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I have seen this statement on several different web sites, "The Society for Psychical Research investigated Flint and concluded that the voices heard at his séances were auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis." Do you suppose that this is true? I mean if the SPR actually promoted this view how did they explain the fact that recordings were made of "auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis"? Just how does one record an auditory hallucination? - AOD

I've never heard of that, AOD. Sounds like someone has gotten confused. Skeptics have occasionally hypothesized that the phenomena of physical mediumship are collective hallucinations experienced by all the sitters (or shared delusions generated by some kind of group hypnosis), but this "explanation" - if we can dignify it with that term - obviously wouldn't apply to recorded voices.

In tracing the SPR quote I could easily find 6 sites that apparently got their information from a Wikipedia article on Flint in which it was stated that the “Society for Psychical Research investigated Flint and concluded that the voices heard at his séances were auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis”. The reference for this information was from “Theresa Cheung. (2006). The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World. Harper Element. pp. 214–116. [sic] ISBN 978-0007211487” It is likely that this information is not true or that it was misquoted by Wikipedia from the referenced article and then cloned to the other web articles. If it is true---well then. . . .- AOD

The Doris,/Victoria/Vicky/ Vic name gaff was almost funny, reading how Flint or somebody else tried to wiggle out of their mistake. A family who has always called a family member by their first name is highly unlikely to refer to them by their middle name; especially one’s mother is not likely to do that. I can’t imagine I would even think of my mother Esther by her middle name---‘Marie’ or my father John as ‘Andrew’. Why would I ever call my sister Marilyn by her middle name ‘Ruth. Families don’t work that way. Then the lame excuse when Doris said that her mother never called her by her middle name before, the spirit said,” "But I thought today I would, because it's not usual for you to use that name .…" What a sorry excuse! Not only was it “not usual” but it was “never” according to Doris!

On the other hand, someone (like a medium) trying to sound familiar, warm and fuzzy might think that calling someone by their middle name or a diminutive like “Bobby” “Vicky” “Vic” would endear them to the sitter.

If the ‘voice box’ were to blame for people not sounding like they did in life and ‘Bob’ “sounding so grand” then why was there any difference at all between the voices? Why didn’t they all sound exactly alike? Why did some sound like females, some like males and some like cartoon characters, e.g., Mickey, Bessie. Logically this doesn’t make sense.

I think there may have been a lot of fishing, cold reading and warn reading going on in the séance with ‘Victoria’ Stevenson! - AOD

Is ventriloquism completely ruled out in this case?

Secondly it's new to me that people actually paid money for sitting with Flint.

Based on these accounts, Flint sounds like a lousy medium at best and most likely a stage show fraud. Compared to the detailed personal info that came to me - despite total anonymity - at two sitting with Georgia O'Connor, Flint's séance is pathetic.

Time to call the Flint mediumship for what it is, bunk perpetrated on people too willing to be and too easily duped.

How does one record "auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis" ?

Thing about consciousness research - what are people's thoughts on this?: http://www.sciencealert.com/a-giant-neuron-has-been-found-wrapped-around-the-entire-circumference-of-the-brain

At the very beginning of the Bobby Tracy tape someone (Leslie Flint?) says “Hello everyone. They often use Mr. Woods instead of Mr. Flint. And this is one occasion they used Mr. Woods because Mr. Woods has the potential for being a direct voice medium himself.”

I may not have got every word right but I think I got most of it.

Now what is one to think of that statement? Anyone? - AOD

I messed-up the above quote. What was said at the beginning of the Bobby Tracy tape was "Hello everyone. They often use Mr. Woods instead of Mr. Flint and this is one occasion. They use Mr. Woods for drawing the power from. . . ‘cause Mr. Woods has the potential for being a direct voice medium himself. - AOD

Amos the claim of auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis with Flint is indeed a bogus statement, it isn't even found in the Theresa Cheung source. Obviously an error there. Good work for mentioning that.

