Of all the psychic techniques described in this book, it is psychokinesis which has attracted the most widespread attention. This is not surprising for, after all, the thought that we can cause physical objects to move about or to bend and break by means of mental effort alone is an astounding one, with far reaching consequences for our concepts of mind and matter.
Psychokinesis is also responsible for poltergeists, and much of the physical manifestation of what we tend to think of as the spirit world. Psychics can move objects, bend metal and influence the physical world with the psychic power of psychokinesis.
I start this section with a warning - do not believe everything you read about psychokinesis, nor, for that matter, everything you see. Arthur Ellison, who was professor of electrical engineering at London University, demonstrated the value of that warning at a lecture some years ago. Towards the end of the lecture, he asked members of the audience to participate in an experiment in levitation. They were told to concentrate on a bowl of flowers on a table, willing the bowl to move upwards. While they did so, Ellison played a tape recording of a Buddhist meditation chant - ostensibly to help the audience concentrate. What happened next astounded the sceptics and believers alike. As they concentrated, the bowl of flowers began to move, finally lifting a few inches off the table! What, would you conclude? What could you conclude? Obviously, but almost unbelievably, that levitation had taken place. However, this conclusion would be quite wrong.
The tape recording was played so as to disguise the noise of electromagnets hidden under the table. These repelled magnets in the flower bowl and caused it to move upwards: the whole thing was a stage trick, in fact. But had you not known this, you would probably have concluded that the experiment really demonstrated psychokinesis. In other words, you simply did not have enough information to assess the real situation. You should apply this cautious attitude to any other account you may hear or read anywhere - even the ones in this book. For example, I have obtained my information from other books and original references which may already be inaccurate. (As it happens, the experiments and events described in this book are all well authenticated, but the principle is important.) So if you read that some psychokinetic activity has taken place, the question which you should have in your mind is: What would I ask to make certain that it really happened? Perhaps another example will help the reader to see what I am getting at.
Some years ago, Uri Geller made several television and radio broadcasts in Britain. He demonstrated how he could apparently bend spoons, stop watches and even repair defective clocks just by using the power of his mind. After each of his radio and television features there were literally hundreds of claims from one end of the country to the other that objects had bent or twisted and that clocks had stopped or started while he Was on the air. For example, on 23 November 1973, Geller broadcast live on a BBC Radio 2 programme. One man from Dunstable reported: 'Our radio was on in the lounge while Uri Geller was bending the spoon. I walked into the kitchen and found that two teaspoons on the draining board were arched out of shape. Later I found half a dozen knives in a drawer all with a noticeable curve in the blade which just wasn't there before. It's unbelievable.' A woman from Middlesex said that she was stirring soup with a ladle when suddenly, 'My hand twisted, and 1 felt the ladle moving and cracking. I was petrified. I pulled it out of the soup, and all the enamel had been broken off by the distortion of the ladle.' In Guernsey a whole family joined in the mass experiment that Geller was holding. They held a broken alarm clock, a wristwatch that had stopped ticking, a fork and a screwdriver,, but nothing happened. Later, however, when they returned home after an outing, the watch was ticking, and the fork, placed in the kitchen, 'curled up within five minutes'. There are many more reports like those, which can be found in The Search for Psychic Power by David Hammond. What does it all mean?
You may say that the sheer volume of these circumstantial reports constitutes some valuable evidence in favour of psychokinesis. My answer to this would be: 'Did you personally see an object move?' And consider this: would you believe your best friend your husband or wife, even - if they told you that an object had twisted out of shape while Uri Geller claimed that he was bending a spoon by the power of his mind in a radio studio? I do not think you would. So how much reliance can be placed on reports from people we do not know in situations we cannot see? But let us leave aside the question of the specific reports which poured in after Geller's radio and television broadcasts, and consider the general reliability of anecdotal accounts of psychic events.
When individuals experience events which might possibly be suggestive of something they would like to believe in, they are predisposed to jump to the wrong conclusions. For example, those who believe in UFOs see an unexplained light in the sky and assume it must be a spaceship from another world. Those who experience a series of trivial coincidences assume there is a psychic force at work. Those who notice a bent spoon for the first time after a psychic has appeared on TV assume that he must have bent it. In reality the sad fact is that although such stories are amusing, they cannot help us to decide objectively whether psychokinesis is real or some figment of a willing imagination. Fortunately, a few scientists have been brave enough to risk the opprobrium of their colleagues by investigating psychokinesis in their laboratories.
