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Are there scientific explanations to psychokinesis and telepathy?

Just saw Keith Barry's talk, and I've personally been a part of such events where my own thoughts have been 'read'. I read a lot of evolutionary psychology and everything in the world seems very explainable, but this is one area that has always amazed and confused me.

How do we explain such stuff? Wikipedia states that it has not really worked out in controlled experiments and such phenomena have not been established scientifically. Then are all such exhibitions a mere trick?

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    Sep 8 2011: If some person could actually do telekinesis, and scientists could test the skill and declare it genuine, wouldn't the entire Internet be talking about it? Wouldn't it be on the front page of every newspaper?

    In addition, if such a person liked money, it could make them incredibly rich. If they didn't care for money but loved humanity, they could do all kinds of good with such a skill. (Think of how it would help science, or rescue work, or medicine etc.) If there were people who could really do this, how on earth would they keep it a secret?

    To me, it seems far more likely that there are people who PRETEND to have such skills. They are able to fool lots of people who do not understand the principles of stage magic and deception. But they cannot do it well enough to fool a decent scientist for long.

    Interestingly, many people with fake powers also fool THEMSELVES. For example, lots of people use Ouija boards and think they're actually contacting dead spirits. Water dousers are particularly susceptible to this kind of self-deception. Even after scientific tests have shown their powers are imaginary they continue to believe they're real.
    • Sep 8 2011: Wow, that is an awesome reply totally puts things in perspective. I think we tend to fall into the false negative trap when we lack the micro level explanation. Not so confused anymore!
  • Sep 8 2011: This guy is amazing. however, i was quite disappointed this video is featured on TED because it holds no educational value or shares any knowledge about what he is doing. His tricks were very interesting, but if i wanted to see magic tricks, id youtube david blane or something. This video was is entertaining, not educational.
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    Aug 19 2011: Never underestimate the power of persuasion of con artists. The power of suggestion in human beings is not to be underestimated. Remember we can actually fool ourselves into feeling better via the placebo effect (and worse through the nocebo effect). You've got to look at pseudoscience like that in a cool dispassionate objective way.

    I don't know if you've ever had déjà-vus. I've had a few these past weeks. Lack of sleep. Anyway sometimes I read comments on TED that has just been posted and think to myself "I'm absolutely certain I've read this before!". But really I know it's my mind playing tricks on me. But the natural impulse to believe you've seen something before like a premonition is really strong.

    I suspect it's the same with psychokinesis and telephathy. Also there's a willingness for people to believe things when they actively want them to be true. Ask yourself if you've had such a desire for your experiences with telepathy to be true and if that made you more readily prepared to omit inconsistencies in the con artists' performance.
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      Sep 6 2011: deja-vus are sometimes argued like they occur when you goto a place and feel that you have been here before or something just like this happened before as a result of auto corrective mode in our networks of neurons. As we go thru some places we feel like that because at a split second the impulses travel from eyes to brains for processing but while that transmission if some neural path fails temporarily the neurons takes the data in a different path in a store and send method exactly like our networks. But the fail is not permanent so while one copy is sent to the brain the stored data tries the failed path again and as its cleared the same data is send again. This redundancy is named as some blah blah blah i forgot but got this info while me and my friends were discussing such a type of topic.
      PS:Pardon me if I ever made some grammatical mistake..
      Sid
  • Sep 7 2011: Matthieu trust me I would LOVE to believe that they're just con artists since it fits into my understanding of the world. So it can't be the case that I wanted to believe it (wouldn't be asking this question then, right?). So they're just fooling us? Any brain magician have anything to say..?
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    Sep 6 2011: Conscious is one and making it synchronous with others is what the trick. We cannot say that its a camera trick or anything until and unless we have solid evidence against it. I am not speaking rationally but I personally do believe in the presence of consciousness. If we can feel that somebody is observing us for a long time irrespective of the distance it because if you concentrate on something too much which has conscious and will somewhat starts to synchronize with the other(I tried it in the exam hall and yes it worked.. The invigilator was noticing me..)
  • Aug 19 2011: Borrah,

    Re: "I once caught wind of an experiment in which people were instructed to use their minds to attempt to influence a random number generator. Apparently the results of the study were that people could in-fact influence the number generator with the power of the mind alone."

    I find that hard to believe. Do you have a link to the study that you could post here? Unless there is some supporting evidence I think all rational people would assume that the conclusion of the study was flawed.
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      Aug 19 2011: I actually looked prior to mentioning it here. I couldn't find anything, but I thought 'd mention it anyway because seems there might be a hint of relevance. I suspected that the test was collapsing wave-functions. It was something I saw on Nat. Geo. one day.

      I just rummaged through links for a bit. You are absolutely correct.

      http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090426052807AAQL11O
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    Aug 19 2011: I once caught wind of an experiment in which people were instructed to use their minds to attempt to influence a random number generator. Apparently the results of the study were that people could in-fact influence the number generator with the power of the mind alone.

    This sounds quite silly at first, but the popular theory known as "the Copenhagen Interpretation" is widely accepted as the explanation for events occur at the quantum level.

    It is a proven fact that the very act of observing quanta causes them to change their behavior. No, it is not light bouncing off of the quanta & entering out retinas that changes their behavior... it is the simple fact that the light is "understood." Actually, measuring the quanta in any way shape or form directly or indirectly will change the behavior of the quanta. No one knows why.

    So, it is currently a scientific fact that our minds do influence the natural world at least to some capacity.

    As far as reading thoughts & bending spoons goes... I wouldn't believe it even if I saw it. It'd have to be done in a laboratory with measuring equipment in front of a team of professionals... more than once. Then I would believe.