Myth of an Afterlife?
The Science-Religion Continuum

Indridi Indridason

At parapsychology events I sometimes come across Erlendur Haraldsson, the distinguished Icelandic psychology professor and psi investigator who, among many other topics, published a study of Satya Sai Baba (with Karlis Osis). I’m trying to get him to contribute an article for the Psi Encyclopedia on the Icelandic medium Indridi Indridason. I’m sure he will eventually, but in the meantime, here’s a look at his book on the subject that came out last year (co-written by Loftur Gissurarson).


Indridi indridason2Indridi was a farmer’s son with very basic education. Aged 21, he came to Reykjavik in 1904 to become a printer’s apprentice. He had no notion of becoming a medium, and got into it accidentally after being invited to take part in an experimental table-tipping circle that his sister had become interested in. Things really started rocking when he sat at the table, and from this time he sat frequently for sittings organised by the newly formed Experimental Society, in which a wide variety of strong effects were recorded. In 1909 he became ill, and he died three years later aged 28.

The phenomena were phenomenal, as one might say, rivalling the effects for which DD Home had been famous. Here’s a selection:

  • Raps, cracking sounds in the air; knocks responding to the sitters demands, some of them loud and heavy, and knocks heard on the body of the medium.
  • Gusts of wind, cold or hot, were common, strong enough to blow paper, sometimes far away from the medium.
  • Olfactory (odor) phenomena sometimes occurred: a sudden fragrant smell in the presence of the medium, sometimes other smells, such as seaweed. The odor would sometimes cling to a sitter after being touched by the medium.
  • Movements and levitations were frequent, of objects, small and large, light and heavy, and over short or long distances within a room or hall and sometimes quite high. Some of these objects moved as if thrown forcefully, at other times their trajectories were irregular. Sometimes objects were found to tremble. Curtains were pulled back and forth on request by the sitters.
  • Levitations of the medium. Many instances of levitation are reported, often with the medium holding onto another person. During violent poltergeist phenomena, the medium was dragged along the floor and thrown up into the air, so that his protectors had difficulty pushing him down.
  • Playing of musical instruments as if by invisible hands, and sometimes while they were levitating and moving around in mid-air.
  • Light phenomena. Fire-flashes or fire-balls, small and large fire-flashes on the walls. Luminous clouds as large as several feet across, sometimes described as a ‘pillar of light’ within which a human form appeared.
  • Materializations. The shadow or shape of materialized fingers were seen, or a hand or a foot, or a full human figure. Sitters touched materialized fingers, limbs or trunks that were felt as solid. Once a monster-like animal (mixture of a horse and a calf) was observed outside a séance.
  • Dematerialization of the medium’s arm. The medium’s shoulder and trunk was inspected through touch by several sitters, yet the arm was not detected.
  • Sense of being touched, pulled and punched by invisible hands, also of being kissed.
  • Sounds heard around the medium, laughter, footsteps, buzzing sounds, clatter of hoof beats and the rustling noise of clothes as if someone was moving.
  • Direct writing. Writing appeared on paper without human touch.


Unlike Home's, most of Indridi's sittings were held in darkness. The group tried red light a few times, but dropped it because it caused the phenomena to diminish. However, some violent poltergeist phenomena that occurred during the winter of 1907-8 took place in full light, as did some successful table tipping sessions.

Even Home did not produce some of the effects seen with Indridi, including direct voice – voices, that is, that were clearly independent of his own, coming from different parts of the room. Each had its own characteristics and manner of speech. Some spoke in foreign languages such as Norwegian and French. One frequent communicator, a French-speaking woman, often burst into song. Her identity was eventually revealed as Maria Malibran, a famous mezzo-soprano who sang leading roles in opera houses in Europe and America and died in 1836, and who no one in the circle had apparently heard of before.

More than one voice could be heard singing together, and not just in séances, but spontaneously outside:

Once in the middle of the day, as often occurred, Indridi was at my home. While he was there I played on the harmonium a melody by Chopin. Indridi sat to the left of the harmonium. I expected that Mrs. Malibran knew the melody that I was playing for I heard her humming it around Indridi. Then I saw him falling into trance… I heard many voices, both of men and women singing behind me, but especially to my right with Indridi being on my left. I did not distinguish individual words, but the voices I heard clearly, both higher and lower voices, and they all sang the melody that I was playing. This singing differed from ordinary singing as it sounded more like a sweet echo. It seemed to come from afar, but was at the same time close to me. No single voice was discernible except the voice of Malibran. I always heard her distinctly.
The group seems to be have been conscientious about establishing controls and writing up its results, but probably not to a standard that would carry much weight. What gives the claims about Indridi somewhat more authority is the energetic intervention by Gudmundur Hannesson, a highly regarded scientist who later became professor of medicine at the University of Iceland and founded the Icelandic Scientific Society. Gudmundur was known for integrity and impartiality, and also for a strong disbelief in the claims of mediums. To get to the bottom of the mystery he persuaded the group to let him carry out strictly controlled investigations, constantly increasing and varying them to try to catch Indridi out. His reports describe very detailed examinations of the séance room. Every item was scrutinised. The medium was stripped and his clothes examined. The doors were locked and sealed. He wrote: ‘Nothing seems too trivial to be suspected that it may in some way serve the purpose of the impostors. This is no joke, either. It is a life and death struggle for sound reason and one’s own conviction against the most execrable form of superstition and idiocy. No, certainly nothing must be allowed to escape.’

Gudmundur was especially interested in the movement of objects. He ordered from abroad some phosphorescent tape which glowed well in the dark (nothing like this was to be found in Iceland), and fixed it on some objects to enable him to track their movements in the dark. One was a zither, a rather bulky stringed instrument, which he saw move in an entirely unnatural way: at lightning speed or floating with varying speeds in different directions, in straight lines, curved lines, and sometimes spiral lines.

The investigations were interrupted by the medium’s illness, by which time, however, Gudmundur had seen enough. He was completely stumped.

Often I could see no conceivable possibility that anybody, inside or outside the house, was moving the things… the movements were often of such a nature that doing them fraudulently would have been exceedingly difficult, eg. taking a zither, swinging it in the air at enormous speed and at the same time playing a tune on it. This was, however, frequently done while I was holding the hands of both the medium and the watchman [controller], and there seemed no way for anybody to get inside the net.

What do we make of this? I should say, to begin with, that having once spent quite a long time reading up on physical mediumship – and getting horribly tangled up in the controversies – I no longer pay it much attention. I think the effects are real, having been described by enough credible people in circumstances of sufficient control to the point where they can’t be explained away as clever tricks. I’m also aware that those people who have directly witnessed these phenomena find them so totally convincing as to be baffled that anyone else could ever doubt it. Nevertheless, for those who haven’t, these sorts of psychokinetic claims defy belief, and it seems impossible to report them in a manner that lays scepticism completely to rest. It’s easy to get bogged down in claim and counter-claim. (James Randi’s confrontations with Uri Geller in the 1980s arguably helped kick-start the sceptics movement). So although I wrote about Eusapia Palladino in Randi’s Prize, I don’t think that now I’d waste time trying to convince anyone about her or any other physical medium.

That said, features of Indridi’s mediumship make it rather intriguing. One is the location. A thing about Iceland that’s easy to forget is that it’s very small. In 1905, when Indridi’s séance phenomena started, the entire population would have been not much more than 100,000, equivalent to a small city like Oxford or Cambridge. There was no tradition of spiritualism before Indridi. Neither Indridi nor anyone else would have had access to the kind of conjuring equipment needed to stage what would have been extremely complex tricks.

In addition is the fact that Indridi’s mediumship was so short, just five years. With other physical mediums the power of the effects seemed to fall off with time. You also find – often in the later years of the medium’s career – the involvement of a sceptic, who publishes a report on the basis of a cursory investigation (or pure conjecture) that becomes the received text for critics (Kathleen Goligher, Rudi Schneider and Ted Serios all come to mind). In Indridi’s case, the phenomena started strong and, far from falling off, were at their peak when he became ill and had to stop. And although the reports stirred up a great deal of controversy in Icelandic society – as is usual in such cases – by the time he died, of tuberculosis in 1912, no one with sufficient polemical skill had emerged to kill them off for posterity with some damning counter-evidence.