The value of such objective testing was illustrated by a demonstration of how a conjuror might imitate a psychic. Kit Pedler, on a British television programme, showed how he could straighten a piece of wire by stroking it. Or at least, 'that is what it looked like'. In fact the wire was made from Nitinol, a special alloy which returns to the shape in which it was forged when subsequently heated. A straight piece of this wire can be bent by hand and then held surreptitiously in a stream of hot air. It will 'mysteriously' straighten out. Another metal alloy melts at a very low temperature. By making, let us say, a spoon from this substance, it is possible to bend and break it with very little effort. There are good reasons here for making a strenuous effort to repeat metal bending experiments under laboratory conditions where no trickery is possible. The two most notable investigators in this field have been Professor John Taylor of King's College, Cambridge and Professor John Hasted of Birkbeck College, London University.
John Taylor was a guest on the first British TV programme to feature Uri Geller. The events which he witnessed were so incredible - while apparently authentic - that he resolved to look into the matter further. In his book Superminds, Taylor describes experiments which he conducted, chiefly on Uri Geller, but also on several individuals who came forward with claims of paranormal abilities after Geller's TV appearances. Taylor's chief concern was to avoid the possibility of fraud. Many sceptics, from magicians through journalists to scientists, had dismissed Geller as a skilful conjuror. Indeed one magician, the 'Amazing Randi', has written a biography of Geller which lays emphasis on the fact that he was once in court in Israel on a charge of deception, after claiming that a conventional two person code routine in a night club act was a demonstration of ESP. (This fact obscures Geller's still unexplained later abilities.)
Taylor believed that his experiments were as sound and rigorously controlled as any conventional scientific test. He describes experiments in which pieces of metal contained within glass and wire mesh tubes were bent or twisted by his. subjects. In his words: 'I have personally witnessed the Geller effect under conditions in which fraud can be completely ruled out.' One of the tests which led to this conclusion involved a small crystal of lithium fluoride sealed inside a plastic container. Geller held his hands over the container without touching it at any time. The crystal broke within ten seconds. Professor Taylor described this as 'devastating'. As he remarked, he had placed his own hands between Geller's and the container so that no direct manipulation was possible. There is an interesting sequel to this research. Between 1975 and 1980, Taylor's belief in What he calls 'the supernatural' evaporated. His book Science and the Supernatural is devoted to proving that psychic work is 'impossible'. The theme that runs through the book is something like: 'Paranormal metal bending and ESP break existing laws of science, therefore they cannot exist. Because they do not exist, I do not believe in them.' Taylor claims that he had been too ready to accept faulty experimental procedures and evidence from other scientists which did not exclude the possibility of fraud or inaccurate reporting. He describes a later series of tests with Uri Geller in the following way: 'He came to our laboratory for one and a half hours. In spite of the very friendly atmosphere he did not succeed at all during that period. Nor has he returned to be tested again ... in spite of several warm invitations ... As far as I am concerned, there endeth the saga of Uri Geller; if he is not prepared to be tested under such conditions his powers cannot be authentic.'
To be fair, Professor Taylor admits that this about-face could be ascribed to his desire to counteract the hostility and opposition of his colleagues to his experiments on the 'supernatural'. But he denies this, simply stating that he was not careful enough about the conditions by which he judged the work. The whole story is a disappointing one. My own impression is that the case made out in Superminds for the reality of psychic effects is stronger than the case against in Science and the Supernatural. What went wrong? I concur wholeheartedly with Lyall Watson, who has written of John Taylor: 'I find his current stance, in his rejection of the phenomena and his return to the orthodox field, no reason for rejoicing. In his position, with academic status to defend, it is clearly more politic to be seen to be gullible than to be considered unscientific ... John showed great courage in pushing the investigation as far as he did, but I can't believe his mind is easy even now he has denied it thrice ...'
