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One thing that's interesting is that if you ask someone - not a trained artist - to draw a portrait of a human face, they tend to minimize the forehead. The reason is supposed to be that as humans we're attuned to looking at other people's eyes, mouths, etc., where we read expressions. If you look at the funny-looking doll, whatever it is, in the first photo, the forehead is very minimized. I'm not saying this proves anything, but as someone who draws and paints, I noticed that right away.

“A living being, or living matter, formed under our eyes, which has it proper warmth, apparently a circulation of blood, and a physiological respiration (as I proved by causing the form of Bien Boa to breathe into a flask containing baryta water)..."

I wonder why a spirit needs blood and oxygen.

Ectoplasm is just too far out for me to accept and the hokey pictures sure don't do anything to help convince me.

I am more willing to believe that the mediums prepared some tea containing hallucinogens and served it up to the unwitting sitters and then, more mentally open to suggestion and their perceptions more maleable under the influence of the drug, the sitters projected life-like qualities onto crude puppets.

This is a classic psycho-pomp scenario. Primitive tribes use it all of the time. Some tribal members where costumes depicting gods and mythical heros while the audience ingests mind altering drugs. As the ceremony progresses the audience - and even the actors in the costumes - have the sense of actually living the myths and experiencing the tribal gods and heros.

Now, the tribe members can tell you the next day that, of course, it was their neighbor Joe in a costume, they saw him put the costume on, yet they also will tell you that it was an experience of the tribal myth. These experiences can be very powerful psychologically.

Maybe the appearance of ectoplasm is akin to the phenomenon of stigmata. If you really, really, really want to manifest it -- or even by unconsciously focusing the mind on it with laser-beam precision(e.g., constantly identifying with Jesus' suffering on the cross results in stigmata), you will manifest it.

Whether a "spirit" produces the ectoplasm or it's all a manifestation of the medium, one this is sure: the Mind (with a capital M) is a very powerful tool of creation.

This true/not true phase I'm going through is getting old. I'm not even close to losing sleep over it, but it's time to look in different directions.

I've just downloaded George Hansen's book, The Trickster and the Paranormal. Ian Rowland's The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading is somewhere down the line.

"I've just downloaded George Hansen's book, The Trickster and the Paranormal."

Rabbitdawg - Good for you! Get ready for a journey!

Not very objective of Michael Tymm in my opinion I'm afraid. If ectoplasm is merely a substance to give form to an otherwise invisible entity why are they all wearing hoods and the clothing shows pleats, folds, seams and square cuts to the cloth?

I do think ectoplasm is a genuine phenomena, but in many cases it can be, and has been, faked. I think Michael Tymm still needs to address why close-ups of certain ectoplasmic photos, including many of Helen Duncan's, clearly indicate the warp and weft of the cloth! You can clearly see the weave!

This has never been properly explained by Zerdini and other Helen Duncan defenders, who continually avoid the issue.

I believe there is enough evidence of fakery, that physical mediumship can be crossed off the list of evidence for survival, and the objectivity if not credibility of its defenders seriously quastioned. Can someone steer me in the direction of photos that aren't so obviously faked?

This brings me round to thinking are there any macro phenomena at all - Poltergeist outbreak, maybe?
Though usually a living focus person involved here but the enfield poltergeist seemed to show channeling.

"Can someone steer me in the direction of photos that aren't so obviously faked?"

The photos I've seen mostly look pretty dubious.

These shots taken by the Felix circle are probably the best I've seen:

http://felixcircle.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-mystery-and-symbolism-of-psychic.html

I forget whether I first saw this on Michael's blog or The Daily Grail, but Stephen Braude appears in this recently released video of a table levitation. Although he laments the lack of strict scientific protocol, he is quoted as saying "...I consider it a valuable document of an event I'm convinced was authentic."
Braude's word, and the fact that it's a video made in 2012, not a photo cropped in 1912 gives this little gem two Gold Stars in my evidential scrapbook.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9mVoQFqR6o

Are there any photos of the Naples sittings. (Also how many investigators was Pallandino convincing too?

The Felix Circle is promising. Mainly because we don't just have photos, it's a combination of photos and eyewitnesses who have visited the very same seances, so it seems pretty clear that there is paranormal activity around the Felix Circle.