So we’re left with a virtually uncontaminated case that offers evidence of powerful phenomena, some of it witnessed under rigorously controlled conditions, and for which, as far as I know, there are no meaningful documented claims of fraud, or even plausible conjectures. Since Indridi was never on the radar of the sceptic community, there are no handy quotes that can be used to contaminate the Wikipedia article about him, of the ‘Ruth Brandon has written…’ variety. Of course, because most sittings were held in darkness – which sceptics treat as a kind of all-purpose ‘explanation’ – I don’t think Indridi Indridason’s story represents any kind of threat. But for anyone who’s interested in this kind of thing, it’s fascinating reading.

Erlendur Haraldsson & Loftur R. Gissurarson, Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium (Hove: White Crow Books, 2015)

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No, No Julie. Perhaps you might want to research a little more about interspecies crosses. - AOD

Julie,
Check out crosses between species in the feline family, between species in the equine family, within the canine family just to name some of the obvious. Take a look at crosses between sheep and goats and crosses among the gallinaceous birds. Just browse for 'hybrids'. And, I think that there are some viable hybrids among fish too.- AOD

As for the comment about magicians, I think the opinions of people who would know how the tricks could be faked are important because then one knows what to look for, but haven't there been several cases where accomplished conjurers said they had no idea how the tricks could be done?

@Amos: Yes, but I think the difference is that such crosses are infertile. That isn't successful procreation.

Julie,
Take a look at hybridization among members of the cat family, the horse family, the chicken family, and the dog family. Different species in these families can produce viable offspring, sometimes fertile when hybridized. Speciation in some ways is a man-made construct and is much more complicated that might be suggested by simple Medelian genetics. Some scientists believe that hybridization occurred between species of hominids in the past. Recently it has been surmised that many current humans have a little bit of Neanderthal genes. - AOD

Yeah, that's true. Speciation is far more analogue than digital, and there is evidence Europeans have some Neanderthal blood (much to the annoyance of racists who say it's non-white people who aren't fully human). Human races aren't separate species going by genetic similarity, though. Variation within species can be massive without them being considered separate.

Jack, “magic” is a copout word that the debunkers throw out there as a last resort. “Magic” is not something that only a few people are gifted with and which defies science. Magicians come in various degrees, just as do mediums. The reason for all the controls --- searching the medium, tying up the medium, locking the doors, etc. is to rule out tricks or deception, what you refer to as magic. You seem to be saying that only experienced magicians are qualified to detect trickery. That is pure hogwash. And, as Amos asks, how did all these peasants, such as Eusapia and Marthe, acquire and develop their Houdini-like skills? Actually, I’m surprised that someone didn’t bring up Marthe’s false tooth. It was suggested by debunkers that Geley, Richet, Flammarion, and Schrench-Notzing were all unaware of the fact that she had a false tooth and “could have” smuggled all her paraphernalia into the seance room in that tooth.

As for an “appeal to authority,” sure, that’s what it is. We appeal to authority all the time. When we tell our kids that smoking causes heart and lung disease, we appeal to the scientists who carried out the research; we don’t do the research ourselves, nor do we rely on anecdotal evidence, e.g. Uncle George died of lung cancer at 50, so it must be bad for you. Of course, Aunt Harriet also smoked and lived to age 90. There is nothing wrong with appealing to authority. The pseudosceptics think that putting a label on it defeats it as an argument.

In rereading my last comment, I note that I mistakenly wrote "phenomena was" rather than "phenomena were." We all make mistakes. I'm sure some of the old researchers made mistakes now and then, but I don't think they made mistakes repeatedly in hundreds of cases. As I recall, Schrenck-Notzing carried out over 200 experiments with Marthe. Enough said. To those who don't get it, it will eventually become more clear. Perhaps not until after death, and then maybe some time after death, however time is measured in that particular realm, but eventually they'll get it.

Amos,

Joe Nickell was once a professional stage magician. He was the Resident Magician at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame. He has also written on the history of magic. He is well educated in the art of deception and trickery.

As for Schrenck-Notzing he was duped by a medium called Ladislas Lasslo who turned out to be a professional pickpocket. Lasslo hid his fake ectoplasm in Schrenck-Notzing's own pocket!

Notzing first declared Lasslo's ectoplasm to be genuine. The medium later confessed to fraud and Notzing had to publicly admit this rather embarrassingly. And let's not even get into Karl Kraus.

Still think Notzing is reliable Michael? I think not! He was gullible and taken in by fraudsters.

References:

http://www.pflyceum.org/83.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_von_Schrenck-Notzing#Ladislas_Lasslo

Schrenck-Notzing, [A.F. von]. (1924). L’imposture du pseudo-médium Ladislas Lasslo (imitation des phénomènes de matérialisation) [The imposture of pseudo medium Ladislas Lasslo (imitation of materialization phenomena)]. Revue métapsychique, No. 2, 105-134.

Btw I am a former magician and I have argued with Randi on several occasions though I highly respect the man. I have read about magic trickery for over forty years. Would agree everyone makes mistakes, but magicians are the only reliable people to be detecting fraud in the seance room.


Michael,

Eusapia Palladino was a peasant who learnt how to move her feet on the streets to make money. She was later married to a theatrical artist Raphael Delgaiz who sold conjuring apparatus in a shop in Naples. Palladino worked in his shop. This was all before she was investigated by American psychical researchers. Of course believers happen to 'forget' these facts :)

"Take a look at hybridization among members of the cat family, the horse family, the chicken family, and the dog family. Different species in these families can produce viable offspring, sometimes fertile when hybridized. "

Amos, you're not talking about different species here, you're talking about different breeds within the same species.

Kazuba,
Yes, Joe Nickell does brag about having over 1049 'personas'. It is not surprising that 'magician' would be included among them somewhere. - AOD

Let me also ask Jack what standard of magic one has to meet in order to qualify as a "magician." I have a friend who calls himself a magician, but he is no Houdini. If magicians were involved in judging the genuineness of mediums, who gets to say if the person is an acceptable magician?

In the recent Honolulu Marathon, the winner finished in 2 hours, 9 minutes, while the average time was around 5.5 hours and some people took 12 hours or longer finish. Yet, they can all calls themselves "marathoners," even if they took it at a slow stroll and stopped for a nap and lunch along the way. The local newspaper referred to all of them as "runners," yet fewer than 5% actually "ran" the entire distance. Some jogged, some plodded, some briskly walked, some walked slowly. It's like that in most every endeavor. Some of the old researchers, like Hodgson and Carrington, claimed to have abilities as magicians, but who is to say if one magician can't be duped by another magician? In fact, some of the researchers brought in magicians to attest to their findings. The debunker simply writes them off as unqualified magicians. Only if the magician concludes that fraud was involved is he or she a "qualified" magician.

No, come on now Julie. You are belaboring the point. A lion, tiger and leopard may be all in the same genus but they are different species. An Arabian horse is not the same species as a zebra nor is it the same species as a donkey although they are all in the same genus Equus. Goats and sheep in the different genera. A wolf, coyote and domestic dogs are in the same genus but they are different species.

Maybe you are using the word 'breeds' to mean species but that is incorrect. Breeds might be more synonymous with subspecies, varieties, or races like breeds of domestic dogs, e.g., Boxers, Australian Shepherds, Chihuahuas, etc. or breeds of cattle e.g., Black Angus.

Amos, perhaps you are the one laboring the point: My understanding is that separate species cannot interbreed successfully. Closely-related species (eg, donkey and horse) can interbreed but the offspring are infertile.

"Let me also ask Jack what standard of magic one has to meet in order to qualify as a "magician." I have a friend who calls himself a magician, but he is no Houdini. If magicians were involved in judging the genuineness of mediums, who gets to say if the person is an acceptable magician?"

This is a good question.

A magician is a 'professional' magician. It is one who has had a career working as a magician at some time or another or worked as a stage magician.

Professional magicians who debunked mediums were Joseph Dunninger, John Nevil Maskelyne, Stuart Cumberland, Carl Hertz, Harry Houdini, Milbourne Christopher and William Marriott (Google these guys name to find out who they were). All had a career in demonstrating magic.

'Amateur' magicians or people 'interested' in magic included Eric Dingwall, Harry Price, Hereward Carrington, W. W. Baggally. Anyone can be an 'amateur' magician or 'interested' in magician. Basically none of these men were magicians.

The only magicians are professional magicians. You have to be working in magic to be a magician. It is incorrect to refer to psychical researchers like Eric Dingwall as a professional magician.