There is perhaps another aspect to all this. Taylor was unable to explain what he had discovered in terms of existing scientific concepts and knowledge. At the beginning of Superminds he outlined the rationale behind his work thus: 'Either a satisfactory explanation must be given for Uri Geller's phenomena within the framework of accepted scientific knowledge or science will be found wanting.' Because this proved to. be impossible, he rejected the whole field. Yet we cannot be sure that the knowledge of science is yet complete, so how can this be sufficient reason to dismiss psychic techniques? All in all, an investigation which initially set out, in the words of Stan Gooch, to 'save the marvellous paranormal baby from being thrown out with the bathwater of lies and deceit', leaves us no further forward. There is one small point which emerges clearly, though. Uri Geller's first work with John Taylor was very successful. His subsequent work was not. This notorious unpredictability of psychic work has been seen many times in scientific investigations. I think it happens because the psychic is both sensitive to, and influenced by, the opinions of those around him. Thus, if John Taylor wanted the first set of tests to work, but not the second, then that is probably exactly what would happen. This means Taylor's work does little more than confirm the importance of the psychic having belief in his own ability (this does not apply so much to spontaneous psychic experiences). The main reason why I have introduced the inconclusive work of Professor Taylor is that we can learn something from the stringent tests which he now applies to accounts of psychokinesis. His discussion of Uri Geller in Science And The Supernatural forms a background by which all psychic work may usefully be judged. For example, he mentions several tricks which might provide an explanation of Uri Geller's metal bending abilities. I leave it to the reader to decide whether they do in fact do so. They are:
(1) Substitution: an already bent object replaced one being worked on while the audience's attention was distracted. But Geller did not know what objects he would be asked to bend and his work was frequently videotaped.
(2) Alteration: mechanical force applied to an object might have been used to bend it when the audience was distracted. Although some subjects who claimed to have paranormal metal bending ability did use force to bend metal objects, measurements in Taylor's laboratories showed that Geller himself applied only a fraction of the force required to bend an object mechanically.
(3) Chemical: there are chemicals which alter the structure of metal, but they are highly corrosive and poisonous and easily absorbed through the skin. Not a likely suggestion. al object but (4) Heat: a high temperature could twist a metal would also destroy human tissue. No one suggests this method was ever used in public demonstrations.
(5) Mass hypnosis of the audience: clearly a ludicrous suggestion. You cannot hypnotise a group of people en masse.
(6) Inaccurate reporting: obviously this is a possibility. But it applies to all investigations by scientists and journalists, not just those into the psychic world. And there is no reason to suppose that a higher proportion of cheats are found amongst scientists investigating ESP or psychokinesis than amongst those working in any other field of research.
Let us now turn our attention to the work of Professor Hasted, who has always maintained a firm belief in the reality and existence of paranormal metal bending. Professor Hasted conducted his investigations in a cubicle screened against electrical fields or electromagnetic radiation in Birkbeck College. (This was only one of several precautions taken to ensure that the best possible results were obtained.) A piece of metal was connected to a strain gauge (a device to measure any movement, no matter how small) and placed on a table in front of the subject, who was not allowed even to touch it. An identical strain gauge not connected to any metal acted as a control and showed up any spurious deflection or signal in the recording apparatus. Professor Hasted collected a large body of evidence which shows that his subjects could indeed bend metal by the power of their minds alone. Kit Pedler later interviewed one of the younger individuals whose psychokinetic abilities had been investigated by Hasted. The boy described the state of mind which was necessary for success in these terms: 'There's very little physical sensation, but it's certainly important for me to be in a relaxed state of mind. It doesn't work very well when I try to concentrate.' He confirmed that the effect happened when he turned his mind away from it, as if it catches him out.
To place this section further into perspective, I must quote what John Randall has written: '... the danger comes when ... enthusiasts begin writing and arguing as though the whole case for the reality of psi [that is, psychic events] rests upon the honesty and integrity of Mr Uri Geller ... the case for psi does not depend upon any one individual, no matter how much publicity he receives in the media. The case for psi rests upon the fact that the same phenomena have been witnessed, over and over again, in many different subjects and by many different experimenters.'