Whether or not it is evidence for survival is another thing. At the moment, is is evidence of very good pychic phenomena, telekenesis, materialisations, lights etc.


It's a good start at any rate.

Douglas - At the Felix Experimental Group -Just wonder what you think of the purple Alien type thing pearing at the camera.
Just too 'Corny' surely?

Tony, the 'alien' pics you speak of are not from the Felix Group themselves. They are from the website of a dutch medium whom the Felix Group are covering on their latest news section.

Yes, i agree that looks a bit rubbish, but who knows.

Phenomena from the Felix Group itself is more interesting, and i plan to get along to one of their sessions myself if the opportunity arises.

I'm always suspicious when there are so called professors but they maybe coluding because they're writing a book about parapsychology etc
thats the case with FEG..

No Tony, you simply have no evidence for the statement 'thats the case with FEG', how do you know this great insider knowledge, are you psychic?

Hokey but true, huh?

They really needed to make movies of these phenomena and not just take a few photos. If we could see these puppet-looking things arise and assemble of their own accord, they would be more believable.

There is a lot to find disagreeable/confusing in Tymm's reasoning.

||In one sitting, a communicating entity told Richet that he was unable to materialize because he could not remember what he looked like when alive. However, the spirit later materialized without a face.||

I had always thought a materialization would be based on the pure *being* of an entity and not how it imagined itself. If the latter is true, then the entity is just being an artist--it could imagine Mickey Mouse's face if it wanted to, and that would appear.

Also, the idea of a spirit unable to know what it used to look like isn't all that appealing. You'd think they would have better information at their disposal Over There!

In the picture provided of Helen Duncan, which we've talked about here before, the "entity" looks like a face made out of paper with cheese cloth wrapped around it, almost like a mummy. Now I can believe that an entity would materialize first in a fairly primitive state, but I can't believe that an entity would materialize looking like a child's inept art project. In particular, there is no reason why the entity should like like one material (cheesecloth) wrapped around another material (paper face). That's exactly how you'd do it if you were making a crude puppet, but wouldn't a materializing entity seem to be forming out of a unified substance?

And so on.

I don't have a problem believing in ectoplasm and materializations, and Duncan may well have produced them at times, but that photo ain't it.

Is there a problem if some people want to believe and some don't? Aren't we allowed that? I believe in a lot of stuff that other people don't believe in. And vice versa.

Note that the string of "ectoplasm" attatching the crude puppet to Duncan isn't coming from inside Duncan's nostrils or mouth (as per descriptions of issuing from an orifice), it is coming from under her blindfold - like it is tucked under the blindfold - and/or seems attached to the surface of her upper nose.

Could the photos have been publicity photos made using cheap technology of the day and not intended as evidence of actual phenomena when they were made?

Oh jeez, now I see (on wiki) that was arrested twice and was found with cheesecloth and other fake ectoplasm materials on her person at the time of the arrests.

Additionally, she was found, during seances, by non- law enforcement researcgers to be faking ectoplasm. Why doesn't Michael Tymn take these researchers as seriously as he does the ones that believed the performance?

I like Michael Tymn, but he is not doing himself or the field of study any good by defending this nonsense. Quite the contrary.

I think, overwhelmingly, this so called physical mediumship - ectoplasm, flying trumpets, etc - is most likely 100% bunk.

I am convinced that spirits may ocassionally move objects, make noises and sporadically do other physical things to confirm their presence, but the idea that they consistently materialize in big ways on demand, is very far fetched, IMO.

At any rate, how can one maintain a belief in the "abilities" of someone who was proven to be a fraud several times?

No One,
I have always enjoyed and respected your comments in the past on this site and on others but I wish you hadn’t made the comment in this post that you used “Wiki” as a source of evidential information. I know from personal experience writing an article for Wikipedia that there are people who insert and corrupt any article, the content of which does not agree with their preconceived notions. It becomes an on-going battle to keep the article clean. This is especially true for articles dealing with the paranormal. It is very revealing to pull-up the Discussion Tab and read the back-and-forth comments regarding these esoteric Wikipedia articles. Perhaps you might want to look for other sources of information.