Professional magicians have rarely ever endorsed spiritualism. I only know of one name. Magic deception and illusion is the enemy of spiritualism.

OK, Julie---whatever! You can lead a horse to water but you can't make her drink. Hybrids are often infertile or have reduced viability of their offspring but occasionally hybrids are fertile and produce viable decendants. There is not a hard and fast rule in the matter of interbreeding between separate species. Whether animals can interbreed or not producing viable offspring is not the only criterion in determining differentiation of species. Obviously the closer animals are on the evolutionary tree the easier it will be for them to produce viable offspring. The races of extinct and extant humans are evolutionarily very close so one would expect interbreeding of human species, if they exist, to produce progeny that are fertile. Apparently this occurred with the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon humans. - AOD

Amos what do you think about this link?

http://www.pflyceum.org/83.html

It gives a reference that the bangs sisters were caught in fraud doing fake materializations.

Scientist Pierre Currie, husband of Marie Curie is reported to have said after meeting with Eusapia Palladino in 1905 that,

"We have had a series of séances with Eusapia Palladino at the SPR. It was very interesting, and really the phenomena that we saw appeared inexplicable as trickery---tables raised from all four legs, movement of objects from a distance, hands that pinch or caress you, luminous apparitions. All in a setting prepared by us with a small number of spectators all known to us and without a possible accomplice. The only trick possible is that which could result from an extraordinary facility of the medium as a magician. But how do you explain the phenomena when one is holding her hands and feet and when the light is sufficient so that one can see everything that happens?"

Apparently the Curies were as gullible as other noted scientists so Eusapia was able to fool all of them with her magician's tricks! Too bad Joe Nickell wasn't there. He surely would have found her out, since he is a magician and all. - AOD

I notice Max hasn't mentioned the magicians who didn't endorse psi as such but did say "I don't know of any possible way this could be done". Are they not real magicians, then?

Max,
Help me out here. Which reference supports the comment that," One of the Bangs sisters found disguised with a mask simulating a materialization. Wigs, muslim shrouds and make-up were found on inspection of the surroundings."? Is it the Washington Post article on page 4, 1888?

Is that your only effort to convince me that the Bangs sisters were frauds? Come on now, you have got to do better than that! Explain how the hundreds of precipitated portraits were done by the Bangs sisters. We're not talking about wigs, makeup and muslin found in their home. - AOD

Amos, if you can show me any evidence of any human race that cannot breed successfully with any other human race then you have an argument. I repeat: the human race is one species and one species alone. There is no evidence to the contrary of which I am aware.

Well Julie, If you say it's so, it must be so! "I repeat: the human race is one species and one species alone." you proclaim! That's pretty dogmatic, don't you think? Take some time and research it a little bit. Not all scientists who study such things believe as you do. - AOD

Okay, Amos, I give up. :)

BTW, speaking of physical phenomena: a few years ago I had a lengthy conversation with a scientist from the Max Planck Institute who had bee part of the team who put Uri Geller through stringent laboratory tests back in the 1970s. He insisted that there was absolutely no chance whatsoever that Geller cheated in those trials and that all the metals he handled were provided by the institute. Despite their findings and similar findings from others, the militant sceptic faction still deride Geller as a fraud; some kind of cheap magician.

The pressure on anyone claiming any kind of paranormal ability is huge. How much moreso when the claim is on of the ability to manipulate solid objects in opposition to the laws of physics as currently defined?

I can't believe some of the crap coming from Amos and the pro psi community at the moment. Eugenics and false claims about humans being a different species are back on the cards now?

Give me a break.

"I can't believe some of the crap coming from Amos and the pro psi community at the moment. Eugenics and false claims about humans being a different species are back on the cards now?"

Not just Amos either. One of the writers for the new psi encyclopedia is a white supremacist named Benjamin Steigmann. Although he claims to be Jewish he posts on various white nationalist blogs on the internet claiming biological race is real and that different races have different mental intelligence. He also thinks Carleton S. Coon's racist polygenism is real science.

Imagine if a skeptic was promoting some kind of racism. It would be all over the paranormal blogs and big news. But psi proponents look the other way about guys like Amos or Steigmann.

If I am remember correctly Amos also posted offensive things about homosexual people on Michael Prescott's blog. It's all tolerated though because he is a proponent of psi and against the skeptics.

Probably because the sceptical crowd come out with offensive and stupid things at a pretty high rate too? Again, see Dawkins, Hitchens, the Elevatorgate incident...

"Imagine if a skeptic was promoting some kind of racism. It would be all over the paranormal blogs and big news. But psi proponents look the other way about guys like Amos or Steigmann.

If I am remember correctly Amos also posted offensive things about homosexual people on Michael Prescott's blog. It's all tolerated though because he is a proponent of psi and against the skeptics."

For once, I agree with you, 'Bill'. But I, for one, don't tolerate any of that - and Amos and I have clashed over his views in the past on Michael Prescott's blog. That aside, I'm quite sure that Amos doesn't see any of his views as being, racist, homophobic or misogynistic. I think it's a reflection of the period and culture in which he was raised. We all have our blind spots, Bill - even you. :)

My initial comment was that there are some topics of discussion that are taboo. Comments by Roberta and Bill just prove my point. - AOD

Thanks for being so understanding Julie. You really are a good person at heart.

Those of you who throw around labels like “racist” “homophobic” or misogynistic” obviously don’t know me so those labels apparently apply to words and ideas that I offer for discussion. I always try to address the topics of race, gender, and sexual preference from the viewpoint of spirit, not from a politically correct mainstream perspective. Those of you who participate in blogs such as this one I assume also consider things from a spiritual point of view but I know that that view only applies to a few here and that there are many who have no concept of how things we see in the physical world may actually reflect a larger construct in the spiritual world.

Those who actually read and try to understand my prior comments will see that my views are based on recognizing consciousness as prime. That is, we--- and I mean all living creatures, not just humans--- are spirits, i.e. consciousnesses having a physical experience. And, that all of those consciousnesses are part of God. Whether or not those spirits are in a white, black, brown, yellow, red, blue, male or female, human or other physical form, it doesn’t matter. The consciousnesses are all related, equal and part of each other.

A common enemy makes for friends so I rejoice that I have served that purpose and that some of you who previously were at odds with each other have now become comrades. - AOD

"Thanks for being so understanding Julie. You really are a good person at heart."

Oi! Watch it! I'll not have that said about me! ;)

"A common enemy makes for friends so I rejoice that I have served that purpose and that some of you who previously were at odds with each other have now become comrades."

'Bill'and I are *far* from comrades! What a scurrilous allegation!

Perhaps best to quit while you're ahead, our Amos. :) :)

Race and gender and sexuality DO matter in everyday life to those who aren't part of the mainstream because it potentially puts their lives and health at risk, and dismissing it in that context is pretty offensive. However, this is not a social justice discussion board and anyone's views on that aren't really relevant to the topic here, since as I said the sceptics are equally prone to come out with offensive things. I can go do my thing elsewhere while civilly discussing the actual topic here.

Scurrilous? Scurrilous? Julie, is that what you think of my comments? Oh well, I am glad to read that you think I am ahead. I don't think I will quit just yet though. - AOD

Amos, have you no sense of humour at all? ;)

Julie,
Nope! - AOD

Back on the topic, I tried whacking a reasonably firm apple against my kitchen counter, and it made a good hard thump, but the direction it was coming from was easily determined. I could see that being blurred on wooden floorboards, but I don't think it would render it completely impossible to find the source, especially if it followed the girls around as it would. Plus we have the whole debate about apples being accessible at the time and the fact that they'd bruise and go soft if it was done repeatedly, and it certainly wouldn't make the headboard vibrate noticeably.

Apples will keep if they're stored in boxes between layers of paper and in a dark cold place, e.g. cellar or outbuilding. Even so, I don't buy the apple theory. It's too crud an approach. It was generally claimed in the past that the girls achieved the 'knocking' sounds by cracking their knuckles (in that awful way that teenagers are sometimes apt to), But I'm not going for that either because it would be too limited in effect and easy to source.

Anyway, there's little point in raking over the ashes. I doubt anything can be settled for good at this late stage.

Amos in regard to the Bangs Sisters they were caught directly in fraud by Stanley LeFevre Krebs tampering with a sealed envelope and 'writing' a note that they pretended was written by spirits. Krebs had utilized a concealed mirror and detected their tricks.

