# Can a random number generator predict the future?

#### Pseudopod

"'It's Earth-shattering stuff,' says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the 'black box' phenomenon."

They say this box that generates random numbers, 1 or 0, generated many more 1's just before princess diana's death, sept. 11, the tsunami. And that people in the same room as it, concentrating, can make it generate more 1's too.

http://www.rednova.com/news/display/?id=126649# [Broken]

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#### arildno

Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
So why was diana's death such a special event?
Given any long string of 1's, you are guaranteed that SOME unusual event will occur right after it, since unusual events happen all the time.

#### matthyaouw

Gold Member
I wonder how many long strings of ones occured with no such event to be seen, or where some large degree of searching or a few days wait was required before such an event could be found.
If a random number generator does not generate numbers randomly, it would seem to me what what we have is a technical fault.

Still, my mind remains open to any evidence or explanation that emerges.

#### PIT2

Both the Global Consciousness Project( http://noosphere.princeton.edu/ ) and the PEAR project( http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/ ) seem to indicate that consciousness can influence the RNGs.

Some quotes from PEARs abstracts:

Two decades of intense experimentation and complementary theoretical modeling leave little doubt that the anomalous physical phenomena appearing in these PEAR studies are significantly correlated with subjective human processes, akin to such ineffable experiences as joy, wonder, creativity, and love. Yet, contemporary scientific rigor leaves little room for subjective correlates in its mechanistic representation of reality.

This book reexamines the role of consciousness in the light of a new body of experimental data on the interaction of human operators with various technical devices and information-processing systems. Many philosophical fibers are required to sift these results into a coherent model; but once the essential concepts are in place, human consciousness indeed emerges endowed with an active component. By virtue of the manner in which it exchanges information with its environment, orders that information, and interprets it, consciousness has the ability to bias probabilistic processes, and thereby to avail itself of certain margins of reality.
Several million experimental trials investigating the ability of human operators to affect the output of various random physical physical devices have demonstrated small but statistically significant shifts of the distribution means that correlate with operator intention, exhibit repeatable idiosyncratic individual variations, and display consistent patterns of gender dependence, series position development, and internal distribution structure.
Several extensive experimental studies of human/machine interactions, wherein the human operators and the target machines are separated by distances of up to several thousand miles, yield anomalous results comparable in scale and character to those produced under conditions of physical proximity. The output distributions of random binary events produced produced by a variety of microelectronic random and pseudorandom generators, as well as by a macroscopic random mechanical cascade, display small but replicable and statistically significant mean shifts correlated with the remote operators’ pre-stated intentions, and feature cumulative achievement patterns similar to those of the corresponding local experiments. Individual operator effect sizes distribute normally, with the majority of participants contributing to the overall effect. Patterns of specific count populations are also similar to those found in the corresponding local experiments. The insensitivity of the size and details of these results to intervening distance and time adds credence to a large database of precognitive remote perception experiments, and suggests that these two forms of anomaly may draw from similar mechanisms of information exchange between human consciousness and random physical processes.

A quote from the Global Consciousness site:

After all the caveats, however, we can say that the evidence for an effect of consciousness on REGs is strong. We are driven by that evidence to infer that something like a "consciousness field" exists, and that intentions or emotional states which structure the field are conveyed as information that is absorbed into the distribution of output values of labile physical systems. The output of the REG differs from what would be expected without the influence of consciousness.

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#### Sariaht

If it was true then every one should have a small random number generator that warned you of to many ones or zeroes that i bet is even worse.

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#### russ_watters

Mentor
The beauty (and key flaw) in this is, of course, that it makes no predictions but rather the correlations come from after-the-fact data mining. Others hit the flaw, but basically, if you take any string of random numbers, you can cut it different ways to get different mixes of 1s and 0s. A good statastician could probably even construct an equation to model the phenomena....

#### PIT2

russ_watters said:
The beauty (and key flaw) in this is, of course, that it makes no predictions but rather the correlations come from after-the-fact data mining.
The PEAR research does make 'predictions'. (For example they tell a person to try and make the RNG produce more 0's.)

Also i believe that in the Global Consciousness Research, they did make some predictions. For instance they knew that the OJ simpson trial would be on TV and then 'predicted' that there would be a deviation from randomness.

However, you probably cant make predictions like 'because the randomness is disturbed, a meteor will hit New York tomorrow'.

Mentor

#### K.J.Healey

I think it would be a fun, though pointless study to have people "guess" the next number out of the generator, and see if they guess right. Maybe if I could guess 50.02% of the time correctly, I myself could predict the future.

#### NateTG

Homework Helper
Hmm...
Let's see here. The variation from the expected value is
$$.5002-.5=.0002$$
Now, that's within the expected margin for
$$\frac{1}{.0002^2}=\frac{1}{.00000004}=25000000$$
about 25 million trials. Not really all that exiting considering that that's roughly the number of trials that they ran.

