Monday, November 30, 2009

Paranormal Journalism recently linked to Paranormal Journalism:

Paranormal Journalism, a reporting class at Northwest Missouri State University, is designed to teach a new generation of journalists to cover all topics with an open mind. Check back weekly to follow their journey into the supernatural world that surrounds us all.
Here's a teaser from one of their articles:
It was snowing as Bryan and his seven friends pulled up to the house. Upon arriving in Villisca around three o’clock that afternoon they had taken a tour of the house, been told all of its stories, and had signed all of the liability waivers, but no consent form could prepare them for the experience that would happen that night. ...

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Notes of Seances with D. D. Home. By William Crookes, F. R. S.

From: Notes of Seances with D. D. Home. By William Crookes, F. R. S. p98. The Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research Volume VI 1889 - 1890

The seance excerpted below took place at the home of William Crookes. There was sufficient light for everyone present to see everything that occurred. The accordion which was seen and heard to play by itself was purchased by Crookes. Under these conditions the medium, D. D. Home, could not have used any special mechanical apparatus to produce levitations, play the accordion, produce raps, or create any other of the phenomena that was observed.

Page 117:

(VIII.) SUNDAY, July 30th, 1871. Sitting at 20, Mornington-road.

Present:- Mr. D. D. Home, Mr. Wm. Crookes, Mrs. Wm. Crookes, Mrs. Humphrey, Mr. Wr. Crookes, Mrs. Wr. Crookes, Mrs. I., Miss A. Crookes, Mr. H. Crookes, Mr. T., and at 11p.m. Lord A.

In the dining-room round the dining-table.

During the former part of the evening the gas was lighted; during the latter part the room was illuminated by two spirit lamps.


The accordion was held by Mr. Home in the usual position under the table. Whilst it played Mrs. I. looked beneath and saw it playing. Mr. Home removed his hand altogether from it, and held both hands above the table. During this Mrs. I. said she saw a luminous hand playing the accordion.

The gas was now turned out, and three spirit lamps were lighted.

Loud raps were heard, and, the planchette moved across a sheet of paper, leaving a mark with the pencil.

The lath moved some inches.

The accordion, which had been left by Mr. Home under the table, now began to play and move about without anyone touching it. It dropped on to my foot, then dragged itself away, playing all the time, and went to Mrs. I. It got on to her knees.

Mr. Home then took it in his hand, where it played, and delivered the following message by chords in the usual way:-

"Our joy and thankfulness to have been allowed to make our presence manifest We thank you for your patience and we thank GOD for His love."

Mr. Home got up and stood behind in full view of all, holding the accordion out at arm's length. We all saw it expanding and contracting and heard it playing a melody. Mr. Home then let go of the accordion, which went behind his back and there continued to play; his feet being visible and also his two hands, which were In front of him

Mr. Home then walked to the open apace in the room between Mrs. I.'s chair and the sideboard and stood there quite upright and quiet. He then said, "I'm rising, I'm rising"; when we all saw him rise from the ground slowly to a height of about six inches, remain there for about 10 seconds, and then slowly descend. From my position I could not see his feet, but I distinctly saw his head, projected against the opposite wall, rise up, and Mr. Wr. Crookes, who was sitting near where Mr. Home was, said that his feet were in the air. There was no stool or other thing near which could have aided him. Moreover, the movement was a smooth continuous glide upwards.

Whilst this was going on we heard the accordion fall heavily to the ground. It had been suspended in the air behind the chair where Mr. Home had been sitting. When it fell Mr. Home was about 10ft. from it.

Mr. Home still standing behind Mrs. I. and Mr. Wr. Crookes, the accordion was both seen and heard to move about behind him without his hands touching it It then played a tune without contact and floating in the air.

Mr. Home then took the accordion in one hand and held it out so that we could all see it (he was still standing up behind Mrs. I. and Mr. Wr. Crookes). We then saw the accordion expand and contract and heard a tune played. Mrs. Wm. Crookes and Mr. Home saw a light on the lower part of the accordion, where the keys were, and we then heard and saw the keys clicked and depressed one after the other fairly and deliberately, as if to show us that the power doing it, although invisible (or nearly so) to us, had full control over the instrument.

