The geomagnetic field and the stock market

Because I've written about a psi-GMF link, a reader sent me this a pointer to this interesting paper from Anna Krivelyova and Cesare Robotti of the Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta:

Playing the Field: Geomagnetic Storms and the Stock Market

Explaining movements in daily stock prices is one of the most difficult tasks in modern finance. This paper contributes to the existing literature by documenting the impact of geomagnetic storms on daily stock market returns. A large body of psychological research has shown that geomagnetic storms have a profound effect on people’s moods, and, in turn, people’s moods have been found to be related to human behavior, judgments and decisions about risk. An important finding of this literature is that people often attribute their feelings and emotions to the wrong source, leading to incorrect judgments. Specifically, people affected by geomagnetic storms may be more inclined to sell stocks on stormy days because they incorrectly attribute their bad mood to negative economic prospects rather than bad environmental conditions. Misattribution of mood and pessimistic choices can translate into a relatively higher demand for riskless assets, causing the price of risky assets to fall or to rise less quickly than otherwise.

The authors find strong empirical support in favor of a geomagnetic-storm effect in stock returns after controlling for market seasonals and other environmental and behavioral factors. Unusually high levels of geomagnetic activity have a negative, statistically and economically significant effect on the following week’s stock returns for all U.S. stock market indices. Finally, this paper provides evidence of substantially higher returns around the world during periods of quiet geomagnetic activity.

Download the paper:


Unknown said…
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Anonymous said…
I seem to recall that some psi researchers have found that psi works better in geomagnetically quiet settings. I seem to recall (sorry I don't have a reference) that subjects in Faraday cages performed better at psi tasks. This seems to echo the original post: "A large body of psychological research has shown that geomagnetic storms have a profound effect on people’s moods, and, in turn, people’s moods have been found to be related to human behavior, judgments and decisions about risk."

Looking at the references section, I don't see any parapsychology research.
Lawrence said…
I remember a report on the closely related issue of business cycles and sun-spot activity, that is worth checking out, by one Bernard J Fremerman entitled 'Solar and Economic Relationships: An updated Report', published in the very first issue of the Zetetic Scholar, and so available in toto on-line.

Fremeran mentions W S Jevons, a British economist from the 19th Century and his theory on the relationships between sun-spot acitvity and industrial manufacturing, and the follow-up work of Garcia-Matta and Shaffner, two Harvard economists in the 1930's who set out to debunk Jevons, but to their own surprise confirmed at least some of his findings. Fremeran continued the study (up to the mid-70s) and did find a tentative correlation. The article was published in 1978.
Leo MacDonald said…
Hi Dean,

I wonder what your reply is too these two posts made by a user. He has put forth what he thinks are positive claims against psi phenomena.
Dean Radin said…
Those arguments uncritically accept current theories as the final word on how reality works. If history has taught us anything, it's that such assumptions are barking up the wrong tree.

As I've argued elsewhere, a "theory trumps data" attitude is anti-scientific. That is, the instant one allows theory to override empirical data, science collapses into dogma, no different than religious dogma.
antiskeptic said…
I don't know, Dean. Some might argue that you are being just as dogmatic for believing that data always trumps theory. I mean, I think that data should usually trump theory, but not always. (Then again, if we find out that human observation is somehow fundamentally flawed, then theory should usually trump data - or at least well-reasoned theory should usually trump data) Maybe the scientific method requires a certain amount of religious-like dogmatism, itself.
Dean Radin said…
Theories are just stories offered to explain data. Provided that the data are sound (and this is a nontrivial issue) then the theory must not be allowed to trump the data. One could argue that some theories are so well established that offending data can be safely ignored, but I would argue that history tells us that for scientific purposes this is a mistake. Sometimes, maybe even often, the so-called outliers and puzzling anomalies hold clues to the next radical breakthrough.

When it comes to practical purposes, that's another matter.
Anonymous said…
"Theories are just stories offered to explain data."

Up to a point I agree.

However, as Quine wrote in "Two Dogmas of Empiricism," all data are theory-laden to some extent.

One must have some fundamental theory, call it theory A, in order to collect data in the first place. After the data is in hand, one can formulate theories A1, A2, A3, and those are just stories about the data.

