Every so often my life takes such a fantastical turn that I am overwhelmed by the feeling that I am actually in the midst of a lucid dream, and that at any moment awakening will hand me back my ordinary world.
I had that feeling yesterday when I got an email from my editor informing me that me, my book The Intention Experiment, my website: www.theintentionexperiment.com and a good deal of my research were named, explained and used as a background source of a major plotline in Dan Brown’s new book.
I spent last night skimming the entire text of The Lost Symbol. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, the book centers around the recovery of kidnapped head of the Smithsonian Peter Solomon by Brown’s long-standing protagonist, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, and Solomon’s sister, Katherine.
Solomon is a ‘noetic scientist’, a 50-year-old black-haired woman who has written two popular books about the new science of consciousness and the bridge between science and spirituality, which ‘established her as a leader in this obscure field’.
Presently she does mind-over-matter research and is particularly interested in the power of group minds to change the physical world.
At certain points, the story began to sound strangely familiar. . . In the Cube, a secret laboratory in the basement of the Smithsonian Institute, filled with all sorts of state-of-the-art gadgetry, Katherine carries out her cutting-edge research — virtually all of which represent a composite of the personalities or science that have been the subject of my books or actual experiments.
Her sidekick is a ‘meta-analyst’ or computer number cruncher called Trish Dunne, which will tickle Brenda Dunne of the PEAR research (also mentioned in the book). Brown also pays homage to the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which will put a smile on the face of Marilyn Schlitz, its president and a real-live noetic scientist.
Much of The Lost Symbol concerns the link between modern physics and ancient wisdom. The ‘big idea’ in Dan Brown’s book is that science is only now providing evidence that ancient traditions have always espoused: that thought has a tangible power, enabling human beings to be creators of their own world.
In The Lost Symbol, Brown very graciously quoted me, mentioned my book by name and even gave out my website address:
“The shocking discovery, it seemed, paralleled the ancient spiritual belief in a ‘cosmic consciousness’—a vast coalescing of human intention that was actually capable of interacting with physical matter. Recently, studies in mass meditation and prayer had produced similar results in Random Event Generators, fueling the claim that human consciousness, as Noetic author Lynne McTaggart described it, was a substance outside the confines of the body . . . a highly ordered energy capable of changing the physical world. Katherine had been fascinated by McTaggart’s book The Intention Experiment, and her global, Web-based study—theintentionexperiment.com—aimed at discovering how human intention could affect the world.”
Brown makes it clear at the outside in a page entitled ‘FACT’, that “All rituals, science, artwork and monuments in this novel are real.” Nevertheless, a few of the more traditional scientists or science writers are already taking a swing at Brown for his impossible inventions and so-called junk science.
Although I cannot speak for many of the other elements in the book — Freemasonry, ancient symbols, alchemy or hidden keys — virtually all of his comments about physics, consciousness research, mind-over-matter experiments and intention are based on fact – and indeed are enumerated in detail in either The Field or The Intention Experiment.
Here is a quick guide to the science behind The Lost Symbol:
Katherine’s lab uses random event generators. These electronic tosses of the coin were famously the equipment used in 25 years of consciousness research by Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne’s at Princeton’s PEAR lab (The Field, chapter 6).
Her lab also uses CCD cameras that have photographed a faith healer’s energy pouring from his hands. Dr. Gary Schwartz, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, and frequent partner in our Intention Experiments, has a CCD camera that photographs biophoton emissions from living things. He has photographed light emanating from the dominant hands of healers while sending healing (The Intention Experiment, chapter 2).
Katherine’s lab is electromagnetically sealed – so much so that human thought can’t penetrate it. Possibly. In most cases, thoughts traverse anything (hence why we can run an Intention Experiment from Sydney, Australia to affect seeds in Tucson, Arizona). However, Stanford University physicist William Tiller has experimented with magnetically-shielded rooms, which tend to block the effectiveness of trained healers ((The Intention Experiment, chapter 2).
REGs dotted all over the world recorded an effect on September 11, 2001. Former Princeton PEAR researcher Dr. Roger Nelson’s Global Consciousness Project has shown an association between major catastrophic global events and changes in REG machine output (The Field, chapter 11).
