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Spiritualism (less evidential, with the goal of challenging claims of fraud)[edit]

(The previous resources profiled at some of the main historical resources on Mesmerism, early hypnotism, and higher mesmeric phenomena. As for Spiritualism, Brian Inglis records precedent phenomena occurring since ancient times in Natural and Supernatural, he notes parallels in the Old and New Testaments and a predecessor with John Dee and Edward Kelley.

On the subject, people usually rely on Frank Podmore's Modern Spiritualism: A History and a Criticism (1902) - Vol. I, Vol II and The Newer Spiritualism (1911)) - however, these are in fact biased debunking books, they are in fact the basis of modern antagonism on the subject, and, as I demonstrate throughout this annotated bibliography, they are tendentious. Therefore I am providing instead, in this bibliography, the main historical sources on the subject, books on the fraudulent imitation of genuine phenomena, and rebuttals to key antagonist texts. Those interested in pursuing further claims specifically relating to spiritualism can consult the PsyPioneer Journal founded by the spiritualist Leslie Price and edited by Paul J. Gaunt:, or the archives of the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist Periodicals:

On the "prophet of Spiritualism", Andrew Jackson Davis, Podmore, in Modern Spirituaism, Vol. 1, ch. XI, provides negative evidence, whereas Doyle provides positive evidence in his History of Spiritualism, Vol. 1, ch. III. A text (Andrew Jackson Davis - The First American Prophet and Clairvoyant – June 15, 2006 by John DeSalvo) attempts to show that some of Davis' trance utterances predated modern scientific discoveries that were subsequent to his time period. One thing interesting that Doyle notes is the fact of relevant trance utterances from Davis coinciding with the phenomena of the Fox sisters, discussed below. Prior to discussing this though, I'd like to note that mesmeric subjects were making revelations about the afterlife coinciding with and resembling those of Davis - Gauld noted in his The Founders of Psychical Research (Schocken Books, 1968), p. 66, that "[English spuiritualism's] path was to some extent prepared by the growing curiosity about mesmerism and its phenomena which marked the eighteen-forties. The leading mesmeric periodical, the Zoist (1843-56), a journal with some scientific status, published quite a few accounts of supposed mesmeric clairvoyance. In a little book called Somnolims and Psycheism (1849) Dr. J. Haddock published accounts of the next world which his mesmeric subject, Emma, a girl totally unable to read or write, had dictated in a state of 'exstasis'. Emma's revelations bore a marked resemblance to those of Swedenborg and of Andrew Jackson Davis. So too did the revelations which Alphonse Cahagnet heard from his mesmeric subjects and set down in his Arcanes fr la Vie Future Dévoilés (1847-8; English translation The Celestial Telegraph, 1850). W. Gregory, author of Letters on Animal Magnetism (1851), a most influential work, speaks highly of both Haddock and Cahagnet, though he thinks that Andrew Jackson Davis obtained the leading ideas of his Principles of Nature through thought-transference with those around him.")

  • Capron (1855). Modern spiritualism, its facts and fanaticisms, its consistencies and contradictions, with an appendix. (Regarding the Fox sister mediums, who allegedly started modern spiritualism by faking rappings, and Crookes' endorsement of Kate Fox, which critics attempt to impeach him by, counter-evidence has been given to you above, and Gauld wrote in "The Founders of Psychical Research", p. 26: "The trouble with all toe, ankle, and knee theories is the absolute failure of of their proponents (including Margaretta Fox) to tell precisely how the joints precisely how the joints or members could be manipulated so as to produce the famous rapings in a convincing way. Quite a few people who could crack their toes or their knees came forward to give a public demonstration of their powers; but no toe cracker of whom I have heard could tap out a rhythm in the least comparable way to that which any one of the Fox sisters could produce on a good day. The sisters could obtain not just regular rappings, but arpeggios and cadenzas of raps at a rate not unlike that of a musician playing a fast passage. It is difficult to believe that the human being has ever existed who could work his toes to this tune."

Gauld noted, op cit, p. 26n3, "Cromwell Varley (a noted electrical engineer and a Fellow of the Royal Society) said that Kate Fox produced for him 'a chorus of raps such as fifty hammers, all striking rapidly, could hardly produce" (Dial. Soc. Report, p. 165). Sir William Crookes said that he had heard 'a cascade of sharp sounds as from an induction coil in full work' (Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, London, 1874, p. 86). The violence of the blows was also sometimes such as to rule out toe- or knee- cracking. Crookes (op. cit., p. 87) said that the raps which Kate produced were 'sometimes loud enough to be heard several rooms off'. Cf. R. D. Owen, The Debatable Land, 2nd edn., London, 1874, pp. 274-7."

Doyle noted, as regards the "confession" of fraud "The statement would settle the question if we could take the speaker's words at face value, but unfortunately the author is compelled to agree with Mr. Isaac Funk, an indefatigable and impartial researcher, that Margaret at this period of her life could not be relied upon.

What is a good deal more to the purpose is that Mr. Funk sat with Margaret, that he heard the raps " all round the room " without detecting their origin, and that they spelt out to him a name and address which were correct and entirely beyond the knowledge of the medium. The information given was wrong, but, on the other hand, abnormal power was shown by reading the contents of a letter in Mr. Funk's pocket. Such mixed results are as puzzling as the other larger problem discussed in this chapter." - Doyle, The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I, pp. 109-110: - Fox's later revelation that she had been paid by antagonists to make a false confession is not surprising in light of this (see op. cit., p. 106):

Good background information on this is given in Herbert Thurston's book "Church and Spiritualism", in chapter II.

Noting all of this, consider the contents of McLuhan's book "Randi's Prize: What Skeptics Say About the Paranormal, Why They're Wrong, and Why it Matters" (2010), regarding the invalidity of the "confession"- its inconsistencies with the primary sources - and the other sources cited for a reevaluation.

It is true that there were some failed sittings, but this does not impeach the phenomena. Thus Nichol, in chapter 1, "Historical Overview" of Handbook of Parapsychology (Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), Part IV. Parapsychology and Physical Systems, on p. 307, noted, "Mrs. E. M. Sidgwick (1886b) had several seances with Kate (then Mrs. Jencken) in 1874 and 1885, and though she discovered no fraud, she remained unconvinced. Lord Rayleigh (1919), the future Nobel physicist, had sittings with Mrs. Jencken at his country house which left him unable to form a definite opinion one way or the other. One thing he could not explain on normal grounds was floating lights as much as 6 and 8 feet distant from the medium."

Regarding the evaluation of the Seybert commission, we can consult the primary source, which shows no fraud at all: Mr Furness, with the 'medium's ' permission, places his hand on one of her feet. The ' Medium '—' There are the raps now, strong—yes, I hear them.' Mr Furness (to the ' Medium ')—' This is the most wonderful thing of all, Mrs Kane ; I distinctly feel them in your foot. There is not a particle of motion in your foot, but there is an unusual pulsation.' "

So there might be insight into the physiology of raps, but no proof that their origin is fraudulent.

Capron's "Modern Spiritualism" (1855) is a source refuting the early counter-claims (the Buffalo doctors, Professor Page, etc.)

Capron, pp. 390-392, noted that in the original report of the critic E.P. Langworthy, the source of the raps could not be found, but that Langworthy later modified his statements fraudulently so as to make it appear that fraud by the Fox sisters was indicated:

Capron, p.305, wrote, "Among the persons who visited the Misses Fox, at Washington, were Prof. Henry and Prof. Page, of the Smithsonian Institute. The former expressed great surprise, on his first visit, that he could not find out the source of the sounds. "It is true ! " he exclaimed with surprise. He tried several experiments ; had the girls stand on a cloak with a silk lining, and, hearing no rapping, concluded it to be electricity, and published in one of the Washington papers a card to that effect. Prof. Page has since published a pamphlet "expose," in which he takes the ground that no well-educated man will for a moment suppose the sounds to be electrical ; but that it is all sheer fraud and trickery ! He is even sure that this is the case, although he did not discover the trick. I shall notice this " expose " more fully in the Appendix of this book."

In the appendix, p. 425, he noted:

"I think I have recorded pretty much all the different kinds of newspaper exposures ; and it is only necessary to mention that, during the winter of 1852-3, a Methodist minister, who calls himself Rev. H. Mattison, Aj0L., delivered many lectures, pretending to expose the " rappings " (for which the press, in different places, accused him of obtaining money under false pretences) , but was so bold in his asserting that the things alleged never did happen, that he attracted little notice except as a pretender. He afterward published a book entitled "Spirit Rappings Overthrown," being a very feeble attempt at wit, and perfectly successful as a blackguard. In the summer of the same year one "Professor Charles G. Page," of Washington, D. C, published a book (or pamphlet of ninety-six pages), in which he said as near nothing as possible. It was truly " full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The nearest a position he took was, that the sounds were produced by leaden balls tied to the toes ! The tables, &c, never moved as pretended. This, I think, is a fair " table of contents " of these two books. They were both considered as the true " expose " by some newspaper editors, but the notices of them did not appear quite as confident as those of former exposures. The press seemed to be weary of so often endorsing any new pretender to exposures."

Wallace wrote - "But what is evidently thought to be the most crushing blow is the declaration of Mrs. Culver given at length in the Appendix. This person was a connection of the Fox family, and she declared that the Misses Fox told her how it was all done, and asked her to assist them in deceiving the visitors; two gentlemen certify to the character of Mrs. Culver. The answer to this slander is to be found in Capron's "Modern Spiritualism," p. 423. Mr. Capron was an intimate friend of the Fox family, and Catherine Fox was staying with him at Auburn, while her sisters were at Rochester being examined and tested by the committee. Yet Mrs. Culver says it was Catherine who told her "that when her feet were held by the Rochester Committee the Dutch servant-girl rapped with her knuckles under the floor from the cellar." Here is falsehood with circumstance; for, first, Catherine was not there at all; secondly, the Committee never met at the Fox's house, but in various public rooms at Rochester; thirdly, the Fox family had no "Dutch servant-girl" at any time, and at that time no servant-girl at all. The gentlemen who so kindly signed Mrs. Culver's certificate of character did not live in the same town, and had no personal knowledge of her; and, lastly, I am informed that Mrs. Culver has since retracted the whole statement, and avowed it to be pure invention (see Mrs. Jencken's letter to "Athenæum," June 9, 1877). It is to be remarked, too, that there are several important mistakes in Dr. Carpenter's account. He says the "deposition" of Mrs. Culver was not made more than six years ago, whereas it was really twenty-six years ago; and he says it was a "deposition before the magistrates of the town in which she resided," by which, of course, his readers will understand that it was on oath, whereas it was a mere statement before two witnesses, who, without adequate knowledge, certified to her respectability!" - Alfred Russel Wallace, Review of Carpenter's "Mesmerism, Spiritualism, &c., Historically and Scientifically Considered" (Quarterly Journal of Science, July 1877), p. 408:

Paul J. Gaunt in "Mrs. Norman Culver, and Kate Fox", Psypioneer Volume 7, No 9: September 2011, pp. 280-288, brings upon further discredit to the Culver testimony:

In the footnote to his statement, Wallace wrote, "Since the MS. of this article left my hands, I have seen Dr. Carpenter's letter in the "Athenæum" of June 16th, withdrawing the charges founded on the declaration of Mrs. Culver, which, it seems, Dr. Carpenter obtained from no less of an authority than Mr. Maskelyne! the great conjuror and would-be "exposer" of spiritualism. He still, however, maintains the validity of the explanation of the "raps" by Professor Flint and his coadjutors, who are said to have proved that persons who have "trained themselves to the trick," can produce an "exact imitation" of these sounds. This "exact imitation" is just what has never been proved, and the fact that a "training" is admitted to be required, does not explain a sudden occurrence of these sounds as soon as the Fox family removed temporarily to the house at Hydesville. If Dr. Carpenter would refer to better and earlier authorities than Mr. Maskelyne and M. Louis Figuier, he would learn several matters of importance. He would find that Professors Flint, Lee, and Coventry, after one hasty visit to the mediums, published their explanation of the "raps" in a letter to the "Buffalo Commercial Advertiser," dated February 17th, 1851, before making the investigation on the strength of which they issued their subsequent report, which, therefore, loses much of its value since it interprets all the phenomena in accordance with a theory to which the reporters were already publicly committed. On this scanty evidence we are asked to believe that two girls, one of them only nine years old, set up an imposture which for a long time brought them nothing but insult and abuse, subjected their father to public rebuke from his minister, and made their mother seriously ill; and that they have continuously maintained the same for nearly thirty years, and in all this long period have never once been actually detected. But there are facts in the early history of these phenomena which demonstrate the falsehood of this supposition, but which Dr. Carpenter, as usual, does not know, or, if he knows does not make public. These facts are, firstly, that two previous inhabitants of the House at Hydesville testified to having heard similar noises in it; and, secondly, that on the night of March 31st, 1848, Mrs. Fox and the children left the house, Mr. Fox only remaining, and that during all night and the following night, in presence of a continual influx of neighbours the "raps" continued exactly the same as when the two girls were present. This crucial fact is to be found in all the early records, and it is surprising that it can have escaped Dr. Carpenter, since it is given in so popular a book as Mr. R. Dale Owen's "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World" (p. 209). Mr. Owen visited the spot, and obtained a copy of the depositions of twenty-one of the neighbours, which was drawn up and published a few weeks after the events. This undisputed fact, taken in connection with the great variety of sounds--varying from taps, as with a knitting-needle, to blows as with a cannon-ball or sledge-hammer--and the conditions under which they occur--as tested by Mr. Crookes and the Dialectical Committee, completely and finally dispose of the "joint and tendon" theory as applicable to the ascertained facts. What, therefore, can be the use of continually trying to galvanise into life this thoroughly dead horse, along with its equally dead brother the table-turning "indicator"?"

The anthropologist and psychofolklorist Andrew Lang noted in "Cock-Lane and Common Sense", pp. 34-36: Thus enough is known to show that savage spiritualism wonderfully resembles, even in minute details, that of modern mediums and seances, while both have the most striking parallels in the old classical thaumaturgy.

This uniformity, to a certain extent, is not surprising, for savage, classical, and modern spiritualism all repose on the primaeval animistic hypothesis as their metaphysical foundation. The origin of this hypothesis — namely, that disembodied intelligences exist and are active — is explained by anthropologists as the result of early reasonings on life, death, sleep, dreams, trances, shadows, the phenomena of epilepsy, and the illusions of Starvation. This scientific theory is, in itself, unimpeachable ; normal phenomena, psychological and physical, might suggest most of the animistic beliefs.

At the same time 'veridical hallucinations,' if there are any, and clairvoyance, if there is such a thing, would do much to originate and confirm the animistic opinions. Meanwhile, the extraordinary similarity of savage and classical spiritualistic rites, with the corresponding similarity of alleged modern phenomena, raises problems which it is more easy to state than to solve. For example, such occurrences as 'rappings,' as the movement of untouched objects, as the lights of the seance room, are all easily feigned. But that ignorant modern knaves should feign precisely the same raps, lights, and movements as the most remote and unsophisticated barbarians, and as the educated Platonists of the fourth century after Christ, and that many of the other phenomena should be identical in each case, is certainly noteworthy. This kind of folk-lore is the most persistent, the most apt to revive, and the most uniform. We have to decide between the theories of independent invention; of transmission, borrowing, and secular tradition; and of a substratum of actual fact.")

  • Delorme (2014). Physiology or psychic powers? William Carpenter and the debate over spiritualism in Victorian Britain. (this, among other things, shows that Carpenter became increasingly open to thought-transference. Other excerpts: "his pride in a religious culture that questioned orthodoxy was by no means stronger than his ambition to become part of the intellectual establishment at a time of increased social mobility for Dissenters. His public discourse on psychical research must therefore be examined as a potential social and political strategy, rather than as a faithful reflection of the interests and doubts he may have entertained privately." - also, "a few months later Stainton Moses wrote to Carpenter to inform him of the presence in London of Henry Slade whom he held to be an outstandingly gifted new Medium. Carpenter accepted to attend a séance and on the 9th of August 1876 sent Moses the following remarkable reply39:

I had a séance with Dr Slade yesterday; and do not hesitate to say that what I saw fully satisfied me that the matter is one deserving of further investigation. If not a piece of jugglery of the most wonderful kind, the phenomena are of a nature that no hypothesis I have hitherto applied will account for. Of course in Dr Slade's own room the possibilities of the former hypothesis are numerous, but he professes himself quite ready to come to my house, and confident that he shall succeed well with my table, slates and chairs, as with his own. (…) I must request that you will not make public in any way either the fact of my visit to Dr Slade, or what I have now written. I have made the same request to the Editor ofThe Spiritualist, who has given me his promise to that effect. I do not wish, in the present stage to be committed to anything except enquiry.

The correspondence seems to have been discontinued at this point, but the existing letters pose some important—and hitherto unasked—questions about the true nature of Carpenter's interest in psychical phenomena. It appears unlikely that Carpenter was feigning interest, and the fact that he urged his correspondent not to divulge his opinion lends further weight to the idea that he was privately, if not publicly, thinking anew. Moses himself seemed confident that Carpenter's interest was sincere, for shortly after receiving his letter he wrote to Thomas Massey to report Carpenter's fascination, rejoicing about having at last “shot down his bird40”—though whether or not this statement was based on any further admission by Carpenter remains unclear. The following October, Henry Slade was charged with fraud by the young scientist Edwin Ray Lankester. Carpenter was probably instrumental in the investigations but the exact role he played, as well as his reaction to the trial, are still currently unknown.")

