Telekinesis: A History
The Influx of Telekinesis Research
When did the concept of telekinesis come into the consciousness of ordinary people?
It was in 1960s when a Russian woman named Nina Kulagina was filmed moving objects on a table that created a stir among many psychic researchers around the world. She was a mere housewife when her abilities were discovered.
Another ordinary man who reportedly can move objects without touching was Juan, a young Cuban-born lad who worked as a clerk in a Miami souvenir warehouse. He seemed to be not able to control his abilities as reportedly mugs fell off from shelves or other items flew off from another part of the warehouse and broke. This caught the interest of William G. Roll, the project director then of the Physical Research Foundation of Durham in North Carolina, USA. Roll, being an acknowledged expert on poltergeist phenomena, started to probe on the case to check if the matter was real (no invisible black threads, etc). He eventually called on the young man to test his psychokinetic ability in the laboratory of the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man. The result? The man was found to be just above average. (David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace, The People’s Almanac, 1975-1981)
That Cuban guy may have been perturbed after that (did he made those things fly or was he being spooked?), and he is probably not alone. A number of personalities emerged then, and even way before, who’d displayed their telekinetic abilities. Names that come to mind aside from psychic Nina Kulagin were Miroslaw Magola, Matthew Manning, Eusapia Palladino, Felicia Parise, and Swami Rama. (See next story on They claimed to be Telekinetic)
These cases of people with telekinesis abilities had eventually prompted more studies and research about telekinesis.
In September 2006, a poll on various religious and paranormal topics was circulated, asking Americans on their belief about telekinesis. Based from the survey conducted, 28% of male participants and 31% of female participants answered they agree and/or strongly agree to the question: “Is it possible to influence the world through the mind alone?” About 1,721 participants had participated in the said poll. (Study conducted by the Gallup Organization, Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, of Waco, Texas, 2005)
An online survey, on the other hand, was also run in April 2008 by British psychologist Richard Wiseman entitled “Magicians and the Paranormal”, wherein 400 magicians worldwide participated. In the question of “Do you believe psychokinesis exists?” surprisingly 83.5% of the magicians answered No, while 9% answered Yes and 7.5% remained uncertain. (“Magicians and the Paranormal: A Survey”, Richard Wiseman, April 23, 2008.)
Research papers such as Biological Utilization of Quantum Nonlocality by Nobel Prize laureate Brian Josephson and co-author Fotini Pallikara-Viras suggested that the phenomenon of psychokinesis and telekinesis might find answers in quantum physics. Josephson proposed that “consciousness-mediated events represent a form of biological utilization of quantum nonlocality, and that the nonlocality observed in the subatomic domain will eventually explain nonlocal events at the macroscopic, molar levels of life” (Josephson and Pallikara-Villas, 1991). Biological nonlocality explores about the differences between living organisms and the kind that is studied in the physics laboratory.
“The perception of reality by biosystems is based on different, and in certain respects more effective, principles than those utilized by the more formal procedures of science. As a result, what appears as random pattern to the scientific method can be meaningful pattern to a living organism. The existence of this complementary perception of reality makes possible in principle effective use by organisms of the direct interconnections between spatially separated objects shown to exist in the work of J. S. Bell. ” (Josephson, Brian D.; Pallikari-Viras, Fotini, Foundations of Physics, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp.197-207)
Telekinesis and Skepticism
Early 1980s, the McDonnell Laboratory for Physical Research at Washington University conducted series of experiments where psychokinesis and other psychic powers were ably performed. Psychic abilities performed sufficiently for the staff of the McDonnel Laboratory includes: metal bending and images appearing on film. Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards, amateur associates of Magician James Randi, conjured up those acts. However, they proved to be a hoax afterwards by the researchers and the said laboratory was later then closed.
From the standpoint of most scientists, there said to be no clear evidence for telekinesis. Mainstream scientists choose to associate the act of things being moved as not having to do with telekinetic power, but instead blame this movement on thin threads, static charges and even quick, choreographed movement from another solid force. It is believed by mainstream scientists that static electricity and warm air currents can produce movement from very light objects, attributing to the movement of small items. This reasoning can seen by the existence today of illustrations books using straws, papers and psi wheels to demonstrate telekinesis.
