|Peace Intention Experiment
After all these small-scale studies of leaves and seeds and water, The Intention Experiment decided to take a giant leap, to examine whether ‘group mind’ has the power to lower violence and restore peace. The plan was to have readers all over the world join forces on our website to send peace to a particular war-torn area.
For eight days beginning September 14, The Intention Experiment carried out its first Peace Intention Experiment. As this was a pilot, testing the entire idea and the technology, we deliberately attempted to keep numbers low by carrying out no publicity or advertising. Nevertheless, the idea of a mass intention for peace under scientific conditions caught the public imagination, creating a huge buzz virally on the web and attracting tens of thousands of sign ups in just a few weeks.
We enjoyed participation from more than 65 countries and every continent but Antarctica – even many far-flung quarters such as Mongolia, Nepal, Indonesia and China.
Sri Lanka chosen
Eventually we chose the Wanni (or north) section of Sri Lanka. This area of the world has suffered a civil war for 25 years, with more suicide bombings than anywhere on earth. The Wanni section is the stronghold of the rebel Tamil Tigers, the well-armed and trained rebel forces, and the center of terrorist activities.
Noted peace advocate Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe and his colleagues from the Foundation for Co-existence in Columbo, Sri Lanka, supplied us weekly violence data from the past two years for both the North and Eastern sections of Sri Lanka, the two parts of the country with the worse and next worse levels of violence, and continued to monitor both areas for daily rates of killings and violence for some months after our intention week.
From these statistics, Dr. Jessica Utts, professor of Statistics at University of California at Irvine, modeled a prediction of the likely average violence levels we should have expected in October, if the fighting carried on as normal. We then compared this model of what should happen to what did happen over a month.
A pivotal week
In order to show whether an effect is higher or lower than predicted, statisticians often use a trend-analysis plot.
According to our chart, found in the pdf, our intentions may have had the initial effect, it seemed, of vastly increasing violence. The week of the Peace Intention Experiments experienced a sudden surge of attacks and killings, largely brought on by the Sri Lankan government, which sought a last full-on effort to quash the Tamil Tiger rebels in the Northern stronghold, once and for all. Here is a chart assembled by Rupesinge’s organization, showing an increase in violence.
The Sri Lankan navy sank two Tamil Tiger boats, a sea battle broke out off the northeast coast and the government also brought the battle to the rebel center of the North.
But in the immediate aftermath of the experiment, both deaths and numbers of people injured fell dramatically. The death rate suddenly fell by 74 percent and injuries by 48 percent, as the PDF chart shows.
Dr. Utts’ time analysis reveals that the violence vastly increased to levels far higher than predicted during the week of our experiment and for a few weeks afterward, and then plummeted to below what was expected.
In fact, the violence was the highest it had ever been over the entire two-year period during the very week of our experiment.
In the PDF graph, you’ll see the analysis. The red line represents the average of predicted levels.
The fifth point from the end – the every high one – is the week of our experiment, and the four points afterward are the after effects. As you can see, the violence levels are far than predicted, sharply drop after the high week of the experiment and then fall below what is expected.
From the perspective of these two-plus years, our week of intention may have proved pivotal. During that week, the Sri Lankan army won a number of strategically important battles, which enabled them to turn around the war.
On January 2, 2009, the army finally expelled the separatist guerrillas from their capital of Kilinochchi. On January 9, the army recaptured the strategic Elephant pass, opening up the entire northern Jaffna Peninsula – where mainland Sri Lanka connects with the northern peninsula – for the first time in nine years, liberating the entire Wanni district – the very target of our intention.
Those of the Tiger Tamil terrorists that remain have been wedged into a tiny corner of northeastern Sri Lanka of about 330 square km.
So was this down to us and our intention?
Now, after all the decisive wins in September and January, many political analysts have laid down predictions that the 25-year-civil war will end in 2009.
Coincidence or intention?
But why did the violence initially increase before drastically falling? We don’t know the answer to that yet. It could be:
Until we run another Peace Intention Experiment, we won’t know the answer. But as Jessica succinctly put it, when noting that the highest weekly total for violence in the entire 26-month period was our very week: “Weird, huh?”
REG machines change too
Several analyses reveal that the REG machines were affected within a 40-minute window of meditations during the eight days of our Peace Intention Experiment, and that these changes were similar to those that occurred during moments of mass meditation in areas attempting to lower violence.
The effect was most striking during the actual 10 minutes of our experiment, when we were sending intention.
Intention healed the healers
Although more than a quarter either felt more love for their loved ones or for people they normally dislike or argue with, 41 per cent felt more love for anyone with whom they came into contact, and 19 per cent found they were getting along better with perfect strangers.
In fact, when I asked with whom relationships most improved, the largest group – 38 per cent – said they noticed the biggest change in their relationships with strangers. The experience of working together with thousands of strangers gave many people the ability to bond with or be more accepting of people they don’t personally know.