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Whilst living in Portsmouth, May, 1941 (the home of the Royal Navy) in attendance sat Brigadier R.C.Firebrace. Whilst Helen was in trance she passed on the news that a British battleship had sunk. Firebrace later learnt that HMS Hood had sunk with a loss of 1,100 lives. He reported the facts to the Intelligence Agencies. Who immediately took an interest in Helen Duncan’s activities.

Later that year, at one of Helen’s séances, the spirit of a sailor appeared before his mother. He materialised in full uniform with an inscription on his cap, HMS Barham. He stated that his ship had been sunk in action (not unusual for a Helen Duncan’s séance; the war produced numerous dead sailors) but in this instance the sinking of HMS Barham was a state secret.

It appears that twice she got it right. Lucky guess maybe but I doubt it.

whoops forgot to give credit. first two paragraphs are quotes from this website.

it does look like the woman in the pic with the cheesecloth demo does have a tough time putting the whole thingy in her mouth...

I am sure the researchers didn't bother to check these basic stuff...

they just "spoke" to her and must have assumed that nothing could eb hidden...

The woman in the image was Price's secretary Ms. Beenham.

Duncan MIGHT have paranormally acquired some information, but considering the brazen fraud she practised, I'd treat such a suggestion with intense skepticism. Did her sitters include those privy to naval information? Does the information of these mental feats come to us via her home circle who may well have concocted some scheme out of deference to her, or manipulation by her?

So, the kindest thing I can possibly say about her is that she was a talented charlatan who duped many credulous people and who might very rarely have exhibited some genuine mental abilities. Enough to go down in the mediumistic annals as one of the greats? I don't think so...

"Although Price has a somewhat unsavory reputation for bending the truth..."

In favor of skeptical views or pro-paranormal views?

We know from the testimony of reliable witnesses that photographs do not do justice to ectoplasmic manifestations. The "cheesecloth" theory does not stand up when confonted by the facts. Mediums were given dyes to take before demonstrations and the ectoplasm remained white. All their orifices were examined beforehand and in some cases the medium was made to regurgitate the contents of her stomach. Nothing suspicious was ever found.
In addition, eye witnesses report that they recognized and spoke with ectoplasmic phantoms, including noting the color of their eyes, and that the phantoms sometimes disappeared into the floor. (See, e.g. the testimony of Denise Iredell at a Duncan seance in chapter 21 of my book THE SPIRIT OF DR. BINDELOF: THE ENIGMA OF SEANCE PHENOMENA, Anomalist Books 2006)
The issue of ectoplasmic production is much too complex to be explained by the regurgitation of cheesecloth.

I'd say "controversial" rather than unsavory.

And the alleged impropriety on his part goes both ways, in answer to Alex's question; in Borley Rectory's case, he is accused of exaggerating the phenomena and pushing phenomena he believed were bogus as genuine in his books on the subject. On the other hand he did expose a number of mediums, and turned on Rudi Schneider and in a number of ways behaved very badly, after Rudi went off to do sittings for a rival group of investigators. He did believe in the genuineness of certain paranormal phenomena, as his autobiography makes clear - the mediumship of Stella C., the Schneider brothers, Eileen Garrett, various poltergeists and hauntings, etc.

By many accounts he was a very conceited guy, but we have a lot to thank him for.

>I am sure the researchers didn't bother to check these basic stuff...

If you read Price's article, linked in the post, you'll find that he checked Duncan as thoroughly as anyone possibly could.

>eye witnesses report that they recognized and spoke with ectoplasmic phantoms, including noting the color of their eyes, and that the phantoms sometimes disappeared into the floor

Let's take these claims one at a time.

"Recognized" - In very dim light, people can be fooled quite easily. See The Psychic Mafia, especially Chapter 5, or Revelations of a Spirit Medium for details. The fake mediums who wrote those books fooled hundreds of sitters into believing they recognized their loved ones.

"Spoke with" - No doubt the sitters spoke with someone, but was it a spirit or was it the medium?

"Color of their eyes" - which would be impossible to determine in the dim red light used in these seances. Another example of the power of suggestion.

"Disappeared into the floor" - an old trick, discussed in both of the books linked above. The medium simply gets down on his knees, then wriggles out of the cheesecloth costume and bunches it up into a smaller and smaller wad, creating the illusion that it is vanishing.

The book about Bindelof is quite good in most respects, though.

I'd put spiritualism on par with the current UFO-internet rage. I had a close encounter with a military black-project equilateral triangle with no fuselage. Nevertheless, despite such military craft and constant military disinformation promtion aliens, people eat this stuff up! It's part of a "religion of technology" zeigeist that with spiritualism was based on such new fangle devices as radio and telephones.

On the contrary the East has got paranormal training down to an art-form even though there are still some fakes. The book "Qigong Fever: Body, science and utopia in China" by Dr. David A. Palmer (Columbia University Press, 2007) is a real opener for us Westerners.

People are not all good or all bad. There's a little bit good in all of us and a little bit bad too. Every once in a while in my life I have experiences that could only be called "mystical" or "spiritual." The problem is that I don't seem to have any control over it at all. They happen when they happen. Precognitive dreams, brief moments of telepathy with my wife, heck, I even heard a voice one time that told me what was fixing to happen. But like I said, it happens when it happens. I have no doubt that Helen Duncan was a talented Medium. I imagine the problem was that she was called on to produce results on command, which my experience with the supernatural is extremely difficult to do. So, she cheated a bit. She may have been able to get messages now and then, but when that didn't work for her she put on a show. Isn't that what people were wanting anyway? They wanted to be entertained. She gave them what they were wanting. Like John Edward on Crossing Over used to say, "you get what you get." It's like being a telephone reciever. You can't dictate who's going to call you. - Art

He have also though when the police raided her last seance and they found nothing that could indicate fraud.

