The Global Consciousness Project

What is the nature of Global Consciousness?

Multiple field REG/RNG recordings during a global event

Nelson, R. D., (1997b).  The electronic Journal for Anomalous Phenomena (eJAP), 98.1.


The funeral ceremonies for Princess Diana of Wales brought worldwide attention and generated a profound emotional resonance among very large numbers of people. A week later, the funeral ceremonies for Mother Teresa also brought attention from around the world, though with less intense emotional engagement. Data were recorded during these ceremonies in several locations using random event generator devices that have been shown to exhibit anomalous correlations with certain states of human consciousness including emotional resonance in groups.

During the public events of Diana’s funeral the composite across 12 independent datasets showed anomalous deviations from expectation, associated with a probability of 0.013. During the public events of Mother Teresa’s funeral 11 datasets were recorded, with a composite probability of 0.645 indicating no anomalous deviation.


The tragic accident resulting in the death of Princess Diana generated a worldwide reaction, and the memorial procession and funeral planned for Saturday, September 6th, 1997, was an occasion that focused attention from across the world. Predictions were made that on the order of two million people would attempt to be present at the processions and ceremonies and that some two billion people might attend the live broadcasts of the day’s events. This was a sad occasion that certainly engendered a shared consciousness experience with profound emotional impact for huge numbers of people. The hypothesis was formed that worldwide sharing would generate a consciousness field whose resonance or coherence might affect the random event generator (REG) devices used in various Field REG (or FieldREG) studies.
(Nelson, et al, 96; Radin, et al, 96; Bierman, 96; Nelson, et al, 97; Nelson, 97; Radin, 97)

One week later, the world watched again as Mother Teresa was honored in a widely publicized ceremony in Calcutta. Mother Teresa’s death was a loss, especially to the people she served, but it was expected, and did not generate the extreme emotional outpouring that accompanied Diana’s death. Nevertheless, this occasion provided another opportunity to study the possible anomalous effects of consciousness states formed by global events.


An invitation was sent to colleagues with suitable equipment to do continuous recording of REG data beginning Friday evening and continuing throughout the Saturday events including all of the public ceremonies of Princess Diana’s funeral, and continuing for several hours thereafter. The expectation for the experiment was that a standard measure of coherence within the data would correlate generally with global public attention to the events, and particularly with the degree of shared emotional engagement. A maximum effect during the major ceremonies was considered likely, but formal assessment required the specification of a precise analytical expectation even though this was a unique situation. As the events transpired, the decision was made to use the official schedule for Princess Diana’s funeral as published by CNN Interactive World News ( on September 4, 1997, to define data segments corresponding to the major portions of the public ceremonies. The schedule began on Saturday, September 6 at 9:08 a.m. when the coffin left Kensington Palace in London. The next event with widespread significance and interest for the public was at 10:45, when the royal standard at Buckingham Palace was replaced by the Union Jack at half mast. At 11:00 a.m. the funeral service at Westminster Abbey started. At 12:00 noon the service ended with a one-minute silence. The coffin was then transported to Althorp, arriving at 3:30 p.m. These four segments of the ceremonies were chosen as well-defined parts that were recognized and attended by the public locally and via worldwide live TV coverage. A more detailed assessment addressing specific elements such as the Earl Spencer’s eulogy or the minute of silence ending the funeral could not be accurately specified in all the datasets. Although most of the data were recorded completely automatically, one dataset was taken with the experimenter attending the live television coverage and making concurrent notes and index entries, allowing a subsidiary analysis based on the separate events comprising the funeral service.

The ceremonies for Mother Teresa received less comprehensive coverage, and the schedule of events available to define the pre-planned analysis was simpler, consisting of a three-hour procession beginning at 9:00 a.m., followed by a three-hour funeral ceremony from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m., as reported in the New York Times International, Sunday, September 14, 1997.

