The First Results of the 9/11 Peace Intention Experiments: Feather on the Breath of God

Lynne McTaggart

For three-plus months I’ve been patiently waiting for numbers, hoping there would be fewer of them than usual.


The numbers to which I’m referring comprise the casualty statistics of the fallen in Afghanistan among both civilians and the military from the combined forces.


For three-plus months I’ve been patiently waiting for numbers, hoping there would be fewer of them than usual.


The numbers to which I’m referring comprise the casualty statistics of the fallen in Afghanistan among both civilians and the military from the combined forces.


I’ve spent many weeks scrambling around for no less than than 27 months worth of weekly and monthly figures of the dead and injured so that I could determine whether the thousands of people around the world participating in my Peace Intention Experiment last September after the tenth anniversary of 9/11 had any role in lowering these numbers.


The great news is that our first stats back do show that our collective intention had some effect on the ‘world mind.’ Even more exciting, they show virtually identical data to that of the 2008 Peace Intention Experiment.


The study design

For those of you who did not participate in our latest 9/11 Peace Intention Experiment, here is a quick recap. For the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I partnered with Dr. Salah Al-Rashed, the equivalent of the Deepak Chopra of the Middle East, with hundreds of thousands of followers in most Arab countries.


Together, we solicited the participation of people in 85 countries around the world – including every Arab country, all European countries, most countries in North, South and Central America, many from the Far East, and even more far-flung places like Iceland, the Caribbean Islands and the South Pacific.


We kicked off the project with a joint apology – with Salah first apologizing on behalf of all Arabs for allowing the Twin Towers tragedy to happen, and me in turn apologizing for the extreme nature of Western retaliation: two wars resulting in the deaths, detaining, deportation or displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent Arab people.


On 9/11 and for seven days thereafter, at approximately 1 pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time, thousands of us came together on our special 9/11 Peace Intention Experiment website, Powered Up together with my special Intention Program, as detailed in my book The Intention Experiment, and then sent an intention for peace for the two provinces of Afghanistan – Helmand and Kandahar –the strongholds of the Taliban and the areas with the highest numbers of casualties to date.


Then all of us had to wait, patiently, for more than three months for the numbers to materialize in order to have some idea of whether our intentions had any effect.


Replicating our earlier results

As you may recall, the plan of this latest experiment was to replicate our September 2008 Peace intention Experiment, which had extremely provocative results, showing a potentially strong effect in lowering violence in Sri Lanka.


With studies like this containing so many variables, our results could have been coincidental. It’s only when you can get the same result a number of times in different, similarly designed studies that scientists begin to sit up and take notice.


This is why, our scientific team and I were careful to use a design for this latest study that was identical to that of the 2008 Peace Intention Experiment.


During that experiment, we had tracked the deaths and injuries of military and civilians in the North of the country from two years before to three months afterward our experiment. Jessica Utts, a professor of statistics at the University of California at Irvine then created a time-analysis showing that the data after our experiment deviated significantly from expected numbers.


The first positive returns

The first numbers I’ve got back about this latest experiment show some sort of definite effect. As with the 2008 Peace Intention Experiment, I asked Roger Nelson, director of the Global Consciousness Project, to see if there was a demonstration of any effect on random event generators (REGs) during the eight days of our collective intention.


REGs, you may recall, perform the electronic, twenty-first century equivalent of a toss of a coin.


The output of these machines (the computerized equivalent of heads or tails) is controlled by a randomly alternating frequency of positive and negative pulses. Because their activity is utterly random, they produce heads and tails each roughly 50 per cent of the time, according to the laws of probability.


Nelson, formerly chief coordinator of the PEAR lab, came up with the idea of running REG machines continuously all over the world to examine whether the focused attention of loads of people has any effect on the random output of the machines, particularly during moments of global events with the greatest emotional impact.


Nelson organized a centralized computer program, so that REGs located in 50 places around the globe could pour their continuous stream of random bits of data into one vast central hub through the Internet.


Periodically, Nelson and his colleagues study these outpourings and compare them with the biggest breaking news stories, attempting to ferret out any sort of statistical connection. Standardized methods and analysis reveal any demonstration of order – a moment when the machine output displays less randomness than usual either in a positive or negative direction – and whether the time that it is generated corresponds with that of a major world event.


The global mind shudders

Since the beginning of the project, Nelson has studied hundreds of top news events: the death of the Princess of Wales; the millennium celebrations; the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr, and his wife; the attempted Clinton impeachment; the events of 9/11; the start of the Iraqi war.


