The Global Consciousness Project

What is the nature of Global Consciousness?

Burning Man, 2017

Several times in past years we have examined the data corresponding to the Burning Man Festival, in particular to the "burn" itself. The event takes place in in Black Rock Desert, Nev.

On the next to last evening, the main ritual occurs when the "Man" burns. This year, the burn was interrupted by a tragic suicide, when a man broke through two security lines and ran into the intense flames. He was pulled out and taken to a burn unit, but he later died.

Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen says the man ran through a human-chain of security officers at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 2) during the Man Burn event at the counter-culture festival. The sheriff says the man was rescued by firefighters and later died at the UC Davis hospital burn center in California.

About 70,000 people attended the art and music celebration in the Black Rock Desert, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Reno. The nine-day event culminates with the burning of a towering 40-foot effigy made of wood. Attendees have tried to run into the flames as a symbol of rebirth.

Specific Hypothesis and Results

This exploratory analysis was specified using the same criteria as some previous such events, namely to look at an hour beginning with the ignition of the burn. That was at about 10:20 pm local time (PDT) so the event was from 05:20 tp 06:20 UTC. The result was 3765.8 on 3601 df, for p = 0.027 and Z = 1.921.


The following graph is a visual display of the statistical result. It shows the second-by-second accumulation of small deviations of the data from what’s expected. Our prediction is that deviations will tend to be positive, and if this is so, the jagged line will tend to go upward. If the endpoint is positive, this is evidence for the general hypothesis and adds to the bottom line. If the endpoint is outside the smooth curve showing 0.05 probability, the deviation is nominally significant. If the trend of the cumulative deviation is downward, this is evidence against the hypothesis, and is subtracted from the bottom line. For more detail on how to interpret the results, see The Science and related pages, as well as the standard caveat below.

Burning Man 2017
Cumulative Deviation during event

Standard caveat

It is important to keep in mind that we have only a tiny statistical effect, so that it is always hard to distinguish signal from noise. This means that every success might be largely driven by chance, and every null might include a real signal overwhelmed by noise. In the long run, a real effect can be identified only by patiently accumulating replications of similar analyses.