Psychokinesis, a form of psi, meaning that apparently it is a technique of mind over matter through invisible means. Examples of PK are movements of objects, bending of metals, and determining the outcome of events. It can occur spontaneously and deliberately which indicates it is both an unconscious and conscious process.
The term psychokinesis is derived from the Greek words psyche meaning “breath,” “life,” or “soul,” and kinein meaning “to move.” The occurrences of PK have been recorded since ancient times. The occurrences include levitation, miraculous healings, luminosities, apports, and other physical phenomena attributed to holy persons and adepts of magic around the world. Such phenomena is recorded in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, in the Book of Acts. One example is cited in which St. Paul and Silas where imprisoned in Ephesus where they prayed and sung hymns, and at midnight their shackles fell off as the prison doors swung opened (Acts 16:19-40).
It is thought that possibly magic spells, curses, and rituals to control the weather may involve PK. The use of the evil eye has been placed within this classification.
Manifestations of PK have occurred in spiritualism such as alleged materialisations and dematerialisations, apports, levitations, table-tipping, raps, and the appearances of ectoplasm and pseudopods. One 19th century practitioner, D. D. Holmes, was known for his ability to levitate and to handle hot coals without being burned. But, also during this time, there were individuals known as “electric people” who experienced a “high-voltage syndrome”. They made knives and forks cling to their skin and with a touch could send furniture flying across a room.
At the beginning of the 20th century Rudi Schneider, another medium known for his PK ability of materialisation and telekinesis of objects, was studied by psychical researchers.
Twentieth Century Research
Since the 1930s interest in PK has increased until it has created on of the fastest growing fields of research in parapsychology. This is particularly true within the Soviet Union and the United States. However, results from clinically controlled studies have been contradictory. Some of the studies were attacked for the methodology while others were accused of being tainted by fraud.
It can be stated that psychokinesis does occur. By the necessary conditions and requirements for its occurrence, patterns have been identified according to experimenters and subjects, but it is known such patterns do not apply in all circumstances.
An American parapsychologist at Duke University in North Carolina, J. B. Rhine began conducting PK experiments in 1934. Although he was not the first to study PK, he did so after conducting ESP experiments which yielded significant results. Rhine’s subject was a gambler who claimed to be able to influence the fall of the dice to roll certain numbers or number combinations. Early experimental data showed results far beyond the probabilities of chance, but later testing data yielded uneven results.
Rhine did not immediately publish his findings for several reasons: PK suffered a dubious reputation at the time; he had occasionally used himself as a subject; and his studies were very insignificantly controlled. He finally published his findings when an assistant noted that subjects scored significantly better at the dice in the early part of the sessions than toward the end. This tendency, attributed to a decrease of interest on the part of the subjects, had been observed in ESP experiments too.
In the publication of his experiments Rhine reported that he observed that PK does not seem to connect with any physical process of the brain, or to be subject to any of the mechanical laws of physics. Rather, it does seem to be a non-physical force of the mind which can act on matter in statically measurable ways. The results produced cannot be explained by physics.
Rhine further concluded that PK was similar to ESP in that both were independent of space and time. ESP was a necessary part of the PK process, and that one signifies the other. In order to exert an influence over matter, such as tossed dice, ESP has to come into play at a critical point in space, and at the right moment in time. Both PK and ESP were influenced by drugs, hypnosis, and the subject’s state of mind.
Also, it was Rhine’s belief that faith healing and folk magic healing were PK phenomena, in which a psychogenic effect, sometimes at a distance, was exerted on the body.
Rhine’s research marked the beginning of a new era in PK experimentation. Before 1940 most observations in PK occurred through physical mediumship which was generally performed in dark settings of séances. It was practically impossible to establish any scientific control within such settings and there were many accusations of fraud. Following Rhine’s work, the experimentation of PK was divided into two categories: macro-PK, or observable events; and, micro-PK, weak or slight effects not observable to the naked eye and requiring statistical evaluation. More emphasis was placed on micro-PK.
During the late 1960s a new method of testing micro-PK was developed by the American physicist Helmut Schmidt. His apparatus known as the “electronic coin flipper” operated on the random decay of radioactive particles. As the decay occurs the particles or rays are emitted at rates which are unaffected by temperature, pressure, electricity, magnetism, or chemical change. Such a rate of emission is completely unpredictable and cannot be manipulated by fraud.
