(Investigator 64, 1999 January)

Telekinesis, psychokinesis or PK, are terms used by parapsychologists to describe the phenomenon of moving objects, changing the shape of objects such as bending metal, or influencing them in some way using only the power of the mind.

There have been many experiments conducted by parapsychologists and scientists in recent years to prove the existence of PK, and according to some, with startling results.

Outstanding, of course, is Uri Geller, the famous Israeli psychic, and two young psychics, Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards, who were accepted for testing at the McDonald Laboratory for Psychical Research at St Louis.

In the latter case strictly controlled tests were carried out over a period of two years and covered a large range of ESP and psychokinesis experiments. In one series of experiments, the two boys were given several small tightly sealed transparent boxes containing various objects which they were asked to affect paranormally. This they did, and although the boxes were minutely examined to see whether or not they had been tampered with, nothing was detected.

In the USSR, a young Russian peasant girt, Ninel Kulagina, repeatedly astonished Russian scientists with her psychic ability to move solid objects without touching them even when enclosed in a glass case.

So, do these powers really exist? The natural laws of nature tell us that what we are seeing is impossible.

Contrary to general belief scientists are not the most reliable of witnesses when it comes to testing psychics and others claiming supernatural powers. Although trained in careful observation the thinking of a scientist is rational, based on a lifetime of experience in a rational world, but the methods used by those who would deceive are irrational and unless one is trained in the art of magic then the fraud is almost impossible to detect.

While the subject is under observation by those trained to detect the methods employed by magicians, the subjects fail to perform, when left to their own devices or are in a position to take advantage of a loose protocol, they succeed. Geller's self-claimed "psychic powers" for example have been duplicated by magicians, in particular by the Canadian magician and debunker James "the amazing" Randi (1982), also (Harris 1986), and exposed for what they really are – tricks and illusions.

The case of Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards demonstrates just how easy it is to fool supposedly intelligent investigators. The two boys were amateur magicians planted by James Randi (1983), to show that without the correct controls it is possible to cheat in psychokinesis and telepathy experiments, and create the impression that one possesses extraordinary powers.

The controls were so loose that in one telepathy test the boys simply removed the staples sealing the envelope containing a picture, peeked at it, then re-sealed the envelope. In a metal bending test, they switched the identity tags on straight spoons with those on deformed cutlery producing the illusion that an object handled in a casual fashion had undergone deformation, and in other similar tests, all the "paranormal" feats were accomplished in a like surreptitious manner. Likewise in the USSR, had a more efficient protocol been introduced to test the alleged paranormal powers of Ninel Kulagina, those powers would have disappeared.

[From: Skeptoon an illustrated look at some New Age Beliefs, 1994, Harry Edwards.]

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