Several members of the SPR accused Flint of producing ventriloquism. As for skeptics, hardly any skeptics have ever mentioned Flint. Melvin Harris considered Flint to be a fraud in one of his books and compared his mediumhip to the fraudster William Roy.

Roy was a notorious direct-voice medium from Britain who self-confessed to deception in his later career and revealed in a public newspaper article all of his methods and secret devices.

He had used confederates and electrical equipment like microphone, amplifier and a miniature loud-speaker to produce the voices to dupe his sitters, and had to flee the country for his wrong-doings. Thousands of people testified that Roy was genuine and were shocked when they realized they had been taken in.

I think it is only fair if Michael would cover a medium like William Roy at some time on his blog. I think it is likely Flint was probably using similar devices. It must be remembered Flint performed at his own house (a mansion) and was very rich. He was never tested in laboratory conditions.

"I don't think we can conclude much from this narrative, but there it is. The investigation continues!"

I'd just like to say thank you for initiating this thread and for the research you've conducted into the Flint phenomenon, Michael. Frustrating and enigmatic as this material is, I can't escape the feeling that there's something of importance here.

Michael,

These posts about Flint continue to be of significant interest. Thank you!

Eric wrote,

||Based on these accounts, Flint sounds like a lousy medium at best and most likely a stage show fraud. Compared to the detailed personal info that came to me - despite total anonymity - at two sitting with Georgia O'Connor, Flint's séance is pathetic.||

Regardless of whether Flint was genuine or not, I think plain ol' mental mediumship is the way to go in the vast majority of cases. Inviting in physical phenomena seems to me to playing with forces that are more or less inappropriate for the task at hand, whereas mental mediumship utilizes the relatively natural relationship of mental and emotional connectedness via psi. That is, asking spirits to connect with us mentally is *relatively* ordinary; asking them to mess with our physical world is relatively strange. The stranger the phenomena one harnesses to a purpose, the more likely, I believe, one is to invite in Trickster forces and thus mischief of various sorts.

||Time to call the Flint mediumship for what it is, bunk perpetrated on people too willing to be and too easily duped.||

Well, it's not all black-and-white, is it? Flint could be a mix of various things, as I've detailed in previous comments.

It definitely is a big mess to figure out, however.

Karl: I think it is only fair if Michael would cover a medium like William Roy at some time on his blog. I think it is likely Flint was probably using similar devices. It must be remembered Flint performed at his own house (a mansion) and was very rich. He was never tested in laboratory conditions.

Karl - it is clear that you have not read previous posts, because then you should have known that Flint was tested very thoroughly by the SPR (not in his mansion) under very strict and humiliating conditions, and also by prof Bennett in the USA.

He also performed in other houses, without any equipment or whatsoever.
He was never ever caught being fraudulent. So please stop saying such baseless assertions!

Smithy

Matt I agree with you. I think there are mental mediums that are pretty convincing these days. I particularly like Christopher Stillar in Canada and George Anderson in the United States there are many others of greater or lesser notoriety. The memorable Christopher Stillar reading was with 'Chad' whose buddy committed suicide.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=chris+stillar&&view=detail&mid=C7C3F78623A7AE573A06C7C3F78623A7AE573A06&FORM=VRDGAR

Stillar identified 'donkey dick' and 'pickles' and other relevant things in their relationship. There is no way that Stillar could have come up with that information by cold, warm or hot reading techniques or searching the internet. Those things were in the mind of Chad perhaps so may be it was just telepathy with the living. I recall that Eleanor Sidgwick, after studying and sitting with Leonora Piper for some time concluded that Piper used telepathy to communicate with the dead. She didn't discount that there was communication with the dead she just didn't think that the dead were actually talking through or writing through Piper. - AOD

I don't think it is true that Flint was very rich and lived in a mansion. At least at the time when Barham's and Stevenson's books were written, he was living in a rented apartment. Barham says he was renting a downstairs room (or perhaps suite) from a landlady who lived upstairs. Stevenson says he lived in a "flat" ( = apartment).

