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This post is already very long, but there's one thing I probably should have added. Abbott sincerely believed he had explained the voices; it was only the messages they communicated that left him unsettled. The voices, he thought, had been thoroughly debunked.

Yet it should be clear that his explanation of the voices as coming from Mrs. Blake's ears is completely implausible. How on earth could anyone force articulate speech through the eardrums? And how could this speech possibly be loud enough to be heard at a distance?

If his debunking of the "voice" aspect of Mrs. Blake's mediumship is unsatisfactory, it raises the question of how many of Abbott's other debunkings were similarly far-fetched. Abbott is famed for having exposed many fake mediums, but were his exposures in other cases as dubious as the bizarre pseudo-medical explanation he provided in this one?

More generally, how much of the phenomena of physical mediumship have been debunked in just such a questionable manner?

When Skeptics say that an investigator has debunked or exposed a medium or psychic, it is worth looking closely at the actual debunking to see if it really holds up. Sometimes it will; sometimes it won't. Not every debunking is conclusive, even if it's presented that way.

This is a trend I've seen in pseudo-skeptics before: when they come across something they cannot explain in any satisfactory manner, they seemingly try to forget that it ever happened, select even the flimsiest answer that would make even Spock roll his eyes (producing voices through the eardrum?), or giving a non-answer that the phenomina is easily debunked... which begs the question of if it is so easily exposed as a fraud, why haven't they done it?

To be fair, though, everyone engages in this kind of self-deception with anything we don't like, spiritual or otherwise. Sometimes filtering out something that would cause our entire world view to implode can make it easier to digest later on, and avoid a complete mental breakdown that would ensue if we realized that so much we believed to be true was, in fact, a lie. But to those on the outside, it can be baffling why something so intriguing or seemingly airtight can be so ignored so easily.

Clear, concise assessment, Michael, and very interesting to boot! Whenever I read such accounts of sceptical inquiries I have to adjust my reality button to 'boggle threshold' just to follow the argument put forward. It reminds me of the scientists who claimed that heavier-than-air flight was impossible - whilst, presumably, ignoring the migrating geese flying overhead.

Why would anyone of sound mind wrangle with such people? Why do we wrangle with the same kind of willful stupidity that we see expressed here and elsewhere by fundamentalist sceptics? I'd just as soon waste my Sunday morning arguing with a Jehovah's Witness.

That aside, there was one evidential point that hit home with me and that's the blue light that was mentioned. As I've said here before, I recognise that phenomenon and have seen it often.

BTW, have you come to any kind of personal judgement on the Flint material yet?

I think "coming from her ear" doesn't necessarily mean produced by the eardrum. Assuming that there occasions when physical mediumship can produce what is claimed, what often appears to be required seems to be a space of uncertain capacity and darkness,

David Abbott proposed several highly speculative explanations for the precipitated paintings of the Bang Sisters which included hiding an accomplice in the basement of the Bangs sisters' homes and a hidden elevator built into the walls of the 'séance' room, which apparently nobody was able to detect; substituting pre-painted portraits for the blank canvases (At times the Bangs sisters did not know the names of their sitters and/or there were no photographs of the deceased for whom the precipitated paintings were requested. Sitters often brought their own canvases and marked them so they could not be substituted.)

Abbott changed his explanations several times until one came to him in a dream. He published that one and other magicians developed his theory into a stage show. Of course the conditions on stage were not even close to those of the actual sittings with the Bangs sisters. - AOD

Thanks, AOD. I may just have to read Abbott's book on mediums now.

Julie, I still have no final opinion on Flint, and maybe I never will. I've bought his memoir Voices in the Dark, which I intend to read soon, though of course it can't be taken as an objective source. The only conclusion I've come to, so far, is that Flint is not one of the strongest cases I've researched. There are too many doubtful aspects of his mediumship for him to occupy the same category in my mind as Piper, Leonard, Garrett, et al.