  • Harrison (1997). H.P. BLAVATSKY and the SPR: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885. (Theosophy is somewhat derivative of Spiritualism, adding other motifs. In the article "Spiritualism in Its Relation to Theosophy by Emily Kislingbury, F.T.S. A paper read before the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society in 1892 Reprinted from "Theosophical Siftings" Volume 5", we find that "For it is matter of history that the Theosophical Society drew the chief of its first adherents from the ranks of Spiritualism.", however, Spiritualists dissociated from her because she believed that the spirits manifesting in seances were "Kama-rupic dregs, or cast-off lower principles, of former men and women, helped by certain elementals to utilize the vital forces of the medium,": (light on such Theosophical views appears here:

The source highlighted needs to be evaluated in light of the information in "Lives and Letters in American Parapsychology", where there is a critique of the ostensible recent defense of the theosophists.

this is a counter to the Hodgson report against Blavatsky and the Theosophists. On account of this, the SPR issued a press-release, which reads as follows:

"The Incorporated Society for Psychical Research


Registered Office Telephone: 01-937 8984 1 Adam & Eve Mews, Kensington, London, W8 6UG

News Release ----- Not for publication before 8 May 1986


The 'exposure' of the Russian-born occultist, Madame H. P. Blavatsky by the S.P.R. in 1885, is in serious doubt, with the publication in the S.P.R. Journal (Vol.53 April 1986) of a forceful critique of the 1885 report.

The case has been re-examined by Dr. Vernon Harrison, past president of The Royal Photographic Society and formerly Research Manager to Thomas De La Rue, who is an expert on forgery. The 1885 report was written mostly by Richard Hodgson, an Australian pioneer of both the British and American S.P.R.'s, who became widely known through the case.

Central to the case were two sets of disputed letters. One set, provided by two dismissed employees of The Theosophical Society at its headquarters in India, were apparently in the handwriting of Madame Blavatsky and implicated her in fraudulent psychic phenomena. The other set, were ostensibly written in support of The Theosophical Society by members of an oriental fraternity, popularly called Mahatmas. Dr. Hodgson accepted the genuineness of the first set. He argued that the Mahatma Letters were spurious productions by Madame Blavatsky and occasional confederates.

Dr. Harrison on the contrary, suggests that it is the incriminating letters that are forgeries, concocted by the ex-employees for revenge; while the bulk of the Mahatma Letters, now preserved in the British Library, are not in Madame Blavatsky's handwriting. disguised or otherwise.

Dr. Harrison concludes;

"As detailed examination of this Report proceeds, one becomes more and more aware that, whereas Hodgson was prepared to use any evidence, however trivial or questionable, to implicate H.P.B., he ignored all evidence that could be used in her favour. His report is riddled with slanted statements, conjecture advanced as fact or probable fact, uncorroborated testimony of unnamed witnesses, selection of evidence and downright falsity.

"As an investigator, Hodgson is weighed in the balances and found wanting. His case against Madame H. P. Blavatsky is not proven."

Much of Dr. Harrison's paper is an examination of the handwriting evidence presented in the 1885 report. He believes this was so weak, partisan and confused that it might just as easily show that Madame Blavatsky wrote "Huckleberry Finn" - or that President Eisenhower wrote the Mahatma Letters.

In an introductory note to the paper, the Editor of the S.P.R., Dr. John Beloff, recalls that other researchers have criticised the 1885 report, and that it had wrongly been taken as expressing an official view of the S.P.R., when in fact the S.P.R. had no opinions. Noting that Dr. Harrison is not a member of The Theosophical Society, but a long-standing member of the S.P.R., Dr. Beloff says;

"Whether readers agree or disagree with his conclusions, we are pleased to offer him the hospitality of our columns and we hope that, hereafter, Theosophists, and, indeed, all who care for the reputation of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, will look upon us in a more kindly light."

Responding to the publication of Dr. Harrison 5 paper, Dr. Hugh Gray, General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in England, said;

"We welcome the publication of Dr. Harrison's findings, which in dependently confirm what many Theosophists have pointed out in the past century. We hope that the Theosophical message in general, and Madame Blavatsky's work in particular, can now be studied without the distraction of the Hodgson allegations."

Dr. Vernon Harrison, who lives in Surrey, may be available for interviews from 6 May onwards. Please contact the S.P.R. in the first instance.

The Society for Psychical Research, as noted above, has no collective views. Thus it was not the S.P.R. which condemned Madame Blavatsky in 1885, but only an S.P.R. Committee, whose report was mostly written by Dr. Hodgson. Similarly, Dr. Harrison's paper represents only his personal views.

Cordial relations have existed between psychical researchers and Theosophists in England for sometime. In 1982, the S.P.R. chose as its centenary president, Professor Arthur Ellison of The City University, a distinguished engineer, psychical researcher and Theosophist.

Madame Blavatsky founded The Theosophical Society with others in New York in 1875, and it is an international body active in more than 60 countries with its headquarters in Adyar, Madras, India. The Society exists to promote a knowledge of Theosophy, a word of Greek origin meaning Divine Wisdom. Madame Blavatsky's main work was "The Secret Doctrine" (1888). She died in London in 1891 at the age of 59.

For further information contact;

The Society for Psychical Research Tel. 0l 937 8984 The Theosophical Society in England 50 Gloucester Place, London W1H 3HJ Tel. 01 935 9261"

Prior to this, defense of Blavatsky, including the paranormality of the events associated with her, occurred in Carrithers Jr. (1965). Obituary: The "Hodgson Report" on Madame Blavatsky.

Prior to this, a collection of attacks on the society were listed in Carrington's The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism, pp. 15-18, and an early collection of defenses were listed in Annie Besant's 1907 book H.P. Blavatsky and the masters of the wisdom. The attacks by Solvyoff, author of A Modern Priestess of Isis, appear to be dealt with in PERSONAL MEMOIRS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY By Mary K. Neff.

Robert Todd Carroll states that "She most certainly faked the materialization of a tea cup and saucer" the testimony of Sinnett seems to counter skepticism, though this is mere anecdote. Other attacks on the Theosophists such as those of K. Paul Johnson have been countered here.

In a Wikipedia article rare for its revelations, we find (archived at that "When The Secret Doctrine appeared, William Emmette Coleman of San Francisco “outraged by Madame Blavatksy’s pretensions of Oriental learning, undertook a complete exegesis of her works.[8][9] He showed that her main sources were H.H. Wilson’s translations of the Vishnu Purana; Alexander Winchell’s World Life: or, Contemporary Geology; Ignatius Donnely’s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882); and other contemporary scientific and occult works, plagiarized without credit and used in a blundering manner that showed superficial acquaintance with the subjects under discussion. She cribbed at least part of her Stanzas of Dzyan from the Hymn of Creation in the old Sanskrit Rig-Veda, as a comparison of the two compositions will readily show. Coleman promised a book that would expose all of H.P.B.’s sources including that of the word Dzyan.” [10] In her biography HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Sylvia Cranston tackles the claim of plagiarism that was leveled by William Emmette Coleman.[11] Her view, like Coleman's, is that HPB's plagiarism consisted of quoting primary sources, without acknowledging the secondary sources from which they came. Cranston states that a research assistant of hers took on the task of finding Coleman's alleged 70 passages that HPB plagiarized from World-Life, and could only find 6. Coleman himself, far from being an authority on occult material, was a clerk in the Quartermaster Department of the US Army. He was likely not an impartial judge, having written to Coues on July 8, 1890, "I emphatically denounced and ridiculed the theory of occultism, of elementary spirits, etc., before the Theosophical Society was organized [in 1875], and from that time to this I have strenuously opposed Theosophy all the time." [12] Coleman promised to publish a book that would "prove" his charges against Blavatsky regarding the Book of Dzyan; this book and its proof never appeared.[13] The reason Coleman's book never appeared is that “Coleman lost his library and his notes in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and died three years later, his book unwritten”.[14]"

As regards the modern relevance of Theosophy to psychical research, a relevant source is Price, Leslie. "THEOSOPHY AS A PROBLEM FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH." Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Religious Concepts: Proceedings of an International Conference, Held in Rome, Italy, August 23-24, 1985. Parapsychology Foundation, 1987.

I may provide this source later).

  • Oxon (1877). The Slade Case: Its Facts and Lessons. A Record and a Warning (Charles Richet has written on this issue, in "Thirty Years of Psychical Research", summarizing the magic trick exposures on Slate writing, "It cannot be affirmed that all the cases of direct writing presented by Slade and Eglinton were fraudulent, but Mr. Davey's experiment warrants great reserve in accepting any, and the tricks of American conjurers described in detail by Mr. David Abbott justify the utmost distrust of alleged slate-writing.

If the medium (usually a paid medium) is allowed to use his own slates, however blank they may seem, or if he is allowed to hold or even to touch those that have been brought, nothing can be guaranteed, for anything is possible by clever substitution. It is very difficult to certify absolutely and incontrovertibly that the medium has not touched the slates, for a single moment of inattention (and who can be certain that attention has not been relaxed for a moment?) suffices for substitutions to be made. As Mr. Abbott remarks, if the experimenter brings his own slate and the putative medium does not touch it at all, no trickery is possible. But how often has this been done?"

However, that criteria ("if the experimenter brings his own slate and the putative medium does not touch it at all") had been satisfied in the experiment with Barrett of the originator of the phenomena, Slade (at least as regards the latter part), from the primary source - at least we know from column 2 of page 3 of the Sept. 13, 1876 Glasgow Herald:

Wallace wrote, his experiments similarly satisfying test conditions, "As I have now shown that Professor Lankester commenced his letter with an erroneous statement of fact, and a "more than questionable" statement of opinion, it is not to be wondered at that I find the remainder of his communication equally unsatisfactory. His account of what happened during his visit to Dr. Slade is so completely unlike what happened during my own visit, as well as the recorded experiences of Serjeant Cox, Mr. Carter Blake, and many others, that I can only look upon it as a striking example of Dr. Carpenter's theory of preconceived ideas. Professor Lankester went with the firm conviction that all he was going to see would be imposture, and he believes he saw imposture accordingly. The "fumbling," the "manouvres," the "considerable interval of time" between cleaning the slate and holding it under the table, and the writing occurring on the opposite side of the slate to that on which the piece of pencil was placed, were all absent when I witnessed the experiment; while the fact that legible writing occurred on the clean slate when held entirely in my own hand while Dr. Slade's hands were both upon the table and held by my other hand, such writing being distinctly audible while in progress, and the further fact that Dr. Slade's knees were always in sight, and that the slate was never rested upon them at all, render it quite impossible for me to accept the explanation of Professor Lankester and Dr. Donkin as applicable to any portion of the phenomena witnessed by me.":

The following text, "Psychography", is a defense of the Slade phenomena: It contains the following interesting item: "Dr. George Wyld contributes important evidence on this point. He has kindly put down for me an exact record of a crucial experiment, which I append in his own words. The bearing of this fact upon such allegations as those on the faith of which Slade was adjudged by the public to be an impostor is plain to see : —

I expected to be called as a witness in the second trial of Slade, and as Professor Lancaster's evidence was that "there was no time to produce the writing, and that therefore it had, in his case, been previously prepared," it seemed to me most important to be able to swear that writing could be produced by spirit-power with a rapidity beyond the capacity of human hands.

Accordingly, I visited Slade, who readily consented to make a trial as I suggested.

We sat down to his usual table. Slade sat with his left hand resting on the table, and with his right band he held an ordinary slate, on which was placed the customary bit of slate-pencil. This slate he passed steadily but rapidly below the corner of the flap of the table at his right hand. Each time he so passed it I examined the slate. He so passed it two or three times, without any result; but at last, after passing it as usual, on its emergence from below the flap of the table I found these words written in dusty slate-pencil writing "Let this convince you."

I could not time Slade's actions while in progress, but subsequently I imitated his mode of passing the slate as closely as I possibly could, and my friends found that the operation occupied from three-quarters of a second to a second and a half. I then timed the writing, and could find no one capable of writing the words in less than three seconds.

I considered at the time, and still consider, this experiment a complete refutation of Professor Lankester's objection as to time.

Geo. Wtld, M.D. 12 Great Cumberland Place, Hyde Park, December 30, 1877."

Other notable parts of "Psychography" are here:,, and pp. 92-101:

See the following report by Dr. George King, concerning positive results in a seance in full light with slates obtained by the sitter himself with the slates above the table not leaving the sitter's hands.

Richet corroborates the Slade phenomena as going beyond magic trick explanations, noting, in "Thirty Years of Psychical Research", p. 410:

"P. Gibier also experimented with Slade (Le Spiritisme, Paris, 1882. Le Fakirisme Occidental). Gibier first verified the force and frequency of the raps. On one occasion, so strong a knock was delivered on the middle of the table as to lead him to think it must be broken. During this time the feet and hands of the medium were well in sight. In a daylight séance a chair placed forty inches away made a half turn and moved against the table.

"Subsequently in full daylight, a chest placed twenty-five inches away from his chair began to move, leaving the wall so slowly that we could verify that there was no contact between it and any other object; it then came and violently struck the table at which we were sitting.

"At ten different trials the slate held by Slade under the table was broken into several pieces. These slates were framed in very hard wood. We endeavoured to break them in the same way by striking them against the table, but never succeeded in even cracking them.

"Several times we have seen a framed slate leave Slade's hand, pass right under the table to the other side, and, when taken hold of, give the sensation of resistance as if another hand were holding the slate. We kept the hands of the medium in sight, and could see his two knees outside the table."

Richet also noted, regarding Slade (pp. 450-451): "Dr. Paul Gibier, an experienced physiologist and a careful observer, testifies; "We have seen more than a hundred times letters, drawings, lines, and even whole phrases produced by a slight touch on slates held by Slade, and even between two slates with which he had no contact. We had ourselves bought these slates in a shop in Paris and marked them with our signature. When the writing was produced on one slate only, this was usually done under that corner of the table at which we happened to be. We kept both the slate and Slade's fingers well in view; we ourselves placed the pencil on the slate, but we were never able to get a sight of the moving pencil. The slate oscillated slightly as if by the pressure of the invisible writer" (Le Spiritisme, Paris, Doin, 1887).

The experiment that Dr. Gibier regards as perhaps the best is the following: "I had brought several slates, among others two screwed together, tied with string, sealed, and wrapped in paper . . , I proposed that I should get an answer on two new slates that I had brought in a napkin. I received permission, after having put the traditional little pointer between the two, to sit on my slates. Having then placed them on my chair I sat down and did not let go of the slates till the whole weight of my body bore on them. I then put my hands on the table along with Slade's hands, and I felt and heard very clearly that writing was taking place on the slates with which I was in contact. When this ended I myself withdrew my two slates, and read the following words, 'Slates are difficult to influence; we will do what we can.' The writing was bad, but it was writing, and legible writing. Slade had not touched these slates."

There are other interesting aspects of the slate writing phenomena that are more difficult to explain away. "Psychography", aforementioned, quotes the following example (p. 72), "I saw Dr. Slade again. On this occasion I took two new-framed slates, which I marked. I particularly asked whether it was possible to get writing without putting the slate under the table, and was told it was quite possible. My two slates were then laid upon the table, with a tiny bit of pencil between ; and upon them, in the full daylight, we laid our four hands. I then distinctly heard the sound of writing, and, on lifting up the top slate, found these words written, but very badly : — " We cannot give you a communication, only a proof our power." I remarked that though one or two words (the word " communication," for instance) were very badly written, Dr. Slade at once read them. On my way from Dr. Slade's, this slate got broken to splinters — how, I know not"

Zollner noted, in Transcendental Physics, pp. 219-233: Chapter Thirteenth PHENOMENA DESCRIBED BY OTHERS.:

"The foregoing comprises in essentials all the phenomena which I have myself observed in Slade's presence during a series of more than thirty sittings and other meetings. The precautionary measures which I had taken on these occasions were such, that for my understanding every possibility of deception or subjective illusion was excluded. I do not, how- ever, assert that these measures will be regarded as sufficient by the understanding of other men. I am therefore quite ready and willing to receive instruction and enlightenment as to better precautions than those adopted by me; provide that my advisers have given other proofs of intellectual competence superior to my own, to induce me to defer to them and to recognise them as judges of facts of observation, which they have not seen, but have learned for the first time from my description.

Before Mr. Slade left Germany, he visited Annathal in Bohemia, by special invitation from Herr J.E. Schmid, the owner of a factory there. In the family of this gentleman lie found the most friendly reception, and remained a week. Herr Schmid has already published a short account in a letter to Psychische Studien (July 187S). For the following detailed description I am indebted to Herr Heinrich Gossmann, Herr Schmid's bookkeeper, who witnessed all the phenomena during Slade's residence with Herr Schmid, and gave me a verbal account of them when on a visit to Leipsic. In accordance with my request, and by permission of Herr Schmid, he afterwards furnished me the following written account.*

"Mr. Slade arrived here on the 14th May, last year (1878), but was too tired by his journey to give us a sitting on that day. Notwithstanding which, to the surprise of us all, on his entering the room, we heard thundering blows on the sofa, for which Mr. Slade could certainly have made no preparations, as lie had never been in the room before. To the question whether this was a manifestation, Mr. Slade replied in the affirmative, remarking that the spirits could not wait till the next day to announce themselves, and that he had often found this to be the case where harmony prevailed. We took our seats at the table, without intending; a regular sitting, and had scarcely done so when all at once a seat at some distance, near the piano, put itself in motion, and came up to the table of its own accord. Continually as our astonishment increased, we did not neglect to watch Mr. Slade closely and attentively. I was sitting next him, and after some time was swiftly and unexpectedly swung round in a half circle, with the chair on which I sat, so that I nearly fell off it. Others at the table were now touched, sometimes softly, sometimes powerfully, and to me this happened often.

