Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: Six experiments

Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: Six experiments

Dean Radin, Leena Michel, Karla Galdamez, Paul Wendland, Robert Rickenbach, and Arnaud Delorme

Physics Essays, in press. Scheduled print publication June 2012.


A double-slit optical system was used to test the possible role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wavefunction. The ratio of the interference pattern’s double-slit to single-slit spectral power was predicted to decrease when attention was focused towards the double-slit as compared to away. Each test session consisted of 40 counterbalanced attention-towards and attention-away epochs, where each epoch lasted between 15 and 30 seconds. Data contributed by 137 people in six experiments, involving a total of 250 test sessions, indicated that on average the spectral ratio decreased as predicted (z = -4.36, p = 6 x 10-6). Another 250 control sessions conducted without observers present tested hardware, software, and analytical procedures for potential artifacts; none were identified (z = 0.43, p = 0.67).

Variables including temperature, vibration, and signal drift were also tested, and no spurious influences were identified. By contrast, factors associated with consciousness, such as meditation experience, electrocortical markers of focused attention, and psychological factors including openness and absorption significantly correlated in predicted ways with perturbations in the double-slit interference pattern. The results appear to be consistent with a consciousness-related interpretation of the quantum measurement problem.


Tor said…
Looking forward to reading this one!
DougD said…
Dean, how many of the test subjects were experienced meditators, and how did their results differ from the non-meditators (if any)?
Dean Radin said…
About half were meditators. They did much better than non-meditators, as we had observed previously in the Michelson interferometer study.
Gareth said…
Amazing stuff. I look forward to the full article.
Calculus said…
Were the photons, or electrons sent one by one?

The possibilities that mental attention can influence a quantum system are staggering. For example quantum computing, if it is ever put in practice, could be made as a 'mental receiver'.
But for me, I am still mostly interested in the possibilities of interferences between 'mental wavefunctions', whatever they are, of meditators, in short, telepathy.

I tried to set a blog dedicated to this goal but my attempt kind of failed. In four months, i had two participants total.... There is not a lot of interest in this.
One of my 2 participants complained that the goal was not clear. Well, it cannot be more simple. A picture or a movie as featurless as possible was displayed online and people had to send their thinkings in 10 key words. (enough, i guess, to express any feeling or thought)
The Statistics were easy since i would use a dictionary of synonyms with a finite number of words (I have the webster with 500 000 definitions, synonyms and antonyms) Each key word is therefore linked to a finite chain of synonyms. The chances that two participants were thinking alike and therefore picking one common synonym by pure luck were never null, i.e. if you speak english, one of your keyword must be in an english dictionary and you can always pick up this one by chance. (It's always good to avoid zeros in maths).
With an input of 10 key words with a finite chain of synonyms, let's say 10 synonyms per each key word, these chances were (10x10)/500 000 = 0.0002.

I wanted to avoid any subjective analysis, thus, for a single participant submitting these 10 key words, a program would look for all their synonyms and the synonyms of these synonyms etc, in the dictionary (so it would not necessarily totalize 100 as in the example above, but vary from participant to participant) and compare all this set of words with all the set of words obtained from every other participant. So it was not a pure genzfeld 'guess what i am thinking about' but more 'what are you all thinking about and who thinks like who'.
A computer program was absolutely necessary because the number of comparisons grows quickly, as (n^2-n)/2 for n particpants and this number must again be multiplied by the number of keywords and synonyms. For as little as 10 participants only, submitting 10 keywords with (let's say) 10 synonyms each, generates 45x10x10=4500 word by word comparisons, thus the need for automation.
So far, i never get two simultaneous participants to compare anything... So basically, i have no results to talk about. I will try to reshape my blog into something more simple and less blabla to attract more interests and i'll see what happen...

good luck to you.
MickyD said…
Well done Dean on getting this published in a mainstream outlet. You should feel very proud.
Dean Radin said…
> Were the photons, or electrons sent one by one?

