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The first advocates of this Witness philosophy are the Jnanas of Vedic philosophy. If you read all of Sri Ramana Maharshi's books (even the rare ones), this modern jnana states very clearly that:

1) he killed himself and that was the moment that he achieved "eternal liberation" by "cutting the knot."

2) Only jnanas can determine if another Brahmin is a jnana since formless awareness, embodied as eternal liberation, is not determined by miracles.

Now I posted this information on the list-serve of Sri Ramana Maharshi's followers and they were very adamant that the jnana achieves eternal liberation when formless awareness "naturally arises."

But many of these people have not studied their gurus' work very closely because Sri Ramana Maharshi is very explicit that as long as the brain creates an I-thought then the practice of self-enquiry or vichara is to seek the source of the I-thought, until the final "knot is cut."

Sri Ramana Maharshi did this after only 9 years in solitude. In my further research I found that the blacksmith shamans were the mediators between the Brahmin priests, who led by ideology, and the traditional tantra shamans, who relied on miraculous results.

What became "western" science was a combination of the left-brain logic of self-enquiry inference (i.e. literally listening to the source of the I-thought) and the symbolic mathematics used for Brahmin ritual sacrifice geometry, from blacksmith shamans.

The blacksmiths were the cast that traditionally had no contact with females, whatsoever, and the blacksmiths would hold the only rituals involving the whole village, wherein the blacksmith shapeshifts into a crocodile to protect the village.

As the "magic" of the blacksmiths became increasingly transferred to the iron-based technology then iron itself became more valuable than silver, originally used for lunar ritual sacrifice. So the Brahmins and the blacksmiths worked together to drive out the matrifocal based horticulture tantra and replace it with a Solar-based left-brain geometric power: Freemasonry.

Science is now channeling the lower spirits of the human astral realm because to become eternal through left-brain logic is literally to bypass all astral realms by embodying formless awareness itself in an UnDead state. Dr. Rodolfo Llinas' recent neuroscience book "I of the Vortex" recreates the original achievement of the Jnana -- only now through biochips that stop the heart so that each human brain can be controlled from outside, even while a person is in the "deep sleep" state.

Very nice, Michael. I think you might have a leg up on this whole thing because of your avocation. :-)

Just thought I would add: Irreducible Mind touches on this in the chapter that discusses multiple personalities -- another great example of what you are describing here.

Michael, I agree that it is all very mystifying, but I also think we have to mske sure that we are on the same page when we talk about "controls." Hodgson wasn't really a "control" in the sense that Phinuit, George Pellew, and Imperator were. The latter all relayed messages for "spirits" unable to take over Piper's "organism." Hodgson needed help at first, but supposedly learned to how to communicate without assistance or without relaying the information through the "control." The true controls were sometimes referred to as "gatekeepers," but there were many times when it appeared that mischievous, low-level spirits were jumping in an impersonating the actual controls. Thus, what you refer to as "obvious artificiality" may very well have been impostor spirits. At one sitting, Imperator warned about these impostor spirits and suggested that any further messages from Pellew should be disregarded as they were likely impostors. Space does not allow me to quote James Hyslop on all of this, other than to say that Professor Hyslop, whose several books suggest a brilliant mind and philosopher, opted for the spirit hypothesis after weighing all the evidence. As I think I have suggested before, I believe this is one of the reasons we don't have that quality of mediumship now, i.e., the low-level spirits were closer in vibration to the medium than the higher ones and could not be controlled adequately by the higher ones.