"One manifestation now followed another, chairs moved up to the table, touches on our knees were constantly felt, a knife and fork were put across each other on a cloth at the lower end of the table, as if they were cutting meat, then from another side of the table a fork flew off on to the floor in a slight curve.

"On the next and two following days seances were held in another room at a table appropriated to them. Many persons, sceptics and the like, to whom Spiritualism was as yet unknown, took part in them. A chain was formed, and we gave Mr. Slade a slate which he had never had in his hands before. He laid on it a small bit of pencil, and asked the spirit of his deceased wife to tell them, by direct writing, if it was possible for any of the departed relatives of the family to communicate in the same way; to which an affirmative answer was returned. Mr. Slade now put the pencil on the table, showed us that the slate was quite clean and without writing, and then laid it on the table over the pencil. Writing under the slate was at once heard; we could distinctly follow the scribbling and taking off of the pencil. This sitting, as all the rest, was in bright daylight; the slate lay there free, before all our eyes, when we formed the chain, and Slade laid one hand on the slate. The conclusion of the spirit-writing was denoted by three sharp raps; and the slate being lifted up, we found the whole under side of it written over, first by an address from Slade's wife in English, and next by a message in German from a spirit-relative. A communication from the deceased father of the lady of the house was especially striking, as his characteristics and habitual expressions when on earth were quite distinctly recognisable in it. Besides the great resemblance of the writing on the slate to that of the deceased, his identity was apparent from a certain manner of speech, and such phrases as 'We must all die,' which came upon the slate. And in many of these communications the like resemblances were observable. Among others, the brother of the lady of the house communicated, and in verse a custom he had when on earth, especially in writing to his sister, whom he generally addressed in rhymes. She recognised her brother very clearly in this, and on comparing the writing with that of his letters, just the same strokes were found in them.

This communication was obtained in the following manner : —

" A young lady (a relative of the family) who sat at the lower end of the table, opposite Mr. Slade, took in her left hand, by his direction, two slates connected by hinges ; a small pencil was laid between them, and she joined her right hand to the chain of hands on the table. Mr. Slade sat quite away from the slates, and his hands were likewise joined in the chain ; and under these conditions, to our great astonishment, writings began between the slates. The young lady, according to Mr, Slade, was mediumistic, therefore it was that she could obtain writing while holding the slate herself alone, which was not the case with the others ; she also perceived the pressure upon the under side of the slate while it was being written upon. . . .

" Such direct writings covered at least twelve slates, which were bought here, and came to Mr. Slade's hands for the first time, before all eyes, without his having any possible opportunity for "preparing" them, or for writing upon them without continual observation. Mr. Slade often held the slate quite sloping, at an oblique angle, and yet the pencil upon it did not slip to the edge, but wrote quietly on. The supposition one so often hears that the slates are "prepared" by Mr. Slade will not stand examination, because he washes out the answers, given to his questions by the spirits, on the slate, which (the same one) is again written upon; this also, as always, happening under observation. Wlien once during a seance at which writing was going on under a slate, one of the circle raised his hand quietly and without being observed, from that of his neighbour, the writing suddenly ceased, the connection being thus disturbed. Mr. Slade looked up, and seeing what had happened, requested the gentleman referred to, to try the experiment frequently, and each time the writing; ceased, and began again as soon as the chain was re-closed. There were many other manifestations. For instance, a bell under the table came out of its own accord, ringing, rose high up in the air, and let itself gently down, still ringing, on the table. A slate placed under the table was shivered into small a pieces, as by lightning, and the fragments flew in curve over our heads and so on to the floor. During a seance, another heavy table which stood at some distance from the one at which we sat, came with a rush of extraordinary speed and force to the side of a gentleman among us, whom we thought must have been hurt ; but it only touched him quite gently. The spirits gave to a hydropathic doctor, who was present, a token of esteem for his practice by wetting him with a jet of water, which came from a corner of the ceiling opposite him. Just afterwards my knee was tightly grasped by a wet hand, so that I felt the wet fingers sharply, and on examination I found the moisture on ray trouser. (Mr. Slade, during this, had his hands linked in the chain formed by those of all present.)

" Another interesting fact is, that when my Principal (Herr Schmid), Mr. Slade, and I, were holding our hands lightly on the table, the latter went up, hoveing in the air, and turned itself over above our heads, so that its legs were turned upwards.

" What an enormous force Mr. Slade must have applied to evoke these manifestations deceptively, is shown by the following case. When I was sitting, a little distance from him, he likewise sitting, he stretched out his arm, and laid his hand on the back of my chair. All at once I was raised, with the chair, swaying in the air about a foot high, as if drawn up by a pulley, without any exertion whatever by Slade, who simply raised his hand, the chair following it as if it were a magnet. This experiment was often repeated with others.

'Mr. Slade held an accordion under the table, grasping it by the strap at the side ; his other hand lay on the table. Immediately we heard the falling- boards move, and a fine melody was played.

" The experiment with two compasses was also tried; these were placed close together, and when Mr. Slade held his hand over them, the magnetic needle in one of the compasses began quickly swinging round in complete rotations, while tho needle in the other compass remained at rest, and so also conversely. According to the laws of physics known hitherto, if Mr. Slade had been secretly applying a magnet, as is so frequently alleged by opponents, both needles must have been set in motion, as they were quite close together, yet this was not the case.

" One of the most wonderful manifestations was the following: — Mr. Slade stood in the middle of the room, I on his right, on my right my Principal, and behind us, at the window, stood a young lady. While in this position we were conversing, and my Principal was about to go into the next room to fetch some- thing, a heavy stone, as if originating in the air, fell before all our eyes with a very heavy blow upon the floor, so that a regular hole was made in the latter ; the stone fell quite close to my Principal's feet. Immediately afterwards there fell a second stone, the fall of which, as of the first, we saw very distinctly. This did not happen close to Slade, for I and my Principal were both between him and the place.

" Occasionally at a sitting we saw a materialised hand; it would tear the slate forcibly out of Slade's hand under the table; it appeared suddenly at the side of the table, and quickly vanished again; it was a strong hand, quite like one of flesh and blood.

"A slate was regularly wrenched out of my Principal's hand ; it then made the round of the table, hovering free in the air before all eyes. ...Slade came here alone without any companion."

Professor Zollner next refers to the manifestations obtained through Slade at Berlin, of which he had received information from visitors and correspondents. Among the slates which were brought or forwarded to him, was one written upon in six different languages, and which Professor Zollner ascertained, upon examination, to be free from the "preparation" by artificial means, so often suggested as the probable explanation of the long sentences coming upon apparently clean slates during Blade's seances. In this case, moreover, as will be seen, the slate was brought by the investigators, and was never in Slade's custody at all ; nor was there the smallest opportunity afforded for effecting an exchange. The correspondent from whom the author received the account was a " Herr Director Liebing," of Berlin, who obtained the details from the owner of the slate, in whose presence it was written upon, with full authority to transmit them to Professor Zollner for publication, with the slate. Although it would have been preferable to have had the account direct from this gentleman, it appears from the correspondence in the text (which it is not thought necessary to reproduce literally and at length in this translation), that the statement was submitted to him for correction, was in fact corrected by him, and is thus, as here given, in fact his own. He was a Herr Kleeberg, residing at No. 5 Schmied Street, Berlin, and "of a very respectable firm" in that city. He and a friend of his, a "thorough sceptic," took two slates to Slade. One slate was covered by the other, and beyond putting a piece of slate-pencil between them, Slade never touched them at all.Herr Kleeberg and his friend then held the two slates, so joined together by their hands, above the table, suspended over it, in full daylight, and writing at once began. When it was over, and the slates were separated, the lower one was found covered with writing, as shown in Plate IX. One long passage was in English, five short sentences in French, German, Dutch, Greek, and Chinese (the latter according to the judgment of a student of Oriental languages), respectively. They were as follows : —

1. Look about over the great mass of human intelligence and see for what these endowments are given to man. Is it not to unfold (in) the great truths God has embodied in him? Is it not mind that frames your mighty fabrics - the soul that is endowed with powers. Shall he not go on unfolding these powers as God has sent His angels to do? Must man pass his judgments on God's laws that he does not understand ? We say no.

2. [German in text] (I am proud to be able to serve you.)

3. [French in text] (The grace of God be with you all who are in Jesus Christ. Amen.)

4. [Greek in text] (Bad men look only to their own advantage.)

5. [Dutch in text] (Who to the seed-corn increase gives, nourishes all that therein lives.)

The last sentence, supposed to be Chinese, was not understood. "

Slade at best was a mixed medium, because while Brian Inglis countered the main charges against him (trial, Seybert commission) in "Natural and Supernatural", and while some of his critics like Houdini, Rinn, Truesdell, and Krebs present difficulties, other reliable sources caught him out as recorded in Camille Flammarion's "Mysterious Psychic Forces", additionally, Inglis himself noted that Charles Massey held that Slade "could do things in a seance which no conjuror could do, yet he might use slight of hand in another seance, or even in the same seance, 'with an almost infantile audacity and naivete'." (see here for an example from an unimpeached witness: I will note, however, in agreement with John Beloff in his discussion of Palladino in "A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology", that subject fraud (as opposed to experimenter fraud) is not really an impeachment of the phenomena, while it is an impeachment, say, of the veracity of an autobiography, it is so presumed in the case of professionals that what matters is if test seances were conducted that specifically precluded the counter-hypotheses. Some experiments with Slade did this, such as those highlighted, and also, he was validated by Bellachini the magician in full light:

Also, it is important toe really emphasize that some of the attacks on him really were spurious - e.g., The Lankaster trial, which is used as a centerpiece for the attack on Slade. Chris Carter noted, in "Science and Psychic Phenomena" that "the legal evidence against Slade was weak. Even a historian favorably disposed toward Lankester and Donkin wrote that "both scientists turned out to be terrible witnesses; their observational skills, developed in anatomy and physiology labs, were useless in detecting fraud by professional cheats. ... Indeed, Lankester and Donkin apparently could not agree on anything much beyond their charge that Slade was an imposter.""

For more on the Lankester prosecution, see the following:

With the Seybert commission, there remain difficulties. There is the following statement, (p. 10) "strange Spiritual antics may be there manifested, such as upsetting chairs which happen to be there, making slates appear above the edge of the table, etc. These manifestations are executed by the Medium's foot, which, on one occasion, was distinctly seen before it had time to get back into its slipper by one of our number, who stooped very quickly to pick up a slate which had accidentally fallen to the floor while the Spirits were trying to put it into the lap of one of the sitters.", and (p. 13): "At our last séance with him we noticed two slates which were not with the other slates on the small table behind him, but were on the floor resting against the leg of that table, and within easy reach of his hand as he sat at the larger table. As we had previously seen prepared slates similarly placed we kept a sharp watch on these slates. Unfortunately, it was too sharp. Dr. Slade caught the look that was directed at them. That detected glance was sufficient to prevent the Spirits from sending us the messages which they had so carefully prepared. The slates were not produced during the séance, but when it was over one of our number managed to strike them with his foot so as to displace them and reveal the writing. None of us present that day will be likely to forget the hurried way in which these slates were seized by the Medium and washed.":

This seems like a devastating set of exposures, but the first is merely a noting of a release of a foot from a slipper and a SUPPOSITION that therefore there was fraud, which is a non-sequitur, as he could have executed fraud with his slipper on - there is also no indication that foot-control was an important test condition of the seance - and there are many other explanations for the foot movement, it could have been a pseudopod, or it could have been due to unconscious muscular action. For the second item, writing may have been visible on unwashed slates, but the very function of Slade's sittings was to produce messages on Slates that were initially clean - whether it was produced genuinely or fraudulently is a different manner. The fact that there were unwashed slates suggests carelessness on Slade's part, but not that there was an exposure of fraudulent methods. This is the best evidence against him, and it is astonishingly weak. It appears also that the commission duped Slade, as he was led to believe that the overall attitude had been positive, p. 13 states, "We received from Dr. Slade a written expression of his satisfaction with our treatment of him, which had been throughout, so he said, entirely fair and courteous, and of his willingness at any time hereafter to sit with us again, should we desire it and his engagements permit."

Brian Inglis stated many objections to the commission as follows - he later noted contradictions in the testimony of Wundt to Fullerton re. the abilities of Zollner as a competent investigator (Wundt's testimony to Fullerton was more malicious in a way that contradicted earlier non-malicious testimony), and he notes bias so great it extended into malice on the part of Fullerton's overall denunciation of the Zollner investigation, but regarding the weak "exposures", Inglis noted (p. 371) that "by agreement these rules were not pointed out until the post-mortems which the members of the commission held after seances; so Slade was never actually caught red handed.

Some of his effects too, at the time had seemed unaccountable.

Once he had held two slates, one of them cleaned, behind the head of one of the investigators; when the question was put 'will the spirits endeavor to write on the slate thus held?' the sound of writing and a rap, signifying 'yes', were heard, and the message on the Slate was 'Yes, we will try'. It was 'one of the neatest things he did', Furness thought; an inspired guess if he had prepared the slate in advance.

Even Sellers could detect no substitution. In the circumstances, the commission realized that it would be unwise to denounce Slade until they could reassure themselves that everything he did could be duplicated by sleight-of-hand. Harry Kellar, one of the best known conjurors of the day, happened to be in Philadelphia, and a few days later he gave the members of the commission a demonstration of slate-writing which, they found, was 'far more remarkable than any which we have witnessed with mediums', including messages in various languages. Later, Kellar showed one of the commission's members ho he did it; and although in defense to the interests of his profession this was not made public at the time, the members of the commission felt that it constituted sufficient proof that Slade was a conjuror, and nothing more.

Over thirty years later Kellar, having retired, felt at liberty to disclose how he had done the slate-writing. He told Hereward Carrington that he had Had [sic] a trap-door constructed under the seance table, and employed an assistant in the room below - an explanation echoed by Houdini. But this method would have only been possible for a professional magician. Slade gave seances wherever he happened to be, in private houses or hotel rooms; there could be no question of his having trapdoors cut wherever he went - and if he had, he would have soon been exposed. The reliance on Kellar's testimony was consequently dishonest - at least on the part of the member of the commission who was let in on the secret. So far from discrediting Slade, it could have been held to be in his favor."

Further refutation occurs in Brian Inglis "Natural and Supernatural" (White Crow Books, p. 373), showing contradictions in versions of Wilhelm Wundt's statements against Zollner. The Zollner case is complex and difficult to appraise, but we can point out several items in Zollner's favor:

A Campbell Holms, in "The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy", sources an article by Massey critiquing in detail the charge of Zollner's incompetence - he noted, "It was asserted by Prof. G. S. Fullerton of Pennsylvania University, the Secretary of the notorious Seybert Commission for Investigating Modern Spiritualism, that Zollner was of unsound mind when he experimented with Slade and that, therefore, no credence could be placed in his conclusions. But this assertion was shown to have no foundation in fact by C. C. Massey (Zollner's translator) in a letter to the Professor dated August, 1887, and published, with others, in Light for that year, pp. 375, 393, 451, 543, 562." - that letter can be read here:

The noted scholar Isaac Funk, in The Widow's Mite, p. 276, refuted the charge of Zollner's incompetence.

2) Funk noted, on p. 281 of The Widow's Mite that Frank Podmore misrepresented the details of Zollner's coin experiment.

A defense of the Zöllner experiments is beyond the scope of this post, I intend to write a paper on this at a later time. There are some points that should be made on this though. The speculations of Robison in "Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena", pp. 104-105, as to Slade's production of the accordion phenomena:, are in opposition to the facts of the experiment as recorded on pp. 39-40 of Zollner's "Transcendental Physics":

A counter to important critiques of the Zöllner work, which form a vital part of the criticism, appears here:

Andreas Sommer noted in "Crossing the boundaries of mind and body: Psychical research and the origins of modern psychology" ((Ph.D. thesis) London University College (2013)), pp. 215-216, "Inspired by his friend William Crookes, in 1877 and 1878 Zöllner conducted a series of experiments with the American Henry Slade, who specialized in so-called slate-writing (i.e., direct ‘spirit writing’ in sometimes sealed slates).275 Slade, who had just escaped from England after a lawsuit for fraud instigated by the physiologist and tireless popularizer of political materialism E. Ray Lankester, was brought to Germany by Aksakov.276 After the Russian had failed to interest Helmholtz, Virchow and von Hartmann to investigate the medium, Zöllner agreed to test Slade with the support of Wundt’s old mentor Fechner, the physicist Wilhelm Weber (1804-1891, the co-inventor of the first electromagnetic telegraph) and the mathematician Wilhelm Scheibner (1826-1908).277 The famous physiologist and member of du Bois-Reymond’s and Helmholtz’s circle of anti-vitalist friends, Carl Ludwig, the surgeon Carl Thiersch, and Wilhelm Wundt, together attended a séance with Slade in November 1877, but left after only half an hour.2

In his detailed report, Zöllner stated that in order to control for possible fraud the experiments were conducted in bright daylight or gaslight in his flat, and he purchased a new table as well as freshly manufactured slates, which he secretly marked in order to rule out manipulations by Slade. Still, apart from slate writings in different handwritings and languages allegedly unknown to the medium, Zöllner reported phenomena such as the deflection of a compass needle, prints in flour and carbon-black from human hands and feet differing in shape and size from Slade’s, the lasting magnetization of knitting needles, and effects suggesting the interpenetration of matter, such as knots in loops of thread and leather, and ‘teleportations’ of marked coins from sealed containers and of wooden rings around the legs of a table, which Zöllner viewed as an empirical corroboration of his famous theory of a fourth dimension of space.279

Zöllner claimed that Slade had been closely observed and he described how he and Weber, to limit possibilities of fraud without inhibiting the medium psychologically, would often spontaneously request effects not in Slade’s known repertoire and make impromptu modifications in the course of experiments. Also, Zöllner argued that certain phenomena could have been faked only if Slade, who was never left in Zöllner’s flat unobserved, had installed intricate devices prior to the sittings. Among these were the disappearance of a small table which was later reported to descend from the ceiling, unexpected movements of heavy furniture, and the spontaneous destruction of a heavy wooden frame accompanied by a cracking noise while Slade was busy producing requested effects.280"

The critique of Carrington in "The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism: The Fraudulent and The Genuine", is predicated on a dismissal of the main points of the third paragraph, thereby it is rendered problematic. Andreas Sommer wrote of the bias of critical sources on this issue:

"The same is true for Zöllner/Slade. The political relevance of the episode is enormous, and I uncovered some primary/archival sources putting things into perspective (see my “Spiritualism and the origins of modern psychology in late nineteenth-century Germany: The Wundt-Zöllner debate”, in C. M. Moreman (Ed.), The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (Vol. 1, pp. 55-72). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013. For an evaluation of Carrington’s verdict, I recommend studying the German original of Zöllner’s observations (in vols. 2-3 of his Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen, 1878-9), or the very able compilation/translation by C. C. Massey: Zöllner, J. K. F. (1880). Transcendental Physics: An Account of Experimental Investigations. London: W. H. Harrison.

