home books e-books audio books recent titles with blogs
12 Possible Reasons why Thomas Edison Failed to Communicate After Death

Posted on 20 June 2022, 7:45

A recent television program dealing with mysteries of the unknown featured a story about the great inventor Thomas Edison (below) giving the famous mentalist Joseph Dunninger 10 words that he would attempt to communicate to him through a medium after his death, as evidence that he had survived death. As I did not anticipate writing about the story I neglected to record the details, the name of the program, or even the network. A week or so later, a very skeptical friend mentioned having seen the same program and saw it as evidence that the whole idea of spirit communication is just so much bunk.


The gist of the story, as my friend and I recalled, is that sometime after Edison’s death in 1931, Dunninger, (below) who had a reputation as a debunker of mediums, arranged for a sitting with a female medium named Warner (or Werner) near the top of the Empire State Building with several other people in attendance. The location was chosen as it was “closer to heaven.” There were all kinds of raps and racket coming through initially, but eventually only one word came though the medium. It had something to do with location of Edison’s laboratory, but it was not, according to Dunninger, one of the 10 test words. Moreover, Dunninger later determined that all the noise resulted from plumbers working on some pipes floors below the séance. Thus, he supposedly ruled out “spirit raps.” I don’t recall it being stated how many of the 10 words the medium had to get through for the experiment to be a success, but I suspect that Dunninger would have deemed it a failure if only nine of the 10 words came through.


There might have been more information that we don’t remember and there is likely much more to the story that the television producers did not mention. I made a cursory attempt to search for more details on the internet and in my library, but I could find nothing about the story. The television commentator reported that Dunninger clearly proved that the medium was a fake and it might have otherwise been inferred by the viewer that Edison had not survived death. My friend asked for my thoughts on the matter and I replied with 12 possibilities:

1. Actual Fraud: Dunninger may have been right – the “medium” was a fraud. However, that does not mean that all mediums are charlatans or that Edison did not survive death. No information was given as to how the medium was chosen or how successful she had been under test conditions by objective researchers, if she had been studied by any.

2. Prearranged Failure: Having a reputation as a debunker of mediums, Dunninger may have seen success in the experiment as damaging his reputation. Therefore, he could have arranged it to fail or could have falsely reported any success. There was no indication by the TV commentator as to what others in attendance had to say about the sitting or if others confirmed the presence of plumbers causing the raps. 

3. Hostility: It has often been reported by researchers and mediums that a hostile or negative attitude prevents effective communication and that harmonious conditions provide the best results. Even if Dunninger did not set up the experiment for failure, his hostile attitude toward mediumship may have blocked Edison from making contact. In his 1901 book, The Law of Psychic Phenomena, Thomson Jay Hudson, Ph.D., LL.D., discussed this.  “Exhibitions of the phenomena of spiritism are constantly liable to utter failure in the presence of avowed sceptics,” he wrote. “Everyone who has attended a ‘spiritual’ séance is aware of the strict regard paid to securing ‘harmonious conditions,’ and all know how dismal is the failure when such conditions cannot be obtained.”

4.Telepathy: Dunninger had a reputation as a mind-reader.  If he actually had telepathic abilities, he still rejected the idea of spirits and spirit communication. Thus, if the medium had been successful in communicating some or all of the 10 words, Dunninger might have seen it as resulting from reading his mind. Rather than suggest that the medium had abilities equal to his, he opted to call her a fraud. 

5. No Sympathetic Link: The “medium” may have had mediumistic abilities, but she was unable to establish a “sympathetic link” to the spirit of Edison for the desired communication for reasons other than Dunninger’s hostility. Such is the case in many mediumistic efforts. Even the best of mediums fail completely in some sittings, partially in others. “We are persistently told at circles that mutual confidence is essential – confidence of the medium in the sitters, and confidence of the sitters in the medium,” researcher Dr. Isaac Funk wrote. “There must be a receptive conditions in the circle. The requisites are serenity of mind, confidence in the integrity of each other, and calm desire.”

6. Symbolic Language: Research indicates that many mediums must interpret messages that come through symbolically from the spirit world. Thus, if Edison had communicated, the words might have been synonyms for the actual words given to Dunninger. “The easiest things to lay hold of are what we may call ideas,” Sir William Barrett communicated after his death. “A detached word, a proper name, has no link with a train of thought except in a detached sense; that is far more difficult than any other feat of memory or association of ideas.” Barrett added that he could remember a name on his side when he had a “complete mind,” but that when he came back to the earth realm to communicate, he was forced to separate the conscious from the subconscious, thereby forgetting much. “I cannot come with my whole self, I cannot,” he told his widow. When Lady Barrett asked him to elaborate, Sir William pointed out that he has a fourth dimensional self which cannot make its fourth dimension exactly the same as the third. “It’s like measuring a third dimension by its square feet instead of by its cubic feet,” he continued, “and there is no doubt about it I have left something of myself outside which rejoins me directly I put myself into the condition in which I readjust myself.”

7. Unawakened: Indications are that most spirits are slow to awaken to the larger life, some not even realizing they are dead. Intelligence does not necessarily convert to consciousness in the spirit world, and it may be that the spirit of Edison had not yet gained the necessary consciousness to be able to communicate. I don’t recall any mention of how long after Edison’s death the Empire State Building experiment took place. After Dr. Richard Hodgson, another researcher, died in 1905, he began communicating through the mediumship of Leonora Piper, the Boston medium he had studied for 18 years, apparently then not fully awakened to the celestial life. “I find now difficulties such as a blind man would experience in trying to find his hat,” the surviving consciousness of Hodgson told Professor William Newbold in a July 23, 1906 sitting. “And I am not wholly conscious of my own utterances because they come out automatically, impressed upon the machine (Piper’s body)…I impress my thoughts on the machine which registers them at random, and which are at times doubtless difficult to understand. I understand so much better the modus operandi than I did when I was in your world.”

