Telekinesis: Ideas In Our Reenchantment & Rectification

Telekinesis: Ideas In Our Reenchantment & Rectification

We continue our series of wondering about the foundations of science. Not only is mechanistic materialism false, for the many reasons we’ll discuss, but it is a thoroughly enervating philosophy. Last week we did the physics of blessings (blog, Substack). Today we investigate an area in which I know (given my experience in entertainment magic) how to cheat: telekinesis.

Regular readers will recall I have an interest in so-called psychic phenomena. I am skeptical, to a large degree, of most historical research into it. Indeed, I even wrote So, You Think You’re Psychic? (which you can buy anywhere or download free) to express this skepticism.

But this does not mean I think all such things have been proven to be impossible. Instead, I think much of the research suffers from embracing the strict materialism which is also stalling mainstream science, and by not defining just what it is that is being tested in the world. This I will explain as I go along.

Loosely, telekinesis is the power to move things with one’s mind, not muscle or breath. Of course, minds are used to move things all the time. I can will myself to push a button, such as these keys. I can will you to do it. I can will a dog to drag a sled. I can will a machine to do it, and so never have any physical contact with whatever it is I want changed.

Evidently, this is not what telekinesis proponents mean. But what they do mean isn’t clear.

Telekinesis is envisioned as some kind of power, perhaps like magnetism, which is expressed as a field that radiates from the mind, and somehow, nobody knows how, interacts with objects, and causes those objects to change. No one knows or can say where in the mind this power originates, or how much energy, if any, is consumed in its generation. Or how this field, once generated, is transmitted through space, or how it interacts with objects in a specific way. Any number of instruments have looked in vain for it.

Some complain telekinesis violates the “inverse-square law”. We can be agnostic about whether “laws” exist (I am on the skeptical side of this: blog, Substack). But it has been recognized that, for instance, electromagnetic fields fall in power with the square of the distance from their source. It is only a supposition that this restraint should apply to the telekinetic field, should it exist. This does seem a plausible guess if the telekinetic field is akin to the EM field.

To move a mass requires work, which is supplied by a force. A mass of known quantity, and known conditions, requires a known amount of work. Or, possibly, space itself can be “bent”, in the way giant masses are said to do. If telekinesis works as other forces do, it should be measurable in this way. So far, no joy.

This has led some to suppose that the telekinetic field is small, hence it evades detection. Experiment has shifted from moving the large to instances were great forces are not required. Like in influencing “random” number generators.

Early attempts along these lines were hampered by using computers, whose algorithms to produce these numbers are deterministic. Hence, knowing the algorithm, the numbers are not “random”—which means unknown cause—but known, and fixed in their sequence from a given starting point.

Later attempts tried things like dice throws. Now I have showed that the probability of a coin landing Head is 1 (blog, Substack). If you know or can control the causes. And that’s what telekinetic experiments tried to do: control, in some unknown way, some, but not all, of the causes or conditions of (say) dice rolls. Dice rolls are also deterministic—but are very sensitive to the initial conditions of the throw. Which is to say, they are chaotic, in the mathematical definition of that word. Small, imperceptible changes in the initial conditions can and do have large consequences in the outcomes.

Yet here is a prime difficulty. Since the causes and conditions of dice are myriad, and the outcomes chaotic (in the mathematical sense), even if telekinesis could “push” on one or more of these causes and conditions, there would seem to be no way to see the results of pushes in the results. Even the tiniest change produces unpredictable (in the large) results. It’s not like the psychic is “aiming for” (say) 6: we would quickly see a string of 6s. The psychic is merely “pushing”, somehow, in an undirected way. The push would be just one more cause in the long string of causes, and so seemingly impossible to distinguish from other conditions. The outcome would look as unpredictable as before.

Another problem with these attempts comes in analyzing the results of tests, which necessarily involves statistical methods. Most used wee p-values as the criterion. All such results can be dismissed as unreliable because of that (for reasons I have made clear many times). In any case, statistical models cannot discern cause. You bring cause to the models, not pull it out. (Follow my class on this.)

The idea of skill is needed, and very infrequently analyzed, and for good reason. Because it’s hard! Supposing telekinesis is a real power, then it might be that different people have different “amounts” of it, or that a person can sometimes perform and sometimes cannot, or performs at different levels at different times, like a baseball player. How to find these signals in chaotic events? The possibility of fooling yourself, as the analyst, looms.

