The effect of mental activation on a quantum random distribution

Bachelor Thesis, 2016

37 Pages, Grade: 1,7



1. Introduction
1.1. The Double-Slit Experiment
1.2. Copenhagen Interpretation
1.3 Many-Worlds-Interpretation
1.4. Psychology and Psi
1.5. Psi and Randomness

2. Method
2.1. Participants
2.2. Apparatus and Materials
2.3. Procedure

3. Results
3.1. Bayesian Statistics
3.2 Frequentist Statistics

4. Discussion
4.1. General Discussion
4.2 Limitations
4.3. Implications
4.4. Conclusion

5. References



The term psi denotes all phenomena, which cannot be explained by the laws of classical physics. Precognition is a form of psi, whereby the future influences the present. We conducted a study to test if strong mental activation through high-arousal visual stimuli caused smokers to exhibit precognition and influence a quantum random distribution in their favor. A Bayesian one sample t test revealed a Bayes Factor BF10 = 12.56, indicating strong evidence for the display of precognition. We found no gender differences and no statistically significant influence of nicotine dependency or smoking addiction on precognition. We outline several explanatory models of quantum mechanics and discuss limitations of the study as well as possible implications of psi-phenomena.

Keywords: consciousness, quantum mechanics, precognition, psi, parapsychology, random number generator

1. Introduction

Anyone who is not shocked by quantum mechanics has not understood it” - Niels Bohr

At some time in history, a new theory appears that would challenge the existing paradigms of knowledge and truth. In 1801, physics was fundamentally changed when Thomas Young conducted an experiment to test if light behaved like a particle or a wave. His revelations were so controversial that many physicists sought to replicate them. The modern version of Young’s experiment, known as the double-slit experiment (Jönsson, 1961) placed the scientific community in front of their greatest challenge ever. A completely new branch of physics, quantum mechanics, had emerged in an effort to explain the peculiar behavior of atoms. Up until this point, Newtonian physics has done an excellent job in explaining our macroscopic world. However, it failed to explain the behavior of particles in the microscopic world. On a quantum level, the behavior of atoms is completely random and cannot be predicted by any known laws. It appears to be that the macroscopic and microscopic world are governed by different laws.

1.1. The Double-Slit Experiment

To better understand the situation, let us begin by exploring the double-slit experiment and its associated issues. If we had an apparatus that shoots electrons at a screen with two slits in between, we would see two bands on the screen where the electrons went through the slits and hit the screen (Fig. 1). If we measured the trajectory of the electrons, we could precisely detect if they went through the first or through the second slit, because they are behaving like particles. However, if we make no measurement, electrons suddenly start behaving completely different. Instead of forming the expected two-band pattern on the screen, they now create an interference pattern of dark and white stripes (Fig. 2). When not measured, electrons cease to behave like particles, and start behaving like a wave. This paradox is known as the wave-particle duality. At first it was believed that the measurement apparatus interfered with the electrons and influenced them. However, this hypothesis was proven wrong in a quantum-eraser experiment, whereby the information of the location of a particle was immediately erased after detection (Walborn, Cunha, Pádua, & Monken, 2002). Another hypothesis claimed that electrons were influencing each other. Therefore, an experimental setting was prepared, in which only one electron was shot at a time (Tonomura, Endo, Matsuda, Kawasaki, & Ezawa, 1989). Again, an interference pattern appeared, disproving the claim. The contemporary explanation for the interference pattern postulates that the electron passes through both slits at the same time and interferes with itself. Hence, the electron is at two places at once, in a state called superposition. In order to understand this, we should not look at the electron as a particle, but as a probability distribution of all possible outcomes. The electron is in a state of all possibilities, until we measure it. Our measurement collapses the superposition to only one possible state; before that, it is just probability. A great difficulty arises when we try to determine the exact moment of transition from the microscopic quantum world, to the macroscopic classical world. This problem is known as Heisenberg’s cut and in the following, we will discuss the two most prominent solutions to it: The Copenhagen Interpretation and the Many Worlds Interpretation.

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Fig. 1. Two-band pattern in the double-slit experiment. When electrons are observed, they behave like particles and pass through only one of the slits.


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Fig. 2. Interference pattern in the double-slit experiment. When electrons are not observed, they behave like a wave, pass through both slits at the same time and interfere with each other.


