The book The Lost Symbol – an international phenomenon that has captured the imagination of millions of readers – appears to rest on a preposterous premise: that thoughts can affect physical reality.
Brown’s central character, ‘noetic’ scientist Katherine Solomon is particularly interested in the power of many minds thinking the same thought at the same time, claiming that this magnifies the effect. As proof, she cites the experimental work of a real web-based laboratory, and its architect.
Such architects create a web-based global laboratory by enlisting scientists in prestigious academic centers such as the University of Arizona, Pennsylvania State University, University of California at Davis, Princeton University, and other prestigious universities in Europe. Every few months, such web-based laboratories recruit thousands of readers from 90 countries around the world to send thoughts to targets created in one of the scientist’s rigorous laboratory settings.
To date, many web-based experiments have shown positive results -demonstrating that intention can alter the essential properties of water and living things, and even be used to lower violence in a war-torn area. Participants of these web-base experiments are invited from around the globe to send intention to one of the chosen set of seeds, in all of the six experiments the seeds sent intention grew significantly faster and higher than – and sometimes twice as high as – three sets of controls.
Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D., professor at the University of Arizona, reported the results of these six Germination Experiments in a scientific paper presented at a Society for Scientific Exploration conference in June 2008. Distance doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the outcome. In one experiment, participants in Sydney, Australia successfully sent intention to seeds sitting at the University of Arizona’s labs in Tucson.
Such web-based laboratories have also embarked on a series of experiments with Russian physicists and scientists at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Arizona to investigate whether intention can improve the quality of water. Thus far, they’ve run five experiments demonstrating that intention can change certain essential qualities of water.
Most recently the University of Arizona ran two rigorous studies showing that thoughts can change the energy footprint of tap water to something similar to that of mineral water. In earlier studies with Russian physicist Konstantin Korotkov, measurements taken with sophisticated equipment showed that even a simple positive frame of mind among the participants sending intention to the water changed its essential properties.
In September 2009, a large-scale experiment was emabarked to study whether mass thought can lower violence in war-torn Sri Lanka. At the time, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, one of the world’s most well-trained terrorist organizations, with the highest number of suicide bombers, were firmly in control of the conflict, after capturing and cutting off the north of the country.
After the week-long focus of the intention groups, a team of scientists, including Jessica Utts, professor of statistics at University of California at Davis, tracked that the violence increased dramatically and then suddenly plummeted. After analyzing two years’ worth of weekly violence data, the scientific team concluded that the week of intention appeared somehow ‘pivotal’ in the course of the war.
Almost immediately after this large-scale experiment, the Sri Lankan government gained control, and within a few months drove the rebel forces out of the north. A few months after that, the 25-year war was over. It was noted that more experiments will have to be done to demonstrate the power of thought to lower violence.
Nevertheless, to critics of this work, responses have been that studies of the power of thought are simply the stuff of true scientific investigation. ‘Frontier science is the art of inquiring about the impossible. All of our major achievements in history have resulted from asking an outrageous question. What if giant metal objects could overcome gravity? What if there is no end of the earth to sail off?
‘All of the discoveries about the power of thought proceed from a seemingly outlandish question: what if our thoughts could affect the things around us? But the most important part of scientific investigation is just the simple willingness to ask the question.’