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A reader asked me about telekinesis. I haven’t seen any demonstrations that didn’t involve jostling the table that the object is on, but that’s not what today’s post is about.
He said he used to be able to move water, but that he “retired of it because it was not useful in real life (no matter how cool it was).” That’s what I want to talk about: What does it mean to be useful?
There are two types of useful: Directly useful, and scientifically useful. And by focusing only on directly useful techniques, we will wind up holding ourselves back.
A few examples: Transmuting lead into gold is obviously useful. Same with reading minds, flying, etc. They’re abilities we’d all love to have. (For this post, I’m ignoring what’s possible and what’s not, and just plucking examples from fantasy.)
But let me ask you this: Is it useful to know that the same force that holds me to the earth, also governs the motions of the planets? Is it useful to know that DNA is in the nucleus of a cell? Or that passing a magnet over a wire will cause the electrons to move?
None of that is useful in isolation. Transport a person 1,000 years into the past, and they can’t do anything with that knowledge. Without gears to make clocks, knowing the precise location of planets and stars doesn’t help you navigate. Without the rest of biology, knowing about DNA doesn’t solve any problem. Without steam engines to power an electric generator, it doesn’t matter if you know how to create an electrical current.
And yet, the last hundred years have been shaped by those three pieces of information. Space travel, modern medicine, and electricity. That useless information is the foundation of the modern world.
Which brings us to telekinesis. A force, generated from thin air, without an obvious opposing force. This is impossible in current physics. If it existed (and that’s a big if, but if it did), it would be a massive addition to physics.
What would that finding ultimately let us do? No one knows. Just like no one knew that learning about gravity would lead to space travel, or that learning about quantum physics would lead to transistors and computers. That’s the point: We often have no idea where new science leads. But we follow it anyway, despite being initially useless, and it’s given us the modern world.
What would I do with a clear demonstration of energy healing or magick? The Randi challenge pays $1,000,000 for it. San Francisco venture capitalists would likely give even more — not to create a water-moving device, but to put together a team, figure out what’s going on, and then create the next spaceship, internet, or whatever this science leads to.
This post isn’t about telekinesis. It’s about all the phenomena we explore. Because the real question isn’t, “Can I use this?” The real question is, “What could I do with this, plus a team of scientists and the backing of venture capitalists?”If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.