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"There were undoubtedly many magicians, fakers, and charlatans posing as mediums, but it was William James who said that it takes only one "white crow" to prove that all crows aren't black."
Michael Tymn -

This is a quote from a Michael Tymn article that is worth reading for all of those wondering if mediumship has any validity.

"Mediumship: Direct Connection to a level of the Afterlife, Telepathy or Fraud?" by Michael Tymn.

“Interestingly, however, some crows were found to be white with dark spots. They offered genuine phenomena with some fraudulent.”

Love the way Michael Tymn states this about some mediums. Some wanting to please the sitter every time while others I suspect wanting to please every time for the money.

A Biography of the Brothers Davenport - Thomas Nichols, 1864, 360 pp

p 166

One night a famous
sceptic, in whose sagacity the people seemed to have
great confidence, was chosen with remarkable
unanimity as one of a committee to examine and
report upon the manifestations. He had come fully
prepared. He tied them with the greatest care, and
then, to make his knots secure, wound them with
annealed wire, which he made fast by twisting with a
pair of forceps.
'Are you satisfied?' asked Ira.
'Yes, perfectly satisfied.'
'Will you be satisfied if the manifestations take
place as usual?'
'O yes, certainly.'
'No, you will not; or if you are your friends will not,
and before you leave this room somebody will charge
you with being our confederate.'
The man was indignant at such a supposition.

He knew his popularity, and believed that if he could
be satisfied everybody who knew him would be also.
He was not, long in finding the contrary. When the
audience was passing out Mr. Ira heard him having
high words and almost coming to blows with a man
who accused him of having aided in what he believed
to be an imposture.


In one of the towns of New Jersey a committee­man
secretly daubed some of the knots in the ropes with
printer's­ink. When the I phantom in bands' were
pushed through the opening, one of them was seen
playing for a moment round his face. The excited
committee­man turned to the audience to explain the
circumstance, when he was astonished by 'a most
unoriental roar of laughter.' His face was completely
smeared with the ink. The bands of the Davenports
were not in the least blackened.

People From the Other World
Henry S. Olcott

different mediums but I think it is a similar situation....

he hired three or four of the children out to one showman, who took them to
nearly all the principal cities of the United States, and to another who took
them to London for a brief season.
The children got all the kicks and he all the ha'pence in this transaction, and
a sorry time it was for them. Passed through the merciless hands of scores of
"committees of skeptics," bound with cords by " sailors of seven years'
experience," and riggers "accustomed to tic 'knots where human life was at
risk," of carpenters with a fancy for other knots than those in their boards, of
inventors who knew all sorts of "ropes" in addition to their particular
steam-engines or threshing-machines, and suchlike illuminati, their soft young
metacarpal bones were squeezed out of shape, and their arms covered with tile
scars of melted wax, used to make the assurance of the bonds doubly and trebly
sure. These wrists and arms are a sight to see. Every girl and boy of them has a
marked groove between the ends of the ulna and radius and the articulation of
the bones of the hand, and every one of them is scarred by hot sealing-wax. Two
of the girls showed me scars where pieces of flesh had been

pinched out by handcuffs used by "committees"--fools who seem to have been
unable to discover suspected fraud without resort to brutal violence on the
persons of children.
And then the mobbings they have passed through! At Lynn, Mass.; South Danvers;
West Cleveland, Ohio., where William was ridden on a rail and barely escaped a
coat of tar and feathers; at Moravia, N. Y.; at Waltham, Mass., where they had
to fly for their lives; at Dunville, Canada-in all which places their "cabinet"
(a simple, portable closet, in which they sit for the manifestations) was
smashed. They make no account in this catalogue of suffering, of the places
where they were stoned, hooted at, and followed to their hotels by angry crowds.
At South Danvers they were fired upon by hidden assassins, and William has the
scar of a bullet in his ankle and Mary one in her arm to show for their picnic
in that tolerant locality ! Horatio carries his memento of that place in a stab
wound in his leg, and Lynn supplied him with the two tokens of a scar on his
forehead, where a brick hit him, and a broken finger, the third, on his right
Ah! these committees are often honorable gentlemen, as may be inferred from the
fact that once when applying the " flour-test "- the placing of flour in the
medium's hands after his wrists are tied, to detect him if he disengages his
hands and plays upon the instruments himself-aquafortis was mixed in the flour,
and shockingly burned Horatio's fingers; and once, when the musical instruments,
horns, &c., were rubbed with rouge, so that the mediums might be betrayed by
their discolored