1.2. Copenhagen Interpretation

Niels Bohr, Max Born and Werner Heisenberg were one of the first scientist to try and solve the riddle of the double-slit experiment. Their collaboration led to the rise of the Copenhagen Interpretation, which has been the most widely accepted position amongst physicist. In the basis of the Copenhagen interpretation lies the complementarity principle, which states that objects have complementary properties, which cannot be observed at the same time. An example is the wave-particle duality: electrons behave sometimes like a wave and sometimes like a particle, but never like both. “It is impossible to be a particle and a wave at the same time” (Baggot, 2011, p. 97). The description of nature is essentially probabilistic, not deterministic, with claims that a particle is theoretically anywhere, before it is measured . It is the act of measurement that forces the particle to take a stand. “Observations not only disturb what is to be measured, they produce it…” (Mermin, 1985). The process of observation is mechanical and does not depend on the individuality of the observer. The Copenhagen Interpretation is regarded as a collapse theory, due to its fundamental assumption, that a measurement collapses the state of a superposition.

1.3 Many-Worlds-Interpretation

Hugh Everett (1957) introduced a whole new perspective to quantum physics: The Many Worlds Interpretation. It stands in sharp contrast to the Copenhagen Interpretation, as it denies the collapse of the superposition and instead proposes that all possible quantum states branch out and manifest themselves, creating multiple real worlds (DeWitt, 1973). In this interpretation, consciousness causes the transition from a quantum to a classical world. Everett’s approach is categorized as a decoherence theory, as it postulates that through the process of decoherence quantum systems loose some of their quantum properties (for example, superposition) as they interact with their environments. The term Many Worlds caused confusion among researchers, because it implied a picture of many physical worlds, which exists simultaneously. However, the theory states that “only a single physical world exists, but this world is quantum, so that many classical projections of this world coexist” (Mensky, 2013). A much more precise term is the Many-Minds-Interpretation (MMI), which asserts that loads of parallel states exist, but our consciousness can experience only the one, which we observe. A slightly different approach, the Extended Everett Concept (EEC) goes beyond pure physics and quantum mechanics into a psycho-physical parallelism, predicting a much deeper connection of the spiritual and material spheres of knowledge. The concept of consciousness is defined as belonging both to physics (material aspect) and psychology (spiritual aspect). Following this extended definition of consciousness, EEC proposes that weakening or disconnection of the consciousness (for instance, through meditation) creates a “specific state, called super-consciousness, which provides access to the alternative states of the world” (Mensky, 2013). In this state of super-consciousness, alternative outcomes are compared and the most superior is chosen, increasing the chances for survival. Therefore, ”super-consciousness is the ability to transfer quantum information into classical information” (Mensky, 2013). This idea unifies physics and psychology and offers a plausible explanation for intuition, spiritual practices and paranormal phenomena.

1.4. Psychology and Psi

Both models are very different, but what they share in common and what is interesting to psychology is the postulate that an observation (Copenhagen Interpretation) or consciousness (Many-Worlds-Interpretation) influences the manifestation of reality by collapsing or decohering the superposition. Hence, consciousness is regarded as an active participant in the creation of reality. This statement sparked the interest of psychologists to explore the role of consciousness and the possibility of paranormal abilities. Parapsychology was born and the term psi was introduced. Psi encompasses all events, which cannot be explained by our current laws of physics and logic. According to Bem (2011) psi-phenomena include telepathy (mind-to-mind connections), clairvoyance (perceiving distant objects or events), psychokinesis (influence of thoughts on physical processes) and precognition (retroactive influence of a future event on a current response). But investigating psi is a challenging task. Because of the extreme skepticism towards paranormal psychology, one has to construct a flawless experimental setting and introduce a supremely convincing theory to support one’s results. Furthermore, the results must be replicable under any random circumstances. A quote of Arthur Schopenhauer describes very accurately the natural path of every new insight in science: “All truth passes through three stages: first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed and third, it is accepted as obvious”. In science, an explanatory theory comes almost always after an observation of an obscure phenomenon. Therefore, we should encourage controversial subjects of research and remain open-minded, even if they contradict our own beliefs. In the end, the few that have stood against mainstream science have become the true pioneers of their time.

Science is at its very early stages (…), and there is much yet to learn. But what we’ve seen so far provides a new way of thinking about psi. No longer are psi experiences regarded as rare human talents, divine gifts, or “powers” that magically transcend ordinary physical boundaries. Instead, psi becomes an unavoidable consequence of living in an interconnected, entangled physical reality. Psi is reframed from a bizarre anomaly that doesn’t fit into the normal world – and hence called paranormal – into a natural phenomenon of physics. (Radin, 2006, p. 3)

Psi-phenomena are in general little explored and evoke mostly critical stances in respect to methodology and statistical analysis. “The U.S. national academy of science have found no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena” (Druckman & Swets, 1988). Other researchers call for a more objective opinion without the influence of emotions. Although the effects of psi are small, they are highly significant and should not be overlooked light-handedly (Utts, 1991).