This is an interesting thread to follow. I am amazed at how the same objections keep being put forward - despite those objections having been answered several times here. And I'm even more amazed when, on the basis of those repeated objections, some bright spark rushes in to announce Filint a convicted fraud. I admire and envy your patience, Michael.

The phenomenon occurred when neither Woods nor Greene were present and in a variety of settings over which Flint could not have had any control. Also, to my knowledge, he was never a wealthy man and lived in modest rented accommodation.

The above kind of repetitive objection is the hallmark of the pseudo sceptic and not the honest investigator. I had thought that distinction was, by now, well understood here.

"That is, asking spirits to connect with us mentally is *relatively* ordinary; asking them to mess with our physical world is relatively strange. The stranger the phenomena one harnesses to a purpose, the more likely, I believe, one is to invite in Trickster forces and thus mischief of various sorts." - Matt

I couldn't agree more. IMO, the spirits of the departed are frequently there, with us. We just aren't focused on them most of the time. Those of us who are not mediums may never recognize the connection between them and us.

Physical mediumship seems, as you say, to be superfluous at best. I also think that physical phenomena lends itself not only to spirit tricksterisms, but to all to human trickstership as well. It's easy for a lot of people to be impressed by flying trumpets, ectoplasm, voice boxes and voices, etc. - all of which can be replicated by stage magician tricks. It should be the *quality* of what comes through from spirits that counts; not how dazzling the manifestations are. Whenever I see razzle dazzle, I suspect a con. Nothing on record from Flint suggests quality to me.

I am pretty sure Leslie Flint wasn't wealthy at any stage in his life. Comfortable perhaps. Anyway as an aside, I thought this might be interesting...http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-leslie-flint-1434904.html

That's very interesting Eric. I have read very little from mental mediumship even approaches the evidence that can be provided by the independent direct voice, of which Leslie Flint was but one practioner.

"He also performed in other houses, without any equipment or whatsoever.
He was never ever caught being fraudulent. So please stop saying such baseless assertions!"

Just because he was never caught that does not mean he was not a fraud. No professional magician ever attended one of his séances. It is a well known fact psychical researcher are mostly credulous. It is unlikely the controls employed were tight. Keeping the lights on might be a start!

Are there anything in writing from William Bennett himself or are we left with second hand accounts of his testimony.

Already there has been some dispute whether Flint was wealthy and whether the SPR said the voices was auditory hallucinations. Also there are cases where pre-recorded tapes were presented to new sitters which is suspect by itself. Finally what the discarnate spirits has to say isn't very evident of anything. I don't understand how one just can close the case as being 'proved'

It can be extremely difficult to call a stage magicians tricks. Just see all the trouble Stephen Braude had with the Felix Circle

Just because he was never caught that does not mean he was not a fraud. No professional magician ever attended one of his séances. It is a well known fact psychical researcher are mostly credulous. It is unlikely the controls employed were tight. Keeping the lights on might be a start! - Posted by: Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Ah - there we have our infamous nay-sayer Paul A of Skeptiko again.

Paul - as I have related in earlier postings, there were professor Bennett of Columbia university, together with a member of SPR, who viewed Flint from a distance of two feet using infrared binoculars. They saw that a substance exuded from his ear and formed a big blot on his shoulder - apparently the ectoplastic voicebox.

And also, the controls during the tests of the SPR were very tight, not to say humiliating.

But of course the SPR, as well as Bennet and that SPR gentleman were extremely gullible stupid fools, weren't they, Paul?