Abbott regarded the blue light as an effect "produced by dampening the finger and then touching the dampened portion with the head of a sulphur match." He added that the light on the table was always within Mrs. Blake's reach, and a light seen on the floor was near her husband's big toe. Although he does not say so, he seems to have regarded the husband as an accomplice, and I assume he would say the husband was the source of the "Abe" (spirit control) voice heard in the dark, which was more robust than most of the others.

Paul, you may be right about "coming from her ear," but Abbott definitely meant that the voices were produced by her own efforts, with the aid of a presumably freakish physiognomy, not by any supernatural means.

@michael ah I see. I can't even imagine what he meant by that lol

"Abbott regarded the blue light as an effect "produced by dampening the finger and then touching the dampened portion with the head of a sulphur match." "

Perhaps in the case in question, perhaps not. But that phenomenon has spontaneously appeared in my presence and has been witnessed by others. Both in terms of bright sparks and luminous cloud of vivid colour. So I see no reason for me not to believe the phenomenon was genuine.

As for Flint, I can't escape the feeling that he was genuine.

Michael, I also have no final belief about Flint. I also don't think that he is one of the strongest cases providing evidence of continuing existence of consciousness after death of the body.

I do have an opinion however which I know will cause some people to bristle. The Flint case is unusual because there are many (100s) tapes of voices supposedly of deceased people speaking. Such tapes that are available on the internet apparently were all recorded by George Woods and Betty Greene or Leslie Flint (?). I have not found any tapes recorded by other people but apparently there were/are some according to statements made in various web sites about Flint.. The tapes are very interesting and subject to hearty critique as one would expect.

It is unfortunate that there are not tapes of other direct voice mediums. The Flint tapes subject Flint to ridicule which other direct voice mediums do not have to endure. I have become very impressed with the account by William Usborne Moore of 'Etta' Wriedt's direct voice séances but there are no tapes to evaluate, only information that was published by Moore in his book "The Voices" which I find interesting because according to Moore, Wriedt manifested direct voices from several people at the same time, with and without a trumpet, in the light at times and in the dark; some with whom she conversed. There were also lights and wispy apparitions at her séances according to Moore. I don't believe that there was ectoplasm or full figure materializations of spirits lasting for more than a few seconds. Moore included many strong testimonials of people who had sat with Wriedt and I believe that the ones Moore included in his book were mostly highly favorable. Moore also wrote "Glimpses of the Next State" in which he also provided positive documentation about Wriedt along with others, e.g., Bangs sisters.

I have come to understand that during the heyday of these séances there was, to a greater or lesser amount, people who were strongly opposed to and vehemently vocal about many Christian doctrines and dogmas some of which thinking people still do not accept today, e.g., resurrection of the physical body after eons of sleep, purgatory, condemnation of spirits to hell, ascension of the physical body of Jesus into heaven, harps, golden streets and sitting on a cloud all day adoring and praising God. Such people often acknowledge that they were agnostic, atheist or spiritualists. W. Usborne Moore in "Glimpses of the Next State" spends many pages condemning the Christian dogmas categorizing himself as an agnostic but quite clearly he believed in spirits.

On one of the tapes George Woods and Betty Greene also averred that they were not religious but were spiritualists.

Surprisingly Charles Darwin, states early on his "Descent of Man' that one of his two goals in developing his theories about evolution, natural selection and sexual selection was to destroy the idea of a Creator as espoused in the Christian Bible. (Sorry I don't have the direct quote with me. but I found it interesting to know what motivated Darwin from the very beginning; rather than let the facts speak for themselves.) The spiritualist's concept of an after life was more like an earth life and therefore more understandable and comforting to those who could not accept a fundamentalist Christian view.