Psychokinesis refers to a wide range of events; obviously, by definition, any event where physical, objects are influenced by the human mind alone. So metal bending need not be the only test of psychokinesis. You can, for example, try to influence the fall of dice - we shall consider this later in the chapter. Some readers will have come across Russian work on psychokinesis with the famous psychic Nelya Mikhailova (known also by her maiden name of Nina Kulagina). This woman realized she was psychic during the Second World War, when she was in hospital recovering from an injury. One day when she was very angry she was walking towards a cupboard when a jug moved to the edge of the shelf, fell off, and broke. After this, she was plagued by poltergeist activity (discussed later). There have been many extraordinary claims about her abilities. For example, it has been said that she can shift objects placed on a table top just by willing them to move. However, this is not a convincing demonstration of psychokinesis, because it is difficult to distinguish between movements which really are caused by psychokinesis and those which are merely the result of electrostatic forces. (A person can sometimes generate an electric charge on his or her hand - or an object - and then induce it to move small distances.) Much of Mikhailova's work - and incidentally that of others like her - can be explained in this way. But there is little doubt that she has a real and extraordinary psychokinetic ability. One test in particular which proves this is so was conducted by Genady Sergeyev, a neurophysiologist at Leningrad. First of all, an egg was broken into a tank of salt solution. Mikhailova then concentrated on the egg, and with a great deal of effort separated the white from the yolk. The whole event was recorded on film.
Another line of evidence very suggestive of the reality of psychokinesis is the phenomenon of rapping and levitation which occurs in spiritualist and psychic meetings. Although I do not accept that spiritualists conjure up discarnate spirits, there is good evidence that unexplained movement of objects is a common feature of such meetings. The question is whether these effects stem from trickery or really represent psychokinesis.
In considering the answer to this question, we shall examine one of the most well known examples of the phenomenon. The long and complicated story began when members of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research were investigating a haunted house. Several people who were in the basement of this house agreed that they had seen a 'ghost' - although they tended to regard this as a 'thought form' produced by the mental activity of the individuals present. If this were so, they reasoned, it might be possible deliberately to create another such thought form to a description of their own choosing. For convenience, let us refer to this thought form as a ghost. (I am not suggesting that this has any connection with the spirit of a dead person.)
This group of people met regularly for over a year with the intention of producing their ghost. In order to reinforce its reality in their minds, they constructed a detailed history for it. They called the ghost Philip, and decided that he had lived in the 1600s, had been married to a girl called Dorothea, and had had a gypsy mistress named Margo. The idea of building up the history of a ghost in this way and then seeing if some manifestation of it could be produced seems crazy. After all, ghosts and spirits are generally thought of as really being connected in some way with past history, whereas Philip was pure invention.
Nevertheless for a whole year the eight members of the group held weekly meetings at which they meditated and spent some time discussing, drawing, and further embellishing the life history of Philip. Nothing happened. At this point, one of the individuals, who had been researching in the psychic field, discovered a traditional technique for generating psychokinesis. The group adopted this technique in the hope that it would assist with the development of their ghost. They stopped meditating and began to be more relaxed together, laughing and establishing a good rapport. On the third and fourth sessions after they had changed technique they felt and heard raps on the table around which they were all sitting. At this stage, each of them thought that one of the others was kicking the underside of the table. Eventually it became clear that this was not the case and one of the group asked the table if it was Philip. They adopted a code of one rap for yes and two raps for no: the table indicated 'yes'. Subsequent questions about Philip's life also produced psychokinetic knocks. Sometimes the answers were such that Philip's life story had to be modified to take account of them.
Now, let us review what has happened so far. A group of people established psychokinetic effects by means of a technique which involved a good group rapport in a light-hearted atmosphere. (We know that the table rapping must have been psychokinetic because sound waves are generated by vibration; and when vibration occurs for no good reason in an otherwise normal object, psychokinesis is clearly indicated.) This is our first mystery. The group did not consciously set out to obtain psychokinetic effects: they simply wanted to generate a ghost. It seems that the psychokinetic effects were produced by the traditional psychic technique which the members of the group had adopted. The group then seem to have used the psychokinetic noises as a means of expressing their subconscious ideas about 'Philip'.
Shortly after the psychokinetic knocking had begun, the table began to move around the room, apparently of its own accord, although members of the group were resting their hands lightly on its surface. This is our second mystery. Judging by the original account of the work, there can be little doubt that the table movement actually took place. What is difficult to accept at first is that members of the group were not simply pushing it. However, the table moved on either one, two, three or all four of its legs. This fact alone excludes the possibility that members of the group were physically moving it: you cannot balance a table on one of its legs and move it across a room simply by touching the surface - even if there are eight people involved.