Smithy

Just a few thoughts about what has been said so far about ‘Direct Voice’, in general, over the last couple of weeks. They’re only a few personal observations based on experience of attending a great many DV séances with three different mediums, though mainly in a home circle setting. It is very far indeed from being the full story. Coincidently, recently I’ve been reviewing stereo recordings made by myself or Mike Rogers during many of these séances on behalf of the Noah’s Ark Society (NAS) at various locations during the 1990’s. For the purpose of ease of conversation, we’ll proceed by assuming (all other things being equal) that the phenomenon as witnessed by me was genuinely paranormal; although I must emphasise that my experience of it was not gleaned under anything like ‘controlled’ conditions. That said, I would be grateful if you would all bear in mind that I’m not advocating any hard position about this stuff here. Over the years I’ve got used to being accused by ‘believers’ of being a ‘Skeptic’, and by ‘Skeptics’ of being a ‘believer’. But I do find that increasingly tedious. The only thing I will say in that regard is that there are only a very small number of instances of phenomena that I witnessed during my involvement with physical mediumship that I can, hand on heart, say that I could definitely not have produced by normal means, even with no training as a conjurer. But I don’t think that any conjurer could have produced them under the same conditions either – just my opinion. More of that later, if necessary – but I’ve probably offended binary thinkers from both extremes already with just those two sentences. Indeed, this rather brief tract will inevitably raise as many questions as it answers…not that it’s likely to answer very many.

First, a bit of background: From 1992 to 1998 I was a member of an NAS affiliated home circle for physical mediumship. The aim of a home circle is, basically, to sit at the same day/time, week after week (without fail – apart from an agreed ‘holiday’ period), to see what happens. One does not sit to develop any particular phenomenon, but (usually) if any success is achieved at all, then it starts with the simpler stuff – such as table turning, raps, apparently unaccountable drops in temperature etc. So, most circles start by sitting around a table. If the more advanced phenomena (such as DV) ever do occur then it’s likely to take years and, even after the first occurrences, take years to develop further. At the start, at least, there is usually no ‘medium’, but (according to the Spiritualist interpretation of these things), at some point the person who the ‘guides’ deem to have the most ability for physical phenomena will be isolated, socially and psychically, from the rest of the circle in a ‘cabinet’, and all efforts towards ‘development’ will be concentrated on that individual. With us, we noticed the first signs (barely perceptible high pitched and lisping whispers of indeterminate location) of DV after about eighteen months. That was long before a medium was chosen. Hilariously (after weeks of trying all of us in the cabinet, one by one…the table would indicate whose turn it was), to my absolute horror, that was myself initially – though that’s another story. It was only about three weeks before the ‘controls’ realised they’d made a BIG mistake, and someone else got the job. It took another couple of years after that for the DV to develop to the point where one could make out what was being said clearly. In our case that happened quite suddenly, but only with one communicator at first. Thereafter, although there had been many other examples of purely psychokinetic stuff before the DV started, there were frequently many weeks on end when nothing at all would occur. When phenomena did start up again, then the quality could vary considerably from week to week. When I left in 1998 it seemed like ‘development’ had plateaued. Although I visited two or three times in the years afterwards, it wasn’t until about 2007 (after a long gap) that I found that the quality of the voice phenomena had improved substantially, although the content was always extremely shallow and platitudinous. It is definitely worth pointing out here that I did uncover one example of brazen fraud at that circle – though not in relation to the voice phenomena.

In addition to that, during the same period, I sat with Colin Fry many times – including his home circle on one occasion. I sat with Stewart Alexander on only three occasions – at big NAS membership seances. In both cases, direct voice and/or mere ‘trance’ (the communicator uses the medium’s own vocal apparatus) were a central part of the proceedings. I am aware of the infamous ‘trumpet incident’ in relation to Fry, BTW. Although that was a good while before I’d joined the NAS, naturally, I’ve spoken to a few people who were present at the event. I won’t offer any comment on that for the moment, other than to say that Fry’s voices never employed the trumpet at all on any occasion when I was present. So, with Fry, it was always ‘independent direct voice’ when I was there. With Alexander, though, trumpets (two) were employed for the quieter, allegedly less experienced, communicators. In both cases I was often involved in setting the séances up – especially when I was on audio recording duties, when I needed unrestricted access to place microphones, tape cables to the floor etc.