The raw data in FieldREG experiments are recorded as a sequence of trials each consisting of the sum of, for example, 200 binary digits, with the expected mean value of 100, as if one were electronically throwing 200 coins and counting the heads. Other trial sizes ranged from 400 to 228504 bits. The formal analysis is based on the deviation of the empirical mean from expectation within each segment, and the composite deviation across all the specified segments is compared with theoretical expectation. To quantify the hypothesized effect, a Chisquare statistic is constructed from the sum of squared Z-scores calculated for the segment deviations (Snedecor and Cochran, 1980). This statistic is compared with its theoretical distribution to calculate a chance probability for the deviations found in the data. A standardized format and protocol allows the construction of a control distribution based on a resampling process where randomly placed segments of the same lengths as in the active data are drawn repeatedly from the surrounding undesignated data. Distributions based on 1000 repetitions of this process yield a well defined estimate of the parameters of the random data sequence in the absence of an anomalous effect. These empirical control data conform well to theoretical values, indicating that the theoretical Chisquare distribution may safely be used for calculation of the probabilities associated with the active results (Nelson, et al, 97).


During the public ceremonies for Princess Diana, the data taken in 12 independent recordings at various locations in Europe and the United States compounded to a significant result indicating an anomalous global effect which would occur by chance only about once in 100 repetitions of an experiment of this nature. For one of the 12 datasets (recorded by the first author), concurrent notes and index entries allowed a more detailed analysis of the time from 10:38 to 12:59, including all of the service at Westminster Abbey and some of the cortege and recessional. The result was independently significant, with Chisquare = 28.196, 16 degrees of freedom, and a probability of 0.030. The most striking deviation occurred during the data segment corresponding to the invocation and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Table I shows the results for each of the 12 separate databases, indicating the location, the persons responsible, and the type of random event generator, followed by the number of trials, the Chisquare, its degrees of freedom, and the associated probability. The last line of the table shows the composite chisquare and probability for all 12 datasets.

Table I: Princess Diana, 12 Datasets
Location Operator Source* N-Trials Chisq df p-value
Princeton RN MicroREG 1 28438 7.417 4 0.115
Princeton YD MicroREG 2 28362 3.948 4 0.413
Princeton AL MicroREG 3 28462 12.900 4 0.012
Princeton Cont. PortREG 6 26330 6.698 4 0.153
Freiburg HB, EB PortREG 24 27976 5.386 4 0.250
Freiburg HB, EB PortREG 26 27976 7.694 4 0.104
Florida GS, LR PortREG 34 27978 0.993 4 0.911
Chicago JW PortREG 36 27980 6.387 4 0.172
Giessen JH PortREG 20 77 3.527 4 0.474
Giessen JH PortREG 21 77 3.537 4 0.472
Giessen JH FREMM 775 6.369 4 0.173
Las Vegas DR FREMM 3829 7.612 4 0.107

72.468 48 0.013

* Random sources include two independent designs for random event generators from the PEAR lab, the PortREG and MicroREG, and a third independent design (FREMM) by Dick Bierman and Joop Houtkooper of Amsterdam.

Figure 1 shows the accumulating chisquare over the 12 independent recordings during the ceremonies for Princess Diana, compared with its expectation and with a curve describing the locus of a significant deviation (p = 0.05) as the database grows. Because most of the individual Chisquare increments are larger than the expected value defined by the degrees of freedom, the cumulative curve takes on a definite trend culminating in a probability of 0.013.

image: Chisquare of 12 data recordings, Princess Diana funeral

Figure 1: Cumulative squared deviation, or Chisquare, of the 12 independent recordings of data during the funeral ceremonies for Princess Diana. Each Chisquare has four degrees of freedom, and the cumulative trend is compared against expectation and against a 95% confidence envelope. See text for more detail.

The near coincidence of the funeral of Mother Teresa with that of Diana led to another FieldREG recording for this occasion, with essentially the same procedures. All but one of the contributors were able to provide data, and 11 independent records were obtained. Information available for specifying the active segments was less detailed, and in this case only two segments were defined, although the total time was similar for both funerals. As detailed in Table II, the results in this case show little indication of an anomalous effect, and the composite outcome is indistinguishable from chance.