What I mean to say is that there were apparently some people vehemently promoting spiritualism ( not Darwin) who were opposed to the Christian view of spiritual life. I think that the desire to destroy the Christian view of heaven motivated and energized people like George Woods, Betty Greene and yes, even William Usborne Moore (whom I do respect) to doggedly and energetically promote a spiritual life of their making even to the extent of faking, when necessary, evidence for its existence. That is not to say that I think that all of the reported 'evidence' of direct voice was fake but in order to promote a proper and just cause as perceived by those involved in direct voice séances anything was fair game to accomplish their goal. Betty Greene is heard to say that she wanted it known that , "Those lovely souls from the spirit world have not come through just for our benefit, but to give a message to the world, and they are relying on us to pass that message on through the medium of the tapes, and they are determined that people should receive them." (That is quite a charge for Greene and Woods to be directed by the spirit world to spread the message of spiritualism.)

George Woods had this to say about Betty Greene,"She gave up 27 years of her life working with me in research, proving survival, that all life lives beyond the grave, and helping me to spread these good tidings [of great joy] throughout the world. Never at anytime did she think of herself, but worked over those years in forwarding this glorious truth, without a break or time for a holiday; she gave up her whole life, year after year, day by day, in hard work for others, up to the time she was called home to a new life, where she will still carry on serving humanity until the day comes when I shall also be called home to join her in this great work together. When I sat beside her bed in the hospital... she whispered to me, ‘Please carry on this work, George, for there will never be a better world until all the people in it know about a future life.' [Their version of a future life that is!]

In the Flint case I think there may have been a "Group Flint' including Flint, Greene, Woods and perhaps other spiritualists in Flint's circle of friends; kind of like "The Imperator Group" of the Piper sessions that were pledged to promote spiritualism and an afterlife and that the Flint tapes were just an impressive way to market that view.

Of course I don't know if any of the forgoing is reasonable or not but I believe that there was something more going on behind the scenes with the Leslie Flint tapes. It is likely that whatever it was if anything, it will never be known. - AOD

David Abbott was skeptical of physical mediumship and did a good job of debunking the tricks of slate-writing or billet reading feats but he was a believer in psychic powers. He was not an extreme skeptic like other magicians of his era. It is a bit of a straw man to make out he was a total skeptic. I am not sure if people here were under that impression or not.

He was a member of the American Society for Psychical Research. He also endorsed the claims of psychic Gene Dennis.

Search on online for "Gene Dennis" and Einstein, this was the psychic who managed to trick Einstein. Abbott at one point had acted as her personal manager. He believed she had genuine psychic powers.

Abbott's statements about Dennis can be found in his rare booklet "The Wonder Girl", this 32 page booklet was discovered very late, it was only published in 1992. It might be worth tracking down.

Abbott may have come to believe in psychic powers later in life, but at the time he wrote about Mrs. Blake, he did not. He says at one point in his monograph that he gives no credence to claims of clairvoyance or similar abilities.

As for Einstein, it's not clear that he ever endorsed Gene Dennis. He did meet her and had his photo taken with her, but the quote attributed to him is disputed. See the third story at this link:

https://newrepublic.com/article/119292/controversy-einsteins-endorsement-psychic-upton-sinclair-defends

Einstein had some slight interest in ESP, and wrote a cautious preface to Upton Sinclair's "Mental Radio," in which he recommended further study but did not endorse Sinclair's conclusions.

Michael,

Thank you. You put so much work into these posts, and they are extremely informative and well-written.

This is a classic case of Skeptical reasoning. I'm curious how an unsophisticated woman before the year 1908 (when the book was published) who probably didn't even have easy access to a telephone could "secure in advance" any kind of information.

But here's the Skeptical con. Abbott at least takes the case serious enough to try to come up with horsehocky explanations for what he witnessed. But then *later* Skeptics will do as Ian said above and "seemingly try to forget that it ever happened." So it's, Herp derp, that was so long ago, and it was probably nothinggg... Just forget about ittt...

So, just deny the evidence, and eventually the sands of time will cover it over. Clever.

"He says at one point in his monograph that he gives no credence to claims of clairvoyance or similar abilities."

I think that sentence speaks volumes!