So, now we’ve got all that out of the way, what have I got to say about what has been said about direct voice (mainly in relation to Leslie Flint), so far? Forgive me if I missed anything but (without rereading it all), I think these are the main points raised or implied: -

1) The voices usually seem to share characteristics with the medium’s voice, or with each other: I’d say, most definitely, ‘yes’, but not always. For example, the first time I sat with Fry (at the home circle) I could discern little, if any, similarity between the voices of the various communicators. And there was only some similarity, to the ear, with Fry’s own voice and that one of the communicators… a ‘control’ by the name of ‘Dolly’ (allegedly an entertainer and female impersonator during life) who had an extremely camp manner of speech. Colin had a similar manner – but much less brash, and ‘Dolly’ did not exhibit some of Collin’s other speech characteristics as I remember them. However, on other occasions, there definitely were similarities between the speakers though not, to my ears, with Fry himself so much. I’m thinking specifically of ‘Dolly’ and ‘Daphne’ (allegedly a former teacher at a girls’ school). The other day I listened to a recording of that home circle meeting of Fry’s that I attended, and I could not discern obvious similarity between the two. But a recording of a séance given on another occasion revealed a definite likeness. There were other examples.

2) The voices always usually seem to come from the medium, or where the medium is supposed to be situated: I’d say ‘yes’, but not always. At the home circle - yes, but less often. Even at the home circle I had the experience occasionally (as with Mary Rose Barrington – mentioned earlier) of suddenly hearing one of the voices, for a brief time, seemingly coming from a location nowhere near where the medium was situated. On one of these occasions the red light was switched on.

3) The voices were often stylised: Again – ‘yes’, but not always (anyone see a pattern starting to emerge, yet?). One would get: archetypical Old Bloke; Squeaky-Voiced child – ‘hello Mr Steve’; Slightly Frumpy Old Posh Woman – etc. However, with Fry, there were a few occasions when I heard someone allegedly speaking whose voice I was familiar with: Ironically, Leslie Flint was one, if only because of the recordings. Flint (whose deceased partner ‘Bram’ spoke when I was present at Fry’s circle to someone who knew him well – for around fifteen minutes) turned up at a Fry séance in Cardiff in 1997 and spoke to George Cranley (aka ‘Zerdini’), who knew Flint well. It sounded very like Flint to my ears, and he spent most of the conversation lambasting platform mediums – saying, in effect, that from his new perspective, they were even worse than he’d thought whilst on Earth. But, most notable of these (at the same séance, I think) was a lady who I’d met briefly at the 1996 NAS seminar in Cardiff. I had no idea that she’d passed away when she spoke to several friends, in quite detailed fashion, at a Fry séance one year later. I remembered her heavily accented (Peak District) voice particularly well because she’d upbraided me the year before for crossing my legs during a séance (it blocks the ‘energy’, don’t you know?). She was much quieter than the regular speakers, but it did sound very like her.

4) The voices reveal little (if anything) in the way of real, detailed, evidence of identity: Emphatically ‘yes’. It was a constant frustration to me that recipients of communications from deceased parties known to them did not go to much, or any, effort to obtain good evidence of identity from the latter. I certainly would have done, but I never found myself in that position, unfortunately. However, there were apparent exceptions when I was present; but, although the recipients that I spoke to seemed quite happy with the information imparted, I felt (in every case) that Colin had probably met the deceased party, and I had no way of knowing whether the information given might have been known to him. The only exception was an occasion, at which I was not present, when my good friend David J Nicholls sat with Fry after framing a specific question in his mind to his deceased father about a very detailed and intimate family issue. Someone, a man, tried to speak, but gave up after much gurgling, squeaking and choking – common with inexperienced DV communicators. Then a pair of hands grabbed David’s and attempted to trace the answer on his palm. When that failed to satisfy David, the answer was spelled out slowly and laboriously in coded raps. According to David, the answer was correct both in detail and context. The first names of both parties involved in the issue were given, with specific advice, and there was, according to David, absolutely no possibility that Fry could have obtained the information by normal means. There is a full account of this in ‘PSI Researcher’ (May 1996, pp.18-19).

