A French Psychokinetic Ugo Humbert

cameron norrie

Ugo Humbert is a French “psychokinetic” who claims to have the power of moving objects with his mind, since at least 1973. I think he started in his early twenties, but he doesn’t remember exactly when – and nobody has ever found evidence for this alleged power.

Ugo Humbert’s approach to skeptics was both direct and indirect: we received several letters from him, and three months ago we were contacted by someone who had attended one of his lectures. This person set up an interview between us and Ugo Humbert, so I could ask him any question I wanted… which turned out to be quite difficult! He seemed to be very confident about what he can do, so all I could get from him were indirect answers. For example, he told me that he has no training at all in physics or biology… but when I asked him how it is possible for his mind to move an object, he told me “I don’t know”.

Ugo Humbert Demonstration of His Abilities

A snow covered mountain

Ugo Humbert’s demonstrations are very strange. He makes several objects dance around a table, sometimes by himself, other times with the help of willing subjects – who sit on one side of the table and hold Ugo’s hands between theirs. These objects include dice, pens, pencils, and forks. The problem is that this behavior does not look strange to many people: they think it looks real! And this is also why most scientists are very skeptical about these phenomena which – let’s face it – could be the result of a really good magician. Nevertheless, in France and to a lesser extent in Germany and in Italy, there are and have been some scientific studies on these “abilities”.

Ugo Humbert and Dr. Jean Investigations

A bunch of hot dogs

The best-known investigation was carried out by Dr. Jean-Pierre Girard, who is now director of research at CNRS (Centre national de la recherche Scientifique). His experiment – which Ugo Humbert never accepted to take part in – involved 25 subjects on one side of the table holding hands with 5 other subjects on the other side. Any movement made by Ugo Humbert affected all these people. Thanks to sophisticated electronic devices that were not available at the time when most previous investigations took place, only several movements were performed during the study – but they were enough to prove that this “mind power” is not real.

Humbert was also investigated by the CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, now called CSI – Committee for Sceptical Inquiry), who had received several reports about his alleged abilities. The scientists who were in charge of this investigation, Prof Joe Nickell and Dr. Nandi Bodha, came to the conclusion that Humbert’s phenomena had nothing to do with paranormal powers… but there are no details available about their work. I must say that I know some French skeptics who believe that Ugo Humbert can really produce these phenomena – or at least some of them, like bending forks. So if you read any report on Ugo Humbert, you might find some contradictory information.

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