That is why I also believe the direct voice or independent voice phenomenon offers the best evidence of the spirit hypothesis. The best of these were Etta Wriedt and Emily French. In the direct voice, the medium's body is not controlled or taken over by the communicating spirit. The "control" simply served as the gatekeeper, as indications were that many wanted to communicate but there just wasn't enough psychic force available to let everyone come through. The gatekeeper had to control things. In the direct voice, the voice was often heard to be exactly like it was when the person was incarnate. Conversations were carried on for 15 minutes or longer about things very personal to the sitter and communicator and clearly unknown to the medium. It is very difficult to reconcile the Super ESP or Super PSI theory with the direct voice unless we assume that this "cosmic computer" has the ability to record voices and then carry on conversations. Then again, there is the theory that all those experiencing the direct voice were duped by expert ventriloquists, were mass hypnotized, were hallucinating because of their grief, etc., etc., etc. What to believe? If you haven't read "The Voices" and "Glimpses of the Next State" by Admiral Usborne Moore, I recommend it. They are on line at

I meant to mention above that in a number of cases, the medium, viz. Wriedt, would be talking to someone next to her at the same time the "voices" were conversing with the sitters. At times, two voices would be speaking at the same time the medium was talking to someone. In effect, the medium was supplying most of the ectoplasm for the artifical voice boxes, but was not otherwise participating. She was never in a trance and while darkness resulted in stronger voices, there was often enough light so that the investigators could see what was going on.

If NDE's are to be believed, there is no such thing as "souls", only "soul." The separation we experience in the physical universe doesn't exist in the spiritual universe. - art
from Michelle M's near death experience:
"I remember understanding the others here.. as if the others here were a part of me too. As if all of it was just a vast expression of me. But it wasn't just me, it was .. gosh this is so hard to explain.. it was as if we were all the same. As if consciousness were like a huge being. The easiest way to explain it would be like all things are all different parts of the same body."'s_nde.htm

excerpt from Mellen Thomas Benedict's NDE:
"So the light was showing me the Higher Self matrix. And it became very clear to me that all the Higher Selves are connected as one being, all humans are connected as one being, we are actually the same being, different aspects of the same being."

Thanks, Mike Tymn, for the links. I've downloaded "The Voices." I'm not familiar with Wriedt's mediumship at all.

Michael, the two e-books by Edward Randall at the same site are about the direct-voice mediumship of Emily French, the other person I mentioned being in the Etta Wriedt category. Dr. John King, the Canadian psychical researcher I previously referred to, also had numerous sittings with Wriedt and reports taking every possible precaution to rule out fraud.

George Valiantine was another gifted direct-voice mediumship, but he was the one I mentioned the other day who had an experience similar to "Margery." His toe print showed up instead of the finger print of the person who was supposed to leave it. It has been some years since I read about Mina Crandon, but I assume that there was an intent to compare the finger print in that case and in the Valiantine case with those left by the deceased person. Why, then, would the medium even think about cheating? Would Valiantine really think a toe print would pass for a finger print? But maybe there wasn't an intent to compare with actual finger prints. I don't think it was really spelled out in the reports. Perhaps they just wanted to see if they could get a finger print. I know you don't give much credibility to Colin Fry, but I really believe there might be something to his story that mischievous spirits were behind his supposed hoax. In one of her books, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross discusses a materialization she witnessed in which the medium was found nude on the floor when the lights came on. He was very embarrassed and ran out of the room. I forget the other details but Dr. Ross seemed certain she was seeing and talking with a materialized spirit.

I assume you saw the hokey materialization photos at the e-book site. I've strayed off subject here. Sorry.

Thank you to whoever recommended we read "Dawn of the Awakened Mind," by JSK. Fascinating reading. The two physical mediums John King used were amazing. That's if we believe King. And I find it hard to believe that King was lying or delusional. The details he lists in his book are not easily found in other books. Imagine if all of us could attend a seance where the spirits came through in physical form and provided their own light? And when they left, they dissolved through the floor or turned into a cloud of smoke or melted away right in front of him.

Kings' deceased wife instructed him on who to give her belongings to. And she also told him what NOT to give away. She sounded real to me. Not a persona.

The book is a long one (he's long winded!) and I skipped a lot of it. I concentrated on his descriptions of the seances, which were unlike anything I have ever read on this subject.

The one thing that bugged me is the famous people that supposedly talked to him or materialized. Cleopatra? Othello? Socrates?
And even Jesus (with wounds and all) came through at least once. Hmmmm.

Nice post Michael. You made me think. And it's too late for me to do that now!