Mind you, I’m not claiming the phenomena were real, all I mean to imply is that primary sources tend to be constructed in an extremely biased manner by self-styled ‘reality sheriffs’.":

As regards Henry Slade, Klinkowström in a German article claimed secondary validation for the confession of fraud, though he is a difficult source himself, as will be shown later:

I am of the opinion that Slade had some genuine mediumistic abilities, because the counter-hypotheses can be refuted with him in some instances, but that he buttressed some of his performances with fraud for professional purposes. Grounds for a reevaluation are given above, are given in Holms, and in the following item - Wallace noted "at Glasgow, last year, Lord Rayleigh informed us that he took with him a professional conjuror to Dr. Slade's, that the phenomena happened with considerable perfection, while "the conjuror could not form the remotest idea as to how the effects were produced."" and "The popular view of a subject like this is sure of a wide circulation, and writers in the daily and weekly papers increase its publicity, whereas few read the answer, and the press decline or refuse to make it known.", after which he said, in a footnote, " A striking proof of this statement has been quite recently furnished us. The letter given below was sent by Dr. Slade to Professor E. R. Lankester. It would seem to exhibit, in a high degree, the characteristics of truth, fairness, and charity. No answer was received. The press, moreover, refused to publish it, and the daily press, one and all, refused to insert it even as an advertisement!


"DEAR SIR,--Dr. Slade having in some measure recovered from his very severe illness, and his engagement to St. Petersburg having been postponed (by desire of his friends there) till the autumn, desires me to make the following offer:--

"He is willing to return to London for the express and sole purpose of satisfying you that the slate-writing occurring in his presence is in no way produced by any trickery of his. For this purpose he will come to your house unaccompanied by any one, and will sit with you at your own table, using your own slate and pencil; or, if you prefer to come to his room it will suit him as well.

"In the event of any arrangement being agreed upon, Slade would prefer that the matter should be kept strictly private.

"As he never can guarantee results, you shall give him as many as six trials, and more if it shall be deemed advisable.

"And you shall be put to no charge or expense whatever.

p. 416 "You on your part shall undertake that during the period of the sittings, and for one week afterwards, you will neither take, nor cause to be taken, nor countenance legal proceedings against him or me.

"That if in the end you are satisfied that the slate-writing is produced otherwise than by trickery, you shall abstain altogether from further proceedings against us, and suffer us to remain in England, if we choose to do so, unmolested by you.

"If, on the other hand, you are not satisfied, you shall be at liberty to proceed against us, after the expiration of one week from the conclusion of the six or more experiments, if we are still in England. You will observe that Slade is willing to go to you without witnesses of his own, and to trust entirely to your honour and good faith.

"Conscious of his own innocence, he has no malice against you for the past. He believes that you were very naturally deceived by appearances, which, to one who had not previously verified the phenomena under more satisfactory conditions, may well have seemed suspicious.

"Should we not hear from you within ten days of this date, Slade will conclude that you have declined his offer.

"I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant, J. Simmons."

37, Spui-straat, The Hague, May 7th, 1877.":

If Slade was a fraud he would have not ordered the writing of that letter, as it would have put him at immense personal risk.

Slade is often classed with William Eglinton and Francis Ward Monck. On Monck, see this.

On Eglinton, I will below attempt a partial validation. (I feel intuitively that William Eglington was probably a fraud, though I don't know how he did some of his magic tricks - confirmation or refutation of this viewpoint will have to be established by testing his phenomena against counter-hypotheses) Partial validation of Eglinton comes from what I describe here: " As an aside, Wiley's book p. 35, states, "the prominent American illusionist Harry Kellar, while appearing in Calcutta in 1882, admitted he had been baffled by the mediumistic effects and levitation of the English medium William Eglinton[12]. Eglinton was exposed as a fraud several year later." But examination of thesource reveals misrepresentation in the wikipedia article. Footnote 12 - occurs on p. 207 of Wiley's book - from it we read that the source cited is: Harry Kellar, A Magician's Tour (Chicago: Donohue, Henneberry, 1891), pp. 168-172 - as cited, this does not demonstrate that the levitations were fraudulent tricks. On p. 173 of the text cited, it is revealed that though Kellar was able to reproduce other phenomena (though there is the statement that Kellar "makes no claim to performing the tricks by the same means Mr. Eglinton used"), he never was able to account for the Levitation, which, on p. 171, he describes the baffling nature of. [specifically we find that "What puzzles him the most is how he could have been pulled up by Mr. Eglinton without felling his own weight on his hand and arm. He seemed to lose gravity."] See here for the source cited: 13"

A.C. Doyle attempts to refute the fraud charge from Archdeacon Colley - search "Archdeacon Colley" in his The History of Spiritualism, Vol II (1926):

Aside from this, (p. 30): "A good case of direct writing is related as having occurred about this time by Dr. Nichols, who had removed from Malvern to 32, Fopstone Road, Earl's Court, S.W. It occurred on the 9th September. "At a seance last night, in the presence of three other persons and Mr. Eglinton, the materialised form of 'Joey' made in our presence about twenty yards of white drapery, which certainly never saw a Manchester loom. The matter of which it was formed was visibly gathered from the atmosphere, and later melted into invisible air. I have seen at least a hundred yards so manufactured. Then 'Joey' said, 'Dr. Nichols, I have got into a great row about that Greek, which you transcribed imperfectly.' He then selected two small slates from a pile of new ones lying on the mantel-shelf, and handed them to me to be cleaned. I rubbed them both thoroughly, and so did each of the three other — one of them using a wet cloth. 'Joey' then borrowed my knife, whittled a piece of slate pencil, bit off a piece of it, and placed it between the two slates, and then carefully wrapped up both in a piece of newspaper. This was all done in the centre of the small room, quite away from the medium, and in plain sight of all. Then, at his request, I moved my chair forward, and sitting facing 'Joey' held one corner of the slates with my left hand, as he did the other corner with his right, and I laid the fingers of my right hand on the fingers of his left. Instantly we heard the sound of writing on the slates. In a few moments three little raps told us the writing was done, and I pushed back into my place, holding the slates. At the end of the seance we found on one slate a message for Mrs. Nichols from the late Dr. Ferguson, signed with his name in his well-known handwriting, and on the other, in a very neat and delicate hand, each letter almost separately written, the following: — 'The message in Greek has been imperfectly transcribed by you. Translate as written below, and you have the proverb in its correct and original meaning: [Greek in text] The fifth word is underscored, as you will see on the slate I leave for your inspection.' Now, one fact, for what it is worth, is as good as a million. Here is a Greek sentence twice written under absolute test conditions, in the presence of several persons, by some invisible intelligence, between two slates closely bound and firmly held together. The medium was not near the slates. They were prepared by a human form, which was not that of any one of the five persons in the room. Not one of those five persons could write the shortest sentence in Greek. Not one of them knew that there was such a proverb in that language."

On pp. 116-119 of the biography, testimony is given regarding Eglinton's slate-writing describing situations apparently precluding fraud - also, the personal nature of some of the message is discussed:

Such testimony abounds throughout the book. Colley, discussed previously, in spite of the arguments made against Eglinton, elsewhere wrote positively of Eglinton's phenomena - that "The medium was next entranced and carried by invisible power over the table several times, the heels of his boots being made to touch the head of our medical friend. Then he was taken to the further end of the dining room, and finally, after being tilted about as a thing of no weight whatever, was deposited quietly in his chair.":

Charles Richet in his book "Thirty Years of Psychical Research", noted: "Eglinton was a very powerful medium, and though he has been suspected of fraud, he was able finally to prove that the allegations of his enemies were calumnies. Moreover, the question is not to establish that he was never guilty of trickery (which is not easy in the case of a professional medium) but whether in certain definite instances striking metapyschic phenomena have been produced (Erny, loc. cit., 159)."

This book that Richet cites by Erny is Le psychisme expérimental: étude des phénomènes psychiques: the text, to copy and paste into google translate for those who don't know french, begins here: It continues onto p. 173 For simplicity, Richet summarizes some of the information: "Miss Glyn, who did not believe in materializations, saw Eglinton at her own house, at a séance at which her father, her brother, and a friend were present. Eglinton was in the middle of this little circle, and his hands were held. Two forms appeared that could move and speak. Miss Glyn recognized them for her mother and her younger brother. The forms slowly disappeared.Phantoms are often too readily recognized, and the desire to secure this recognition detracts much from the value of the attestation.

Dr. Carter Blake, with five persons well known in English intellectual society, narrates that he saw by the side of Eglinton, who was sitting in an armchair, a tall brown form that melted into the medium's body.

The distinguished naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, in a letter to Erny, states that he saw Eglinton at a séance in a private house. By his side there appeared Abdullah, a materialized Oriental wearing sandals, a turban, and burnous; Eglinton being visible at the same time sitting in an armchair in evening dress. After the séance Eglinton was undressed and most carefully searched but neither sandals, turban, nor burnous were found.

Important séances were held at the house of the artist, J. Tissot, who has represented one result in a very beautiful picture. Eglinton sat in an armchair, close to Tissot, and stayed there the whole time. The doors were locked. After a brief space two forms appeared by Tissot's side. At first they were nebulous, but gradually became clear so that all their features could be seen. The male form had in his hand a kind of light with which he lit up the feminine form. M. Tissot recognized the latter, and, much moved, asked her to kiss him; she did so several times and her lips were seen to move.

Dr. Nichols experimented with Eglinton, putting him in a cage with a net over it. The doors of the cage were closed with sealed knots and the approaches to the cage were dusted with flour. The forms appeared outside the cage. Another time, at Dr. Nichols's house, in daylight, but behind closed curtains, there was a materialization in human form, which, in order to be recognized, raised the curtain to show itself in the daylight. It then slowly dematerialized till there remained nothing but the lower part of the body which vanished abruptly.

Florence Marryat and her husband assisted at a remarkable private séance in which they saw a whitish, cloudy substance emerge from the left hip of the medium; this cloud increased in size, condensed, and became a materialized form that stood before Eglinton. She also studied the materializations given by Mr. Arthur Coleman who was not a professional medium. He was tied with cotton threads that would break at the least movement. Before the five sitters six forms appeared and were seen by the light of a gas-burner. During this time Coleman was entranced in the next room."

Carvill Lewis had however, caught Eglinton in trickery in a similar way to the Hodgson exposure of Slade, these seem to be the only legitimate exposure - and the question of conscious or unconscious fraud is also a factor here. The above testimony, particularly the powerful testimony of Kellar, is important to consider as counterbalance. P. 324 of "Light", July 16, 1887, offers a contextualization of Eglinton in light of the Lewis information:

In contrast to that, though, also note the positive evidence presented by Fodor, who noted that Eglinton had convinced British PM William Gladstone of the supernormal, and notes positive phenomena in this case - Gladstone stated, incidentally, that psychical research was the most important work which is being done in the world - by far the most important" - the article also notes, "Eglinton's open air materializations have no parallel in spiritualistic history. This is a summary of Dr. Nichols' experiences in Malvern: "Mr. Eglinton lay on a garden bench in plain sight. We saw the bodies of four visitors form themselves from a cloud of white vapour and then walk about, robed all in purest white, upon the lawn where no deception was possible. One of them walked quite around us, as we sat in our chairs on the grass, talking as familiarly as any friend ... took my hat from my head, put it on his own, and walked off with it where the medium was lying; then he came and put it on my head again; then walked across the lawn and up a gravel walk to the foot of the balcony and talked with Mrs. Nichols. After a brief conversation he returned to the medium and gradually faded from sight."


The spiritualistic Press of the day was full of such marvels. Mr. W. H. Harrison, the editor of The Spiritualist and a Fleet Street writer on science, reported the transportation of Eglinton through the ceiling of a locked room into the room above on March 16th, 1878, at Mrs. Macdougall Gregory's house at 21 Green Street, Grosvenor Square, London. He was one of seven sitters.

"The séance was held in the drawing-room on the first floor high above the street. The shutters of all the windows of the room were closed and barred; they could not have been opened without admitting light from the street. The door was locked on the inside and the key left in the lock. The table around which all the sitters sat was about two yards from the lock and considered in the most favourable position for enabling all the sitters to gaze into the passage if the door had been opened either to a large or small extent... Mr. George Sutherland, one of the sitters, was raised, chair and all, and placed on the centre of the table, where he was seen when a light was struck. Another sitter and his chair were raised about two feet. Mr. W. H. Harrison half seriously asked if the spirits could take Mr. Colman through the ceiling by way of giving a variety of manifestation; Mrs. Fletcher and Mr. Colman then called out simultaneously that Mr. Eglinton had broken the circle and left them. Mrs. Gregory told them to join hands. About the same moment, a chair, probably Mr. Eglinton's, was heard to fall lightly on its feet, apparently some yards from the circle; and a violent bump, caused by the falling of a heavy body on the floor of the room above, caused everybody to think that Mr. Eglinton was carried through the ceiling. So a light was struck.

"From the time the remark was made about Mr. Colman to the time the light was struck, was about a minute. From the time Mr. Eglinton disjoined hands to the time the fall in the room above was heard, was probably less than ten seconds; some of the sitters, a few minutes after the event occurred, estimated it at five seconds.

"When the light was struck, Mr. Eglinton was not in the room. Mr. George Sutherland unlocked the door by turning the key which was in the lock, and it was then noticed that the passage outside was fairly illuminated by reflected light from the gas in the hall below. Mrs. Gregory and several sitters proceeded upstairs, and found Mr. Eglinton lying in a deep trance on the floor with his arms extended. This was about two minutes after he disjoined hands in the room below. In two or three minutes he revived and complained of the back of his head being hurt, as if by a blow; beyond this there was nothing the matter with him and he was as well as before in a few minutes."

Were all these people dithering imbeciles or did Eglinton actually go through the ceiling?":

  • Medhurst & Goldney (1964). William Crookes and the physical phenomena of mediumship. (defense of William Crookes, appraises him in light of Trevor Hall's allegations, also argues that the claims of Houdini and Maskelyne that Anna Eva Fay confessed to them that she duped Crookes to them were false because their accounts conflicted with the primary sources, though notes that F.W.H. Myers, initially supportive of Fay, came to have very negative views of her. As regards Fay, Wallace wrote, "I have already shown (in this month's Fraser) that the supposed exposure of Eva Fay in America was no exposure at all, but a clumsy imitation, as will be manifest when it is stated that the exposer, Mr. Bishop, performed all his tricks by stretching the cord with which his hands were secured to the iron ring behind his back! There is hardly a greater exhibition of credulity on record than Dr. Carpenter's believing that such a performer proved Eva Fay to be an impostor and Mr. Crookes's experiments valueless. But what can we expect when we find a Daily Telegraph report quoted as an authority in a matter of scientific inquiry?