8. Limited Memory: Many spirit communicators have stated that their memory of their past earth life is very limited and that forgetting code words is no different than humans forgetting computer passwords or having so many computer passwords that the critical one cannon be recalled. It appears that names are no easier to remember in the spirit life than they are in the earth life. “Tell them I am more stupid than some of those I deal with,” Frederic W. H. Myers communicated as he struggled to remember the last time he had seen Sir Oliver Lodge. He mentioned that he could not remember many things, not even his mother’s name. He went on to say that he felt like he was looking at a misty picture and that he could hear himself using the medium’s voice but that he didn’t feel as if he were actually speaking. “It is funny to hear myself talking when it is not myself talking,” he went on. “It is not my whole self talking. When I am awake (i.e., not communicating through a medium),I known where I am.”

9. Advanced Insight: Edison may have had the ability to communicate through a medium, but from his new perspective was able to see Dunninger’s devious motive to debunk the medium and therefore saw no point in attempting communication and playing Dunninger’s game.

10. Lacking Ability: Research suggests that only a small percentage of spirits have the ability to communicate with the physical world. In his attempts to communicate with Anne Manning Robbins though the mediumship of Leonora Piper, Augustus P. Morgan, the former mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, explained that several other spirits trained him for many months in earth time in how to communicate. “They have held me up and showed me the Light, and said, ‘do this and do that, and see this and see that,” and shown me the details, and the ins and outs and the whys and wherefores, and why shouldn’t I learn something after having it hammered into me all the time.”

11. Too Advanced: Spirit communicators also state that it is easier for lower-level spirits to communicate than more advanced spirits, as the lower-level spirits are closer to the earth frequency than those higher. The higher spirits often require lower-level spirits to relay their messages to humans and indications are that it is difficult to find reliable lower-level spirits to cooperate in such an endeavor. Edison may have found himself at too high a frequency to effectively communicate and unable to find a reliable go-between, the existence of which are apparently rare. 

12. Necessary Doubt: Edison may have settled in with an advanced soul group that believes that “doubt” is a necessary part of life’s experience and that such proof of his survival would be detrimental to human progress. Moreover, Judge John Edmonds, one of the earliest researchers, was informed that there is in the spirit world much opposition to intercourse with the physical world, “and that a combination has been formed to interrupt and, if possible, to overthrow it, and one mode is by visiting circles and individuals, exciting their suspicions of spirits, and bad thoughts as to their good faith and purity of purpose.”

My friend wasn’t buying many of my 12 reasons because they were based on spirit messages, not on “science.” Again, there might be much more to this story recorded somewhere, possibly in one of Dunninger’s books, but, considering Dunninger’s reputation as a debunker, I would expect a biased report. One thing I did come across on the internet is how Dunninger was able to make paraffin hands, thereby supposedly demonstrating that the researches carried out by esteemed scientists in Europe in which paraffin hands were materialized were nothing more than tricks by the medium. The fact that the European researchers held the hands of the medium behind locked doors while the paraffin hand molds were being produced and otherwise controlled the conditions does not seem to have been factored into Dunninger’s analysis. It was enough that they could be made. (See blog of July 25, 2011 for more about the paraffin hands experiments.)

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.
Next blog post: July 4


My experience with mediums tells me that it is closer to an art form more than an exact science. Some mediums are frauds; deliberately or because they are delusional. Some mediums are for real, but only weakly and/or inconsistently so. Others are very strong, yet not consistently.

There was a medium, Georgia O’Connor, who lived in Upstate NY (I fear she has transitioned now. Her health was not good and she disappeared one day). Michael Prescott had a very convincing session with her. He passed her name to me. My wife and I drove out to see her (I lived a few hours away at the time). We masked our identities completely, took every precaution. We offered no information about who we thought would contact us from the spirit side (though my father had passed on a few months earlier). After a brief “hello” we were led into a modest room and Georgia began immediately assuming the identity/personality of my father and without any hesitation began firing off highly evidential statements; very specific personal facts that only my father and I would know (or sometimes he, my wife and I would know). For the next hour I was having a conversation with my father. He was a unique man and it WAS his word choices, mannerisms, attitudes, etc.

My wife was highly skeptical and she was as blown away and convinced as I was. Mediumship doesn’t get any better than the sitting I had. You couldn’t ask for more.

A couple people I know of sat with Georgia and were equally amazed and convinced. However, a couple others were not. One said that no spirit contact was made at all even though his mother had recently passed. The other said that Georgia seemed to be lost and made a few feeble statements that sounded like guesses. There was a youtube video with Georgia on a talk show and trying to do readings for people. She was terrible (she later told me that it just wasn’t happening in front of the cameras and crowd and that she felt pressured to produce something and should have just left the stage). At my sitting, Georgia never asked for confirmation, never fished, etc. Michael Prescott said the same thing about his session.

So a great medium had some bad days, just like a great golfer or great musician does.

Eric Newhill, Sun 31 Jul, 23:17

No problems with Seth material. I thought you might ask who told me about voice who told me about the machine that was about to start a fire. Was it my future self or another entity?
I usually ask who is talking to know which person is communicating. They are usually willing to supply their name (mainly first name). I then ask what is your interest? I have mt usual crowd but the one that warned me was male and familiar but no name given, so could have been future self?
I mentally repeat the phrase that in the sea of voices foretelling events, the psychic swims while the schizophrenic drowns.
I used to be on the front door of the Spiritualist Church scanning those coming in to see if they were accompanied by spirits so that those without might not be able to be believed. Just a standard precaution.
I will take your tip and look over the Seth material,

Bruce Williams, Sun 17 Jul, 10:47


People find spurious reasons for dismissing or deriding the Seth material. (There was a time when I would have dismissed it.)  It’s not perfect—no such information can be—but I’d say it’s excellent in terms of the basic concepts it provides.

One reason some have dismissed it is because of Jane Robert’s illness and early death, a topic Seth explored many times in private or personal sessions. Although Jane, with her husband’s help, conveyed the material, devoting much of her life from 1963 until her death in 1984 to doing so, she never stopped long enough to gain a good personal understanding and apply it to her own situation.

Another reason is based on objections to parts of the material that conflict with Christianity, particularly Seth’s comments regarding the crucifixion of Jesus in _Seth Speaks_, even though no eyewitness accounts exist (the “gospels” were written long after the events they describe and included in the New Testament by church authorities—who excluded other, similar “books”—several centuries after the events in question), but what serious reader today would find no serious flaws with the writings associated with the religion or with some of the basic tenets of the religion itself, not excluding the idea of “original sin?”

