Extra Sensory: The Science and Pseudoscience of Telepathy and Other Powers of the Mind

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Brian Clegg writer. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist. I Agree This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and if not signed in for advertising. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms. Members Reviews Popularity Average rating Conversations 15 None , 3 None Examines whether ESP, telekinesis, and other seemingly supernatural abilities are actual talents or manifestations of fantasy, documenting the research of scientists while assessing the possible physical mechanisms for ESP.

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No library descriptions found. Book description. Haiku summary. Add to Your books. According to Stenger their paper is "filled with impressive looking equations and calculations that give the appearance of placing psychokinesis on a firm scientific footing Yet look what they have done. They have found the value of one unknown number wavefunction steps that gives one measured number the supposed speed of PK-induced motion.

This is numerology, not science. Physicist Sean M. Carroll has written that spoons, like all matter, are made up of atoms and that any movement of a spoon with the mind would involve the manipulation of those atoms through the four forces of nature : the strong nuclear force , the weak nuclear force , electromagnetism , and gravitation. Psychokinesis would have to be either some form of one of these four forces, or a new force that has a billionth the strength of gravity, for otherwise it would have been captured in experiments already done.

This leaves no physical force that could possibly account for psychokinesis.


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Physicist Robert L. Park has found it suspicious that a phenomenon should only ever appear at the limits of detectability of questionable statistical techniques. He cites this feature as one of Irving Langmuir 's indicators of pathological science. Cognitive bias research has suggested that people are susceptible to illusions of PK. These include both the illusion that they themselves have the power, and that the events they witness are real demonstrations of PK.

For example, someone in a dice game wishing for a high score can interpret high numbers as "success" and low numbers as "not enough concentration. A study tested for experimenter's bias with respect to psychokinesis. Richard Kaufman of Yale University gave subjects the task of trying to influence eight dice and allowed them to record their own scores. They were secretly filmed, so their records could be checked for errors. Believers in psychokinesis made errors that favored its existence, while disbelievers made opposite errors.

A similar pattern of errors was found in J. Rhine 's dice experiments, which were considered the strongest evidence for PK at that time. In , Wiseman and Morris showed subjects an unedited videotape of a magician's performance in which a fork bent and eventually broke. Believers in the paranormal were significantly more likely to misinterpret the tape as a demonstration of PK, and were more likely to misremember crucial details of the presentation. This suggests that confirmation bias affects people's interpretation of PK demonstrations.

Some of the worst examples of confirmation bias are in research on parapsychology Arguably, there is a whole field here with no powerful confirming data at all.

Brian Clegg - Extra Sensory

But people want to believe, and so they find ways to believe. Psychologist Daniel Wegner has argued that an introspection illusion contributes to belief in psychokinesis. Hence, though subjects may feel that they directly introspect their own free will , the experience of control is actually inferred from relations between the thought and the action. This theory of apparent mental causation acknowledges the influence of David Hume 's view of the mind.

This can happen when an external event follows, and is congruent with, a thought in someone's mind, without an actual causal link. In one experiment, subjects watched a basketball player taking a series of free throws. When they were instructed to visualize him making his shots, they felt that they had contributed to his success. A meta-analysis of studies found a small positive effect that can be explained by publication bias. Magicians have successfully simulated some of the specialized abilities of psychokinesis, such as object movement, spoon bending , levitation and teleportation.

These include switching straight objects for pre-bent duplicates, the concealed application of force, and secretly inducing metallic fractures. On this subject the magician Ben Harris wrote:. This may sound the height of boldness; however, the effect is astounding — and combined with suggestion, it does work. Between and , the McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research at Washington University reported a series of experiments they named Project Alpha , in which two teenaged male subjects had demonstrated PK phenomena including metal-bending and causing images to appear on film under less than stringent laboratory conditions.

