Part 1: The Scientific Evidence for Telepathy
Part 2: The Scientific Evidence for Clairvoyance
Part 3: The Scientific Evidence for Precognition
In today’s post, Part 4 of the series, I will recount the scientific evidence for psychokinesis, which is also referred to as telekinesis. These terms refer to one being able to move a physical object with one’s mind. In short, this particular term accounts for the “mind over matter” that people often refer to.
Much of the early research on psychokinesis involved one’s ability to influence the roll of a die. In these studies, a die face is chosen in advance, then the participant wishes for that face to land up. It’s probably one of the simpler studies one can conduct with regard to parapsychological research. Dean Radin and Diane Ferrari conducted a meta-analysis of all the experiments that had been done on die research from 1935 to 1987 and came to this conclusion:
The estimated effect size for the full database lies more than 19 standard deviations from chance while the effect size for the subset of balanced, homogeneous studies lies 2.6 standard deviations from chance. We conclude that this database provides weak cumulative evidence for a genuine relationship between mental intention and the fall of dice.
While the evidence from these earlier studies are not overwhelming, they at least lean towards support for the evidence and possibility of psychokinesis. Nowadays, the majority of research in this area is done with random-number generators (RNGs). These RNGs do exactly what it sounds like they do – generate a sequence of random numbers. In these RNG experiments, participants are usually asked to attempt to influence the outcome of the RNG to be higher than expected or lower than expected. With a random set of numbers, you can accurately predict what the dataset should look like, if there were no influences on it. The participants try to alter this by intending that the numbers are higher or intending that the numbers are lower. If you’ve read most of my posts in this series, then you know I have an affinity for meta-analyses.
In a meta-analysis conducted by Dean Radin and Roger Nelson of all of the RNG experiments conducted between 1959 (the first RNG experiment) and the mid-2000s:
Meta-analysis of 515 RNG experiments conducted by 91 researchers over a span of 41 years indicates the presence of a small magnitude, but statistically highly significant and repeatable mind-matter interaction effect. The overall results cannot be attributed to chance, or selective reporting problems, or variations in design quality. These studies indicate that there are ways in which mind and matter interact that support the plausibility of distant intentional healing. Because modern RNG experiments can be conducted under tightly controlled laboratory conditions at relatively low cost, they may serve as a convenient model to help us better understand the relevant conditions and mechanisms of distant healing. [emphasis added]
Most research studies I’ve read about psychokinesis come to the same conclusion – it’s possible and it happens. While you won’t often see many accounts like this one, it seems that psychokinesis is a very real and present phenomenon. As I wrote in other posts about the power of words (Your words and thoughts have power; Words are more important than you may have thought; With love and gratitude), it seems that intention really has an effect on our reality. Since the body is made up of “physical” things, we could say that the evidence for the power of words could be used to support the evidence of psychokinesis. I understand that the studies I cited in those posts weren’t directly measure psychokinesis, but in a way, I think they were. More than that, there’s the work of Lynne McTaggart and her accompanying book The Intention Experiment.
There is a strong credible chorus that the evidence presented for psychic phenomena is not sufficiently verified for scientific acceptance and many challenge that there are better non-paranormal alternative explanations available—in addition to identified methodological flaws in this research. Most scientists believe that the existence of psychokinesis has not been convincingly demonstrated. Bösch, Steinkamp, & Boller (2006) conducted a meta-analysis of 380 studies in 2006 found a "very small" effect which could possibly be explained by publication bias and the “file drawl phenomenon” in research (many non-significant findings are never published). Also, some experiments have created illusions of PK where none exists, and these illusions depend to an extent on the subject's prior belief in PK (see Benassi, Sweeney, & Drevno, 1979; and Wiseman, & Morris, 1995). Overall this research (paranormal) — is filled with poor design or methods which hold confirmatory bias, and almost always seems to align with the beliefs of the researcher. The most credible researchers in the field of the paranormal would suggest even more research needs to be done by believers and particular non-believers alike. One needs to maintain an open mind of course, but the actual scientific research supporting PK and the paranormal is scant at best.
Hi there Bob,
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate that there are opposing views on the presence of psychic phenomena, but I wonder if you read what I wrote in this post or if you just saw the title and decided to disagree? In my second citation, I specifically emphasized: "The overall results cannot be attributed to chance, or selective reporting problems, or variations in design quality." Selective reporting problems are what you are talking about with the file drawer phenomenon.
I thought I would go and do some digging on the articles you're referencing and I found a response to (Bösch, Steinkamp, & Boller, 2006) by Radin, Nelson, Dobyns, and Houtkeeper (2006) called: Reexamining Psychokinesis: Comment on Bösch, Steinkamp, and Boller (2006). In this paper, they specifically refute the claims that you're talking about in this comment. Straight from the abstract:
This block quote is enough to refute what you're saying, but beyond this, Radin's Entangled Minds pages 148-151 (you can see these pages on Google Books) address the issues you've raised in layman's terms. All see, Charles Tart's The End of Materialism, specifically chapter 9 starting on page 151 (again, you can see this on Google Books).
With Love and Gratitude,
Good Work, Jeremiah. Enjoying your series. Asante
Thanks for your comment. Glad to know you're enjoying this series. There's one more coming in it and it will be about "psychic healing." Look for it in the next week or so. 🙂
With Love and Gratitude,
Yes, I read the whole article. And as much as I even want to believe in the paranormal —my training in research and a cold sober and unbiased view would be the research is inconclusive at best. Again this is 'believers" offering an opinion against perhaps someone's else's (opinion and interpretation of the data). In contrast, the scientific community, as referenced in statements made by organizations such as the United States National Science Foundation and the National Academies of Science maintain that scientific evidence does not support a variety of beliefs that have been characterized as paranormal. To date there have been no experimental results that have gained wide acceptance in the scientific community as valid evidence of the paranormal.
The James Randi Educational Foundation offers a prize of a million dollars to a person who can prove that they have supernatural or paranormal abilities under appropriate test conditions. No ‘psychic’ has gone through with taking the challenge.
We could continue to 'offer' our found studies to support our views tic for tact, –and I am open that there may be such things beyond our knowledge, but overstating and misusing what the actual full body of research states is a disservice .
Looks like your comment got hung up in the spam folder. I think if you would have used your real name (or at least your real e-mail address [firstname.lastname@example.org], really?) it wouldn't have been held as spam. Maybe not, but I do find it strange that you're not using your real name. Anyway, that's not important — to your comment!
"To date there have been no experimental results that have gained wide acceptance in the scientific community as valid evidence of the paranormal."
I think this depends on who we classify as the "scientific community."
With regard to your comment about the JREF… they have just recently expanded who they will allow to "qualify" for this particular prize (I think this past March). I understand your point in bringing up the JREF, but the studies I have cited are all talking about these particular skills being tested under rigorous (sometimes very rigorous) scientific conditions. In fact, I remember reading one study where the tested effect grew stronger as the measures strengthened.
"We could continue to 'offer' our found studies to support our views tic for tact…"
You're right, we probably could.
" –and I am open that there may be such things beyond our knowledge, but overstating and misusing what the actual full body of research states is a disservice."
Most of the articles (or books) that I have referenced, have space where they talk about the evidence against the effects that are being discussed. I do not think that I am overstating the results of any of these studies. Mostly everything I have referenced has evidence for the phenomenon I am talking about.
What has become clear to me in all of my reading on this subject… those who hold beliefs for the paranormal will almost always find evidence in support of it and those who hold beliefs not for the paranormal will almost always find evidence not in support of it.
With Love and Gratitude,
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