In experiments, subjects were asked to exert their mental energy to influence the flipping of the coins, so to attempt to make them come up heads or tails so the bulbs on the apparatus would light up in one direction or the other. Some subjects did successfully influence the coin toss. The electronic coin flipper was the prototype of random event generators, computerised techniques which have since played a major role in both ESP and PK testing and have produced significant PK test results.
Schmidt was also interested in determining animal-PK. In tests, animals produced some positive results, but Schmidt found the interpretation difficult. He theorised that the experimenter could influence the results by using his own PK upon the experimental subjects. His theory has been proven accurate because this has been determined to be an obstacle in all psi-testing of animals. It is virtually impossible to tell which is exhibiting the PK ability, the animal or researcher. Because of this obstacle little has been done in animal-PK testing, but whenever such testing has occurred Schmidt’s guidelines have been used.
Among the most notable macro-PK exhibits was what is now called the “Geller Effect.” This was during the 1960’s when macro-PK experiments became popular again. The Israeli psychic Uri Geller amazed television audiences with his metal bending feats. These feats were performed in a studio and not under controlled conditions. With a few raps and some mental concentration the feats seemed to be accomplished. Geller’s powers seemed to be so powerful that some viewers said some of their household objects underwent similar changes. But, Geller was unsuccessfully able to duplicate the feats under laboratory conditions. Critics, mostly professional magicians, claim Geller had used sleight-of-hand, although such claims went unproved.
The Soviets revealed their most famous PK subject to the West in 1968. A housewife from Leningrad, Nina Kulagina, born in the mid-1920s demonstrated her abilities to Western scientists who observed the movements of many different sizes and types of stationary objects; the altering of the course of objects already in motion; and impressions on photographic film. She was also reported to have exerted PK effect on the heart of a frog, which had been removed from the animal. She first changed its rate of beating, and then completely stopped it. Kulagina was photographed apparently levitating objects.
Tests in both macro-PK and micro-PK have continued with increased sophisticated methodology. Experimenters focused their attention on psychics, mediums, and others who could apparently influence static objects and materials. There were various experiments and results. One subject Ingo Swann, a New York artist and psychic, could change the temperature of object close to him by one degree; also, he could affect the magnetic field of a magnetometer.
Other PK experiments have concerned animals and plants. Healers have held wounded mice; and water to be applied to barley seeds. Both showed impressive results. PK effects have been observed in micro-organisms and enzymes. In some cases the effect is slight and might not be replicated, but to researchers these results hold promise that they may lead to further findings which will lead to further knowledge about the healing process.
Associated with these types of experiments is what is known at the “linger effect.” An example of this is when the subject has raise or lowered the temperature and the temperature continues to rise or fall for some time after the subject leaves. Water which has been held by a healer which seemed to influence growth of plants allegedly seems to influence their growth even after it has been boiled.
There are other types of PK which have been studied but are viewed with a fair amount of scepticism. One of these types is the activity of a poltergeist. Such activity includes repeated, unexplained sounds, breaking of china, or other mysterious activity in a house or small area. There are well-authenticated reports describing flying rocks, or heavy furniture moving when no person was found, or known to be at the time at the point of origin of the activity.
Poltergeist activity is generally associated with children or adolescents. One suggestion for this is that the activity is caused from a strong repression of hostility. In the Middle Ages, the cause was frequently thought to be the Devil, or a demon possessing a person, but currently it is thought to be a manifestation of PK activity.
Another type of PK activity is thought by those who experience it to be associated with death, danger or other emotional crisis. In such incidents persons reports falling pictures, clocks which stop, or stopped clocks which start and shattering of glasses. The person feels these incidents have indicated a death, or some highly emotional crisis.
PK research is currently being done in the areas of meditation and other altered states of consciousness. Experiments also are being conducted to determine the existence of retroactive PK, or “retro-PK” where subjects try to influence an event such as a sequence of numbers as produced by a random event generator. The subjects try after the event has happened. However, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of the PK effect being unconsciously exerted by the subject or the experimenter on the generator during the number selection.
Although PK is not generally acknowledged by scientists, many parapsychologists believe that well-controlled experiments have established its existence. Thus far laboratory tests have not established this exclusively. Results on the whole have been insignificant. But, the greater potential, many believe, that PK testing will open up wider capacities for mental ability.