# Can a random number generator predict the future?

1. Feb 15, 2005

### 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#

2. Feb 15, 2005

### arildno

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.

3. Feb 15, 2005

### matthyaouw

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.

4. Feb 15, 2005

### 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:

A quote from the Global Consciousness site:

Last edited: Feb 15, 2005
5. Feb 15, 2005

### 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.

Last edited: Feb 15, 2005
6. Feb 15, 2005

### Staff: 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....

7. Feb 15, 2005

### PIT2

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'.

8. Feb 15, 2005

### Staff: Mentor

9. Feb 15, 2005

### 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.

10. Feb 15, 2005

### PIT2

11. Feb 15, 2005

### NateTG

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.

12. Feb 15, 2005

### 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?

13. Feb 16, 2005

### 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.

Last edited: Feb 16, 2005
14. Feb 16, 2005

### 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...

15. Feb 16, 2005

### dextercioby

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...?

16. Feb 16, 2005

### Hurkyl

Staff Emeritus
17. Feb 16, 2005

### 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.

18. Feb 17, 2005

### 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?

Last edited: Feb 17, 2005
19. Feb 17, 2005

### 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:

and

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.

20. Feb 22, 2005

### Curious3141

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.

Last edited: Feb 22, 2005