A beautiful tune was then played whilst Mr. Home was standing up holding the accordion out in full view of everyone.

Mr. Home then came round behind me and telling me to hold my left arm out placed the accordion under my arm, the keys hanging down and the upper part pressing upwards against my upper arm. He then left go and the accordion remained there. He then placed his two hands one on each of my shoulders. In this position, no one touching the accordion but myself, and every one noticing what was taking place, the instrument played notes but no tune.

Mr. Home then sat down in his chair, and we were told by raps to open the table about an inch or an inch and a.half.

Mr. T. touched the point of the lath, when raps immediately came on it.

The planchette, which was on the table resting on a sheet of paper, now moved a few inches.

Sounds were heard on the accordion, which was on the floor, not held by Mr. Home.

The corner of the paper next to Mrs. Wm. Crookes (on which the planchette was standing) moved up and down. (These three last phenomena were going on simultaneously.)

I felt something touch my knee; it then went to Mrs. I., then to Miss A. Crookes.

Whilst this was going on I held the bell under the table, and it was taken from me and rung round beneath. It was then given to Mrs. I. by a hand which she described as soft and warm.

The lath was now seen to move about a little.

Mrs. Wm. Crookes saw a hand and fingers touching the flower in Mr. Home's button-hole. The flower was then taken by the hand and given to Mrs. I. and the green leaf was in a similar manner given to Mr. T.

Mrs. Wm. Crookes and Mr. Home saw the hand doing this, the others only saw the flower and leaf moving through the air.

Mrs. Wm. Crookes held a rose below the table; it was touched and then taken.

The sound as of a drum was heard on the accordion.

The lath lifted itself up on its edge,then reared itself upon one end and fell down. It then floated up four inches above the table, and moved quite round the circle, pointing to Mrs. Wm. Crookes. It then rose up and passed over our heads outside the circle.

The planchette moved about a good deal, marking the paper.

The cloth was dragged along the table.

Whilst the lath was moving round the circle, the accordion played a tune in Mr. Home’s hand whilst Mrs. Wm. Crookes's hand was also on it.

Mrs. Wm. Crookes put her hand near the lath, when it came up to it, and moved about it very much.

The paper on which the planchette was resting moved about us as if by a hand. Many present saw a hand doing it. (Mr. Home and Mrs. Wm. Crookes saw this hand.)

Mr. H. Crookes saw a luminous hand come up between Mr. Home and Mrs. Wm. Crookes.

Some time during the evening Mrs. Wm. Crookes's handkerchief, which had been in her pocket, was taken out of it by a hand.

I saw something white moving about in the further corner of the room (diagonal to door) under a chair. On my remarking this, a message was given by raps:-

"William! take it."

On getting up and taking it I saw that it was my wife's pocket handkerchief tied in a knot, and having the stalk of the rose which had been taken from her tied up in it. The place where I picked up the handkerchief was fifteen feet from where she had been sitting.

A glass water bottle which was on the table now floated up and rapped against the planchette.

Mr. Home said: "I see a face. I see Philip's face. Philip! Brother I"

The water and tumbler now rose up together, and we had answers to questions by their tapping together whilst floating in the air about eight inches above the table, and moving backwards and forwards from one to the other of the circle.

Mr. H. Crookes said a hand was tickling his knee.

A finger was protruded up the opening of the table between Miss A. Crookes and the water bottle,

Miss A. Crookes, Mr. H. Crookes, and Mrs. I. were then touched.

Fingers came up the opening of the table a second time and waved about.

The lath, which on its last excursion had settled in front of the further window, quite away from the circle, now moved along the floor four or five times very noisily. It then came up to Mr. T., and, passed into the circle over his shoulder. It settled on the table and, then rose up again, pointing to Mrs. Wm. Crookes's mouth.

The lath then went to the water bottle and pushed it several times nearly over, to move it away from the opening in the table. The lath then went endways down the opening.

The tumbler moved about a little.

The lath moved up through the opening in the table and answered "Yes" and "No" to questions, by bobbing up and down three times or once.

A hand was seen by some, and a luminous cloud by others, pulling the flowers about which were in a stand on the table. A flower was then seen to be carried deliberately and given to Mrs. Wr. Crookes.

