"Telekinesis" redirects here. For other uses, see Telekinesis (disambiguation).
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Psychokinesis (from the Greek ψυχή, "psyche", meaning mind, soul, spirit, heart, or breath; and κίνησις, "kinesis", meaning motion, movement; literally "mind-movement"), also referred to as telekinesis (Greek τῆλε + κίνησις, literally "distant-movement") with respect to strictly describing the mental movement of matter, abbreviated as PK and TK respectively, is a term coined by publisher Henry Holt to refer to the direct influence of mind on a physical system that cannot be entirely accounted for by the mediation of any known physical energy. Examples of psychokinesis could include distorting or moving an object and influencing the output of a random number generator.
The study of phenomena said to be psychokinetic is part of parapsychology. Some psychokinesis researchers claim psychokinesis exists and deserves further study, although the focus of research has shifted away from large-scale phenomena to attempts to influence dice and then to random number generators.
Most scientists believe that the existence of psychokinesis has not been convincingly demonstrated. PK experiments have historically been criticised for lack of proper controls and repeatability. Furthermore, some experiments have created illusions of PK where none exists, and these illusions depend to an extent on the subject's prior belief in PK., ,
1.1 Early history,
1.2 Modern usage,
2 Measurement and observation
2.1 Spontaneous effects,
4.1 Notable claimants of psychokinetic ability,
4.2 Notable witnesses to PK events,
4.3 PK experiment,
4.4 PK Parties,
5 Scientific view
5.1 Explanations in terms of bias,
5.2 Magic and special effects,
5.3 Prize money for proof of psychokinesis,
6 In religion, mythology and popular culture,
7 See also,
9 Further reading
9.1 Published Papers on PK / TK,
9.2 Military Papers on PK / TK,
10 External links,
The term "telekinesis" was coined in 1890 by Russian psychical researcher Alexander N. Aksakof (also spelled Aksakov). The term "Psychokinesis" was coined in 1914 by American author-publisher Henry Holt in his book On the Cosmic Relations and adopted by his friend, American parapsychologist J. B. Rhine in 1934 in connection with experiments to determine if a person could influence the outcome of falling dice. Both concepts have been described by other terms, such as "remote influencing", "distant influencing" "remote mental influence", "distant mental influence", "directed conscious intention", "anomalous perturbation", and "mind over matter." Originally telekinesis was coined to refer to the movement of objects thought to be caused by ghosts of deceased persons, mischievous spirits, angels, demons, or other supernatural forces.
Later, when speculation increased that humans might be the source of the witnessed phenomena not caused by fraudulent mediums and could possibly cause movement without any connection to a spiritualistic setting, such as in a darkened séance room, psychokinesis was added to the lexicon. Eventually, psychokinesis became the term preferred by the parapsychological community. Popular usage favours the word "telekinesis" to describe the paranormal movement of objects, perhaps due to the word's resemblance to other terms, such as telepathy and teleportation. Some early researchers who studied psychokinesis speculated that within the human body an unidentified fluid termed the "psychode", "psychic force" or "ectenic force" existed and was capable of being released to influence matter. This view was held by Camille Flammarion and William Crookes, however a later psychical researcher Hereward Carrington pointed out that the fluid was hypothetical and has never been discovered.
As research entered the modern era, it became clear that many different, but related, abilities could be attributed to the wider description of psychokinesis and these, along with telekinesis, are now regarded as the specialities of PK. In the 2004 U.S. Air Force-sponsored research report Teleportation Physics Study, the physicist-author Eric Davis, Ph.D., described the distinction between PK and TK as "telekinesis is a form of PK." The Oxford Dictionary of Psychology, 2009 edition, also defines psychokinesis in a wider sense as involving the "movement or change of physical objects", while its definition for telekinesis only describes "movement." Psychokinesis, then, is the general term that can be used to describe a variety of complex mental force phenomena (including object movement) and telekinesis is used to refer only to the movement of objects, however tiny (a grain of salt, or air molecules to create wind) or large (an automobile, building, or bridge).
Measurement and observation:
Parapsychology researchers describe two basic types of measurable and observable psychokinetic and telekinetic effects in experimental laboratory research and in case reports occurring outside of the laboratory. Micro-PK (also micro-TK) is a very small effect, such as the manipulation of molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, etc., that can only be observed with scientific equipment. The words are abbreviations for micro-psychokinesis, micropsychokinesis and micro-telekinesis, microtelekinesis. Macro-PK (also macro-TK) is a large-scale effect that can be seen with the unaided eye. The adjective phrases "microscopic-scale", "macroscopic- scale", "small-scale", and "large-scale" may also be used; for example, "a small-scale PK effect."
