Problems in investigating psychokinesis in special subjects

Gregory, Anita (1983) Problems in investigating psychokinesis in special subjects. Doctoral thesis, Polytechnic of North London.


An attempt is made to establish the authenticity of a number of 'Psychokinetic' (PK) effects claimed to have been obtained with Special Subjects and in the process to elucidate the question why in over a hundred years these phenomena remain controversial. Four cases are examined in detail.

The first, that of Rudi Schneider, is a well documented case history and archival and other records are subjected to qualitative and quantitative examination, which suggests a prima facie case for authenticity of some of the claims, both of earlier gross effects and later vestigial irregularities detected by means of infra-red equipment. Scrutiny of the evidence also highlights the complex social and psychological factors entering into controversies in this area.

In the second case an experimental claim to have established PK by means of a random number generator is shown to have been dubious if not spurious, and the circumstances, social and psychological, in which it arises, are discussed.

The third case considered is a recent set of supposed poltergeist occurrences, the Enfield case, in which the writer participated and witnesses were interviewed and documents examined. It was concluded that the case was spurious and the pressures on all involved are discussed.

The fourth case concerns a modern active psychic, Matthew Manning, whose earlier phenomena are considered, and with whom laboratory experiments were conducted in an attempt to replicate the infra-red disturbances found in the case of Schneider. These were ostensibly successful, and the records obtained were subjected to detailed scrutiny.

The major problems facing researchers in this area are summarised. It is suggested that PK effects arise from group configurations of persons and are particularly connected with competition or personal ascendancy: however, there is no reason to suppose that the psychological circumstances surrounding ostensibly genuine PK are any different from normal and abnormal ones. An inter-relation between the ability actively to dominate and delude, and that to facilitate genuine phenomena, is suggested as a reason, in addition to numerous social and practical ones, why greater certainty has not been achieved to date. Future research is suggested.

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