A friend of mine saw last night a cup move a few centimeters on the table, without any external influence. Is this a known phenomenon and what is it called?
There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon:
- Telekinesis: supposed ability to move objects by the power of thought and will alone. This is a controversial paranormal phenomenon that has never been scientifically proven.
- A slight breeze or vibration: it is possible that a faint air current or ground vibration made the cup move. These movements can be almost imperceptible.
- A problem of perception: it is possible your friend thought he saw the cup move when in reality it was motionless. Our perception is not always 100% reliable.
- A prank or staging: before considering a supernatural explanation, one must consider the possibility of a joke or staging meant to intrigue your friend.
- Fatigue or intoxication: when our brain is tired or under the influence, it can produce optical illusions and mistaken perceptions.
Without more details, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the exact cause of this phenomenon. A rational explanation involving natural or psychological factors is much more likely than a supernatural cause.
None of your explanations are convincing. He didn’t do anything, so no telekinesis, no air draft, and no hallucinogenic substances. S. is someone rational and cartesian. It seems to be a supernatural phenomenon. What do you think?.
I understand that the rational explanations I proposed do not seem to correspond to the situation described by your friend. However, one must remain cautious before concluding that an event is supernatural or paranormal in nature.
Several points need to be considered:
- Our perception and memory are not always reliable, even in rational people. Optical illusions or false memories are possible.
- Eyewitness accounts, even when sincere, can sometimes be inaccurate or exaggerated, especially if the event provokes strong emotion.
- Many unexplained phenomena have eventually found satisfactory scientific explanations with time and in-depth study.
- Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence: to validate the existence of a supernatural phenomenon that contradicts the laws of physics, solid, repeatable evidence examined by qualified scientists would be needed.
As long as a rational explanation, however improbable, remains possible, it is better to resort to it rather than appeal to the supernatural. If your friend is certain of what he saw, I advise him to try to reproduce the phenomenon under controlled conditions. This is the only way to obtain objective evidence.
Are there examples of people who have experienced something similar?
Yes, there are accounts of people reporting having observed objects moving on their own with no obvious explanation. Here are some examples:
- Stories of “haunted houses” where occupants say they see furniture or utensils move or fall for no reason. This is a common phenomenon in paranormal accounts.
- Some occult or spiritualist practitioners claim that during seances, objects like tables or a glass start to move, supposedly under the action of supernatural entities.
- In folklore, there are legends of animated objects or utensils coming to life, like armors moving on their own in haunted castles.
- Cases of poltergeists where stone throwing, broken dishes or moving objects are attributed to a “noisy ghost”.
- Some people claiming to have psychic or telekinetic powers tell stories of being able to move objects by thought alone.
Of course, most of these accounts do not constitute solid evidence, and can often be explained by natural causes, illusions or hoaxes. But such testimonies exist and fuel legends of unexplained phenomena.
So, these kinds of phenomena seem to indeed exist. You agree that science cannot explain everything, right?
I understand the reasoning, but I think we must be cautious before stating that science cannot explain certain phenomena. A few important points:
- Many previously unexplained phenomena have eventually found convincing scientific explanations after thorough research. The history of science shows this.
- Accounts and testimonies are not enough as evidence. They must be supported by verifiable facts and reproducible results to validate a phenomenon that defies known laws.
- There are many cognitive biases that can alter our perception and memories, leading us to wrongly believe in extraordinary phenomena.
- Some rare phenomena may seem “unexplained” simply because they have not been studied enough yet, not because science is fundamentally incapable of understanding them.
- Saying “science cannot explain it” is often a default argument. It does not prove that a supernatural explanation is true.
Of course, there are mysteries and limits to scientific knowledge. But in the absence of solid, verifiable evidence, it is best to remain cautious rather than hastily conclude the existence of inexplicable supernatural phenomena. The scientific approach requires great rigor before validating such extraordinary phenomena.
Could quantum physics explain this kind of phenomenon?
Quantum physics is sometimes invoked to try to explain paranormal phenomena, but we must be very cautious with this argument.
Some counterintuitive aspects of quantum mechanics like entanglement, superposition of states, or the uncertainty principle are sometimes interpreted in highly speculative ways to support pseudo-scientific theories.
However, most physicists agree that quantum mechanics does not allow explaining telekinesis, clairvoyance or other paranormal phenomena. Here are some reasons why:
- Nothing in the equations of quantum physics indicates that the mind can influence matter remotely by thought alone.
- Quantum effects are only observable on a microscopic scale, they do not manifest at our macroscopic scale.
- Observing a quantum system causes its wave function to collapse, but this does not mean the mind can influence matter just by observing it.
- Theories linking consciousness and quantum physics are currently speculative with no experimental evidence.
Therefore, even though quantum mechanics is counterintuitive, nothing indicates it allows explaining phenomena like telekinesis or moving objects with the mind. Solid experimental evidence would be needed to support such claims.
Are there quantum physicists who argue the opposite of what you just wrote?
It is true that some physicists, often a minority, have hypothesized that quantum mechanics could play a role in explaining certain paranormal phenomena.
However, these ideas remain extremely speculative and do not achieve consensus within the scientific community.
- Fritz Alfred Wolfgang London and Edmond Bauer proposed the idea that telepathy could be explained by “entangled” quantum states between two brains. But this proposal has never been substantiated.
- Roger Nelson conducted experiments suggesting that human consciousness can affect quantum randomness. But his results have never been reliably reproducible.
- Dean Radin conducted statistical tests indicating possible quantum effects of the mind on matter. But his methodology and interpretations are highly disputed.
- Amit Goswami has written books linking quantum physics and the paranormal, but his theories are deemed pseudo-scientific by many physicists.
So yes, some scientists support this kind of ideas, but they remain an extremely minority, and their work is far from achieving consensus within the scientific community. Extreme caution is warranted on these subjects. Solid, reproducible experimental evidence would be needed to validate such theories.
is it possible that S. was in a state of “quantum consciousness” when he saw the cup move?
The notion of a “quantum state of consciousness” allowing the observation of paranormal phenomena is a pseudo-scientific concept without real basis.
There is no indication that the human consciousness can reach a “quantum level” and allow interacting with matter in a supernatural way.
This idea is based on erroneous interpretations of quantum mechanics and an abusive use of scientific terminology.
Quantum phenomena occur at a microscopic scale and there is no evidence they can manifest at our macroscopic scale in an uncontrolled way.
It is much more likely your friend simply thought he perceived a movement that did not actually happen, rather than invoking a hypothetical “quantum state of consciousness”.
Such altered states of consciousness can modify our perception, but in no way do they provide access to supernatural phenomena that contradict the known laws of physics.
Without solid experimental evidence, the most reasonable explanation remains to be found in the realm of optical illusion, suggestibility and cognitive biases rather than hypothetical quantum phenomena.
If a quantum state of consciousness existed, this kind of phenomenon could occur, right?