psychokinesis, movement or deformation of a physical object by thought or willpower alone (i.e., without the application of physical force). Telekinesis (sometimes abbreviated TK), an older term for psychokinesis (sometimes abbreviated PK), was first used by the German-Russian psychical researcher Alexander Asakof about 1890. Henry Holt, an American publisher and author, coined the term psychokinesis in 1914 in his book On the Cosmic Relations; the American parapsychologist J. B. Rhine adopted the term in 1934 in conjunction with experiments to see if people could influence the outcome of falling dice. The term telekinesis, or teleportation, was initially applied to the motion of objects thought to be caused by ghosts or other supernatural beings. As evidence of fraudulent activities by mediums (for example, raising a table while tapping on its underside in a darkened seance room) accumulated, the term psychokinesis came into use to differentiate the "legitimate" PK environment from the fraudulent TK environment. At present, TK is now regarded as a special case of PK, that is, psychokinesis is used to describe a variety of paranormal phenomena (including movement at a distance) while telekinesis refers only to movement at a distance.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.