#### Pseudopod

Anyone know what method their RNG's use to generate random numbers? And any systematic errors that might show up after running it for so long?

#### Sariaht

If random number generators told you what have happened, then two random number generators would tell the same tale with more (or less) then 50 % accuracy.

I'm sure that in a billion years there will be two random number generator that tells the tale with up to 90 procent accuracy, though I'm not a 100 % sure of how it would work.

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#### Reason

I am wondering... It wouldn't be hard to do this kind of experiment yourself, right? All you need is a random bit generator and a constantly running(not crashing) computer.
Eventually some major event will happen again and we could see the outcomes ourselves.

Anyone volunteering ?

Or is there some kind of 'special' random bit generator needed for this...

#### dextercioby

Homework Helper
I believe that a true random number generator could not predict the future...number,let alone the future numbers...

Daniel.

P.S.It's so silly,huh...?

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member

#### PIT2

I believe they use radioactive atomic decay for the RNGs, so an atom decays and an electron is released and it generates a number somehow.

#### Reason

They do have all of the information available online though.

http://noosphere.princeton.edu/

For example on the case of nine eleven you can take a look at:
"the primary results" --> 80. Terrorist Disaster, Sept 11, 20010911

Also note that because their information is publicaly available, there have been independent analyses (at the bottom of the page).
So wrong interpretation of data can be excluded, right?

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#### PIT2

http://noosphere.princeton.edu/papers/Sep1101.pdf

(E. C. May, Ph.D. and S. James P. Spottiswoode, B.Sc.
Laboratories for Fundamental Research
Palo Alto, California)

The conclusion from that paper is:

The fact remains that if our analyses and interpretations of the data are correct, then it is our view that the worldwide network of EGG’s did not respond to the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
and

Therefore we conclude that the EGG network did not significantly respond to the single largest, emotional, fearful, and well-publicized event in US history.

It seems there is alot of messing around with statistics (on both sides probably). When the princeton people claim that there are anomalies, someone else just flips the statistics around and claims the opposite. I dont have a clue who is right or wrong and its almost impossible to determine what the 'truth' is.

#### Curious3141

Homework Helper
Such utter bullcrap (the PEAR thing and the most pretentiously named "Global Consciousness Project"). Since they claim to have "predicted" 9/11, Diana's funeral and a few other things, I just turned it on when I heard breaking news of the initially suspected missile attack in Iran (turned out it was nothing much). Not a whimper from the all-knowing Random Numbers. OK, it was nothing in the end, but if the operational theory is that these generators are picking up on the psychic states of the world's people, there should definitely have been some weird effect. But there was none.

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#### saltydog

Homework Helper
russ_watters said:
The beauty (and key flaw) in this is, of course, that it makes no predictions but rather the correlations come from after-the-fact data mining. Others hit the flaw, but basically, if you take any string of random numbers, you can cut it different ways to get different mixes of 1s and 0s. A good statastician could probably even construct an equation to model the phenomena....
Yea right, I ain't even gonna' finishing reading um'. It's like the bible code stuff. Just like it . . . after the facts, you can dream all sorts of things.

#### PIT2

Curious3141 said:
when I heard breaking news of the initially suspected missile attack in Iran (turned out it was nothing much). Not a whimper from the all-knowing Random Numbers. OK, it was nothing in the end, but if the operational theory is that these generators are picking up on the psychic states of the world's people, there should definitely have been some weird effect. But there was none.
I think the important factor would be how much the attention of how many people is focussed on a certain event. Your 'breaking news missile attack on Iran' apparently wasnt a big deal to many people (i for one didnt even see it on the news here in Europe and never heard of it till you mentioned it).

#### lyapunov

saltydog said:
It's like the bible code stuff.
That's exactly what it is. Disraeli would have felt totally redeemed by these jokers.
:zzz:

#### Curious3141

Homework Helper
PIT2 said:
I think the important factor would be how much the attention of how many people is focussed on a certain event. Your 'breaking news missile attack on Iran' apparently wasnt a big deal to many people (i for one didnt even see it on the news here in Europe and never heard of it till you mentioned it).
See, that's my point - there's no real objective standard by which an even can be categorised as a "big deal". Was the start of the Iraq war a big deal ? What about the elections ? Enron ? Who knows ?

And these guys are not above massaging even the temporal sequence of events (violating causality in the analysis) to make their point. E.g. I think they claim that the RNGs were buzzing a few hours before 9/11. I would actually be fine even with that sort of outrageous claim, if they could demonstrate that *every* event set off an unmistakable RNG buzz a certain number of hours before the event actually took place. That would be consistent. But claiming that it happens before the event some of the time and contemporaneously with the event the rest of the time is just reaching. It's lame.

#### Chronos

Gold Member
Cowpies - you will find more of them between hoof prints.

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