I find it interesting that many of the great thinkers of the past had an instinctive feel for psychic phenomena. Two who immediately spring to mind are Jung and Goethe - the latter being the author of one of my all time favourite quotes:
"The future casts its shadow before it."

From as far back as I can remember, I've always had intimations of the future. The self-fulfilling prophecy of an optimistic outlook on life? Perhaps, but I don't think so.

Great post, Michael! Blake sounds like the real deal. Far more convincing than Flint.

I think we can all learn from the mental contortions that Abbot goes through to try to explain away the phenomena that he experiences with Blake. We all do that sort of thing - sometimes as absurdly as Abbot - when out world view is threatened.

Regardless of the mechanics of where the voice in the trumpet came from she was able to produce evidential material that she had no way of knowing beforehand. This is what I find interesting. I could care less about where the voice originated, what interests me is that Mrs. Elizabeth Blake was able to produce such evidential material. Something mysterious was happening.

Michael, Einstein's introduction to Mental Radio is here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=5XT_DAAAQBAJ&pg=PT83&lpg=PT83&dq=einstein%27s+introduction+to+mental+radio&source=bl&ots=KlpTstnQLB&sig=XD6krN1CFBwrmNCuL1V-rhC8bmI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj5__fC4qnUAhUD9GMKHWxdBegQ6AEIRjAH#v=onepage&q=einstein%27s%20introduction%20to%20mental%20radio&f=false

I agree that Einstein is expressing caution, but he does so unconvincingly. His alternative explanation is "some unconscious hypnotic influence from person to person." But since the two experimenters (Sinclair and his wife) were in separate rooms, what would such an "influence" be, if not a form of telepathy?

Seems to me a sloppy statement from such a brilliant mind, and a common pseudo-skeptical tactic—when you have no legitimate alternative, just throw another set of words at the problem.

As I continue to read William Usborne Moore's "The Voices" I read of a couple more interesting things about the séances with Etta Wriedt. Sometimes the voices reportedly occur even when Etta was not in the séance room. Sometimes sitters heard their deceased dogs barking from the hereafter, felt them jump up on their lap and nuzzle their face. Interesting! No?

If Moore's accounts and attestations of Etta Wriedt are accurate then she has got to be the most versatile medium ever. Apparently she facilitated everything except a self-playing accordion a la D.D. Home. - AOD

I just thought I'd offer a few thoughts on some possible ways forward with the question of the genuineness of independent direct voice…given that this discussion seems to have been centered, in its latter stages, around the location of the actual source of the voices themselves. That appears to be, according to subjective earwitness accounts, somewhere close to the mediums’ heads, at least on most occasions. We’ve heard a lot about Flint, but the same has been said about plenty of others –,e.g. Mona van der Watt (http://zerdinisworld.com/?p=336), Gladys Osborne Leonard, etc. But, I'm going to leave the question of the modus operandi (paranormal or otherwise) of the voice production to one side, because it strikes me that we cannot sensibly begin to attempt an explanation for that until the actual sound source location is determined on a case by case basis.

Someone alluded earlier to the possibility of using sound source location technology to settle the question. This is far from being a new idea. To my knowledge it was attempted for the first time with Gladys Osborne Leonard back in the 1930's. A frustratingly short note in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (Vol. 28, 1933-34, pp.88-89.) gives details of experiments carried out with the help of Abbey Road technicians with Gladys Osborne Leonard, who had developed the phenomenon relatively late in her career. They found, using an extremely primitive double microphone array, connected to headphones, that the voice originated from the same location as the medium. However, the system relied on subjective judgement by ear and it was claimed to only be ‘accurate’ to within six inches. The note also admits that listening fatigue could be skewing the listeners' judgements - which is what one would expect. That is pretty hopeless, and (given what is possible today) cannot really be taken very seriously.

