The Global Consciousness Project, (GCP) also called the EGG Project, is a long-running science experiment maintained by an international collaboration of about 100 research scientists and engineers. It is based on technology developed at Princeton to study interactions of consciousness with physical systems. The GCP has been collecting data from a global network of random event generators since August, 1998. The network currently maintains about 65 sites around the world running custom software that reads the output of physical random number generators and records a trial (sum of 200 bits) once every second, 24/7, continuously over months and years. The data is transmitted over the Internet to a server in Princeton, NJ, USA, where they are archived for later analysis. The result is a database of synchronized parallel sequences of truly random numbers.
The research question is whether there are deviations from randomness correlated with major events that engage the attention of large numbers of people. Such correlations are interpreted as reflecting the presence and activity of consciousness in the world.
Roger D. Nelson developed the project as an extrapolation of two decades of experiments from the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) which repeatedly show that electronic noise-based, truly random number generators (RNG or REG) seem to be intentionally influenced to bring about a less random sequence of data - in other words, that human intention can reduce natural entropy and create greater coherence within a random series of events.
In an extension of the laboratory research called "FieldREG", investigators examined the outputs of REGs in the field, before, during and after highly focused or coherent group events. The group events studied include intense psychotherapy sessions, captivating theater presentations, religious rituals, popular sports competitions, like Football World Cup, and high-interest television broadcasts like the Academy Awards (Bierman, 1996; Blasband, 2000; Nelson, 1995, 1997; Nelson et al, 1996, 1998a, 1998b; Radin, 1997; Radin et al, 1996;)
The group consciousness FieldREG studies were extended to global dimensions in studies looking at data from 12 independent REGs in the US and Europe during a web-promoted "Gaiamind Meditation" in Jan. 1997, and then in Sept. 1997 during the Princess Diana funeral ceremonies. The results suggested it would be worthwhile to build a permanent network of continuously running REGs. This became the EGG project or GCP, which began operation in 1998, collecting and archiving a continuously growing database. At each node in the network, the RNG is sampled once per second to produce a 200-bit trial sum that is recorded and transmitted over the Internet to Princeton, NJ, for archiving and analysis. Pre-planned tests indicate that many "global events" do correspond to deviations from randomness in the data.
The formal analysis consists of a series of replicated tests of the basic hypothesis that the data will show deviations from statistical expectation that are correlated with major events in the world. Before the data are examined, a hypothesis test is fully defined: The beginning and end of the data segment to be analysed and the statistical test to be used are specified in the GCP Hypothesis Registry. All the pre-specified analysis are reported and all are included in composite statistics.
The best evidence for the hypothesis of an effect of mass consciousness, according to the GCP, is the continuing series of formal hypothesis tests. Over the eight-year history of the project, more than 200 events have been assessed. The majority show small departures from random expectation corresponding to the predictions, and the odds against chance for the composite outcome are greater than 500,000 to 1. An important result is that the mean effect size is small, about 0.3 sigma. This means that individual events cannot test the general hypothesis. Many results must be compounded before the statistical reliability of the correlation can be assessed.
Peer reviewed publications include a methodology description in the Journal of Parapsychology, an examination of the data surrounding Sept 11, 2001 in Foundations of Physics Letters, and a descriptive article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. A recent mainstream publication is in the Proceedings of the AAAS for a symposium on retrocausation in June 2006.
The data generated by the global random number generator network on September 11, 2001 was among the most intensively studied data developed by the project. The summary of the findings of the time and distance analysis was that "Through analysis of 144 sliding windows, from 5 minutes to 12 hours, in 5 minute increments, we find that over a period of 3 months, one date is associated with a statistical anomaly: September 11, 2001. On this date, the time range appearing most often is 6 AM - 10 AM, peaking around 9:00 - 10:00 AM, and the location primarily the East Coast of the USA."
Another criticism is that there is no objective criterion for determining whether an event is significant; events are seemingly arbitrarily selected.