At a minimum you would have to accept the Bangs sisters were caught in fraud on their 'spirit' writing phenomena. This weakens the case for their alleged spirit paintings being genuine.

Krebs paper is online in full, published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.

https://archive.org/stream/journalofsociety10sociuoft#page/4/mode/2up

I recommend that anyone with an ounce of critical thinking to please read Reverend Kreb’s account of how Lizzie Bangs performed her slate-writing ‘trick’ (Actually, whomever Krebs sat with he calls “Miss Bangs”, sometimes Miss Bangs 1 or Miss Bangs 2 and search as I might I could not determine which Bangs sister he sat with. Whichever Bangs sister did the séance with him, as reported by Krebs, said that the letter of introduction was "addressed to her sister" so since it was addressed to Lizzie I presume that the Bangs sister he sat with was May but for some reason that doesn't seem likely to me so either Krebs misquoted Lizzie or she lied. I think this is an important fact in a report such as this and one would think that Krebs would have clearly identified the players in his investigation.)

I cannot assign much value to this report when I have the very detailed multiple reports of William Usborne Moore’s visits with the Bangs sisters when he described things quite differently from the Krebs' report and my inclination is to believe Moore rather than Krebs as Krebs more or less stated that he did have an "innate horror of being duped". There is too much to adequately comment on about Kreb’s observations in this report but the following are a few my thoughts about what he states.

As I read Krebs' report, abbreviated by Richard Hodgson, I see that much of what he reports is his opinion of what is happening, not always his direct observation of things. He was introduced as a very sceptical prominent Christian minister--- which alerts me to a possible bias against spiritualism. Because he was sceptical, Lizzie was advised in his introduction letter to give him "special attention". Therefore I would think that she would have been on alert to any actions on his part to find her out. She could have just said that the séance was not successful .

Taken on face value however and based upon what Krebs describes I would think that the Bangs sisters were frauds, as would any person (including Richard Hodgson) who superficially reads this report. However, I don’t believe Krebs; there are too many questionable points in his description of what occurred and too much of what he reported that was due to his creative imagination.

For one thing I would question whether or not a small 3 by 4 inch mirror brought by Krebs could be placed strategically and held there in one’s lap at just the right angle to see anything at all below the table let alone in Lizzie's lap and to reposition it to see a small tray moving across the floor toward a one-half inch crack underneath the side door. One would have to hold the mirror and intently reposition it constantly, which apparently he did many times without Lizzie seeing him do that. If Lizzie could not see him doing that she must have had her eyes closed during the entire séance.

I have tried this with a larger mirror and it is not easy to keep the mirror in place on my lap and keep it directed at any area I would wish to see. I would have to keep my hand on it almost all of the time.

Just how much light was available in the room and under the table for Krebs to see anything in the mirror? I can’t believe that Lizzie Bangs was so non-observant that she did not notice Krebs fidgeting with the mirror. She apparently did notice him looking down and Krebs, being the brilliant man that he believed he was convinced her that he was innocent of using a mirror. (Of course she could have looked in his lap if she had any doubt but apparently she was not smart enough to do this although she was well aware that among her many sitters some would think that she was tricking them and she was warned about him in the letter of introduction---but then, according to Krebs she claimed she did not read it. )

Krebs says that he had to keep his eyes on the mirror, above and below the table and on the eyes of Miss Bangs at the same time. But his excuse when questioned by Lizzie Bangs for keeping his eyes lowered on his lap (Not on her eyes as he previously stated) is that he didn’t want her to hypnotize him by looking into his eyes. “I do not wish to expose myself to the power of your eyes., whether you can hypnotize or not.” He suggested that that comment may have "tickled her vanity"---apparently, since she was a woman I suppose.

According to Krebs (see his diagrams) the two slates had two rubber bands ( or it could be twine according to Krebs) around them holding them together, one in each direction and he astutely discovered a small wedge the thickness of a lead pencil slipped between to two slates, The outer edges of the slate frames were rounded to allow easy guided entry of the pointed wedge, according to Krebs, between to two slates and the inner edge of the slate frame was planned down to the level of the slate. This was very important since it allowed any envelope however thick, to easily slide down out of the two slates onto Lizzie’s lap.

Well, that’s possible I suppose as long as the envelope didn’t get hung up on the rubber bands and found the right opening between the bands to fall out while Lizzie simply tipped the slates. (No shaking of the slates apparently was done by Lizzie; the envelope just easily slid out, aimed precisely at one of the openings between the rubber bands.

Now according to Krebs the envelope falls onto Lizzie’s lap. He sees her bend down and place the envelope on a little tray on the floor and sees the tray with the envelope being pulled toward the crack under the door. The crack was not of equal height so the tray would have to be aimed precisely at the portion of the crack that would accommodate the combined height of the tray and the envelope. According to Krebs the crack was large enough to allow larger packets “to pass to and fro” under the door.

Krebs guesses that another Miss Bangs (May?) is seated on the other side of the door. (He never saw her seated there but after the session was over, Lizzie offered to show Krebs some of the precipitated paintings which happened to be in May’s apartment behind the door in question and when they opened the door Krebs saw an older and larger woman with a look of surprise and annoyance “flying” out the opposite door into the hallway---as he stumbled over a chair I presume. (He did not say he did.)

According to Krebs, May, apparently —seated behind the door--- pulled the tray with the letter under the door, steamed the envelope open or applied water to the seal. He surmises that she reads any questions written on the papers in the envelope, writes answers to them on the blank paper in the envelope and then pushes(?) the tray and envelope back under the door to her sister seated at the table after which her sister bends down, retrieves the envelope with the answers to the questions all nicely resealed in the envelope by May, having ironed the seal under a blotter, thereby perfectly aligning any marks made on the envelope by the sitter and removing any evidence that the envelope had been opened. Now Krebs didn't see May doing this but he conjectures that this is what happened behind the closed door.

I don’t have time or energy to write a book of rebuttal here or to take up any more blog space as there is way too much to question about the report and I don't think that Krebs report is trustworthy. I suggest that those interested in the Bangs sisters read Krebs' report, linked above, of his sitting with Lizzie Bangs and the reports of others including those of William Usborne Moore. Personally I think that the precipitated paintings of the Bangs sisters are much more spectacular than the slate writings and I care little whether or not the Misses Bangs manipulated the slate writings at times, which of course is a possibility. - AOD

As I re-read William Usborne Moore's accounts of sittings with the Bangs sisters I see that in most or all of his sittings, May was the predominant medium, unless portraits were precipitated, in which case both May and Lizzie participated, so in Krebs' sitting probably it was May who sat with him. Krebs' medium said that the letter of introduction was addressed to her sister (Lizzie) so it makes sense to me now that the medium with Krebs was May and not Lizzie. Also Lizzie is described as the larger of the two sisters as also shown in a photograph of the two women. So when Krebs described the "flying" sister in the adjoining room as larger than the medium he sat with, it was probably Lizzie who Krebs thought was behind the closed door.

Moore reported that he used 4, 5, or 6 rubber bands around the slates, not 2 as Krebs did. That many bands certainly would limit considerably the space for any envelope to drop out from between the slates.

Moore was also instructed by May to whittle a small pointed stick to use for answers to the questions. After the session, Moore opened the sealed envelope and found answers to his questions along with the pointed stick with ink on the tip apparently having been used to write the first few words or lines of an answer.

Moore also used ink contaminated with lithium and placed on top of the slates. (It would have been difficult for May to tilt the slates with the container of ink on top of them.) Apparently this ink was used in some way to write or precipitate the replies to questions submitted by Moore. Upon analysis, it was found that the ink in the replies did indeed contain a lot of lithium. Moore at another sitting used ink without the lithium and analysis showed that written replies from that séance did not contain lithium.

In Moore's account the slates were often placed on the table with a cardboard sheet on top of them with a small pot of ink on top of that. It did not appear that May Bangs handled the bound slates at all during the séances with Moore.

On at least one occasion slates were brought in from the outside so apparently the frames of those slates were not planed or rounded in any way. - AOD

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True-believer_syndrome

Doyle you and spiritualists like Tymn will always believe fraudulent mediums were genuine, I have never seen you admit a medium was fraudulent. So I say good luck with you on that. Once we are dead, we are dead. So I don't really care anymore. Whatever makes you sleep better at night about the world. If you want to believe every single physical medium including the bangs sisters were genuine then go ahead. They were frauds and they have been debunked by several researchers, so it doesn't really matter what you think. Take care.