The major focus of this thesis will be put on precognition, more specifically on retroactive influence of future on the present. There is an ever growing body of research on precognition all over the world, yielding statistically significant results for its existence. In some early experiments, participants had to correctly guess which target would be randomly selected in the near future (for instance, to guess which side of a coin would appear). Honorton and Ferrari (1989) published a meta-analysis of almost all precognition experiments (309 experiments with a total N > 50,000) which revealed a small, but throughout consistent, highly significant effect (mean z = 0.69, combined z = 12.14, p = 6 x 10-27). In another set of experiments Radin (1997) explored the influence of emotional pictures on the physiological state of participants. As expected, high-arousal negative or erotic pictures induced a strong physiological response. However, the obscure finding of Radin’s studies is that the responses occurred several seconds prior to the pictures been shown, as if the participants have somehow anticipated what was about to come. He argued that it is of huge evolutionary advantage if people could instinctively avoid negative future scenarios and approach positive ones instead. Of all psi-phenomena, precognition is seen as the most peculiar, because it challenges our concepts of time, indicating that time can travel not only from present to future, but also from future to present. In superposition, potential states of the past, present and future exist in parallel and are timeless (for a detailed discussion, see Maier and Büchner, 2016) and decision making is adjusted according to the information in the future. New research on precognition provides very solid evidence for its existence. Bem (2011) reported in a total of nine experiments that precognition can be tested in a laboratory setting with an extremely robust experimental control. His design included testing if participants would avoid future negative stimuli as well as approach future positive stimuli. In eight of his nine experiments, he achieved significant results, speaking for precognition, resulting in a total effect size of d = 0.22 (combined z = 6.66, p = 2.68 x 10-11). Furthermore, Maier et al. (2014) conducted seven experiments to test precognition and provided even more compelling evidence, as they applied a superior statistical analysis to their data than Bem’s. Four of their seven experiments yielded statistically significant results, showing that participants tend to unconsciously avoid future negative stimuli. A meta-analysis of the seven experiments revealed a small, but highly significant effect of precognition (ES = 0.07, z = 3.79, p = 0.0001).

1.5. Psi and Randomness

Randomness plays a critical role in the exploration of psi-phenomena and should therefore be handled with extreme caution (Bem, 2011). Most Random Number Generators (RNG) are based on mathematical principles. They work by taking an initial string of numbers (called the seed) and applying a complex algorithm to it. The randomness of the sequence is dependent on the randomness of the initial seed only. Most of the time, this type of pseudo-randomness has proven itself sufficient. However, for the purpose of exploring psi-phenomena, the pseudo-RNG has some major limitations. The main issue is its deterministic nature. If we theoretically knew the initial seed and the underlying algorithm, we would be able to estimate the entire branch of “random” numbers. We can visualize the problem by drawing a path, which changes direction according to each number, known as a random walk. If we represent each sequence of numbers as a random walk, the pseudo random sequence will eventually repeat. This occurs when the algorithm uses a seed it has previously used and the cycle repeats, thus creating a predictable pattern (see Fig. 3).

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Fig. 3. True random-walk (red) vs. pseudo random-walk (blue). When the pseudo random algorithm reaches the initial seed, the cycle repeats and creates a pattern.


True-RNGs, on the other hand, are non-deterministic, since they are impossible to predict in advance. A quantum number generator is regarded to be a true-RNG. Unlike the pseudo-RNG, it is based on physical processes, whereby photons are shot at a semi-transparent mirror. Because we are making a measurement, photons will behave like particles and would either pass through the mirror or get reflected at the exact same 50% probability rate. In this way, we have a pure physical process, which can be encoded binary. If the photon passes through the mirror, a 1 will be generated, if it gets reflected, a 0 respectively (see Fig. 4).

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Fig. 4. The working mechanism of a quantum-RNG. A light source shoots a photon at a semi-transparent mirror. The photon either passes through (50%) or gets reflected (50%)


Excerpt out of 37 pages


The effect of mental activation on a quantum random distribution
LMU Munich
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Consciousness, quantum mechanics, precognition, psi, random number generator, parapsychology
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Vladislav Tsekov (Author), 2016, The effect of mental activation on a quantum random distribution, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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