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.
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.
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.”4 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 Encyclopedia, 1992, pp. 551-552.
4 Ibid, p. 552.