Some Skeptics are devastated when they are confronted with real evidence of the paranormal. It is easier to take their toys and run home than actually stay and study the evidence from more than one cherry-picked source and it seems that all they have left to do is attack those who bring that evidence to their attention. Such behavior is childish and indicative of a lack of any desire to be a true seeker of truth. . - AOD

Some Skeptics are devastated when they are confronted with real evidence of the paranormal. It is easier to take their toys and run home than actually stay and study the evidence from more than one cherry-picked source and it seems that all they have left to do is attack those who bring that evidence to their attention. Such behavior is childish and indicative of a lack of any desire to be a true seeker of truth. . - AOD

I believe the Bangs sisters were fraudulent. I say this because the most detailed article on the bangs sisters on the internet can be read here, it documents the magician David P. Abbott's involvement with the case:

http://archive.is/sI4Er

If you can honestly read all of that, but still continue to believe they were genuine, then there really is no hope for paranormal believers. I know it is rare for people on the internet to own up to being wrong but if you are declaring the Bangs sisters to be genuine you should retract this view after reading the above article. It tells you how they made their paintings. There is no mystery left.

Bangs sisters paintings were replicated by magicians.

"Abbott’s hard-earned secret was soon common knowledge in the magic world. Nixon published the technique in his 1916 booklet, The Spirit Paintings. Will Goldston exposed the secret in his Annual of Magic 1915-1916. Alexander included the effect in his book The Life and Mysteries of the Celebrated Dr. Q in 1921. By the 1930s, Thayer’s Magic Company was selling a ready-made version in their catalogs. Nonetheless, this very visual effect is today rarely seen. Like many magic effects, the Spirit Paintings can today be all too easily explained away by audiences as the result of electronics."

"We do not know if Abbott’s revelations prevented the Bangs Sisters from duping more victims like A. W. Foreman, Charles Carson, or W. Usborne Moore. At the very least, however, it seems likely that once the Spirit Portraits hit the vaudeville stage, it would have been more difficult for any mediums, even the experienced Bangs Sisters, to convince a customer that their paintings came from the hands of spirits and not from their own."

Waller,
Did you actually read the article you linked? I think that it is a very good accumulation of information about the Bangs sisters, the times they lived in and spirit writings and paintings generally. I have a difficult time wading through all of the verbiage so it will take me some time to digest it all. On first pass I really didn't see a clear-cut evidential explanation of how the Bangs sisters 'precipitated' their paintings but I will re-read the article more carefully and try to respond. I recall that Abbott's theory has been considered by those who actually sat with the Bangs sisters whereas I believe that Abbott had never attended a séance with either of them. I could be mistaken but give me some time and I will follow through.

Here is a sample of what one has to contend with:

" Carus wanted to publish Abbott’s explanation in The Open Court. But before publishing his findings, Abbott wanted to understand the Bangs’ entire procedure. Despite discovering the simple methods that produced the paintings, Abbott continued proposing complicated ideas to explain the remaining details of the Bangs’ technique.
In letters to Carus, Abbott suggested that the blank canvas was initially switched for the painted one using an elevator device built into the walls of the Bangs’ home, with a secret assistant below exchanging the paintings. To explain the post-appearance alterations — which the Bangs Sisters created through mere suggestion or by adding changes in the sitter’s absence — Abbott envisioned a complex systems of colored patches controlled by threads, or else areas on the canvas that could be individually developed with chemicals.
Carus was as fascinated by the quest as Abbott was, and in one 1909 letter, the dignified publisher made the astonishing suggestion that Abbott should determine matters definitively by arranging a séance and trying to catch the mediums red-handed, perhaps even breaking into the house:"

- AOD

AOD,

Tom Ruffles of the SPR reviewed the recent book on the Bangs sisters, here it is:

https://www.spr.ac.uk/book-review/portraits-beyond-mediumship-bangs-sisters

I have not read the book myself, but how does N. Riley Heagerty refute Abbott's allegations? Does he cover a chapter on that? Does Heagerty mention Krebs?

When is this PSI encyclopedia going to start debunking the skeptical publications on psychics or mediums? I thought the whole point of this new website was to debunk the skepticism on Wikipedia or found in the Skeptical Inquirer. So far the skeptical objections have not really countered. We need articles debunking Joseph Rinn, C. E. M. Hansel etc.

Hi Andrew,
I am disappointed with Heagerty’s book about the Bangs sisters. The formatting is such that it is difficult to follow quoted material by other people and to separate it from Heagerty’s comments or other quotes. Quote marks are not used consistently. (Good editing would have corrected this problem.) Nevertheless, the book has information about the Bangs sisters but somewhat devoid of any detailed negative information although there is a little bit of it in a couple of the appendices. It does have many nice color photographs of some of the precipitated paintings of the Bangs sisters which provide cause for thought and a few relevant photographs of people and the Lily Dale campsite.

Overall, I found the book to provide somewhat superficial information about the Bangs sisters. It has no index so it is difficult to find things. Heagerty does provide about 6 pages of apparent quotes from Abbott and one page about Krebs and his sitting with Mae and/or Lizzie. The Abbott ‘quotes’ seem to be consistent with Abbott information from other sources, that is, they reveal Abbott to be very imaginative while the Krebs information briefly repeats his conjectures about how the "slate writing' was done.

I have hastily made the above comment so it is not meant to be a book review of "Portraits From Beyond" by Heagerty. Any book review I would do would be much more accurate and specific.

I suggest that you query McLuhan about the PSI Encyclopedia. - AOD


When considering the precipitated paintings of the Bangs sisters one has to start at the beginning. The portraits are very good; excellent in my opinion! They were not ‘painted’ by someone without considerable skills in portraiture. Additionally apparently there is no evidence of brush strokes or repainting of areas that reportedly changed during the production of the art work. As an erstwhile artist myself I admire the paintings for what they are not considering any unknown method of their production. Any explanation of their production has to address the quality of the paintings. In my opinion these are not paintings that could have been produced in a few minutes or even in several hours by a human hand. When any painting is changed, especially those made with pastels, water colors or even oils any re-working of the picture after it has been completed is easy to discern and often such corrections spoil the final art.

To be honest the paintings of the Bangs sisters look to me to be similar to larger wall-size photographs taken of some of my relatives during the early 1900s. They have the same softness and surface appearance of the large portraits I have. The difference is that the Bangs portraits are in color while my portraits are in black and white or sepia as color photography was not available then. - AOD

I remember all of you that this post is about Indridi Indridason, and there has been no one proof that he was fraudulent. Does this imply that he was an authentic physical medium? No, but by examining the histories of other physical mediums, we can say that he was likely authentic.

"I can't believe some of the crap coming from Amos and the pro psi community at the moment. Eugenics and false claims about humans being a different species are back on the cards now?"

You have misunderstood it. Amos was not asserting that there are several human species, but it is not so clear that Humanity is only a species.

"Doyle you and spiritualists like Tymn will always believe fraudulent mediums were genuine, I have never seen you admit a medium was fraudulent. So I say good luck with you on that. Once we are dead, we are dead. So I don't really care anymore. Whatever makes you sleep better at night about the world. If you want to believe every single physical medium including the bangs sisters were genuine then go ahead. They were frauds and they have been debunked by several researchers, so it doesn't really matter what you think. "

What an imbecile, that some apparent mediums are frauds does not imply that all are or that there is no life after death. If you do not care, do not comment.

Physical mediumship is especially tricky because of its abundance of frauds in other times and because of its scarcity in the present. However, there are other lines of research such as near death experiences, apparitions of deceased human beings, mental mediumship, and past life memories that point more clearly to the existence of a personal afterlife.

Even if a case is fake, what kind of boring person just goes "it's fake" and cares no further? If it is fake, I want to know HOW it was faked, and people who claim to be sceptical certainly should want to know how it's faked so they can spot how it's done in future cases!