We could do much better than that now: 'Acoustic Cameras' (devices that utilise up to 200 miniature microphones and overlay a visual depiction of the sound source over real-time video feed) are used routinely in industry every day for a variety of purposes. They are incredibly accurate. However, they are also incredibly expensive - normally up to around £30,000, although I recently found a relatively 'affordable' system for around £10,000. In case anyone is wondering, the hire cost for only one day is about the same - at least it was when I made serious enquiries a couple of years ago. Professional systems also present one other problem for psi research use, in that they do not provide night vision capability - either infrared, or thermal imaging. That would probably be crucial - for obvious reasons. The only modern attempt at locating the sound of voices in recent times that I’m aware of involved Warren Caylor (http://www.eckhardkruse.net/physmed/index.html?en). But, as this was not done in conjunction with filming, it was rather a waste of time in my opinion, though a worthy and interesting attempt.

Nevertheless, about five years ago I was helping Barrie Colvin to carry out follow up work to his 2010 JSPR paper (Vol. 73.2, April 2010, PP.65-93.) about ostensible paranormal raps. We decided that, for the same basic reasons as with IDV, we needed to locate and document the actual sound source location of any raps that were recorded. After many months of experimentation I managed to design a working 'belts and braces' system involving an array of only three modern studio mic's that would locate the actual sound source (of test raps produced by normal means, in two dimensions…three dimensions would require at least four mic’s) on a séance table with an accuracy of between 1mm and 5cm. The raps were manually (and arduously) plotted on a graph which, when combined with two video feeds (over and under the table) could provide pretty good evidence that the raps were not coming from a medium's hands or the natural creak points of the table – or vice versa. Initial results were promising, but there is still much work that needs to be done: For example, it would be possible to automate the system – but that would take coding time that I just don’t have at the moment.

Indeed, my system is incredibly cumbersome to use and calculating the results is time consuming and could be prone to experimenter bias. It is also the case that sounds with very sharp transients (like raps) are a lot more amenable to accurate manual calculation, by eye from oscilloscope waveforms, than a voice would be – for reasons that I won’t go into now.

Suffice to say, though, after having been involved in attempting to use technology to settle questions such as this, I can say that it is a lot more difficult in practice than most people would assume, I’m sure. And, of course, it’s no use whatsoever having the technology if you’ve got nothing to use it with. We need a new generation of mediums and unbiased researchers to take this forward. That is actually the most difficult issue; but, if it can be addressed at some juncture then, at least, we might reach a point where Skeptics can be given a chance to accuse the researchers of fraud (or incompetence) if the research produces results that they do not like. As it stands, there is so much mutual mistrust between the VERY few mediums available and the research community, that I do not see any developments in this area happening any time soon.

Steve Hume: "We need a new generation of mediums and unbiased researchers to take this forward."
Maybe prof. Schwartz (sp?) in Arizona would be able to get a grant to do this.

"Maybe prof. Schwartz (sp?) in Arizona would be able to get a grant to do this."

Right now, Gary Schwartz seems to be involved mainly in R&D on something called the SoulPhone (a term he has registered as a trademark):

https://www.thesoulphonefoundation.org

This is a proposed apparatus that would facilitate communication with the deceased. Such technologies have been pursued before, notably in the case of the Spiricom device spearheaded by George Meek in the 1970s. They have not met with notable success. Maybe this time will be different.

http://www.worlditc.org/k_06_spiricom.htm

For scientific study of mediumship as such, a better bet right now might be the Windbridge Institute:

http://www.windbridge.org

Thanks Roger and Michael.

Various funding options were considered a few years ago (including an SPR grant). But I wouldn't encourage anyone to spend that amount of dosh unless I was certain that it was going to be used productively. At the moment, because of the factors I mentioned, there has to be some doubt as to whether that would be the case.

Still, as with all technology, there is probably scope for prices to come down a lot more. In the meantime, I was discussing the possibility of building a more sophisticated system with a work colleague today. It's certainly feasible. It would just take time...and probably involve use of a lot of Anglo Saxon expletives at times ;)

Thank you for the write up. I haven't had known much about Flint until now.