I think "Drop-in" communicators are another powerful argument for the spirit hypothesis. It's hard to see how communicators unknown to any of the sitters could give verifiable facts unknown to any living person if they were an artificial construct. The super psi'ers would have to claim that their universal record also deliberately and consciously impersonates dead people to explain away something like the Jacqui Poole case.

Michael what I'm getting at is that the spiritualist mediums were projecting the repressed Other (blacks, orientals, Natives), that science has oppressed through mass ritual sacrifice. In other words science is Freemasonry and the cutting-edge of science always relies on these type of paranormal projections.

Somebody might have mentioned this, and Michael Tymn touched upon a similiar issue, but there's also the view that only part of the "spirit" or "discarnate mind" or whatever, can come through, and that the rest is imagination or super-psi.

So the apparent confusion could perhaps stem from the fact that the mediums' powers aren't strong enough. We also have to remember that properties like time and space perhaps are entirely different in the discarnate realm, if such a realm indeed exists, and that this may complicate things. Now if there is no absolute time, isn't it possible that in fact every "mind" is just an aspect of the collective consciousness in a particular timeframe? That is, "I" am in fact "you", but in another time/space frame.

I do agree that "personality" is probably some kind of construction, and that this may be a valid way of looking at the mediumship phenomena. But it may overlook some important aspects.

Kings' deceased wife instructed him on who to give her belongings to. And she also told him what NOT to give away. She sounded real to me. Not a persona.

The whole point that Michael is making is, that all "persons" are personas.

In a certain way, they are all equally real / unreal. That even goes for "Abby" and "Tess" (wonder how many of Michael's blog readers will get the reference. . .)

Read more about multiple personality syndrome if you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes here. . .

Where' Holden Caufield when we need someone to murder John Lennon?

i think super psi is like a way to get around the survival hypothesis and even a way to ignore it.

super psi- Occam's razor tells us we should adopt it as the preferred hypothesis, given the antecedent unlikelihood of survival (on the basis of biochemical arguments about brain cell destruction at death).

"i think super psi is like a way to get around the survival hypothesis and even a way to ignore it."

That's exactly why it was invented - because certain fpeople couldn't accept anything that flatly contradicted accepted scientific principals. Super psi'ers ancestors told people that the Earth must be flat or we'd all fall off. I think Larry Boy's excellent post above might score closest to the mark and that there probably is some reservoir of knowledge that can be tapped into but this doesn't contradict the survival hypothesis.

William Walker Atkinson -- aka Yogi Ramachakra or whatever -- had me fooled! He gives the best combination of survival after death and nondual formless awareness (except for Master Nan, Huai-chin's books).

Once again I will default to Schopenhauer:

"Schopenhauer’s Kantian and Platonic metaphysics is tempered by its uniquely Buddhistic and Hinduistic, rather than Jewish, Christian or Islamic, concept of the soul’s salvation. The immortality of the soul is understood by Schopenhauer as the indestructibility of Will as thing-in-itself, the pure willing that transcends or underlies the empirical individual willing that Schopenhauer refers to as the will to life. As thinking subjects we are immortal only in the attenuated sense that Will willing purely within us can never be destroyed. When the world as representation in its entirety, including the representing subject’s body, ceases to exist with the passing of the representing subject’s last moment of conciousness, Will as thing-in-itself at the core of each thinking subject alone remains (WWR 2: 215). There is therefore something in each of us that is immortal. The part of us that survives death is not, according to Schopenhauer, as some sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have taught, the personality or self or soul of the thinking subject. It is rather the impersonal Will within, the indestructible thing-in-itself, transcending space, .time and causality, that is in no way part of the world as representation or subject to any sort of change."

Some "residues" from the representations may survive, but the representations are ultimately impermanent.

Occam's Razor is a double-edged blade when we stop to ask why it is easier to accept Super PSI than survival. Clearly, it is a non-mechanistic theory with no foundation beyond the rejection of survival. It suggests a "universal mind," i.e., a God with no afterlife. "The final refuge of the skeptic is the hypothesis that no statement need be attributed to discarnate intelligence if it refers to anything known at the time by anyone on earth," researcher Drayton Thomas once commented of Super PSI.