This is totally unconnected, but it's a thing an atheist acquaintance recently said, and I've seen it said before. What they said is that they don't think the odds of any religion getting it right are good enough to bother with any of them. However, if you're going to play it purely as a gambling game, why is atheism any more likely to be right? I'm sure they're just phrasing it badly or I'm missing something, but it seems like an obvious hole to me.

chel;
A scientist says to God, "We don't need you any more. We have discovered the secrets of life and of how it is created. Begone, for we have no need of you!"
God thinks for a bit and then asks the scientist, "Show me how you create life?"
The scientist stoops and grabs a handful of soil.
At this, God interjects, "Hold on!....First of all, you have to create your own earth!"

chel;
A scientist says to God, "We don't need you any more. We have discovered the secrets of life and of how it is created. Begone, for we have no need of you!"
God thinks for a bit and then asks the scientist, "Show me how you create life?"
The scientist stoops and grabs a handful of soil.
At this, God interjects, "Hold on!....First of all, you have to create your own earth!"

I just want to follow-up with a few comments about David P. Abbott and the Bangs sisters. I must say that I feel like I am wasting my time even discussing Abbott’s imaginative ideas about how the Bangs sisters produced their precipitated portraits. Abbott never even stepped foot in the Bangs sisters' house, he never sat for a session with either May or Lizzie.

Abbott had come up with several explanations of how precipitated paintings were done which he later disavowed. W. Usbourne Moore writes that Abbott “…candidly owns that all his theories about the Bangs Sisters’ pictures previous to 1909 were entirely erroneous.” Abbott’s method explaining a magic act including ‘precipitated paintings’ was used by stage magicians to provide entertainment for an audience. Obviously conditions on stage and setting up the performance before an audience were controlled by the magicians and were very different from conditions in the séance room in the home of the Bangs sisters with one sitter present.

Abbott’s ““Eureka” moment when the “correct answer suddenly came to him” required that a painting be prepared ahead of time by an artist outside of the Bangs’ home, or as stated by Carus when he suggested a trap whereby Abbott could “. . . locate the place where the artists work underground” and that an accomplice hidden in the basement of the Bangs house, and by way of an elevator built into the house would slyly substitute the prepared painting with one of the blank canvases being held in the window by both sisters and sometimes by the sitter. And that by surreptitiously slowly moving the prepared painting back and forth, closer or farther away from the front blank canvas it would cause an image to seem to fade in and fade out to a greater or lesser degree.

Now without going into extreme detail of how ludicrous Abbott’s theory was just to satisfy some Skeptic who has limited knowledge of the multiple séances with the Bangs sisters, I suggest that those interested should read William Usbourne Moore’s numerous accounts of sittings he had with May and Lizzie Bangs when he brought his own blank canvases and his own slates and ink to the séance - AOD

"I must say that I feel like I am wasting my time even discussing Abbott’s imaginative ideas about how the Bangs sisters produced their precipitated portraits. Abbott never even stepped foot in the Bangs sisters' house, he never sat for a session with either May or Lizzie."

Yes, I'm very much inclined to agree. Nevertheless, I admire your fortitude in continuing to present the facts to an unreceptive (willfully ignorant?) audience of pseudo sceptics, I take my hat off, old chap!

Ps. Happy New Year to everyone reading Robert's blog - regardless of your persuasion. x

Happy New Year, Julie. x

Happy New Year, Julie. x

One of the things that Skeptics like to dredge up is that mediums (maybe some of them) make a lot of money taking advantage of poor grieving people. One sitter’s nephew criticized the Bangs sisters by writing that, “They sport autos, numerous diamonds, and are in clover generally; get three dollars per sitting and big prices for pictures and materializations….”

Well, doctors, nurses and medical technicians make a lot of money too taking advantage of sick and sometimes dying people by charging them fees and often the services they provide don’t do any good for the patient; one could consider them frauds too. Admission fees are charged for a performance by a pianist at a symphony concert and auto mechanics will charge for repairing a car. Sports fans pay mucho bucks to attend a professional football game or other competition to see trained athletes knock themselves out. I could list numerous examples of professionals who charge for the services they provide. Why should professional mediums be treated differently?

My point is that talented, experienced people who have spent a good part of their lives honing their skills usually charge for the services they provide. Is it expected that a medium should open her home to all comers, provide a little snack on the side and conduct a séance lasting an hour or more for free? -AOD

Robert, for some reason, my posts appear to be replicating themselves. I'm not sure if this is a fault within the search-engine or because I have one foot planted in this dimension and my other foot within another dimension? Some years ago, I had a heart-scan at the local hospital. My ECG readout (of which I have a copy) shows a double heart-beat.
I'm beginning to feel like 'the man who haunted himself!'
Anyway, please feel free to delete those duplicate posts.
And, a Happy New Year to you. SC

Heck, magicians charge for shows, and a lot of these would have to be such complex tricks they'd deserve the money on those grounds.

On the previous page someone mentioned the Indriði Indriðason wikipedia article.

It was edited since by the skeptic LuckyLouie. LuckyLouie also posts as Leuders on Rationalwiki. He has been involved in creating 'hit pages' on parapsychologists, calling them pseudoscientists. LuckyLouie is Joe Nickell's personal assistant by the way. He works in Joe Nickell's office. When Joe Nickell publishes articles in the Skepticial Inquirer, LuckyLouie is the first to add them to Wikipedia.

It's true that there are csicop members who run wikipedia, it's not just Nickell's assistant that is involved. Here is Susan Gerbic's account: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Sgerbic she is the head of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia.

T. Farley who is also associated with csicop and Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia is a big time wikipedia editor, his account name is Krelnik https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Krelnik

Susan Gerbic has a strong connection with Richard Wiseman. She regularly cites Wiseman on wikipedia. She created a page for his book Paranormality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranormality_(book)#Author_interviews

Behind the scenes even guys like Richard Wiseman are associated with Wikipedia. They approve of Susan Gerbic and work with her to get their stuff onto Wikipedia.

Many of the articles on the paranormal on Wikipedia were written by Jon Donnis. He is the owner of the website badpsychics. Although not officially associated with Susan Gerbic and her group he works along side them. He claims in interviews to once have been a believer in the paranormal and life after death. He has been banned pretty much everywhere but always turns up again on new accounts.

He has defamed parapsychologists and psychics on Wikipedia for years claiming they are all frauds. Yet when psi proponents mention "Jon Donnis" or his wikipedia fiddling or psychic bashing he usually turns up claiming he is innocent or threatening legal action. It's quite funny really considering Donnis is not even his real name. He even trolls this very blog for years, Facebook and Michael Prescott's blog under countless different aliases.

Donnis will quote old skeptics like Joseph Rinn like a religious script. He loves the fact a lot of physical mediums were caught in fraud, he then uses this to dismiss the entire field of parapsychology as fraud.

As Amos said about Joe Nickell's hundred personalities, this seems to be a common tactic in the skeptic community. I have nothing against Donnis personally, even if he is a troll he does conduct himself in a polite manner online. My only complaint is that he has not read all the literature. He only read's the skeptic side.

"T. Farley who is also associated with csicop and Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia is a big time wikipedia editor, his account name is Krelnik "

Any relation, by chance, to the famous psi detective Charley Farley and his sidekick, Piggy Malone? :)

I know Wikipedia can be convenient at times for quick reference but why continue to use an information source that is known to provide biased and false information? I never quote Wikipedia as a source of information for anything. There are many other sources of reliable information out there on the internet. Don't be lazy; do your due diligence and get your information from other sources. Good documentation demands more than one source for facts anyway.

Don't encourage the dissemination of fake 'facts' in this dangerous age of misinformation by getting your 'facts' from Wikipedia.. - AOD

"Don't encourage the dissemination of fake 'facts' in this dangerous age of misinformation by getting your 'facts' from Wikipedia." - AOD

These people do Wikipedia no good at all - especially in the long term. But since they're games players rather than truth seekers I don't suppose that matters very much to them. What a great pity that the Internet seems to give free license to such unscrupulous people. :/

But all through history people have endeavoured to stifle the advancement of human understanding and knowledge. Thankfully, the truth has a way of prevailing. Remember how 'heavier-than- air- flight' was deemed impossible? How animals were incapable of feeling pain? How hypnotism was all nonsense etc. etc. etc..

I just discovered an interesting site about mediums etc. called The Voice Box at http://www.the-voicebox.com/. Look under 'Mediums A-C'. There is a longish article about the Bangs sisters there that seems very interesting. - AOD

Wikipedia is more reliable than what paranormal believers write because it does not censor the negative or skeptical literature on parapsychology.