However, lately I have been in doubt about the genuineness of mental mediumship, even if they are highly specific and not easy to guess. For example, I've been watching some performances by the mentalist Colin Cloud, who is able to guess things like a number sequence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu_N-9SSq0k
), specific phrases (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRm6Lr0ax6A
), and others (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxqWst4PaHE
). Some of his hits, like guessing random occupations and names and exotic pets, definitely look like they could rival those of some of the best mediums like Piper or Leonard. He also doesn't do much fishing, and the information he collects beforehand does not appear to be very indicative of the actual answers which he does succeed in getting. In most of the cases there don't appear to be possibilities of stooges.

As such, I am no longer sure that even the most thoroughly studied mediums are genuine, even if they appear to be, seeing how accurate and specific at least this one mentalist is able to get. What do you think?

Has Colin Cloud be tested under controlled conditions? I don't think performances in a venue that he himself controls can prove much.

Piper, for instance, had to do readings for people she had never met, who came to her under assumed names, whose visits were not known in advance, and who didn't enter the room until after she was in trance. She was brought to England to do readings for people who had never even been to America, and whose names she didn't know.

Gary Schwartz tested mediums who had do a reading over the phone, speaking to someone they could neither see nor hear, whose identity was unknown to them and even unknown to Schwartz at the time (the call was placed by computer, choosing a number at random from several possible options).

If Cloud can perform under these circumstances, I'm sure there are researchers who would love to have him do so. No mentalists were willing to work with Schwartz after they learned what the test conditions were.

M.R.

I wouldn't count any of the types of information you mention as being especially evidential of post-mortem survival, simply because they could all be obtained by either hot/cold reading or many other tricks employed by mentalists. It's always amused me that people are impressed by, say, a medium giving the full name and address of the deceased party...stuff like that, to me, under most circumstances, is rather suspicious. What I would count as, perhaps, evidential is finely detailed information concerning bizarre, obscure events only known by either the deceased and the recipient; or (better still) not known to the recipient because the events happened, for example, before they were born and require confirmation from a much older relative. If the information is relayed without any fishing around, or leading questions, or any signs of any sort of routine, with a medium you've never met before...then so much the better. If you've booked the sitting under a false name (or have taken other measures), then better still.

I've had, literally, hundreds of 'messages' from mediums over the last 40 years or so. And I can count the number that reach that standard on one hand. Very high quality mental mediumship is exceptionally rare, in my experience.

I don't think he's done controlled condition tests, but the conditions do seem to preclude stooges or prior research. I am not sure where the limits of deductive reasoning would be, so I still have some worries about fully accepting mediums. A lot of the work done with Piper, Leonard, etc. appear to be beyond deductive reasoning to me, but they might not be to a true master of the craft.

Would you happen to know of any proxy sittings with Piper? I am aware of the ones done with Leonard, but I am having a hard time locating those done with Piper.

M. R. check out Ivor Lloyd Tuckett's book, he debunked Piper's mediumship, concluding it was explained by "muscle-reading, fishing, guessing, hints obtained in the sitting, knowledge surreptitiously obtained, knowledge acquired in the interval between sittings and lastly, facts already within Mrs. Piper's knowledge."

Ranger,
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.” John Greenleaf Wittier - AOD

I'm not familiar with Tuckett's objections, but I understand they are summarized and addressed by Walter Franklin Prince* in one chapter of his book "The Enchanted Boundary." The complete book is available to read online or download at this link:

https://archive.org/details/1930PrinceTheEnchantedBoundary

I've put the book on my Kindle and will take a look as time permits.

*Thanks to Amos Oliver Doyle for noticing that I originally mistyped Prince's name as Pierce.

Thanks Michael for the link to the book "The Enchanted Boundary" by Dr. Walter Franklin "Pierce" (I think this typo should be 'Prince'). I for one would never want to tangle with Dr. Prince in any argument. His investigations , including the one of Pearl Curran and Patience Worth are beyond reproach. He had a gentlemanly way of getting his thoughts across without being crude, crass or insulting to his opponents.