Interesting excerpt from a seance with D. D. Home, June 28th, 1871:

Mrs. Humphrey: "Who is it who is now speaking?"
Dan: "It is not one spirit in particular. It is a general influence. It requires two or three spirits to get complete control over Dan. The conditions are not very good tonight."
Mr. Crookes: "Can you tell me what these conditions are that you speak of? If we knew what they were we might assist."
Dan: "That is a matter in which we cannot help you much. There are comparitively few spirits who are able to communicate at all with you. They are constantly working and experimenting to try and render the communication easier. They practise on some of you when you are asleep and in that way your dreams are influenced. Sometimes they think they have found out some of the conditions which will lead to success, and the next time something occurs which shows them that they know scarcely anything about it. It is like trying to get a wayward child to do what you wish."

Crookes and the Spirit World, p. 190

For the record, I'm not arguing in favor of super-psi. I'm arguing that the whole issue of super-psi versus genuine communications may be based on a false premise.

The problem of the authenticity of communicators and controls is vexing indeed, but without going into the question of the bases of our own personas (which creeps me out somewhat) I would like to ask what is to be done with a case such as the series of Dr. Neville Whymant's sittings with George Valiantine. The medium Valiantine has been described as "semi-literate" by Dennis Bradley, who knew him quite well. And Valiantine's mediumship itself came under strong suspicion of fraud in his later years. Yet during the course of twelve sittings held with the learned Dr. Whymant, a man said to have known thirty languages, fourteen languages were spoken. These included the likes of Arabic and Sanskrit, and most astoundingly a dialect of Chinese not spoken for centuries, the communicator claiming to be none other than Confucius himself. The question is, could anyone--let us say the author of suspense novels--create a character (persona)who spoke fluent Arabic (and have the character speak it)if the author did not know a word of Arabic himself? The range of the communicator's knowledge, remember, is supposed to be limited by the range of that of the medium. I must confess, I am vexed.

It suggests a "universal mind," i.e., a God with no afterlife.

I'm not sure where people (including lots of Buddhists and non-duality types) get the idea that "universal mind" means the destruction of the personality upon death. But that's clearly not what is suggested by on the reports of mediums and NDE experiencers.

The idea that Oneness, non-duality and universal mind lead inexorably towards the destruction of all that is personal when the body dies is simply a non-sequiter.

Unique droplets within the "mother-sea", is how I think William James thought of it.

Makes me think of Odo's race in Star Trek Deep Space Nine - Odo being a being of amorphous energy who appeared human but in his true state was liquid and could be Linked (absorbed into) others of his race. He could emerge as a distinct form from that union of beings...

>I would like to ask what is to be done with a case such as the series of Dr. Neville Whymant's sittings with George Valiantine.

Two points.

1. Valiantine's communications, if not fraudulent, could have been produced by ego-personas ("astral shells").

2. Alan Gauld, in Mediumship and Survival, casts doubt on Valiantine, noting that he was caught in fraud. After reporting that one of Valiantine's communicators spoke archaic Chinese, Gauld writes:

"A recording of his 'Chinese' voice had the appropriate intonation, but could not be understood by Chinese speakers, including [the linguist] Dr. Whynant. Valiantine undoubtedly had the gift of catching the intonation and rhythm of various foreign languages, and it was also his habit to repeat the last phrase spoken to him by his interlocutor. The probability seems to be that expectant sitters heard much more in his 'foreign language' utterances than was actually there. Few people realize, perhaps, how prone is the human ear to hear articulate sounds in all sorts of murmurings and stray sounds with the right kind of periodicity ..."

He goes on to describe a session of EVP (electronic voice phenomena) in which "sitters were interpreting as comprehensible whispered words sounds made by their own fingers unconsciously rubbing the case of a small tape recorder (the microphone was integral with the case)."
(pp. 105-106)

I believe that nearly all EVP can be explained in this way. A Web search for "electronic voice phenomena" will provide many audio clips. The ones I've heard have almost always been vague, distorted sounds that could be interpreted as speech by a willing mind.

