Manifesting: Science Sheds Light on role of Intention in the Physical World

May 30, 2023
IONS Communications Team

Can thoughts influence physical reality? Science says yes. Numerous experiments have shown how intention affects the outcome of physical devices such as hardware-based random number generators. 

Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at IONS, has researched the topic. He participated in a ConnectIONS Live called Manifesting: Science Sheds Light on Intention in the Material World – IONS members can access the full replay and all our past webinars. 

Manifesting a lottery win

One experiment suggesting that mind affects matter includes a random number generator showing the sides of a die. When a person focuses on low numbers, the probability of the generator showing a low number increases – and conversely with high numbers. 

Following that logic, would it be possible to manifest a lottery win? Dean shares that, in principle, focusing on winning the lottery might increase the chance from 1 in 300 million to perhaps 1 in a million. A decent increase – but still a minimal chance to win.

The science behind manifesting

So, what are the factors affecting manifesting from a scientific perspective? The following observations come from experiments on how intention influences aspects of the physical world.

  • The more unknowns involved, or dependencies on other people, the lower the probability of manifesting. For example: if you intend to manifest a gold-plated Mercedes on your driveway, an entire industry needs to create that car, and then someone has to decide for some reason to give you that car, then someone needs to drive it to your home and leave it there. The probability of that series of events is far lower than the probability of rolling a die and getting a 2. That’s why scientists study manifesting in labs in controlled settings where the likelihood of getting a desired result is much higher.
  • The more laser-focused the intention, the higher the probability of manifesting. That’s why it’s sound to believe that monks with vast experience in prayer and meditation can manifest more effectively than the average person. (In an IONS experiment studying the effects of  intentionally treated water on plant growth, monks were tasked with blessing the water!) 

Destiny Engineering

Around 21 minutes into the video, Dean speaks about “destiny engineering.” This refers to the idea that we don’t have a fixed destiny, but we can affect it by intention. 

Destiny engineering can be modeled scientifically by mind-matter interaction. A study from Princeton University showed the output of a random number generator, displaying 1s or 0s. When people were asked to intend for the machine to show the higher number. Eventually, enough data was collected showing that this did happen (to a very tiny degree). The opposite held true when people were asked to focus on 0. The curve clearly deviated down, indicating that intention “pushed” the probability of the random event toward a 0.

This experiment suggests that thought does influence the physical world – even though there are no guarantees. Imagine if you thought of something – say a pink elephant – and a pink elephant would instantly drop down in front of you. The world would be chaotic, to say the least! 

Can intention affect our mood…

Twenty-five minutes in, Dean asks: Can the above results be extrapolated on a larger scale, from numbers to food? Could intention affect food? With several colleagues, he conducted a double-blinded experiment on the effects of intentionally enhanced chocolate on mood, where one set of participants consumed “blessed” chocolate, and the control group had regular chocolate, for three days over the course of a week. The blessed chocolate had been subjected with the intention of increasing the mood of the consumer, using three different techniques.

The results showed that the mood improved significantly more in the participants eating the intentionally treated chocolate vs. the control group. It seems that intention affects mood associated with food!

…and the physical world?

Similarly, intention seems to affect plant growth. Around the 29-minute mark, Dean shares how aspects of plant growth were altered by will. A set of seeds were treated with water blessed by monks, while another set was the control group. Statistically significant differences could be observed between the two groups. 

This shows that not only can intention, or manifestation, change the mental realms (such as mood), but also the physical world. Dean mentions this 33 minutes into the video. This could explain how thoughts can influence reality – for example, you imagine a gold-plated Mercedes on your driveway, and it shows up.

That’s actually what happened to Dean! When speaking about the power of intention at conferences, he used the example of the probability of manifesting a gold-plated Mercedes on his driveway. As a joke, a friend sent him a toy gold-colored Mercedes to show him that things can unexpectedly manifest, but that it’s also very important to be clear and specific about the wished-for outcome. Perhaps a clear statement of the desired size of the car might have yielded an actual, full-size Mercedes on his driveway.

The scientific prerequisite for manifesting 

About 58 minutes in, Dean answers a question from one of the webinar viewers: What are the probable physical and non-physical effects behind manifesting? Dean shares about the materialist worldview, where consciousness is regarded as an emergent property of the brain. According to materialism, manifestation is impossible, since there’s no way for consciousness to directly affect the physical world. 

To understand how manifestation could possibly work, we need to look through a different lens. Materialism as a worldview has only been around for about 400 years, but other philosophies have been present for thousands of years. Aldous Huxley stated in “The Perennial Philosophy,” which refers to the age-old esoteric idealistic worldview, that “consciousness is fundamental.” That idea is a prerequisite to understanding why manifestation could work.

Idealism builds on this idea; that consciousness is the foundation for physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology, instead of an emergent property of brain activity. Esoteric traditions have held this view for millennia. If that view is true, mentally affecting the physical world is easy to understand, because it all starts with the mind (or more broadly, with consciousness).  

Moving forward

Science has spoken: the mind does seem to affect matter. Even though the mechanism quickly gains complexity as we scale up from lab experiments to real-life situations, the same logic holds: clear, focused intention seems to influence the physical world. 

The next step would be to uncover what’s inside the “black box” – what happens between intention and the physical manifestation. By gaining a better understanding of these mechanisms, we will also learn far more about who and what we are, and what we’re capable of.

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