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How the DHARMA Initiative Works

More Theories

Survivors of a crash, or subjects of an experiment?
Survivors of a crash, or subjects of an experiment?
Photo copyright © 2004 ABC, Inc. / Mario Perez

Entertainment Weekly writer Doc Jensen theorizes that a dead psychic haunts the island. Hanso Foundation scientists were definitely studying a psychic phenomenon known as remote viewing. Scientists may be observing the island from elsewhere or even affecting events with their minds. What supports this theory?

  • Pretty much everything weird on the island: Psychics could make everyone see things that aren't there.
  • The whispers in the jungle: The sounds survivors hear in the jungle may not be the whispers of the physically-present Others. They may be the voices of psychics who aren't even on the island.

Blinding Us with Science

The events on the island might be pretty straightforward. The DHARMA Initiative could be scientists who really study what they claim to. Their experiments could include:


  • Meteorology: The sudden rains and abrupt changes in tides may be part of an experiment, although they could also be ordinary weather phenomena.
  • Psychology: The button-pushing routine in Station 3 may be a "Skinner box" designed to study operant conditioning. Or, it may be a test to see how monotonous tasks or interrupted sleep affect people. All of the food in Station 3 has a Swan Station logo, not a basic DHARMA Initiative logo - the food may also be part of the experiment.
  • Parapsychology: The voices in the jungle and the Flight 815 survivors' vivid dreams may stem from paranormal influences.
  • Zoology: The shark emblazoned with the DHARMA logo, polar bears and the bird that screams "Hurley" may all be part of experiments on animals.
  • Electromagnetism: There seems to be a strong magnet behind a wall in Station 3. The black smoke monster could also be part of an experiment.

DHARMA and Jalad at Tanagra Numerous books and records appear among the possessions of the Flight 815 survivors and in Station 3. Many people theorize that these are clues about what is happening. They point out that "Watership Down" is about rabbits searching for a new home, and "A Wrinkle in Time" discusses time travel and travel across dimensions. However, both books have more sinister themes. "Watership Down" describes a warren where rabbits are being fattened up to be killed. "A Wrinkle in Time" includes a struggle against evil and a being called IT that controls people's lives down to the smallest detail.

Other possibly important books include: "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, ""The Brothers Karamazov,""Green Lantern/Flash: Faster Friends Part 1, " "Rainbow Six, ""The Turn of the Screw," "The Third Policeman" and "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret."

Out of the Matrix: Mind Games

It's unlikely that all of the events on the island are taking place in one person's mind. But the memories of the Flight 815 crash survivors may not be reliable. The frequent appearances in one another's memories may indicate tampering rather than coincidence or predestination. They may be artificial memories that have been uploaded into the survivors' minds. After all, how likely is it, really, that Kate, Locke and Michael all had accidents involving the same gold car?

In addition, many of the Flight 815 survivors have seen people and objects in the jungle that should not -– or could not -– be there. This may be the result of a collective hallucination, mind control or other tampering with survivors' perception.

For lots more information about the DHARMA Initiative, "Lost" and other related topics, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • "Big Theory: What Is the Island?"
  • "The Ultimate Theory (Revised, Expanded)."
  • "MRI: A HUGE Missed Clue."
  • Blast door map overlay
  • Brown, Scott. "Locke Down." Entertainment Weekly. March 30, 2006.,6115,1178442_3_0_,00.html
  • The Hanso Foundation
  • LOST Commentaries: Episodes "Pilot Part 1," "Pilot Part 2," "Walkabout," "Collision"
  • "Lost in Translation." SFX Magazine. December 2005.
  • LOST Official Podcasts 1-12
  • LOST Season 1, Episodes 1-24
  • LOST Season 2, Episodes 1-17
  • Investigations
  • Oceanic Air http://
  • Lost-TV Official List of Literature (book/author references)
  • Oldenburg, Ann. "Is 'Lost' a Literal Enigma?" USA Today. October 8, 2005.
  • "The Whispers and other hidden audio clues."
  • Vaz, Mark Cotta. "The Lost Chronicles: the Official Companion Book." Hyperion, 2005.