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Michael wrote,

||We'd still have to deal with the tests that were carried out, which (if reported accurately) would indicate that the voices were sometimes heard even when Flint's mouth was sealed with sticking plaster or filled with colored water.||

Yes, we do. But it's not all or nothing. Flint may have generated genuine paranormal phenomena at some times but not at others. Or it could be bad content generated with a paranormal component.

||Occam's Razor is fine, but it requires the simplest answer that's consistent with *all* the facts.||

Each instance, however, can be separately judged. Perhaps I should have referenced the "c'mon, guys" principle. As in, "C'mon guys, extensive and rigorous testing notwithstanding, this sounds like a dude imitating a woman and not saying much of substance!"

I don't think Occam's razor is tainted, but it deals with probability not actuality as I am sure you'd agree. When applied properly it points to the most likely answer 'all things being equal'.

The problem scoftics have is that they don't accept a non-materialist answer as a possibility and therefore arbitrarily exclude non-physical explanations which in themselves are no more complex than their preferred answer, but which are simply unpalatable to them perhaps. Not very logical really.

"C'mon guys, extensive and rigorous testing notwithstanding, this sounds like a dude imitating a woman and not saying much of substance."

I has hitherto imagined that only Trump could make a comment such as the above.

Paul wrote,

||The problem scoftics have is that they don't accept a non-materialist answer as a possibility and therefore arbitrarily exclude non-physical explanations which in themselves are no more complex than their preferred answer, but which are simply unpalatable to them perhaps. Not very logical really.||

Well said. "We know that nothing paranormal is possible, so by Occam's Razor I declare it invalid!" That kind of reasoning.

Julie wrote,

||I has hitherto imagined that only Trump could make a comment such as the above.||

Trump has been listening to the Flint tapes?!

Also, I thought only Trump used grammar as bad as "I has hitherto"!!!

Michael Rogge (again):
I wonder in the correspondence I mentioned experiences of sitters. George Woods reported being lifted up with chair and all in the air. I received a cassette recording of a sitter who stayed a night in Flint's bedroom during an air attack at the Blitzkrieg bombardment of London and heard when Flint was asleep voices. He also had a feeling during a sitting that his nose was bleeding. Whyen the lights went on no blood was found. He ascribed it to ectoplasm being drawn from him, a phenomenon often reported by sitters.

Thank you for your interesting article on Flint, and for provoking an interesting discussion. With regard to Rogge's Dutch book, an article on it can be downloaded here:
It is in Dutch, but may be of some interest even to those who do not read that language because it reproduces photographs showing tests that were conducted on Flint. In one he can be seen with heavily taped mouth, and people holding his hands, in the presence of Charles Drayton Thomas, who was overseeing the test. The voices were still produced under these conditions.

Drayton Thomas (who was a critically minded man who would not put up with nonsense) also presided at least one public meeting in the Kingsway Hall in which he was enclosed in a cabinet -

"Previously, the direct voice had always been held in private circumstances with usually only a dozen or so people present. The idea on this occasion was to construct a soundproof and lightproof cabinet, placed in full view of the audience. Instead of the seance being held in total darkness, normally essential in the case of direct voice, the house lights would remain on. The medium would then be isolated in the cabinet during the meeting.

Immediately outside and in front of the cabinet, three microphones were placed to pick up the voices emanating from within the soundproof wall of the cabinet. The sound system was arranged, checked and tested by qualified technicians on the staff of the Kingsway Hall. I understood that during testing of the equipment, they had turned the amplifier up to its capacity and with a colleague inside the cabinet, shouting at the top of his voice, failed to pick up hardly a sound."

The voices were still produced under these cirumstances. Account here:

There is a partial recording a public sitting conducted at a spritualist church in Reading in 1971, in which he was presumably enclosed in a cabinet in the same way within a lighted room. The 'Ellen Terry' voice comes out loud and clear:

He later produced the voices under rigorous test conditions for Bennet as noted above, and also did so at an improvised seance at his house in America.

My take on the matter is this. Flint either produced the voices from his own throat, or through 'direct voice' without him uttering any sound from his own throat; and that he could produce the voices with his face bound and under restraint - and with microphone too under the American tests- on even a few occasions suffices to show that he was capable of the latter. And there is then the further point that many of his 'voices' are women's voices that it would be extremely difficult - and probably impossible - for even a highly accomplished male actor to reproduce under the most favourable conditions. E.g. 'Ellen Terry', 'Amy Johnson','Lillian Bayliss', 'Gertude Lawrence' voices, and others with varied and very convincing Scottish accents.