Another flower was taken by the hand and brought over to Mrs. Wm. Crookes; it was dropped between her and Mr. Home.

Raps then said

"We must go."

The raps then commenced loudly all over the room and got fainter and fainter until they became inaudible.

The seance then broke up.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fear of Ghosts

There seems to be good evidence that fear of ghosts is innate. This evidence consists of reports of apparitions causing terror in animals. A number of these are recounted in Miracles and Modern Spiritualism by Alfred Russel Wallace (co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection). They are told in the section "Are There Objective Apparitions" in the subsection "Effects of phantasms on animals". Here are a few examples:

I have already mentioned the case of the female figure in white, seen by three persons floating over a hedge ten feet above the ground, when the horse they were driving suddenly stopped and shook with fright.


In the remarkable account of a haunted house during an occupation of twelve months by a well-known English Church dignitary, the very different behaviour of dogs in the presence of real and of phantasmal disturbances is pointed out. When an attempt was made to rob the vicarage, the dogs gave prompt alarm and the clergyman was aroused by their fierce barking. During the mysterious noises, however, though these were much louder and more disturbing, they never barked at all, but were always "found cowering in a state of pitiable terror."


In the account of haunting in a house at Hammersmith near London, which went on for five years, where steps and noises were heard and a phantom woman seen, "the dog whined incessantly " during the disturbances, and " the dog was evidently still afraid of the room when the morning came. I called to him to go into it with me, and he crouched down with his tail between his legs, and seemed to fear entering it."


In the remarkable account by General Barter, C.B., of a phantasmal pony and rider with two native grooms seen in India, two dogs which immediately before were hunting about in the brushwood jungle which covered the hill, came and crouched by the General's side, giving low, frightened whimpers; and when he pursued the phantasm the dogs returned home, though on all other occasions they were his most faithful companions.

If animals are naturally afraid of ghosts, then people might be also. There are certainly many cultural influences that may cause people to be afraid of spirits. Scary ghost stories, horror movies, and religious admonitions against communing with spirits are some of them. However, an innate fear of spirits may be the underlying reason people are afraid of spirits and that might be the reason these cultural influences got started in the first place.

I think fear of spirits is unfortunate. It's a form of prejudice. Many people don't realize how hard it can be for a spirit to communicate with a loved one who is still on the earth plane. Sometimes the best the spirit can do is to tap on the wall or turn the lights on and off. And what happens? The people in the vicinity become terrified. Sometimes they move to a new home. Other times they call an exorcist. Either way, a new story about "evil spirits" starts making the rounds - even when there is nothing evil about the spirit.

Isn't that a terrible way to welcome Grandma who might be trying to see how her beloved grandchildren are doing? As a society we have a lot to do to learn to accept spirits and treat them fairly, the way they deserve.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ectoplasm and Materialization

Michael Tymn has an excellent series of blog posts on ectoplasm and materialization of spirits.

Ectoplasm is a substance some mediums are able to produce with the help of spirit guides during a seance. It is drawn from the body of the medium and it can be manipulated by spirits. Ectoplasm is used as an interface between the spirit and the physical world. One of its uses is to allow a spirit to take on a physical form which can be seen and sometimes heard speaking during the seance.

If you weren't aware of this phenomenon it might seem incredible. However, many eminent scientists and investigators including Charles Richet (Nobel prize winner in Physiology and Medicine), Alfred Russel Wallace (Co-discoverer, with Charles Darwin of the theory of natural selection), Sir William Crookes (Inventor of the cathode ray tube), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Medical doctor and author of Sherlock Holmes Stories) have studied this phenomenon and verified it as fact.

These blog posts by Michael Tymn explain the details and include photographs of ectoplasm coming from mediums and spirits materializing. They also include many convincing proofs of the reality of this phenomenon:

The final part of the series will be posted on Dec. 6

Many books and other references by or about the people mentioned in Michael Tymn's posts are available on-line.

Alfred Russel Wallace mentoned above is the author of Miracles and Modern Spiritualism.