It was another thing to see the extent of a person’s belief about telekinesis under experimental science methods. An experimenter’s bias (in which the outcome of the experiment is more likely the result of the experimenter’s influence) resulted to a 1952 study by Richard Kaufman from Yale University which shows errors in its study of telekinesis using dice. However, believers of psychokinesis (PK) made errors that favored the PK hypothesis. On the other hand, Psychologist Robert Sternberg’s confirmation bias experiment (in which the subject’s answer becomes bias based from his or her memories and beliefs), explains the growing belief about existence of psychokinesis despite the lack of evidence. The experiment surmised that “People want to believe and so they find ways to believe.”
Until in 1979, a former Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University invented a special research lab on psychokinesis research. Robert G. Jahn set up the (now-closed) PEAR or Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory to study mind over matter. Under its sensitive instruments and careful calculations with the use of advance machines, micro-psychokinesis or Micro-PK emerged. Micro-PK was coined from the number of subjects tested which remarkably revealed that – in its subtle influence, the human mind can very well affect inanimate objects, machines and even people.
Jhan’s colleague, Brenda Dunne, a developmental psychologist and manager of PEAR, expressed in an interview: “How can you talk about a reality that has no place for human consciousness – the very human consciousness that created that world view in the first place?”… “If you consider the world an extension of yourself, it becomes a better place.” (Rogier Van Bakel, Mind Over Matter, Wired 1994-2003) Dunne believes of the human consciousness connection with the physical world. In one demonstration at the PEAR lab, she used the power of her mind (and a bit of coaxing using her voice) to alter results of a random event generator (REG) machine.
The United States of National Academy of Sciences also formed a scientific panel in 1984 to assess best evidence of parapsychology. Visits were started to be made in PEAR lab and in other labs which scrutinized micro-PK experiments.
The power of the mind was also affirmed by Amit Goswami, a theoretical nuclear physicist and professor of Physics at the Institute of Theoretical Sciences at the University of Oregon, saying that “consciousness is the ground of all being.” (An Interview with Amit Goswami, Craig Hamilton – What is Enlightment?, October 2008)
Those scientists mentioned above are just three out of the growing number of mainstream scientists and engineers who are believers and/or converts, of another kind, on the existence of psychokinesis. They joined these scientists and professionals below who are very keen on the study of telekinesis.
Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine of Durham, North Carolina established standards in studying psychokinesis. The Rhine technique is actually product from observing gamblers coaxing dice to fall for the choice number bet. W.E. Cox developed a PK machinery for this in Rhine’s lab.
Psychologist Daniel Wegner geared his research towards the theory that introspection illusion contributes to one’s belief in psychokinesis. Such illusion is about being confident despite of being wrong regarding a person’s own behavior or thinking (such as an agent swears to remain objective in choosing the right talent for a show when he already have his own bias preferences).
A study made by psychologist Emily Pronin and her team from Princeton University on magical thinking, supports the belief that psychokinesis may work similar to a basketball player able to make the shot by letting the subjects visualize him making the shot. (How about that for moral support?!)
Robert M. Scoch, a Boston University professor, once written his admission that “…some psychokinesis is real” based from the evidence obtained by the PEAR laboratory experiments and reports on macro-PK taken out from poltergeist cases.
Best-selling Authors Michael Crichton and senior scientist Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences expressed their belief about telekinesis after they were successfully able to bend a bowl of spoon during PK parties. (Travels,Michael Crichton, 1988; Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, Dean Radin, 2006)
Although the results were negative and that it was concluded that telekinesis was highly improbable, Astronomer Carl Sagan felt certain that telekinesis could still be verified. (The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan, 1995) Physicist Richard Feynman was in the same ground with Sagan that despite of the results, telekinesis still needs more scientific study. (The Meaning of It All, Richard P. Feynman, 1999)
Although much promising research has been made, the current view concerning telekinesis by mainstream science is still skeptic at best, until there is a solid, repeatable experiment demonstrating macro – telekinesis. (The book Parapsychology: The Controversial Science (1991) by Richard S. Broughton, Ph. D., British parapsychologist, documented the differences of opinion among the top scientists as encountered by Jahn of the then useful PEAR lab.)
Looking at all these show of interest, controversies and the growing study about telekinesis and its results, just illustrates that some science circles now seem to be accepting the possibility of telekinesis. Science might be proving soon that telekinesis exists and the implication could be that astounding.