To the sceptic, this all seems absurd. How could a group of people produce psychokinetic effects just by behaving in a light-hearted way? Experienced psychics tell us that this table-moving technique is very well known. Admittedly the group of eight individuals described here were not experienced psychics. On the other hand, they had a very strong desire for some psychic phenomena to occur; they could also rationalize the actual psychokinetic effects as being a manifestation of their 'thought form' or ghost. Indeed, these effects appeared in a manner which conformed to the conditions they had already described and which were uppermost in their minds - their ideas about Philip's life story. If you wish to try a similar technique, you can find the method in 'You are Psychic' by Sophia Williams.
Let us now return to a more general discussion of psychokinesis. I wish to consider an aspect of psychokinesis which causes more problems than any other: poltergeist activity. Poltergeists are not the same as ghosts, although they are frequently confused. This is how I understand and use the terms. 'Ghosts' look like living beings. Usually, each one has the form of a man or woman - sometimes an animal - known to be associated with the history of a particular place. Yet they have no real existence in our physical world; they seem to be nothing more than mental perceptions. We know this because not all the people in a group will see a ghost at the same time. In fact, ghosts literally 'occur' when a man or woman in a particular state of consciousness momentarily experiences a kind of historical clairvoyance - a precognition in reverse, as it were. This involves sensory input from the psychic sense and not from the eyes, although the process of perception seems to be the same in both cases. The result is that the person momentarily 'sees' an event or figure which really did exist in history upon that spot.
Poltergeists, on the other hand, are very real, in the sense that events described as 'poltergeist activity' do actually occur in the physical world. But poltergeist activity is not caused by physical beings, spirits or ghosts. It is a result of the activity of an individual's psychic faculty. To understand this more clearly, we can examine some typical accounts of poltergeist activity. Such accounts are generally well documented, and amongst the most significant cases which have been reported there has never been a single proven instance of fraud. Although most poltergeist activity is pointless, some seems downright destructive or harmful. As will become clear, this is because such activity often represents the release of repressed hostility. (Incidentally, the occasionally malevolent nature of the phenomenon has unquestionably led to the traditional explanation of poltergeists as being the work of mischievous elves, goblins and ghosts.)
The first case which 1 shall describe occurred in December 1967 and early 1968 in the offices of a lawyer (one Herr Adam) in Rosenheim, Germany. He suffered much interference with his office furniture. For example, the fluorescent fight tubes turned through ninety degrees and exploded, the photocopying machine leaked fluid when no one was near it, the telephone rang or lost connections in the middle of calls without apparent reason, and the telephone exchange mechanism registered phantom calls to the speaking clock. Not surprisingly, a thorough inspection of the electricity and telephone systems was ordered. F. Karger and G. Zicha, two physicists from the Max Planck Institute of Plasmaphysics in Munich, were called in to investigate? They fitted a power station recorder onto the mains supply in the lawyer's office and later also set up equipment to monitor magnetic field changes. They also recorded the sounds which formed a part of the poltergeist effects. At this stage these were thought to be caused by voltage fluctuations in the electricity supply. But measurements with all this equipment - assuming that it was unaffected by the poltergeist - quickly ruled out electrical and magnetic effects as the cause of the problems. Despite (or perhaps because of) all this attention the disturbances continued, so Herr Adam suggested that an emergency generator be used to supply electricity. The suggestion was implemented, but the problems continued. At this point, someone noticed that fluctuations in the recording apparatus seemed to occur especially when a nineteen-year-old girl, AnneMarie S., was present. For example, the first interruption of the electricity supply, as measured by deflection on the electrical recording apparatus, occurred when she arrived at work in the morning; and when light bulbs shattered, the pieces flew towards her.
When asked for his opinion, the director of the Institute of Parapsychology at Freiburg University suggested that AnneMarie was indeed the most likely cause of the phenomena. It is said that Herr Adam joked to Anne-Marie, 'The only things that haven't moved are the pictures on the wall,' whereupon one tilted through a complete circle! Later, Anne-Marie left the office and transferred to another lawyer's practice; significantly, the poltergeist activity went with her. It is a curious but well documented fact that poltergeist activity of this sort nearly always occurs in the presence of an adolescent - usually (but not exclusively) a girl. And it has been observed that such girls are often unstable, unhappy and emotionally disturbed. By all accounts Anne-Marie had an unhappy childhood and suffered from great emotional disturbance including irritability and frustration. Clearly such states of mind may be a natural part of adolescence.
