In the summer of 2014, Sam Chacon applied to have his claimed telekinetic abilities tested by the IIG.
Chacon, a gentleman in his 80’s, claimed he could move a floating toothpick in a bowl of water using “emanations” from his hands. This is typical of telekinesis claims, in that the energy supposedly created by paranormal means is extremely small, and the effect (the movement of a toothpick) is equally small.
The biggest challenge to developing a testing protocol was eliminating the possibility that a toothpick floating in water might be affected by natural causes. Several possibilities were considered such as imperceptible building movements, water absorption, room air currents, as well as possible cheats such as a magnetically rigged bowl or simply blowing on the toothpick. However, Chacon agreed to a “preliminary demonstration,” which means that few controls would be in place, the $100,000 would not be at stake, and we would simply see him in action. We were free to simply observe, and would not have to go through the gruelling work of devising a sound testing protocol. The demo was scheduled for September 20, 2014.
Chacon arrived at noon. His first words to everyone were, “today, your life will change.” He also brought printouts from internet articles on metaphysics and Kirlian photography. Chacon said he discovered his ability approximately a year ago when he learned about telekinesis on the internet and that he took a class in metaphysics. We politely pushed him to do the actual demonstration, as listening to “theories” about how psychic powers work are a waste of time if no such power can be produced.
Prior to the demo, Sam said he needed to analyze the area of the demonstration–a typical request from a claimant. We provided a solid piano bench for his bowl of water to rest on, and it met his approval. Sam then took a few photos of the bench. The IIG shot video and still photographs of the demonstration.
Chacon’s testing apparatus consisted of:
- A piece of paper, with “N, S, E, W” representing the corresponding compass points written on it, placed on the bench.
- A compass, used to align the sheet. A red translucent plastic bowl, placed on the center of the sheet of paper.
- A 32 ounce bottle with the words “love” written on it several times. He poured the water from this bottle into the bowl, nearly filling it to the top.
The issue of water stillness occupied the next couple of minutes. We had turned off the air conditioning, but this was insufficient. We waited for the water to settle, but it never completely settled, possibly due to Brownian motion,–the erratic movement of microscopic particles in a fluid due to collisions with surrounding molecules–or our location on busy Hollywood Blvd. Chacon agreed that the minor perturbations were insignificant, but this was not the end of the waiting game. Chacon produced the key item to be tested – a piece of a toothpick with one tip painted black and the other white. After Chacon placed it gently in the water, we waited once again for the water to settle. Now the demonstration would begin.
Chacon sat next to the bench and meditated for a few more minutes. An important control in this kind of test is to make certain that simple mouth exhalation is not producing the “telekinesis.” Chacon’s solution was to wear a scarf over his mouth. He leaned over the bowl from his sitting position, and placed his hands over the water nearly touching the edges of the bowl. After a few more minutes, Chacon told the people that were recording him to get close and focus on the toothpick in the bowl. We recorded the toothpick moving toward the northern edge of the bowl at a very slow rate.
Despite the scarf on Chacon’s mouth, it seemed very likely that he was breathing out with enough force to move the toothpick. Chacon insisted that the motion was due to “the gravitational force.”
One IIG member quickly figured out how to control for breathing, and proposed this scenario to Chacon: if he were to place two toothpicks in the bowl could he make one move while the other stood still. Sam started to answer, stating, “No, because-” and then he interrupted himself saying, “see it move?” and then he never finished answering.
As a haphazard control on natural motion, Chacon agreed to leave the bowl alone for a few minutes and not to use his telekinetic powers on it. Over the course of two minutes, the toothpick turned ninety degrees. In other words, the testing apparatus was invalid, since the agreed result of telekinesis occurs when both parties agree that no telekinesis is being applied.
Even though the demo was over, there was some more contact with Chacon, none of it fruitful. Chacon began the testing process again but he was politely stopped and we thanked him for his time. Still trying to be polite, we watched footage he provided, even though it showed the same thing we had witnessed live. Chacon wanted to read some information on auras and metaphysics but we finally cut him off, and declared the demonstration over. As he left the CFI-Los Angeles building, Chacon made one last profound revelation: that talking to water can change the water. For now, neither the water nor the toothpick answered.