I venture to think that, whatever may be their opinions as to the amount of fact in the phenomena called "spiritualistic" (by Dr. Carpenter, but never by Mr. Crookes), all men of science will agree with me that Dr. Carpenter is bound to prove by direct experiment that Mr. Crookes and his coadjutors were the victims of imposture on the particular occasion referred to; or if he fails to do this, that he should in common fairness publicly withdraw the injurious accusations he has made against Mr. Crookes and all who are engaged in similar investigations. If this is not done it is equivalent to deciding that no possible proof of such phenomena is admissible--a position which is not that of Dr. Carpenter, or, as far as I am aware, of the scientific world generally.":

Morselli wrote, "In the same way, we do not understand how mediumship could be successfully imitated by Annie Eva Fay, who, besides producing admirable impressions in wax, increases in weight every night, resisting the efforts of several spectators to raise her from the ground." (Mediumship and Conjuring (in Connection with Eusapia Paladino)):

Barry Wiley, a critic of Anna Eva Fay, wrote in a critique of the biography of William Crookes, "Brock lists references published by Dingwall and Houdini (Brock omits Walter Franklin Prince, to whom AEF spun yet another version just three months before her death) regarding admissions by AEF that she had cheated Crookes. No. The AEF stories related in A Magician Among the Spirits and in Dingwall’s Critic’s Dilemma regarding how she had fooled Crookes are not true, and the conversations quoted, in fact, most likely never took place. For example, on July 8, 1924, Houdini visited AEF at Heathman Manor for five hours. One of his first questions which he records in the notes he made from the visit, was how had she beaten the Crookes galvanometer? Why did he ask if he had already published her answer? As it is, the answer that AEF gave him was so far-fetched that even Houdini admitted in his notes that he could not believe it. But why did he ask if he already knew? There are other statements in the book, but the above is sufficient to show that Professor Brock is relatively unfamiliar with the history of magic and Spiritualism, and apparently feels that AEF is a secondary character in the arc of the Crookes story. If she were not the last medium endorsed as genuine by Crookes, I would have some sympathy for Professor Brock’s position. But Crookes said she was genuine, on the 19th and only on the 19th. He never issued a blanket endorsement of AEF, regardless of the later advertising that AEF used up until 1894. And it is reasonably clear how AEF beat the Crookes galvanometer test on the 19th. You’ll find it in Chapter 8 of my book.":

Wiley's hypothesis of fraud, a variation of the hypothesis of Podmore, given in appendix G of "The Thought-Reader Craze" is, "For Annie's coil of wire to match her body resistance, Gimingham [Crookes' assistant] had only to have had Annie in the circuit only once to match her body resistance. He then wound a coil of wire, put it into the circuit to ensure a close match, and adjusted accordingly."

Without critiquing this directly, I will just note counter-comments to Podmore's hypothesis to show, indirectly, the difficulties of the former hypothesis:

Hereward Carrington wrote "The next year (1875) Sir William Crookes repeated the same experiment with Mrs. Fay, in his own laboratory. Telekinetic phenomena and materializations nevertheless occurred. In his Mechanism of Man (II, p. 446) Serjeant Cox narrates a similar test with the same medium, in the presence of Messrs. Huggins, Galton, and Crookes, who were present. To be sure, Mr. Frank Podmore has suggested that the medium might have employed some 'connecting substance of a resistance approximately equal to that of her own body'; but in view of the later tests this view can hardly be taken seriously." - Laboratory Investigations Into Psychic Phenomena, p. 86 - see the account from Cox's book, for evidence that other aspects of the phenomena were beyond fraudulent explanations:

In JSPR Volume 42, pgs 370 to 372, Thompson expanded on Podmore's hypothesis of fraud, and Medhurst & Goldney argued this involves cutting corners as regards the competencies of the full set of observers, the full scale of their observations, and the nature of the experiment. They raised important points against one who simply supposes that this is a simple matter of them being duped.

Still though, some negative evidence on Fay is here - she definitely committed fraud in her later career, though this does not, in and of itself, impeach the observations of Crookes, Galton, etc., which were from a highly controlled set of experiments that skepticism has failed to adequately explain away:

Medhurst & Goldney argued that Frank Herne and Charles Williams were mixed mediums in "William Crookes and the Physical Phenomena of Mediumship". Medhurst and Goldney gave an appraisal of this that removes some of the animus against Cook on account of her association with Herne. Dingwall, in a critique of Trevor Hall's book on DD Home cited below, stated, "the author discusses what he calls a damning ingredient in his critical assessment of Home. Indeed, he goes so far as to say that he considers it axiomatic that the honesty of a medium may be judged by his or her associates. What he refers to is a letter6 to the eminent astronomer and solar physicist William Hugqins (1824-1910) from Crookes in which he described a Seance on April 11, 1871. The two mediums who gave the sitting were Charles Williams and Frank Herne, two professionals, the latter having a highly dubious reputation and whom Hall, rightly I think, describes as an unscrupulous trickster (p. 50) since both a few years later were exposed in blatant acts of deception. It appears that Home had dined with Crookes on April 11 and was invited to accompany him to the seance which had been arranged for that evening. In the letter Crookes told Huggins that he had to induce Home to come since it was a dark seance and Home "always refused to sit in the dark" as he considered an absence of light unsatisfactory to those present. In this instance, however, he consented and Crookes told Huggins in enthusiastic terms about the extraordinary phenomena that took place. Now, since, according to Hall (p. 50), if two mediums give demonstrations then both must be genuine or fraudulent, then it follows that as Herne was almost certainly a fraud then Home was one also. It would seem that Crookes thought that both Herne and Williams may have been genuine, but what reason have we to suppose that Home, if genuine himself, knew that the two other mediums were fraudulent? That he wanted to see more is clear from the statement by Crookes in the letter that he agreed to attend another sitting on April 25. Whether this convinces the reader that Home's "demonstrations" show that he himself was a fraud is for him to decide, but there is no doubt that he later considered Heme to be an imposter since he refers to the exposure of him in 1875 which caused a sensation among believing spiritualists."

Regarding Crookes and William Hope, the standard line is that he was duped, though Medhurst and Goldney provide excerpts from primary sources in "William Crookes and the Physical Phenomena of Mediumship" leading us to understand the nuances of this - and see commentary in a critical review of Simeon Edmunds book on spirit photography in the International Journal of Parapsychology (Volume VIII, p. 608, "Edmunds makes reference to the fact that Hope succeeded in convincing Sir William Crookes, and he discusses the ease with which an intelligent investigator can be duped. He goes on to quote Fred Barlow assaying "Recognized likenesses have been produced, but in every single instance I have investigated where there is no doubt as to the likeness, the 'extra' has been an exact copy of some photograph or painting." Since Edmunds apparently shares this view, it is perhaps pertinent to point out that in a letter to Sir Oliver Lodge - dealing with a photograph taken by Hope and showing an "extra" which Crookes identified as his recently deceased wife - Crookes states: "The picture ... is not a facsimile of any photograph ever taken of my wife""). Sudre (Treatise on Parapsychology, p. 286) provides evidence for Hopes's phenomena, sources an appraisal of Harry Price's dispute with Hope, also discusses a test of Hope undertaken by an expert conjuror, Dr Lindsay Johnson, in 1921. Johnson brought all the equipment himself and - presumably aware of the earlier accusations against Hope - refused to allow him to come near it, except in a test where Hope was allowed to put his hands in a box which contained unexposed plates. Of eight photographs which Johnson took and developed, three had an 'extra' - two of them identifiable human. And on one of the exposed plates in the box, two in the middle had 'extras' - 'one showed four heads of the same person, and the other a photograph which had appeared the day before' - evidence which sufficed to convince Johnson - vindicating Hope beyond this is outside my knowledge, but there seems to be sufficient corroboration on this, and per the above, it is not accurate to say that Crookes was duped. Though Fodor has written some important commentary: - Arguments in favor of William Hope's "Spirit Photographer" predecessors can be found in James Oates' 1911 book "Photographing the Invisible", which discusses tests of these Spirit photographers, and counters criticism. More tests are discussed by Stanley de Brath, in chapter 3 of "Psychical Research, Science, and Religion".

One article arguing that Brian Inglis misrepresented source literature: [2], was in response to a critique of Hansel where he argued that Hansel relied on discredited material [3] - the critique of Inglis argued that although critics had attacked the Anderson testimony, the basis of the allegation that Crookes was having an affair with Florence Cook. Much support of Inglis' position was put forth in Goldney's article Further Light on the Anderson Testimony. Eric Dingwall launched a successful defense in Critics Dilemma, and that therefore Inglis was misrepresenting source material (how Inglis' view was a "misrepresentation" is hard to see). However, Alan Gauld, in a review of "The Critic's Dilemma", argued that Dingwall had failed to rehabilitate the Anderson testimony from the discrediting that critics had given it.

Mary Rose Barrington wrote in her rebuttal to Gordon Stein:

"It is not at all difficult to make a convincing case against the genuineness of Florence Cook's full-form materializations, creatures apparently composed of all-too-solid flesh and blood, one of which walked around arm-in-arm with the equally solid creation of Rosina Showers, a medium whose fraudulent methods became known to Crookes. It is easy in the light of so many indications of fraud to overlook the testimonial to her mediumship provided by Cromwell Varley's test. Varley attached electrodes to Florence's arms in a way that would make escape from an electrical circuit very difficult if not impossible (Stephenson, 1966), and still a materialized figure presented herself, a rather convincing one in that, according to Varley's report in The Spiritualist of 20th March 1874, she appeared not only in full form but also "half materialised from her waist upwards, the lower extremities being absent". Phantom forms with parts missing are much more persuasive than those that are indistinguishable from fleshly humans.

Varley was a Fellow of the Royal Society specializing in electrical engineering, and he was using his own apparatus, but Stein sees no difficulty in positing that it was Crookes (described in the reports as "also present" and as one of the "observers") who would have taken over from Varley the task of attaching electrodes to Florence's arms, and would have come equipped with resistors to insert into the circuit in place of the medium so that she would be free to impersonate a materialization. This all seems highly unlikely in view of Varley's observation about the state in which he found Florence at the end of the sitting: "The sovereigns, blotting paper, and wires were exactly as I [not Crookes] had left them, viz. attached to her arms by pieces of elastic." No statement could be clearer."

Regarding Crookes and Florence Cook and the alleged impropriety, for an evaluation of Trevor Hall's verdict on the issue as a whole, refutation of claims of fraud with Florence Cook, and support for Florence Cook's phenomena, see John Beloff's commentary in "In Honor of GAM Zorab" (Netherlands: Dutch Society for Parapsychology, 1986. 163p. Bibl: 128-161; Chap bibl; 1 illus).: Then see chapter X., "Materializations and "Katie King"" in Herbert Thurston's "Church and Spiritualism" for a refutation of the objections of Frank Podmore, Klinckowström, etc, on the Katie King phenomena:

One online article by a spiritualist that is very good on this subject is "A Lawyer Defends Sir William Crookes" by Victor Zammit, though in no way is it a substitute for the above meticulously researched items:

Inexplicable as this is, there are cross-cultural corroborations. St. Augustine, writing in his "City of God", discussed materialization mediumship - as cited in Psychical and supernormal phenomena their observation and experimentation by Dr. Paul Joire. Frederick A. Stokes, New York, 1916. p. 462:

Noakes (2004). The "Bridge Which is Between Physical And Psychical Research”: William Fletcher Barrett, Sensitive Flames, And Spiritualism.

Stewart & Tait (1875). The Unseen Universe or Physical Speculations of a Future State.

Raia (2007). From ether theory to ether theology: Oliver Lodge and the physics of immortality. (useful neutral overview of Oliver Lodge)

Drusart (1903), in Revue Scientifique etc Morale du Spiritisme, vol. 7 (beginning on p. 398, continuing throughout) and Revue Scientifique etc Morale du Spiritisme, vol. 8 (beginning on p. 42, continuing throughout) - (this is a rejoinder to Frank Podmore's Modern Spiritualism: A History and a Criticism - Podmore was generally reliable on the subject of telepathy, for which his views were corroborated by his colleagues, but on Spiritualism, he was tendentious at best, and often distorted source materials - see also and especially two rebuttals to him given in English below, from James Hyslop and others and also regarding William Stainton Moses).

Funk (1907). The Psychic Riddle.

Funk (1911). The Widow's Mite and Other Psychic Phenomena.

  • Doyle vs. McCabe (1920). Verbatim Report of a Public Debate on “The Truth Of Spiritualism” Between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, M.D., LL.D. (Representing Spiritualism), and Joseph McCabe (Representing the Rationalist Press Association). (Doyle would later write ''The History of Spiritualism Vol. I, Vol. II, in opposition to he views of the arch-critic Joseph McCabe, a good introduction to which is Dingwall (1922). Review of "Spiritualism: A Popular History from 1847" by Joseph McCabe. (In a review of his previous book, Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud?, in JSPR Volume 19, Nov., 1920., p. 268, Dr. Dingwall wrote: "In this volume Mr. Joseph McCabe sets out in his usual vigorous and slashing style to castigate the devoted adherents of the spiritualistic faith and incidentally to cast scorn upon the more serious side of psychical research. If the writer's intention was to remind the unthinking public that fraud is common in psychical phenomena he has probably succeeded in his task, but to the serious student the book will be found to be of little interest. Mr. McCabe is at pains to expose the arguments and pretensions of persons whose acquaintance with the subject is such that they easily lend themselves to the most crushing replies. But he himself cannot be said to be over accurate. For example, on page 33, speaking of the Turin sittings, he says that Linda Gazzera being a lady and a good Catholic could not of course be stripped and searched, whereas Prof. Richet distinctly says with reference to these very sittings that before every séance she was completely undressed by Mme. R. or by another of the ladies present and then re-clothed in another tight-fitting garment. [on Gazzera, see Richet's Thirty Years of Psychical Research] Again, it was not Schrenck-Notzing who sewed Linda in a sack but Dr. Charpentier, an error indicating that the author's statements must be taken with due reserve. It would indeed be a thankless task to point out the many mistakes and misrepresentations with which the book abounds. In actual omissions the facts are even more curious. Thus the S.P.R. Report on Eusapia Palladino is silently passed over and space given to the farcical American sittings. Such celebrated mediums as Mile. Tomczyk, Mrs. Blake, Miss Burton and Mrs. Chenoweth, are not even so much as mentioned, the reader being denied the pleasure of hearing their full modus operandi exposed by Mr. McCabe. For those, however, who wish to revise their knowledge of the fraudulent side of spiritualism the book may be confidently recommended as a useful addition to the material already existing. It could certainly be profitably read by those persons who are only too apt to forget the mass of shameless deception which has unfortunately been so often associated with psychical phenomena."

Joseph McCabe takes a shotgun approach, so he gets some things right, and I, while shying away from this initially, actually agree with Dingwall about McCabe's book Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud? (moreso than his Popular History), "It could certainly be profitably read by those persons who are only too apt to forget the mass of shameless deception which has unfortunately been so often associated with psychical phenomena." The psychical researcher Adam Crabtree lists a book of McCabe's as item number 1784 in his bibliography, and states, "The book contains useful information." McCabe's work is very powerful, and will likely turn anyone who does not cross-reference it into an anti-Spiritualist. Yet, as I will show, what McCabe writes on the subject needs to be cross referenced. His opposite on the subject would probably be Brian Inglis, in Natural and Supernatural and Science and Parascience, and for an evaluation of his arguments, I recommend pitting it against The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy by Holms and Richet's Thirty Years of Psychical Research. There are some errors related to the texts of scientists and psychical researchers, in both McCabe's Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud? and his Spiritualism: A Popular History. I will cite these throughout this overview (regarding Daniel Dunglas Home I do this, and my overview is sufficient to discredit the text), but here are some preliminary notes, regarding unreliability or counter-evidence:

In Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud? Joseph McCabe wrote regarding the presentation of the disputed apparition case of Judge Edmund Hornby by F.W.H. Myers and Edmund Gurney that as exposed by a Mr. Balfour the story was a "jumble of inaccuracies" and "Sir E. Hornby was compelled to admit, that the story was entirely untrue." He repeats this in his popular history, on p. 175, without correcting his previous fabrication, which can be assessed from a summary of the case as follows: Hornby actually argued against Balfour. The primary source is here, for anyone to independently verify: [4], [5] - some further related discussion on this occurs in Hamilton's book. - as follows (p. 127): "Those who mocked the Spookical Society were delighted by the Edmund Hornby fiasco, the first of several embarrassing episodes that damaged - but did not destroy - the Society's reputation for investigative competence. Sir Edmund Hornby was a very grand figure indeed. As Fraser Nicol states, 'the case was printed very largely as an act of faith in Sir Edmund's testimony (though ostensibly confirmed by his wife)' (Nicol 1972: 352). And what a case! Sir Edmund had the grand title of Chief Judge of the Supreme consular court of China and was based in Shanghai. His customary practice was, the night before he gave written judgments in court, to brief favored journalists on his verdict, so they could catch the morning press. On one occasion he was awoken, he stated, just after one in the morning press. On one occasion he was awoken, he stated just after one in the morning, by a journalist asking for his judgement. Sir Edmund, though enraged, gave him the report verbally. The journalist said this would be the last time they met. Lady Hornby, aroused by the noise, was told by the judge what had happened. She later confirmed this. The following day it was found that the reporter had been working on this very story at the time of his death, which was about the time Hornby had seen him in his bedroom. This story was one of the more vivid tales in the May and July editions of the Nineteenth Century which eventually reached Shanghai. Upon their arrival a local newspaper editor wrote to the periodical pointing out that Hornby was not married at the time and that the reporter's death had actually occurred between eight and nine in the morning (Hall 1980a: 65-68). Gurney had to withdraw the case and make a grovelling apology for not seeking corroborating evidence, which he should have done by searching 'the files of Chinese newspapers at the British Museum' (Gurney 1885a: 2-4). Hornby, however, refused to retract his testimony. One explanation, of course, is that it was a particularly vivid dream. Another, more piquant one, is that Hornby was in bed with his future wife before they were legally married and that the incident occurred broadly as he reported it (Lambert 1969: 43-55). But bluntly, whatever the case, Gurney should not have accepted his word-just because he was a senior judge-without searching for corroborative evidence, as he had done in other cases." In "Phantasms of the Living", "Preliminary Remarks: Grounds of Caution", we find that these kinds of problems are no longer relevant in light of Gurney's assiduousness (possibly strengthened in light of this), and a search for the truncated term "corroborat" shows the level of care paid to corroboration: Phantasms was notably positively reviewed in the journal Nature - see below. See also the discussion of criticisms and rebuttals, and Lodge (1909). The Attitude of Science to the Unusual, above.

