What is Telekinesis?
Telekinesis, also called Psychokinesis (abbreviated to PK,) is the ability to move and manipulate objects using the power of the mind… or without any physical contact at least. It often falls under the category of psychic powers such as Telepathy and Precognition although others would consider it to be nothing more than Psuedoscience.
Telekinesis, a Brief History
The concept of Telekinesis isn’t a new one. People have claimed to possess the ability since the 1800’s, around the same time that Spiritualism and Psychic Mediums first became popular. Those who demonstrate Telekinesis can appear to move objects from paperclips or sheets of paper to items of furniture such as chairs and even tables. Over the decades, there have been many people who appear to be able to demonstrate the effects of Telekinesis, although for each person who claims to have abilities there are many more who say they can disprove such existence of their powers.
Let’s have a look at some of the most famous individuals who have tried to prove that Telekinesis is a real ability and those who suggest that it’s nothing more than a hoax.
Angelique Cottin (The Electric Girl)
In the mid 1800’s, a young girl from Bouvigny, France, rose to fame for her alleged Telekinetic abilities. Her powers were first noticed in January 1846 when, whilst working with three other girls producing silk-thread gloves, the table upon which they were working on began to move.1 The girls tried to resume work after a brief and confused pause but when Angelique approached the table it moved once more, retreating with each step towards it. Over the coming weeks and months, many people witnessed her abilities at public and private demonstrations including Physician Dr. Beaumont-Chardon who testified;
Repulsion and attraction, bounding and displacement of a massive table; also of another table, mounted on casters, about three metres by two; another square table, in oak, about a metre and a half in size; an arm-chair, of mahogany, very massive. All these movements took place from the voluntary or involuntary contact of Angélique’s clothes.
It was this requirement for cloth to be in contact with the objects that raised questions as to the validity of her claims. Other claimants such as Eusapia Palladino seemed to replicate their abilities in a similar way and researcher Frank Podmore, who felt suspicious about this, also observed that when chairs were thrown about there was a double movement on the part of the girl, first in the direction of the object thrown and then away from it, the first movement being so rapid that it generally escaped attention.2
Édouard Isidore Buguet
Later on in the 1800’s, Buguet claimed to possess psychic powers and captured photographs of himself with Spirits of the dead. He also claimed telekinetic abilities and appeared in photographs of himself appearing to levitate objects including chairs. In June of 1875 however, police raided his studio in Paris and discovered the equipment, including dolls heads, used to create these images. Buguet was later convicted of fraud and served a year of jail time.3
In the early 20th century, Polish medium Stanisława Tomczyk claimed to be able to perform various abilities of Telekinesis under the control of an entity she called “Little Stasia”.4 Tomczyk could produce movement of items without contact, stop the movement of a clock in a glass case, and influence a Roulette Wheel in a way that suggested that the numbers she chose would appear more often than expected by chance alone.
Tomczyk was also famous for being able to levitate objects including a glass beaker and scissors between her hands but many suggested that this was achieved using a fine thread or hair running between her hands to lift the objects. Dr. Julian Ochorowicz, a Polish Philosopher, Psychologist and Inventor who studied Tomczyk, once observed a black thread between her hands which is visible in some photographs. Magicians including William Marriott used this method to replicate the levitation and the abilities of Tomczyk have been widely accepted as being fake.
A more modern example and, surely the most notorious, is Uri Geller. Born in Isreal in December 1946, Gellar says that he first became aware of his abilities at age 5 when a spoon curled up and broke in his hand despite applying no physical force to it.5 Although he would demonstrate his abilities as a child in school, it wasn’t until 1969 when he began demonstrations with small audiences from which he rapidly grew to become a household name. Geller was able to convince many of his abilities all over the world including the CIA who conducted a study with him in 1973.6
Not all were convinced however and the famous magician and skeptic James Randi was no exception. In 1982, Randi published a book called “The Truth about Uri Geller” where he explores Geller’s past as a stage magician and describes how his abilities can be recreated in magic tricks. Despite three lawsuits being raised against him, Randi continued in his quest to expose Geller and even as late as the year 2000, was recreating Gellers tricks including moving a compass needle on the Tonight Show.7
Despite Geller rising to become one of the most convincing in a long list of people claiming to possess some abilities, even he is not able to definitively prove the existence of Telekinesis. Over the years, each individual’s claim of Telekinetic abilities has been either exposed as fraudulent or, at best, replicated by magicians and skeptics. Also, the fact that no one has been able to indirectly move an object larger or heavier than anything they would be able to move themselves suggests that direct physical contact is being used and not a greater power.
It is now widely accepted that Telekinesis and the related abilities are not possible although we can be certain that more people will make their claims in the future.
You can find out more about the incredible powers that have stronger evidence to support them in our ESP Blog section.