Others, still, question the validity of “channeling” period, but this is very similar to those who question the validity of mediumship and any and all information (allegedly, per those questioners) obtained from “invisible” beings, whether dead humans or other beings not visible to physical eyes.

Certainly a great deal of such activity _is_ questionable, while there is a significant amount of junk offered today on YouTube in this area, mixed in with items of quality.  Discernment is required.

Today, a great deal of the Seth material is digitized and available on-line.  Note this search engine:

Lastly, and pertaining to my remark regarding a “future probable” version of my 1982 self, is an exercise found in the first volume of _The “Unknown” Reality_.  (Seth embedded exercises throughout the books he dictated to validate concepts found in them.)

This is “Practice Element 1.”

I’d ignored exercises when I first read Seth’s books, long ago, telling myself:  “I’ll get around to doing this later.”

Until I did that particular exercise, with mind blowing and life changing results.


Bill Ingle, Sat 16 Jul, 19:32

I have put in to writing some strange events (I talk to dead people but have had other strange things happen with seeing the future). When your base line is already strange and things happen which surprise you- that’s strange.
Working out where these strange events fit is what I am trying to do. Seth is the closest that I have read on the time problem that I had. I ran it by Rhine Research.
I can think about Ken (DEC) keeping quiet about things. I was in charge of a section that made explosives. I was told of a machine that would be a problem. I went to our Safety section to request to take it out of production. No problems reported from around the world with this machine. Two weeks later I am in a fire caused by this machine in explosives. Two weeks after I was questioned why I had reported this machine - I said engineering caution. Six months later with a Board of Inquiry I was asked to detail my reasons. Of course I would not say that the voices told me of danger. I made up a story that my metallurgical training (I had a Distinction in that unit) allowed me to think of that danger.
When you have strange events you get great at lying. This forum is one of the few places that I can mention the strange.
I checked Yale collection of Seth and downloaded copies of books from some digital book sites.
The future self reminds me of Seth explaining time using the ledge on the mountain analogy. You might be linked to selfs on higher ledges.

Bruce Williams, Sat 16 Jul, 02:16

Bruce:  “Did you find out who popped the image/title of Seth book in to your mind?”

That’s a good question, Bruce. My first guess would be my own greater self or entity; second would be a future probable version of my 1982 self.

Then there are a number of unusual experiences I’ve not mentioned here that may have a bearing on this.

One in particular is so outlandish that I am reluctant to mention it.  This was in the “very real seeming to me but who would believe it?” department, and as unprovable as nearly all such experiences are, experiences to which “journalistic accuracy” can’t be applied.

Bill Ingle, Thu 14 Jul, 17:33

I like your thinking. I am a medium who has researched communications. My qualifications are engineering (communications, IT etc) so when I attended a trance session in 1993 I had a chat with someone telling me of the Internet. I couldn’t understand how it would work given that communications required network gear. I asked various questions but the entity was not that conversant with the technical terms. I wish he/she had given me the stocks to invest in.
I know that for a medium on this side there is a medium on the other side and they refer to the technicians. Sir Oliver Lodge would be working hard on the other side plus various engineering entities.
I looked at Meeks work, Edision work Scole etc. i suspect that Cayce had an invention. I didn’t know about some of the others. You got me interested in Seth and I am reading it for tips.
Now the mediums are like the community priest, at the helping the poor and distresed so that I was looking at the higher communication entities.
I get the phrase Stand by for Transmission and in comes the message. It is conversational.
The material is good and it becomes clearer with the passage of time. Names unknown to me fit into place.
The parallel I see is with the chatbot. We have the Turing test to see if a bot can fool a person in to believing that the bot is human. I look at the spirit boxes as early bots and that the science is progressing.
I have not asked for the Other Side technical group to work with me ( I am flat out sorting out the current work).
My family were pioneers in amateur radio so I know various techniques (hence the background in communications) which makes me wonder about the scanning techniques used in the spirit boxes.
I have read Sir Oliver Lodge Returns by Robert Leichtman for any clues.
The Seth material that I have read looks good. The concept of time fits in with my experience. The trouble is that there are pockets of wisdom and getting through them is slow process.
my question Did you find out who popped the image/title of Seth book in to your mind?
Always a delight to chat with you. I am impressed with your thinking on these matters as they are non obvious (patent expression). My brother and I used the old cassette recorder going overnight to see if any sounds were recorded. This was in the 1960s. I should have stayed with the EVP field but it was a poor form of communications compared to mediumship.

Bruce Williams, Thu 14 Jul, 03:19


Edison himself hoped to create a device enabling communication but failed.

The topic of using electronics to facilitate communication has long been of interest to me. In the 1970s I became aware of George Meek’s work and his “spiracom” device.  I corresponded with him and subscribed to the (printed, mailed) newsletter his non-profit published.

But my own (imperfect) understanding of this and the larger areas it’s a subset of (much larger areas if you treat it as a subset of the nature of reality) changed considerably after I encountered then began to ponder and absorb the Seth material.

That took place in 1982 when, meditating for the first time, I “saw” a persistent image of the cover of _Seth Speaks_ (my eyes were closed).  I stopped, hiked into Harvard Square, entered a bookstore, and discovered it was a real book.

_Seth Speaks_ was interesting but I didn’t appreciate the power of the Seth material (the name used to encompass all of the books Seth dictated through Jane Roberts between 1963 and 1984 as well as thousands of sessions, some of them later published as _The Early Sessions_, _The Personal Sessions_, etc.  All of the Seth material is archived at the Yale University Library) until I did an exercise (Practice Element 1.) found in the first volume of _The “Unknown” Reality_.

Back to “EVP” “ITC” or whatever someone might call it.

You may be familiar with the work and writings of Dr. Anabella Cardoso, who occasionally comments here, predecessors of her work, Marcello Bacci’s radio, the Scole and Norfolk experiments, and other such work and situations, for which information is publicly available. I’m aware of some of Mark Macy’s activities, too, but I’m not comfortable with a number of his statements; I don’t have time at the moment to get into the details.