Whether or not this explanation covers direct voice xenoglossy is debatable, of course.


Come on, Michael. How do we jump from a far-fetched theory to a "probability"? There were much more than the utterances of a few words. My summary of the Whymant case is at To even suggest that Valiantine knew enough of 14 languages to utter a few words is a stretch. Keep in mind that Valiantine did not know Whymant was going to be at the first sitting, and therefore, did not have the opportunity to brush up on his various foreign languages, including some ancient ones. Also, concerning Valiantine, take a look at the case just above the Whymant case (When Scorn Turned to Awe). The fraud allegations against Valiantine are based on the toe-print case, which I previously referred to. I find it difficult to discount the stories of Dennis Bradley and Neville Whymant based on the toe-print incident, which was likely caused by mischievous spirits. As for astral shells, it is my understanding that they have no real intelligence. They are simply fragments and are unable to dialogue with a sitter.

We can debate this all day and nothing will change.

What survives death? Is it an astral shell?
Do we get sucked up into the Universal mind, never to have an independent thought again?
Does Super PSI explain the experiences at seances throughout the years?

What makes up our personalities? Our persona?
Our spirit? These are not questions we can answer. Until, maybe, when we're dead. So I'm not going to spend a lot of time thinking about them. If somebody can tell me how we can prove it, then I'm willing to listen.

In the meantime, why don't we stick to trying to figure out what happened in cases like this?

One of the most convincing proofs of materialization was the following: A lady, whom we understood to be a relative of Col. Bailey, called him up to the cabinet and kissed him; and while he was standing with both arms around her, talking, she dematerialized. This occurred fully three feet from the cabinet, in sight of the audience, a dozen of whom must have been within six feet of the form, and some of them as near the cabinet.

* * * * *

John King reported similar experiences. So, if seances with full materializations and de-materializations in decent light, were occurring in the late 1800s, where was the SPR or ASPR to investigate them? And if these types of things happened back then, why not now?

We need full materializations in good light. When was the last time anything like that was reported? Maybe it will never happen again?

By the way, David Thompson may be coming to the US in 2008. I plan on attending at least one sitting. And I met with Victor Zammit on Thursday. I posted about that in the MP blog entry on the Marcel radio show.

Michael Tymn, do you have a website?

By the way, it's interesting to read John King's book and see him answer the Super PSI critics. That was over 100 years ago and today, we're still no closer to an answer or proof. So let's just stick to ruling out fraud and proving that something paranornal is occurring. That's the most we can do right now.

>In the meantime, why don't we stick to trying to figure out what happened in cases like this?

Thanks for the advice, but I generally cover what interests me on this blog. If ego-personas interest me more than materializations, then that's what I'm going to write about. Anyone is free to start their own blog, though, and I will be sure to mention it and provide a link.

>Michael Tymn, do you have a website?

He has two. One here:

And one here:

Unfortunately Michael (Tymn), Valiantine was caught out more than just on that occasion. Recall in the Scientific American tests, they rigged the chair so that it would be clear when he was in the chair or out of it -- turned out he was routinely out of it (when he should have been in it) and the times he was out corresponded to the times the effects occurred.

More damaging (from Harry Price's Search for Truth):
Another voice medium was George Valiantine, an American brought over by Dennis Bradley. He was good--but not very--and at one séance at which I was present the composer Arditi 'came through' and said a few simple sentences. I found all these later, word for word, in an Italian phrase-book...One of Valiantine's spirits slipped-up badly. A 'Dr.Barnett' 'came through' with an urgent spirit message for me from '31, Scot's Avenue.' This conveyed nothing to me. I had never heard of Scot's Avenue. But I later discovered that the only 'Harry Price' then listed in the London Telephone Directory lived at 31, Scot's Avenue, Croydon. As the reader knows, I live in Sussex.

However I agree the Confucius thing is much more impressive and even H.P. agrees so and mentions it in his Fifty years of Psychical Research.