No. The beam used to create the double-slit interference pattern is about a trillion photons per second. In another version of this experiment, under way in the lab now, we are using a system that records about 250 photons per second with only one photon in the device at a time.
For that we are using this device with some custom modifications:
Klaus S said…

So, new studies are underway? I hope it works, but I have my doubts.

Isn't there something (i have forgotten the name)that tends do reduce or even extinguish "psi" with repeated attempts to replicate findings?

My amateurish ideas on that are

1) "Psi" needs real emotions, real gut-level power. "Psi" is a lot more gut than brain. During repeated replications attempts in labs, "psi" gets soo bored and falls asleep.

2) "Psi" does something that makes reality deviate from probability. Repeated improbable results are obviously even more improbable than the improbablity of the first studie.

So "boredom" and a steep curve of increasing improbablity makes replication in parapsychology really difficult.

These are just my thoughts.

Klaus Seigel, Sweden
Dean Radin said…
> ... that tends do reduce or even extinguish "psi" with repeated attempts to replicate findings?

It's known as the "decline effect."

> 1) "Psi" needs real emotions ...2) "Psi" does something that makes reality deviate from probability.

Yes, these are possibilities. One way to reduce the decline effect (a double negative?) is to avoid exact replications by adding novel elements to the new studies. That's what I've done.
Anonymous said…
Dean - In my own research i've always been interested in the importance of feedback to the sender of psi.
Do you think it can be shown that a PSI influence as ever worked without
feedback to the sender.
I suppose this would get into the area of micro pk signatures to define who is sending in the first place!

yonose said…
Mr Radin:

I had some experiences which are just explainable by anecdotes right now, so I'll not discuss them here, maybe it's not the place. I'm located in Colombia, but unable to travel because of time constraints. I just came here to wish you success in your work.

Kind Regards.
DougD said…
Is anyone else working in the field of MMI using interferometers or double-slit apparatuses? Have there been any replications of your interferometer experiments? I've searched a bit on the subject but haven't found anything so far.
Dean Radin said…
> Do you think it can be shown that a PSI influence as ever worked without feedback to the sender.

Ever covers a lot of territory. Also, unless you conduct an experiment then immediately kill everyone involved and permanently destroy all of the data before anyone gets a chance to look at it, the possibility always remains that some feedback may one day find its way back to the participants. And even this extreme approach fails if there is genuine precognition or life after death!
Dean Radin said…
> Is anyone else working in the field of MMI using interferometers or double-slit apparatuses? Have there been any replications of your interferometer experiments?

I am not aware of anyone else pursuing this line of research. Dick Bierman at the University of Amsterdam has taken a different, EEG-based approach to studying the "consciousness collapse hypothesis," and a few optical interferometer experiments were reported over a decade ago, but I've seen nothing else reported recently. The number of people worldwide who are actively engaged in mind-matter interaction experiments of any kind can be counted on one, maybe two hands.
Anthony Mugan said…
Congratulations on an outstanding result - both in the experiment and the impending publication.
This makes me think of John Wheeler's hypothesis of a self actualised universe in which consciousness in the future light cone acts retroactively to cause the wavefunction of the universe to collapse in such a way as to allow / lead to the presence of concious beings. I suppose strictly speaking I ought to wait until the effect had been tested forwards and backwards in time, and seperating out the role of consciousness from other quantum interactions would seem like a big question too. Do you feel that it is too premature to begin to make that sort of connection with cosmological processes?
I confess to being something of a novice in my study of this area, having been dragged slowly, metaphorically kicking and screaming by the data over many years towards the view that there is a real psi effect. Could I ask if you feel that this data suggests that the overall stochastic aspects of the collapse of the wavefunction are the result of the averaged out, undirected conscious effects of us all (and any other conscious beings in the universe) or again am I being hugely premature?
Finally I was intrigued by the positive correlation with experience of things like meditation. Whilst I probably need a bit more dragging along by some data before I'd feel entirely comfortable doing that sort of thing myself I am very curious around if there is any data around the techniques that seem to work best. Would you have any initial thoughts on appropriate references?
Sorry for the long set of questions - such a stunning result that is raises truly profound implications. I am hugely impressed!
Dean Radin said…
> I ought to wait until the effect had been tested forwards and backwards in time ...