Considering the years of results from all of the above, especially the (recorded) voices that emanated from Bacci’s radio, you might think that someone might invent a specially designed device that would enable consistent results.

The “spirit boxes” might seem to be just such devices but, like you, I’m not impressed.

I’d thought, once, that with so many dead engineers who in life specialized in hardware, software, and communication technology (with more dying every day) a small %, working with living personalities, might devise technology that would be more effective.

One way to begin such an approach would be “conversing” with “dead techies” using traditional trance/mediumship techniques. My communication with “Ken” was an initial foray in this direction.

I haven’t given up entirely on this concept but it’s not my primary focus at the moment.

I suspect that the present human understanding of the nature of physical reality, including the electromagnetic spectrum and devices that utilize it (so very, very many these days—between 6 and 8 billion smart phone users exist globally, per different sources) is inadequate for the task.

On the other hand, there’s room for lots of cross fertilization here (an “interdisciplinary” approach between different parts of what I’ll call “the fringe”—Mediumship and trance communication, ITC/EVP, Michael’s (and Robert Bigelow’s) realms, information like the Seth material, and so on).

For example, how many of those in ITC/EVP are conversant with Seth’s words and exercises? 

What would a channelled entity like Seth (per his own words, he would only ever communicate through Jane Roberts—there’s scant wiggle room here but a few possible loopholes, while Jane died in 1984, so, this would not be Seth—have to say about TimeStream Station, Dr. Cardoso’s work, the Scole experiment, all that Myers, James, etc., accomplished long ago, and Bacci’s radio?

Some of my favorite and most skilled but strictly amateur mediums, trance communicators, etc., were Seth readers I initially met on-line, beginning in 1995, when the Internet was new, but they had no interest in these other areas.  Of the three most talented (possessing nearly frightening “psychic” abilities—I wasn’t aware of such people until I met them, in person) two are dead; I’ve lost contact with the third.

Neither of the two was interested in being known as a person with extreme psychic talent—one went out of her way to hide such abilities, believing any public knowledge of her abilities or talents would interfere with her career as an author of fiction.

If you review all of the electronic stuff, it looks to me as though it parallels traditional mediumship in that we’re dealing with cooperative ventures between the living and the dead.

Incorporating a truly advanced knowledge of physical reality and the electromagnetic spectrum, etc., and including physicists and engineers in such cooperative ventures is a possibility but only that, and might only emerge centuries from now, if ever.  (Seth was certainly no physicist or engineer, nor was this information in Jane Robert’s mind, which he utilized—Jane, a poet and science fiction author, had a great store of words and concepts for Seth to utilize, but this did not include anything of a technical nature or even a rudimentary knowledge of contemporary physics.)

It’s too bad Ken Olsen’s interest in mediumship and the afterlife was not known during his lifetime (even if it had been, this might have been limited to a small circle and have been of an almost clandestine nature).

Some very interesting experiments might have resulted.

Bill Ingle, Wed 13 Jul, 15:31

I like your comments. Ken from DEC was an icon in the IT world. I would expect that you were broadcasting to contact with him and he chose to answer. I was trained on DEC PDP/11 at University and would have enjoyed a conversation with a fellow engineer. His interest in the afterlife would not be well known due to the positions he held in society and business.
I would like your thoughts on the EVP produced by spirit boxes. I am not impressed by them. At best one line responses but nothing remarkable.
The medium would not know of this person. I am waiting for Andy Grove from Intel to pop in one day Only the Paranoid Survive. I use his phrase in cybersecurity I know I am paranoid but am i paranoid enough?

Bruce Williams, Wed 13 Jul, 09:19

Hi Bill

A very interesting reply thank you.  As you say it can be very difficult to assess another person’s experiences and in fact there’s no substitute for personal experience.

I found the Seth books interesting initially then they read like some sort of cult to me. I didn’t find them evidential of anything really and they read like a lot of similar writings imho.

As for who doesn’t and doesn’t communicate my own readings agrees with your opinion as you state it below. It’s probably impossible to determine whether or not there is a connection at some level or other with particular purported communicators. May be even thinking of the person potentially forms a connection whether or not one existed when they were on earth.

Paul, Sun 10 Jul, 16:11


Neither “Demand” nor “compel” is applicable—communication between the living and the dead is necessarily a _cooperative_ activity.

On earth, you can call someone but there will be no conversation if the person you call chooses to not pick up the phone.  This is no different when it comes to “calling” the dead.

I’ve read in the Seth material expressions of the beliefs of Jane Roberts and her husband, Rob Butts, suggesting that if you didn’t know someone in life, it would be unlikely that you could communicate with them after their death.

Neither was a medium prior to Jane’s conveying information from Seth (Rob was always essential to this activity, providing supportive energy; this began when the two operated a ouija board as part of research for a book Jane intended to write); they weren’t very familiar with this or any number of related areas.

My personal experience contradicts their beliefs.

An example that comes to mind is the time I found myself having a very convincing “conversation” with Ken Olsen, founder and long-time CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation, after his death.

This was through my medium teacher, who held a “seance” event outside of class for her students, agreeing to “get” whoever those attending wished.

The other students asked her to communicate with dead family members and loved ones.  When it was my turn and she asked me who she’d like me to get in touch with, I said simply “Ken.”

These were classes in a form of evidential mediumship, but although I once saw Olsen from a distance at a DEC press conference, I never knew him personally. 

I researched his life sufficiently to get through the initial five questions regarding “evidence” (in that form of mediumship this is essential—the “sitter” must assent to five pieces of evidence prior to communication; when the sitter says “yes” to each item their voice strengthens the link; should they be unable to do this, the procedure ends and there will be no communication).

Evidence can be personal details of the dead person’s life—preferences, personal characteristics, etc.; I was fortunate in what she presented to me—I was able to answer “yes” to five items, but strictly speaking, I was “cheating”—I only knew of these details from my one encounter and my research.

It was early days for me in the classes and I was testing her. (I came to believe that she had strong mediumistic abilities based on many classes.)

