Thank you for the comment and the interesting link.
I agree with you, although I think I only alluded to the fact that we don’t find such mediumship these days. Electrical interference may very well be one reason as so many of the mediums were unable to produce during electrical storms.
As I have written several places, I believe the primary reason we don’t have that type of mediumship these days is due to the “noise” we now have, i.e., radio, TV, cell phones, computers, etc. In those days of yesteryear, people had nothing to do at night but sit in front of a fire and knit or whittle, or sit on the porch and stare at the stars. This sometimes prompted altered states of consciousness and mediumship developed from that.
But I also wonder if the spirit world gave up. They realized that after about 1880, they were just reinventing the wheel over and over again, and good people (true mediums) were being disparaged because debunkers couldn’t grasp what was going on.
Michael Tymn, Wed 1 Feb, 03:43
Early messages suggested that Swedenborg and Ben Franklin, working together on the Other Side, discovered how to communicate through table raps, etc., and that brought about the Spiritualism epidemic that began in 1848. Apparently they didn’t realize how difficult it would be for people to grasp their messages and they finally gave up.
I think there is another reason that is equally or more important: the idea that anything that anyone discovered or did in the past is outdated and not as good as anything we can do now.
This is really unfortunate in this case, because I think a careful reading of the old works, of which I have done my share, indicates various reasons that they were aware of at the time that the effects they were observing were fading.
I’m referring particularly and especially to complaints about electrical interference, and to the concept that these effects are weak and influenced by the attitudes of those present. Now we live in a world polluted by all sorts of electrical radiation, and many people won’t even consider an experiment that doesn’t have a quorum of skeptics present with an absence of the psychic energy of a group of believers, both of which those pioneer researchers well understood had definite effects on what happened.
Regarding the effect of belief, I think we may be seeing some of that in the current rash diminishing repeatability of “legitimate” scientific and medical research: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/12/13/the-truth-wears-off
Michael D, Tue 31 Jan, 15:31
I did not mean to imply that I am reinventing the wheel. Rather, the current research is reinventing the wheel.
I do concern myself with those who do not believe, because I think they are the ones who are causing the turmoil and chaos in the world today and until they wake up it will only get worse. Most of them are too brainwashed and egocentric to look at the evidence, but every now and then one of them gets it.
Michael Tymn, Sat 26 Nov, 20:04
Yes Y L
Michael please print the whole article in the next Newsletter.
Tricia, Sat 26 Nov, 16:27
On reflection, the title of this topic is a misnomer.
You are not reinventing the wheel. In your many books and writings, you have described mediumship and related matters in fine detail and it is mediumship that is the wheel. In this post, you are drawing attention to why so many people – critics and ‘sceptics’ – will not accept that the wheel of mediumship exists and has done for a long time.
The reasoning offered by the critics and sceptics would be totally unacceptable in any field of engineering or science and this establishes that they cannot differentiate between fallacious and matters beyond reasonable doubt.
I can no longer be bothered with arguing with those who will not see!
Leslie Harris, Sat 26 Nov, 03:13
Yvonne Limoges, Fri 25 Nov, 22:21
A real keeper of an article to go over again and again.
Great to share with skeptics…
Please put a print of this in the Academy Newsletter.
Your article says it all. There is definitely a barrier of ‘ignorance’ to the general populous, even although many want to hear what we have to say. I was the invited speaker to the Christian Churches Fellowship in September 2016. I gave two talks. They absolutely loved it and people were saying things like ‘Why did we not know these things before?’ This addresses your whole article. I believe that the media suppress anything sensible and treat the populous like mushrooms. Dare I also say that some Universities ( sorry chaps) make parapsychology somewhat boring, creating disinterest to ordinary people. Parapsychology and Psychical Research are two different disciplines, but some of the new courses are trying to merge the academic with what actually happened to people in the real world. Let us hope that is a step forward.
Tricia Robertson, Thu 24 Nov, 11:01
Thanks to all for the interesting comments. In rereading my post, I can see where one might infer that I don’t fully appreciate the current research, including NDE and past-life studies. I do appreciate it and it is often a topic of discussion at this blog, making up perhaps 50 percent of what I write about. However, my books and various articles in magazines and journals are about 90 percent dealing with the old mediumship. That is because the current research is usually adequately reported by the researchers themselves and there are copyright issues, as well as other concerns.
Since most of the old stuff is free of copyright and is unknown to so many people, I focus much more on that. And, as I mentioned, I think it provides a good foundation for the newer research. I am surprised at how many people I run into at conferences who know all about NDEs and past-life studies, but know nothing about direct-voice mediumship, trance-voice, etc. and how many of them jump to the conclusion that ectoplasm and materialization was and is all fraud.
Michael Tymn, Thu 24 Nov, 10:33
I sent a longish post several days ago but it hasn’t appeared. Has it appeared at your end or am I having a computer problem at my end?
Leslie Harris, Thu 24 Nov, 01:46
The answer to your primary question is both simple and complex. We live in an age of science which simply did not exist in the current form in the period that Michael refers to.
At that time, it was the province of men who were well established in many fields of new knowledge. They were already much lauded for their contributions to engineering and chemistry. Not a few were knighted for their discoveries. Significantly, no grounds for criticism could be found in their areas of expertise and their intellect was beyond question. Such men were usually wealthy and could afford to follow any matter that sparked their interest.
As shown in many of Michael’s historical accounts, when such men became interested in this particular field (mediums), so-called sceptics of the day were hard put to explain how men of such august intellects could be totally right in a wide range of knowledge but totally wrong when it came to mediums.
That was then, this is now!! Fast forward to today. Science today totally governed by publish or perish, the eternal pursuit of research funding, the never ending search for tenure and the need to justify one’s existence.