All this being so, researchers turned to the quantum, which is guaranteed to be weird. Maybe telekinesis is yet another quantum mechanical phenomenon. Take entanglement: here we have a violation of the inverse square law that none quail about. And there are many
“mainstream” theories that tie quantum measurement with the mind (which we will not cover today).

We have seen (blog, Substack) attempts at running quantum “random” number generators placed at various locales, and seeing whether the outputs of these are “tied to” (a frightening statistical word) shifts in emotion, such as the result of the Saint George Floyd murder trial.

There is no difficulty with the distance of these devices from the minds supposedly operating on them, because action at a distance is expected in QM, and because nobody knows what causes quantum events. Some say there are no causes in any QM event, but I dismiss this because then one would never know when a cause has operated or when things “just happened”.

The real problem, I think, is that QM events resemble dice throws, in that whatever is causing QM events seems to be like cause in chaotic events: a multitude of conditions and causes are in play. Experimenters like to think they have controlled their apparatuses so that they are in the “same” initial conditions each time a QM experiment is run. But this is not so. Since QM events extend to great distances, in the sense that even the vacuum is said to be “alive” with QM events, there is no way to set the entire world the same exact precise duplicate way every time an experiment is run. See this article on QM causes. (Don’t bother with Bell’s theorem: it only speaks about large, ever-present hidden “variables”, when what I mean is that every experiment is just different in unknown uncontrollable ways.)

Consider a QM system like a two-slit experiment, which can be done with certain particles. The center of this experiment can be measured, and counts of particles appearing on either side of the center made. These are expected to be symmetric, more or less. The psychic could try to telekinetically “push” the particles going through the slit. But if the push is not directed toward a fixed side, the many causes and conditions operating on the particle would make it resemble a dice throw, and there would be no way to know in any individual experiment what had happened.

Worse, since these particles are so tiny, and so fast, it would seem a practical impossibility to push them in a directed way, even if telekinesis exists. It would be like trying to hit a baseball going a hundred million miles an hour.

Unless the telekinetic field is more akin to an EM field. If so, then it should cause changes in the conditions and influence particles to fall with greater frequency on one side. If, that is, psychics can focus in this way. Yet if that works, and the telekinetic field is something like the EM field, it should be measurable and testable itself. We’re right back to the beginning: there is, so far, no evidence for this field, in spite of much ardent searching.

Maybe something like Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic field is instead right. Minds, which is to say, intellects, change the form-producing field that is necessarily holding matter together (as it were) in a non-energetic way, operations which have observable effects in matter, but which themselves are not matter or energy (and recall that energy may be prime matter; this entire post assumes this Aristotelian idea of hylomorphism). This would explain why the source of telekinesis can’t be measured, just like intellect and will cannot be measured: only their effects can.

Alas, if this is so, we are back into the realm of statistics, that dreary state, especially if telekinesis is weak. If it is strong, then statistics aren’t needed, but then the effects would be readily apparent.

Still, given the difficulties we’ve seen, Sheldrake’s idea is the best going. Accepting that, the best targets for experimentation are on energy, which has the potential to become matter of a given form (see this by David Oderberg). And to have form requires something to provide that form. In Christian theology, this form is provided from the mind of God. But, like last week, he may delegate. Or he may have given us this power to have our intellects provide form, much as how carpenters have the form of a house in their minds before they have it in matter.

How this can be done is an open question, and I welcome your ideas.

Intercession like we discussed last week is also a possibility, much as you might not love it. That is, prayer, your will, can influence material things with the cooperation of the spiritual beings “in charge” of the efficient causal chains that change objects. Surely this would work, but it would not seem possible to have it work on demand, each time, like in a standard physics experiment.

Whatever is decided about the best way to test, the burden is still on those who claim to have telekinetic powers to demonstrate them. And under conditions which guarantee no cheating or blunders. This is strictly necessarily lest researches devolve, again, into circus shows with clowns cavorting about claiming to be able to bend spoons with their minds.

The image for today’s post was taken from the educational film So You’re Raising a Telekinetic Child.

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  1. Prayer works not because of any power we have but because a living Gid answers prayer. Telekinesis if it exists might well be mediated by other beings….

  2. Kip Hansen

    Telekinesis may well be (and so I believe) a spiritual power — readily available to those in the usually-unseen spiritual universe. Being spiritual beings in flesh, for the time being, we would then have the ability as well. However, the use of the power may be sharply restricted in our present circumstances and have limitations on if and when ordinary mortal men may have access to it. Special cases, our biblical prophets — Moses, Elijah, and such — may have made special access.

