Intention Experiments

Writer Lynne McTaggart has been sponsoring a number of "experiments" to promote her book The Intention Experiment, in which she makes the argument (from what I can surmise without actually having read the book) that we can influence the world around us through our intentions. If we want something to happen, we merely intend for it to happen.

Here's a description of the first three experiments:
The first experiment was an enormous success when 400 people sat in a hall in London and intended for a leaf in the University of Arizona to 'glow and glow'. The results were highly significant - so much so that the results can be seen on photographs from special imaging systems.

The second experiment that took place was a web-based trial in which 7,000 people participated. The target this time was stringbean seeds, and again the intention was to make them glow. The results were highly significant in terms of 'glow effect', but too few beans were used to achieve a statistical significance.

The third experiment once again involved a leaf, and so was a web version of the successful experiment in the hall with participants intending in the same space. Computer glitches stopped many from participating, and the results were inconclusive.
This makes me realize that I've been going about gardening all wrong. I've been weeding and watering and fertilizing. Instead, all this time I should have just been intending. Better yet, I should get all the readers of the Museum of Hoaxes to intend for me. If everyone intends for the bare patches in my lawn to disappear, I should have a beautiful lawn in no time. And if everyone would intend for my lawn to glow, that would be pretty cool too. Though it might make my neighbors slightly concerned.

Psychology Science

Posted on Wed Jun 06, 2007


But Alex, don't you see the significance of whats possible

All you need to do is intend to win the lottery and you'll be a millionaire in no time
Posted by Sharruma  in  capable of finishing a coherent  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  01:48 AM
this sounds like that dumb secret book
"if i intend for my cancer to go away it will" these sorts of books seem dangerous to easily influenced people
Posted by kristina  in  san francisco  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  02:52 AM
"this sounds like that dumb secret book"

Exactly what I was going to say, Kristina. Every time I hear Oprah promoting that nonsense on my Sirius radio, I feel like throwing the damn thing out the nearest window.

The Universe doesn't have the ability to care about what we want, let alone to act upon our desires. Period.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  02:57 AM
Oddly enough, this is pretty much the whole premise behind Alistar Crowley's "Magick in Theory and Practice" and the basis for his infamous "Be what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" concept.

ie. His magick 'worked' by enforcing his will on the world around him.
Posted by Richard@Home  in  Sheffield, UK  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  04:04 AM
i work with a man named chris crowley, he claims to be the son/grandson/whatever of Alister crowley, and he has the nose.

i dont know if it is true
nice guy though
Posted by joodd  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  06:32 AM
I think strong positive thoughts can help - in conjunction with science - I read about a doctor during a war who said that often men who came into his hospital almost certain to die would pull through almost by sheer strength of will, but other men who came in with wounds they should easily have recovered from just lay down and died because they lost the will to live. Intending to survive, in conjunction with the best meds you can get, can help. However, intending to make a leaf glow can never actually make a leaf because a leaf has no mechanism about it to make it glow! They don't have tiny little light bulbs inside. A leaf glows if you shine a light it, or if you stare at it so long your eyes go funny and it seems to glow. And anyway, why would you want to make a leaf or some string beans far away from you glow, unless you really wanted to freak it some innocent bloke just wandering by?
Posted by Nona  in  London  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  07:10 AM
Isn't this sort of like manifest destiny??'s not really a new idea or anything.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  08:30 AM
The depressing thing is that McTaggart's book is #300 on the Amazon sales rank. Which means lots of people are buying it.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  09:20 AM
Just goes to show, there's still one born every minute.
Posted by Kevin  in  Sparks, NV  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  01:37 PM
OK, lets see if I can make something happen by intending it. Here goes ...
Nope, didn't work. "The Intention Experiment" book still exists.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Tool, Texas  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  06:07 PM
"so much so that the results can be seen on photographs from special imaging systems"

For some I reason I highly doubt that when people "intended" for a leaf to glow they were "intending" it to glow as recordable only be special imaging systems.

I agree with the general idiocy of this idea, though I do believe in positive (or negative) thought about ones own status to an extent.
Posted by Tah  in  Idaho (Yes, Idaho)  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  10:04 PM
Hmmmmm, lets see, I intend to have my dishes and laundry done in 5 seconds.