hands if they should touch them, one of the committee, pretending to make a last
examination of the knots, rubbed the hands of both the boys with rouge. In this
instance, however, the base trick availed nothing, for, aware of what had been
done, the Eddys called for the audience to look at their hands before the
cabinet doors were closed, and the culprit was exposed.

Before I looked at the two above comments, I was preparing to add a comment. It is interesting that William referenced one of my articles, but even more interesting that my comment was about a 1920 book titled "Dawn of the Awakened Mind," the author being John S. King, M.D., president of the Canadian Society for psychical research. (note that second comment above is by JKing. Dr. King attended many materialization seances with the Toledo, Ohio medium J. B. Jonson. While Jonson also needed a cabinet in which the spirits could build up the energy to materialize, King observed as many as 20 different friends and relatives materializing at one seance. One of them was his wife, May, who "gradually dissolved into the floor" in front of him on several occasions. He recorded a half-dozen or more sittings with Jonson, with an average 12 materializations at each of them -- all recognized by one of the sitters as a friend or relative. Hard to believe that a medium could impersonate that many people, including their voices, and veridical facts. Moreover, there was much cross-correspondence coming through the direct-voice mediumship of two other mediums, e.g., his wife told him she would materialize at Jonson's house, etc.

I'm not sure about the Davenport brothers, I do know that some of what has been called cheating by the debunkers has been a lack of understanding on their part as to the nature of the phenomena, as Michael has mentioned in an excellent article. There is also some indication that low-level spirits can interfere and make it look like cheating. Randi will be one of them after he transits.

For me at least mediums like George Wright who had a whole host of mediumship abilities never tried to make a dime from those abilities even during times of financial hardships for him and his family but only sought knowledge by connecting with a master on the other side through automatic writing. His life story supports the validity of mediumship.

Also, even though he was a popular and well-known editor he never wrote about his abilities as a medium. It was his son Theon and wife Nella that wrote about his mediumship that brought through the teachings of the Master only to help Nella Wright cope with his death.

Their book has a surprise ending that helps to support the validity of correspondence with those on the other side.

I will need clarification on this part

"and information on how to do so has been readily available for two decades"

where is this available.. if so, why don't we see more tampering of goods that are secured by flex cuffs????

>"and information on how to do so has been readily available for two decades"

>where is this available

As I said, it's in a book by John Novak called The Art of Escape #3: Metamorphosis, which has been in print since 1979.

Though I know the name Dave Thompson has been banished around here, I've spoken to sitters who personally tied metal cable cords instead of "flex ties" and have also sat next to Dave while materializations walked around and showed their bodies using illuminated plaques. So either the fraud protocol goes way beyond the type of knots used, or there's more to this story than parlor tricks.

I have been doing some research on the Davenport brothers and it appears that it depends on the beliefs of the person writing the article as to whether the brothers are described as frauds or successful mediums.

Maybe they were those white crows with black spots that Michael Tymn talks about.

It appears that some Mediums are not always endowed with superior character traits and some appear to be capable of inducing paranormal phenomena and fraud in their séances all in the same week.

In fact the source of their mediumship abilities appears to be a mystery. Some evidence suggests it might be hereditary.

Two mediums that I have done a lot of research on that stand out with these superior character traits are George Wright and Margery Crandon.

>Two mediums that I have done a lot of research on that stand out with these superior character traits are George Wright and Margery Crandon.