I have never heard of a campaign to clear Helen Duncan's name over charges of fraud. However, there is a fairly well publicized campaign to have her posthumously cleared of the charge of Witchcraft, of which she was convicted in 1944. This was years after her the 1931 investigation, and her 1933 prosecution by the Edinburgh Sheriffs Court for being a "fradulent medium," which carried a fine of 10 pounds or a month's imprisonment. The later Witchcraft charge (this was after her 1941 revelation about the HMS Barham) is sort of a different issue, and even though Winston Churchill referred to it as "obsolete tomfoolery," it was the more serious charge at the time, and carried a stronger penalty - which is undoubtedly why it was invoked. So while the motivation for the Witchcraft charge may well have been ending Helen Duncan's fraudulent mediumistic activities (she was first charged under the vagrancy act, and then later under the Witchcraft act of 1735, which carried a much heavier penalty), I believe the posthumous name-clearing has more to do with the "Witchcraft" charge than that of fraud.

As I understand it, the Witchcraft Act under which she was prosecuted was aimed at stamping out fraud. And the prosecution's case was that she was defrauding her clients by pretending to summon the dead.

On the most recent episode of Science Talk, the Scientific American podcast, Harvard trained psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein talked about one of his most recent articles My date with a Robot that details how he was fooled for 4 months into believing he was communicating via email with a beautiful Russian woman, when in fact it was a robot, possibly part of a hackers AI experiment.

I bring this up only as a response to believers in ectoplasm who continually defend their position by asserting that so many smart people over time could have been fooled into believing cheesecloth was ectoplasm.

There is even a new book out called Blind Spots: Why smart people do dumb things.

There is some type of confirmation bias going on here, that for me, defies logic. The easiest explanation I can muster is that these otherwise "smart people" are emotionally or intellectually invested in the idea of spirit materialization that they themselves swallow the ectoplasm stories like the big piece of cheesecloth that it is.

In the case of Helen Duncan, asserting the myth that she died after a police raid caused the ectoplasm to recoil back into her body causing internal damages is paramount to keeping the "fear of death" excuse given by materialization mediums working today who refuse the infra red light testing of their claims.

I as a medium will challenge any other medium or parapsychology enthusiast who claims the existence of ectoplasm or its use in materialization séances.

Ectoplasm never existed and never will. No intelligent researcher of consciousness survivor is even looking at ectoplasm with an ounce of seriousness or as anything other than a curious piece of urban legend born from the desire to fabricate (in the true sense of the word fabric) some evidence of consciousness survival.

I beseech all of you who are looking for the "smoking gun" of consciousness survival to give up ancient myths and join the rest of us in the 21st century who are devoted to science and the scientific method as the best and only way to bring consciousness studies into the mainstream.

I beseech all of you who are looking for the "smoking gun" of consciousness survival to give up ancient myths and join the rest of us in the 21st century who are devoted to science and the scientific method as the best and only way to bring consciousness studies into the mainstream. Posted by: Marcel Cairo

My FIL is an 83 year old Fundamentalist Churh of Christ preacher. He loves to bring up the Piltdown Man hoax when talking about evolution. In his mind it's symbolic of all evolution evidence. The same problem arises when talking about Mediums and frauds. If one's a fraud they're all frauds. It's impossible to reason with people who have all ready made up their minds. I loved watching John Edward on Crossing Over and was often amazed by some of his "hits" that he made. He really was talented, fun, entertaining, and charismatic, and sometimes even a psychic medium. That's not to say every reading I ever saw him do was amazing; but there were enough strange validations that it was obvious to me that he was/is quite talented at what he does.

I've come up with a fun way to update the whole ectoplasm/materialization debate that includes a competition and a prize.

On my blog, I Done Thunk, I'm hosting the First Annual "What Ever Happened to David Thompson?" Essay Contest.

The rules are simple, and the top three entries will receive a Free reading
with me.

Check it out!

I think the magic astral rope of the aborigines was ectoplasm. Paranormal abilities are practically unknown in the West because of gender relations. There's an excellent book on traditional Australian culture called "Men's Business, Women's Business" detailing how the males had to spend SEVEN YEARS totally apart from the females in order to develop shaman powers.

Now let's see that experiment! haha. Parnormal abilities are based on complimentary opposite harmonics while all of western science is based on a one-to-one correspondence of number and phonetic letter. A great overview of this fact is math professor Ian Stewart's new book "Why Beauty is Truth: A history of symmetry." And yes Professor Stewart and I corresponded about this symmetry issue before he wrote that book.

Another great book on this subject is "Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and immortality" trans. by Charles Luk. That will explain in detail why paranormal abilites are based on sublimating sexual energy.

The biology book "The Tangled Web" details how when serotonin is ionized then it can bypass the blood-brain barrier. Meditation creates ultrasound, through overtones of inner thought, when then ionizes the serotonin in the blood, creating great heat (called N/um by the Bushmen, Jing by the Taoists and Tummo by the Tibetans, etc.).

The ionized electrochemicals then turn into electromagnetic fields (chi, prana, etc.) which finally resonate into light-information that bends spacetime.

Nonwestern paranmormal music is based on an infinite resonance of perfect fifths whereby the interval C to G is 2:3 (yang) while its complimentary opposite G to C is 3:4 (yin), in violation of the commutative principle, the foundation of Western science.

For further details you can read my blogbook:

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