scales all these effects give just random background noise. The initial conditions at the moment of big bang just happened to be such that my hand raises and I experience the illusion of having an intention to raise my hand. The reason why I have this illusion of free will and intention is not completely clear to the materialist. My complex initial value sensitive system and for some funny reason initial value sensitive systems have a tendency to create this kind of illusions. But not intentionally of course!
This example should demonstrate how difficult the challenge of proving that our intentions can affect the world outside us really is. I would actually talk abot mission impossible. Materialistic scientist can always fabulate a story explaining the outcome of any intentional action, whether it affects his own body or external world, as resulting from a deterministic laws of physics. They can always claim that statistical methods used have some flaw and it is always possible to say there is fraud involved.
The dogmas are what really matter for the average scientists as any average person willing to survive socially. Materialistic and reductionistic dogmas declare that in length scales above atomic length scale quantum effects are negligible and the world is in practice deterministic. Quantum world in macro scales is a random soup of matter with no long range quantal correlations otherwise made possible by quantum entanglement. Who argues something different is a crackpot (although I have heard this word so many times in physics blogs it still makes me almost puke!).
Dogmas and mathematics
The basic dogmas materialize themselves also mathematically. In standard quantum mechanics based on von Neumann algebras known as factors of type I. These algebras apply to the quantum theory of simple systems with finite number of degrees of freedom. Hydrogen atom is the classical example.
This is however not the only mathematical possibility. Von Neumann algebras known as hyper-finite factors of type II1 about which I have been talking a lot during last two years are the mathematics for a quantum universe which behaves as a single cosmic organism. Quantum entanglement over arbitrarily long spatial (and temporal!) scale is always present and can be reduced only partially. That Planck constant can have arbitrarily large values realizes this as a new element of quantum physics. Everything is connected with everything. One of the basic implications at the level of consciousness theory are sharing and fusion of mental effects and collective pool of mental images. All this disgusting new age stuff is realized mathematically and even worse: the person responsible for all this scandalous mathematics is the father of classical computer architecture: you cannot trust anyone nowadays!
Theory is regarded as successful if it explains empirical facts. Eastern meditation practices are the empirical study of consciousness and this picture indeed confirms to surprising degree with the views about consciousness provided by these practices. Of course, this picture explains the facts about brain produced by western science: in particular a successful model for EEG emerges.
Dogmas materialize themselves even in the notion of number used. For physicists basically only the magnitude of the number matters, not its number theoretic anatomy. Numbers tell what some things weighs, nothing else. In fact that number theory has become basic element of TGD inspired theory of consciousness and number theoretical complexity becomes a quantitative measure for cognitive level.
Beliefs in crisis
All is after all about beliefs: which beliefs we raise to dogmas as we try to make sense of the world around us. Beliefs have however a finite life span. The explanatory power is what matters in the long run. Entire societies fall down when everyone knows that everyone knows that dogma is wrong. I strongly feel that materialistic and reductionistic dogma has now reached the end of its life span.
During last three decades the materialistic dogmatics combined with American pragmatism (kind of analog of quartal economy in science) has led to the deepest crisis that theoretical physics has ever experienced. The fate of super string theorists was to devote their lifetime for a theory which was not a beginning of something fantastic but an unavoidable culmination for the world view based on dogmas which do not work anymore. Super-string gurus cannot but continue to declare that tiny little strings of size Planck length (reductionism!) are the ultimate building blocks of matter. It does not matter that in its recent form this theory cannot even predict the dimension of space-time to say nothing about what we observe in laboratory! The reaction of the most fanatic gurus is that since this theory is the only possible one (by some misty arguments involving usually big names) we must give up the idea that physics can predict something. The reader has probably detected the deep irony here: after all, the materialistic dogma was based on the idea of complete predictability!
During these 28 years as out-of-law in science I have pondered many times how this kind of incredibly irrational behavior is possible. The people behind these prejudices do not look like lunatics, fanatics, or series killers. The only explanation I can imagine is that we are not able to tolerate social pressures. That ordinary decent people can by forced by social pressures to believe and even do almost everything has been demonstrated in many experiments. As an example consider the following social experiment. There is a group of subject persons. As a matter fact, some of them are actors and take the role of an influental social leader. These people are asked to tell what 1+1 is but in such manner that everyone knowns the answers of others. Actors tell first their opinion which is 1+1 =3. Surprisingly many of participants cannot but agree after a painful internal battle!
Spiritual IQ and world view as a disease
Some of us are more able to resist social pressures. How do they differ from the rest of us? I suggest a simple three-letter answer: SIQ, Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. At the level of individual the growth of SIQ often occurs through a turning point experiences in which previous world view is dramatically transformed and one realizes that old certainties are not much more than a result of a need to gain social acceptance. After the great change one central theme often rules the life of these people: the puzzle of consciousness. Just the mere attempt to understand this mystery can give a full meaning to the life and the realization that there are things larger than biological life gradually gives the courage to insist also the magic power of social pressures. Almost as a rule these people gain the respect of the people who know them personally.
Just to see how SIQ manifests itself in social situations go to a typical physics blog (if you want almost physical violence choose the blog from US: you can start from Not-Even-Wrong or Reference Frame and follow the links to other blogs), and follow the discussion or postings. You will find that a considerable portion of debate consists of exchanges of direct personal insults. You soon realize that many of the participants cannot be very happy: there is too much frustration, aggression, and arrogance. Of course, this kind of direct violence is not possible in everyday academic life but from personal experience I can tell that academic people are masters of the refined forms of implicit violence.
My explanation is that wrong world view is the disease that these people are suffering. The universe of materialistic and reductionistic science lacks both purpose and meaning. In this kind of world human life span is not more than a random spark between two darknesses. No wonder that a person believing that he really lives in this kind of world becomes sick.
To test this hypothesis you can make a comparison with a blog where SIQ should be higher at least if the interest in the mystery of consciousness is accepted as a rough criterion. For instance, you can go to the blog Conscious Entities. You find nice articles pondering various ideas about consciousness; discussions are civilized; there are no sudden bursts of violence; there are no ad hominem attacks. It seems that on the average these people are happy; they have a passion in their life but they are not fanatics; and they do not have any need to tell to the rest of the world that they belong to some kind of super-species and all those who think differently are crackpots (or "social waste", one of the newest verbal fruits in physics blog discussions!).