I wouldn't put much stress on Mina Crandon, who used the pseudonym Margery. The "thumbprint episode" pretty much destroyed her credibility, in my opinion. (Click on the link and scroll about 2/3 down the page.)

She may have produced some valid phenomena in her earlier years, but in the end she was caught in fraud.

Michael I disagree with you on this one. It appears the fingerprint fraud was caused by her husband not her. The book "a life after death" by Ralph Harlow is a good read as he set in on those séances for three years and has many stories of her feats that I have not read anywhere else. Ralph Harlow appears to be as about as sincere investigator and skeptic of the paranormal as one can find.

Scientists from all over the world including two MIT professors came to test her and she passed some pretty interesting tests.

Houdini could not be trusted as evidenced in your article. It was Houdini’s cage that she sat in and she still performed so Houdini succumbed to fraud in the next séance to discredit her. It would take a pretty naïve person to allow Houdini to design the box she sit in and be a witness to her séances if she was a fake.

She never charged one cent for her séances for over 20 years and these séances would wear thin for a joke or for attention over that period of time.

Also she was a skeptic at first and to show her husband there was nothing to spiritualism as he had heard Lodge speak and he became interested in spiritualism she visited a medium and she was told she had mediumship abilities.

It is the collective evidence that I lean towards for her apparent validity not one incident.

Sorry Michael but have to report you to victor on this one.

What's the evidence for Dr. Crandon being responsible?

After one of the seances she gave in London in 1929 a piece of wax was found with her thumb print on it, when she was supposed to be controlled.

I think the likeliest explanation was that she was using a die to stamp these prints out, though I'll admit this isn't a completely satisfying theory, since no dies were ever found, and that most people at that time thought it impossible to produce a 3D impression via a flat fingerprint, so if this is how it was done, she deserves points for amazing inventiveness, at least!

That's not to say she was entirely fraudulent. Hereward Carrington thought that she had produced genuine phenomena and I respect his opinion enormously.

The direct-voice thing is the most interesting & disturbing feature of the case to me, because I can hardly imagine any more dramatic, challenging display to scientific orthodoxy than that. Now Nandor Fodor reports that this was proven by Thorogood's microphone-in-a-box experiment and Dr. Richardson's
voice-control device
. But if this is so, why is it not more eagerly reported?

Wish I could track down all the old SPR and ASPR journals to try clear up this uncertainty.

I know Michael Tymn reads this blog -- what do you think?

Hi, I think Helen Duncan was a legimate physical medium so was Daniel D Homes, Eussapia Pallandino. As far as that book psychic mafia goes it was endorsed by a closed-minded skeptic and yes he said he was fooling people so everyone must be like that too. I don't think they are! What made me really think Helen Duncan is legimate is because when the cops turn on the lights this stuff ectoplasm went back in her body and then died after. As one reseacrher pointed out it is like ectoplasic material.Is it possible that why people calim it looks like cheesecloth because it looks similiar. Another physical medium was Jack Webber in my opinion who knows he could also be a legimate medium.

Ralph Harlow claims that Walter her brother who came through from the other side could perform some interesting feats to numerous to report all of them here.

Like moving a scale inside a locked and sealed glass box with two MIT professors watching and with pictures. Also many apports were reported at these séances by Ralph Harlow in his book a life after death.

If she was a fraud she deserves more fame and fortune as a magician than the great Houdini.

Just a thought but a friend of mine has told me that fingerprints are not that reliable as evidence.

Sorry but years of paranormal feats is a lot of evidence and to say she was a fraud over one bogus fingerprint is a bit of a stretch to label her a fraud. Did she lose her abilities over time and succumb to fraud. Maybe?

It appears even the great Houdini had to succumb to fraud to try and discredit her.

I know I am sounding defensive here but sometimes our skeptical minds can overwhelm our rational minds. (i.e. ultra skeptics)

I finished reading the book I posted about above.