AOD,

Agreed that wiki is not a source that is reputable enough to use as the basis of an argument for the reason you mention. Your point is taken.

That said, I can see other sources that contain basically the same info re; Duncan/fraud/arrests.

She was either exposed as a fraud on solid grounds or not. What do you think about the evidence against her?

And that said, sometimes it seems like the entire internet - other than advertisements - could be distilled down to a few hundred original sources - sources that get repeated in part or copied in whole, sources that morph from on their journey from one opinion post to the next - like a massive cyber rumor mill.

On top of that, the internet is a propaganda machine for a variety of interests and, given the relative ease of use and low resource invest necessary to use it, the interests can be pretty petty.

So I have no problem with the idea that some materialists or even some sect within the spiritualist community would use wiki or any other venue to slander Duncan.

Then again, before the internet, people were using newspapers and books to the same ends and I guess when it comes to physical mediumship, I have to see it to believe it.

Then again, seeing isn't necessarily believing - in this case. If I go to mental medium at her house and she tells me that I have a mini white board (one of those little boards with magnets on the back that you can write on with dry erase markers) stuck to my refrigerator and she tells me, verbatim, what the unusual message is that was written on it that morning, and this medium has never met me before and I have said a word to her, then I have some relatively convincing evidence that something out of the ordinary is occurring.

However, If I go to a medium's house and she hides in a cabinet and turns the lights off and I end up seeing a "ghostly figure" emerge, this is far less convincing.

In the first case things are rather cut and dry and it is easy to rule out alternative explanations.

In the second case, there are lots of alternative explanations that could fit and, in fact, I have already seen stage magicians do things that I can't explain, things that fooled my eyes and ears, but that I know are not paranormal in origin.

And the damn poorly made puppet photos are helping the case for the paranormal ;-)

".....I have said a word to her..."


"...aren't helping the case"

...of course

where oh where is my brain this morning?

Here! Here! No One, you are back up to speed. I tend to agree but didn't you mean that the "...damnn poorly made puppet photos are (NOT) helping the case for the paranormal."?

My take on Duncan, and with full disclosure this is complete and utter speculation...

I think she had genuine mental mediumship abilities. The case where she found out about the sinking of that ship before anyone else knew is pretty good evidence.

I think she faked 99.99% of the physical stuff. Why? Her husband didn't work and she enough kids to form a platoon. The physical mediumship brought in the crowds, it was a performance to help her family survive with the proceeds from the act. Honestly if I were in her position and I was putting my family first, I probably would have done the same thing. When your back is against the wall and your only instinct is to survive no matter what the costs ethics and reason go out the window in most cases. There are a few exception to this of course.

Just my take on her and again complete speculation.

OT, but Terry Gross has an interview with Sam Parnia, in advance of his book Erasing Death. It airs today (Friday, Feb. 22). It's also available online at:
http://www.npr.org/2013/02/21/172495667/resuscitation-experiences-and-erasing-death


Re: Sam Parnia's interview, get ready for a new (more socially acceptable?) acronym - ADE. After-death experiences.

Good take on this Ray. You got me to wondering if a lot of these "hokey" photos are really publicity shots. That is, that they were purposefully staged for advertisement of the medium. Perhaps they were contrived by a not-too-smart publicity agent of those times to represent what could not really be photographed in a séance. These photos seem to me to be too clear to have been taken in red light or by a flash in the dark. The felixcircle blogspot photos of ectoplasm linked above by Michael Prescott, are more what I would expect photographs of ectoplasm to look like That doesn't mean they are any more legitimate that the photos of Helen Duncan's ectoplasm. But you see, there I am trying to make reality fit my expectations.


"A working girl has got to do what she's got to do to feed her children." I agree with you, Ms. Duncan had to keep the money flowing in. I was just reading some criticisms of current mediums for charging money for their sittings. I don't understand what the expectations of these people are who make these comments. Should the medium just donate hour after hour of his or her time incurring the physical toll it takes on the body at the pleasure of the sitter? Should she make her house or office available to all comers?---provide snacks?--- a stenographer to write things down?---no charge for the telephone expenses?---and bookkeeping?---all for free?