If paranormal or psi proponents acknowledged the skeptical literature it would be all good but they never do. Stephen E. Braude for example wrote an article on Henry Slade but that article does not cite the cases where Slade was caught in fraud (he ignores them).

The Daniel Dunglas Home entry on the PSI encyclopedia does not mention any of the skeptical objections or even the famous Frederick Merrifield or Barthez allegations of fraud (which were first mentioned in the SPR journal).

There is an entry on C.E.M Joad on the PSI encyclopedia but that article does not mention extreme criticism of Joad in the SPR journal by William Henry Salter. Apparently Joad was a complete fraud. He made up seances he had never even been at. Funny how there is no mention of this though. Basically anything negative about any psychical researchers is swiped away and not mentioned.

Michael E. Tymn's entry on Frederick Bligh Bond does not mention H. J Wilkins in depth criticisms of the Bond case reported in the SPR journal. How can you have an SPR encyclopedia that refuses to cite critical or negative information in its own journal? They are simply ignoring publications in their own journal that do not fit in with their world view. It is unacceptable.

I would trust Wikipedia any day because at least it does not censor material. It cites the skeptical material which is suppressed by paranormal proponents. The reason proponents of psi hate Wikipedia so much is because it debunks all their woo beliefs.

"I suggest that those interested should read William Usbourne Moore’s numerous accounts of sittings he had with May and Lizzie Bangs when he brought his own blank canvases and his own slates and ink to the séance"

But you forget to mention that William Usbourne Moore was not a reliable witness, Amos. He stated viciously that Hereward Carrington had never visited the Bangs Sisters house and detected them in fraud.

After Carrington gave conclusive evidence that he had visited the sisters house and caught them out, Moore had to retract his false allegations. His statement can be found in the spiritualist newspaper Light.

Moore also claimed that the American materialization medium Joseph Jonson was completely genuine. Unlucky for him, Jonson was caught in the act dressing up as a 'materialization' during one of his seances. But Moore never acknowledged this.

Moore also endorsed the bogus materialization medium Frederick G. Foster Craddock, even after detecting him trickery with an electric torch. Moore's reasoning was that Craddock was possessed by an evil spirit. Paranormal believers always have an excuse. They will ignore Occam's razor and cling to the most outrageous nonsensical beliefs, no matter the evidence.

William Hodson Brock a science historian who has written the most in depth and scholarly biography of William Crookes has described Moore as a "credulous spiritualist."

"T. Farley who is also associated with csicop and Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia is a big time wikipedia editor, his account name is Krelnik"

Tim Farley is a constructive Wikipedia editor. He is credited for creating the article on Rose Mackenberg:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Mackenberg

Now perhaps that is an article you should read Amos! She had exposed fraudulent mediums for over twenty years and never came across a genuine one. Funny how paranormal believers never mention this woman.

"Donnis will quote old skeptics like Joseph Rinn like a religious script. He loves the fact a lot of physical mediums were caught in fraud, he then uses this to dismiss the entire field of parapsychology as fraud."

Wrong... Donnis accepts that some skeptics like Joseph Rinn made mistakes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Rinn

Nobody is immune from making mistakes, let's not pretend otherwise.

Amos,

Joseph Rinn challenged Peal Curran to prove her mediumship in controlled conditions but she declined the offer even for a significant amount of money. What do you think about that?

"Wikipedia is more reliable than what paranormal believers write because it does not censor the negative or skeptical literature on parapsychology."

LOL! And that's just about all it doesn't censor.

Tell me, nameless, faceless, ''Skeptic', is there an invitation posted somewhere on the Internet that says, 'If you're *really* thick then come and join the skeptic movement.' ? :)

Hey Skeptic, whoever you are. Thanks for the information. You really have all of the facts about mediums, don't you? I will only respond to your comment about Peal (sic) Curran. (Well it would be nice if you could spell the name correctly! That's pretty important don't you think? Is that representative of other things you say; you don't quite get them right?)

Someone offered Pearl Curran a significant amount of money to "prove" her mediumship under controlled conditions; she declined. So? That just provides evidence that she was not a money-grabbing medium like all of the rest of the mediums. Right?

And just what could those "controlled conditions" be? If you really knew the story about Pearl Curran you would know that there are no "controlled conditions" that could be applied to Pearl Curran. She did not read fortunes, speak to dead relatives, bring in apports, use floating trumpets, materialize spirits, extrude ectoplasm, precipitate paintings, photograph ghosts or any thing of the kind.

What do you want me to say? If you are the all knowing CSICOP cop that you think you are then read all of the writings by Pearl Curran and Patience Worth and then let's discuss whether or not Pearl Curran was a medium. ( If you had read her work and those who investigated her you would know that she pleaded with Dr. Prince to make it known that she was NOT a medium. But then again one has to have some brains to understand the literature of Patience Worth. Obviously you are in short supply.) - AOD

Sorry Skeptic, I need to make one more comment. You say,"I would trust Wikipedia any day because at least it does not censor material." Bull shit! Wikipedia guerilla editors censor and or delete anything and everything that does not agree with their predetermined biases regardless of the topic. You know that and I know that from personal experience and so does anyone else who has attempted to write or edit an article in Wikipedia. Those unaccountable editors provide misinformation and nothing of value.

What world are you living in? - AOD

*Yawn* Skeptic *Yawn*

For goodness' sake, man, you don't need a new comment for every sentence.

I dislike this series of comments, Indridason is invisible? Has anyone proven that he was a fraudulent medium o what?

The Patience Worth stuff has been debunked. As far as I know Amos Oliver Doyle is the only man in the world who still claims it is evidence for the paranormal.

"Unfortunately for Spiritualism, Curran’s writings failed to provide convincing evidence of life after death. Try as they might, researchers were unable to find any evidence that Patience Worth actually existed, and linguistic analysis of the texts revealed that the language was not consistent with other works from the period. The case for authenticity was not helped by Patience writing a novel set in the Victorian times, some 200 years after her own death. Eventually even the most ardent believer was forced to conclude that Pearl Curran’s remarkable outpourings were more likely to have a natural, not supernatural, explanation."

Richard Wiseman from his book Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There, 2011.

Waller Joel

"I dislike this series of comments, Indridason is invisible? Has anyone proven that he was a fraudulent medium o what?"

He was caught in fraud. I have a source that shows this, but it is not written in English. I am currently translating it.

"The only supporters of Patience Worth are devout spiritualists such as Amos Oliver Doyle and Michael E. Tymn. Doyle has an entire website dedicated to Patience Worth and he refuses to accept the evidence which shows she was not in contact with spirits." http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Patience_Worth

Does not look like you are very open-minded Doyle. Defending long debunked spiritualist mediums.

"But then again one has to have some brains to understand the literature of Patience Worth. Obviously you are in short supply.) - AOD"

Says the man who believes different human races are different species.

"Those who actually read and try to understand my prior comments will see that my views are based on recognizing consciousness as prime. That is, we--- and I mean all living creatures, not just humans--- are spirits, i.e. consciousnesses having a physical experience. And, that all of those consciousnesses are part of God." - Amos Oliver Doyle

Lol what a load of anti-scientific baloney. Are peadophiles and rapists part of God as well in your opinion?

"She did not read fortunes, speak to dead relatives, bring in apports, use floating trumpets, materialize spirits, extrude ectoplasm, precipitate paintings, photograph ghosts or any thing of the kind. "

Curran used an ouija board. Hardly credible.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/apr/27/ouija-boards-dowsing-rods-bomb-detectors

Fully explainable by the ideomotor effect.

"Someone offered Pearl Curran a significant amount of money to "prove" her mediumship under controlled conditions; she declined. So? That just provides evidence that she was not a money-grabbing medium like all of the rest of the mediums. Right?"

Wrong, it proves she was a fraud.

Morton Prince also tested Curran and claim to the conclusion she had no paranormal ability. She was not able to demonstrate anything whilst scientific controls were in place.

"Doyle has an entire website dedicated to Patience Worth and he refuses to accept the evidence which shows she was not in contact with spirits."

My understanding is that Patience Worth purported to be a reincarnation. What has that got to do with being 'in contact with spirits'?

That aside, there's plenty of evidence from the work of Ian Stevenson et.al to suggest that reincarnation is a plausible phenomenon. And as for Wiseman, wasn't he caught in deliberate fraud and deception when he challenged Sheldrake's experimental work?

