Friday, 22 August 2008

Just what have I let myself in for?

I'm going to The End Of The Road festival in about a month and I just received the following message from their facebook group:

PEACE INTENTION at End of the Road

As the theme of our healing field this year is Peace, we thought we'd take part in this, and you're welcome to join us by signing up:

The Global Peace Intention Experiment

A Live Aid of scientific experiments will test the power of group mind to lower violence around the world

If all of us send a good thought for peace can it actually work to restore peace in a war-torn area?

Lynne McTaggart, author of the best-selling book The Intention Experiment, is asking thousands of participants to join together, via The Intention Experiment website, on Sunday, September 14, for the first of a series of ‘Peace Intention Experiments' to send an intention to lower violence in a particular war-torn city. The actual location will be revealed on the day. The experiment will likely run for a week and involve 10 minutes of intention a day.

McTaggart is working with a prestigious team of top scientists and philanthropic organisations to devise a strict protocol and measure results. Thousands of participants from 80 countries around the world have already signed up.

To participate in the Peace Intention Experiment, please register on

You will then be sent instructions about what to do on the day.

At End of the Road, we are gathering in the healing field in the Secret Garden, where we will send the intention together. But you must sign up in advance as above, and be sincere about carrying through.

*facedesk* *re-read* *facedesk*

Are they fucking serious? They not only think they can affect something by thinking about it, but they're going to pretend its a serious scientific experiment with a measurable outcome? How are you supposed to measure the outcome, is there a "war-torn city" out there which is able to provide reliable data on just how much violence there was during a specific 10-day period? How do you define violence in the first place? Who are these "top scientists" who are involved and what the hell is a "top scientist" in the first place? Is there an international premier league of scientists I've never heard of?

I sincerely hope the rest of the festival isn't as infested with woo, its supposed to be a nice relaxing weekend listening to some amazing bands and clearing my head, I don't want to have to spend the entire time dodging quacks and resisting* the temptation to argue with new-age weirdos. The EotR website gives no suggestion of any sort of woo element to the festival and the inclusion on the line-up of Robin Ince, Britain's greatest (only?) skeptic comedian, is certainly a good sign. I really hope he hears about the above "experiment" in time to include something about it in his set, it would fit in perfectly with the stuff he did at Latitude and if it educates a few of the people who would otherwise have taken part it has to be worth doing.

*Who am I kidding, I'll never be able to resist. Better get re-reading The Demon-Haunted World so I've got my basic arguments down. I know its a pretty much pointless exercise, but sometimes you just can't help yourself.

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