After completely rebutting several of Dr. Tuckett's criticisms of Leonora Piper, Dr. Prince, true to form wrote,"One gets the impression that he [Dr. Tuckett] is an earnest soul, without malice and meaning well. But out of the innocence of his amateur quality and out of that other quality, which if noted in another he would call bias, and which at all events causes him to flit and dip as selectively over a field of evidence as a bumble bee over a field of flowers, he derives paradoxically, his superficial appearance of effectiveness."

One can't help but admire Dr.Prince's cool head and intelligent wit when he confronts a foe. - AOD

I’m sure M.R. and everyone else would be fascinated to see everything that Lloyd Tuckett has to say about the ASPR/SPR research into Mrs Piper. If only ‘Ranger’ had given us a clue as to the title of the book in question!

But, sadly (in a style reminiscent of our ostensibly departed friend ‘Bill’), ‘Ranger’ has left us with nothing but a brief quote that amounts to no more than an unqualified bald statement masquerading as proven fact. So we’ll just have to assume that Tuckett’s ‘The Evidence for the Supernatural: a critical study made with "uncommon sense”’, published in 1911, is the book referred to.

I know that ‘muscle reading’ was considered and accounted for by the studies in question (e.g Richard Hodgson writing in ‘Proceedings’ VIII, 1892, p.8)). So despite not having read Tuckett’s book, I’d be willing to predict that contemporary reviewers who were more familiar with the Piper studies than him gave it short shrift for being shallow, badly researched, selective and ignorant. I seem to recall (thank you Michael), that Prince does the same, and I’ll refamiliarise myself with his book later.

Oh my! A review from ‘The Journal of the Society for Psychical Research’ (May 1912), just appeared – as if by magic (yawn, I really need to get out more)…

“THIS book is disappointing. A rumour—perhaps false—preceded it that Dr. Tuckett considered that he had demolished the work of the S.P.R. We therefore awaited the appearance of the book with a little anxiety and a good deal of curiosity, thinking he might have discovered weak points in our treatment of psychical research which had escaped our own notice. It turns out, however, that he mainly addresses himself to readers of such works as Mr. Beckles Willson's Occultism and Common Sense or the popular psychic treatises of Mr. Thomson Jay Hudson, and his treatment of his subject is correspondingly superficial.

Dr. Tuckett does not appear to have much acquaintance at first hand with the work of our society, but he has devoted a long appendix to criticism of the first Report on Mrs. Piper—that in Vol. VI. of the Proceedings, which gives an account of her English sittings in 1889—which he selected for careful reading. He classifies and discusses weak points which he observes in the evidence given in this report, but they are weak points which we have never overlooked and therefore add nothing to our knowledge. The newest thing in his treatment of S.P.R. evidence is an attempt in this appendix to show that bias in the estimation of evidence has been exhibited by the founders of the Society generally, and by Mr. Myers, Professor William James, Dr. Hodgson, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Leaf, Mr. Piddington and Mr. Podmore in particular. Whether he succeeds in this we must leave his readers to judge, but we may readily agree with him (p. 354) that " However much we may think we are on our guard against the fallacies connected with [bias], we are still liable to be its victims. This is true of every human being"— including, as Dr. Tuckett would fully admit, himself.

He concludes his review of Mrs. Piper's case by "a few remarks about cross-correspondences," although, as he admits, he has "not made any detailed study of the subject." His limitation of his study of Mrs. Piper to her earlier sittings has led him into an amusing slip, for he assumes that as there was contact in these there was also contact later, so that muscle-reading will explain some successes in 1907. This is typical of his somewhat loose method of dealing with the evidence.

