By Robert Wheeler
Issues about powers of the mind have been popularized recently because of advances in sub-atomic physics, cosmology, and parapsychology. A major issue in science and philosophy is the mind-body problem–how does our mind, our mental activity affect our physical body? Religion and science both confirm that it does happen, and science has uncovered much about how and when it happens. A newer issue is the mind-over-matter problem–how do our mental activities affect physical matter? Religion has long affirmed this and science is now confirming it, but how, when, and usefulness is a cutting edge topic in science.
Research about psychokinesis (mind effects on physical matter) has demonstrated effects of thought and intention by individuals on gambling, computer activity, plant life, and sub-atomic particle action; and, effect of collective thought has been demonstrated by influence of human reactions to major events on computer generated random numbers and of group prayer on heart recovery. Measurable effects of an observer’s intention to influence sub-atomic particles has also been demonstrated. All of these effects are weak and inconsistence, however they are significant by current standards for research and are stimulating further research.
The recent bestselling book Law of Attraction has popularized the idea that one’s intentions and thinking can influence the outcome of events, and several lines of research have shown beneficial effects of positive thinking and focus on a particular task. In psychology, research about confidence, mindfulness, and effort has been shown to improve motivation and drive in individuals that, in turn, increase one’s ability to accomplish a task. But, does that intention itself aid accomplishment of the task beyond personal motivational factors?
Research has failed to support any effect on task accomplishment by mental intention except for personal motivation or clarification of the task. As with the mind-body issue, it is possible that further research will confirm this effect, but it has not happened yet. Support for psychokinesis, global consciousness, and thought projection justify further research. Quantum mechanics and cosmology have opened doors to a vast (maybe infinite) realm of knowledge beyond current limits of observation. They indicate that anything may be possible, even the ability of the mind to do outlandish things like exist independent from the body, and effect physical matter and other people.