BTW, another case you might be interested in, along similar lines, is reported by Carrington in his "Psychic Oddities". I have no idea how to source these hard-to-find books but you bibliophiles surely can. He mentions Frederic H Wood's books "After Thirty Centuries", "Ancient Egypt Speaks", "The egyptian miracles" and goes on to say: In this case, the seemingly correct pronunciation of many
Egyptian words was given- which even Egyptologists did not know. Questions were
carefully prepared in Egyptian by a noted scholar, and read aloud to the entranced medium. Immediate and appropriate
answers were at once given - in the same language. Much additional material was obtained. Phonograph records were
made of these sittings, enabling them to be studied afterwards.

[Would love to hear them!]

I disagree on EVP Michael I once saw a episode of a haunting on the discovery channel this guy named edward and two house maids were Clearly heard through the tape recorder. The Pye Records as well i think are exceptional evidence for the survival hypothesis. I was watching closer to truth the episode Do Brains Make Minds? Dr. John Searle said that he seen no data of out of body consciousness and of a soul. Dr.Barry Bernstein was also on there a member of the skeptical inquirer he said a good reason for believing that the brain generates or produces consciousness is because when you are a baby once you get older new mental abilities come along like language and that language is very important in love,politics,government,education etc.] Dr. John Searle said anytime he questions that the brain does not have a change mental states all he has to do is take a aspirin.

All persona’s I suspect are ultimately thought forms, bundle of thoughts, flow of thoughts, conscious aspects of the absolute, but these thought forms known to us as personalities appear to perceive themselves as separate “self’s” in physical form and in astral or spirit form.

How else could an infinite “oneness” experience, share, or know itself without creating/manifesting personas that have an innocence of their true identities?

Michael, look what I found in RIP (1972) , in the article THE USEFULNESS OF HISTORY of Fraser Nicol (Lexington,Massachusetts

"Many examples of erroneous parapsychological history are available.I have selected one as an illustration.At a sitting with the medium Mrs.Piper in 1909, Professor G.Stanley Hall asked the medium's "Hodgson" control to produce his niece Bessie Beals.The "niece" thereafter made a brief appearance as a communicator. Subsequently Hall said he had no such niece--the name was a pure invention. Since that time numerous writers have repeated Hall's story.An examination of the evidence, however, shows that Hall concealed some of the facts in the case, and that there was indeed a person named Bessie Beals who was not without significance in the matter."

Best wishes,

Leo, skeptics are constantly whacking at the straw man of brain state by saying things like, "If I want proof that the brain generates the mind, I just take a shot of tequila." It's a meaningless argument, because no one (at least I think no one with a modicum of sense) is arguing that the brain has nothing to do with mental function. Of course it does. The position of many of the scientists who disagree with the reductive approach to brain/mind is that the brain is intimately involved in channeling and processing the essence of mind, but Mind itself is sourced from somewhere else. I liken it to a computer accessing the Internet. You need a PC (or in my case and the case of anyone with any taste, a Mac) to access the Internet, but the Internet itself is somewhere else.

Professor James Hyslop blamed William James for promulgating the Super PSI or "cosmic reservoir" theory. James apparently got the idea from Thompson Jay Hudson and some French writers. "Now Professor James had no evidence whatever for the existence of any such cosmic reservoir," Hyslop wrote in 1918. It was pure imagination, an irresponsible invention without defense or apology for itself, and then relied on analogies which do not apply to the problem. You cannot invent hypotheses in this or any other field...Professor James is thus in an a priori wilderness of impenetrable density and complexity, with all sorts of assumptions and analogies without evidence and without intelligibility Ther was no scientific excuse whatsoever for advancing such an hypothesis. It only fools the groundlings and does not deceive intelligent scientific men."

vitor could you provide a link to the article you mentioned. thanks

it appears that once again data was fudged to support a belief.

this sounds a lot like the bridey murphy reincarnation case. debunked with false or incorrect evidence and later found that the experts were wrong. and it appears that one of the debunkers even lied.

William, the article is not online, is only in the journal Research in Parapsychology. Unfortunely the author don't mention the Bibliography.