Dr. Tuckett's main aim is to show that supernormal explanations of phenomena are often adopted on insufficient grounds. This naturally leads him to choose weak cases as illustrations; but unfortunately he then seems sometimes to confuse them with strong ones. With the aim itself the S.P.R. has no quarrel, but it is to be regretted that a man with a scientific training which might have enabled him. to deal usefully with the subject should have undertaken the task without adequate information. In the absence of this his criticisms fail to have any real value. E. M. S.”




You go there girl! (E.M.S. = Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick) - AOD

Steve of course the Society for Psychical Research that you belong to are not going to say anything positive about an entirely skeptical book on parapsychology! Why would they?

Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick was not alone, there are many other negative reviews for Tuckett's book written by SPR members. I have read them all only Dr. Prince's criticisms were worth reading.

But if we look in the The Lancet, this is a top quality peer-reviewed medical journal there is an entirely positive review for Dr. Tuckett's book (a link to this can be found on Ivor Lloyd Tuckett's Wikipedia entry), likewise the British Medical Journal was also positive even suggesting that Tuckett had entirely 'underminded' the telepathy hypothesis for Piper's mediumship. Both reviews say it is a 'balanced' book and recommends it for professional psychologists.

All the science journals positively reviewed Tuckett's book back in the day. Lets not forget that.

It is not as good as Donovan Rawcliffe's "The Psychology of the Occult" though. Rawcliffe actually considered his own book a successor to Tuckett's. You might want to check that book out. Even a believer like Eric Dingwall had good things to say about it.

I suspect that both Lone Researcher and Ranger are a troll named Forests who has caused much havoc on this and other paranormal sites. Forests has a particular penchant for turn-of-the-century skeptical literature. He uses a dynamic IP address and a variety of pseudonyms and email addresses, all so that he cannot be blocked. He has a superficial knowledge of the subject at best, isn't concerned with intelligent debate, and wants only to stir up trouble. His destructive antics were largely responsible for my decision to impose comment moderation on this blog.

I plan to relegate any further posts that appear to come from Forests to the spam folder, regardless of what alias he uses.

Written under a section called “Annotations”, the Lancet article referenced in ‘WakyWiki’ recommending a read of Tuckett’s book is a short one and a third column by an anonymous author. To use today’s vernacular it is a “Nothing Burger”. It doesn’t even make sense in some parts. But, what can one expect as a reference used by those who concoct articles in . . . well, I can’t bring myself to mention the name again. - AOD

Thanks Michael/Amos. 'Nothing Burger' (lol). I was going to check that out myself. I've never heard that term before, but it is what I'd expected to find. Of course, the reviewer was probably even more ignorant of the research than Tuckett. Sigh!

Of course, EMS was one of the most gifted critical thinkers of her generation. You've gotta laugh.

Steve Hume,
Apparently I am one of the few 'believers' who appreciates Eleanor Sidgwick's report and evaluation of the "misses" of Leonora Piper as published in the Journal of the SPR. Perhaps Mrs. Sidgwick is under-appreciated by some who want to 'poo-poo' anyone who criticizes Mrs. Piper. Eleanor Sidgwick was a smart woman, far ahead of her time perhaps and I value her insights into Mrs. Piper's séances. - AOD

Michael

Is Forests the same person as Bill? Isn't this the same person who has written most of the Wikipedia articles claiming all mediums are frauds?

I doubt that Forests is Bill. Bill is considerably more knowledgable and has a better command of English. He also is capable of carrying on an intelligent debate.

As for the Wiki articles, I think they are probably the work of many hands. There is a whole movement calling itself "guerrilla skepticism" that is devoted to this sort of thing.

"Mrs. Piper. Eleanor Sidgwick was a smart woman, far ahead of her time perhaps and I value her insights into Mrs. Piper's séances." - AOD

Absolutely, Amos!

"As for the Wiki articles, I think they are probably the work of many hands. There is a whole movement calling itself "guerrilla skepticism" that is devoted to this sort of thing."

And four or five of them were elevated a year or two ago to Wikipedia's Board or to some similar high-level position.

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