See also: Poltergeist
Spontaneous movements of objects and other unexplained effects have been reported, and many parapsychologists believe these are possibly forms of psychokinesis/telekinesis. Parapsychologist William G. Roll coined the term "recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis" (RSPK) in 1958. The sudden movement of objects without deliberate intention in the presence or vicinity of one or more witnesses is thought by some to be related to as-yet-unknown PK/TK processes of the subconscious mind. Researchers use the term "PK agent", especially in spontaneous cases, to describe someone who is suspected of being the source of the PK action. Outbreaks of spontaneous movements or other effects, such as in a private home, and especially those involving violent or physiological effects, such as objects hitting people or scratches or other marks on the body, are sometimes investigated as poltergeist cases.
Psychokinesis is the umbrella term for various related speciality abilities which may include:
Telekinesis: movement of matter at the micro level (atoms, subatomic particles, etc.) or macro level (visible objects, life forms, etc.) Subsets of this type are pyrokinesis and cryokinesis, the speeding up or slowing down respectively of the naturally occurring vibrations of atoms in matter, in order to alter temperature.,
Control of magnetism.,
Control of photons (light waves/particles).,
Energy shield (force field).,
Influencing events (sports, gambling, election, prolongation of life, etc.).,
Self levitation (rising in the air unsupported, flying).,
Phasing through matter. In fiction, quantum tunnelling has been used as an explanation of this.,
The creation of thoughtforms or tulpas - physically perceived animate or inanimate entities created in the mind and formed remotely in three-dimensional space and observable by others. Thought images placed on film are described as thoughtography.,
Teleportation (disappearing and reappearing elsewhere).,
Transmutation of matter.,
In September 2006, a survey about belief in various religious and paranormal topics conducted by phone and mail-in questionnaire polled Americans on their belief in telekinesis. Of these participants, 28% of male participants and 31% of female participants selected "agree" or "strongly agree" with the statement "It is possible to influence the world through the mind alone". There were 1,721 participants, and the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
In April 2008, British psychologist and skeptic Richard Wiseman published the results of an online survey he conducted entitled "Magicians and the Paranormal: A Survey", in which 400 magicians worldwide participated. For the question Do you believe that psychokinesis exists (i.e., that some people can, by paranormal means, apply a noticeable force to an object or alter its physical characteristics)?, the results were as follows: No 83.5%, Yes 9%, Uncertain 7.5%.
Notable claimants of psychokinetic ability:
See also category: People claiming to have psychokinetic abilities
Martin Caidin (1927-1997), the author whose 1972 novel Cyborg was used as the basis for the television series The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, claimed to be able to cause movement by means of telekinesis in one or multiple small tabletop "energy wheels", also known as psi wheels beginning in the mid-1980s. Parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach, a friend of Caidin's who sometimes accompanied him in demonstrations and workshops, reiterated a strong endorsement of him in his June 2004 Fate magazine column: "Martin Caidin was capable of moving things with his mind." James Randi offered to test Caidin's claimed abilities in 1994. In September 2004, Randi wrote: "He frantically avoided accepting my challenge by refusing even the simplest of proposed control protocols, but he never tired of running on about how I would not test him.",
Uri Geller (1946 - ), the Israeli famous for his spoon bending demonstrations, allegedly by PK. Geller has been caught many times using sleight of hand and according to author Terence Hines, all his effects have been recreated using conjuring tricks.,
Many of India's "godmen" have claimed macro-PK abilities and demonstrated apparently miraculous phenomena in public, although as more controls are put in place to prevent trickery, fewer phenomena are produced. Perhaps the most notable is the spectacular allegation of Mahaavatar Babaji's materialization of an entire palace, mentioned in Paramahamsa Yogananda's classic Autobiography of a Yogi.,
Nina Kulagina (1926-1990), who came to wide public attention following the publication of Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder's best seller, Psychic Discoveries Behind The Iron Curtain. The alleged Soviet psychic of the late 1960s and early 1970s was filmed apparently performing telekinesis while seated in numerous black-and-white short films, mentioned in the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency report from 1978.,
Matthew Manning (1955 - ) of the United Kingdom was the subject of laboratory research in the United States and England involving PK in the late 1970s and today claims healing powers.,
Eusapia Palladino (1854-1918; alternate spelling: Eusapia Paladino) was an Italian medium who allegedly could cause objects to move during seances and was endorsed by world famous magician Howard Thurston (1869-1936), who said he witnessed her levitation of a table.,
Swami Rama (1925-1996), a yogi skilled in controlling his heart functions who was studied at the Menninger Foundation in the spring and fall of 1970, and was alleged by some observers at the foundation to have telekinetically moved a knitting needle twice from a distance of five feet. Although Swami Rama wore a face-mask and gown to prevent allegations that he moved the needle with his breath or body movements, and air vents in the room had been covered, at least one physician observer who was present at the time was not convinced and expressed the opinion that air movement was somehow the cause.,
