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Burning Man Experiment—Data Analyzed!

by Cassandra Vieten

  We've just updated our website with new information about the experiment that IONS research scientists collaborated on at the Burning Man gathering in Nevada just over a month ago.

This experiment investigated possible correlations between mind and matter by exploring what happens to a purely random system when it is located in an environment where 50,000 minds are all focusing on the same ritual (the burning man).

Data analysis has just been completed and there are some significant results! If you'd like to learn more, please read the report. It's on the Collective Consciousness page under Projects in the Research section of this website.

Comments? Please post them here beneath this Blog post.

Noetic Research
  • magicscience Oct 06, 2012

    I am not qualified to comment on the validity or success of this experiment, having the kind of mind which fogs when confronted with statistics like this!

    But one thing always puzzles me about the RNG experiments.

    If this is a consciousness effect being demonstrated and consciousness is non-local, then why should a RNG at the burning man site be any more relevant than one many miles away?

    And why should RNG pods around the world register different readings if in fact distance and place is irrelevant in a non-local universe?

    It has surely been demonstrated that distance in psi experiments is not a factor - in theory a thought can be picked up as easily on the other side of the universe as in the next room.

    So why is distance a factor in these experiments?

  • Dean Radin, PhD Oct 06, 2012

    This study and others like it suggest that physical distance doesn't seem to matter much for mind-matter interactions, but given the radical implications of this idea, it's important to repeatedly test that this is indeed the case.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Niclas Oct 06, 2012

    Thanks for this interesting study.:)

    how is it interpreted that the RNG at the burning man showed statistically significant changes during the burn and the GCP RNG's showed statistically significant changes before the burn?

    And why is the peak from hypothesis 1 from the playa RNG not shown in the graph of hypothesis 3?

  • telephoenician Oct 07, 2012

    The date of the Burning Man also corresponds with dozens of harvest festivals and holiday observances world-wide: Alban Elfed, Cornucopia, Feast of Avalon, Festival of Dionysus, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, plus Octoberfest, and the NFL.

    I find these results a little more than serendipitous. What's so special about Burning Man?

  • Anonymous Icon

    Niclas Oct 07, 2012

    @ telephoenician, I guess burning man is special because there are many spiritual people and many people pay attention to the same thing before and while the 'man' is burning. in comparison to the octoberfest, where are many people who don't pay attention to the same thing but drink beer and have conversation. So I'd expect not such a strong effect at the octoberfest

  • Dean Radin, PhD Oct 08, 2012

    Niclas: If the hypothesis of a collective mind-matter effect is correct, then there are are least as many complexities on the "mind" side of this relationship as there are on the "matter" side. E.g., one big issue is how to independently measure the degree of attentional coherence within a group. To date we've inferred the presence of coherence based on the length and the nature of the event we're "monitoring," but to advance the state of the art we need better measures. Suggestions are welcome.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Beyond_the_Chorus Oct 08, 2012

    I have never been to Burning Man. I do however have spiritual friends that did attend. I would expect, given this opportunity, they would have been excellent resources for your data. I would also expect that some additional data gathering events are planned. More experiments would confirm a pattern. I am sure Carl Jung would have endorsed your empirical data. IONS is headed in the right direction with a focused plan. Well done!

  • Dean Radin, PhD Oct 09, 2012

    For those interested in more details on the method of analysis (Matlab scripts) and the raw data from the playa RNG, I've zipped a file of goodies which you can download from

  • Anonymous Icon

    stanleykorn Oct 14, 2012

    When the RNGs show a statistically significant deviation from chance, is there any discernable pattern to the data, for example, long runs of zeros or ones? If such patterns could be identified, that would greatly increase the sensitivity of the detectors, and perhaps lead to a breakthrough in our understanding of psi operation.

  • Slorri Oct 27, 2012

    I suppose that the test conductors are a vital part in deciding what data will show up in the analysis. At some specific time they will decide on what they expect, like for instance variations on the RNG from the burning of the man, and all other events around the world will not play part. This goes outside of time, you could decide before, during or after the event, as long as you did decide. If you never decided there would be random result upon analysis, as that kind of was expected.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Anonymous Icon

    vamp369 Dec 08, 2012

    So here's a question. How does one decide one set of numbers is random and one is not?

    Also, a scientific experiment should list the actual collected data before analysis or at least link to it.

  • Tam Hunt Mar 03, 2013

    Dean, on the issue of non-locality, I'm not convinced that distance has no bearing. In our experiment, which is the topic of this blog, we saw results from the RNG on the Playa (peaking 8 minutes after the Burn) that were quite different from the results for RNGs that were part of the GCP (peaking 45 minutes before the Burn). An explanation may be forthcoming if we reflect on the phenomenon of non-locality in quantum theory. While it is often stated that non-locality means instantaneous effects, there is no reason that such effects aren't simply a lot faster the speed of light. Technically, non-local means faster than the speed of light, but it's often simply assumed that this means instantaneity. But there's a vast middle ground between faster than light and instantaneity. Salart, et al (2008) showed that quantum entanglement effects operated at least 10,000 times the speed of light. This is very fast but there is still a lot of room for non-instantaneous effects between 10,000 times c and infinitely fast (instantaneity). Moreover, even if entanglement phenomena do operate far faster than the speed of light, this doesn't itself mean that the impacts don't fall off quickly with distance.

    In line with another comment above, it also seems that many other global events may have had an impact on the GCP RNGs.

    So lots to chew on here still, and I look forward to round two of this experiment!

  • rotorhead1871 Apr 24, 2013

    what is the physical containment or sensor package configuration, how is it tuned, what are the parameters? We need to be presented with the actual layout and data acquisition system, to comment on this accurately. I would think an RNG running in a Faraday cage would yield no usable data...

  • Spiros Kakos Sep 09, 2013

    The most important thing that this experiments shows is that the OBSERVER AFFECTS THE OBSERVED. This is something that was kind of a taboo for science until Quantum Mechanics. However even now and even the great deal of data showing that, scientists are still reluctant to give up the centuries-old dogma that "Reality is out there for us to discover". Reality is formulated by the observers. That is what it seems so with the data we have up to now...

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