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When PUSH Comes to Shove

by Mark Edward, Feb 14 2009

Back when mind readers first started doing it, today’s fad of “remote viewing” (RV) used to be called design duplication. Before that it was referred to as psychic drawing, thought transference or telepathic imagery. Way back in the heyday of Spiritualism, they called it automatic writing or drawing. It’s been around for centuries.

Once considered a sort of stream of consciousness approach to doodling with your third eye, this method of creative visualization was given a whole new life in New Age circles when David Morehouse’s book “Psychic Warrior” was published in 1998. Being interested in this subject since I was a kid playing “guess the shape,” I ran out and bought this book immediately after a fellow psychic I was working with rated it highly.  It turned out to be an unrealistic highly fictionalized tale in the finest paranoid tradition of early sixties “Outer Limits” episodes. Not surprisingly, “Warrior” was written in a conspiratorial tone that suggested it was a big deal in the US government for twenty years and that even though the press knew all about it, it was supposed to be some “hush, hush” secret campaign that could probe all of our minds and threaten our privacy. So why was it allowed to be published? That never made sense to me. If remote viewing really worked, it would be the greatest secret weapon ever devised. There would be no need for spies or satellite imagery and James Bond would be out of business. I remember at the time many of the shut-eyes (that means total believers in psychic entertainer lingo) ran with the crazy rumor that the book was written as a mass-marketed piece of government mis-information, covering up what was really going on. I love when that happens! You could say that about anything. Thanks to all the hype and blather, remote viewing was all the rage back then.

I have always been intrigued with people reported to be able to do this, whether it be Joe McMoneagle, who was reputed to be the real golden boy of the remote viewers trained by the once secret but now unclassified government “Stargate” project, or the long line of others who have included Uri Geller, Ingo Swann, Russell Targ and Paul Smith. It’s fun to think someone could save all the time used in writing out a prediction and just draw a vague squiggle instead. The way I heard it, the whole “Stargate” program was discontinued because there was no evidence any of the tests or “viewers” could do anything more than what might be expected through pure chance or lucky guesswork. This was denied by those psychics who wanted to keep the hype flowing and after awhile, the inside story was that the 20 million dollar project was indeed stopped by the CIA, but was still being carried on by the NSA. Of course, then it was being further hyped as much more secret and heavily funded with the help of the corporate shadow government. Or so the story went.

Again, I could be wrong here, but as I have written before about other alleged psi: If anyone had the ability to see and reproduce accurate drawings of coming events or remote locations and replicate it on a consistent basis, logic would tell us that person would be a very dangerous individual and one whose powers would be much in demand. In fact, he or she would probably be a dead he or she in a matter of days. If that sounds appealing to you, don’t forget that Morehouse still offers his course for a mere $1,000.

And so we come to the basic plot line of the latest psychic-super-power Hollywood extravaganza: “Push.” First, I want to say I went into this film with as open a mind as I could be expected to have given my own interest in the “scientific aspects” that were touted to the Skeptologists in a press release from the producer who tantalizingly coaxed some of us to see it. I went into the theater intuitively prepared for Hollywood’s usual treatment of science, but it went far beyond my wildest expectations. I should have stayed home and “remote viewed” the whole thing.  In all fairness, it’s like someone once told me about going to see a psychic: When you go to see a prostitute, you don’t expect to fall in love. Hollywood has seldom produced endearing or believable characterizations when it comes to psychics and true to form, “Push” took the prize as the most unintentionally funny psychobabble film I have ever seen. From beginning to end it was chock full of the most outrageous woo and ridiculous dialogue ever.

My son Miles, who is quite the film maker and critic already at age sixteen, came along with me. I was looking forward to his take on the whole thing. He won’t sit still long for bad film making. Even though we both were well aware of the theater’s admonitions to not speak during the screening, this nearly two hour farce gave both of us plenty of opportunities to do our own version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Need I add that people were walking out all through the screening? There were far too many close-up shots. I got a headache within the first thirty minutes. Would it be too much to ask the director for one or two medium shots? There’s waaaaaay to much to go into here, but some of the highlights for me were: 

In addition to the Watchers who were the shady psychics who obviously …watched. We were treated to psychics who Push (what a concept!), Movers, who you guessed it, …move things, two scene stealing Japanese super-dudes who used their screaming voices to shatter skulls and glass and looked amazingly like Warner Bros. or Big Daddy Roth cartoon characters with eyes popping out and tongues waggling, and my personal favorites: the Sniffers. These were psychics who get information by smelling things! Ugh. That alone kept me in stitches in the scenes where these nasty government trained baddies went around smelling everything. Hilarious. This new breakthrough in psychic awareness gave a whole new meaning to psychometry, where merely touching objects gives clues as to their owners and where they have been. Of course there was plenty of that ability in abundance too. No psychic stone was left un-turned or psychic cliché ignored and there was something for everybody in this smorgasbord of the supernatural. The Sniffers made me pine away for just a touch of aromatherapy, but this film was much to “dark” for that.

Miles wrote in his high school review;  “This live action cartoon throws any credibility head first into the crapper, leaving us with no signs of logic.” From the mouths of babes…

Cute little Dakota Fanning is reduced to walking around Tokyo with a sketch pad where she (in one of the films only minimally endearing bits) draws colorful Chagall-like stick figures in an attempt to habitually explain what’s going on in the plot or what will be coming up in the next scene. Never has “remote viewing” been used as such an awful plot device. Each “psychic revelation” was like the scientist in every bad 50’s science fiction film who feels it necessary to fill us in on why and how such convoluted messes should be plausible.