Nope. It didnt work. Damn. I was hoping that this was a good way to get things done faster. Or am I interpreting this experiment wrong?
Posted by red_dragon_girl_69  in  Earth, I think  on  Wed Jun 06, 2007  at  11:44 PM
The hoax is that there are leaves at the University of Arizona. Maybe they meant a dead blade of grass.

Besides, just because of one damn tenured professor, the whole University now has a bad name and is always the subjects of these things.

Damn you pseudoscience people who lower the quality of my degree!!
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Sat Jun 09, 2007  at  02:59 AM
Well for all those dismissing the intention experiment as cranky I suggest you brush up on your quantumn physics.

The big question possed in the famous Schrodingers Cat experiment was "does it take an observer to collapse the wave funtion" Well the latest findings seem to suggest it does - ie the universe is only brought about by the conscious act of observation - Clearly in a universe which requires consiousness to exist the act of consious intention may well have an influence - and many well conducted experiments suggest it does - So for all you scoffers I suggest bringing yourself up to date with the latest cutting edge physics - Reading the June 2007 issue of New Scientist might b a good start
Posted by andrew moore  in  Thailand  on  Fri Jul 06, 2007  at  11:18 AM
Schrodinger's Cat has nothing to do with conciousness. A robot, camera, or brick wall is sufficient to collapse the wave within that specific frame of reference. It's only when the frame of reference extends to humans do we perceive that wave collapsing.

In other words, when a photonic wave function hits a target the wave collapses into a specific point with regards to that wave and target only. If a camera is pointed at the target but is turned off the wave is still intact from the frame of reference that includes the camera. When that camera turns on and captures the point where the photon hit the target then it wave collapses. Likewise, that wave is still intact with regards to any humans involved up until the point where those humans view the image from the camera, or view it directly themselves.

This is only a rough explanation, but it suffices to get the point across. Conciousness isn't required to collapse a wave function.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Fri Jul 06, 2007  at  01:28 PM
Have any of you skeptics actually read the book? Or done any reading whatsoever into the vast body of research being done that supports experiments like these.

The world is changing, and being stubborn and close minded about it is doing nothing but slowing it down.

If any of you skeptics have any real interest in trying to tell people what is and what is not a hoax, at least do your research so you don't sound nearly as ignorant.
Posted by Artifex  on  Sat Aug 11, 2007  at  04:39 PM
Ever heard of the "placebo effect?" It is accepted as fact in medical SCIENCE, but can not be explained. People who THINK they will get well because they are given medicine, often get well, even when all they are getting are sugar pills. In studies on anti-depressants, placebos do as well as and often better than the actual medications.
The mind is very powerful, and as the "placebo effect" demonstrates, we do not have a full understanding of how it works.
Posted by DAFITTS  in  KY  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  05:34 AM
Skepticism is a healthy part of science, but thousands of experiments done by thousands of researchers at hundreds of sites with hundreds of different methodologies usually producing statistically significant results can not collectively be written off as fraud, bias or experimental error.

Every study has error and bias, so to invalidate an individual study merely because it has error and bias is foolish. This is why the famous "million dollar guarantee" is dumb. They are asking for something that is ultimately impossible. I think you have to look at the big picture and the big picture clearly shows that like it or not there is something to this stuff.

As a medical doctor I can say definitively that many tenents of medical science have produced less results with less stringent research standards than many parapsychologists have. Who saw the recent NEJM article regarding publication bias in SSRI trials? There is a conscious effort among psi researchers to avoid this type of bias, though it is a major part of mainstream medicince. Yet SSRI's are a multi billion dollar industry and now indicated for 8 separate psychiatric diagnosis even the research supporting them seems to be seriously flawed. Other examples abound.

I do not understand at all how these things work but I think it is completely foolish to dismiss them because they are not fully explainable. That is the oldest mistake in science (see gallileo)

As an aside I feel obligated to point out that in most published clinical trials (let alone unpublished ones) placebo is responsible for the majority of effect of most medicines. Placebo is a great example of how belief can affect the body in tangible ways.