Notable witnesses to PK events:
Alleged psychokinetic events have been witnessed by psychologists in the United States, and elsewhere in the world by professionals with medical degrees, physicists, electrical engineers, military personnel, police officers, and other professionals and ordinary citizens. Robert M. Schoch Ph.D., professor at Boston University, has written "I do believe that some psychokinesis is real" referring to the evidence for micro-psychokinesis obtained by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Lab experiments and similar studies and some reports of macro-RSPK observed in poltergeist cases. He reports once seeing a book "jumping off a shelf" while in a room where a female psychokinesis agent was also present. Best-selling author and medical doctor Michael Crichton described what he termed a "successful experience" with psychokinesis at a "spoon bending party" in his 1988 book Travels. Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, author Dean Radin has reported that he, like Michael Crichton, was able to bend the bowl of a spoon over with unexplained ease of force with witnesses present at a different informal PK experiment gathering. He described his experience in his 2006 book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality and online (with photos). Author Michael Talbot (1953-1992) described a variety of spontaneous psychokinetic events he experienced and were witnessed by family and friends in two of his books, Beyond the Quantum and The Holographic Universe.
French biologist Remy Chauvin carried out a number of experiments to test psychokinesis. Because of the results of one of the experiments, Chauvin came to believe that mind can influence matter. Chauvin's experiment involved using a uranium isotope, a Geiger counter and several assistants. Some parapsychologists have written that ordinary people may be able to influence biological organisms from distance such as the growth rates of fungi and bacteria. Carroll Nash (1984) reported that human subjects could use their psychokinetic ability to influence the rate at which bacterial genes mutate.
Anecdotes such as these - stories by eyewitnesses outside of controlled conditions - are considered insufficient evidence by the majority of scientists to establish the scientific validity of psychokinesis.
A 1995 experiment published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration reported psychokinetic activity through "influencing events". The possible psychokinetic influence of 80 groups of 15 chicks on a randomly moving robot carrying a lighted candle in an otherwise darkened room was tested. According to the researcher, in 71% of the cases, the robot spent excessive time in the vicinity of the chicks, and in the absence of the chicks, the robot followed random trajectories. The overall results were deemed statistically significant at p <0.01.
"PK Parties" were a cultural fad in the 1980s, where groups of people were guided through rituals and chants to awaken metal-bending powers. They were encouraged to shout at the items of cutlery they had brought and to jump and scream to create an atmosphere of pandemonium (or what scientific investigators called heightened suggestibility). Critics were excluded and participants were told to avoid looking at their hands. Thousands of people attended these emotionally charged parties, and many became convinced that they had bent silverware by paranormal means. Two of those who claimed to have folded over the bowls of spoons while attending one of these events were author Michael Crichton and parapsychologist Dean Radin (see above section). The founder of the PK parties was Jack Houck (1939 - 2013), an aeronautical engineer at Boeing until his retirement in 2005.
If PK were to exist as claimed by some experimenters, it would violate some well-established laws of physics, including the inverse square law, the second law of thermodynamics, and the conservation of momentum, according to Martin Gardner and Thomas Gilovich. Hence scientists have demanded a high standard of evidence for PK, in line with Marcello Truzzi's dictum "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". When apparent PK can be produced in ordinary ways--by trickery, special effects or by poor experimental design--scientists accept that explanation as more parsimonious than to accept that the laws of physics should be rewritten.
The late Carl Sagan included telekinesis in a long list of "offerings of pseudoscience and superstition" which "it would be foolish to accept (...) without solid scientific data" though even highly improbable claims may possibly be eventually verified. He placed the burden of proof on the proponents, but cautioned readers to "await--or, much better, to seek--supporting or disconfirming evidence" for claims that have not been resolved either way. Nobel Prize laureate Richard Feynman advocated a similar position.
In their 1991 research paper Biological Utilization of Quantum Nonlocality, Nobel Prize laureate Brian Josephson and co-author Fotini Pallikara-Viras proposed that explanations for both psychokinesis and telepathy might be found in quantum physics.Gerald Feinberg's concept of a tachyon, a theoretical particle that travels faster than the speed of light has been advocated by some parapsychologists who claim that it could explain psychokinesis. Haakon Forwald (1897-1978) a Swedish electrical engineer suggested that psychokinesis of objects could occur due to gravitational fields produced by mental influence acting on neutrons in the atoms inside the objects, however his hypothesis has never been proven and critics have pointed out his hypothesis is faulted by general relativity.
