The hundredth monkey phenomenon and the paranormal

15th August 2020. Reading Time: 7 minutes Paranormal Theories, General. 845 page views. 0 comments.

Could the hundredth monkey phenomenon be an example of collective consciousness? What is the collective unconscious and what does all this mean for how we view the paranormal?

In his book Lifetide, Dr Lyall Watson wrote about a phenomenon which he dubbed the hundredth monkey phenomenon.  While there has been a lot of criticism regarding the authenticity of the claims, it does bring up some thought provoking discussions when it comes to the concept of consciousness.  This article isn't about whether or not this happened and if it is authentic, but more to explore the possibilities when it comes to our consciousness.

What is the hundredth monkey phenomenon?

In his book, Watson wrote about studies which took place in the the 1960's by Japanese primatologists of Japanese macaques (a form of monkey).  He claimed that the Scientists themselves were reluctant to publish their findings because of the response of being ridiculed they would likely receive.  You see their findings were supposedly a bit strange. 

The the early 1950's, the primatologists would provide the monkeys on Koshima Island in Japan with food such as sweet potato and wheat.  The food would be left out in open areas for them to enjoy while they could also be observed.  After some time, one of the subjects who as an 18 year old female bu the name of "Imo" discovered that the sand and grit could be removed from the sweet potatoes by washing them in water.  Her family and friends soon learnt this trick and copied this behaviour.  Soon many of the monkeys were observed washing the potatoes before eating them.  What was interesting about this behaviour was that it seemed the younger monkeys taught the older monkeys how to do this.  Of course normally the older monkeys would show the children. This went on for several years.  It is then claimed that a 'remarkable event' occurred on Koshima island in the fall of 1958. 

I am forced to improvise the details, but as near as I can tell, this is what seems to have happened. In the autumn of that year an unspecified number of monkeys on Koshima were washing sweet potatoes in the sea. . . . Let us say, for argument's sake, that the number was ninety-nine and that at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday morning, one further convert was added to the fold in the usual way. But the addition of the hundredth monkey apparently carried the number across some sort of threshold, pushing it through a kind of critical mass, because by that evening almost everyone was doing it. Not only that, but the habit seems to have jumped natural barriers and to have appeared spontaneously, like glycerine crystals in sealed laboratory jars, in colonies on other islands and on the mainland in a troop at Takasakiyama.

Dr Lyall Watson

Lifetide (1979)

While the monkeys on the island had learnt the behaviour from observing one another, once the one hundredth monkey learnt this skill, monkeys on other islands who had not witnessed this skill started washing their potatoes in the same way.  It was if they suddenly knew or learnt this skill on some sort of unconscious level.

Now of course as mentioned above, there are many criticisms to this phenomenon and the way it is recollected by Watson, however that is not what this article is about.  I do however encourage you to look more into it if it is something you find intriguing.  Check out the books 'Lifetide' by Dr Lyall Watson and 'The Hundredth Monkey" by Ken Keyes, Jr.  Also check out the research done by the Skeptical inquirer: Skeptical Inquirer vol. 9, 1985, 348–356

The question becomes, is this an example of collective consciousness?

Collective consciousness

Collective consciousness is defined as a set of shared beliefs, ideas and moral attitudes which operate as a type of unifying source in society.  Many people tend to believe that we are connected on some sort of telepathic or conscious level.  Much like the monkeys above, knowledge seems to often just be known and not learnt by observation.  It was Carl Jung who came up with the concept of the 'collective unconscious'.  It is the belief that we are all born with knowledge and imagery that come from our ancestors.  

The collective unconscious consists of the sum of the instincts and their correlates, the archetypes. Just as everybody possesses instincts, so he also possesses a stock of archetypal images.

Carl Jung

This of course is not just limited to monkeys.  Consciousness is something that is studied on a daily basis.

The global consciousness project

The Global Consciousness Project monitors this global awareness and connects it with a type of 'combined consciousness'.  Often people all over the World can 'feel' that something significant is about to happen.  This project collects data from random number generators from different host sites all over the World.

When human consciousness becomes coherent, the behavior of random systems may change. Random number generators (RNGs) based on quantum tunneling produce completely unpredictable sequences of zeroes and ones. But when a great event synchronizes the feelings of millions of people, our network of RNGs becomes subtly structured. We calculate one in a trillion odds that the effect is due to chance. The evidence suggests an emerging noosphere or the unifying field of consciousness described by sages in all cultures.

The Global Consciousness Project is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists and engineers. We collect data continuously from a global network of physical random number generators located in up to 70 host sites around the world at any given time. The data are transmitted to a central archive which now contains more than 15 years of random data in parallel sequences of synchronized 200-bit trials generated every second.

Our purpose is to examine subtle correlations that may reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. We hypothesize that there will be structure in what should be random data, associated with major global events that engage our minds and hearts.

Subtle but real effects of consciousness are important scientifically, but their real power is more immediate. They encourage us to make essential, healthy changes in the great systems that dominate our world. Large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world. Knowing this, we can intentionally work toward a brighter, more conscious future.

The goal is simple.  They believe that there will be an anomaly in the data collected before an event of significance indicating the presence and activity of consciousness throughout the World.   As an example, It was noted that 2 hours before the events of 9/11, there were fluctuations in the bell curve of the figures indicating that 'alarm bells' were ringing all around the World before it even happened.

We hypothesize that our instrument (the network of eggs) will show anomalous deviations associated with Global Events when there is widespread participation or reaction to the event.

Collective consciousness and the paranormal

So what does all this mean when it comes to the paranormal?  While some of the studies are ignored or discredited by some, you do have to wonder what the possibilities truely are.  We know that parapsychologists have spent a lot of time and work studying the human mind and what it could in fact be capable of.  In 1972, there was an experiment dubbed 'The Philip Experiment' where a group used their collective thought to see if they could conjure a ghost.  They claimed the experiment a success.  By thinking and talking about a fictional character, they seemingly created a ghost out of thin air.  If we do indeed inherit our knowledge on some sort of collective unconscious level, can we somehow unknowingly project or tap into this when we are seeking answers out in the paranormal world?  A lot of people for example think that when they are using items such as a pendulum to answer a question, while many put the answers down to unconscious movements of the hand making it move, what if our unconscious is actually making it move that way for a reason.  Maybe the answers are there deep in our unconscious waiting to be discovered?  

There is a lot to digest and think about here so I am going to let this sit with you for a bit and I want you to sit back and truely think about what it is that could be happening out there.  While the popular belief is that a spirit is someone who has passed away, how is it that we are able to have these experiences?  Is it something we already know on some level?  Are we somehow unknowingly projecting this out into the world and creating our own 'Philips'?  I would love to hear your thoughts and theories on this one.  There really is no wrong answer.  Much like the Scientists above, many are too afraid to share their thoughts out of ridicule, but there is nothing wrong with asking the question 'What if?'.

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