Did you ever wonder if you have the power of telekinesis? You know, mind over matter? Sure you have. We’ve all tried something like this, so don’t deny it.
You’re sitting alone in your living room, watching television, when you suddenly need to change the channel. You reach over to the end table to grab the remote, but it’s not there. You realize in horror that it’s clear across the room, on the other end table.
You curse yourself for your lack of foresight and slowly accept the stark reality that you are going to have to, like, get up or something. You close your eyes and do a slow burn as you prepare to rise, but then you hear the voice:
Use the Force, Luke.
Yes! The Force! There are stories that real people can do stuff like that – bend spoons and levitate stuff or whatever. What the heck, there’s nobody around. It’s worth a shot.
With one eye closed and your tongue sticking out you focus all of your mental energy, and as the Star Wars theme song trumpets in your head you raise an open hand at the distant remote control.
Not even a wobble. Try again. No: Do, or do not. There is no try! Imagine the remote in your hand. Feel the Force around you, between you, the couch, the houseplant, the dog, even the remote. Believe and it will happen!
Muttering derogatory things about George Lucas, you eventually give up and plod over to where the remote sits on the end table.
Unfortunately, the Force is made up for movies. You can't use it to get your truck out of a snowbank with the wave of a hand or change someone’s mind by repeating your intentions slowly and deliberately. (The first is a waste of time and latter just annoys people.)
Or can you? Many researchers have found the powers of the mind to be far greater than we ever realized, and some incredible Jedi-like feats have been accomplished by people with apparent gifts.
It’s called Psychokinesis, and it may be a power we could all tap into, if we only knew how.
Psychokinesis is the ability of a person to act upon an object or otherwise affect the outcome of a situation using the power of their mind.
Telekinesis more directly relates to the movement of objects using the power of the mind, but psychokinetic powers may be used to manifest specific outcomes or events of just about any type.
The Jedi in the Star Wars movies have mastered their psychokinetic powers to an impressive degree. Can anyone really do that stuff in our world? The answer is sort of, if you believe the existing documentation.
Some researchers have produced incredible results with some very gifted subjects, but much of it has come under scrutiny. Of those individuals who claim to have such powers few have been able to reliably duplicate it under lab conditions. The most impressive cases still draw suspicion from the scientific community.
What’s the truth behind this phenomenon? Are psychokinesis and telekinesis real, or is it all a hoax? Is there any hope that the average person might develop these abilities, or is it only for the gifted? Will we get to the bottom of all of this before the end of this article? Who knows, but let’s give it a shot.
Psychokinetic powers have gained a dubious reputation through history for obvious reasons. Of course throughout just about every religious text there are examples of people and beings defying the physical laws of the universe, as there are in ancient legends of all sorts.
Mystical figures have done some wild things. And there lies the problem. Psychokinesis is thought of by most people as a paranormal happening, not as a scientifically measurable ability. Despite over a century of research, it still remains firmly planted in the realm of parapsychology.
The word telekinesis was first used in 1890 by Russian researcher and spiritualist Alexandr Aksakov, though he attributed it more to ghostly activity than psychic phenomenon. Aksakov organized séances and wrote books on paranormal powers as well as conducted research with several prominent mediums of the time.
The term psychokinesis was perpetuated by parapsychology researcher J.B. Rhine in the early 20th century, though he did not invent the word. Rhine wrote books on ESP and other aspects of parapsychology. He conducted experiments on psychokinesis in the 1930s, testing his subjects’ ability to affect the outcome of a pair of thrown dice. Some of his results were mildly impressive, and the experiment as a whole at least showed statistical promise. Unfortunately many of his contemporaries were unable to replicate them, which severely reduced their potential impact.
Rhine’s dice experiments involved dice thrown by hand, from a cup and by a machine. The test was simple: Rhine would ask subjects to will the dice to land in a pre-specified configuration. After several attempts at one goal, he’d move them on to a different configuration.
After a few years he had conducted over half a million dice throws, and had sufficiently reviewed his data to publish a paper on his finding in 1943. Rhine concluded that there was likely a psychokinetic affect present in at least some of the cases.
Later in the 1970s German researcher Helmut Schmidt would perform similar experiments, putting psychokinesis to the test using random number generators. Schmidt, too, decided his subjects were exerting at least some affect over the outcome of the numbers, suggesting a 1-2 % success rate beyond chance alone.
Throughout the 20th century similar tests were held, some showing impressive results, indicating that psychokinesis is a real ability possessed by at least some people. Some of the most extensive work had been done at Princeton University at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory. In experiments conducted from 1979 to 2007 Princeton researchers found minute but tangible results when measuring the psychokinetic abilities of subjects.
But minute is the key word. After nearly three decades in operation the Princeton projects proved less than a 1% success rate as compared to random chance. They called this number significant, but many do not agree.
So what would it take to prove to mainstream science that psychokinesis is real? Probably it would mean that one indisputable “wow” case that floors everyone. It would mean evidence that is so obvious that it can’t be challenged.
Well, here are some of the most compelling cases we’ve got (so far).
All of the personalities listed above have their advocates and detractors. None can definitively prove the power of the mind over objects or situations, and none can show, without exception, that they can exhibit their powers to the satisfaction of the scientific community.
But, if this power really exists, what if some of us who are capable of it are unaware of our ability? This is one hypothesis behind poltergeist activity.
Poltergeists are spirits who are said to cause mischief in a specific location by moving objects, causing mysterious sounds and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Obviously the existence of these spirits is as tough to prove as any paranormal phenomenon. But some claim there is no ghostly involvement at all, and the shenanigans are all caused by the unwitting psychic intervention of one or more people.
It is surmised that children, teens in particular, undergo brief periods of psychic volatility that may cause telekinetic activity they are neither aware of nor can control. This may be something that follows a person for life, as some poltergeists are said to, or it may last a short time as the person goes through a particularly difficult period.
It’s an interesting idea, but unfortunately no more provable than any other.
On the surface you can’t blame hardcore scientists and psychologists for dismissing the idea of psychokinesis out of hand. The theory definitely has a few things working against it:
Does this mean psychokinesis isn’t a real phenomena? That depends on your point of view, of course.
This article has only scratched the surface of psychic phenomenon. Over the decades researchers have conducted experiments in related fields such as remote viewing, clairvoyance, automatic writing and telepathy. It all sounds like science fiction, but scientists are only beginning to unravel the true power of the human mind. Who knows what we may find when we finally unlock our full potential?
Interesting, too, are advancements of understanding in fields such as quantum mechanics and molecular physics. It seems the more researchers dig, the stranger things get. For instance, we now know it’s possible for the same electron to be in two places at the same time. If such a thing is possible on a sub-atomic level, might we see a day when it could be extrapolated to the world at large?
Will we have Jedi-like powers some day? It would be nice to be able to get that remote control without getting off the couch, but the implications go quite a bit further than that. Our entire world would be changed, and the way we communicate, do business and relate to one another altered forever.
And certainly there would be those who used the power for evil, creating a whole new class of psychological warfare between super-psychic criminals and the super-psychic good guys.
Perhaps we ought not to rush too fast into such a future. As curious as we are, maybe the speed at which we’re traveling is just about perfect.