So yes merely wishing for you dishes to be done does not make your sink magically clean, but that does not mean that your intentions do not affect in some way your body and the outside world. I don't have all the answers and I don't claim to, but I think dismissing something so pervasive merely because it does not fit into the world model is wrong. History has shown us again and again that when this happens it is our model that usually is wrong.
Posted by DJT  in  Northeast USA  on  Sat Feb 09, 2008  at  01:30 PM
As far as I can see, the "Curator's" strongest evidence that the Intention Experiment is a hoax is that the "Curator" says it is a hoax?
Posted by Dave C  in  Tucson Arizona  on  Tue Feb 26, 2008  at  11:20 PM
The Intention Experiment and the Field are in essence an updated form of Dianetics. The author has updated and revamped Scientology with new mumbo jumbo. Instead of Brainwaves and Thetans we have Quantum Mechanics and "The Field" and instead of Auditing we have the Intention Experiment.

Compare the Intention Experiment and Auditing side by side:

Both use an electrical resistance metre

Both ask the subjects to focus their thoughts

The subsequent moving of the needle is explained to the subject as being caused by them.

The subject is then asked for lots of money.

In Lynne Mctaggart's case it's monthly seminars costing 200 pounds.

This isn't the only point of similarity between the two there are a number of others:

Both claim be scientificaly based but in fact use mumbo jumbo to support their claims.

Both claim to have discovered the nature of human conciousness.

Both claim to be a powerful (the most powerful in fact) source of healing.

Both rail against conspiracies within the medical establishment provoking a sense of outrage in their followers.

Both claim that conspiracies of evil scientists are trying to discredit them.

Both invoke an Us vs. Them attitude amongst their followers.

Both rotate around a central charismatic leader who is revered by their followers.
Posted by Jose  in  Brighton, Uk  on  Mon Mar 09, 2009  at  03:07 AM
The intention experiment is a scam, end of story.

But hey, if you guys want to trick yourselves into actually believing this bullshit, go ahead. I choose to be a rational human being and remain skeptical of anything "proving" to any extent that consciousness has any effect whatsoever on reality. If it has a substantial effect, then the hippies that do believe in it should go ahead and change the world. Go ahead, we'd all like to see it.

The extent of the placebo effect is one's body. The extent of the subconscious is everything that the individual interacts with, including other human beings and their subconsciouses. One can change their environment by tricking themselves into believing something and interacting with other people and objects, but the changes don't happen via some magical system of interdimensional energy. It happens via your subconscious acting through your actions. This can be seen in body language. Ever heard of Occam's razor?

Anyway, I'm not going to spend much time on this, but the intention experiment is a hoax. They're just trying to make a quick buck. Their website is filled with ads, and they're just trying to sell their crock shit book and get rich. If you think otherwise, then why don't you organize an experiment where a certain type of sickness disappears off the face of the earth, or an experiment where your bring about eternal world peace? I'm sure you'd have enough deluded hippies to help you out with that.

Have fun believing in fairytales,

Yours truly
Posted by Daddy  in  Your mother's ass  on  Tue Mar 22, 2011  at  03:24 PM
What the book was, was a history of scientific experiments on based on the effect of consciousness upon reality followed by a series of experiments to recreate those previous one on different levels and determine whether there is an actual effect or not. Anyone with knowledge of Quantum Physics would tell you that in theory, according to the mathematical structures and atomic/subatomic mechanics that it is entire possible to do such a thing. However all valid experiments have resulted in only subtle effects taking places. Being that human beings create and construct outer realities through a psychological process and then react according to that self-created narrative of reality, the concept of mindful intention would change the individual in far greater quantities than changing actual material structures. Most people can't think beyond the static narrative they have been conditioned to accept and expect around them. Changing the way one intakes information, organizes and assigns meanings and emotional values to that information and then reacts according to those values would be able to achieve a different experience in their lives, albeit a more subjective one, but a difference non-the-less.
Posted by PranaDas  in  Earth  on  Fri Mar 09, 2012  at  10:29 AM
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