Quantum Mind: Can Experienced Meditators Influence the Movement of Atomic Particles?

Quantum Mind

One of the key mysteries in the realm of quantum physics is the role of the observer, or more precisely, consciousness. As Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner once explained, when this relatively new branch of physics came into being, it was found that "it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness."

Very few physicists, however, give this mystery much thought (at least publicly). Bruce Rosenbaum and Fred Kuttner, in their book The Quantum Enigma, note that many of their colleagues "are under the impression that it has been resolved by one or another of the 'interpretations' of quantum theory." Even though, they point out, "most developers of those interpretations...still see a mystery."

In a recent talk at the 'Science of Consciousness' conference in Tucson, Arizona, parapsychologist Dean Radin noted that when it comes to the (quantum physics) 'measurement problem', "everyone offers theories about consciousness, but nobody does anything about it." So Radin and his team decided to see if they could find experimental evidence of consciousness influencing quantum effects.

Radin's project was a fairly simple, though left-field, extension of the well-known double-slit experiment:

The only new element in this experiment, is that we asked people - in this case, a meditator - to keep the double-slit in mind, and to imagine in their minds eye, that they could see which of the two slits the photon went through. This is, as far as we could tell, the only way of directly testing whether consciousness is collapsing the wave function.

In the experiment, 137 test subjects - consisting of both experienced meditators and non-meditators - took part in sessions lasting 20 minutes each, made up of alternating sets of 30 seconds of observation with roughly 30 seconds of rest (the 'roughly' was intentional, to avoid any artifacts on strict 30 second cycles of repetition). And, after analysing the data from this pilot study of 250 sessions with 137 people - Radin and his team found a significant effect size...and especially so with the meditators in the group.

Encouraged by these results, the researchers ran a number of further experiments, including an internet-based version which ran for 3 years, with over 5000 sessions completed by human subjects, and over 7000 done by a 'Linux' robot as a control. Again, they found a substantial effect.

No independent replications have yet been carried out to their conclusion, although Radin did note in his talk that shortly before his presentation he had been contacted by a physicist at the University of Sao Paulo who is currently carrying out an independent replication, who explained that the results so far have led to "an intense mixture of feelings... I'm oscillating between OH MY GOD and wait, something must be wrong."

For those interested in listening to Dean Radin's complete talk on these 'quantum consciousness' experiments, I've embedded it below.

For another look at the 2016 'Science of Consciousness' conference, take a read of this four-part article by attendee (and speaker), science journalist John Horgan. Note: Horgan comes at nearly all topics from a skeptical viewpoint, including skepticism itelf (his critique of organised skepticism recently got plenty of attention), so much of the article feels rather negative in tone - and his mention of Dean Radin's presentation is no different. Unfairly so, in my opinion: making statements such as "[Radin] is like a caricature of an old-fashioned scientist, an image no doubt cultivated to boost his credibility" is an accusation that I find difficult to square with my own interactions with Dean, and a rather crude way to write off what is, I think, an interesting presentation of some fascinating research.

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terry the censor's picture
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8 August 2010
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Still seeing significance in such a tiny sample that could not possibly offer any results of statistical significance. (Law of large numbers consistently ignored.)

Greg H.'s picture
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12 June 2009
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Finally someone is doing research in this area of investigation. I’ve commented before about several anecdotal experiences that are too synchronistic to be mere coincidence in support of this concept:

My first notable experience: in my youth in mid-1980’s I experimented with magic mushrooms on 3 occasions. On the first occasion, was at bowling alley with pinball games. I’d sat talking with my GF for around half hour while peaking, feeling thoroughly connected to her, as if reading her mind, “knowing” her thoughts, emotions, etc... That is not independently verifiable though... Then we moved to the pinball games. These were notoriously difficult, 3 balls only and I never, ever did well, nor even approached 1/10 the score needed for a free game... We began playing and from my first ball, I could not lose. My first ball lasted several minutes and I won a free game on that first ball. I “felt” completely connected to the game, but was not even concentrating, rather was laughing and commenting how crazy this was to my GF, while she said how good I was. Finally it was her turn, ball drained down middle immediately. On my second ball my “lucky streak” continued and I won two more games, lasting several more minutes. This cycle repeated for the next 10 minutes or so, until the effects of the mushrooms retreated and I felt a literally moment of disconnect. From that moment on, I could not last more than two or three hits on the ball, but until then I’d won like 8 or 9 free games.

