psychokinesis:  Psi Explorer

What is psychokinesis (PK)?  

psychokinesis:  mental influence upon an object, a process, or a system, without the use of any known mechanism or energy. PK includes: bio-PK : influencing living systems, whether humans, animals, plants or micro-organisms. macro-PK : directly observable, large-scale influence upon objects. micro-PK : influencing the statistical behavior of random systems, such as dice or electronic noise. (also called "telekinesis")

Also called "mind-over-matter," psychokinesis refers to an apparent ability for people to affect the physical environment without the use of their bodies or the known five senses through the use of thought alone.  Helmut Schmidt and an early Random Number Generator
Though skeptics tend to go ballistic over the notion that psychokinesis (PK) is real, no one has of yet explained how the mind influences the body (i.e., how a thought like "move my finger" then creates the chain of events that results in your finger moving). Some parapsychologists have speculated that psychokinesis is the mechanism that allows the mind to control our own bodies. By extension, that same process might be able to influence physical systems outside of our own bodies. Research on the question of the existence of psychokinesis has been ongoing since the 1930s.

In 1934, Dr J B Rhine and his research team began doing systematic experiments to test for possible psychokinesis in human volunteer subjects at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina). In the early experiments, subjects attempted to influence the fall of dice. In the earliest experiments, subjects threw the dice from a cup and were instructed by the experimenter to "wish" for a particular outcome (i.e., for a particular face of the die to come up). Later experiments automated the dice throwing to remove the possibility of cheating or manipulation by the subjects,

In 1943, Rhine reported a psychokinesis experiment in which two dice were automatically thrown by a machine for 900 trials. Subjects attempted to influence the faces that came up. Where the odds of chance are 1 in 6 (each die has 6 faces) or 16.67%, the target faces came up 19.2% or odds against chance of 400 to 1.

Modern day psychokinesis experiments range from using computer-based random number generators (RNGs or REGs) to test "microPK" or large scale physical systems to test "macro"PK. A good example of a large scale PK test is the "random mechanical cascade" machine at the PEAR lab (Princeton University).

It seems that experimenters studying psychokinesis have to rely upon statistical methods to detect very small PK effects in random systems such as dice, coins, or random generators. Is there any evidence that psychokinesis can result in relatively large effects, effects that can be detected without the need for statistical analysis?

Psychic healing effects could have psychokinetic components. And paranormal metal bending, if real, would be an obvious instance of large-scale PK. However, these effects are controversial and not all psi researchers are convinced of their validity.

Fortunately, there have become available recently a number of additional directly-detectable psychokinesis effects which have been observed under better controlled conditions. For example, Dr. Robert Jahn and his co-workers at the Engineering Anomalies Laboratory at Princeton University (PEAR lab) have been studying directlyódetectable PK effects upon interferometers, temperatures, gas discharge displays, and other physical systems.

Dr. John Halsted, at the University of London, has been experimenting with psychokinesis effects upon sensitive movement detectors (resistive strain gauges) placed at a distance from the influencers. Dr. Julian lsaacs, at the University of Aston in Birmingham, England, conducted similar experiments with piezo-electric movement detectors. Many of these experiments have yielded positive results. They have in common the use of physical PK target systems which are relatively stable over time and in which PK "signals" clearly stand out from the "noise" in a manner which makes the PK effect easily detectable, without the need for statistical analysis.

The Global Consciousness Project uses random number generators (RNGs) in a global array to attempt to detect global perturbations of consciousness. Preliminary results from this ground-breaking experiment have shown statistically significant results.

What is "retro-psychokinesis" or "retro-PK"?

"Retro-psychokinesis" refers to an experimental effect reported by theoretical physicist Dr. Helmut Schmidt, formerly of the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio. Dr. Schmidt interprets his results in terms of a PK effort apparently working backward in time to influence the probability of occurrence of events which occurred in the past, but which have not yet been observed. In his experiments, Dr. Schmidt had an electronic random event generator (a kind of electronic coin tosser whose random decisions are based upon radioactive decay) make a series of random decisions of lís and 0ís on, say, a Monday morning. No one observes the output of the generator, but its behavior is permanently recorded on punched paper tape and as high (1) and low (0) sounds on audio tape. About a week later, say on the following Saturday morning, Dr. Schmidt plays the audio tape to a volunteer subject who attempts to produce more lís than 0ís by means of psychokinesis. This subject is the first person to receive feedback of what the generator did last Monday. (At some time between Monday and Saturday, Dr. Schmidt randomly decided whether the future subject should try for lís or for 0ís.) No one attempts to influence other tapes generated last Monday. What is found is that the tapes which the later subject attempts to influence actually do contain significantly more lís than would be expected by chance, while the control tape, which no one attempted to influence, contains an equal number of lís and 0ís. Dr. Schmidtís interpretation of the results is that the PK effort worked backward in time, just as a future event seems to backwardly influence the mind in cases of precognition. more on retroPK

A Schmidt-type Random Number Generator

There are alternative interpretations of the effect observed by Dr. Schmidt, and too few experiments have been conducted to allow us to understand the effect very well. However, what is important at this stage is that here is an interesting experimental design which yields successful results. It may even provide a completely fool-proof method of channeling psi results directly to the desk of extreme critics of psi research.

more on psychokinesis

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