The Science behind Jedi Mind Tricks

In the Star Wars movies, Jedi Knights are known for their “mind-control” power over other individuals. Jedi mind tricks only work, however, if the other person’s mind is weak. Although Jedi mind tricks are science fiction, there may actually be some scientific proof towards this effect.
Many scientific studies have been done to record the effects of intended thought directed to another person. Experiments are done using EEG equipment to measure brain waves at various locations within the brain. Scientists separate the two individuals into isolated distant rooms to prevent verbal and physical communication between the two, then stimulate one of the individuals and look for matching brain wave patterns.
Grinberg-Zylberbaum set up such an experiment in 1994 where two individuals who first sat and mediated in silence together for 20 minutes before being separated would then display matching brain wave patterns when one of them was stimulated with light flashes [3]. Figure 1 shows the matching brain wave patterns from this experiment. Grinberg-Zylberbaum also has shown that the brain wave patterns matched on both hemispheres of the brain and that the person with the most ‘ordered’ brain pattern often influenced the other [4].

Matching brain wave patterns

Figure 1: Matching brain wave patterns

Another experiment by Hagelin et. al. outlined the results of group transcendental meditation on preventing violent crime. They found a significant decrease of violent crime (up to 23% decrease) and a correlation between the number of participants meditating (up to 4,000) and the amount of decrease in violent crime. The results are depicted in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Significant drop in crime rates in Washington D.C. during meditation experiment [5]

Figure 2: Significant drop in crime rates in Washington D.C. during meditation experiment [5]

Maharishi refers to the ‘collective consciousness’ as the cumulation of consciousness of all the members of a society, where each individual influences the collective consciousness which in turn influences each individual [5]. Therefore, increases in stress levels in individuals in a society contribute to higher levels of stress in the collective consciousness which in turn are expressed through crime within the society. To turn around this negative spiral effect, Maharishi states, “increasing the level of coherence and harmony in collective consciousness positively influences individual behavior, and thus is a practical means to improve the quality of life in society and solve recalcitrant social problems.” [5] The results of 42 studies on this effect, named the Maharishi Effect in honor of Maharishi who discovered it, “have repeatedly supported the hypothesis that violent crime and other measures of social disorder can be reduced through coherence-creating groups” [5].

Schlitz and Braud analyzed 19 published experiments from different labs on distant intentionality and healing. Although overall the effects of intention on another person are small, they are statistically significant and comparable to standards used in other fields of science [2].
What does it all mean? Directed intention of thought can have an effect on another person. Such effects have been applied to lower crime rates [5], help another person perform a specific task [6], heal sick people [1], and more. The stronger the coherence of the thought, the higher the likelihood that it will prevail over a weaker force. Groups that support a particular cause or thought pattern are all adding to the collective consciousness of that thought pattern; for example, the meditation group bringing peace and relaxation to the city of Washington D.C. What we need to consider is what exactly is the consciousness of other groups? Although some may have positive intentions, it is possible the collective consciousness is holding onto negative beliefs; for example, most people equate “disease” as something really bad and un-fixable, whereas the holistic community attempts to reframe the word as “dis-ease”, someone not at ease. So what is the collective consciousness behind the yellow cancer bracelets and pink ribbons?

-Elizabeth Sugar Boese

To site this source:

Boese, E. S. “The Science Behind Jedi Mind Tricks.” Succeed In Every Way. Nov 10, 2009.

[1] J. Achterberg, K. Cooke, T. Richards, L. J. Standish, L. Kozak, J. Lake. “Evidence for Correlations Between Distant Intentionality and Brain Function in Recipients: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Analysis”, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. December 1, 2005, 11(6): 965-971. doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.965.
[2] M. Schlitz, and W. Braud “Distant Intentionality and Healing: Assessing the Evidence”, Alternative Therapies, 3(6), 1997, 62-73.
[3] J. Grinberg-Zylberbaum, J. Ramos. “Patterns of Interhemisphere Correlations During Human Communication,” International Journal of Neuroscience, 1987; 36:41-53.
[4] J. Grinberg-Zylberbaum, M. Delaflor, L. Attie, A. Goswami. “The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox in the Brain: The Transferred Potential”, Physics Essays, December 1994, 7(4): 422-428.
[5] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “Enlightenment and Invincibility”, Maharishi European
Research University Press, Rheinweiler, Germany, 1978.
[6] W. Braud, D. Shafer, K. McNeill, and V. Guerra. “Attention Focusing Facilitated Through Remote Mental Interaction”, Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 26th Annual Convention, The Parapsychological Association, Inc., 1993, pp. 2-11.

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