Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cassandra Vieten, PhD - Random Acts of Science: On Noetic Science

Cassandra Vieten, PhD, gave this talk at TEDxBlackRockCity (home of Burning Man and its temporary city of 50,000 people). In "Random Acts of Science: On Noetic Science," she speaks about an experiment in collective consciousness conducted at Burning Man.

Here is the introduction to the study - read the whole thing at the link above.

Deviations from Randomness Associated with Collective Attention: Burning Man 2012

Dean Radin, Cassandra Vieten, Joseph Burnett, Arnaud Delorme, Tam Hunt


Have you ever experienced a time when the collective enthusiasm of a large event seemed to rise to such a peak that you could almost feel a crackle in the air? Or felt a haunting sense in the air while visiting a place that caused sadness or suffering for thousands of people? Provocative evidence suggests that there are significant departures from chance expectation in the outputs of random number generators (electronic devices that produce truly random bits, or sequences of zeros and ones) during times of collective upheaval, global crises and major celebrations.


This year, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, along with several collaborators, conducted an exploratory experiment at Black Rock City, the temporary city created each year in the Nevada desert for the festival known as Burning Man. Burning Man is a week-long event that attracts upwards of 50,000 people. It is unique in its concentrated intensity, isolation, and collective intention, culminating with the burning of a large man-shaped effigy at the center of Black Rock City on Saturday night. See this article in the Atlantic magazine to get a feeling for the event, or these pictures in Rolling Stone magazine.

Our experiment tested the prediction that a random number generator (RNG) placed on the playa would demonstrate significant deviation from randomness during the period of highest collective intensity, i.e., during the burning of the man. In addition, the Global Consciousness Project (GCP) made a prediction that their global network of random number generators would also show a deviation from randomness. That prediction was based in part on a previously successful exploratory analysis that examined the average of eight years of global RNG data at the time of Burning Man (1999 – 2006).
In addition to talking about the experiment they conducted, she also discussed the value and importance of the Noetic Sciences and why she disagrees with critiques of Noetic Sciences that we often encounter. Besides the video, there is a more detailed follow-up phone interview that she did with one of the TEDx producers.

Vieten is the co-author of Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life (New Harbinger/Noetic Books 2008), and author of Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year (New Harbinger/Noetic Books 2009)

Random Acts of Science: On Noetic Science

On Noetic Science: A TEDxTalk by Cassandra Vieten

Cassandra Vieten, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, Executive Director of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, and co-president of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the State of California, and several private donors and foundations, her research has focused on spirituality and health, consciousness studies, mindfulness-based behavioral interventions, and experiences and practices that lead to a more meaningful, compassionate, and service-oriented way of life. Her primary interest lies in how psychology, biology, and spirituality interact to affect experience and behavior. She is collaborating on an experiential science project on collective consciousness at Burning Man 2012.

She completed her pre- and post-doctoral research training at The University of California, San Francisco, working primarily on the biological and psychological underpinnings of addiction and alcoholism. She received her PhD in clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where her clinical training focused on the integration of Eastern philosophy and spirituality into psychotherapy. She has authored books, chapters, and academic articles, as well as presenting at numerous international scientific conferences, trainings for colleagues and students, and workshops and events for the lay public. She is a Huffington Post and Psychology Today blogger, co-author of Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life (New Harbinger/Noetic Books 2008), and author of Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year (New Harbinger/Noetic Books 2009).

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A phone call with Cassandra Vieten

Cassandra’s Powerpoint Presentation

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