Speaking to her afterwards, it was very apparent that she had no knowledge whatsoever of DEC or Olsen—had never heard of either—both were completely outside of her areas of interest.

As she connected with Olsen, she described encountering a mind filled with numbers (Olsen was an engineer).

Olsen said he’d long had an interest in the afterlife and communication between the living and dead but as an engineer and CEO of a computer company, no one in his business circles shared this interest.  He was also a prominent member of his local protestant church, but no one associated with it ever discussed mediumship, either.

His interest drew him to the “seance,” which began with an opening meditation (creating a “circle”—setting an intention for communication).

We “discussed” the possibility of developing electronic communication between the living and the dead. Olsen thought it was possible, but would require venture capital.

There’s no way I can prove that I was actually conversing with the dead CEO of DEC, but then my focus in this area has always been experiential—“hands on.”

In other words, I have no strong interest in “proving” what is basically a subjective experience to anyone else and consider that mostly a waste of time and energy, although such experiences can be created and sometimes shared. 
I’d much rather obtain and expand a personal sense of “knowing” which includes continuing to develop my “inner” perceptions.

Although I was initially highly sceptical of all such communication, that scepticism began to diminish in the face of undeniable direct, personal experience.

This is a question of belief, perception, and understanding (and I hold understanding to require both knowledge and being, as defined by George Gurdjieff).  Seth’s words from the first chapter of _Seth Speaks_ are highly relevant, too:

“Most of my readers are familiar with the term, ‘muscle bound.’ As a species you have grown ‘ego bound’ instead, held in a spiritual rigidity, with the intuitive portions of the self either denied or distorted beyond any recognition.”

The “inner” perceptions of someone who is quite “ego bound” are restricted or blocked, but someone can only _know_ this if they experience moments in which they are significantly less ego bound than they usually are.  No amount of explaining—verbally or in writing—will convey this to anyone who has never experienced such moments and whose beliefs regarding the nature of reality itself, not just those concerning an “afterlife,” will reflect this restriction.

It’s a bit of a conundrum. Fortunately, suitable tools exist for expanding inner perception and knowing, even if only some choose to avail themselves of them.

Btw—I’ve come across the best explication by Seth of what happens when someone dies I’m aware of, and it is highly relevant to communication.  This is found in Session 242, The Early Sessions, Book 6, for anyone who’s interested.

Bill Ingle, Sun 10 Jul, 14:47

Hi Bill
I’m not saying that a person can’t be invited but if it’s being suggested that one can demand someone attend a seance (which I assume you’re not), then I think there’s a great deal of evidence against that position.

I don’t see any evidence supporting the idea that spirit can be compelled to attend a seance unless they want to. Do you?

Paul, Sat 9 Jul, 13:57

Dear Mike (Tymn) and dear Newton,

I agree with your latest thoughts/additions to comment, and thank you for expressing them to us all! (And look forward to Mike’s next blog and comments thereon . . .)

It is not disrespectful to Dunninger to say bluntly, as if to his face, loudly in public, that it’s obvious he knew absolutely nothing of science, whatever his pretensions.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 4 Jul, 07:50

To occupy those with time and interest on the day before Michael’s new post, here’s an intriguing conversation between a popular Muslim blogger and an eminent liberal Christian theologian. As I understand Imperator, this is the kind of respectful, open-minded religious dialogue that pleases the spirit world.

Newton Finn, Sun 3 Jul, 16:44

Bruce and Eric,

As Dunninger apparently didn’t believe in a spirit world, he likely chose the Empire State Bldg. to play along with the “know-nothings” who assume heaven is “up there.” “See. people, we are right up there in their territory and they still can’t communicate with us. That should add to the evidence that there is nothing to it.”

Michael Tymn, Thu 30 Jun, 21:26

Dear all,

Climbing the Empire State Building does not bring anyone nearer to the spirit world, any more than ascending a ziggurat ever did. The spirit worlds are WHOLE UNIVERSES other than ours, probably some of them identical in structure with our ‘material’ universe, and therefore, to our senses spirit, not matter, but not spirit at all to those who inhabit ANY SUCH universe, which would feel completely ‘material’ to its inhabitants. Ascending the ESB does NOTHING because there is no such position as ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ (simple Einsteinian Special Relativity), and each universe exists in the flowing ELSEWHERE of the other universes, which understanding explains how two universes can temporarily jostle their way into each other universe’s space-time and make the COMMUNICATING BRIDGE that we observe as mediumship. I don’t have any command of the mathematics that would describe such an understanding, but I believe some physicists must have such an understanding, perhaps keeping it secret from their colleagues. As I have said before, I suspect Brian Josephson, whom I have NOT read (I don’t know what he has written for laymen such as myself), would probably smile knowingly to read what I am saying here. It is so very simple - like the eventual realisation Einstein had that gravity HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WEIGHT, but only to do with accelerations (negative and positive) and therefore RESISTANCE TO ANY EFFORT TO MAKE THINGS MOVE. NOTHING to do with weight, NOTHING.

Universes in each other’s Elsewhere, and occasionally jostling their space-times into “one place” for a moment. Leonora Piper and Gladys Osborne Leonard, professional jostlers of space-times.

Thanks again to Michael for another excellent blog. He is, as many have remarked, an admirably prolific thinker and recorder his very valuable thought and research. And thanks to Jon for publishing that thought and administering all our comments, as well as publishing many indispensible books.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Thu 30 Jun, 09:05

Prearranged failure - I would be thinking that this was a strong possibility. I worked always with intent. Was the intent failure? As a debunker, failure to communicate was a success. If the location had an alternative for noises - the steam mechanic apology seems too convenient then this would serve to upset anyone too trusting of responses. I thought that your list of possibilities would have been well received.
To prove intent, I always looked at those who stood to gain and if there was any history prior to the event such as planning the location to be above steam noises. Empire Building - closer to heaven seems a strange location given Edison was operational more in his labs.

Bruce Williams, Wed 29 Jun, 23:48

Thanks to Jones for the link to the Dunninger book. I have quickly browsed it, but the fact that Dunninger had a reputation as a debunker and apparently took up where Houdini left off in “exposing” them based on ways they “could have” or “might have” pulled off the “trick” in a certain way, I have doubts about anything Dunninger writes.

Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Jun, 21:26

A correction to my earlier comment.  D. D. Home did not tell Crookes that the moral atmosphere was negative.  It was the spirit (or spirits) speaking through Home.  I made the same mistake as so many of the old authors by not making the distinction between a spirit saying something through the medium and the medium saying it. Of course, the researchers were faced with the problem of remaining objective and not admitting spirits. It would not have been “scientific” to say that spirits said it.

Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Jun, 05:15

A possible 13th reason is the moral atmosphere. D. D. Home told Sir William Crookes that he could not produce any phenomena on May 28, 1873, Derby Day in England. According to Home, the gambling and drunkenness associated with Derby Day resulted in a negative moral atmosphere, one that prevented higher spirits from communicating. I don’t know what the moral atmosphere was when Dunninger held the seance, but it was no doubt in decline then, even if much better than it now is. 

Meant to refer to Lodge’s “inventions,” not his “discoveries” in earlier comment, although there is an overlap.  Again, thanks to all for the comments. On to banging out a blog for next Monday on a more timely subject, abortion, and what the spirits have to say about it.

Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Jun, 01:25

Hi Michael,

Joseph Dunninger’s 1935 book “Inside the Mediums Cabinet” is online.

The book can be read online free here

You can read the chapter “The Case of Mrs. Werner”, which describes the séance. Her full name was Wilhelmina Werner.

In regard to the loud noises heard, this was indeed due to a noise from a cranky steam-fitter downstairs below the séance room. The séance was held on the 82nd floor of the empire state building. If you read page 79 in the book I linked above, you will find that Dunninger mentioned a janitor interrupting the séance and apologizing for the noise.

If you read Dunninger’s chapter, I think you would agree that Mrs Werner although sincere was not a genuine spiritualist medium and there was no spirit communication during that séance. The séance was a failure.

Jones, Tue 28 Jun, 21:17

Michael, Bill and others,
Michael - I like your list of reasons. As Edison taught his second wife morse code and proposed to her by tapping on her hand and she accepted in morse code by tapping on his hand, I would expect that any raps would have a morse code base rather than yes/no. I would have held it in the Lab, wife present to get the why the contact. I would also have Edison’s Spirit Box (for contacting the dead - I suspect it was amplifier for EVP - does anyone have a copy of the patent?). The what part of the contact would be to pass on information and the how would be a group of mediums. I would try to have a technical medium who would have the vocabulary to translate. The reason for the group would allow power to be borrowed.
Bill - I like the in depth warning for John Hays Hammond, Jr. I wonder if those with high innovative skills (patents etc) are recruited for breakthroughs in spirit communications. I have a very high opinion of Sir Oliver Lodge in telecommunications as well as psychic work and would love to work with him. I wonder if those in spirit read this blog?

Bruce Williams, Tue 28 Jun, 03:12

Newton, thanks for the link. Interesting piece to read and to comment. When you asked yourself the ‘is there a afterlife’- question, followed by the ‘is there a divine being- question, there is still an important question, where there are several answers in the after dead communications and sometimes none.
The question is ‘why are we here?’, what purpose have our experiences on earth if we are a soul ,part of the divine being and that already knows when returning or tuning in with the divine,that it is all about ‘love’? The answer,given in my dreams is, ‘the Law of Change’, a fundamental law of the divine. An everongoing change, that drives the perpetuum mobile, a eternal change within, as fundamental as the Oneness of the divine and ‘the being’ of that divinity.Everything within it, changes, nothing vanishes. And what about ‘love’? Love is the most connecting ‘change’, and while we are part of that unity,it is the most important of all changes. But that is my opinion, don’t be angry if you have another.You are free to have it and tell it,everybody has his own path.As long as there is respect. Respect for yourself and the other.

Chris, Sun 26 Jun, 10:12

Paul:  “One constant thread in the record of communication seems to be precisely that we cannot summon anyone on demand.”

This isn’t true in my experience, but there any number of variables, some known, some unknown, including who the medium is (and sitter, if one is involved), their abilities, who they are attempting to communicate with, whether there is or was any relationship—in life or of an inner nature—possibly involving a so called “past life”—between those still embodied and those they would communicate with, etc.

In other words, a particular “spirit” (or “oversoul” in some instances) _can_ be contacted, some of time. One essential requirement, of course, is a willingness to communicate shared by all participants.

Regarding Edison, his inventions, patents, rivalries, competitive (and persistent) nature, etc., I invite anyone here to attempt to communicate with the 2nd most prolific U.S. inventor, John Hays Hammond, Jr., who died in 1965. 

Hammond lived in his “castle” (a massive building now a museum) less than a mile from my present abode.  He met Edison, Tesla, and others in his youth, thanks to his father’s wealth and connections. Hammond’s most lucrative inventions dealt with remote control by radio.

Anyone attempting to communicate with him should note that he had a dark side. Federal agents kept close watch on him during WWII, as prior to the war he had built a custom radio network for Mussolini (used to liquidate his enemies) in exchange for antiquities he added to his massive dwelling.

(His father was the highly paid mining consultant for the Guggenheims until a spectacular failure involving a seam of pure silver found in the far north that, although pure, turned out to be exceedingly small.)

Bill Ingle, Sun 26 Jun, 03:44


That’s an interesting new book reference. From a scan of the reviews, it looks like Dr. Griffin’s book closely parallels the first half of my own (although I don’t—and don’t have the ability to—get into all of the philosophical underpinnings of the argument). His focus doesn’t appear to take him into the Marian apparitions, etc. that I cover in my second half.

Had I known his work would be coming out in March, I might have made a bit more effort to speed up my own timetable! Thanks for sharing this…

Don Porteous, Sat 25 Jun, 10:17

Thanks for the link to the Edward Curtin site.  Very new with 6 posts and apparently planned to discuss a wide range of issues.  Some interesting comments about the Ukraine/Russia conflict, I think, and how false information is promoted by the media and governments, - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 24 Jun, 15:52

Thanks to Brett and Alan for noting the possible phenomena coming through the Scole experiments from TAE, believed to be Edison.  I recalled that there was some evidence of Edison having later communicated, but I couldn’t remember the source. I just refreshed my memory by reading pages 154-158 of “The Scole Experiment,” by Grant and Jane Solomon. It is too complex to summarize here, but it is mentioned that the handwriting believed to be Edison’s in the Scole experiements was a match with Edison’s handwriting when alive, as determined by the Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey.