Also of interest are these photographs of the medium Jack Webber producing ectoplasm. The photographs are from the book "The Mediumship of Jack Webber" by Harry Edwards.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mesmerism: How Science Adapts and Adopts Spiritual Phenomena

Over at Dean Radin's blog there is a post speculating that the study of quantum entanglement may lead mainstream science to the discovery of telepathy.

It will be nice if and when that happens, but I doubt one discovery will overthrow materialism.

The example of how mesmerism evolved into hypnotism shows how science corrupts a spiritual phenomena when it is adapted and adopted by mainstream science.

Mesmerism is a paranormal phenomena first demonstrated by Franz Mesmer a German physician who was born in the 18th century. The mesmerist "mesmerized" the subject merely by waving his hands around the person in a process called "making passes". This was believed to demonstrate "animal magnetism". The subject came under the influence of the mesmerist the way a steel needle may be magnetized by rubbing it with a magnet. Being mesmerized was a form of spiritual healing and in some cases could lead to psychic perceptions such as clairvoyance or obedience to the thoughts of the mesmerist.

At first, mesmerism was considered complete hogwash by mainstream scientists. In the long run, the facts couldn't be ignored when patient after patient underwent painless surgery after being mesmerized in the days before anesthetics. However, mainstream scientists digested only what they could swallow and mesmerism evolved into modern hypnotism. Spiritual healing was jettisoned or replaced with suggestion. Psychic perceiving was relegated to a fringe anomaly and ignored by most scientists. Passes were replaced with a verbal induction into a deeply relaxed state.

(Therapeutic touch is a modern method of energy healing similar to mesmerism in that the healer moves their hands near the patient but without touching them in a manner that is similar to the passes of mesmerism. However the patient is not entranced. This is practiced in some hospitals by nurses in the US, but it is not generally accepted by mainstream science.)

From studying the example of mesmerism, one may speculate that if telepathy is demonstrated by physicists, it will not end science's materialist orientation. Scientists studying quantum entanglement and telepathy may discover the interface between the spirit and the brain at the quantum level, but scientists may not recognize the spirit's role in the process of telepathy. Instead, they may start searching for a physical link between brains. If this happens, it could take another century or more for science to take the next step towards full knowledge of our spiritual nature.

Will this happen? I hate to make predictions, especially about the future, but historically there is very little reason to be optimistic that one discovery will eliminate materialism. Science tends to evolve gradually rather than drastically.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anecdotes in Psychical Research

I've started another blog: Anecdotes in Psychical Research. There will be a new anecdote each day. I am beginning with Death-Bed Visions by Sir William Barrett

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Skeptical Misdirection During the Era of Psychical Research

The page Skeptical Misdirection on my web site has been updated with a new section: Skeptical Misdirection During the Era of Psychical Research

This section covers deceptive tactics used by skeptics to "debunk" some of the genuine mediums of that era. Subsections include:

  • Skeptics Pay for False Accusations Against the Holmses
  • False accusations against Sir William Crookes
  • Houdini's assistant admits planting false evidence of fraud.
  • Harry Price, debunker, exposed by his loyal associates.
  • Helen Duncan, framed by the British government.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Arthur Edward Stilwell

Today, the Anomalist linked to an article by Brad Steiger about Arthur Edward Stilwell at It's an interesting story about how Stilwell was guided by spirits to build a business empire. Interestingly, Stilwell used a method of communating with spirits similar to the method I describe in my web site. Steiger describes it briefly in the article:
He would lie down in bed alone in a dark room.

He would next focus his mind on his immediate problem and allow himself to drift off into a sort of half sleep.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eminent Scientist, Nobel Prize Winners, Who Were Trained Observers and Initially Skeptics, Became Convinced of the Reality of Paranormal Phenomena.

Some people will argue that the average person is not a good observer and that if they have a belief in paranormal phenomena, their bias will influence their perceptions and they may be susceptible to fraud or misidentifying ordinary phenomena as paranormal. For this reason, they argue that reports of paranormal phenomena are unreliable and should not be taken seriously.

However, this reasoning doesn't hold up when you consider that many eminent scientists of the past including Nobel Prize winners who were trained observers and initially skeptics became convinced, by their observations, that certain paranormal phenomena are genuine.

