Psychokinesis (PK)

20th January 2020. Reading Time: 7 minutes Paranormal Theories, General. 1132 page views. 4 comments.

Spoon bending, Carrie and Stranger Things. These are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Psychokinesis. What exactly does it mean and how is it tested? Let's explore this physical ability further!

Psychokinesis (PK) or telekinesis refers to an alleged psychic ability which allows a person to affect another physical item by using only the power of their mind.  Bending spoons for example may be the first thing that comes to mind.  It is probably one of the more well known theorised abilities within the psychic world, however results under scientific experimental conditions don’t really yield conclusive results.  If anything, a lot of the results themselves lack credibility due to the amount of people who have ‘faked’ this ability.  That doesn’t mean however that this is not possible.  People even theorise that some may not be aware of this ability and could be unknowingly causing their own haunting so to speak.  So let’s explore this in a little more depth.

What is psychokinesis?

Known as PK for short, the word psychokinesis comes from the Greek words ‘mind’ and ‘motion’.  It was coined in 1914 by Henry Holt who was an American author in his book “On the Cosmic Relations”.  Psyche which refers to a person’s mind or soul and the word kinesis

Meaning movement or motion.  It is the concept which basically combines mind and matter.  You will have heard the phrase “Mind over matter”.  This is telling a person to use their mind to overcome the physical situation you are in.  Using your mind to influence matter means that a person is using their mind to physically make an object move without touching it.  This essentially is what psychokinesis is. 

PK is probably one of the more impressive psychical abilities if proven to be true because of the way it is portrayed in movies.  Movies like Carrie where a troubled girl got revenge on all those who made fun of her at high school by moving objects with her mind or the X Men movies.  More recently, you may think of the character Eleven from Stranger Things.  They all explore the concept of people using their minds to move objects.  While bending spoons and other more obvious styles of psychokinesis are considered to be advanced telekinesis and considerably rare, micro pk is an area that parapsychologists seem to have taken the most interest because it seems to be a more plausible when it comes to psychic ability.  The simple concept of being able to influence the roll of a dice for example.

Rhine Trials

You will remember I have spoken about famous parapsychologist J B Rhine in the past and his trials with Zener cards.  His research went much further than just testing Zener cards.  He was also involved with testing PK as well.  In the early 1930’s, Rhine was visited by a young gambler who claimed that it wasn’t just luck on his side, that he was able to successfully rolls the number he willed with his mind.  Given that it was a fairly easy thing to test, Rhine started with some trials.  The initial results were underwhelming, however thought there was something to the idea and began a set of trials.  Certain measures were taken to stop the sitters from influencing the results in a deceptive way.  Cups were used so that the dice could not be thrown in a certain way (admit it, we have all done this playing Monopoly!).  As testing evolved, the dice was then placed in electrical rotating cages (almost like a lotto draw) and photographed automatically to avoid an experimenter error.  Subjects were shown a picture of the number on the dice they were to manipulate and then had to concentrate and ‘will’ the number to appear.

Image Source: Margaret A Harrell

Along with many of his trials, Rhine faced a lot of criticism with many believing it was not a credible way to prove the existence of PK.  Rhine continued to evolve his testing by tightening controls.  Magicians have been able to replicate this phenomena in many ways to using certain weighted dice to creating a special throwing technique.  

Random Number Generators

Another famous parapsychologist who has down extensive work with PK is that of Helmut Schmidt.  Working out of the Rhine institute, in the early 1970’s Schmidt pioneered the way with his research into the effects of the human consciousness on random number generators.  The same tests were often used for precognition testing which would make it difficult for the tester to determine if a correct result was from precognition or the sitter using PK - meaning were they manipulating the results, or psychically predicting the results?

In one of the earlier trials, Schmidt created a box similar to the above complete with buttons and LED lights.  An algorithm was programed in that would make the lights flash in a certain sequence.  For example. the red light was programed to flash a certain amount of times compared to the green light.  It was the roll of the sitter to psychically change the results.

