The Intention Experiment: Where Dan Brown's Fiction Becomes Fact

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Dan Brown's latest blockbuster The Lost Symbol is based, in part, on intention and the work of Lynne McTaggart - and every week she turns his fiction into fact

we've witnessed, quite literally overnight, that people's lifelong illnesses have started to clear

Millions of people are reading Dan Brown's latest best-seller The Lost Symbol, but few may realize that one of its central ideas -- that thought alone, or intention, can alter things in the world -- is being practiced every Sunday, and by the woman he features in his book.

Brown's fiction becomes fact every weekend when bestselling science author and investigator Lynne McTaggart leads a group in an intention from her web site - - usually to help heal a participant or to ease a businessman's money worries.

Brown singled out McTaggart, her book, The Intention Experiment (Free Press), and her website for special mention in the blockbuster, claiming that one of his main characters was 'fascinated' by McTaggart's work and experiments.

Lynne McTaggart, an award-winning journalist and science writer, has authored five books, including the worldwide bestsellers The Intention Experiment and The Field, widely considered the seminal books on the science of consciousness and the power of thought.

Lynne is also architect of the Intention Experiment, the first web-based global laboratory to test the power of thought, using her international readership to take part in on-line live experiments with scientists around the world.

McTaggart's extraordinary premise -- that thoughts can change the world -- plays an important part in The Lost Symbol's plot, and while it may be extraordinary, and even impossible, McTaggart demonstrates every week that it can work.

"We're monitoring feedback from the receivers of intention, who tell us about remarkable turnarounds in their health or circumstances," says McTaggart.

Successes have included a construction site worker whose hand was badly burned in an accident; while his colleague, who had similar burns, was treated at hospital, he decided to instead opt for intention from McTaggart's intention group. Astonishingly, his hand dramatically improved in six days -- weeks before that of his work colleague -- and was considered by his doctors a medical miracle.

In other cases, a victim of a serious motorcycle accident mended in record time, a runaway teenager changed overnight and returned home, and a victim of ankylosing spondylitis became virtually painfree.

While McTaggart considers this to be good and necessary work, it's not scientific enough for her. Every three months or so, McTaggart sets up a rigorous, laboratory-controlled experiment with scientists in prestigious academic centers such as at the University of Arizona, Penn State University, University of California at Davis, Princeton University, and in universities in Europe.

To date, McTaggart has facilitated 19 experiments, testing whether group thought can increase the growth of plants, change essential properties of water and living things, clean up polluted water and lower violence in a war-torn area.

Her experiments have captured the public imagination, and they attract up to 15,000 participants from 90 countries in every continent except Antarctica, who come into the Intention Experiment website (, and follow McTaggart's protocols and instructions to send the same thought at exactly the same moment, usually for 10 minutes. For those in Australia, the timing couldn't be less friendly, but they still get up in the middle of the night to participate.

Again, the results have been impressive, and go far beyond chance. Psychologist Dr. Gary Schwartz and his team at the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health at the University of Arizona, reported the results of six experiments in a scientific paper presented iat a recent Society for Scientific Exploration conference.

So far, of the 19 experiments have been carried out under laboratory conditions, 16 have shown significant positive results. "The failures have been more educational than the successes," says McTaggart.

As McTaggart is finding, distance doesn't seem to have any bearing on the outcome. McTaggart has used audiences in Sydney, Australia to send intention to seeds sitting at the University of Arizona's labs in Tucson.

Nevertheless, experience appears to count. The most impressive results have come from those who are practiced in sending focused thought, such as experienced meditators or healers.

One major discovery from her experiments is the power of group intention - what she describes as 'the power of eight'. When she has taken her intention experiments on the road, and asked groups of complete strangers to send healing intention for each other in small groups of a eight or more, "we've witnessed, quite literally overnight, that people's lifelong illnesses have started to clear," she says.

One woman who had suffered a migraine every day had her first 'clear' day after being intended for. Another who was a chronic insomniac had her first full night's sleep after one of the sessions.

Perhaps the most impressive instance was a woman who had lost sight in one of her eyes; the following day she told McTaggart and her group that 80 per cent of her sight had been restored.

Scientists could scoff at the results, and argue that they are nothing more than the placebo effect: people are imagining that they are getting better. McTaggart goes along with the argument to an extent, but says there is no imagining taking place in terms of actual results. "If the power of group intention means we are giving people permission to harness their own innate healing abilities, that's good enough for me."

But it's a little harder to explain away the results being recorded on inanimate objects such as a leaf or seeds, and, on that, the scientists have remained silent. Fortunately, through The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown has decided to speak out.

Media contact:
Heidi Metcalfe, Senior Publicity Manager
Free Press

The Intention Experiment (Free Press, New York, 2007)
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Heidi Metcalfe
Free Press
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