Another famous case also took place in 1967, in the United States. When a writer on psychic affairs was being interviewed on a Miami radio station, the owner of a local business called to ask how he could remove a poltergeist which was breaking beer mugs, ashtrays, vases and other crockery. The writer, Sue Smith, went along to the scene of the disturbances - which turned out to be a warehouse - with a film crew. Over the twenty-four hours they were there, objects flew around in such profusion that trickery was absolutely impossible. Because the effects continued while the investigation was being conducted, great care was taken to note the positions of all the people in the warehouse when objects were flying -around. It seemed fairly obvious from these observations that a nineteen-year-old shipping clerk called Julio was responsible. He was never caught throwing objects, but there was fairly clear evidence that he was the centre of the disturbances. For example, the incidents stopped when he left the building. They also decreased in frequency with increasing distance from him rather like the way in which the intensity of shock waves falls off as one gets further away from the epicentre of an earthquake. A psychologist who conducted personality tests on Julio found that he was an unstable individual with serious feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.
The third case is a more recent one. On the day I write about poltergeists, my local newspaper carries an article entitled 'Haunted Holiday Homes Riddle'. This article describes a series of unexplained events in the home of a family living in Blackpool, England. The family concerned bought a building which they decided to modernize and convert into holiday flats. While the work was being carried out they lived in private accommodation in the same building. Soon after the work had begun, however, mysterious events started to happen. Footsteps, and 'movements' were heard in the building; the family and guests 'sensed a presence'; ornaments were flying across the room; and so on. It is suggested in the article that the cause of these disturbances might have been the activity of a 'spirit'. And curiously enough a woman died within a few feet of the building after falling out of an aircraft overhead in 1935. Obviously it would be easy to accept a connection between these two events. The reaction of the family was to call on the services of a Catholic priest to bless the 'haunted' rooms. Shortly afterwards, in the words of the lady of the house, 'We knew it was all over when half-way through the night we heard a tremendous bang on our bedroom door.' This occurred without any physical mark being made on the door (a case of psychokinetic noise very similar to the Toronto table rapping).
Unfortunately, six months later, the disturbances started again. This time a mirror crashed to the floor and objects moved around. We are, therefore, forced to look for an alternative to the 'haunted house' theory. This is because one would not expect spirits - if they exist, that is - to appear intermittently.
I believe that the key to this affair lies in one particular sentence which appeared in the newspaper article. This is it: 'two teenage daughters have reported beds being shaken violently by an unseen hand.' As on so many other occasions when poltergeist activity occurs, we have the presence of adolescent girls. It seems much more likely that either one or both of the girls were causing poltergeist activity than that the noises were produced by the activity of a spirit. Before we see how an individual might be responsible for such effects, we can briefly list the predominant characteristics of poltergeist cases. Most notably, one individual seems to be responsible in each case. This is fairly obvious: the phenomena stop when he or she leaves the area. The events also fall off with distance from that person. (Anne-Marie and Julio were typical in these respects.) But the person concerned is generally quite unaware that he or she is responsible - the phenomenon is truly subconscious.
Gauld and Cornell have recorded many cases similar to those of Rosenheim, Miami and Blackpool in their comprehensive book Poltergeists. They also describe a series of experiments which they conducted to investigate the notion that some form of earth tremor or vibration lies behind poltergeist effects. They relate how they designed, built and tested a machine to shake buildings: needless to say, this was a futile exercise.
So the most obvious feature of these cases is that they are associated with a personality rather than a place. How could a person be responsible for the often alarming nature of poltergeist effects? In fact, it is conceptually no more difficult to answer this question than it is to explain how a person could be responsible for remarkable displays of metal bending., Therefore the easiest way of approaching the problem is to consider the nature of psychokinesis in general.