McCabe (p. 188-189 of his "Popular History") provides mention of a letter that alleges that Pellew's relatives denied that there was any evidence that the control alleging itself to be "George Pellew", and that Richard Hodgson fabricated statements about Leonora Piper attributed to a professor Fiske. Alan Gauld, in The Founders of Psychical Research: Appendix B", provided below, refers to the original source for this letter as "Wholly Unreliable", and provides a point by point demonstration of it being inconsistent with the primary source material. This is the basis for McCabe's dismissal of the Piper phenomena.

IT is not clear that many of the famed exposures of mediums were accurate.


Some of the arguments concerning fraud can be controverted. An introduction to C.E. Wood occurs in Psypioneer Volume 10, No. 11: November 2014 In Holms' The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy, pp. 413-414, we find that "Mrs. Mellon (formerly Miss Fairlamb) was a remarkably powerful medium for materialisations. While in Sydney, on October 12th, 1894, she was accused of fraud because, during a seance, the materialised spirit " Cissie " was seized by Mr. T. S. Henry who then found he was holding the medium in deshabille. Accounts of the affair were published in the local and other papers and in Border- land, Vol. II, pp 40-3. While the accuser's statements would indicate deliberate fraud on the part of the medium, he says nothing that is not contradicted in statements by other sitters. It is pretty evident that he seized a genuine materialised form; that the medium at that moment was sitting in the cabinet, and that her body dematerialised and immediately flew to, and was absorbed in, the materialised form, her boots and stockings dropping off before she left the cabinet, where they were afterwards found.1 As a result of this outrage she had haemorrhage and suffered severely in health for many weeks. When she recovered she resolved that in future she would sit in the seance room and abandon entirely the use of a cabinet. In this she was quite successful, for she gave important test seances in which different spirits (including " Cissie ") materialised visibly before the sitters while she sat in full view. Like Mme d'Esperance, she did not lose consciousness during the materialisations. The following quotation is from an account of one of these seances by Mr. A. G. O. Stordeur, M.A.a It was held in Sydney on March 14th, 1895:— "The light having been reduced, leaving us, however, able to perceive distinctly everything that might take place, and everyone in the room, Mrs. Mellon seated herself, as on the former occasion, with her face directed towards us and in full view of all—no curtain nor anything else in the nature of a screen being used. We then sang in a subdued voice a cheerful but appropriate song, and while thus engaged we all noticed on the left side of the medium, a dim, hazy light collecting itself into a luminous cloud, out of which gradually arose an intensely white vaporous form, which, however, soon dis- appeared, to our great disappointment. But our hopes were revived on observing the luminous cloud rising from the ground and develop- ing into the form of a human body, which stood for about three minutes in full view of all. Again it dematerialised, but this time only for a more beautiful re-materialisation, for in less than five minutes there appeared before us a slender female form about five feet high. This elegant and graceful white-clad form threw her arms round Mrs. Mellon and caressed her in a most affectionate manner, and then moved nimbly about, displaying the stars which glittered as so many brilliants on her wavy tresses of a deep dark colour, and answered our questions by signals made by the graceful movement of her head or hands. Our spirit friend then bade us good-bye, and dematerialised gradually to what I should call a small spark of phosphorescent light about the size of an apple.""

C.e. Wood. pp. 229- An overview of the phenomena is in this includes a materialization being built up and later a progressive dematerialization in front of a large circle p. 73 - C.E. Wood Exposed: - Wood counters this. Paul J. Gaunt said "It is without doubt that Catherine (Kate) Elizabeth Wood submitted to some of the most difficult and stringent tests ever made on a physical medium; most of these she accomplished under the given conditions—for that we must applaud her achievements." for further research, see:

The Wikipedia article on Mme. d'Esperance states, "In 1880 in a séance a spirit named "Yohlande" materialized, a sitter grabbed it and was revealed to be Elizabeth herself." However, the source for this assertion is "Spiritualism: A Popular History" by Joseph McCabe, p. 167, which does not cite any sources, except for d'Esperance's autobiography. which has descriptions of her extreme physical lack of ease - she stated, "All I knew was a horrible excruciating sensation of being doubled up and squeezed together, as I can imagine a hollow gutta percha doll would feel, if it had sensation, when violently embraced by its baby owner-. A sense of terror and agonising pain came over me, as though I was losing hold of life and was falling into some fearful abyss, yet knowing nothing, hearing nothing, except the echo of a scream I heard as at a distance. I felt I was sinking down, I knew not where. I tried to save myself, to grasp at something, but missed it; and then came a blank from which I awakened with a shuddering horror and sense of being bruised to death."

There was an allegation, and as for refutation, I am unable to get a copy of "Medium and Daybreak", Sept. 10, pp. 577-83, which has has been cited as a defense of d'Esperance against the allegation ("The Darkened Room" by Alex Owen (1989), p. 285n62). Hopefully it will be up soon. But for now, it is important to establish that there were compelling counter-examples with d'Esperance in order to move the case in her favor. When that excerpt from M & D becomes available, it will be added as a reference.

To start, while the earlier pages from the Sept. 1880 edition are not available, the later pages are. p. 613 describes precautions against fraud, and then a full materialization - beginning as a small white patch and becoming a full fledged form, and then "Yolanda" as a separate form, all while the medium was also in full view, and then dematerialization, also with the medium in full view:

The following testimony, from "The Medium and Daybreak", July 23 1880, p. 466, is quite extraordinary corroboration of the above exact points:

Other positive testimony to d'Esperance re. mental mediumship also occurs on p. 203 of "The Spiritualist", Oct. 25 1878:

Regarding d'Esperance, Richet notes: "Professor Aksakoff published a memorandum of Mme. d'Espérance to which it would seem too much importance has been ascribed.

Mr. Carrington has shown that if there was no fraud, fraud was quite possible. Professor Aksakoff very loyally gives the evidence of several persons present at this alleged dematerialization who did not accept it as genuine, for example, the engineer, Schonelz (p 92). The honesty of Mme. d'Espérance may very well be admitted while supposing that by an unconscious backward movement of her legs she may have given rise to the notion or may have herself thought that her lower limbs were dematerialized for a time."

However, Richet also noted, "At the house of Professor E., of Christiania, in 1893, M. de Bergen arranged a series or séances with Mme. d'Espérance, in which many distinguished persons belonging to the university, the magistrature, and the clergy took part. In one of these séances an extremely beautiful female form appeared calling herself Nepenthes. "She showed herself in the light at the same time as the medium, who was sitting with other persons outside the cabinet, and materialized in the midst of the circle. She plunged her hand into liquid paraffin wax, leaving a mould of rare beauty. The modeller who made the plaster cast could not believe his eyes and spoke of sorcery, because he could not imagine how the hand could have been extricated from the wax glove. "Nepenthes dematerialized in the midst of the circle. She lowered her head on which her usual diadem shone, and little by little became a luminous cloud like a human head (on which the diadem still faintly showed) gradually fading away.""

Eusapia Palladino:

I will cover the general objections to Eusapia Palladino later. Buts regards McCabe's insinuations, let us begin by analyzing the character assassinations that have been levied against Cesare Lombroso and Charles Richet - 2 of Palladino's initial investigators. Mr. McCabe in his Debate on Spiritualism with Conan Doyle, p. 44, and in Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud, p. 54, informs us that Lombroso's daughter noted his very poor health in the last few years of his life, when he embraced a full-fledged form of Spiritualism. This is possibly true, but it does not effect his early investigations. It is noteworthy also that the A.M.A. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry review of that biography notes the daughter's full support of all of Lombroso's views.

McCabe wrote of Palladino: "The impressions of faces which she got in wax or putty were always her face. I have seen many of them. The strong bones of her face impress deep. Her nose is relatively flattened by the pressure. The hair on the temples is plain. It is outrageous for scientific men to think that either "John King" or an abnormal power of the medium made a human face (in a few minutes) with bones and muscles and hair, and precisely the same bones and muscles and hair as those of Eusapia. I have seen dozens of photographs of her levitating a table. On not a single one are her person and dress entirely clear of the table."

I suggest comparing McCabe's accounts to those given in original sources. In conflict with McCabe's theory that impressions in plaster were made by fraudulent imprints of the medium's own hand, the scholar Carlos Alvarado noted: "Some imprints were quite detailed. Morselli described the photograph of the imprint of a ‘spirit fist’ as showing that it was made by placing the second phalange of the four fingers and the lower outer edge of the radial or thumb against the impressionable soft substance. That hand is small, and does not have morphological characters that can recognized, also because the pressure shifted somewhat towards the cubital, and the second phalanx of the little finger is seen as split.37"

I give a contrary overview of photographs later.

On Eva C., as is relevant to this aspect of this overview, see Bowers (1926). In Which I Pat Professor Jastrow's Rosy Cheeks (a rebuttal of Carlos María de Heredia's attack on Eva C, which was subsequently taken up by Joseph Jastrow. Heredia relies on a summary from McCabe that is in conflict with the primary source:

Counter-evidence on Dr. W. J. Crawford's experiments with Kathleen Goligher. As a preliminary item, we would do well to note Inglis "Science and Parascience" on Goligher and d'Albe, also: - from Inglis text (p. 82), compares Gholigher's more suspicious materializations to those witnessed by S-N, mentions pseudopods and how d'Albe never satisfied himself that she was really using her foot, appendix contributed by Gow challenged conclusions of d'Albe, Barrett referring to table "I could not pull it down for the life of me", other suprised "to find so much happening at so bright a light", table "remained in space, well over the heads of the sitters", etc. quote from appendix, pp. 57ff, regarding controls: p. 80 of Inglis text "Kathleen's feet were sometimes tied to her chair, sometimes actually enclosed in a box: it made no difference. He could see that they were not responsible for the impressions in the clay: he could even walk between her and the clay without interrupting the 'rods' at their work."

Stanley de Brath's introduction in his The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism, pp. 23-24: "The classical experiments in Telekinesis are those by Dr. W.J. Crawford, D.Sc. He experimented with the Goligher family in Belfast for six years (1914 to 1920) and the following is a brief account of his experiments.

"The Medium, having seated herself on a chair placed on a platform-weighing machine, and the total weight noted, the 'spirit-operators' were asked by Dr. Crawford to levitate the table - a small one, weighing about 10 lbs. This was promptly done, and the weight of the Medium was increased by the weight of the table. This was repeated many times, always with the same result. 'The increase in weight was not precisely that of the table, but within 5 per cent. of it. When the table was pressed downwards it offered a peculiar elastic resistance, as though it were floating in water'."

He found that during the levitation there was an invisible link connecting the Medium and the table, for when he placed his hand in certain places the table dropped to the floor. Though usually invisible, the ectoplasmic substance was palpable - it felt cold, soft, and clammy. If the hand were gloved, the table did not fall so readily. It did not drop at all when the space was explored with a glass rod. The link was of the form ofarodwhich had the power of becoming a cantilever"

Horace Leaf, who attended Crawford-Goligher seances, in his book "What Is This Spiritualism" (1919) pp. 35-36 wrote on the controls:

"The experiments were conducted in a light strong enough to enable all present to see the objects in the room; whilst the tables used for levitations were so situated as to make it quite impossible for any of the mediums to lift them, even if they could have done so without being detected. The greatest freedom was afforded Dr. Crawford, who spent many hours within the circle and in all places around it. He continually worked under the levitated table and between the levitated table and the medium. Complicated instruments were introduced, and placed below the table, whilst Dr. Crawford often placed his arm and hand in the space between the medium and the table. As a result of these and other precautions and tests, eliminating all possibility of fraud, Dr. Crawford was enabled to confirm the reality of psychic force and discover two of the ways in which it is used by spirit communicators when producing physical phenomena."

I would also like to excerpt from Lord Rayleigh's 1938 article on physical phenomena, "The Problem of Physical Phenomena in Conjunction with Psychical Research", PSPR 45: 1-18 - the specific excerpt begins on p. 8 and ends on p. 12, since so much is dealt with that without addressing McCabe directly, and since it directly deals with the statement of Joseph Jastrow, in The Case For and Against Psychical Belief, p. 307, "The case of Dr. Crawford is most instructive. He is an engineer; his subject, the usual jeune femme of the drama, lifts a table and performs similar feats of what Richet calls telekinesis; but the explanation is that a psychic rod acting as a cantilever is exuded from the body of the medium and lifts the table or makes raps; and by adopting a code the "operators" (he does not like to call them spirits) by taps assure Crawford that his theory is correct. Sir Bryan Donkin, M.D., calls attention to the "superabundant exposure of the massive credulity and total defect of logical power displayed by Dr. Crawford (who gives) the most pathetic picture of a willing victim of pernicious deception." Dr. Crawford committed suicide. After his death a further examination of the medium was made by the translator of the sumptuous volume of Schrenck-Notzing and Mme. Bisson, the sponsors of the ectoplastic performances of Eva C., which the translator credits as genuine; contrary to expectation he discovered definite evidence of fraud photographically documented. He agrees with a hostile critic that "the cantilever which worked the experiments in Crawford's book was the leg of that Irish medium." The minute detail of apparatus and all the paraphernalia of an engineering experiment which fills the Crawford books must ever remain an amazing document in the story of the metapsychic. As proof of what prepossession can do to a trained mind the case is invaluable."

I disagree with Rayleigh's view that D'Albe caught Goligher in fraud, and I substantiate my views after this excerpt and subsequent discussion, but, without further ado, the excerpt: "We come next to the investigations of the late Dr W. J. Crawford of Belfast with Miss Kathleen Goligher as medium. [FOOTNOTE: Recorded in his three books: The Reality of Psychic Phenomena, London,. 1919, here referred to as R.P.P.; Experiments in Psychical Science, London,. 1919, referred to as E.P.S.; The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle London, 1921.] Dr Crawford was a lecturer in mechanical engineering at the Municipal Technical Institute of Belfast, and from enquiries I have made he seems to have impressed other scientific men favourably. The medium usually sat with a circle of her own friends and relations, a fact to which due prominence must be given.

Dr Crawford's work was largely directed to determining the mechanical reactions of the forces which came into play in the levitations he observed. For this purpose he placed the medium on a weighing machine, to determine whether the seat of the reaction was on her. He worked by the light of a red lamp, of which more will be said later.

Dr Crawford describes how he was able to have a table weighing about 10 lbs. levitated and kept steady about eight inches up in the air for as long as he required to make a test of the addition to the ordinary weight of the medium. This was two or three minutes, and apparently he could have had more, for on each occasion he indicated that he had finished. It was found that the medium gained weight about equal to that of the table. These steady conditions could only be obtained after the sitting had continued for some time.

Dr Crawford interprets this gain of weight by the medium as due to an invisible cantilever or rigid bracket, which comes out from the body of the medium, and supports the table. Mrs Sidgwick, in a review of Dr Crawford's first book, hints that this "cantilever" is nothing else than the medium's leg. Many statements in Dr Crawford's various publications, however, are definitely at variance with this hypothesis. Thus (E.P.S., p. 119) "Practically no palpability is experienced when one cuts through the psychic structure with the hand, or, say, with a piece of wood." [FOOTNOTE: See also R.P.P., p. 87.]

Dr Crawford's hypothesis is, however, so fraught with mechanical difficulties that it is questionable whether it really helps much to correlate the facts he has determined, assuming that these latter are correct. To begin with, it is almost self-contradictory to postulate a structure which is rigid to act as a cantilever, and not rigid at all for the hand or a piece of wood to pass through it. The attempt to imagine a medium rigid for some purposes but not for others is not new to science. Problems of this character arose in connexion with the elastic solid theory of the luminiferous ether, which was to show rigidity for carrying rapid transverse vibrations, and fluidity to allow solid bodies, e.g. the earth in its orbit, to pass through. {FOOTNOTE: A short explanation of this matter may be useful. When it had been established that light, like sound, was of the nature of a wave movement, it was considered necessary to postulate a medium in order to convey it. If the waves were waves of compression, as is the case of sound travelling in air or water, then a fluid medium would do, and there would be no particular difficulty in understanding how solid bodies could pass through it. But waves of compression could not account for the phenomenon called the polarisation of light. When a ray of light passes through a suitable polariser, such as a tourmaline crystal, it acquires " sides " as Sir Isaac Newton expressed it. It is no longer an indifferent matter if the beam is rotated on its own axis. We can prove this by a second tourmaline crystal. This will only transmit the beam if it is placed parallel to the first tourmaline. If crossed with the first there is no transmission. Now waves can only give room for effects of this kind if they are transverse to the direction of propagation. It is clear that there can be nothing of the sort in compressional waves for hi these no one transverse direction can have preference over any other. It was therefore concluded that the vibrations were transverse. But (apart from what happens at a free surface) fluids cannot transmit such waves. Elastic solids can do so in virtue of their stiffness. Hence the elastic solid ether.] Lord Kelvin at one time appealed to the properties of bodies like hard pitch or cobbler's wax, which while reacting to very rapidly alternating forces, will yield viscously in time to forces applied steadily in one direction. [FOOTNOTE: I need scarcely say that the elastic solid ether is now superseded by quite a different order of ideas.] But to satisfy Crawford's hypothesis the requirement is that there should be great stiffness for persistent forces, and fluidity for more transient ones. This is too much to ask. Another difficulty is boldly stated by Dr Crawford (E.P.S., p. 117). "How can it be", he says, "that a rigid structure two or three feet long can issue from the medium's body and support 30 or 40 lbs. weight at its end, and the medium experience no inconvenience?" [This of course applied to a different experiment from that already referred to with the 10 lb. table.] Dr Crawford has his own tentative answer to this question, though I cannot personally feel satisfied by it. But in this and other instances the candid way in which specific questions are faced produces a favourable impression, compared with the mere appeal to mysticism of so many writers on these subjects. Dr Crawford's theory perhaps raises more difficulties than it answers; nevertheless, if work of this kind is ever satisfactorily built into the scientific edifice, I do not doubt that he will rank as a pioneer.

