Harry Potter Book Release 16 July 2005
James said, " But suspending critical thinking for a moment and supposing one knew what the following sentence actually means (I'll put quotes around the problem bits): If the GCP is supposed to detect "large numbers" of "coherent minds," then the world wide release of Harry Potter VI yesterday must have resulted in some millions of minds "occupying the same imaginary landscape" for the past 24 hours and more. Any needles flickering?"
Stephan added, "Yes, if I understand GCP Harry Potter should have blown off the charts. Ten million (bookseller estimates for the first day of sales) highly emotionally charged adolescents all experiencing, as James elegantly puts it "the same imaginary landscape" in such a short span of time; surely that's an unusual event."
Dick chimed in, "More seriously the Potter event should be comparable to New Year's event due to the moment of opening stores moving over the globe. James wouldn't you start to consider the GCP hypothesis as an interesting one if that turns out to be true?
Finally, Brian suggested, "Obviously Roger is too busy either watching the needles/analysing the data, or alternatively engaged in reading Harry Potter VI himself, to be able to report the outcome to us :-)
Always willing to oblige serious folk, I responded: "No, I will be happy to report the outcome, if one or several of you communally will specify the hypothesis to test: I need a beginning and ending time for the "event", as I understand from remarks in this thread is a simultaneous release in all timezones." [Apparently not the case.]
Alas, nobody was willing to do this, and so the question lay fallow or was backgrounded in conversations about difficulties some people have with the GCP hypothesis, and speculations about "Roger's (doubtless considerable) psi in choosing the events and their timing plus, likely, the standard multiple analysis problem."
Until, that is, Charley raised the ante, referring to the discussion on whether the release of the new Harry Potter book is an "event" of consequence for all those RNGs around the globe. He says, "Most seem to think it isn't. Well, I am saddened to see that so many of my colleagues are just a bunch of fussy grownups....indeed, a bunch of just plain Muggles! ;-)"
Here's a picture of the NetVar measure (Cumulative Z² - df) for the 15th and 16th of July, GMT. The opening at midnight in London is marked. This is not a random walk during the 15th and half of the 16th, though whether the trend has anything to do with the Harry Potter release is a question we can't answer. It does look like something is driving the eggs (wiggling the needles) for some 36 hours. After that the trend goes flat, resuming a random walk.
But the better test of an effect of 'millions of minds "occupying the same imaginary landscape"' might be the synchronized openings of bookstores at midnight, focusing the interest locally. As Dick suggests, this is conceptually similar to the celebrations at New Years. So, using the recipes developed for New Years, we get an interesting pair of graphs, with a suggestive trend around the stroke of midnight for the Stouffer Z² - 1. The variance around midnight looks random (in contrast to New Years, where there is a significant drop in variance centered on midnight).
The suggestion in the brief period made me curious, so I broadened the time window for the NetVar measure, shown in the next figure. The result is an impressive trend in the signal average across all time zones. Of course this post facto exploration cannot be interpreted as evidence for an effect of the Harry Potter excitement, but it is an interesting picture.