I think good mediums can charge what the traffic will allow. If you can't afford the service and you can't accept that even good mediums have good days and bad days, then don't go there

I've long thought along the same lines as Ray. Duncan's husband seems to have been the one who was always pushing her. He convinced her to do the Harry Price sittings, because he thought the publicity would be helpful. This backfired in a big way, of course.

One interesting point is that, as far as I know, the obviously fake photos of Duncan's materialized spirit were not exhibited at her trial. You have to wonder why. Those photos alone would have been enough to convict her, probably. Could the prosecution have known something about the photos that ruled them out as evidence?

I don't know. I agree with AOD that they are too well lit and too carefully staged to have been shot with flash photography in the midst of a seance. It's not even clear to me that Duncan could have smuggled all those materials into the seance room undetected, or assembled them in the dark.

The more I think about it, the more I just don't know what to make of those photos. They are clearly fake - I don't buy the idea that any real ectoplasmic manifestation would look like that - but what is their provenance and what were they intended to accomplish?

Douglas - Of course i'm bloody psychic.
There's not one credible physics/parapsychology professor checking this (FEG) out.
Stick that in your pipe.
Also i'm not a sceptical but open on this.

@Tony

The purple alien thing on the FEG website has nothing to do with that particular circle but the medium Robbert van den Broeke who can allegedly capture aliens and spirits on film. Of course these images are always produce in scientific controlled conditions :p Everyone has a boogle threshold with this stuff and van den Broeke far exceeds mine. Until he is put in a lab under controlled conditions his work looks like nothing more than intro level graphics art.

There is a good back and forth discussion on his work on the daily grail here:
http://www.dailygrail.com/Guest-Articles/2012/5/Hungry-Ghosts

cheers Ray. Tony, van den broeke is not part of the felix circle.

Like next doors Tom Cat - on the fence as usual.
Spoils the 'cred' of FEG to let guys on who have been caught out so the 'net' says;-)

I suspect material manifestations were expected back then and without them people wouldn't pay much attention to just mental Mediumship. Mediums had to put on a show and be entertaining or they'd get no audience. We live in different times. I remember reading somewhere that George Anderson charges something like $1,000 per reading. In fact it was in an article that said he was invited to do a reading for the Queen of Denmark or something like that.

All physical mediumship is dolls or cheesecloth, no reason to take any of it seriously lads... Jon Donnis also exposed George Anderson, see here:

http://badpsychics.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/george-anderson-psychic-medium-and-one.html

FYI, forests has apparently achieved quite a rep in the Skeptico comments. I don't know the details, however.

Having identified Forests as a troll, I will post the same response to him whenever he shows up. This response was originally posted on Dec. 31, 2012, in the comments thread of the post titled "Irrational Wiki."

——

Before going out to whoop it up on New Year's Eve, I thought I'd respond to this criticism from "Harry Price Fan," who is (obviously) the RationalWiki contributor known as "Forests," and who seems to be posting under a variety of screen names lately.

A little earlier in this thread, Forests/HP Fan wrote:

'Then compare those books to modern psi books such as RANDI'S PRIZE: What sceptics say about the paranormal, why they are wrong and why it matters which contains serious dishonesty.. see his chapter on Eusapia Palladino for example nowhere in the text does he mention the bulb or string trick of palladino etc, or the other many times she was caught cheating in the seance room by countless scientists. Note how Michael Prescott gave this book a five star review on amazon. This says a lot. Sorry but none of you guys are interested in truth, it is very sad to see.'

I just looked up Palladino in the index of Randi's Prize. Right under her name is the entry "caught cheating."

Let me repeat this. Forests/HP Fan complained, "... nowhere in the text does he mention ... the other many times she was caught cheating." Yet those exact words - "caught cheating" - appear in the index under the heading "Palladino, Eusapia."

In the text, Robert McLuhan gives specific examples of Palladino being caught in fraud, and even writes that "her use of the 'substitution' trick was notorious."
But you don't even have to read the book (which Forests/HP Fan clearly hasn't) in order to find out that the book covers Palladino's cheating; all you have to do is *check the index.* I guess he didn't bother to do that, either.