Previous to this study, several independent researchers had reported the existence of a PK effect. The present study confirms the existence of the effect under particularly well-controlled conditions where the participation of independent observers precludes experimenter error, or even fraud.

The PK effect appears as an anomalous correlation between the outcome of random events and the mental state of a human subject observing the outcome. The effect is only partly under voluntary control and may depend on subconscious expectations, wishes, and fears of the observer.

Although the effect is usually weak, it may be of practical importance in cases where conclusions have to be drawn from limited statistical evidence. A physicist trying to confirm his own theory experimentally might subconsciously generate a PK effect that could shift the outcome by, say, two standard deviations in the desired direction. Similarly, the fear of failure might induce PK effects opposite to the desired direction. This could play a practical role in critical procedures such as the launching of a satellite where, as we know from experience, elements of chance cannot be completely excluded, and where even a small reduction of the failure rate could be economically significant.

Helmut Schmidt

If you would like to read the comprehensive paper written by Helmut Schmidt describing in detail how the trials were conducted and the results, you can find it here:

Psychokinetic metal bending

This is probably one of the more well known yet controversial examples of PK.  Many skeptics argue it is nothing more than a stage trick, while many psychic mediums claim they are able to bend the spoons using merely the power of their mind.  Practice makes perfect in this instance with many workshops and development classes available that claim to teach people how to use their mind to influence the environment around them. 

One of the more famous spoon benders is that of Uri Geller.  You have probably heard of him or seen him on television demonstrating his alleged ability to bend spoons using telepathic powers.  Skeptics have long argued that it is an optical illusion created by rubbing the spoon which gives the illusion that the spoon itself is bending.  Whether or not Geller is the real deal remains quite a controversial topic and while the results have never satisfied the Scientific community, researchers are still fascinated with this concept and believe there is evidence to suggest that PK and metal bending is potentially possible.

I am not going to go into spoon bending in too much detail but if it is in fact possible to manipulate the environment around us just using our mind, what could that mean for potential paranormal events?

PK and the paranormal

You have to wonder just how much the mind has an influence when it comes to the paranormal.  Of course we argue that our brain plays tricks on us (I mean I wrote a whole book about it), but we also need to explore what the brain could potentially be capable of when it comes to creating paranormal phenomena.  It is a rare occurrence, by sometimes on a paranormal investigation, things move.  One of the more common things you think of is things like a ball or a door.  People will ask the spirits to move the ball or close the door.  If you are focusing on it expecting it to close, are you unknowingly moving it yourself?  It is weak in one person but potentially a lot stronger with several people.  If you have a room of 15-20 all looking at the ball wanting it to move, is that enough to make it move?  Is this a demonstration of PK?  When researchers talking about poltergeists, they often think it could be caused by a living person using the ability of PK, but they are unaware of it.  A person's mental state is said to be a factor as well as hormones.  Could this imbalance heighten potential abilities?

Can our mind manipulate our surroundings?  This is the big question.  What do you think?

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  • Philip Dawes 1 year ago

    Mind is the motivating factor of the Universe. When focussed with 100% intent mind can destroy or create worlds. Mind was used to transport the gigantic stone blocks used to create structures in the ancient world.

  • Becky B. 1 year ago

    Ok. So, where does the ability to make your reflection disappear in a mirror, fall under? Would this ability fall under the category of PK? After all, I am using my mind to make my reflection disappear.
    Why I ask this is because I discovered I have the ability to make my reflection disappear in a mirror. The fastest I've made it happen was here at home, in four minutes flat. The first time I did it I had four witnesses with me who freaked out when I disappeared before their eyes. Lol!

    • LLIFS 1 year ago

      I suppose in theory because you are using your mind to influence your surroundings it would come under the category of PK I think? I haven't come across people being able to make their reflection disappear in my research so now I am going to look into it LOL If I find something I will let you know :)

      • Becky B. 1 year ago

        Thanks for checking. I've looked all over as well and found nothing on the subject, except for the possibility of being a vampire. Oh, my!

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