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Spoon bending party

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The power of your mind muscles. Extraordinary, innit?
Putting the psycho in
Parapsychology
Icon psychic.svg
Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil
You're releasing something more powerful than atomic weapons
—Atomic weapons and a party; what could possibly go wrong?[1]

So here you are on a Friday evening with nothing to do. No work; no date; nothing on TV. So why not lighten up the evening and go to a Spoon bending party[2] where you, yes, YOU can learn to bend cutlery with the power of your mind!

They're also called PK Parties, short for psychokinesis, and these hardcore raves were first thrown by Jack Houck (1939-2013) in 1981 after hearing about the exploits of Project Stargate (the same people that Uri Geller fooled in the 1970s) and became convinced that remote viewing is a real phenomenon.[3] After this the crank magnetism kicked in and Houck also started believing in psychokinesis, dowsing, psychic healing, and brainwave woo, writing several papers on these subjects.

Party pooper[edit]

Anyone can throw a spoon bending party; Houck helpfully wrote a "how-to guide" and published it on his website[4] which is successful for "over 85 percent" of the party goers (emphases added):

(1) Hold the piece of silverware between the thumb and forefinger and rub gently.

(2) Project a point of concentration in your head, almost to the point of pain.

(3) Then move this point of concentration down through your neck, shoulder, arm, hand, fingers, and project it into the silverware. In effect, this process allows the mind to achieve a link from the brain to some point within the silverware.

(4) Next, verbally command the silverware to bend. In recent parties, I have been having everyone shout as loud as they can: "BEND, BEND, BEND!!!" The people are asked not to just shout for the sake of shouting but to concentrate and intently command the silverware to bend.

(5) Then release that thought, sit back, relax, and use the body sensors (e.g., fingers or a feeling) to find the small time window when the silverware is ready to bend. Occasionally, push on the object with the other hand to see if the object gives. Most people have a hard time releasing the thought, and think that they have to continue to concentrate on the bending objective. I move around and try to break everyone's concentration. Sometimes I hold a person's silverware as if to test how he/she is doing, and then make-up something as to how well he/she is doing or what he/she should try. Usually, a person is able to bend the object shortly thereafter.

[5]

Based on this, we can see several much more likely reasons for the silverware to bend:

  • Due to the exhilarating group effect and shouting, people are likely to underestimate how much strength exactly they exert on the spoon, and bend it with their muscles when "testing" to "see if the object gives". In fact, in most PK parties the "testing" is done during the shouting, not after the shouting. Houck said that an "atmosphere of excitement and emotional arousal" was required and "encouraged people to be noisy and excited".[6]
  • Most people attending these parties want to bend a spoon with their mind and already believe such a thing is possible, which will influence their judgement when judging whether it was mostly their mind or mostly their muscles doing the work.
  • People don't want to disappoint the party host, be "that guy" who wasn't able to bend a spoon, or be a boring party pooper. Maureen Caudill for example claims that spoon bending is significantly easier to achieve when performed in groups rather than alone.[7]

Unfortunately, many of the videos on PK parties are of poor quality and don't focus on a single person more than a few seconds, but here's an example of the sort of "amazing" bending that you can see if you pay close attention. Look at the woman in the sunglasses, and how much force she is exerting on the fork. Does this really look supernatural?

Houck replies to this sort of argument with:

Sometimes […] you find that there is some guy looking over your shoulder saying, "AH, you are just bending it physically." That really doesn't help you at all. So I suggest using a little technique that I developed to shut down the interference from the skeptics. You simply get a big smile on your face, look at the skeptic, and shout "SHUT UP!" I really don't want the skeptics to get in the way.
[3]

Lalalalalalalalaala! I can't hear you!

Other party animals[edit]

When just psychokinesis isn't enough for you, you can go QUANTUM for extra power! In—where else—Sedona, you can learn to bend spoons using time travel. Yes, really (emphasis and colour in original):

[T]echniques based on quantum mechanics and the unified field. The specific technique used for the fork above was called time travel in which I took the fork and sent it back in time to a condition where it would most easily bend in the above conformation. Voila. How cool is that!
—Oh wow man![8]

Michael Crichton describes attending a PK party in his 1988 book TravelsWikipedia's W.svg and apparently really believed he bent the spoon with his mind.[6]

External parties[edit]

Partynotes[edit]

  1. Jack Houck in Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, episode 1.10, ESP
  2. Not to be confused with a party where everyone spoons (which can also be great fun).
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.jackhouck.com/pk.shtml
  4. He may be a crank, but he's not a profit-hound, unlike some others.
  5. http://www.jackhouck.com/pkmf.shtml
  6. 6.0 6.1 Michael Crichton's account of a PK party
  7. Caudill, Maureen. (2006). Suddenly Psychic: A Skeptic's Journey. Chapter 7. ISBN 978-1-57174-501-9
  8. http://www.sedonacreativelife.com/pre1674.html