The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) maintains a long-term experiment that investigates the possibility of a subtle connection between the collective mental activity of humans and the physical behavior of systems in the surrounding environment. The Project formulates this proposition as a broad hypothesis that relates the output of true random number generators (RNGs) to times of intense, collective mental attention during major world events. Over 17 years, the hypothesis has been tested on nearly 500 events, yielding a cumulative result that rejects the null hypothesis by seven standard deviations, apparently lending strong support to the proposal of global consciousness. However, an alternate interpretation is that the result is due to an anomalous effect associated with persons directly engaged with the experiment. This article examines these interpretations and finds that the data do not support the global consciousness proposal. Rather, analyses indicate that the GCP result is due to a goal-oriented effect associated with individuals, similar to effects reported in prior research that studies subject engagement with RNG outputs. An operational definition of goal-oriented effects is presented, which allows for explicit tests of the data. All of the tests favor the interpretation of a goal-oriented effect.