Chocolate Intentions: A Tasty PK-Related Study
Many of us have a sweet tooth, and our particular passion might be for chocolate. Chocolate is known to have mild, short-lived effects on our mood, and this is not only due to its creamy texture, rich aroma, and sweet taste. Certain alkaloid stimulants, such as theobromine (which dilates the arteries) and caffeine, are found in chocolate, which can get the body going (Smit & Blackburn, 2005; Smit et al., 2004). Aside from chemical stimulants, could it be possible to slightly enhance chocolate’s effect on mood by exposing it to human mental intention? Dr. Dean Radin and Gail Hayssen of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, along with James Walsh of Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate, explored this possibility in a study just published in the interdisciplinary science and medical journal Explore (Radin, Hayssen, & Walsh, 2007).
The idea that human mental intention may subtly affect the structure or effects of certain objects (such as food) may seem a bit odd at first, but if looked at in a religious context, the idea may actually be quite familiar to us. Catholic and Christian ceremonies regularly involve the ingestion of bread and wine that has been blessed, and certain religious sites (such as Lourdes and the Sanctuario de Chimayo in New Mexico) are believed by some to hold natural resources imbued with healing powers (Cohen, 2003). In addition, a number of experimental studies seem to offer evidence in support of the idea that mental intention can subtly interact with physical systems. Studies of ostensible psychokinesis (PK, or “mind over matter”) using electronic random number generators (RNGs) suggest that individuals directing their mental intention at an RNG can subtly influence its output of random numbers such that it becomes significantly less random than we would expect by chance alone (Bösch et al., 2006; Jahn et al., 1997; Radin & Nelson, 2003). Related studies of PK influence on biological systems, such as skin electrical activity and animal locomotion, have also found significant changes in such systems seemingly in “response” to the individual’s focused mental intention (Braud & Schlitz, 1991; Schmidt et al., 2004). In a recent study, Radin et al. (2006) had approximately 2,000 people attending the International Water for Life Conference in Japan direct their collective mental intention towards a bottle of commercial water. Ice crystals formed from droplet samples of this “treated” water were later judged by 100 people for aesthetic value against crystals formed from drop samples of regular, “untreated” water, and these people found the crystals from the “treated” water more visually appealing than those from the “untreated” water to a statistically significant degree (odds of around 1,000 to 1 against chance). Similar studies by Stanford materials physicist William Tiller and his associates found that bottled water placed alongside magnetic field-producing devices which had been mentally “imprinted” with positive intention by a group of deep meditators tended to have a lower level of pH (a measure of acidity) than regular, “unimprinted” water (Dibble & Tiller, 1999; Tiller et al., 2000). So far, these findings have been limited to Tiller and his associates, while others (e.g., Mason & Patterson, 2003) have been unable to reproduce them, possibly due to differences in the methods used.
The same basic idea illustrated by these studies lies at the heart of the chocolate study by Radin et al. (2007). Sixty participants were recruited for the study and asked to rate their general mood by questionnaire over the course of one week. Three days out of that week, the participants were asked to eat one half-ounce piece of dark chocolate in the morning and in the afternoon. Prior to the start of the study, the pieces of chocolate that the participants were eating had been randomly separated into those that would receive mental intention, and those that would not for control comparisons. The intention pieces were each exposed to one of three kinds of mental intention: the first was a 20-minute focus by a pair of deep meditators, the second was a device that had been “imprinted” by a group of deep meditators during a 30-minute session (a basic attempt to reproduce the work of Tiller and colleagues), and the third was an hour-long chant and drumming ritual performed by a Mongolian shaman. The results indicated that on the third day, participants who ate the intention pieces of chocolate had rated their mood as significantly improved as compared to the ratings of the participants who ate the control pieces. They also indicated that participants who did not regularly eat much chocolate showed a much stronger improvement in their mood, with odds of about 1,000 to 1 against chance. An analysis done after-the-fact revealed that changes in fatigue level and vigor had contributed to this mood change.
The statistically significant results of this study argue against pure chance being a factor in the mood changes of the participants. One might also argue that since chocolate has stimulatory properties, then what the participants who ate the intention pieces may have been experiencing was a placebo effect of expectation, similar to that seen in ill patients who respond positively to suggestive medical treatment (Brown, 1998). If that was so, then would we expect participants who ate the control pieces to also show significantly improved mood, which they did not. The design of the study was such that participants (nor the experimenters) did not know whether they were eating intention chocolate or control chocolate, thereby controlling for the expectation variable. Thus, it would initially seem that participants who ate the intention chocolate might have been responding to the mentally instilled “imprints” of PK-related intention by the meditation groups and the shaman. As always, the study’s results need to be reproduced by others in order to be a bit more certain that such an effect may be involved, but for the moment, this study suggests that PK-related mental intention effects may be extended to food, perhaps having a subtle effect on our mood that may be as delightful as a Hershey’s Kiss!
- Bryan Williams
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