Concerning Edison’s dispute with Westinghouse,as mentioned by Amos, I am reminded of Sir Oliver Lodge’s disputes with Marconi.  Indications are that Lodge discovered some of the things later credited to Marconi, but he didn’t get around to getting patents on them because of his involvement in psychical research. There is much more to the story than that, but that’s about all I remember at this time.

Thanks to all others for the comments here.  They are much appreciated.

Michael Tymn, Fri 24 Jun, 02:35

Quite some time ago, I suggested that a liberal Christian theologian could have a field day exploring the kind of material Michael presents in his books and blog. It now looks like a leading process theologian has done just that. This might be an interesting book to check out after reading or re-reading Don’s.

Newton Finn, Fri 24 Jun, 01:54

This is submi ted as a topic for later discussion     Guide to a Spiritual Path

The word entheogen was introduced into the English language in 1976.It refers to psychedelic drugs that cause mystical experiences. These are the same drugs that were used in the ‘60s, causing much addiction and some deaths. They are mostly illegal now but there is a serious movement to make them legal if used for religious purposes. There is also a movement to make their chronic use a substitute for religion.
I am not one to say that it is necessary to belong to a recognized religious group to be on a spiritual path. If chronic use of entheogens could have the same or better results than can be obtained by a properly lived “three score (now four) and ten” on planet earth, why would we need to live a life on material earth?
After forty years of reading books on “life after life” I have come to the belief that a life well lived on planet earth is the path to make our way to Godliness. (There are six more stages after that.) So if repeated use of drugs can replace a well lived life, why bother with the latter? You may believe that I don’t believe it will. 
I cannot be accused of being a student of the Christian Bible or any other for that matter. However I am familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where they could eat from any tree except the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Some proponents of entheogens use, feel that these drugs are the equivalent of those trees. One such proponent of this theory used these drugs daily throughout his life and died of a brain tumor in his fifties. I’m quite sure that God does not give such a penalty. He only sent the first couple out of paradise to work for a living.
No one said it was going to be easy. Earth life is just a training ground for spirit life which is going to go on forever. It can be thought of as school for real life. If the lessons to be learned by a life in the material world can it be facilitated by a pill, why spend three score and ten years. Why not start the pill in kindergarten and move on to the spirit world, or real life, say, in your twenties. It does seem that most mortals who have made the biggest contributions to earth life have done so in their later years. Einstein started out working in the post office. Four of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of our time are well known to be mystics. We should all take their pill.
The paragraph above was, I believe, penned by my spirit guide. If you are not familiar with your spirit guide, I suggest you become so. 
Everyone has a spirit guide assigned to him (or her. and as we say now, “other”). He stays with you every waking hour from your first breath to your last. He is assigned to help you with difficulties but must be ask for help. For years I used an imaginary white haired old woodworker who lived in a forest just outside town. I would ask him about something that was bothering me, and before I had finished writing the question, he would be giving me an answer that was more profound than I would have created. When I first learned about spiritual guardians, the first response I got was “I guess I don’t have to be a little old woodworker any more’. I now have a special notebook in which I record our conversations. About thirty pages are now filled.
I got to thinking that maybe these heartfelt admonitions regarding the use of drugs to live a spiritual life may be of some value, So I consulted my spiritual guide and got a prompt response, “The use of entheogens to introduce one to mysticism is allowable, but contined and habitual is not

larry Baum, Thu 23 Jun, 20:27

Regarding Edison, I have to say that he was a businessman with a family of three children and a wife to support.  He had an intense interest in invention but at the same time he was interested in making money from his inventions.  (Who could blame him as for a while invention was his full-time occupation.) Edison and Westinghouse had a long running contest about alternating electrical current which Westinghouse proposed and direct electric current which Edison proposed.  Westinghouse won out of course at least in the United States and Edison perhaps held a grudge against Westinghouse after that.  Who can blame him after all Edison had a lot of money and time tied up in promoting his ideas supporting direct current. There was big-time money in providing electric power to American homes.  It may have been a ‘dog-eat-dog’ milieu at that time as many people vied for new inventions from which they could make money.  Most inventors stole ideas from each other then, as they do now.

Edison played around with many possible inventions some of them successful and others not so successful.  Other people took Edison’s unsuccessful ideas and salvaged some of them into viable products or they improved upon his successful inventions.  So far no one has been able to make Edison’s machine to talk to the dead functional.  So, there was a lot of give and take among the burgeoning field of mechanical inventors during the time that Edison was active.

I don’t know why some people want to tear down famous productive people these days.  Perhaps they get a thrill out of thinking that the popular person had ‘feet of clay’ and was really not so great and that they are better than he was, more holy or altruistic.  I don’t know but that seems unnecessary to me from this vantage point, close to 100 years after Edison died. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 23 Jun, 18:07

Dear Chris,

Thank you for reminding us that while it seems we do not die it remains true that we have to mend our ways if we have been dishonest etc during Earth life, as, apparently, Edison seems to have been. (I do not know.) As I have said in comments before, without ever an appreciative reaction except perhaps from Newton, if the matter of our apparent immortality has anything to do with an intuited Being we have called ‘God’ there will surely be an obligation upon us to act ethically throughout our lives down here. My friend Neil (“Blue” Clark) has many inventive ideas, and has suffered the theft of those ideas by American business men. That fraud and theft is common among humans of all nations, and I think, as Stainton Moses would certainly have thought, that utter dishonesty warrants a sharp lesson some time before Eternity runs out (which it cannot of course, being timeLESS). Be sure your sin will find you out.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Thu 23 Jun, 12:17

Thomas Edison communicated via the Scole Experimental Group. He imprinted a circuit diagram with his initials directly onto sealed polaroid film inside a locked wooden box.