Along with this comes the permanent awareness of reputation. The slightest hit of unorthodox thinking can result in academic death and research suicide. In fact, one’s reputation can be considerably enhanced by joining the ranks of so-called sceptics. Proof? No proof is needed. All one needs to do is loudly declare that this field is ‘impossible’ and therefore not worthy of investigation.
Recently, a catch-all explanation for absolutely everything has emerged – mass telepathy!! Yippee! Problem solved!! Wait a moment – there is absolutely no proof of mass telepathy. OOPS!!
Leslie Harris, Wed 23 Nov, 03:19
Very well thought out Michael. It is no surprise that you would be able to put this all together after many years of study of the mediums of yesteryear. I agree with the others that this is very well done.
I think that new spiritual concepts are presented to the mind of man at a time when he is able to understand them. What may have been appropriate evidence 150 years ago or so may not be as impressive today as new circumstances have arisen e.g., successful resuscitation efforts. Today near death reports seem to have gained in acceptance, more so than perhaps any information provided through a modern medium. There are some impressive modern mediums of course, but first-hand reports of the near death experience from thousands of people seems to be more believable than second or third-hand information provided through a medium who may or may not be fraudulent. There is still the same resistance to new evidence of spirit realities today from modern skeptics and materialists, for the same reasons you enumerated above. People really don’t change much from one generation to the next so maybe it is necessary to reinvent the wheel for each new generation but with a few shiny new chrome spokes (or spooks as the case may be).
There are also several verifiable new reincarnation cases today, e.g., James Leininger that seem to provide more immediate verifiable evidence of a spiritual reality and that reincarnation theories may be more acceptable today as people move away from traditional Christian religious concepts that prohibited recognition of reincarnation in the past.
This is not to imply that there was no validity to the mediums of history, but those old mediums don’t relate well to many people born and raised in the frenetic society we live in today, even though some of those mediums provided spectacular evidence. Mediums of today have to provide more glitz and have moved out of the séance room into the television studio. Newer mechanisms commensurate with the developing cultures and the evolving mind and spirit of man today need to be used to try to get the message of the spirit across. Perhaps that is why we see use of radios, televisions, telephones used in electronic voice transmissions from the spirit world, inventions that were not available 150 years ago. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 22 Nov, 22:40
Good essay Mike. The fifteen reasons are well-considered. Most argument against the validity of these phenomena I have encountered have been variations of one or more of your points.
There are a few “proper” scientific practices that work to assure the older material is ignored. One is the the assumption that modern science is more reliable. Even though most parapsychologists are from the same sources of those pioneers—retired professors, doctorates from other fields of study—they apparently assume the pioneers were less qualified naturalists.
A second factor is that literature reviews, necessary before proper research, will likely not show the old material. I, for one, tend to ignore anything older than fifteen or twenty years because I know it will have ignored the evidence of ITC. Of course, I am not a scientist, but I must still seek the most credible sources.
I can see you getting red in the face at that comment. It is the perception of antiquity I am referring to, not the validity of the work. I have taken the Morris Pratt course and chaff at how it tends to end the future in the early 1900s. My instinct is to seek more contemporary material.
Our community needs to understand that most paranormalists are demonstrably anti-survival. It serves researchers no benefit to spend the time researching the past when they are so sure survival is false in the first place. Others who do study the past, tend to commit the sin of conformational research ... studying only that which supports their assumptions.
Tom Butler, Tue 22 Nov, 19:51
Great analysis Mike. Beautifully argued.
Wendy and Victor Zammit
Wendy Zammit, Tue 22 Nov, 11:04
So long as there are people who fail to understand that saying “no, that’s impossible”, does not constitute disproof, we need Michael Tymns and others of like mind to keep on hammering this point.
The 15 points are completely valid. Sadly, they are destined to remain so for the foreseeable future for the simple reason that the human race is arrogant,conceited and are intellectual paupers. There are no so blind as will not see!!
Keep it up, Michael. You won’t see significant results in your lifetime but it has to be done.
Leslie Harris, Tue 22 Nov, 10:45
What an excellent article, Mike!! There are many questions addressed there that I used to ask before I read books by people such as yourself and Stafford Betty. I’m sure it will resolve issues for many readers.
Dr Howard A. Jones, Tue 22 Nov, 10:31
All the reasons you give for why many people in the early days of psychical research couldn’t take it aboard are true. But an equally interesting question is, why did so many outstanding and respectable people from various fields take it seriously in the 19th and early 20th centuries?
From what I have read, seances and home circles were common, even fashionable. Even though some were unsophisticated and used primitive forms of communicating with spirits (rappings, table tipping, Ouija boards, etc.), they were not all frivolous. I believe many participants were really trying to open the door between this world and the hereafter.
Psychical research was adopted or at least written about by distinguished physical scientists (too many to list), classicists (Myers, Gilbert Murray), novelists (Conan Doyle, Bulwer-Lytton), psychologists (William James), even a music critic (Lawrence Gilman).
In retrospect, it was a Golden Age for psychical research, despite the barriers you describe.
Teloteropathy ... sounds like a serious disease. Apparently it was cured. I have heard of no recent cases.
Rick Darby, Mon 21 Nov, 23:16
Thanks for this, Mike!
Jane Katra, Mon 21 Nov, 20:33
Mike, this is a remarkably thoughtful and comprehensive article. It explains why we take psychical research seriously, and why most people don’t. It should be held in ready reserve for certain open-minded skeptics to read. This is a classic statement that I hope several of my colleagues, who are inclined to think that what I do is pseudo-science, will read. Thanks for all the thought that went into it.
Stafford, Mon 21 Nov, 20:12
Add your comment