A Biography of the Brothers Davenport - Thomas Nichols, 1864, 360 pp

It's quite entertaining and I recommend it as an enjoyable read. The author seems convinced that the Davenports were genuine mediums.

I looked at the article and I'm not convinced that the one case of refusing to continue with the seance because the knot was too tight proves fraud. Being tied for more than a few minutes can be extremely painful. There seem to be many many accounts where sufficient precautions were taken.

The article says the general consensus is that they were frauds but it doesn't say among whom that consensus was held. It seems out of place for them to make that statement because in the article there is overwhelming evidence pointing to the brothers being genuine. Charges of fraud are vague and unexplained phenomena are described in detail. From the article


Public committees were set up to examine the Davenports' phenomena, and their rope tying developed into an art of torture.


The Davenports were tied in the most brutal manner, the ropes drawn through holes bored in the cabinet and firmly knotted outside to make a network; the knots were tied with linen. Pierce sat in the cabinet between the mediums. As soon as he entered, an invisible hand shot the bolt, and the din of musical instruments began. A phantom hand was thrust through a small, curtained opening near the top of the middle door of the wardrobelike cabinet, and the professor felt it touch his head and face.


Dr. Loomis, a professor of chemistry and toxicology at Georgetown Medical College, who also investigated the brothers. He concluded that the manifestations were produced through some new unknown force.


As a means of control, investigators often filled the hands of the mediums with flour or placed pennies on their shoes after carefully drawing the outline of the shoes on a piece of paper beneath them. When the door of the cabinet was opened, the flour was found in the brothers' hands as before, no white spots were on their clothes, and the pennies were in place.


"I have, at different times," wrote Robert Cooper, who spent seven months with the Davenport brothers in England and on the Continent, "seen at least three hundred persons enter the cabinet, all of whom certified that there was no movement on the part of the Brothers."


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In The Edge of the Unknown (1930), Doyle asserts, "I was an intimate friend of Ira Erastus Davenport. I can make the positive assertion that the Davenport Brothers never were exposed…. I know more about the Davenports than anyone living."

I can see no point to focusing on what may or may not have happened long ago, often with an air of drama within elaborate stage settings, when nearly anyone who wishes to can create their own immediate and personal experiences in the privacy of their own home. (I do grant that history can be quite fascinating, but is such fascination at all effective in terms of obtaining a satisfying knowing?)

This quiet validation is not the same as attempting to prove that which is very difficult to prove in a laboratory, but who cares, really, save for the detached observer unwilling to dive in or, at least, get his or her feet wet?

It rarely involves "physical" manifestations, either, but if that is desired, it's not entirely out of the question.

I'd venture to say that the areas of mediumship, channelling, telepathy, clairvoyance, and so on exist where, within the framework of modern beliefs, psychology meets the supernatural; by its nature, this region of consciousness is best experienced, not commented upon from a distance -- it is necessarily highly subjective (as a race we aren't likely to truly understand the nature of 'objective reality' at this moment, anyway).

We always bring our assumptions and beliefs to the party, and that is particularly true when dealing with non-material beings; to a great extent, we create a distorted version of their reality, one aligned with our beliefs, during such explorations.

This is very likely to be quite far removed from what they may actually experience, however, as we are entranced from an early age in a "camouflage" physical reality, and often assume its rules apply everywhere.

Yet _we_ are "non-material" beings, too, temporarily expressed within a physical reality; we have but to access regions of our own self -- our "sub" and "un" conscious, where our own intimate and personal awareness of existence resides.

This is not at all difficult to accomplish, although it may require some persistence in learning to still the conscious mind while retaining full awareness, some experimentation with trance.

Those firmly wedded to a materialist perspective may deride any or all such explorations -- "It's only imagination!" they may say; "Prove it!" they may say.

How sad that they are unwilling to employ their own natural powers of imagination; these powers are one means for opening the doorways to greater places, beyond space and time, beyond physical life.


Bill I.

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