One of the most basic assumptions about intention is that it operates according to a generally accepted sense of cause and effect. If A causes B, then A must have happened first. This assumption reflects one of our deepest beliefs, that time is a one-way, forward-moving arrow, the most tangible evidence is the physical evidence of our own aging; first we are born, then we grow old and die. We think that the consequence of our intentions can only occur in the future. What we do today cannot affect what happened yesterday.
However, a sizeable body of the scientific evidence about intention violates these basic assumptions. Research has demonstrated clear instances of time-reversed effects, where effect precedes cause. Indeed, some of the largest effects occur when intention is sent out of strict time sequence.
For instance, the Chiron Foundation in the Netherlands designed an intriguing study to test the seemingly impossible proposition that you can retroactively prevent a disease, after it has infected its host and spread. They examined a group of rats with a parasitic infection of the blood and compared them to a group of healthy rats.
A healer given photographs of the rats after they had been infected with the disease was asked to attempt to prevent the spread of the parasites. Measurements of the blood cells were taken at several intervals after the animals had been infected. The study was carried out three times, each involving a large number of rats.
Two of the three studies achieved a medium (0.47) effect size, or rate of change –more than 10 times the effect size of aspirin, considered one of the most successful heart-attack preventatives in modern times.
Changing what you felt
And what about ‘editing’ your own emotional response to an event? To test this, the late psychologist William Braud designed a batch of studies to test time-displaced influence on nervous activity. He recorded several tracings of the electrodermal activity (EDA) of volunteers, using standard lie-detection equipment – a reasonable gauge of whether a person is calm or agitated.
Braud then asked the participants to examine one of their own tracings and to attempt to influence it, by sending an intention either to calm down or activate their own sympathetic nervous system at that earlier point in time. The other tracings of the participants, which were not exposed to mental influence, were to act as controls.
Later, when he compared the tracings with controls, he discovered that those tracings that were exposed to the volunteers’ own retro-influence were calmer than the controls.
Together, these studies achieved an effect size roughly 10 times that of aspirin, offering some of the first evidence that human beings might be able to rewrite their own emotional history.
Affecting equipment – after the fact
Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne at Princeton University’s PEAR lab discovered this phenomenon when they investigated time displacement in their random event generator (REG) trials. In some 87,000 of these experiments, volunteers were asked to attempt to mentally influence the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ random output of REGs in a specific direction anywhere from three days to two weeks after the machines had run.
As a whole, the ‘time-displaced’ experiments achieved even greater effects than the standard experiments.
The fact that effects were even larger during the time-displaced studies suggested that thoughts have even greater power when their transmission transcends ordinary time and space.
One interpretation of the laboratory evidence of retro-influence suggests the unthinkable: intention is capable of reaching back down the time line to influence past events, or emotional or physical responses, at the point when they originally occurred.
Back to the future?
But the central problem of going ‘back to the future’ and manipulating our own past are the logical knots the mind gets tied up in when considering them.
This conundrum was overlooked in the movie The Terminator. If the Schwarzenegger cyborg goes back in time and kills Sarah Connor so that she cannot give birth to future rebel John Connor, there would be no future revolution between man and machine. The Terminator no longer has any need to come back in time or, indeed, no longer any purpose for being created.
Nevertheless, physicists no longer consider retro-causation inconsistent with the laws of the universe. More than 100 articles in the scientific literature propose ways in which laws of physics can account for time displacement. Several scientists have proposed that scalar waves, secondary waves in the Zero Point Field, enable people to engineer changes in space-time.
These secondary fields, caused by the motion of subatomic particles interacting with the Zero Point Field, are ripples in space-time – waves that can travel faster than the speed of light.
Scalar Field waves possess astonishing power: a single unit of energy produced by a laser in such a state would represent a larger output than all the world’s power plants combined.
One big now
The other possibility is that all information in the universe is available to us at every moment, and time exists as one giant smeared-out present. Braud speculated that forebodings of the future might be an act of backward time displacement – a future event somehow reaching back in time to influence a present mind.
If you simply reversed presentiment and call it backward influence, so that all future mental activity influences the present, you maintain the same model and results as the retro-causation studies. All precognition might be evidence of backward-acting influence; all future decisions may always influence the past.
Which means that our future actions, choices and possibilities all help to create our present as it unfolds and we are constantly being influenced in our present actions and decisions by our future selves.
This offer up the most challenging idea of all: that thoughts can affect other things no matter when the thought is made. Once constructed, a thought is lit forever.