Space is lacking to go into further particulars of Dr Crawford's work. It is necessary to mention that he died by his own hand before the whole of it was published. I shall return to this point a little later.

About a year after Dr Crawford's death, the late Dr Ε. Ε. Fournier D'Albe proceeded to Belfast and had a series of sittings with Miss Goligher, with a view to confirming and extending the work of Crawford, [The Goligher Circle, London, 1922.] which had impressed him favourably. He failed to obtain any phenomena which he could regard as evidential. It was apparently admitted that they were not so (p. 43). Although he expressly reserves the question of whether any of Dr Crawford's results could be accepted as supernormal it is pretty evident that he thought they could not be. Towards the end Crawford had obtained numerous photographs of what he regarded as " psychic structures " rendered visible under special conditions. They are published in his last book. The half tone blocks made from these photographs are undoubtedly very suggestive of pieces of muslin or the like, hung from the bottom of the table or knotted on to its legs. Fournier gives similar pictures of much better definition published as actual photographic prints, not half tone blocks, and I fully agree with him that they show the material to be a woven product. This is the most damaging feature in the whole case. Fournier also tells in detail how he saw the medium raising a stool with her extended foot. Fournier worked as far as possible under the same conditions as Crawford. He had the same circle of sitters, and in one instance actually held the sitting in Dr Crawford's house. He also used the identical appliances, lent by Mrs Crawford. These circumstances are of some importance because they show that she remained on friendly terms with the medium, and can scarcely have attributed Dr Crawford's collapse to his having been ultimately convinced that the medium had deceived him. Dr Crawford stated in his posthumous letter that this was not the reason of his breakdown, and I, for one, accept his statement.

No really valid reason seems to be known for doubting the candour and accuracy of either Fournier or Crawford, so far as they are describing what they themselves observed. Fournier says (pp. 48, 49) : " I have no reason to doubt the conscientious and accurate character of Dr Crawford's observations and records."

Fournier thinks that Crawford was too soon convinced that all was well, and relaxed his vigilance prematurely. But Crawford's letters written during the last few months of his life, and given by Fournier (pp. 66-70), negative this view, for they are full of details of the various precautions which he took.

Fournier emphasises strongly that the shadow of the table afforded protection for fraudulent manipulation, but there are passages in Crawford's books which seem to be a complete answer on the point. Thus (R.P.P., p. 13): "Even with the largest table it is sometimes possible to see completely underneath (as I have done), to see the feet and bodies of all present at rest, and hands held together in chain order, while the table has been steadily levitated."

Again (Psychic Structures, p. 8) : "A strong red light was falling upon the space below the levitated table while another source of red light was showing from behind so that the whole area between the medium and the levitated table was itself quite visible, and I shifted my position into various positions in the circle, looking at the space below the table from different angles. But to all appearance the space was empty-----"

If we accept this statement as being, in Fournier's own words, "conscientious and accurate," I think it is clear that his criticism fails.

Fournier says (p. 49) : "The tests to which he [Crawford] submitted the medium completely satisfied him as to her bona fides so that he no longer thought it necessary to control the other sitters as well." It is, however, instructive to compare this with a passage from Crawford (R.P.P., p. 16) : "The experiments in Chapter III show conclusively that while the table is steadily levitated nearly the whole of its weight is upon the medium. Therefore it follows that if anyone is lifting the table with any part of his body, it is the medium, and the others are not concerned."

Moreover Crawford states (R.P.P., p. 81) that he was allowed to move anywhere between the sitters and the levitated table except immediately in front of the medium. If this statement too is accepted as "conscientious and accurate", it is difficult to see the force of Fournier's remark above quoted, in which he suggests fraud of the sitters as the factor neglected by Crawford: the more so that he claims to have seen "levitation" achieved by the medium's foot. Fournier does not seem to have really made up his mind whether the table was fraudulently raised by the medium, or fraudulently raised by the sitters.

I must frankly admit that I am unable to sum up this case to my satisfaction. Fournier does not profess to discuss Crawford's work in detail, and he seems tacitly to admit that for all he can say some part of it may have been correct, though he evidently does not think so. Crawford's publications contain a complete answer to Fournier's general objections, and I am unfavourably impressed by Fournier's failure to notice this. On the other hand, Fournier does seem to have proved that the medium was on occasion fraudulent. It is difficult to understand what could have been her motive in continuing to deceive Crawford for the first three years, during which there was no payment. It is also difficult to discount either witness. Crawford is confirmed on the main points by several other observers. [See in particular Whately Smith, Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xxx, p. 314, 1920.] Fournier stands alone, but produced his photographs, showing the woven texture of what purports to be a "psychic structure". Both records are very satisfactory in point of detail and internal consistency, standing far above the available accounts of D. D. Home in this respect; and the very matter-of-fact style of Crawford's narrative makes any idea of hallucination seem altogether out of place. In this unsatisfactory position I must leave the case."

The technical critique of this work is given by Mr. McCabe in Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud?, pp. 59-63, but from the above overviews we can already see the problems of it. He attacks the use of red light without citing a source, similarly, I can cite Cecil Adams, of "The Straight Dope" (a source liked by some "skeptics" I have encountered), to the effect that "Red light has minimal effect on night vision because its energy level is so low that the eye doesn't register it strongly enough to produce a compensatory reaction."

As regards the table levitation, McCabe omits items that refute his thesis, which are shown by Rayleigh above. He attacks William Barrett, but does not attempt to dispute Barrett's testimony, which provides remarkable corroboration as regards raps, levitations, etc., definitively shifts the argument against McCabe, and is as follows (PSPR 30, pp. 334-337). Here is an excerpt:

"Through Dr. Crawford's kindness I was permitted to join the circle in Belfast, during the Christmas vacation, 1915, and was allowed to bring with me a medical friend, Dr. W., who kindly consented to make any pathological or physical examinations of the medium that might be necessary.

The sitting took place at the residence of the medium's family, a small upper room having been regularly used for the sittings. This room was lighted by an incandescent gas burner, and a flat flame gas burner inside a lamp with a large pane of red glass on the side facing the circle. The circle of seven persons sat round a small table and each clasped hands with the adjoining sitter. We sat just outside, and close to, the circle. After some hymns had been sung, the gas burner was turned off, and the red light illuminated the room sufficiently to enable us to see the sitters and the table. The gas flame inside the red lantern was at my request subsequently raised, so that there was quite enough light to see the objects and sitters in the room. A tin trumpet stood below the table, the latter had four legs, with no cross bar on two sides, but a cross bar between the legs on the two shorter sides, away from the medium.

Knocks soon came and answered questions. Three knocks for yes, two for doubtful, and one for no. Messages were also slowly spelt out by repeating the alphabet aloud, a knock coming at the right letter. The knocks appeared in some cases to come from the table, at others from outside the circle. Suddenly a very loud knock came in response to a request, and was repeated with violence. Dr. W. asked for it to be still louder, and a tremendous bang then came, which shook the room and resembled the blow of a sledge hammer on an anvil. After the sitting we examined the feet of the sitters and all had felt slippers on, except one who had light shoes, and none could have produced these sounds with their feet. Then came some remarkable sounds resembling the sawing of wood, the boring of timber, and the bouncing of a ball. First a small ball bouncing up and down, and then apparently a larger ball bouncing up and down, the gradual dying away of the sounds as the ball came to rest very cleverly reproduced.

The trumpet below the table then began to move about, and the smaller end poked itself from under the top of the table towards Dr. W. and myself. We were allowed to try and catch it, but in spite of all our endeavours it eluded us, darting in and out and changing its position as we tried to seize it. The medium was on the opposite side of the table to us and all the circle held up their hands—so that we could see each linked hand clearly—as the trumpet played hide and seek with us.

Then the table began to rise from the floor, until it reached a height of some twelve or eighteen inches, and remained thus suspended and quite level. We were allowed, first myself and then Dr. W., to go beneath the clasped hands of the sitters into the circle and try to force the table down. This both of us found it impossible to do; though we laid hold of the sides of the table it resisted our strongest efforts to push it down. I then sat on the table when it was about a foot off the floor and it swayed me about, finally tipping me off. We then< returned outside the circle, when the table turned itself upside down and moved up and down with the legs uppermost. Again we entered the circle and tried to lift the table top from the floor, but it appeared riveted, and we were unable to stir it. When we resumed our place outside the circle, the table floated up and turned itself over again with its right side uppermost. During these experiments and whilst the table was levitated, all the sitters repeatedly held up their clasped hands, so that we could see no one had any contact with the table, they were in fact so far from it that we could walk between them and the table. Other knockings came, and then the knocks bid us good- night by rapping two or three times to each person in succession, particularly loud knocks being given to Dr. W. and myself. The circle then sang the Doxology, and offered up prayer, and the sitting terminated. The next evening Dr. Crawford had arranged his tests with weighing machines, and Dr. W. took the pulse and breathing of the medium, with the object of noting any change during the manifestations. After half an hour of waiting and hymns, knocks came and a message was spelt out, "We are sorry we cannot give any demon- strations to-night." Asked if we, the visitors, were the cause, "No" was replied. Could we remove the cause? "No." Was the cause on their side, a spiritual one? "No." Was it a material cause ?" Yes." After the previous sitting Dr. W. had made some trials of lifting the table by putting the feet beneath the short cross bars of the table. This could be done clumsily, and the table raised (but not level) for a few inches. So the next evening we went provided with a long strip of paper to paste round the lower part of the table, to prevent these cross bars being used if the medium attempted to lift the table in this way. What was our surprise to find the cross bars had been sawn off close to the legs; then we were told that our trials had shown that the table could be partly lifted by the feet under the cross bars, and so they had sawn off the bars to remove any sus- picion. We asked the unseen friends if this caused the manifestation to cease, and were told "no," but we should have asked them about it beforehand. Finally we were led to infer the material cause was in the medium herself. After the circle had broken up Dr. W. remained behind and examined the medium, and found that she was suffering from a feminine disorder that evening. It was useless to sit again until the medium was well, so we returned to Dublin the next day; but were cordially invited to go again later on, which I hope to do."

The followingfrom W. Whately Smith comes from the same issues of the PSPR, on p. 312, and is as follows: "The following account of the sitting witnessed by myself is taken from my contemporary notes. For the sake of brevity I have omitted a few irrelevant details, but none which would affect the main issues involved. This sitting took place in Belfast on Saturday, Dec. 9th, 1916, at 8.0 p.m. It was held in the room in which most of Dr. Crawford's work has been done, at the house of Mr. Goligher, the father of the medium. There were present Mr. Goligher, Miss Anna Goligher, Miss Lily Goligher, Mr. Morison, Mrs. Morison and Miss Kathleen Goligher, the medium. These formed a circle of about 5 ft. in diameter, sitting with joined hands in the order named, i.e.—with Miss Kathleen Goligher between Mrs. Morison and Mr. Goligher. Dr. Crawford and I sat outside the circle and were free to move about as we pleased. The ordinary seance table was placed in the centre of the circle and a large two-piece metal trumpet stood just outside the circle, between Mr. Goligher and the medium. The arrangement is shown in the diagram. [...] The room was lighted by a fish-tail gas burner enclosed in a sheet-metal box fitted with ruby glass sides and placed on the chimney-piece to the medium's right front as shown. It was warmed by a gas-stove which stood on the floor diagonally opposite the light. This was rather important, as will appear later. It is difficult to give any precise idea of the degree of illumination given by the gas. I can, perhaps, best indicate it by saying that it was a good deal stronger than I should care to use in a photographic dark-room. I found that when my eyes had become accustomed to the light, i.e. after about ten minutes, I could clearly see every object in the room unless it happened to be in deep shadow. The proceedings opened with singing. After a few minutes, and while the singing was still in progress, strong raps were heard which beat time to the tune. These were apparently produced on the floor in the neighbour- hood of the medium. They sounded very definite, that is to say, as if someone were knocking firmly on the floor with a piece of hard wood; they in no way resembled the sound of an electric discharge as some raps have been said to do by certain observers. The singing stopped and the proceedings proper began. First came a variety of raps of all kinds from scarcely audible taps to real "sledge hammer" blows which shook the whole floor. These latter could not normally have been produced without the aid of some heavy percussive instrument or violent kicks with the heel of a boot. The members of the circle were holding hands and all hands were clearly visible to me. I am sure that no one present could have made sufficiently violent movements with their feet without attracting my attention. When the raps ceased the large metal trumpet already mentioned moved into the circle sliding along the ground apparently under its own power, so to speak, the sitters next to it (Miss Kathleen Goligher and Mr. Goligher) raising their hands to allow it to pass. It then fell on the floor under the table, and after a few moments' scuffling about it was separated into its two component parts. These two parts then rose into the air and projected towards me from under the table, being at this juncture not more than 18 inches from me. I was invited to take hold of these two parts and I accordingly grasped each in turn. I found, in each case, that I could move the end which I held to and fro in any direction with the greatest ease, although I was conscious of a slight elastic resistance. But when I tried to twist either of them about a longi- tudinal axis I was quite unable to do so. So great was the resistance to torque that I can only describe it by saying that it felt as if the lower ends of the two parts were embedded in a large mass of solid concrete, freely suspended so as to allow of transverse and longi- tudinal movement, but so heavy as to preclude twisting. After a few moments these two parts of the trumpet fell to the ground, and shortly after the table began to move about. This table was about 2 feet long and 1£ feet broad and was made of dark painted or stained wood. It had four legs of the ordinary turned variety, which had no cross-bars between them, and weighed about ten pounds. First it moved to and fro over a range of about a foot. Then it was rotated about a vertical axis at the rate of about 15-20 revolutions per minute. At the request of Dr. Crawford the direction of rotation was reversed without delay and apparently without difficulty. This rotation was distinctly jerky rather than smooth, and on the whole I should say that this irregularity was due rather to the intermittent nature of the rotating impulses than to inequalities of friction against the floor. The table then moved again slightly, to adjust itself apparently, gave one or two tilts, and finally rose clear off the floor to a height of at least 12 inches. In the course of the evening it did this some six or more separate times. On each occasion I bent down and looked clear under the table. I was particularly well situated for this observation, since, as already explained, the gas stove used for warming the room was diagonally opposite me and emitted a reddish glow from the heated metal, as well as gleams of light from cracks or the like. It was easy, as the table swayed gently to and fro in the air, to bring each leg in turn in line with this glow— by moving my head slightly from side to side—and thus to satisfy myself that there was nothing in contact with any of the legs. On two occasions when the table was clear off the ground all the members of the circle lifted their hands above their heads, in which position they were verified by me. After two or three of these preliminary levitations I was invited to step inside the circle, and I accordingly did so. I grasped the table firmly with both hands and did my utmost to prevent it moving, but I was quite unsuccessful. By dint of great exertion I could prevent it from moving in any one direction and could keep it steady for a second or so, but it instantly moved in some other direction, the force changing with great rapidity. The amount of force exerted was quite extraordinary, indeed incredible to anyone who has not actually ex- perienced it. I estimate that at times I exerted pressures of fully 100 lbs. weight. At one time the table was made so heavy that I could not lift it. At another time, when I had for a moment relaxed my grip, it levitated within six inches of me. While it was thus suspended in the air I again took hold of it and found that although I could move it, within limits, easily in any direction in the plane of its top, I encountered a remarkably solid resistance when I tried to push it downwards and towards the medium at an angle of about 45 degrees. So great was the resistance in this direction that it felt like push- ing against a solid strut of wood or metal. During the whole of this time I was standing within three feet of the medium and, most of the time, facing her. I could see distinctly the whole of her body down to the knees, and the light from the lamp fell directly on to her lap. Her feet were in shadow and I could not make them out distinctly. This is natural as she always sits with them tucked under her chair and her heels against its crossbar. I could infallibly have detected any movement of the medium, and I can certify that she sat absolutely motion- less during the whole time that the table was performing these violent evolutions. I later sat on the table and, with my feet clear of the floor, was moved a distance of about six or eight inches. In addition, the table was three times tilted up to such an angle that I was unable to retain my seat. Finally, after I had dismounted, it pushed me to the extreme edge of the circle, moving to a distance of fully four feet from the medium in the process. In this posi- tion I tried my hardest to push it back. Again it felt like pushing against a solid strut. By putting out all my strength I was only able to move it an inch or so. Certain minor incidents also took place, and one or two interesting variations on the above were introduced.

For instance, raps were produced on the under surface of the table while I rested my hands on the top, and I could plainly feel the wood quivering under the blows. Again, at one time the table was thrown upon the ground, levitated in this position (legs horizontal and pointing towards the medium), and finally restored to its upright position. This last process was performed with difficulty and only succeeded after several attempts. It was done by a series of strong jerks, exactly as if manipulated by an invisible hand which appeared to try to change its grip rapidly but sometimes missed it."