Psychokinesis really is a case of 'mind over matter'. In common with psychic healing, it is a technique where matter is dramatically influenced by the human mind. This can happen in a variety of ways: metal bending; production of noises without any physical cause (compare the table rapping in Toronto with noises and bangs in the Rosenheim and Blackpool poltergeist cases); the movement of objects (which is the most common feature of poltergeists); the operation of mechanical systems without reason; deliberate attempts to influence the fall of coins or dice tossed from a shaker (which we shall consider in a moment); and so on. We might simplify the position by developing a system of classification. First, there are conscious attempts to cause psychokinesis phenomena. The majority of cases of metal bending fall into this category. Obviously any other occasion when someone deliberately sets out to affect matter with his or her mind also falls into this category. Second, there are subconsciously controlled examples of psychokinesis - predominantly, poltergeist activity. Within this classification we have all manner of variations: two particularly contrasting examples being Nelya Mikhailova's conscious concentrated attempt to move objects and John Hasted's metal bending youth who, conversely, cannot achieve any results when he concentrates. It is this diversity which leads me into another classification of psychokinesis effects, a classification which I believe is more important than the conscious/subconscious one given above. To illustrate this, I would like you to try the following experiment. Obtain a die and something in which you can shake it. For the first part of the test, you should try to generate a light-hearted, joking, jovial atmosphere. You might like to ask some friends to join you: if they too have an interest in this field, it will help. Within this atmosphere of jollity and light-heartedness, you will throw the die several times with the intention of obtaining a particular face - say, five or six - as often as possible. Remind yourself that it is important you do well. When you are throwing the die, do not concentrate hard on the number which you have chosen, but casually remind yourself of it. You will probably have some considerable success in throwing the desired face of the die, especially on your first few throws. But do remember that the probability of obtaining each face by chance alone is one in six. So the total number of times you will obtain the desired face by chance equals one sixth of the total number of throws.
The second part of the experiment involves the same die, or dice, and shaker. This time, however, you will consciously try to influence the fall of dice by directing your full energy and attention onto them. This is difficult to explain, but easy to understand when you have tried it for yourself. What you are doing, in fact, is diverting your attention from the action involved in throwing the dice onto the numbers you wish to come up. Having a mental picture of the dice lying that way up often helps considerably. However, the important thing is that you should expend considerable energy; that is, not physical energy in throwing the dice, but psychic energy on ensuring that fall in a particular way. Be certain in your mind that you the desired result. You can do this by forcefully mentally repeating, 'I am going to get three sixes' or whatever you want.
This 'concentration' technique differs from the more relaxed method in several ways. Obviously the attitude of mind in which you start is different. But, more importantly, the ways in which the techniques affect you are also quite different. There is no noticeable difference in the way you feel after a few minutes of using the relaxed technique. The concentration technique, however, is psychically (and physically) exhausting.
If it works - that is, if you are putting enough energy in to make it work - you will only be able to sustain the effort required for a few minutes. After this, you will find that you are quite unable to influence the dice, and you will also feel mentally drained. It is not desirable to reach this state very often, so I have included the test for the sake of illustration only. There is a loose connection with the work of Nelya Mikhailova here. After her psychokinetic feat of separating the egg yolk and white as described earlier she was mentally and physically exhausted and haggard - like an old woman, as one observer put it. The same generally applies to anyone who moves objects using something akin to the concentration technique. It has to be said, however - and your experiments may well have convinced you of this - that the concentration technique is, at least initially, more effective than the relaxed technique in producing psychokinesis.
I believe that poltergeist effects may be caused by a release of psychic energy in the same way that occurs in the concentration technique. Associated, as they so often are, with individuals who have emotional problems, poltergeists may represent an uncontrolled discharge of hostility or repressed and transformed aggression. (Repression is a process whereby an individual does not consciously accept or express a particular emotion. But because the original cause of the emotion is still present in the subconscious mind, emotional energy will build up until a process of transformation takes place and the emotion is finally expressed in a quite different form.) The implication of this idea is that repressed hostility - or other emotional states - have an energy substrate which can be transformed into an energy capable of moving objects at a distance. We can call this 'psychic energy'. The fact that poltergeist activity is usually subconsciously controlled (at least, its occurrence is not consciously intended) supports this theory: repression of emotions from consciousness usually produces some form of subconsciously determined effect. The most common are psychosomatic illness, irritability and depression. In this special case, I am suggesting that repression leads to a transformation of emotional energy into the psychic energy which causes psychokinesis. No draining or exhaustion effect occurs in the people responsible for poltergeists because they have a reservoir of emotional energy on which to draw. Suggestively, when their environment - in the widest possible sense - changes, and their emotional problems come to an end, the poltergeist activity also ceases. Excess emotional energy may be a natural part of human development, but only a few individuals ever show signs of poltergeists. It would, however, be very interesting to know how many unreported cases of poltergeist activity actually occur!