James Randi eventually revealed that the subjects were two of his associates, amateur conjurers Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards. The pair had created the effects by standard trickery, but the researchers, being unfamiliar with magic techniques, interpreted them as proof of PK. A study that utilized a magic trick to investigate paranormal belief on eyewitness testimony revealed that believers in psychokinesis were more likely to report a key continued to bend than non-believers.

Internationally there are individual skeptics of the paranormal and skeptics' organizations who offer cash prize money for demonstration of the existence of an extraordinary psychic power, such as psychokinesis. In September , a survey on belief in various religious and paranormal topics conducted by phone and mail-in questionnaire polled 1, Americans on their belief in telekinesis. Parapsychologists divide psychokinetic phenomena into two categories: macro-psychokinesis — large-scale psychokinetic effects that can be seen with the naked eye, and micro-psychokinesis — small-scale psychokinetic effects that require the use of statistics to be detected.


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In , Caroline Watt stated "Overall, the majority of academic parapsychologists do not find the evidence compelling in favour of macro-PK". There have been claimants of psychokinetic ability throughout history. Angelique Cottin ca.

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Cottin and her family claimed that she produced electric emanations that allowed her to move pieces of furniture and scissors across a room. Spiritualist mediums have also claimed psychokinetic abilities. This was confirmed when psychical researchers who tested Tomczyk occasionally observed the thread. Many of India's " godmen " have claimed macro-PK abilities and demonstrated apparently miraculous phenomena in public, although as more controls are put in place to prevent trickery, fewer phenomena are produced.

Annemarie Schaberl , a year-old secretary, was said to have telekinetic powers by the parapsychologist Hans Bender in the Rosenheim Poltergeist case in the s. Magicians and scientists who investigated the case suspected the phenomena were produced by trickery. Swami Rama , a yogi skilled in controlling his heart functions, was studied at the Menninger Foundation in the spring and fall of and was alleged by some observers at the foundation to have telekinetically moved a knitting needle twice from a distance of five feet.

The alleged Soviet psychic of the late s and early s was filmed apparently performing telekinesis while seated in numerous black-and-white short films.

ESP & Psychic Powers: Claims Inconclusive

Defense Intelligence Agency report from James Hydrick , an American martial arts expert and psychic, was famous for his alleged psychokinetic ability to turn the pages of books and make pencils spin around while placed on the edge of a desk. It was later revealed by magicians that he achieved his feats by air currents. How dumb the world is. In , an American psychic named Felicia Parise allegedly moved a pill bottle across a kitchen counter by psychokinesis.

Her feats were endorsed by the parapsychologist Charles Honorton. Science writer Martin Gardner wrote Parise had "bamboozled" Honorton by moving the bottle by an invisible thread stretched between her hands. Boris Ermolaev, a Russian psychic, was known for levitating small objects.


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  5. Ermolaev would sit on a chair and allegedly move the objects between his knees but due to the lighting conditions a fine thread fixed between his knees suspending the objects was observed by the camera crew. The Russian psychic Alla Vinogradova was said to be able to move objects without touching them on transparent acrylic plastic or a plexiglass sheet.

    The parapsychologist Stanley Krippner had observed Vinogradova rub an aluminum tube before moving it allegedly by psychokinesis. Krippner suggested no psychokinesis was involved; the effect was produced by an electrostatic charge. Vinogradova was featured in the Nova documentary Secrets of the Psychics which followed the debunking work of James Randi. Before the experiments she was observed combing her hair and rubbing the surface of the acrylic plastic.

    Massimo Polidoro has replicated the feats of Vinogradova by using an acrylic plastic surface and showing how easy it is to move any kind of object on top of it due to the charges of static electricity. The effect is easily achieved if the surface is electrically charged by rubbing a towel or a hand on it. Psychics have also claimed the psychokinetic ability to bend metal. Uri Geller was famous for his spoon bending demonstrations, allegedly by PK. Girard was tested in the s but failed to produce any paranormal effects in scientifically controlled conditions.

    The experiment was directed by the physicist Yves Farge with a magician also present.

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