Before the development of modern electronics, observation was a much more important part of scientific education than it is today. Without radio telescopes, electron microscopes, analog to digital converters, and other instruments that make measurements beyond the range of human perception, scientists had to use their own senses to do their work and developing powers of observation was a significant part of their education.

Therefore, when Nobel prize winning scientists of that era such as Charles Richet, Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, and other eminent scientists like Robert Boyle, Alfred Russel Wallace, Oliver Lodge and William Crookes describe their observations, especially during controlled experiments, those observations have to be taken seriously. Particularly because most of them began as skeptics until their observations convinced them otherwise. A trained scientist, especially of those past times, was an objective and skilled observer and because of their skepticism cannot be considered analogous to a "true believer" who's bias might influence their perceptions.

All those arguments that call into doubt the ability of ordinary persons who believe in the paranormal to make reliable observations actually reinforce the compelling nature of the conclusions of these eminent researchers. For the most part, they began as skeptics so their bias would work against perceiving paranormal phenomena. The evidence must have been extraordinary to compel them to change their minds against their preexisting bias. As trained observers and skeptics their conclusions that paranormal phenomena are real must be considered reliable and compelling.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Web Site Updates

There have been some recent updates to my web site

Alfred Russel Wallace has been added to the page on Eminent Researchers. Wallace discovered the theory of natural selection at the same time Charles Darwin did. Wallace started out skeptical of mediumistic phenomena, but his great powers of observation, the same ones that led him to formulate the theory of natural selection, led him to conclude that mediumistic phenomena proved the existence of supernatural intelligences.

This exposes a skeptical fallacy. Many skeptics believe that the theory of natural selection explains the origin of life and and humankind, and therefore belief in supernatural entities is unwarranted. However, Wallace, one of the discoverers of natural selection believed otherwise. This fallacy has been added to the page on skeptical fallacies.

An explanation of another fallacy has also been added to the page on Skeptical Fallacies. Many skeptics believe that past life memories recovered during hypnosis are caused by suggestions or leading questions by the hypnotist. This is not correct. Many psychologists have independently and accidentally discovered past life regression therapy when doing ordinary regression therapy when they simply instruct the subject to "go back to the origin of the problem". False memories of the current life are never generated this way, but memories of past lives are frequently recovered from this process.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Resistance to Psi

Why is there so much resistance to psychic phenomena in some portions of society?

  • Genuine psychic phenomena have been produced by ordinary people throughout the history of humankind. However, these phenomena were rejected by science for "political" reasons, not empirical reasons, when the scientific revolution deposed religion as the ultimate source of knowledge. Besides being seen as allied with religion, psychic phenomena is a competitor of Science as a means of obtaining information about the universe. Therefore, some modern scientists have a lot of cultural baggage that prevent them from seeing the otherwise obvious evidence that some paranormal phenomena are real.

  • Some religious leaders reject psychic phenomena (see the comment at the top of the link) because those phenomena threaten the dogmatic teachings of their religion. It undermines their authority as the source of information on the afterlife, God, and other spiritual subjects. In some cases it also subverts their role as an intermediary between the individual and supernatural entities.

  • Some people hold a grudge against religion because they have been harmed psychologically by overly dogmatic upbringing, or because some religion condemns their lifestyle choices. They may choose to vilify anything that relates to the supernatural, including psychic phenomena.

  • Certain government agencies have spread disinformation about the reality of psychic phenomena to discourage other countries from developing psychic means for spying and sabotage, and to protect the secrecy of their own government's programs to develop those capabilities.

  • Some debunkers make a living disputing every paranormal claim and sometimes misrepresent the empirical evidence because real paranormal phenomena jeopardize their career and life's work. Their livelihood is based on media exposure to sell books, raise money, and generate more media exposure, and as a result their influence is far greater than their qualifications in the field should warrant.

  • Many people who, because of their education, accept the authority of scientists, suspend their critical thinking in order to embrace the debunkers' deceptive "logic" because it allows them to hold on to their world view in the face of empirical evidence, including scientific research, that demonstrate genuine psychic phenomena. People resist changing their world view because it requires admitting they were wrong or misled.

There are many unique social forces resisting the acceptance of psychic phenomena.

Copyright © 2009 by ncu9nc All rights reserved.