Later critiques of Goligher would claim that her "ectoplasmic cantilevers" were actually muslin cloth, though destruction of such a hypothesis occurs with the experiments of F. McC. Stevenson, "An Account of a Test Seance with the Goligher Circle." Psychic Research Quarterly 1: 113-117, the relevant excerpt is on pp. 116-117: “The lady members of the circle were thoroughly searched and examined by Dr. B. and Dr. M. before entering the séance room. The male members of the circle were searched by myself. I can go so far as to say that Miss Kathleen Goligher, the medium, had not a shred of white fabric, whether clothing or otherwise, on her person. This is vouched for by the two lady doctors. Before the photographs were taken the circle broke up, leaving the medium sitting in the chair with no one near her but myself. As previously stated, I saw the plasma with my own eyes three times as depicted in each photograph. It was seen also by several others in the room. Dr. B. saw it once ; Dr. M. saw it twice ; others saw it as well. “ My sincere thanks are due to the two lady doctors and to Mr. Pollock, who came at much personal inconvenience ; also to Mr. S. and Mr. Hunter, the latter of whom took the trouble to make a special journey from the north of Ireland in order to be present. Last, but not least, my best thanks are due to each and every member of the Circle for their loyal co-operation. “ To anyone who has carefully followed the painstaking work of the late Dr. Crawford any confirmation of the truth of the results he obtained would appear to be both presumptuous and unnecessary; but for the benefit of those sceptics who remain unconvinced I am glad to bring forward the above evidence which, I submit, is irrefutable. “ I am confident that no one who has attended such a séance as I have described can help feeling that they have been in the presence of an unseen intelligence with powers beyond our human understanding. I might point out one important fact, viz.—that one of the cameras used was fitted with a wide-angle lens. This camera was placed on the floor quite close to the feet of the medium for the purpose of giving a photograph of the ‘ plasma ’ at close quarters. In this photograph the mesh of the stockings is plainly visible, but the plasma shows no structure, nor can any be discovered on examining the negatives under the microscope or by other means. “ (Signed) F. McC. STEVENSON.” [This last point is important ; it constitutes additional evidence against the possibility of the substance photographed being some kind of white fabric brought into the séance room and arranged by the medium. We have in our possession a copy of a statement signed by Mr. Stevenson, Mr. 8., Mr. Pollock, Mr. Hunter, Dr. E. G. B., and Dr. S. M. This statement testifies to the facts that “ the members of the Goligher Circle were thoroughly searched by Dr. E. B., Dr. S. M., and Mr. Stevenson, that the precautions described above were taken to ensure that neither plates nor cameras were tampered with,and that “ one exposure was made in a visibility clear enough to enable everyone in the room to detect any movement of either Miss Goligher or any member of the Circle, allof whom were sitting at some distance from the medium.” The statement concludes with the following words: “We un- hesitatingly affirm that this séance has been conducted under strict test conditions ; that the phenomena we have seen, and the photographs that have been taken of the ‘ plasma,’ are results which it is an absolute impossibility for any human being to have engineered or produced.” We shall be glad to consider similarly careful records of investigation from others who are studying these subjects.—-ED. P.R.Q.]

In her thesis given below, From Text to Self: The Interplay of Criticism and Response in the History of Parapsychology, pp. 69-70, Nancy Zingrone wrote:

"G. N. M. Tyrrell’s (1879-1952) book, The Personality of Man, published in 1947, included two short chapters on criticism. They were: ‘Attitude towards the Subject. Psychical Research: Are Men of Science Impersonal about Facts?’ (pp. 226-239), and ‘Attitude to Psychical Research: Still More Evidence on this Question. Its Fundamental Importance’ (pp. 240-247). Tyrrell followed Prince’s lead (1930) in examining the texts of critics of psychical research and showing how individuals, who were otherwise intelligent, lost their ability to function competently when confronted with the content of psychical research. (pp. 227-228). Like Prince, Tyrrell organised his chapters around a series of questions about the legitimacy and findings of psychical research. Unlike Prince [Prince dealt with these people, but briefly as a part of a broader overview, Zingrone is correct in that some of the later papers of Jastrow were not dealt with in Prince's work], however, Tyrrell focused on the writings of such psychologists as Joseph Jastrow (e.g., Jastrow, 1900, 1910, 1912, 1927a, 1927b) and Amy Tanner (1910), and historian Joseph McCabe (1920), amongst others).

For Tyrrell, the willingness to dismiss psychical research out-of-hand, without evidence or with statements based on serious distortions of the evidence displayed by the examples he recounted, was nothing short of amazing. He asked ‘What is the matter with all these people, one wonders?’ To which he suggested that they were ‘wandering in some enchanted wood’ (p. 239). The epitome of this attitude, Tyrrell thought, was represented by Charles Kellogg (1937b) who decried the diversion of graduate students from important areas of psychology into parapsychology, an area Kellogg saw as unworthy of either funds or personnel (p. 239).

In addition to dealing with published materials, Tyrrell also commented on newspaper articles that announced the Perrott Studentship in Psychical Research at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1940 (pp. 242-243). Referred to in the press as the ‘Ghost Scholarship’, Tyrrell felt that the derisive titles of newspaper articles indicated clearly ‘the attitude of the public towards psychical research; for the press reflects public opinion. The general opinion evidently is that the study of human personality is not a matter to be taken seriously. Something psychological is at work under the conscious surface of the critic’s mind which spurs him on to reject facts without testing them, if they depart too far from what is familiar’ (p. 246)"

see also (Unnamed - from what I can recall, Dingawll according to Klinkowstrom, will source later) (1924). Review of "A Magician among the Spirits" by Harry Houdini (de more compelling is WF Prince's chapter "Houdini and Doyle" in The Enchanted Boundary (below), and AC Doyle has some very important information on Houdini in ch. 1 of The Edge of the Unknown, regarding some of his misrepresentations - c.f. Dale (1954). Review of "Sixty Years of Psychical Research: Houdini and I among the Spiritualists" by Joseph Rinn, which discusses the unreliability of Rinn (a critical review from a more notable figure, WH Salter, appears here:

Carrington (1907/1920). The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism: The Fraudulent and the Genuine.

Dutcher (1922). On the Other Side of the Footlights: An Expose of Routines, Apparatus and Deceptions Resorted to by Mediums, Clairvoyants, Fortune Tellers and Crystal Gazers in Deluding the Public. (book on the magic tricks involved in producing fraudulent effects)

Dingwall & Price (1922). Revelations of a Spirit Medium. (book on the magic tricks involved in producing fraudulent effects)

Holms (1927). The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy. (single best defense of less evidential mediumship that I have come across)

Lambert (1928). A general survey of psychical phenomena.

Cross (1939). A cavalcade of the supernatural.

Davy (1932). Some Psychic Puzzles (critical review of the text The Truth About Spiritualism by C.E. Bechhofer Roberts)

Brandon (1983). Scientists and the Supernormal. (c.f. Inglis (1983). Supernormal., Brandon (1983). Prestigitations., and Inglis (1983). Review of "The Spiritualists. The Passion for the Occult in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" by Ruth Brandon.

Sudre (1960). Appraisal of William Hope, the Spirit Photographer. (provides evidence for Hopes's phenomena, sources an appraisal of Harry Price's dispute with Hope, also discusses a test of Hope undertaken by an expert conjuror, Dr Lindsay Johnson, in 1921. Johnson brought all the equipment himself and - presumably aware of the earlier accusations against Hope - refused to allow him to come near it, except in a test where Hope was allowed to put his hands in a box which contained unexposed plates. Of eight photographs which Johnson took and developed, three had an 'extra' - as spirit forms had come to be called - two of them identifiable human. And on one of the exposed plates in the box, two in the middle had 'extras' - 'one showed four heads of the same person, and the other a photograph which had appeared the day before' - evidence which sufficed to convince Johnson. Arguments in favor of William Hope's "Spirit Photographer" predecessors can be found in James Oates' 1911 book Photographing the Invisible, which discusses tests of these Spirit photographers. More tests are discussed by Stanley de Brath, in chapter 3 of Psychical Research, Science, and Religion (though c.f. Whately Carington's 1921 text The Case Against Spirit Photographs

For "Piet Botha" - William T. Stead visited a spirit photographer who had produced a photograph of him with deceased soldier known as "Piet Botha". Stead claimed that the photographer could not have come across any information about Piet Botha, however, Tuckett claimed that an article in 1899 had been published on Pietrus Botha in a weekly magazine with a portrait and personal details. (Ivor Lloyd Tuckett. (1911). The Evidence for the Supernatural: A Critical Study Made with "Uncommon Sense". Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company. pp. 52-53: This is a problematic rendition of the evidence by Tuckett, since in the footnote, pp. 269-270, of Estelle Wilson Stead's My Father: Personal & Spiritual Reminiscences (George H. Doran Company, 1913), we find that "As if to render all explanation of fraud or contrivance still more incredible, it may be mentioned that the Daily Graphic of October, 1889, which announced that a Commandant Botha had debeen killed in the siege of Kimberley, published a portrait alleged to be that of the dead commandant, which not only does not bear the remotest resemblance to the Piet Botha of my photograph, but which was described as Commandant Hans Botha!":

In the case of Einer Nielsen, apparently allegations of fraud were invalid and quality positive evidence was obtained. see History of Parapsychology in Iceland by Erlendur Haraldsson: also, " Although the sittings were unsatisfactory it is difficult to accept the committee's findings as to fraud on the part of the medium."

Price (1939). 'Margery' - The Psychic Riddle of the Twentieth Century. (I lack the motivation to investigate this case in detail, so I willmerely provide sources. This is a good negative overview of the case of Mina Crandon, commendable for citing sources from which some positive evidence may be obtained, for other negative overviews consult CEM Hansel's The Search for Psychic Power and the text Lives and Letters in American Parapsychology, as well as Polidoro, Massimo. (1998). Houdini v. the Blond Witch of Lime Street: A Historical Lesson in Skepticism. Skeptic 5: 90–97. Attempted continuing defenses from supporters, after the derision of much of the case, if memory serves me correctly, can be found in the Journal of the American Psychical Research from 1928-1935. Those who want to consult the original sources can obtain The Margery Mediumship, A Complete Record From January 1st, 1925: And The Walter Hands, A Study Of Their Dermatoglyphics (Literary Licensing, LLC (October 15, 2011)) as well as Margery Mediumship, Part 2 (Kessinger Publishing, LLC (March 10, 2003)) - these contain favorable analyses. Hereward Carrington adduces some of the positive evidence concerning the case in his book The Story of Psychic Science. Nandor Fodor provides a more positive introduction than Harry Price: Apparently Mina Crandon was falsely framed by Houdini's assistant - this information comes from blog posts, so I will have to track it down to more serious sources, but this is nevertheless of interest. As follows, "During Houdini's investigation of the medium Mina Crandon, a folding ruler was planted so that it would seem like the medium used it during the seance to commit fraud. This episode is described by Michael Prescott in his blog post "A yardstick for skepticism" which is about the book "The Spiritualists", by Ruth Brandon.

Houdini was invited to investigate Mina Crandon; in a series of sittings he was unable to debunk her. Finally, in one sitting, just as Mina was about to start she suddenly said (while allegedly in a trance and controlled by her spirit guide Walter) that Houdini's assistant had planted a folding ruler in the cabinet that she occupied and that he meant to produce this ruler as evidence that she was cheating. A folding ruler could be unfolded into a yardstick. In the dark it could be used to manipulate objects that were some distance away from the medium and outside of her normal reach. For instance, it could be used to ring bells or to move things around on a table. If Houdini had "discovered" the ruler, it would have been a smoking gun that would have discredited Mina Crandon for good. ...years later Houdini's assistant did in fact admit to planting the ruler on Houdini's instructions, because Houdini was so frustrated in his inability to discredit Mina Crandon that he had decided to frame her. According to Troy Taylor writing in He [Houdini] was widely discredited for it, leading some to doubt the integrity of some of his earlier investigations. More information on this episode can also be found in the book: "The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls" by William Lindsay Gresham.":

The following testimony makes it more difficult to dismiss Mina Crandon's alleged "ectoplasmic hand" as merely being the result of animal tissue used in fraudulent performances, and possibly researchers might be inclined to obtain the proponent sources on account of this: "The teleplasmic hand is arguably the most bizarre aspect of the ‘Margery’ sittings – whether genuine or faked. Here are some of Dingwall’s notes from sitting number 7: In ten minutes rustling in Psyche’s [i.e. Margery’s] lap. Thought a mass of substance was in Psyche’s lap. Walter then directed my palm to be put up on middle of table, near the edge. Then for five minutes – palm struck by cool, clammy apparently disc-like object; on repeated flicks being given to my hand. I noticed that the shape of the object was constantly changing. It appeared to lengthen and to widen, and occasionally parts appeared to be thickened, as if some internal mechanism was causing a swelling in parts of the mass. At times two distinct pressures at least were felt, the sensation being as if crude, clammy, unformed fingers were pressing both the lower portions of my fingers, and also the upper at the same time. This pressure was sometimes increased to 2½-3 pounds, and when the substance was drawn from the hand it always appeared to be slightly viscous. [Dingwall 1928, p.107]":

Of similar interest, and dealing with this case, is R. J. TILLYARD. Evidence of Survival of a Human Personality. Nature 122, 243–246 (18 August 1928).

Nandor Fodor seemed to believe that the medium George Valiantine, who was associated with Crandon, was a mixed medium:

Goldston (1931). Helen Duncan Confounds the Magicians (this is another contradiction of one of Price's alleged exposures of fraud by the founder of the London Magician's club. Additionally Harry Price contradicts his own account. In his text on Duncan, The Cheese-Cloth Worshippers, he wrote: "Every orifice of her body was medically explored--and we found nothing ... We formed the opinion that Mrs. Duncan was a regurgitator, i.e., a person who could swallow things and bring them up again at will ..." In his own words, Price observed the following about the 'cheesecloth' (or, if the spiritualists are right about this case, ectoplasm) during a seance with the entranced Mrs. Duncan: "There appeared to be yards of it. Some of it was trailing on the floor; one end was poked up her nostril; a piece was issuing from her mouth. It moved, it writhed, it waggled, it squirmed on the floor, it spread itself out like an apron ... All these transformations and permutations took place in a red light bright enough to read small print by." As I have seen it cited, a summary of the case for prosecution can be found in Simeon Edmunds' Spiritualism: A Critical History (c.f. Robert Hartley. (2007). Helen Duncan The Mystery Show Trial. HPR Publishing), and the case for the defense can be found in Manifred Cassirer's Medium on Trial. Obviously both texts will have to be pursued for a proper assessment of the case.

The attack on Thomas Glenndening Hamilton relies not on proof, but on insinuation. I comes from the article Touching the Dead: Spooky Winnipeg by Tom Jokinen, which states: "What was the lie in Glendenning Hamilton’s work? Study the pictures. Or just click through them, same outcome. Chilling, in some cases beautiful (the 1934 picture of a woman named Mary M., back arched on a couch, looks like a Henry James character who’s fallen into an F.W. Murnau film), they’re full of holes: the ectoplasm pouring from poor Mrs. Poole’s mouth and nose is either gauze bandaging or crumpled tissue paper in which cut-out photos of faces have been glued. Those skilled in spotting cheeseball Photoshop effects need not even break a sweat. In one case you can see the smiling face of Arthur Conan Doyle who, the story goes, returned to Winnipeg in 1931, the year after he died, coming out of Mrs. Poole’s nose." It is instructive to compare this to the Primary source, Hamilton's Intention and Survival (MacMillian Co. 1977 (Second edition)), ch. 8. The "Doyle" Face Miniatures, which contains statements disproving such assumptions regarding the teleplasm from other observers -e.g., regarding observations in a sitting mentioned in that chapter "John MacDonald stated that one minute before the third flash the entranced Dawn had lifted his left hand up, under her chin, and that he had felt something cool, moist and light, like whipped cream. He stated that he had also noticed a peculiar odour about the medium which he had never noticed before. I suggested that this smell was ozone, but he didn't think so. It was then suggested that it was a cadaverous odour, and with this he half agreed, although he was unable to be definite." for the Doyle ectoplasm, a description from Hamilton's text fills us in on the details: "The teleplasm itself is most interesting. The medium's nose appears to have been the principal point of emergence, and the mass hangs down from the region of the mouth about twelve inches. The portion directly around the differentiated face is relatively thick and amorphous, while the lower parts are very thin, showing a network structure.

If a horizontal line is drawn just below the chin of the tiny skull and the material below this line is folded upwards (see Figure 1)(ISS: Figure 1 is currently unavailable), one can readily see that the lower portion would cover the uppermost face very neatly. Following the left contour downward from this suggested hinge-line we find that it curves inward to an indentation. The thick roll of the contour crosses the isthmus which connects the lowest part with the rest of the mass. Supposing this isthmus were to be folded upward, it would then be seen to be contiguous to the roll of teleplasm which lies immediately below and to the right of the Doyle miniature. On the right contour there are three major promontories formed by three indentations. The first of these likely covered the crude sketch of the woman's head, the second lay directly over the boy's face, while the third and lowest likely covered the Doyle face.

It seems reasonable to assume that this manner of uncovering the inner phenomena was the most efficient which could be used. Certainly it would be more efficient than having separate coverings for each representation. That method would have required four manipulations. Assuming that each plasmic representation had reached its optimum condition for exposure at the same moment, the one manipulation would have served to reveal all four.")

Randall (2002). Harry Price: The Case for the Defence. (among other things, appraises Price in light of Trevor Hall's allegations) (I will wrap up my overview of spiritualism by noting that coverage by critics of the case of Soal and Blanche Cooper seems like motivated misdirection...

Finally, of ongoing relevance to modern spiritualism are the investigations of Stephen Braude and others into the Felix experimental group, on which see endorsement by Braude , criticism by Mulacz, and further endorsement by Braude)