The circuit enabled direct voice to be recorded to tape via a germanium crystal.

The initials matched to documents with the same initials at Menlo Park Ford Museum where his lab was moved to.

See- The Scole Experiment by Grant and Jane Soloman
This book has the pictures of the film and the document with the initials.

I currently have the Scole tapes in my possession in order to digitise them

I am in contact with Grant and Jane.

ALAN MIDDLETON, Mon 20 Jun, 19:58

Great piece Michael thank you.

Apologies if you covered this but it occurred to me to ask myself why would anyone communicate?

Was there someone present who Edison was close to in life?

Was the purpose of the seance genuinely about communication? It seems doubtful. So why would anyone turn up? Might even get people pretending from the other side for a bit of devilment.

Holding a seance to speak to a specific person, where that person hasn’t indicated any intention to communicate at the seance seems doomed to failure even if the motivation was genuine.

One constant thread in the record of communication seems to be precisely that we cannot summon anyone on demand.

A rather pointless exercise and one wonders why the medium entertained it?

Paul, Mon 20 Jun, 19:27

“There’s none so blind as those that will not see.” Once a person has made it obvious s/he is not interested in evidence, I don’t waste another breath or stroke of the pen. I skip all the chapters intended to answer skeptics questions. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, both author’s and reader’s.

Brian A Kraemer, Mon 20 Jun, 18:51

I wonder if when more computer savvy people of the modern world transition to spirit that communication with the spirit world will be by way of computer messages, like in the movie “Ghost” when recently deceased   Sam typed out a message on the computer to villain Carl.  I believe that there are people today who report that that is in fact occurring but I am still waiting for messages from somebody to appear on my computer screen when I leave Microsoft ‘Word’ open on my computer overnight.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 20 Jun, 18:36

I agree with Chris I read a book a few years ago about how Edison kept suing Westinghouse claiming Westinghouse’s patent applications were fraudulent and Edison had the idea first etc etc. Apparently Edison had the idea for the telephone first but Alexander Graham Bell got the patent first and Edison never got over it.
From everything I’ve read the spirit world wants mediums and I would think spirits to have integrity. Blessings to all   Karen

Karen Herrick PhD, Mon 20 Jun, 18:14

Thanks, Brett. smile

Jon, Mon 20 Jun, 16:58

In the documentary ‘The Afterlife Investigations’ - free on YouTube - the most compelling part of the Scole experiments were the array of messages that came thru on rolls of undeveloped film. These particular experiments had a great deal of oversight and I urge people to, of course, judge for themselves. The Edison message, of course, was spontaneous and not specifically invited, but the initials do seem to match known samples of his own writing.

I believe it takes people with great mediumistic abilities to play a part in such tests. I’ve eagerly studied the ITC work of the Timestream group (see Mark Macy’s blog/channel for details) and wonder if humans can possibly rise to the occasion of getting steady, comprehensible messages from across the veil. Technology has both hindered and abetted attempts in the past.

Here’s to higher vibrations on both sides with the focus, as always, on love and truth. In the meantime, Michael, we’re beyond grateful for your blog and White Crow Books for glimpses into what’s possible.

Brett, Mon 20 Jun, 16:30

The so-called “Amazing Dunninger” was “The Amazing Randi” of his time. Both of them were popular magicians, media darlings and failed debunkers.  I vaguely remember Dunninger when I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s.  Usually his face was on the front or back covers of supermarket tabloids or movie magazines, as I recall.

I am going to choose number eight, Michael as the most likely reason for failure to remember a code, assuming the medium was not a fraud.  As you reported, that explanation was given by Frederic Myers after he transitioned.  Perhaps the main reason that people who have moved on to another life don’t remember agreed-upon codes is that they really couldn’t care less about the life they just left on earth.  Many of the people who report an NDE have little or no interest in what they left behind including people that they might have been close to.  After a quick life review the world that opens up to them is so fantastic, so beautiful, so warm, loving and peaceful that they forget the confining troublesome earth life they left behind and eagerly go forward into a freeing, expansive and comforting realm.  Something so trivial as a code word or code number is not relevant to the purpose of their recent earth life, what they learned from it or what lies before them as new experiences.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 20 Jun, 15:22

You lined up 12 excellent explanations for the failure of the phenomana Michael; more than I could have done. An excellent piece (again!). What I often wonder is why sceptics even bother with making investigations of their own if they already know it is bunkum. Hamlin Garland comes to mind for his sheer persistence in the face of his sceptical certainty. Perhaps with this certainty these sceptics should just move on to other topics and leave the subjct to the rest of us! Or are their reports intended to prove to others that they are oh-so correct in assuming there is no spirit communication, or perhaps even to persuade themselves that ‘one day’, if they peresist, they will finally uncover evidence that there is after all a spirit dimension. Thanks.

Keith P in England, Mon 20 Jun, 13:17

I would also give reason 13. I have seen some time ago a program on history channel about Edison.. It seems he was not a nice person at all, He seems to have stolen some ideas of Tesla and others and made money and collected the honour for that for himself. If those stories are correct, Edison maybe was not in the possibility to communicate because he was in the darker site of the afterlife at that time or maybe he incarnated back on earth to improve his habits.

Chris, Mon 20 Jun, 08:16

Add your comment



Your comment

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Please note that all comments are read and approved before they appear on the website

translate this page
Ukraine War: A Story of Survival, Sacrifice, and Service – If charitable service to those in need is the ultimate in spirituality here in the physical life, this book most certainly deals with spiritual matters. The author, Amber Poole, an American woman and her husband, Paul, from Scotland but with Polish roots, operated an educational center in Poland when the Russians attacked Ukraine in 2022. As many Ukrainians fled to Poland, they turned their center into a home for as many as 40 refugees. The author kept a very interesting “war diary” over the first 18 months of the war, discussing everything from the cultural adjustments required by both the Polish and the Ukrainians to her own reactions and adjustments, as well as philosophical concerns and conflicts that often surfaced. In spite of the adversity and distress, she embraced the adversity. Read here
© White Crow Books | About us | Contact us | Privacy policy | Author submissions | Trade orders