Table II: Mother Teresa, 10 Datasets
Location Operator Source* N-Trials Chisq df p-value
Princeton RN MicroREG1 26808 0.074 2 0.964
Princeton YD MicroREG2 26701 1.919 2 0.383
Princeton AL MicroREG3 26824 0.015 2 0.992
Princeton Cont. PortREG6 24814 2.630 2 0.268
Freiburg HB, EB PortREG24 26364 3.314 2 0.191
Freiburg HB, EB PortREG26 26365 0.120 2 0.942
Tucson GS, LR PortREG34 26367 2.003 2 0.367
Giessen JH PortREG20 72 1.461 2 0.482
Giessen JH PortREG21 72 4.010 2 0.135
Giessen JH FREMM 720 2.696 2 0.260
Las Vegas DR FREMM 3609 0.743 2 0.690

19.004 22 0.645

Figure 2 shows the accumulating chisquare over the 11 independent recordings at the ceremonies for Mother Teresa, using the same format as in Figure 1. In this case, the accumulating Chisquare values do not take on a trend relative to expectation.

Chisquare of 11 data recordings, Mother Teresa funeral

Figure 2: Cumulative squared deviation, or Chisquare, of the 11 independent recordings of data during the funeral ceremonies for Mother Teresa. Each Chisquare has two degrees of freedom, and the cumulative trend is compared against expectation and against a 95% confidence envelope. See text for more detail.

Graphs of the individual random walks described by the data from the 12 recordings during Diana’s funeral show strong, highly variable excursions, some of which coincide with the defined analytical segments, resulting in large contributions to the Chisquare. If all the traces are averaged, the resulting graph shows a consistent negative trend for the first four hours, including a relatively strong portion during the ceremonies at Westminster Abbey. About an hour later, the averaged data take on a positive trend that brings the cumulative deviation back to expectation. In contrast, the random walks described by the 11 datasets recorded during the ceremonies for Mother Teresa generally exhibit smaller deviations. An average across the traces is striking for its close adherence to the straight line of theoretical expectation.


The database gathered during the funeral ceremonies for Princess Diana shows a significant composite anomalous deviation associated with the events. This confirmed a prediction based on the obvious potential of this sad and unexpected occasion to produce emotional engagement and resonance. The results are consonant with those obtained in previous FieldREG studies and support tentative interpretations suggesting that groups of people, especially when they are attuned and engaged by a common theme, may produce something like a consciousness field that induces a small but statistically identifiable bias in a nominally random sequence.

The results during the funeral of Mother Teresa do not show a consistent indication of anomalous effects. We speculate that this clear difference from the result for Diana’s funeral derives from the nature of the global attention, which was, for easily understood reasons, different in the two cases. Certainly we should not conclude that the results are a reflection of the character or individuality of the two people upon whom the attention was focused. Instead, the anomalous outcome represents a statistical measure of an as yet unexplained capability of group consciousness, under certain conditions, to interact with random physical systems. It apparently reflects a shared consciousness state across the world, and especially the remarkable worldwide sharing on the emotional level.

With the caveat that interpretations must remain speculative, we may note some of the factors that bear upon the results and the differences in the two cases. The shock and dismay over Diana’s death galvanized an overwhelming reaction that was the preeminent media topic for several days. The funeral ceremonies occupied virtually all the major television channels and hence the attentions of an unprecedented number of people. This focus, and the entrainment of ideas and emotions it entailed, might be expected to produce a widespread resonance of affect. In contrast, Mother Teresa’s death was expected, and she had lived a full and exemplary life, allowing her memory to be honored without the profound grief and dismay that was engendered by Princess Diana’s death. Although there is evidence from related work that distance may not be an important factor determining anomalous effects of this nature, it should be noted that all of the REG’s in these studies were in Europe and the United States, and none in India or Asia. There was considerably less live television coverage of Mother Teresa’s funeral, and although she was certainly loved and respected around the world, there was relatively little objective expression of deep emotion by people attending the ceremonies either locally or via the media coverage. Thus, there are a number of clear differences in the two situations that may explain the significantly different experimental results, and also link them with findings in psychological and sociological studies of personal loss.