Telekinesis is derived from the Greek tele which means distant or over a distance, and kinesis, translating to movement. The term was coined in the late 19th century to refer to the ability to move things by mind power only. It is considered a subset of the psychic phenomenon, psychokinesis. Psychokinesis is a much larger group of psychic abilities that includes being able to do things like heal, drastically change shape of objects, project thoughts onto other substances like photographs, and to teleport by mind power.
Most people’s association with telekinesis is through viewing it in fictional outlets. The movie and book Carrie are often cited as one of the best examples of telekinetic abilities. Another example is the character Willow in the late, popular series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In later episodes of the series Willow’s superior ability in magic allows her to move objects with her mind.
In real life, examples of telekinesis are harder to find and much more difficult to prove as real. Many scientists believe that the study of psychic phenomenon is pseudoscience. There are some reports of people with telekinetic powers, but these are usually restricted to a few witnesses or to anecdotal evidence that cannot be verified. However, witnesses who have claimed to see telekinesis in action usually have no reason to make up stories and include people like doctors, police officers and people in military service.
Usually, incidents of telekinesis occur quickly and there is no time for investigation of other causes. Sometimes people do claim they have telekinetic powers that may be demonstrated. 1n the 1970s, a woman named Felicia Parise excited many because she appeared to be able to move small objects with her mind.
Parapsychologists tested Parise, and were unable to uncover any mechanism or trick that could explain her abilities or disprove them. On thing noted about her demonstrations was the effort it seemed to take. Moving tiny objects like a pillbox appeared to require tremendous strength. Parise retired due to the tremendous effort involved in showing her telekinetic abilities and skeptics still doubt that she was able to do what she claimed.
Some skeptic societies offer large financial prizes for proof of telekinesis and other psychic phenomenon. Thus far these prizes remain unclaimed. Beyond scattered stories of strange events and a few demonstrations over the years, there is still little proof that people actually can move objects with their minds. Nevertheless, recent surveys of Americans show about 20-30% do believe that telekinesis is possible.