5) There appears to be confusion over whether the voices are issuing from the medium’s own vocal apparatus: Yes, there were quite a few occasions when I suspected this, and sometimes it was confirmed by the voices. With both Fry and Alexander, the voices would seem to come from a few feet away from where the medium was sitting. At other times they seemed to come from where the medium was located. Just yesterday I was listening to a recording of an Alexander séance where ‘Christopher’ (an alleged child control) pointed out that he was only speaking through the medium (i.e. using his mouth) at that moment. At one Fry séance I complimented ‘Dolly’ on the quality of the DV that night only to be told ‘…what do you mean? I’ve got form, you know! Play your cards right, and I’ll come over and give you a feel’, and he did. On another occasion I saw Fry manifesting ‘Magnus’ in broad daylight at the SAGB – and there was no discernible difference in the voice characteristics to when Magnus was, supposedly, speaking via DV.

6) The voices seemed to be ‘fishing’ at times: Again, yes. I also have noticed that with the Flint recordings. I didn’t notice it so much either at our the home circle or with Fry or Alexander; it was merely the case that most of the communications were shallow and the sitters failed to pursue the matter. With this, again, I’d say that it was the prime responsibility of the recipient to seek verification of ID from the communicator. Both David Nicholls and myself advocated such an approach in the pages of the NAS ‘Newsletter’ and received quite a lot of criticism for our trouble. In fairness, very many of the DV speakers who were allegedly making their first, and usually only, attempts of speaking seemed to have extreme difficulty with the exercise. We were told constantly by the controls that we had no idea how difficult communication via any medium is. A frequent complaint was that they could not hear themselves, or think clearly whilst attempting to speak. But in fairness, again, as I have mentioned; when David Nicholls encountered that problem, and persisted, he got the desired result eventually; it’s just that the information did not come via DV. That was the only time David ever sat with Fry and he made the most of it. I have little doubt that his attitude caused at least some disapproval on the part of the other (Spiritualist) sitters. But neither David, or myself, could ever understand why one could accept a gurgled “I’m very happy” on its own as being evidence that one was speaking to, say, one’s deceased mother.

The upshot of all this is that, from my perspective, everything that everyone has said about Direct Voice (and physical mediumship in general), both here, and elsewhere (advocates and critics, alike) is true…up to a point. But listening to any recording of a séance (or several), or even attending one, (or several); it needs to be borne in mind that you are only looking at what is akin to one or two frames of what is really a very long movie. Even assuming that you have reason to think there is anything ‘genuine’ about the phenomena in the first place, the reality is that the entire plot, even within the few frames you are considering, is incredibly nuanced – socially, psychologically and (perhaps) psychically. If you want logical possibilities of fraud, then you will find them everywhere; signs of genuineness – the same. And even a measure of ‘scientific control’ over a long period might only lead to what Donald West, in relation to the ‘Scole Report’ referred to as ‘sterile debate’.

Here is a thing people might be interested in, specifically a dissection of articles published by the Freedom From Religion foundation which demonstrate an utter lack of actual research: http://das-sporking.livejournal.com/1345497.html

Steve Hume,

That is great information. Thanks so much!

Matt

No problem, Matt. You're very welcome!

Mickey's voice alone tells me Flint is a fraud. He's a horrible ventriloquist. Mickey sounds exactly like a grown man trying to sound like a young boy. No one even mentions this obvious tactic. I wonder why so many people are prone to either believing Flint in the face of that or bothering to rationalize his information when his credibility was lost on the blatant witnessing of that piece of information.

Perhaps because he was rigorously tested. Did you miss that bit?

"Perhaps because he was rigorously tested. Did you miss that bit?"

Almost everyone here has, apparently, missed that bit, Paul. The blog has asserted its credibility by casting doubt upon the Flint material.

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