Taking these two factors into account, one must conclude that if Flint was faking the voices, he could only have done so with the aid of confederates; and even in his own flat, he could hardly have done that for years without anyone noticing that something strange was going on (actors and actresses being smuggled up the stairs etc. etc.), especially because many sittings were conducted in the presence of George Woods and Betty Green, and indeed of his landlady Rose Creet; and the fact that he produced the voices at public meetings and seances abroad in America seems to entirely rule out the use of confederates.

Although the communicators are inclined to pontificate at length, a fraud of the latter kind couldn't have been done through tape-recordings alone because the speakers interact with people attending the seances; so there would need to be a combination of scripts and improvization, and in view of the fact that there are literally thousands of recordings and a huge cast of often very distinctive characters, the idea that this was a massive fraud comes close to being insane on these grounds alone. And after all, what would anyone have gained from it? Flint made only a modest income form his activities as a medium and he couldn't have afforded to pay assistants much if at all.

There is of course quite plenty of bosh in the tapes, one speaker professes for instance to be an ancient Roman who had been in Atlantis in a previous incarnation, and one may perhaps doubt that Chopin had previously been incarnated as Akenhaten!; but this kind of thing is charcateristic of even the better sort of mediumistic ommunication. And when it comes to the communications from famous people, it is rare for them to be obviously absurd (even if it would be disappointing to suppose that Charlotte Bronte was really such a bore as she appears to be when talking from the other side). Many of them are in fact quite fun to listen to merely as a sort of dramatic performance. Flint had only an elementary education and one would expect many incongruities and historical errors if he was inventing the material, and they are notably lacking in the tapes that I have listened to. There are also few stylistic tics; I have noted a perhaps over-frequent use of 'oftimes' for 'often', and of the unattractive word 'picturize'.

In the final resort I find it very hard to know what to make of all of this, but it does at least seem unreasonable to write it off the voices as being produced by Flint or a party of confederates through any kind of fraud. And direct voice does in fact seem to be a genuine phenomenon in some cases. The way in which Etta Wriedt's voices could speak in many languages unknown to her in seances conducted off her own turf in England surely suffices on its own to show that to be overwhelmingly probable. The example that sticks in my mind is that of a Dutch woman who was married to an Englishman and had multingual children; her supposed daughter spoke in English to her, but in Dutch to Dutch visitors who accompanied her - and not merely in Dutch, but in Dutch just just as she had spoken it with a foreign accent (presumably an English accent because that was the main language used in the family in everyday life)! Emily Frech and John Sloan also seem hard to write off as frauds. If direct voice can be a genuine phenomenon, it does seem worthwhile to pay some attention to it because the medium is less directly involved in the production of the message.

With Flint's more famous visitors, there were incidentally good reasons in many cases why they should have appeared. Quite a lot had been interested in spiritualism or indeed mediums during their lifetime, and quite a few of Flint's clients, e.g. the Cook sisters who seem to have known just about everyone in the operatic world, had musical and artistic interests, and were happy to chat away to people like Caruso, Beecham and a still crusty Sir Henry Wood, with even a brief guest appearance from Chaliapin. (This kind of thing is fun if nothing else.)

It struck me at first as particular warning sign that Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra should have been presented as coming along, but both of them were apparently interested in spiritualism, and Edward VII is known to have spoken to Alexandra through John Sloan after a member of her household had initially attended a seance with him on her behalf. He also spoke to the Countess of Warwick (a former mistress) through Etta Wriedt! According to Flint's autobiography, members of the royal household attended some of his seances, initially incognito, before the war, and two of them jumped to their feet when the late George V began to address them! One of them was a servant of George's sister Princess Louise, who used to communicate with her dead husband through various mediums, and Flint was taken to meet her. So the two Queens were merely continuing the family tradition if they came along to speak through Flint! Victoria's servant John Brown also speaks in Flint tapes, and it is indicated that he acted as a medium in enabling her to keep to supposedly keep in contact with her dead husband; if this is true, it would explain why he held such a hold over her. It is claimed that she consulted the medium Robert James Lees after Albert's death, and that he pointed her to Brown.

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