Today is the final installment of a three part series discussing the noosphere:
Part I: Teilhard de Chardin’s Vision
Part II: Christian Concepts of the Noosphere
Part III: Future Evolution of the Noosphere
The concept of the noosphere as an intensification of human interconnectiveness and consciousness has certainly been evidenced in the last couple of decades with the development of the internet. Individuals are able to connect with others and share information instantaneously. This has the potential to lead to a breakdown of cultural and geographic barriers that have separated us and lead to greater understanding of our collective consciousness. The fact that this humble blog has allowed me to connect with people in over 65 countries in a couple of months is evidence of this fact.
Princeton University has created a Global Consciousness Project (GCP) which has been in existence since 1998. The goal is the GCP is to test whether there is a collective consciousness that could be experimentally verified. The results over the last 15 years have been stunning. I encourage you to check out the GCP for the details but set forth below is an extended summary of the conclusions from the GCP:
“The behavior of our network of random sources is correlated with interconnected human consciousness on a global scale. There is a highly significant overall effect on the GCP instrument (more on that below) during special times we identify as “global events” which bring great numbers of people to share consciousness and emotions. The effect is a tiny deviation from what’s expected, but the patient replication of tests has gradually created very strong statistical support for the reality of this subtle correlation of human consciousness with deviations in random data.
The probability that the effect could be just a chance fluctuation is less than 1 in a billion, an impressive bottom line statistic that is composed of small effects accumulated in more than 350 tests. The correlation is subtle, so much so that individual event results are too weak to be reliably interpreted. Yet because we are able to combine results across many replications, we overcome a very small signal to noise ratio — real effects gradually accumulate, while the unstructured noise is self-canceling.
The GCP instrument is a network of random number generators (RNGs, sometimes called REGs) spread around the world. There are currently about 65 or 70 nodes in the network, and at each one, random data trials are recorded continuously, one trial per second, day after day over the past 13 years. The result is a database of synchronized parallel sequences of random numbers. The data are archived on a server in Princeton, and subjected to formal analysis testing whether there are departures from expected randomness corresponding to global events.
The GCP effects are not seen primarily as deviations of the individual RNGs (which we often call “eggs”), but can be seen as an increase in the average correlation between pairs of eggs separated by distances up to thousands of kilometers. This means that although the direct effects are too small for us to detect, they occur in synchrony and this leads to detectable changes in the network as a whole. By definition the eggs are independent and should not show any relationship at all. But during moments of importance to humans, the devices show slight correlations with each other. This is a fact that does not fit readily into scientific models, so understandably it is a fact that remains to be accepted. It presents a challenge to status quo physics and psychology. When and as the data are brought into perspective, they may help place mind and consciousness in more broadly competent models of the world.
There are other measures of structure in the data. Independent analysts have been able to identify a significant effect of distance, though not in the measure of distance between event and the REGs. Rather, analysis shows that the pairwise correlations — links between pairs of REGs — are weaker for large distances, dropping to zero at about 12,000 kilometers, roughly the earth diameter. There is also a characteristic temporal structure. The effects, on average, only become significant when we have data sequences of half an hour or more, and the effect persists for only a few hours, up to about 3 or 4 hours. This suggests that a “moment” in global consciousness is somewhat like a moment in individual consciousness, but with a time scale that is vastly different. A perception takes less than a second in my mind. For an effect of global consciousness to show up in our data as detectable structure it appears to require at least half an hour. The difference is a factor of at least 1,000, maybe as much as 10,000.
Another, possibly more profound and directly important finding is that the effects we see influenced by factors that are familiar from human psychology. For example, the effects are larger in proportion to the importance of the events we examine, and they are larger if the level of emotional involvement is high. We see stronger effects when events embody or evoke deep feelings of compassion, but smaller effects when the level of fear is high. That last point seems counterintuitive to many, but upon consideration, the relationships make sense and they bear strong implications for us. Compassion is an interpersonal, connecting emotion, while fear drives us toward personal survival; it separates us.
There are many details, but this outlines the major findings. The bottom line is that something associated with mass consciousness is changing the physical world — our network of physical random number generators. We don’t have full-fledged explanations yet, but the database accumulated over years is rich. It holds information that should lead to understanding, not only of the GCP effects, but to a richer, more comprehensive view of consciousness.” (emphasis added).
How will the noosphere evolve in the future? I do not know for certain but I believe humanity is on the verge of something very special. The internet has only been widespread for two decades but we are already starting to see an increase in the collective consciousness. While there may be setbacks along the way, I am optimistic that in the next 1,000 years that humanity, being drawn to the Cosmic Christ, will be able to make significant strides in helping bring the Kingdom of God to Earth.
What interesting information this is. When I think of the noosphere, I always think of the internet and how incredible it is that we can communicate with so many in different parts of the world. We discover people of like minds and the power in that is amazing. It would be interesting to me to know how the positive feelings at World Youth Day affected the world. The Holy Spirit was so evident in many different ways. I have always “known” that the Holy Spirit has the power to change anything and everything. We live in exciting times. Thanks again for this post.
Yes, we definitely do live in exciting times. I am optimistic that are greater ability to communicate with others will lead to a greater understanding of the common unity for all of humanity.
Although I am not an optimist by nature, lately I do find myself gravitating towards those who are. More recently it has occurred to me that I don’t want to be the one who remains resistant to the idea of wolrd peace nor an obstacle to peace. That has given me great pause in recent years making me realize the daily choices I have and reminding me to choose more loving acts over a more careless or hurtful ones.
I continue to enjoy meeting people on the internet who sincerely are seeking peace, even though they come at it from very different angles.
I had read a bit about GCP awhile ago and I believe they have some fascinating statistics about the time period before and after 9/11. I can’t remember where I read about it though.
Love your thought provoking posts William!
Debra, excellent insights on the daily choices we all make on choosing love acts over hurtful ones. I often fall short on this scale, which is one of the reasons why the Examen prayer of the Jesuits is helpful to me. It helps me to be more conscious of how in every interaction I have with others, from my wife, children, friends, co-workers and strangers I have an opportunity to spread kindness and make that person’s day better.
Although I believe humanity is a long ways off from true world peace (likely thousands of years), I believe we are continuing to make incremental progress and all of us have a chance to make an impact. There is a great story on today’s daily reflections at Creighton’s Online Ministries set forth below:
“This story has been on social media for a few years. Whether or not authentic, I thought it spoke well to today’s readings:
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: “UBUNTU: how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”
Ubuntu! Yes, I saw that story on Erik’s blog. Thanks for the note and the link to the prayer William. 🙂
I am working for major changes much much much sooner than 1000 years. Nice explanation of the GCP.
:-). I am working on making the changes sooner also as I hope to not be around then :-).
The Noosphere (Part III): Future Evolution of the Noosphere – excellent. Keep coming back to absorb. eve
Thank you so much for stopping by and for kind comment. I am thoroughly enjoying your blog and am looking forward to exploring more of its richness.
There is a principle which is emerging today, that all things are bit by bit emerging into a realization that evolution and ourselves have been formed by a universal principle of Love.
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