Are you for real? You embarrass yourself and don't even have the wit to recognise your own stupidity. But then that's the thing about stupidity, isn't it. :/

"Morton Prince also tested Curran and claim to the conclusion she had no paranormal ability. She was not able to demonstrate anything whilst scientific controls were in place."

W J; It is my opinion that matters which derive from another dimension, cannot be proven by scientific experiments which are conducted within this dimension. Any thoughts?

I don't want to continue to offend Juan by not writing about Indridi Indridason but I feel I must respond to Waller’s comments. Forgive me Juan but I need to address them point-by-point since there isn't an ounce of real intelligence behind any of them.

No, the Patience Worth "stuff” has not been debunked and apparently "as far as you know" is not very far as there are many other intelligent people who think that Patience Worth provided a form of evidence suggesting that there might be something supernormal going on with Pearl Curran. I am not the only one out of 7.4 billion people in the world who think that. Whether or not Pearl Curran provided evidence of her past lives or evidence that she actually was in contact with an entity or group of entities in another reality is yet to be determined..

It is not as simple as proving 'life after death' as you say. The Patience Worth evidence provides a giant puzzle to be figured out by reading her novels, poems, aphorisms, table talk and plays and determining from them where the knowledge of history and language contained in the writings came from. It is highly unlikely that it came from the conscious or subconscious mind of a meagerly educated woman living in the heartland of the United States in 1912.

That Patience Worth didn't leave behind evidence of her existence in the 1600s is irrelevant. Patience Worth was an unmarried, poor Puritan peasant with no progeny and no land holdings who spent all of her time cooking and cleaning. She was not from an aristocratic family enabling her to lie around all day with the vapors on a chaise lounge and write prurient love stories to entertain the rich people in London. It is no surprise that there is nothing that remained of her existence in England or the Colonies after her death.

Patience Worth said that she took bits and pieces from various dialects of England and Scotland thereby reflecting the essence of the people of her time and her land, much in the same way that there is no one dialect of American English that is representative of the language of all of the American people. I challenge you to read 'Telka' a medieval story set in England and tell me how Pearl Curran living in Missouri in the early 1900s could write that with out researching the history and language of that time and to spew it all out at Gatling gun speed one letter at a time.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39076005033613;view=1up;seq=13

If Pearl Curran was able to access any of her past lives it is quite understandable that she would be able to write about Victorian times as Hope Trueblood if in addition to her life in the 1600s as Patience Worth she also lived in the 1800s.

I'm glad to hear that you think that her "outpourings" were remarkable. So do I! - AOD

Waller,
I can’t believe that you are using yourself as a reference by citing RationalWiki but lazy people do tend to cite themselves as a reference. It is true that I have not one but two websites dedicated to Patience Worth and while I don’t know if Mr. Tymn is a devout spiritualist or not, I don’t think that I would call myself one. Believe it or not I think that I am a true skeptic in search of the truth about this reality I am living in. I don’t “defend” any medium. It is up to the evidence to either prove that they were fraudulent or truthful. But one has to look at all of the evidence not just cherry-pick the evidence that supports one’s prejudice and bias. As to who has an open mind and who has a closed mind? Just look in the mirror and you will see the face of someone whose mind is a closed as an umbrella on a sunny day.- AOD

Waller,
You say, “Lol what a load of anti-scientific baloney. Are peadophiles [sic] and rapists part of God as well in your opinion? (When are you ever going to learn how to spell Waller?)

Well, yes, I do think that pedophiles, rapists, murders and other miscreants have within them a spark of God. How they use that God consciousness is up to them according to their free will.
.
“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” I forgot who said that but I think it applies here that we all are connected. - AOD


Waller says,”Curran used an ouija board. Hardly credible.”

If you really knew anything, Waller, about Pearl Curran you would know that she said that she used the Ouija board as a “thought dispeller” and that it was just a piece of “dead wood” - AOD.

Waller says,” Morton Prince also tested Curran and claim [sic again] to the conclusion she had no paranormal ability. She was not able to demonstrate anything whilst scientific controls were in place.”

Wrong again, Waller.
Morton Prince never “tested Curran”; he wanted to hypnotize her but she refused, thinking that it might ruin her ability to communicate with Patience Worth. Morton Prince never had any scientific controls in place as you say. - AOD.


Curran was examined by Dr Morton Prince (see Singer in the Shadows: The strange Story of Patience Worth, pp. 82-83).

"In 1914 Curran traveled to Boston to be tested by the psychologist Morton Prince. Curran used the Ouija board at his home on two occasions but refused to be put under hypnosis because she believed that it would destroy her contact with Patience Worth. Morton told reporters "nothing of scientific importance" occurred and "I consider the results inconsequential and of no scientific value."

Curran was a fraud like all mediums.

By the way God does not exist. There is too much evil in the world.

Joe Nickell has debunked the Patience Worth writings.

"The weight of the evidence—the lack of historical record for “Patience Worth,” the fantasy proneness of Curran (consistent with producing an imaginary “other self”), the writings’ questionable language, and the evidence of the editing and revision process—indicates that Patience was merely a persona of Curran’s."

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/ghost_author_the_channeling_of_patience_worth

"The various accounts of Mrs. Curran's background purporting to show that, as Mrs. Curran, she could not have produced the literary works of Patience Worth are inaccurate. As a child, Mrs. Curran was a precocious learner. Her education was good enough to enable her to teach at various public and private schools. She had received extensive tutoring as well as expensive voice and piano training. She played the piano at a church, which happened to be a spiritualist church headed by her uncle, a medium. As to the purported 17th-century English that Mrs. Curran used as Patience Worth, English experts testified that it did not belong to any particular historical period but was a mixture of contemporary English, poetic terms, some dialect expressions, including some misused and misunderstood would-be Scottish words, and even some of her own invention. The trigger for the appearance of Patience Worth could have been the death of Mrs. Curran's father just 2 months earlier."

Patience Worth Debunked. It is not evidence for the paranormal.

Source: Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking (1989).

"I don’t think that I would call myself one"

Well you claim every medium was genuine. Fox Sisters, Bangs Sisters, Pearl Curran etc and you never cite any of the fraud in mediumship.

You also wrote:

"Those who actually read and try to understand my prior comments will see that my views are based on recognizing consciousness as prime. That is, we--- and I mean all living creatures, not just humans--- are spirits, i.e. consciousnesses having a physical experience. And, that all of those consciousnesses are part of God."

You claim all living creatures are spirits in your own words. You are a die hard spiritualist believer like Michael E. Tymn.

"I can’t believe that you are using yourself as a reference by citing RationalWiki but lazy people do tend to cite themselves as a reference"

I am a long time user on RationalWiki. My article:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Solway_Firth_Spaceman

Has been mentioned on the TV and in mainstream newspapers. It is the only detailed debunking of the Solway Firth Spaceman photograph on the internet.

"No, the Patience Worth "stuff” has not been debunked and apparently "as far as you know" is not very far as there are many other intelligent people who think that Patience Worth provided a form of evidence suggesting that there might be something supernormal going on with Pearl Curran. I am not the only one out of 7.4 billion people in the world who think that. Whether or not Pearl Curran provided evidence of her past lives or evidence that she actually was in contact with an entity or group of entities in another reality is yet to be determined."

As Waller Joel (Jon Donnis) says, the Patience Worth case has firmly debunked. Modern parapsychologists are not impressed with the case.

"Unfortunately for Spiritualism, Curran’s writings failed to provide convincing evidence of life after death. Try as they might, researchers were unable to find any evidence that Patience Worth actually existed, and linguistic analysis of the texts revealed that the language was not consistent with other works from the period. The case for authenticity was not helped by Patience writing a novel set in the Victorian times, some 200 years after her own death. Eventually even the most ardent believer was forced to conclude that Pearl Curran’s remarkable outpourings were more likely to have a natural, not supernatural, explanation." ---- Richard Wiseman

"If Pearl Curran was able to access any of her past lives"

There is no such thing as past lives or life after death. Once you are dead you are dead. Get over it.

"there's plenty of evidence from the work of Ian Stevenson et.al to suggest that reincarnation is a plausible phenomenon"

No there isn't. All his cases have been debunked. The philosopher C. T. K. Chari of Madras Christian College in Chennai, a specialist in parapsychology, argued that Stevenson was naive and that the case studies were undermined by his lack of local knowledge.

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