Psychokinesis – Is it in your head?


Uri Geller in Moscow (Russia)
Uri Geller in Moscow, Russia via Wikipedia

Also called PK, psychokinesis (Greek: psyː.kʰɛ̌ː  +  kī́nēsis) is a form of psi in which a person’s thoughts allegedly affect objects without physical contact.¹

PK usually involves moving or modifying objects in space. One of the most famous exponents of transforming objects is Uri Geller, who has bent spoons in public, apparently with the power of his mind.

Detractors of PK like James Randi suggest that Geller is a fraud, using trickery without possessing the integrity to call himself a conjurer or a magician.

PK performances on TV and the internet are virtually impossible to verify. Even the simplest video editing software could produce the illusion of, say, spoon-bending. And a classic bimetalic strip could be built in to customized spoons.

The scientific community generally says there is no conclusive, publicly verifiable support for psychokinesis. However, we have numerous reports over the years of objects spontaneously moving, making noise and, more recently, of appliances switching on or off in relation to strong emotions of anger or fear. For instance, I heard a story from a friend that another mutual friend became enraged and the kitchen stove came on.

Artist conception of spontaneous psychokinesis from 1911 French magazine La Vie Mysterieuse via Wikipedia

Carl Jung believed that he experienced a kind of automatic PK when arguing with a skeptical Sigmund Freud, ironically enough, about the reality of paranormal phenomena.

Apparently while speaking with Freud, Jung’s diaphragm tightened up and felt unusually warm. Suddenly an explosive sound came from a bookcase in Freud’s study, where the two men were squabbling. Jung then claimed, so the story goes, the sound was an example of “catalytic exteriorization” but Freud was unconvinced.

The bookcase again made a loud noise. More impressed this time, apparently Freud continued to hear the sound after Jung left. To this John and Ann Spencer ask whether the fault lay in the bookcase or if, perhaps, Freud became angry enough to somehow cause it to emit noise.²

As a former volunteer in the paranormal category at the now defunct allexperts.com, I read quite a few reports of psychokinesis related phenomena. Were some of these authentic or were all of these reports merely the product of wannabe fantasy writers? I can’t be sure.

Spirit photography hoaxer Édouard Isidore Buguet. (1840-1901) of France fakes telekinesis in this 1875 cabinet card photograph titled Fluidic Effect via Wikipedia

Historically, countless tricksters and cheats have meddled with photos, metal objects or used sleight of hand, trying to convince others of the reality of PK. If by chance the mind could affect matter at a distance, this long history of hoaxers only serves to make genuine claimants seem like charlatans.

It is true that both Russian and American intelligence agencies have shown an interest in paranormal phenomena.³

Whether or not the controlled American results were statistically insignificant, as we commonly hear, remains unknown. If anyone did have the power to read minds or, as with PK, affect matter at a distance, chances are such an ability would be kept secret.

With so much fake news these days, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to suppose there could be a massive disconnect between what we hear and what’s actually happening in any given country.

Meanwhile, believers in PK tend to portray scoffers and skeptics as “acting like people who have evidence of a crime and hide it.”And although most paranormal claims do not hold up in laboratory conditions, believers say that artificial setups kill the vibe or that the subtle mechanism of psi just doesn’t work that way.

¹ Another common word for this alleged ability is telekinesis.

² John and Ann Spencer, Encyclopedia of the World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries, 1995, p. 260. This explanation is conceivable but a bit too ad hoc for me.

³ Stuart Gordon, The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia1992, pp. 551-552.

4 Ibid, p. 552.

An advertising poster depicting magician Harry Kellar performing the “Levitation of Princess Karnac” illusion, 1894, U.S. Library of Congress via Wikipedia
Advertisements

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.