  3. McChuck

    The Amazing Randi, in his posthumous form as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, still has a million dollar prize available for the first person to prove psychic abilities. The prize, in one form or another, has been available for about 50 years now, with no takers.

  4. Cary D Cotterman

    Telekinesis, UFOs, ghosts–all fascinating and fun to read about, but I don’t believe any of it.

  5. Incitadus

    Well the big question is does the past and or future exist, all we ever experience is this little
    Nano second of ‘Now’ gone as quickly as you think of it. Our entire existence takes place in this
    space from birth to death. Our sense of permanence and progress comes from memory and changes
    we effect in the physical world over time which is purely illusory and materially impermanent.
    If the past and future exist in some sort of field of neutrino storm say, at some point we may be
    able to just dial it up on our time machines. To find out we’ll probably have to live beyond the
    hundred odd years of adolescence we’ve been allocated. For starters we should examine carefully
    thoughts and memories. Do they exist outside of the context of the physical world and grandmother
    cells. If so maybe staring at goats is in order.

  6. Claudia-Marie

    Any powers not natural to human beings are not to be practiced, for in order to use them, one would have to accept, knowingly or unknowingly, aid from spiritual powers who have turned away from God. Remember, Satan can appear as an angel of light, and his underlings are very crafty, and well able to lead one from Christ’s Light into darkness. Best to leave unusual powers out of one’s life.

    God bless, C-Marie

  7. Johnno

    I posit that “Telekinesis” is what happens when one’s Guardian Angel shakes his head watching you stubbornly struggle to reach that object that has rolled underneath the cupboard.

    That and the occasional push of a near miss whilst you are not paying attention when walking through traffic, or at the edge of a concrete stairway.

  8. J W Wells

    Speaking of Rupert Sheldrake, I recall one of his proposed experimental tests for the concept of morphic resonance. The idea was that more westerly dwelling folk should complete the daily crossword more quickly, simply because people in the east had already done it. Nowadays, I think the online game of Wordle would be an excellent vehicle, being a simple, widely popular game with a simple scoring method.

  9. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Briggs old fellow, come, come. I’ve been on the road all day, drove through Chicago, rush hour, rainstorm, nerves frazzled. Check in to my cheesy, bedbug infested motel room to relax with a bit o’ Briggs and what do I get? — quantum mechanical, inverse squared, electromagnetic telekinesis, two-slit-hundred-million-mile-an-hour-baseballs, Rupert Shaldrake’s Morphic Field, Aristotelian hylomorphism, and intercessional transmogrification. You call that relaxing!? Good thing I picked up a bottle of Washington State (Columbia Valley) cabernet sauvignon or I might have to jump out the window. Thanks, pal.

  10. Milton Hathaway

    Telekinesis? No thanks. I can just imagine the next product design DFMEA session. These are already a huge pain to begin with, and we already have to worry about fool-proofing and idiot-proofing and lawyer-proofing, and now we have to worry about ill-intentioned telekinetic bozos mucking things up? Can we expect a lawsuit because the product was insufficiently shielded against telekinetic energy? I wouldn’t want to defend against that charge in front of a New York jury.

    If telekinesis is real, it would be a very handy skill to have, and all the practitioners would be rich, even the ones that aren’t particularly good at it. Are there a bunch of rich telekinetic types in hiding?

    Stand a penny on edge in a glass vacuum chamber mounted on a 100-ton vibration damped mass – if someone can knock it over with their thoughts, I’ll maybe start paying attention. Maybe. After I finish watching the latest over-unity machines on YouTube.

  11. Briggs


    Chicago? I just heard on the radio some guy wandered in and won that half a billion Mega Millions.


  12. cdquarles

    I quibble with the quantum mechanical proposition that there is a thing that exists called action at a distance. Is that possible for embodied life forms? I don’t know. For non-embodied life forms? I also don’t know but it does seem more likely for those beings. Anyway, to me, an entangled pair means a composite object where two states are possible and may exist as separate objects separated in time or space. Once I operate on the object local to me, I then know what the other state is. No action has taken place at a distance objectively and no signal has been transmitted. What’s changed is my state of mind’s knowledge.

  13. I studied this a bit at Looniversity in the Arthur Koestler School of Parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh Psychology Department. The psycho-tele- nonsense relies on twisting probability theory into knots to justify seeing things that aren’t really there. There are things not dreamed of in our philosophy but by definition they’re invisible to us and our instruments of measurement. What is love, anyway.

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