This is the commenter who, while using multiple screen names, accuses the rest of us of dishonesty. He writes: "It is very sad to see." Indeed it is.

Wishing you a happy and troll-free New Year!

In spite of “Forests” obnoxious presentation he does come up with some interesting links one of which is http://www.genders.org/q54/q54_delgado.html. (This link may not take you to the article but you will be able to find it in archive 54.) It is an unbiased (most of the time) thesis-like article related to ectoplasm, citing Palladino, Carriere and Crandon as examples. It is written by L. Ann Delgado PhD and titled Bawdy Techologies and the Birth of Ectoplasm. I found it to be an interesting collection of opinions and quotes one of which is the following:

In 1873, Frederic R. Marvin, an American professor of psychological medicine, introduced “mediomania” as a specific type of hysteria that was primarily exhibited by female mediums. This late Victorian malady could, according to Marvin, eventually lead to a type of congenital degeneration that, in some ways, mimicked the effects of hereditary syphilis. Marvin argued that “mediomania in the first generation may become chorea or melancholy in the second, open insanity in the third, and idiocy in the fourth."


Can you believe it? Being a medium would eventually lead to congentital degeneration, mimic the effects of hereditary syphilis, chorea, melancholy, open insanity or idiocy. Sounds like the warnings against masturbation I grew up with.

The link above doesn't work. There is a hidden underline in the space between q54 and delgado. Try http://www.genders.org. Once there look for the archives and go to archive 54.

Robert McLuhan's book "Randi's Prize" has a wealth of information about mediums in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It would be nice if we could just dismiss all the claims about mediums then based on the fact of cheating, but the evidence is just too impressive. For example:

||In a séance with Daniel Home, participants sat around a mahogany table with a smooth polished top on which were some loose papers, two candles, a glass and a pencil. The table tipped up by thirty degrees – the objects should all have slid off onto the floor. But they remained fixed to the top. Obviously, you’d think, Home had set up the trick with glue, or something of the kind. But then the table tilted again, and this time, on the sitters’ specific request, the pencil slid off while the other objects remained static.||

And re Palladino:

||The medium sat well in front of the curtain: her feet and hands were absolutely controlled. She would approach one of her hands, held by one of ours, to within about a foot of it, and the curtain would bulge out, sometimes gently, but sometimes with considerable force. The bulge was a round one, as though blown from within, and not in the least appearing as if any string or attachment were made to the outside. The coming out of the curtain happened generally as she approached her hand towards it, not as she withdrew it, as would be the case if there was an invisible attachment.

If we made a sudden grab at the bulge, no resistance was encountered, and the bulge subsided as though one had pricked the surface of a balloon. There was no attachment to her hand, as we constantly verified by passing our hands between her and the curtain. Nor would any attachment produce the same effect, as the curtain was so thin that the point of attachment of any string would at once have been seen. Besides these bulges in response to her or our gestures, there were spontaneous movements of the curtain, often very violent, and frequently the whole curtain would be flung out with so much force that the bottom of it came right over to the further end of the table.||

I'm a (true) skeptic in both directions. I'm not going to buy that a crappy puppet is anything but that. At the same time, if someone is going to claim that, for example, what Palladino did with the curtain per above is *just a trick,* that's a claim in its own right--not the default assumption (as skeptics would have us believe). And I am skeptical of that claim! I invite anyone to create such a magic trick that works under the same controlled conditions under which Palladino was required to work. I say it's impossible.

Michael,

I just made a big comment that seems to have disappeared. Can you check? Thanks!

Matt, your comment is back.

Forests, I proved beyond doubt that you misrepresented McLuhan's statements about Palladino. You have no concern for facts or logic. Your spots only undermine the credibility of the skeptical position.

BTW, I don't believe people have been impersonating you. But I do believe you have posted under multiple screen names.

Here's my 12-31-12 comment again. It will appear whenever Forests posts here.

----

Before going out to whoop it up on New Year's Eve, I thought I'd respond to this criticism from "Harry Price Fan," who is (obviously) the RationalWiki contributor known as "Forests," and who seems to be posting under a variety of screen names lately.