There is a broad consensus, including several proponents of parapsychology, that PK research, and parapsychology more generally, has not produced a reliable, repeatable demonstration.
In 1984, the United States National Academy of Sciences, at the request of the US Army Research Institute, formed a scientific panel to assess the best evidence from 130 years of parapsychology. Part of its purpose was to investigate military applications of PK, for example to remotely jam or disrupt enemy weaponry. The panel heard from a variety of military staff who believed in PK and made visits to the PEAR laboratory and two other laboratories that had claimed positive results from micro-PK experiments.
The panel criticised macro-PK experiments for being open to deception by conjurors, and said that virtually all micro-PK experiments "depart from good scientific practice in a variety of ways". Their conclusion, published in a 1987 report, was that there was no scientific evidence for the existence of psychokinesis. Parapsychology advocates responded by accusing the panel of bias.
Research with random number generators has been influenced by signal detection theory, viewing the effect of PK as a weak but real "signal" hidden in the "noise" of experimental results. An effect too weak to be demonstrated in a replicable experiment would still show up as a statistically significant effect in a large set of data. To test this, parapsychologists have carried out meta-analyses of large data sets, with apparently impressive positive results. This has in turn been criticized as an invalid use of meta-analysis, since the original studies are too dissimilar for the resulting statistics to be meaningful. A 2006 meta-analysis of 380 studies found a small positive effect within the margin that could be explained by publication bias.
Physicist Robert L. Park finds it suspicious that a phenomenon should only ever appear at the limits of detectability of questionable statistical techniques. He cites this feature as one of Irving Langmuir's indicators of pathological science. Park argues that if PK really existed it would be easily and unambiguously detectable, for example using modern microbalances which can detect tiny amounts of force.
PK hypotheses are also tested implicitly in a number of contexts outside parapsychological experiments. Gardner considers a dice game played in casinos, where gamblers have a large incentive to affect the numbers that come up. This is in effect a large sample-size test of the same hypothesis as the J. B. Rhine dice experiments, but year after year the house takings are exactly those predicted by chance. Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey argues that many experiments in psychology, biology or physics assume that the intentions of the subjects or experimenter do not physically distort the apparatus. Humphrey counts them as replications of PK experiments (but implicitly so) in which PK fails to appear.
In the book Parapsychology: The Controversial Science (1991), British parapsychologist Richard S. Broughton, Ph.D, wrote of the differences of opinion among top scientists encountered by Robert G. Jahn, director of the (now-closed) PEAR laboratory, regarding the psychokinesis research that the lab was engaged in at the time.
Explanations in terms of bias:
Cognitive bias research has been interpreted to argue that people are susceptible to illusions of PK. These include both the illusion that they themselves have the power, and that events they witness are real demonstrations of PK. For example, Illusion of control is an illusory correlation between intention and external events, and believers in the paranormal have been shown to be more susceptible to this illusion than skeptics. Psychologist Thomas Gilovich explains this as a biased interpretation of personal experience. For example, to someone in a dice game willing for a high score, high numbers can be interpreted as "success" and low numbers as "not enough concentration." Bias towards belief in PK may be an example of the human tendency to see patterns where none exist, which believers are also more susceptible to.
A 1952 study tested for experimenter's bias in a PK context. Richard Kaufman of Yale University gave subjects the task of trying to influence eight dice and allowed them to record their own scores. They were secretly filmed, so their records could be checked for errors. The results in each case were random and provided no evidence for PK, but believers made errors that favoured the PK hypothesis, while disbelievers made opposite errors. A similar pattern of errors was found in J. B. Rhine's dice experiments which at that time were the strongest evidence for PK.
Wiseman and Morris (1995) showed subjects an unedited videotape of a magician's performance in which a fork bent and eventually broke. Believers in the paranormal were significantly more likely to misinterpret the tape as a demonstration of PK, and were more likely to misremember crucial details of the presentation. This suggests that confirmation bias affects people's interpretation of PK demonstrations. Psychologist Robert Sternberg cites confirmation bias as an explanation of why belief in psi phenomena persists, despite the lack of evidence: "People want to believe, and so they find ways to believe."
