"I felt a great disturbance in the Force... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."
I'M a scientific skeptic, and very wary of any research on the paranormal, psi, crop circles, astrology, or tin-foil hats, but this research effort comes out of Princeton. The researchers may be wackos, but they're highly educated wackos, with academic appointments.
The group is investigating whether there is a global human consciousness. No, really. They collect reports from random number generators, [not computer-generated pseudo-random numbers, but based on electronically generated 'white noise'], located all over the world, and try to find patterns in them, presumably caused by human thought. They claim that when many people think about the same thing, at the same time, the random numbers produced become less random, or rather, change their expected probability distribution.
Guess what they found on September 11.
Basically, what we're looking at here is changes in the dispersion of 'random' numbers about a mean. The white noise from the random number generators should produce a purely 'random walk', a stream of random numbers around a mean, with predicable statistical characteristics. A 'z score' can be calculated for these numbers, and should approximate the normal distribution about the mean, the so-called 'bell curve'. For the most part, it does. But on September 11, at the time of the WTC attack, there was a perturbation, an increase in the z score far greater than than expected by chance, followed by a decrease in the z score to much less than would be expected by chance. Then, over the following day or so, the random number output normalized again. The authors use a statistical method called 'chi square' to estimate the likelihood that the deviations from expected distribution were caused by chance.
Take a good look at the graphs on the page. What are we measuring here? The authors don't know. They think it might be a 'global consciousness' reacting to the events of September 11, or even anticipating them. Precognition?
As I said, I'm a skeptic when comes to this kind of stuff. I don't have the depth of knowledge of statistics necessary to decide whether the authors are correct in their statistical analysis. And you always have to wonder whether someone, somewhere along the line, faked the data, which happens depressingly often in research into the paranormal.
But assuming everything is on the up-and-up—this is very strange and intriguing research.