- Education and Science
Can People Learn Telekinesis?
The ultimate power of the mind is not yet known
The power of the human mind is indeed impressive, but are people capable of performing astounding mental feats that defy scientific explanation? Most scientists would probably say of course not – that would be magic, while others try to keep an open mind regarding such matters.
One possible feat of the mind would be telekinesis (TK), Greek for “distant-movement,” also known as psychokinesis (PK) or “mind-movement.” People with such power can literally move or even transmute objects without touching or influencing them in any obvious physical way.
Let’s explore telekinesis to see if it’s more than just the proverbial parlor trick and, if it is something other than trickery and/or wishful thinking, can people learn TK if given the proper instruction and training:
History of Telekinesis
In 1890, Russian psychic researcher Alexander N. Aksakov invented the term telekinesis, which means remote influencing or mind over matter. Research into telekinesis began during the heyday of Spiritualism, a system of beliefs positing that everything was either matter or spirit. Belief in Spiritualism meant that if something was being moved without physical agency, then spirits or ghosts had to be responsible.
In the late 1800s to early 1900s, many spiritual mediums during séances or other demonstrations seemingly manifested telekinetic powers, though these instances almost certainly involved fakery. (It appeared to be a regular industry in those days!) At any rate, scientific investigation was mostly absent during such occurrences, because science hadn’t progressed enough to measure advanced mental processes.
In the modern era, telekinesis is considered an aspect of extrasensory perception or ESP, as described by research into parapsychology. Researchers utilize laboratory tests designed to prove that a person has telekinetic or psychokinetic powers. The test subject is asked to move atoms, molecules or subatomic particles, thereby evincing what could be called microtelekinesis. The subject may also be asked to influence a game of chance or project a mental image upon a photographic plate or, presumably, into the storage of a digital camera.
In 1958, parapsychologist William G. Roll invented the term “recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis,” when describing the sudden movement of objects when a test subject is present. In comparison, when such objects fly through the air and sometimes hit people, poltergeist activity is suspected. Roll theorized that telekinesis is psychic phenomena, that is, a combination of quantum mechanics and neuroscience, and that all individuals carry with them psi fields, containing psi information.
People with Telekinetic Powers
In the early 1900s, Stanislawa Tomczyk, a Polish woman, displayed telekinetic, poltergeist-like ability while in a hypnotic trance. Investigators noticed fine threads seemingly emanating from her fingers while these PK events transpired. Were these threads in fact wires used to conjure tricks? Back in 1910, Tomczyk was apparently tested under scientific conditions in Warsaw and displayed startling TK phenomena.
Over the years since then, many people have claimed to possess psychic powers of some sort, including telekinesis. Author Martin Caidin claimed in the middle 1980s that he could cause telekinetic movement by using “psi wheels.”
Since the 1970s, Uri Geller, a self-styled psychic, has told the world he possesses abilities such as psychokinesis and telepathy. Geller likes to bend spoons and reactivate broken watches, astonishing folks in audiences. But most of Geller’s feats are considered nothing more than magic tricks, using techniques such as sleight of hand.
Renowned psychic debunker James Randi has offered to test the alleged psychic abilities of supposed psychics such as Caidin and Geller, but none of them has taken the challenge. Randi has offered $1,000,000 to anyone who can demonstrate any paranormal or supernatural ability under laboratory conditions.
Also, throughout history many “godmen,” swamis, yogis or gurus, have claimed to possess miraculous powers, including telekinesis, though none of them have proven anything of the sort while adhering to scientific protocols.
The Russians, during the 1960s and ‘70s, studied ESP to a great extent. Researchers investigated Nina Kulagina while she allegedly performed telekinesis during numerous filmed demonstrations. The U.S. Department of Defense was particularly interested in Kulagina’s putative psychic ability.
Distant Movement and Science
Most scientists will tell you that telekinesis is impossible, because it violates the very laws of the universe, particularly the inverse square law, the second law of thermodynamics, conservation of momentum, as well as Einstein’s theories of relativity. Simply put, you can’t make anything move unless you act upon it with some kind of force.
Scientist Carl Sagan once said that “offerings of pseudoscience and superstition” would be foolish to accept without solid scientific data, though he added that possibilities such as telekinesis could eventually be verified.
Other scientists such as Brian Josephson have said that explanations for telekinesis and telepathy could be found during investigations into quantum mechanics, the properties of which are only beginning to be understood.
Interestingly, scientist Gerald Feinberg suggested in a paper in 1967 that a so-called tachyon could explain telekinesis. Tachyons, in theory, always move faster than the speed of light and do so by having a negative mass. Therefore, learning how to manipulate such astonishing particles could give one telekinetic powers! Unfortunately, the existence of tachyons remains more sci-fi fantasy than reality.
Telekinesis and the U.S. military
In 1984, the U.S. Army requested that the United States National Academy of Sciences form a panel to evaluate the findings of 130 years of research into parapsychology. Of course, the military was interested in possible military applications of telekinesis, such as the remote disruption of enemy weaponry. The panel made visits to the PEAR laboratory, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research lab, where apparent positive results for “micro-PK” were detected - a statistical difference of about one per cent, actually. But critics claimed these test results could be explained by publication or cognitive bias.
The panel published in 1987 a report stating it could find no scientific evidence for the existence of telekinesis. It appears the positive test results, as small as they were, could be described as the human tendency to see what it’s looking for.
Incidentally, failing to produce impressive test results, PEAR laboratory closed in 2007.
Telekinesis and Religion
Some enthusiasts and scholars of Christianity believe telekinesis is a spiritual gift. They point to passages in the Bible such as the Book of Acts, chapter 16, verse 26: "When Paul and Silas were arrested and imprisoned, a great earthquake struck, opening all of the doors of the prison and then Paul and Silas’ bands were loosed so they could escape." Perhaps some of Jesus’ miracles could be explained in such a way as well. For instance, faith healing could be an aspect of telekinesis.
Telekinesis and the Existence of Ghosts
Assuming that ghosts may exist, could watching them move something from place to place - or the movement of the ghosts themselves - be explained by telekinesis? That is, could the people who claim to see ghostly activity or locomotion actually be providing the movement? This tends to bring to mind the question: Is it easier to believe in the existence of ghosts or the possibility that people may have telekinetic ability?
Can a Person Learn Telekinesis?
Some people think that with sufficient knowledge and training a person can learn telekinesis. In an article titled "How I Learned TK" the author wrote that to practice TK one must first realize that everything in the universe is connected in an infinite cosmic web. Second, one must develop a sense of “empathy” with all objects. (If you want to move that chair across the room, then learn what the chair feels.) Third, one must learn to focus one’s energy upon an object; otherwise, it almost certainly will not move.
Obviously, learning the ability to perform telekinesis must be difficult if not impossible. So, can anybody do it? Moreover, has anybody ever been able to do it? The answers to those questions are up to the individual to ponder. But if TK isn’t possible, perhaps we should be grateful. Do we really want people moving stuff all over the place whenever they feel like it? Moving in a vehicle from one place to another – especially during rush hour traffic - can be troublesome enough as it is!
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© 2012 Kelley