To sum up: although poltergeist effects are usually subconscious, and the dice throwing concentration technique is a conscious process, they probably have a similar underlying psychic mechanism. Both these procedures contrast sharply with cases of psychokinesis such as the Toronto group's table rapping and movement, the Geller metal bending effect, and the relaxed dice throwing technique. Such cases conspicuously do not involve a draining of energy from the subject. Indeed, they often revitalize the individuals concerned. Thus, from these observations, we are forced to conclude that this group of cases does not involve the same mechanism as the concentration technique. There are good reasons why this conclusion is likely to be correct. For example, when we examine psychic healing, we shall find parallel effects: one method of healing is draining, the other is not. And it is true that some people find dowsing a tiring procedure, while others do not. Jean Burns has suggested that many people naturally use a method which falls midway between the concentration and relaxed techniques. This probably explains why there can be such variation in people's personal experiences during psychic work.
Let us now return to a more general consideration of the issues involved. When trying to influence the fall of dice by psychokinesis, it does not seem to matter whether or not the dice bounce against another object before coming to rest. This observation has led Jean Burns to suggest that the ability to obtain a particular face on a die is not psychokinesis, but a kind of precognition. In other words, the subconscious can identify the particular moment at which the die will fall the desired way up when you release it. I was at first tempted to accept this explanation. However, several observations make me feel it is not correct. First, the movement of the table by the Toronto group was con ducted in a light-hearted environment and was unquestionably psychokinetic. Therefore, we know that M effects can occur in a relaxed atmosphere. So why should dice throwing not be truly psychokinetic? Second, I have watched various individuals influence the fall of dice from a mechanical shaker which released them at random times. The dice were made to fall with a particular face upwards a significantly greater number of times than would be expected by chance alone. Clearly, precognition could not be at work here.
As you might expect, the results of the relaxed technique are generally much less significant if you are in an irritable or upset mood when you try it. (This applies to all aspects of psychic work.) And when trying to use either the concentration or the relaxed technique, it is better if feelings of self are not predominant. As we shall see, this is because such feelings involve a state of consciousness quite unsuited to psychic work. In the next chapter, I shall explain the ways in which you can develop your psychic ability by learning to control your state of mind or level of consciousness.
As a demonstration of the effectiveness of the exercises described in the next chapter, you should try a test for psychokinesis twice. First of all, do it now, following the instructions given below. Record your results. Then read the next section of this work, try the exercises described there, and afterwards repeat the test. Record your second set of results and compare the two. The comparison should reveal a significantly greater success rate the second time around. However, do remember that this is not a precise test of psychokinesis ability. The need for repeated throws of coins in the absence of electronic equipment makes the test susceptible to boredom. Furthermore, the results are of no scientific value because of the limited number of throws involved. It is only intended to be a demonstration of the fact that there are ways of learning to develop your psychic ability.
PSYCHIC EXPERIENCE FOR YOU
A test for psychokinesis
In the following test, your aim is to influence the fall of a normal, unbiased coin. You may choose to try and make the coin fall heads or tails upwards. The greater the number of throws, the more reliable the results will be; so it will help if you can obtain the assistance of a group of friends. For successful results, you need to pick people who believe in psychokinesis but who will not fabricate the results. If you are working in a group, you can pool your results and probably obtain up to 1000 throws of the coin. If you are working alone, you need to throw the coin at least 100 times for the results to have any meaning at all. Of course, you do not have to do this in one sitting - short sessions are probably preferable. (Using two coins at once is also acceptable.)
An atmosphere of light-heartedness will help. You should throw the coin(s) from a cup or shaker, rather than your bare hands, onto a flat surface. You can re-read the instructions about the dice throwing technique above, and apply them while you toss the coin. Each time the coin has come to rest, mark whether it landed heads or tails uppermost on a score sheet. Afterwards tot up your results and refer to relevant chapter for the method of analysis and probability calculation. The comparison of your results before and after trying. the exercises described in the next chapter can be set out like this:
Score before trying relaxation and visualization exercises:
... heads/tails out of ... throws
Odds against this being due to chance alone: ... to 1
Score after trying the exercises: ... heads/tails out of ...throws.
Odds against this being due to chance alone: ... to 1