Few days back, the issue of the farmers' suicides that have been reported from various parts of the country and mainly from Andhra Pradesh came up over the dinner table. Both me and Arun were of the opinion that the trend, although alarming, has little to do with government failure. Rather than economic, it is a psychological issue and should be treated as one. Some kind of "mass psychology" (for want of a better word) seems to be at work here which is pushing one farmer after another over the edge.
In this context, Arun told me about an interesting experiment done with monkeys on a northern Japanese island. The most popular version of the story on the internet is available as The hundredth Monkey. The above piece is an extract from a book written by Ken Keyes, jr. and is written more like a inspirational story rather than a scientific article.
The story amazed me to no end. Such kind of ideas have been around for quite sometime in SF. One very famous example is the Gaia planet in Foundation series by Asimov. Even in modern science, there have been theories like Gaia theory proposed by James Lovelock but the fact that something like this has actually been experimentally observed thrilled me.
Alas, on further examination, the story seems to be exaggerated. However, the story and the article above do talk about some interesting ideas like morphogenetic fields (proposed by Sheldrake)and collective unconscious (proposed by Carl Jung). Here is a page about some reported experiments related to morphogenetic fields.
I once wrote a SF story on a similar concept. Now it seems the idea was not that far fetched afterall :). May be I should publish that story soon now.
Another interesting link I found while delving on this topic of collective intelligence/conscious : The co-intelligence Institute (It has more of a social and political bent though)