I’m the habit of looking up the words “psychokinesis” and “telekinesis” almost daily on YouTube. I believe in telekinesis (because I can do it), but there are many hoax videos, and they can be spotted with a well-trained eye. What alarms me is that many of these hoaxes are getting a staggering amount of positive comments. It’s like a large part of the general public has given up on critical thinking.
User godspeed09 is the one who peeves me off the most. He can talk the talk. His profile says:
A group devoted in the research and practice of Telekinesis, with support from both philosophical and scientific studies. We seek to discover the untapped potential inside us for the betterment of the community and self. A lot of the things shown here are beyond what many have displayed in the past. Our technique on Telekinesis is a breakthrough from the conventional and our abilities are maximize for the greater that many have deem impossible in the past. We believe this will contribute to the new wave of science.”
It sounds good until you see the kind of videos he puts online. In general, he’s a big fan of “invisible” thread (a magician’s trick you can purchase on eBay). For something a little different, check out this one:
Then go to eBay and search for “folding dollar”. Yep, it’s there! godspeed09 is a clear and obvious trickster and yet he has presently clocked up 680 subscribers.
In spotting telekinesis hoaxes, look out for “constipated” facial gestures, magical hand fluttering, string pulling (pay careful attention to the behaviour of the object being pulled), “too good to be true” motion, use of static electricity or magnets, and misdirection. To be honest, what the practitioner does with his hands is the most common and obvious tell; if you see him doing the same motions that stage magicians do, then he’s almost certainly faking it.
Occasionally something comes your way that really challenges sceptical observation. Take a look at this. It has to be the most creepy psychokinesis demonstration I’ve ever seen. This is something called pyrokinesis (pyro as in fire):
I was gobsmacked the first time I saw this. I couldn’t figure out how it was done. Then somebody said “fibre optic laser.” I watched it all again and the pieces fell into place. Concealed down the man’s left sleeve is a fibre optic laser. My guess is it’s being voice-actived by that “eeeee” sound he makes. At this point I’m just making guesses, but with those guesses in mind, there are several obvious tells that quickly show themselves. He always positions his hand in a strange angle that keeps it out of harm’s way from the laser (and what do weird double-jointed finger twitches have to do with psychokinesis, anyway?). At 6:05 he uses crafty misdirection to make you think he is burning the paper with the finger-tip of his right hand. But if you look carefully at where he rests the paper, it’s in the precise position that allows the laser inside his left sleeve to burn through the underside of the paper. Busted! What would have really made this trick interesting is if one of the other guys present said “eeeeee” at the wrong moment!
People who believe in paranormal phenomena (and I’m one of them) would do well to remember that scepticism is a useful tool for avoiding self-delusion. I think scepticism gets a bad name because some sceptics use it to debunk genuine mysteries without proper investigation. These kind of people occasionally comment on my personal telekinesis videos with explanations like “It’s air currents,” or “It’s body heat.” The sceptic needs to remember that if he wants to hold on to a conventional explanation, he ought to test the convential explanation, rather than simply accepting it by default because it suits his materialist belief system. On the other hand, those who are more open to the unexplained need to get a much firmer grip on critical thinking, or else they will be prey to every psychic charlatan out there.