The problem of how to formally specify a framework for fundamental theories is of some interest to logicians and philosophers of science.
MrEvidential said…
Dr. Radin,

I was reminded today of a common argument against the existence of PK. The argument goes that if it were real, it would be a common occurrence in physics experiments (from the experimenters' intentions for the desired result), making much of the experimental results nonsensical and irreplicable; and since we don't see this, this indicates that PK is nonexistent. What's your response to that general argument? This was the main argument of the Oxford Companion to the Mind's chapter on "Telekinesis." If you own the book, you probably already have a response in mind.
antiskeptic said…
I mostly agree with you, although I would argue that theory (and maybe I'm using the word differently than you) plays a part in determining whether or not the data are sound. I won't bother you anymore about this, though, because you and I mostly agree.
Dean Radin said…
> One must have some fundamental theory, call it theory A, in order to collect data in the first place.

Not really. It's useful to have a guess about what's important, but a fundamental theory, no.
Dean Radin said…
> ... if [PK] were real, it would be a common occurrence in physics experiments ... and since we don't see this, this indicates that PK is nonexistent.

I wrote about this in The Conscious Universe. As much as 45% of data in physics experiments are commonly thrown away as outliers because they don't match theoretical expectations. What is that 55% of the "missing" data trying to tell us?
Anonymous said…
First off, I agree with Dr. Radin that the claims at freeratio are unscientific. I think that the "positive claims against psi phenomena" are silly, misguided refusals to look at external reality. The chap who made those "positive claims" is not just ignoring the data, he's steadfastly focusing his attention on a worldview that allows him to completely ignore real psi phenomena.

However, if anyone has the patience to ponder Quine's notion of what "data" and "theory" are all about, I'll revise my statements with a lengthy digression into philosophy of science as applied to parapsychology.

" It's useful to have a guess about what's important..."

Okay, you're using "theory" to mean something other than what I meant. In your terms, I would have said that all data is guess-laden. I muddied the waters with my imprecise use of "fundamental." I also misattributed Hanson's quote to Quine; Quine published in 1951, and it wasn't until 1958 that Norwood Hanson summarized Quine's view with the aphorism "All data are theory-laden," in the work "Patterns of Discovery."

Quine's point was that data is inherently interpreted. Quine was following up Carnap's failure to express even the simplest statements about the world. Quine talked about this in the fifth section, "THE VERIFICATION THEORY AND REDUCTIONISM." The whole paper is online at:

Perhaps I should have started with a direct quote from Quine which has direct bearing on parapsychology.

"Furthermore it becomes folly to seek a boundary between synthetic statements, which hold contingently on experience, and analytic statements which hold come what may. Any statement can be held true come what may, if we make drastic enough adjustments elsewhere in the system. "

Assume there are two researchers, Goofus and Gallant.

Suppose Goofus the Scoffer starts out with "guesses" that hold "psi is impossible" and Goofus will uphold those guesses, come what may. Gallant, on the other hand, has different starting "guesses" or "theories."

Goofus and Gallant observe a natural phenomenon or experiment. Because Goofus' observations are guess-laden with Goofus-guesswork and Gallant's observations are laden with Gallant-guesswork, the two researchers have different data from the same phenomenon.

Of course whoever posted the claim at freeratio wasn't even at the level of Goofus, who went through the motions of science.
Dean Radin said…
> the two researchers have different data from the same phenomenon.

I agree. The epistemological consequences are a significant challenge to any science that aspires to rest only upon purely objective measurements.

While my experiments and the resulting data are unavoidably guess-laden, I try to remain flexible and let the data lead me to new guesses. My guiding assumption is that when asked, Nature will give a very precise answer, but only to what was asked. So if the question is not posed well, the answer will be confusing. From what we know so far, I think that most of the time we're not asking the right questions.
Paprika said…
LeoMacDonald, RE the first link:

>> In the person to person case there is a “sender” who knows something (usually a card or something similar) and a “receiver” who reads the other persons mind. <<

More or less correct

>> How? <<

Nobody knows at present time, nor do we need to know in order to say whether the effect is “real”. As I have said many times, there is a hige difference between knowing *whether* something occurs and *how* it occurs. The former does not require the latter. We can know whether something is real without knowing how it works.

e.g. We still don’t know exactly how gravity works, but we do know *whether* it works...


>> 1. The sender has the information in their minds through completely normal means. <<

What does “normal” mean? The poster probably means “well-known and well-established physiological mechanisms”. Okay, fair enough.

>> 2. Somewhere in the “senders” brain [is] a signal of some sort, based on the information (say the 5 of diamonds). <<

This may or may not be correct; we don’t know whether the information is stored within the brain or whether the brain tunes into/ receives the information...

