Studies of Influence
Let’s begin with chicks.
Back in the 1980s, French researcher René Peoc’h devised a clever experiment to see if they could influence their
world. He took advantage of the fact that newborn chicks that are separated immediately from their mother will
“imprint” on any object consistently shown to them in the few days after their birth, identifying that object as
“mother.” In this study he imprinted the chicks on a small robot. Since chicks want to be near their mother,
Peoc’hs premise was that the chicks would want to be near the robot. Now the robot wasn’t just any kind of robot.
It was specially designed with what’s called a random event generator (REG), which is a device that made the robot
move in a completely random fashion. The robot was set on a grid on the floor, and control tests were done to
ensure that its movements were tracked with precision to ensure it was moving randomly. For the experiment, a group
of chicks was placed in a transparent cage at the edge of the grid where they could easily see the robot. Then the
robot was let loose to move randomly around the grid. Would the chicks, wanting “mother” near them, be able to
cause the robot to spend more time near their cage? If so, this meant they were somehow overriding the robot’s
programming to move randomly. Their “mind” would be affecting matter. Control runs would also be undertaken, when
the robot was allowed to roam around the grid but no chicks were in the cage.
The results of the
experiment showed the chicks could affect the robot. For the combined results of the runs of the experiment, the
robot spent two and a half times longer on the half of the grid nearest the cage when the chicks were in
it than it did during control periods when the cage was empty.
To confirm the results,
Peoc’h ran additional experiments, this time with chicks that were not first imprinted on the robot (they didn’t
identify it as “mother”). During the time they were in the room, the robot moved randomly.
Peoc’h later repeated the
experiment, only this time tightening the controls and adding a new spin to it. The robot was a more modern one
that was controlled by radio waves, and a computer controlled all input and output. It was still programmed to move
randomly, but this time it was outfitted with a candle at its top. Chicks, it turns out, do not like to be in the
dark during the day. So the intent of this experiment was to see if chicks kept in the dark but naturally
preferring more light would pull the robot and candle—the only source of light available to them—closer to their
cage. In addition, for this experiment the chicks were not exposed to the robot before the experiment, so they had
not imprinted on it, nor were they ever exposed to the experimenter. Groups of 15 chicks were put through 80 runs
of the experiment. There were also one hundred control runs, where the robot roamed the grid but the chicks were
not in the room.
The results held up.
Somehow chick “mind” affected robot matter—they were able to override the robot’s programmed random motion and pull
it and the candle toward them.
In case you want the
specifics, here they are: In the 100 control runs without the chicks in the room, the robot moved randomly (the
results were at chance odds: 50% of the results were positive and 50% negative). In the 80 runs with the chicks in
the room, the robot spent more time on their side of the grid in 57 of the 80 runs (71%), with the result
statistically significant (p < 0.01) to a 99% confidence rate that they did not occur by chance. Further control
runs were conducted to double-check the results, such as conducting the experiment with the chicks in daylight or
with no candle on the robot, and there was no deviation from randomness in the robot’s movements during these
So is there something
special about chicks? To find out, Peoc’h conducted at least one similar experiment using rabbits. This time,
instead of having the animals try to pull the robot toward them, the experiment was designed so that the rabbits
would want to push it away. The experiment was a success and the results were also statistically significant: the
rabbits were able to influence the robot to move in non-random ways.
Again, we ask: If chicks
and rabbits can influence physical matter, why not humans? Dozens of researchers across the world have done the
experiments to answer that question. Their results have proved Katherine and Peter Solomon correct: human mind can
influence, and perhaps even transform, the physical world.