When people reacted with great joy or horror to a major event, the machines seem to react as well. Furthermore, the degree of ‘order’ in the machine’s output seems to match the emotional intensity of the event, particularly those that had been tragic: the greater the horror, the greater the order.


Strong emotion, positive or negative – even to presidential decisions – seems to produce order on the random machines – a pattern of output that was more heads than tails or more tails than heads (which Nelson speaks about as a more ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ direction).


Nelson and three independent analysts take apart the data using a variety of statistical methods, but primarily through the chi-square distribution method, a statistical technique that plots the square of each of the machine’s runs, so that any deviation from chance easily shows up.

As you may recall, each day of each experiment took 20 minutes: five minutes to sign in and Power Up, five minutes to read about the intention target; and 10 minutes to send the intention.

I asked Roger to look closely at the GCP figures just during the 20-minute window of time on each of the days of the eight-day experiment, just as he did for our 2008 experiment.

Nelson linked together the eight days of data to make a sequence that included all of output during all the 20-minute time periods of the eight days, paying particular attention to the 10-minute windows of intention each day.

A compelling, steady trend

After the third day, he found a very steady trend – a general tendency for the outputs that accumulate during each second of the time period we are looking at to be simi
lar - that is, either heads or tails.


As Nelson wrote me, ‘most of the deviations are negative (the mean is less than the expected 100).


In other words, it’s like tossing a coin and having it constantly come up tails.


When you string the deviations together, the graphic line tends to go in the negative direction. ‘A persistent or ‘steady’ trend reflects consistency, says Nelson, ‘and that in turn suggests an effect that isn't just chance.’

You can see Dr. Nelson’s full report on:

The power of replication

Nevertheless, he has a caveat: the effect size is very small compared to inherent ‘noise’ – or chance data.


‘Deviations which appear in our graphic displays are a combination of possible effects and ordinary random fluctuation,’ says Nelson. ‘Consequently, one single experiment like this one can’t be reliably interpreted on its own.


‘To gain useful perspective and greater statistical leverage,’ he continues, ‘it is valuable to look at other events with a similar nature. In this case, the previous Peace Intention Experiment shows virtually the same negative trend in the cumulative deviation graph.


He concludes: ‘This similarity across the two experiments helps support an interpretation of the negative deviations shown in the current dataset as an effect linked to the Intention.’


It shows, that our Intention, in a sense, is a feather on the breath of God.


The real numbers

So it appears that we had some sort of resonance effect, but did we actually lower violence? Here’s where we are with compiling the evidence thus far.


Getting hold of casualty figures during an on-going war is no easy business. No one – even those in charge – appears to have a full picture of who has died and who has been injured. There is no single storehouse of all the numbers, largely because it is a multi-national war. To get a true picture of how many die or get injured each week, you need cobble them together from various sources.


In order to do that, I’ve had to enter the bureaucratic nightmare that is combined governmental military (or peacekeeping) operations. For several months I’ve been on a byzantine loop, through departments of the US government, the United Nations and the government of Afghanistan and finally through to the UN, NATO, and believe it or not, the German army.


After weeks of emails, a spokesperson within the UN finally wrote me back. For its UNAMA project (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan), the UN keeps track of the civilian casualties. They do twice annual reports and release the report for the full year of 2011 up to the end of December 2011 (the end of our study period) tomorrow.


My source in UNAMA has put me in touch with several figures in NATO, who in turn passed me on to Carsten Jacobson. The other day, an assistant writes me to say ‘the boss’ will be phoning me.


The boss turns out to be the general of the German army in Afghanistan.


Jacobson is a disarmingly genial and helpful guy. He readily admits that NATO has no full picture of the dead – largely because the army is multi-national. Once a soldier is wounded, he is sent home and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), for which Jacobson is official spokesperson, loses track of them.


‘It’s a grey zone,’ he says. ‘As soon as we bring people out of theatre, quite a number die of wounds but aren’t tracked by ISAF.’   To find out the true casualty rates, I’d have to call each of the military in every country joining in this American war.


Nevertheless, we can still show a good trend by staying with the ISAF figures through our two plus years of data. However imperfect these numbers are, Jacobson is willing to share them with me. He has sent a few brisk emails to marshal the troops to get me whatever numbers they have.


I’ll have them all next week and Jessica Utts, our statistician again this time around, will be analyzing them as soon as she gets them. So stay tuned.

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Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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