Here is the full article:

Fraser Nicol (Lexington,Massachusetts)
Hegel is reported to have said "What do we learn from history?We learn from history that we do not learn from history."If it is true that in parapsychology we do not learn from history as much as we ought to,there are honorable reasons for this ignorance.When Myers wrote his classic volume Human Personality,he had to have a good working knowledge of approximately 70 volumes of psychical journals in several languages,in addition to a modest number of books.To cover the history of our field today,I estimate that one would be required to have at least a fair knowledge of 800 volumes of journals and perhaps an equal number of books.The ordinary practi¬tioner of parapsychology cannot be expected to get on speak¬ing terms with so great a mountain of information.But even if there are honorable reasons for our neglect of history,the penalties are severe.I would like in this paper to show how historical facts have been misrepresented, to illustrate how progress has been retarded by our neglecting to use the available knowledge from the past,and finally to propose a remedy.
Many examples of erroneous parapsychological history are available.I have selected one as an illustration.At a sitting with the medium Mrs.Piper in 1909, Professor G.Stanley Hall asked the medium's "Hodgson" control to produce his niece Bessie Beals.The "niece" thereafter made a brief appearance as a communicator.Subsequently Hall said he had no such niece--the name was a pure in¬vention.Since that time numerous writers have repeated Hall's story.An examination of the evidence, however, shows that Hall concealed some of the facts in the case, and that there was indeed a person named Bessie Beals who was not without significance in the matter.
Next, I will describe several examples of early research achievements and observations which would have facilitated investigation in many areas if modern para-psychologists had been aware of them.
THE SPHYGMO-GRAPH.More than 90 years ago Dr.John E.Purdon,an English physician with wide experience in psychical research, performed experiments on percipients and agents which may be described as forerunners of the plethysmograph work done by Figar and others in recent years.Using the sphygmograph to measure pulse rate,Purdon claimed that the rate varied with the success or failure of telepathic transmission.He also believed he had found that if two people in the same room happened to think of the same thing, their sphygmograph records would show it.A self-critical man,Purdon appealed to researchers better equipped than himself to pursue the investigations further.No sustained attempt was made to do so,and for three-quarters of a century his ingenious ideas were lost to history.
CARD GUESSING VIA AUTOMATIC WRITING.This is a case illustrating an "altered state of consciousness. " In 1910 Miss Lisi Cipriani informed James Hyslop that she could clairvoyantly,through automatic writing, guess the order of five letters inscribed on small sheets of paper. Hyslop tested her claim,taking all necessary precautions. Through four laborious sessions he shuffled the target papers; neither party knew the target order until after the lady's hand had recorded her psychic impressions.In 85 sets of the five targets Miss Cipriani obtained 103 hits,which was 21 percent above the chance expectation of 85.The asso¬ciated P-value of . 06 is at least interesting for so small a number of trials.Further,the probability of getting all five targets in a set right by chance is only one in 120; in 85 sets one would hardly expect even one to be right. Miss Cipriani got four sets right (P = .006).
The most interesting aspect of this automatic writing research,however,is the evidence it provided of a struggle apparently going on at some deep level of Miss Cipriani's mind as she tried to get true clairvoyant impressions of the invisible targets.Sometimes the subconscious seemed confident of its impressions, but at other times it seemed un¬certain; the writing hand would switch from one place in the order to another while Hyslop waited for its final decision.If automatic writing could be a means of getting an illuminating view of what happens deep in the mind when psi is actually manifesting,the Hyslop research might be used as a starting point--after being forgotten for 60 years.
HYPNOTISM.In the old days it was a common thing for subjects to be put into a somnambulic state,in which paranormal occurrences were both frequent and remarkable. Nowadays it seems to be rare for percipients to pass into a somnambulic condition,and accordingly paranormal manifestations are sparse.Much could be learned by studying the writings of the old hypnotists,especially Esdaile, and old volumes of The Zoist.
DECLINE EFFECTS.First noticed 83 years ago, their psychological importance was never followed up.They were disregarded for half a century until they were rediscovered at Duke.
CONSISTENT MISSING.Although this phenomenon first appeared in ex¬perimental work at the Society for Psychical Research in the middle of the 1890's, it was neglected by the investigators and their successors. Forty years later G. C.Bar¬nard called attention to the subject and offered a psychological explanation, but nothing further was done for many years.
TELEKINESIS.The current Russian investigations might be better understood if studied against the background of the older work done with Miss Tomczyk and Dr.Kharis's subject Mile.Melita the early 1900's.
HYPER-AESTHESIA.Myers in 1900 held the view,and offered evidence,that this physical condition of abnormally in¬creased sensitivity formed the junction point between the psychical and physical parts of the human personality. If so,it should be a supremely important subject for investigation today.
Because of the immense growth of information, hundreds of meaningful researches and theoretical discourses have vanished out of sight. It has recently been suggested that to meet the needs of students and researchers an International Bibliography should be prepared. No plans have been made,but I would assume that such a work would con¬sist not merely of hundreds of pages of listed books and papers but would be sufficiently annotated to be a ready guide through the literature in all its multifarious aspects.