Miles and I are not pro film reviewers so don’t take our word for it entirely. You might enjoy watching endless b-rolls of crowded Tokyo streets, skylines and fish markets far more than we do, but if you want to see virtually the same plot served up by a director who at least knew how to hold the camera still for a moment, I suggest watching Brian De Palma’s “The Fury”(1978) where Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes beat the heck out of the bad acting in “Push.” And then there’s Alan Bates in Jerzy Skolimowski’s “The Shout,” but I could go on and on. Anything is better than this (as Miles put it so succinctly) “incoherent wallow.” I can’t really explain how bad this movie was. You have to see it. No wait. Don’t. Wait until it comes out on DVD if you must (which won’t be long) or catch it on late night t.v. at some future date I won’t even pretend to predict. Or better still, skip it. Luckily, we had some free passes saved up we needed to use. To quote one of the character’s lines in the excruciatingly long final scene, “…What a waste.”

12 Responses to “When PUSH Comes to Shove”

  1. MadScientist says:

    After reading this I think I feel a psychic message coming to me – yes! It’s saying: “You will not willingly watch this film ever – it is even worse than the Matrix series.” Hang on, I think I’m channeling Don Adams: “That has got to be the worst piece of s*it ever!”

  2. John Paradox says:

    Reading this reminded me of “The Power” with George (tanned) Hamilton and Michael Rennie, plus a bit of “Scanners”.


  3. I did not like push very much, but it wasn’t as bad as all that. It was a cross between last year’s “Jumpers”, television’s “Heroes” and Stephen King’s “Firestarter”. The plot holes are large enough to fly an airplane through, even once you grant the basic premise of the pschic powers. But the action is pretty fast, the visuals engaging. But there are just too many powers for the writers to keep track of. It is hard enough for a movie like “Jumpers” to explore the ramifications of a single psychic power, but throw 6 or 7 into the mix and create a psychic “sub-culture” and the interactions just become impossible to predict. So, as near as I can tell, the writers just gave up trying. I don’t think I could recommend it to anyone in general, but I did ultimately enjoy myself. But I won’t be watching it again when it comes out on DVD. Oh, and by the way, they were in
    Hong Kong, not Tokyo.

  4. fluffy says:

    Many action movies are completely summed up by the trailer. I get the impression that this one is completely summed up by the title.

  5. Max says:

    I just learned that the Parapsychological Association is affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    In 1969 the Association became formally affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The work of the association is reported in the Journal of Parapsychology and the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.
    The Association has its critics, including physicist John Archibald Wheeler, who tried but failed to convince the AAAS to expel the organization in 1979.

  6. I once took part in a “remote viewing” exercise with a group of psychics. There was a pre-event exercise we needed to do for a few days…you know, as a warm up.

    Anyway…I sat through the exercise and scored incredibly well. I guessed all my answers according to visual cues that were present. I was happy to be complimented on being the most accurate. Of course, when I mentioned I had simply used visual cues to “guess” my answer I was soon told that I was harnessing my psychic potential which was being held back by my skepticism.

    I was impressed…with my ability to guess.

  7. sonic says:

    Movies like PUSH are to real psi capabilities as STAR TREK is to real technology capabilities. They tend to have mediocre acting too.
    A gambling friend of mine tested his psi on a slot machine and found that his results were better than expected by a margin that convinced him there was ‘something going on’. He concluded that the test was ‘unsuccessful’ because he couldn’t make money anyway.
    Isn’t that how the ‘remote viewing’ tests came out?

  8. daz smith says:

    if remote viewing and the Stargate program didn’t work – then how come I have over 66 Stargate and the once classified remote viewing sessions/examples on my website clearly showing the remote viewer hitting the target?

    see here:

    All the best…


  9. Mark Edward says:

    Yep. I thought about it over the weekend and THE POWER really was one of the first of the “psychic power supermen” films. Not a bad concept and a story that holds up even today, pre-dating the whole “Stargate” fiasco. “Ten Little Indians Meets George Pal in Woo Woo Land” might have been a better title. I would also have to put Claude Rains in “The Evil Mind” in as one of my all time faves in this genre, with Edward G. Robinson in “Night Has 1000 Eyes” up there in the running too.
    To Daz: Not sure what you mean, but just because you see 66 Stargate hits on your website doesn’t tell us much. What about the other 10,000 tests that didn’t hit? Once again, the editor is King in these situations. Are you the editor of your own website? Just because it’s a website on the internet doesn’t make it real. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I want to believe! Show me! Mickey Mouse is “real” too, but I’m not likely to see a mouse running around in buttoned knickers and white gloves unless it’s on a movie screen, television or computer monitor. Still, my interest is piqued. What have you to offer us Skpetologists “clearly showing the remote viewer hitting the target?” I will check the site you mentioned. Meantime, find me a remote viewer we can set up a test with right here at Skepticblog and I’ll work with you on it.

  10. Max says:

    I took a quick look at the Rand conclusions.

    “Over forty years of research in the United States have failed to significantly advance our understanding of paranormal phenomena.”

    “Published information on Soviet experimental design and analysis tends to be vague and incomplete.”

    “IF paranormal phenomena do exist…”

    Forty years of research, and they still couldn’t say whether paranormal phenomena even exist.

  11. Max says:


    “During this period [1970's], academics outside parapsychology also appeared to have a general optimism towards this research. In 1979, a survey of more than 1,100 college professors in the United States found that only 2% of psychologists expressed the belief that extrasensory perception was an impossibility. A far greater number, 34%, indicated that they believed ESP was either an established fact or a likely possibility. The percentage was even higher in other areas of study: 55% of natural scientists, 66% of social scientists (excluding psychologists), and 77% of academics in the arts, humanities, and education believed that ESP research was worthwhile.”

  12. Maria Marques says:

    The global economic crisis looks “constructed” . Can Skeptics comment about it?