A little earlier in this thread, Forests/HP Fan wrote:

'Then compare those books to modern psi books such as RANDI'S PRIZE: What sceptics say about the paranormal, why they are wrong and why it matters which contains serious dishonesty.. see his chapter on Eusapia Palladino for example nowhere in the text does he mention the bulb or string trick of palladino etc, or the other many times she was caught cheating in the seance room by countless scientists. Note how Michael Prescott gave this book a five star review on amazon. This says a lot. Sorry but none of you guys are interested in truth, it is very sad to see.'

I just looked up Palladino in the index of Randi's Prize. Right under her name is the entry "caught cheating."

Let me repeat this. Forests/HP Fan complained, "... nowhere in the text does he mention ... the other many times she was caught cheating." Yet those exact words - "caught cheating" - appear in the index under the heading "Palladino, Eusapia."

In the text, Robert McLuhan gives specific examples of Palladino being caught in fraud, and even writes that "her use of the 'substitution' trick was notorious."
But you don't even have to read the book (which Forests/HP Fan clearly hasn't) in order to find out that the book covers Palladino's cheating; all you have to do is *check the index.* I guess he didn't bother to do that, either.

This is the commenter who, while using multiple screen names, accuses the rest of us of dishonesty. He writes: "It is very sad to see." Indeed it is.

Wishing you a happy and troll-free New Year!

Michael,

I have never posted on your blog under multiple screen names, perhaps you should read the actual facts of the matter here:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Talk:Mind-Energy_forum#Trolling_by_MU.21.21_revealed

I have never posted under Harry Price Fan. You yourself said Price was a believer in some spiritualism. Why would I be using names who are supportive of spiritualism? Even yourself said there have been multiple or "unlimited" IP addresses posting under forests or multiple usernames, well use some common sense this is becuase it is more than one person.

"Let me repeat this. Forests/HP Fan complained, "... nowhere in the text does he mention ... the other many times she was caught cheating." Yet those exact words - "caught cheating" - appear in the index under the heading "Palladino, Eusapia."

Great you can cherry pick peoples posts, I never wrote that, but by the looks of things you are putting words in his mouth. The Randis prize book does mention cheating, but it comes to the conclusion that Palladino was genuine and leaves a lot of cheating out.

I think your wise words are falling on deaf ears Michael. Forests seems to be a rather obnoxious know it all college student yet obviously very smart for his age. I only hope he learns how to engage debate and embrace true skepticism. Forests my main problem with your line of reasoning is that you throw the baby out with the bath water. You take the weakest evidence and blatant cases of fraud and use it to dismiss the entire field of mediumship and completely ignore the strongest cases. I think it is very arrogant of you to think you know more than the people who did field research simply by looking at pictures and forming opinions. David P Abbott who was a notorious skeptic and magician took every step to conceal his identity and his partners when they went to investigate direct voice medium Elizabeth Blake and came away unable to explain the phenomenon he witnessed. But here is your logic...Palladio was caught cheating therefore Elizabeth Blake was a fraud too

Forests, it's all about tone. Issues leading to disagreement usually cut both ways. Ignorance of facts and confusion can apply to the skeptic as much as the believer.

To quote Nancy Evans-Bush, “We are all of us — physicists, theologians, psychologists, students, accountants, housewives, NDEr's — trying to describe the same universe.”

Lighten up.
:-)

You do intrigue me forests I've seen many of your posts and you stated you believe in an afterlife what is the evidence you go off of?

No Forests,
Different IP addresses could all come from you. If you have a laptop and use various networks, such as one at Starbucks, you could have different IP addresses. You will have a different IP address from a computer you use at school and a different one at work (if you work). I'm sure you really know this. You are not stupid.

"Forests seems to be a rather obnoxious know it all college student yet obviously very smart for his age."

I agree with the "obnoxious" part! :-)

What do you all think of the myriad of Paranormal reality TV shows, (I love that term)with the omnipresent orbs,shadowy figures et all ? I have to say that no group of individuals with an agenda has been less successful than the organized skeptic movement. Since its founding other than selling books to own community it has been sightly less effective than George Armstrong Custer at the Little Bighorn. this is why the JREF amuse me so much there selling ice cubes on the Titanic.

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