>> 3. This signal needs to leave the brain,
exit the skull,
5. be transmitted through the air,
6. penetrate the “receivers” skull,
7. interact with the receivers brain, and
8. be decoded in a way that the receiver can understand the information. <<

This again presupposes that the mind is limited to the insides of the skull. Perhaps the mind is a field-like phenomenon that “stretches” out beyond the brain. Or perhaps the brain tunes into the mind or receives the mind, which may be independent of the brain.

Someone may say, “But brain damage changes the mind!” But if you damage the brain then you damage its ability to receive the mind...

Someone may say “nonsense! There’s no evidence for extended minds!” But wouldn’t evidence for psi count as evidence for an extended mind?

So in my opinion, we need to discuss *data* from scientific experiments that seek to determine whether psi effects are real. Theories ought not to tell us whether we accept data, but vice versa - data (are supposed to) inform and guide our theories.

Moving on, the poster says:

>>Tackling the signal part first, there are only four fundamental forces in our universe; the strong and weak nuclear forces, gravity and electro-magnetism. <<

Faraday chamber experiments have shown (1) there is a significant effect that cannot be attributed to chance and (2) that the medium by which information is shared/transferred is *not* electromagnetic. Faraday chamber experiments that give evidence for psi effects indicate that psi effects can operate through non-EM forces that we currently do not understand.

>> the nuclear forces ... simply don’t have the range. <<

Okay, so psi effects are not mediated through the nuclear forces. Great

>> Gravity can only send signals my moving extremely huge masses, such as in a quickly rotating binary star system, and even then is extremely difficult to measure. Since large masses (solar system sized) are not involved, this can be discounted as the signal carrier. <<

So psi effects are not mediated by gravity. Great

>> Lastly we are left with the only viable candidate force Electro-Magnetism (EM) <<

No, because EM has been ruled out by faraday chambers that give significant positive results. *Whatever* is mediating psi effects is not reducible to EM, gravity, or nuclear forces. Again, we don’t need to know the *how* in order to determine *whether*...

>> Other possible signaling mechanisms such as sight, sound, mechanical and chemical are not being considered because we are only considering non-fraudulent cases where the sender and receiver are completely physically isolated form each other <<

Paprika said…
LeoMacDonald, RE part 2 of those links:

>> I wanted to analyze the steps needed for Psycho-Kinesis (PK) to work and explain why it cannot exist. <<

The author may also wish to inform random number generators (RNGs) and water crystals that they cannot be affected by intentions*...

(* Radin, D. et al, 2008. Effects of distant intention on water crystal formation: A triple-blind replication. Journal of Scientific Exploration, volume 22, number 4, pages 481-493.)

>> The claim: PK claims that a person can move physical objects by thinking about them….by using their mind without physical intervention at all. <<


>> 1. A person needs to have a thought about moving an object
2. Somewhere in the person’s brain a signal of some sort, based on the thought needs to be generated <<

Again, we don’t know whether the brain is the whole story – perhaps the brain receives or tunes into the mind, which may be independent of the brain.

>> First, people have thoughts all the time. Even having thoughts of having psycho-kinetic abilities are common due to fictional accounts, magicians and claims in the media. <<

Not to mention the PEAR Lab, data on water crystals, the effects of intention on distant human physiological (ANS changes), etc.

>> There are no organs for transmitting thoughts outside the skull. An EM signal is the only way that any signal could be transmitted outside the brain and it would be easily stopped by the skull. <<

So therefore, *if* PK effects are real then they are not mediated by EM signals. Evidence for PK would be evidence for as-yet undiscovered “realms” (for lack of a better word) of information and energy.

>> A believer might object, citing EKGs which record electrical signals in the brain using external sensors but these “signals” are only the overall electrical noise in the brain, not of specific information or data… <<

For the record, EKGs do not “record electrical signals in the brain”; the author is thinking of EEGs...

Anyway, again, the author is arguing that EM, gravitational, and nuclear forces cannot be the mechanism(s) by which psi effects are mediated. That’s great, but that is *not* an argument against psi, positive evidence for which indicates that there are as-yet undiscovered mediums by which information can be shared or transferred.
Phronk said…
I've recently submitted an article describing evidence that creativity is lower during days with disrupted geomagnetic activity. This fits well with the evidence that a disrupted GMF causes negative moods (which seems to be a robust finding in both humans and animals), since people also tend to be less creative when they're in a sour mood.

I will try to remember to drop you a note if/when it is published.

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