Psychologist Daniel Wegner has argued that an introspection illusion contributes to belief in psychokinesis. He observes that in everyday experience, intention (such as wanting to turn on a light) is followed by action (such as flicking a light switch) in a reliable way, but the underlying neural mechanisms are outside awareness. Hence though subjects may feel that they directly introspect their own free will, the experience of control is actually inferred from relations between the thought and the action. This theory of apparent mental causation acknowledges the influence of David Hume's view of the mind. This process for detecting when one is responsible for an action is not totally reliable, and when it goes wrong there can be an illusion of control. This could happen when an external event follows, and is congruent with, a thought in someone's mind, without an actual causal link.
As evidence, Wegner cites a series of experiments on magical thinking in which subjects were induced to think they had influenced external events. In one experiment, subjects watched a basketball player taking a series of free throws. When they were instructed to visualise him making his shots, they felt that they had contributed to his success.
Magic and special effects:
See also: Mentalism
Magicians, sleight-of-hand-artists, etc., have successfully simulated some of the specialized abilities of PK (object movement, spoon bending, levitation, teleportation), but not all of the feats of claimed spontaneous and intentional psychokinesis have been reproduced under the same observed conditions as the original. According to philosopher Robert Todd Carroll, there are many impressive magic tricks available to amateurs and professionals to simulate psychokinetic powers. These can be purchased on the Internet from magic supply companies. Metal objects such as keys or cutlery can be bent by a number of different techniques, even if the performer has not had access to them beforehand. Amateur-made videos alleging to show feats of psychokinesis, particularly spoon bending and the telekinetic movement of objects, can be found on video-sharing websites such as YouTube. Critics point out that it is now easier than ever for the average person to fake psychokinetic events and that without more concrete proof, the topic, apart from its enjoyment in fiction, will continue to remain controversial.
The need for PK researchers to be aware of conjuring techniques was illustrated by events in the early 1980s. The McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research at Washington University reported a series of experiments in which two subjects had demonstrated PK phenomena (including metal-bending and causing images to appear on film) and other psychic powers under laboratory conditions. Magician James Randi revealed that the subjects were two of his associates, amateur conjurers Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards. The pair had created the effects by standard trickery, but the researchers, being unfamiliar with magic techniques, interpreted them as proof of PK. The laboratory closed not long after.
Prize money for proof of psychokinesis:
Main article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prizes_for_evidence_of_the_paranormal
Internationally, there are several individual skeptics of the paranormal and skeptics' organizations who offer cash prize money for demonstration of the existence of an extraordinary psychic power, such as psychokinesis. Experimental design must be agreed upon prior to execution, and additional conditions, such as a minimum level of fame, may be imposed. Prizes have been offered specifically for PK demonstrations, for example businessman Gerald Fleming's offer of £250,000 to Uri Geller if he can bend a spoon under controlled conditions. These prizes remain uncollected by people claiming to possess paranormal abilities.
The James Randi Educational Foundation offers the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge to anyone who has a demonstrated media profile as well as the support from some member of the academic community, and who can produce a paranormal event, such as psychokinesis, in a controlled, mutually agreed upon experiment. To date no one has either been able to demonstrate their claimed abilities under the testing conditions or have not fulfilled the foundation conditions for taking the test; the prize money still remains to be claimed.
In religion, mythology and popular culture:
See also: List of superhuman features and abilities in fiction
There are written accounts and oral legends of events fitting the description of psychokinesis dating back to early history, most notably in the stories found in various religions and mythology, some examples of which follow.
In the Indian epic Mahabharata, Shakuni, one of the key characters uses his power to manipulate the dice used for playing the game of dice between Bhishma's grandchildren. Using his power he makes sure that Pandavas lose to Kauravas (the side Shakuni supports) and the main plot of Mahabharata starts from there.
In the Bible, Jesus is described as performing various miracles that have been described as psychokinesis, including turning water into wine, healing the sick, and multiplying food.
Mythological beings, such as witches, have been described as levitating people, animals, and objects. The wizard Merlin of the King Arthur legend is said to have used his powers to sail through the ocean in a house made of glass and transport Stonehenge across the sea from Ireland to England.
Psychokinesis has been an aspect in movies, television, computer games, literature, and other forms of popular culture, often presented as a superpower. An early example is the 1952 novella Telek by Jack Vance. Notable portrayals of psychokinetic characters include Sissy Spacek as a troubled high school student in the 1976 film Carrie (a 2013 remake stars Chloë Grace Moretz in the title role), based on the Stephen King novel of the same name;Ellen Burstyn in the healer-themed film Resurrection (1980); the Jedi and Sith in Star Wars; the Scanners in the film Scanners; and three high school seniors in the 2012 film Chronicle. Psychokinesis is also commonly used as a power in a number of videogames and role playing games.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license