Read More: Live Science
Who here is psychic? Raise my hand!" That's an old joke, but there are several claimed types of psychic powers, including precognition (knowing the future) and telepathy (describing things at a remote location). But for sheer impressiveness it's hard to beat psychokinesis, the ability to move objects through mind power. The word is derived from the Greek words for "mind" and "motion" and is also called PK or telekinesis. Fictional psychokinetics are easy to find: The popular X-Men comic and film franchise includes the character Jean Grey, whose powers include extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. The 2009 movie "Push" is about a group of young Americans with various psychic abilities who team up and use their paranormal powers against a shadowy U.S. government agency. Though many Americans believe in psychic ability (about 15 percent of us, according to a 2005 Baylor Religion Survey), scientific evidence for its existence remains elusive. Some people even link psychokinesis to the spiritual world, suggesting for example that some reports of ghosts — such as poltergeists — are not manifestations of the undead at all, but instead the unconscious releases of a person's psychic anger or angst. If people could move everyday objects with nothing more than their thoughts, this should be quite easy to demonstrate: Who wouldn't like their latte delivered by a psychic barista from across the counter, floating it right to your hand with a mere gesture? This doesn't happen, of course. Instead researchers have focused on what they term "micro-PK," or the manipulation of very small objects. The idea is that if the ability exists, its force is obviously very weak. Therefore, the less physical energy that would have to be exerted on an object to physically move it, the more obvious the effect should be. For this reason, laboratory experiments often focus on rather mundane feats such as trying to make dice land on a certain number at an above-chance rate, or influencing a computerized random number generator. Because of this change in methodologies, psychokinesis experiments rely more heavily on complex statistical analyses; the issue was not whether a person could bend a spoon or knock a glass over with their minds, for example, but whether they could make a coin come up heads significantly above 50 percent of the time over the course of 1,000 trials.