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No. 39: May-Jun 1985

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Pk parties: real or surreal?

A PK (psychokinesis) party gets into full swing when 15 or more people gather and start bending steel bars, softening metal, and popping soy beans open through PK.

Here follows a description of the prototype PK party:

"Twenty-one people gathered at the author's home on Monday evening, January 19, 1981. All were friends of the author and came from varied backgrounds. After introductions and general discussion, everyone was relaxed and comfortable. The author's grandparents' silverplated silverware was passed out and everyone had either a fork or spoon. Severin stood in the middle of the room with everyone seated in a circle and gave the following instructions:

  1. 'Get a point of concentration in your head.'
  2. 'Make it very intense and focussed.'
  3. 'Grab it and bring it down through your neck, down through your shoulder, down through your arm, through your hand, and put it into the silverware at the point you intend to bend it.'
  4. 'Command it to bend.'
  5. 'Release the command and let it happen.'

"He then instructed the group to use their fingers to test for warmth coming out of the silverware or to feel the metal surface become sticky. Everyone felt pretty silly, sitting there holding the silverware, until the head of a fork being held by a boy (age 14) bent over all by itself! Almost everyone in the room saw this happen and experienced an instantaneous belief system change. Then the silverware in the hands of many people in the room became soft. They easily bent and twisted the silverware into unusual shapes. The period during which the metal remained soft was between five and twenty seconds. Everyone was shouting and extremely excited. During the next hour, nineteen of the party attendees had experienced the metal getting soft and being easily formed into any shape."

Such PK 'parties' have been held scores of times since 1981, leaving trails of damaged kitchenware and popped soy beans. It's all a lot of fun. The people attending "feel good" about themselves and their shared experiences.

(Houck, Jack; "PK Party History," in Proceedings of a Symposium on Applications of Anomalous Phenomena, C.P Scott Jones, ed., Kaman Tempo, Alexandria, Virginia, 1984.)

Comment. Is mass delusion the foundation of PK parties? Is the above article serious? Houck's paper is in a long collection of rather standard parapsychological fare presented at a conference held under the auspices of Kaman Tempo. The phenomena of PK parties are similar to the audible effects produced by a Toronto group a few years ago. In their case, the participants conjured up "Phillip, the Imaginary Ghost," who communicated via table rapping. In all such group efforts, including the classical seance, there is strong psychological involvement. Skeptics do not do well at PK parties.

From Science Frontiers #39, MAY-JUN 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987