My second experience occurred in my late twenties while “sober” :-) in the latter middle of a two month backpack trip across Europe, spending two weeks laying on beaches on Santorini Island in Greece my worries a world away, with my GF future wife. Having acclimated to my vacation, and reached a temporary zen-like worry free state of consciousness – no stresses, pressures, worries of any kind in that brief interlude, the same “connectedness” manifested while playing cards “rummy”. One morning, rather than the normal randomness, I was dealt a perfect hand on deal and upon drawing my first card, was able to lay down my complete 11 card hand with sets and runs. From that first moment, for the next 4 to 5 days, this happened to me on every deal. After the third or fourth hand that first day, we tried everything to make me lose. We’d alternate shuffling the cards, putting them on the table and mixing them up like a four year old, alternate who dealt. I would still receive a perfect hand. I’d discard to force a draw, only to draw another perfect replacement. This “effect” only ended after leaving Santorini and traveling by train to Germany, then to fly home. On the train, I took a break from the card game I was winning with my GF and other person we’d met, and during this break I began worrying about finding a new job on my return home since I’d quit my previous job of 7 years to travel. At that moment, and it was a specific moment I felt a visceral “click” or shift inside me, and suddenly felt isolated and disconnected. I hadn’t realized how connected to the fabric of the world around me I’d felt, until the moment of disconnect. On returning to the card game, it was the complete opposite effect – I could not draw a single pair or run and my unbeatable winning streak became an unstoppable losing streak...

There are a few more examples over the years, but my deductive conclusions/hypothesis is this: Our consciousness does interact with the quantum indeterminate level of reality at a local level, so that our purpose manifest in physical reality within limits. A kind of “resonance of intent.” There are different ways to achieve this state of consciousness – magic mushroom’s chemicals opening the perceptions is one potential, mediation to remove the “static noise/interference” of the conscious mind is another, but very difficult to achieve in our fast-paced, highly competitive and demanding world. I could elaborate further, but this is already very long... I’m just thrilled research in this area is finally being done. I’d love to be a test subject :)

Greg H.

emlong's picture
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Just because we have developed names for endogenous substances like serotonin does not mean they still can't be "magic." A chemical mediator between dimensions is still a mediator, and relaxation - real relaxation - can be just as much of a trip as some drug plant.

One can rightfully suspect that a big part of the "war on consciousness" is aimed at keeping people in an un-relaxed state for the purposes of disempowering higher mind.

RicoYung's picture
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True story; Back in 1985, I had moved from L.A. CA to Las Vegas. I had been working as a dishwasher for a restaurant and was laid off (for some stupid reason) and was thumbing a ride to where I was staying at the time, and got a ride from a Drywall Hanger... he asked me if I knew anything about drywall... and I said what's that?
LOL, so he's going to Sams Town in Henderson to drink and gamble and asked if I wanted to tag along because he was looking for a partner/helper hanging Sheetrock and we could talk about it...I said ,sure what the heck, just lost a shitty job and was totally broke so it would be a nice distraction :/ Well it turned out this gentleman...(I'll call him Chuck) liked Roulette.I was dead broke then, not a dime. Nada. but he offered to buy drinks, and grub and a possibility of getting some work even though I knew absolutely Zero about Drywall :) So anyways ole Chuck is playing the Wheel (which I also knew Zilch about) and I'm feeling okay after a few drinks and a Burger, and I'm watching this ball bounce around in this "Carousel" thing and I start to pay attention to where the ball lands (my future mentor is playing and I never had) and at one point I really "notice" the ball land on a particular number and color (I think it was 22 black) and I have this huge hunch that it would land on that same number on the next spin...and it did!...at the time I was broke and not playing, "Chuck" was playing colors I think and I also thought if I mentioned my hunch it would break the spell, but then I had the same hunch for that third spin...same number color 3x in a row!! and not a penny in the game.hehehe....I knew the fourth time it would not be the same of course, thats just pushing it too much :D Funny...at the time for me the experience was like an omen or portent, and I went on to learn the trade and work in it for over 30 years.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." (Albert Einstein)

emlong's picture
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I love stories like that.