Vitor, thank you for posting that article. However, without more details on the Bessie Beals, I think there is no way to evaluate the claim that a real-life Bessie existed. Also, the medium's control (Hodgson), when told that Bessie Beals was fictitious, responded that he was thinking of "Jessie" Beals instead.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript (as seen in Braude's Immortal Remains):

Hall: Well, what do you say to this, Hodgson. I asked you to call Bessie Beals, and there is no such person. How do you explain that?

Hodgson: Bessie Beals is here, and not the -- [interrupted, then continues] I know a Bessie Beals. Her mother asked about her before. Mother asked about her before.

Hall: I don't know about that, Hodgson. Bessie Beals is pure fiction.

Hodgson: I refer to a lady who asked me the same thing and the same name.

Hall: Guess you are wrong about that, Hodgson.

Hodgson: Yes, I am mistaken in her. I am mistaken. Her name was not Bessie, but Jessie Beals.

This sitting was transcript by Amy Tanner and Stanley Hall in the book "Studies in Spiritism". This book has big flaws, according to Hyslop.

"Hence as I am not concerned with the views of the book, I shall confine my review of it to the correction of errors of fact and remarks on the character of them. Some of these errors are found in statements by President Hall, but, as Dr. Tanner is responsible for nearly all the statements of the book affecting the alleged facts of other records and students of the problem, it is she that will come in for the largest consideration, and the errors are so astounding in this respect that I shall spare no feelings and indulge no chivalry whatever in the exposure of them. President Hall has asked me, as the letter quoted above indicates, to express myself frankly and I shall accept the invitation, taking an adaptation of Macaulay's language in his review of Barere's Memoirs as the promise of what I shall do."


"I shall largely confine my examination of the book to the statements made about my own records, statements and views. I may have occasion to diverge somewhat from this course. The first part of the book to come under this notice will be the statements of Dr. Tanner which I shall follow in their order. I shall not omit any important reference to myself in my review. I am referred to and quoted combined on 34 pages of the book. I shall leave the English group to take care of itself in most cases and lay the stress of this review upon the questions affecting myself and statements. What I wish to do is to point out the absolute errors of fact and to show the documentary evidence of it so far as that is possible."

Reference: JOURNAL OF THE American Society for Psychical Research, VOL. V.—NO. 1.

By James H. Hyslop.

Hyslop don't mention the episode "Bessie Beals" in his report, I believe that the answer is somewhere with the English group. The fact is: the book has a lot of flaws and distortions. Maybe Bessie Beals could be one of them.

Best wishes,

Maybe a book of Fraser that could answer the question about Bessie Beals is this:



I can't buy the book, but if you, Michael, can do this, maybe we can know a little more about this episode.

Best wishes,

Thank you, Vitor, for the additional information.

>Maybe a book of Fraser that could answer the question about Bessie Beals is this:

I haven't read the book, but Trevor Hall is an author who wrote skeptical treatments of Florence Cook and D.D. Home, among others. The researcher in the Bessie Beals case was Stanley Hall - a different guy.

That's true. My mistake.

Best wishes,

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