Prayer groups have healed people and also have affected REG machines. Not all prayer studies have been successful, but that, in my view, has a good deal to do with poor study design. Nevertheless, many dozens of prayer and healing studies have shown positive results (The Intention Experiment, chapter 6). Dr. Nelson’s Global Consciousness Project has tracked measurable changes in REG machines after many global prayer events.
The CIA ran remote viewing programs that bordered on ancient magic. They did indeed. These programs, run by Stanford Research Institute’s then directors, physicists Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ, conclusively demonstrated that even novices can see things beyond the reach of visual sense (The Field, chapter 8).
Katherine’s mind-over-matter experiments have affected:
the growth rate of plants. University of Arizona psychologist Gary Schwartz and I ran six such experiments, The Germination Experiments, and presented them before the Society for Scientific Exploration in June 2008).
the direction fish swim. Psychologist William Braud, then of the Mind Science foundation, ran such experiments (The Field, chapter 7).
chemical reactions in one’s own body. Thousands of studies of biofeedback and studies on intentionality on living systems by scientists such as Marilyn Schlitz show such an effect (The Intention Experiment, chapter 9).
‘I have witnessed people transform cancer cells into healthy cells simply by thinking about them, ‘ says Katherine. One such experiment was run by Leonard Laskow by researcher Glen Rein (The Intention Experiment, chapter 10).
Katherine carries out thought experiments on water, showing that she can change the design of the crystals, depending on whether she uses a positive or negative thought. These, of course, refer to the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto, author of The Memory of Water, who proposes that sending thoughts into water changes their crystalline patterns. Psychologist Dean Radin of IONS successfully replicated his work under controlled conditions (The Intention Experiment, chapter 12).
Particles are affected by the observer. This is a fundamental principle of quantum physics: observing a subatomic particle turns that potential something into something real.
As Brown quotes me: “‘Living consciousness somehow is the influence that turns the possibility of something into something real. The most essential ingredient in creating our universe is the consciousness that observes it.’”
“We have scientifically proven,” says Katherine, “that the power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought.” From the 19 studies I’ve facilitated for the Intention Experiment, and the innumerable informal small groups of healing intention I’ve run in my workshops and on my website, it seems that a small number might be just as powerful as a large number. To my mind, what seems to enhance the power of intention is a group – of any size.
“Intention was a learned skill,” writes Brown. “Like meditation, harnessing the true power of ‘thought’ required practice. . . . And throughout history, there had been those few who had become true masters.”
When writing The Intention Experiment, I interviewed dozens of ‘masters of intentions’ – Qigong masters, Buddhist monks, master healers – and all of them discussed particular techniques they learned and practiced to carry out intention. In our web experiments, we’ve had the largest effects with experienced intenders. Experience in focusing thought and carrying out intention seems to count most of all (The Intention Experiment, chapter 5).
“To manifest an intention requires laserlike focus, a full sensory visualization and a profound belief.” These and other techniques are spelled out in my Powering Up program in The Intention Experiment, chapter 13.
Whatever you think of Dan Brown’s books — and I’m finding The Lost Symbol loads of breathlessly page-turning fun — using the world’s bestselling book as a platform to introduce the idea of the power of thought will help to promote consciousness research — and the many scientists who risk careers and reputations in the name of it — to an entirely new audience,
In the book, as Katherine admits, her particular strand of science is not widely known. But when her story comes out, says the New York Times’ Janet Maslin when reviewing The Lost Symbol, noetic science could get ‘the kind of public relations bump that Brown gave to the Holy Grail.’
This isn’t the first time my work has inspired fiction. In my 20s, as a young investigator reporter, I had broke several babyselling rings by posing as a pregnant unwed mother and then a prospective adoptive parent.
The resulting book The Baby Brokers was optioned for a television movie by Ron Samuels’ production company. The plan was for his wife, Lynda ‘Wonder Woman’ Carter, to play a young reporter based on me.
For months I had to endure comparisons to superheroines, and dumb jokes about bullet-deflecting bracelets and oversized busts. By the time ‘Born to Be Sold’ hit the small screen, Lynda Carter had been made a social worker, and any resemblance to my book — including the point of it — had been lost.
This Katherine Solomon is different. She’s a girl after my own heart.
‘Within a matter of years,” she says, “modern man will be forced to accept what is now unthinkable: our minds can generate energy capable of transforming physical matter. . . Particles react to our thoughts . . . which means our thoughts have the power to change the world.”
Well, I, for one, am still working on that. But even still, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
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