Delaiah's picture
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All I know is that my crappy broadcast TV reception improves when I close my eyes and can' t see it (at least that gets me clear audio)!

emlong's picture
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The reverse observer effect - there may be a Nobel in there somewhere.

catherwood's picture
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The above link for the "four-part article by... John Horgan" was garbled. Try this.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cros...
(thank you for the breadth of coverage)

Greg's picture
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catherwood wrote:

The above link for the "four-part article by... John Horgan" was garbled. Try this.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cros...
(thank you for the breadth of coverage)

Thanks, fixed the problematic link.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

KGB's picture
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My story, which may appear mundane to some, continues to
electrify me to this day and is one of a number of events which
probably explains why I have became so interested in
alternative views of reality over the intervening years.

I should add at this point, as it's highly relevant to the
story, that I have been an avid reader all my life and from a
very early age.

In the Summer of 1976 (I can remember the year as the UK was in
the middle of a heatwave) I was travelling home, on a train on
an early Friday evening having been working in Stratford on Avon.

I'm not sure if any of this has any bearing but I'll mention it
anyway - it had been a sweltering day by UK standards and the
atmosphere on the Train was oppressive, hot and sticky.

After a while I took a book from my briefcase, (unfortunately I
can't remember the title) which I had not previously read.
Well down on the very first page I came across a word which,
despite wracking my brain to make sense of it, was new to me.
Even more annoying, neither the preceding text, or that that
followed it, gave any inclination as to its meaning. Looking
back, though I can't remember the word, it really didn't seem
to have any context to the story. In disgust (I blame the heat)
I threw the book back into the briefcase and took out an unread
copy of The Daily Telegraph, a "broadsheet" newspaper which, on
checking, measured just shy of 30"x24". Unfolding it, I used
both hands to open it at a random page somewhere near the
middle and glanced across to see if any articles took my fancy
- the very first word that took my eye, that seemed to just
jump out of the page at me, was the same word that I had been
unable to decipher in the book. Typing this now I can feel just
a glimmer of the sheer dumbfounding shock that I felt at that
moment, the hairs on the back of my (damp with sweat) neck
stood up and I felt a shiver throughout my whole body and I
must have stayed like that for a minute or two, just staring at
the word, eventually being bought back to reality as I became
aware that a fellow passenger, not sitting directly across from
me but some feet across the aisle, was looking at me as if he
was expecting me to collapse at any minute which wasn't too far from the truth.

Looking back now I'm embrassed to say that I never read the
article in the newspaper which contained the word neither did I
attempt to read the book again, or later, putting both back into
my briefcase and continuing the journey in silence.

In fact, I now realise, that the event was so disturbing to me,
shattering my inbuilt reality of the world that surrounded me
that I wanted nothing more to do with it.

Greg's picture
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KGB wrote:

My story, which may appear mundane to some, continues to
electrify me to this day and is one of a number of events which
probably explains why I have became so interested in
alternative views of reality over the intervening years..

Great story, thanks for sharing! Felt quite a few similarities to synchronicities I've previously had, and noted here:

http://dailygrail.com/blogs/Greg/2008/4/...

http://dailygrail.com/blogs/Greg/2008/4/...

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

emlong's picture
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18 September 2007
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21 hours 16 min

A side bar to Radin's experiment - what if experiments like this could be used to distinguish between the so called "wetware" of a biologically sourced intelligence versus a an "artificial" intelligence since the AI seemed not to be able to generate an effect? Might this be much more effective a tool of discernment than say the Turing Test?