One of the six experiments did precisely this. It works.

> overall stochastic aspects of the collapse of the wavefunction are the result of the averaged out, undirected conscious effects of us all

Yes, but not just "us." Perhaps also, or even principally, consciousness imagined as a core component of the fabric of reality.

> positive correlation with ... meditation.

We didn't attempt to characterize the precise style of meditation for each participant, and my guess is that it doesn't matter too much although perhaps concentration training may be more effective than mindfulness. The key is attention training, because that's what the experimental task requires - repeated applications of focused attention on a distant target, and thus perceived only in the imagination. Without practice in holding one's attention this is a very difficult task.
Anthony Mugan said…
Thank you - interesting food for thought and I look forward to reading the full paper
Anonymous said…
uGenuine Yogis have known since time immemorial that concentration of the mind is the key to the attainment of Higher Consciousness as well as Knowledge. This was the secret of the Dogon seers who knew the "invisible-to-the-eye" details of the star Sirius and its companion dwarf star, Sirius B.
drjon said…
Dean, congratulations on the new pub.

Looks like Physics Essays don't have an "Online First" or "In Press" section. Is there a DOI available for this paper as yet?

Dean Radin said…
> Looks like Physics Essays don't have an "Online First" or "In Press" section. Is there a DOI available for this paper as yet?

I haven't received the galley proofs or a DOI yet.
Anthony Mugan said…

Could I ask a couple more questions?
Would it be reasonable to suggest this experiment tends to argue against the Many Worlds interpretation? (I'm thinking that the deterministic splitting of world lines in that model would imply no chance of a direct consciouss effect on quantum wavefunctions, but I'm not a trained physicist so I worry I may be missing something here!)
I was very interested in your comment that consciouness could be viewed as part of the fabric of reality. I think I can see what you mean in that this data (and possible interpretations of data such as delayed choice double slit experiments) imply the observer has a non-local physical effect on the quantum states being observed. Are you thinking of cosciousness as some form of field, either in higher dimensional space time of a holographic model? are there any references you could point me to to begin to read around that aspect? Thanks for your time - appreciated.
matthewx78 said…

I was hoping you were going to research that further!

Anthony Mugan said…
Dr Radin

I wonder if I could make a testable prediction?

Another possible implication of this result is that the experimenter effect may, if quantum mechanical effects are significant in the experiment, be directly physically and non-locally related to the experimenter's intent or desire (along with the characteristics of experimental subjects and pyschological factors). I wonder therefore if it might be appropriate to make the following potentially testable prediction:

Attempts at replication of this experiment will be significantly less successful for those experimenters who do not think a psi effect actually exists than for those who do.

In addition to the impact of the experimenter themselves I suspect it is likely that experimental subjects with experience of concentration / meditation type techniques will be more common in labs focused on psi research than in those where the lead researcher is skeptical about such phenomena.

This would be tricky to measure in a robust manner, but this data does seem to give a pretty big clue as to at least one of the factors underlying the experimenter effect.
Dean Radin said…
On the last comment, see this paper:

for an example of how beliefs and expectations are studied in psi research. Our studies do show that factors like positive belief, the psychological trait of openness, and meditation experience are predictors of success. As experimenters we share these characteristics.

The literature strongly suggests that experimenters and participants with the opposite characteristics would either not get any results at all, or they would end up with results that are significantly contrary to the hypothesis.

If psi is real (I think it is), then it is a psychophysical phenomenon. Ignoring the "psycho" part and concentrating exclusively on the "physical," which is what physicists and engineers tend to do, means that what is being studied might be psi, but it is probably not an optimal design.

The flipside is true too. Psychologists tend to focus on psychological factors (not surprisingly) and don't pay much attention to physical, including environmental, factors.

Psi involves the interface between mind and matter, so both sides of that relationship must be optimized.

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