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A non-believer convinces another non-believer of life after death

Posted on 11 March 2013, 13:10

When he was alive in the flesh, George Pellew, an author, poet, and journalist, told Dr. Richard Hodgson, who was studying the mediumship of Leonora Piper, that he could not conceive of an afterlife but that if he died before Hodgson and found himself “still existing” he would attempt to let Hodgson know.

Hodgson (below) had been studying Mrs. Piper since 1887.  He would arrange for various people to anonymously sit with her, and then would observe and record the sessions. The usual procedure was for Mrs. Piper to go into a trance state and her body to be taken over by a spirit calling himself Dr. Phinuit, who, unlike Mrs. Piper, spoke in a gruff voice and with a French accent.  As it came to be understood by Hodgson and other researchers, very few spirits are capable of communicating directly and thus Phinuit would act as a medium on the Other Side, relaying messages from them to the sitters.


Initially a skeptic, even a debunker, Hodgson had completely ruled out fraud on the part of Mrs. Piper but still questioned whether the voices coming through the young Boston medium in her trance state were voices of the dead or some secondary personality buried in her subconscious.  But since many of the sitters seemed to be receiving very evidential information from deceased loved ones and friends, the question remained as to how the secondary personality, if that is what it was, got the information. 

Hodgson, Professor William James, and other researchers were reluctant to accept the spirit hypothesis.  No evidence could be found that a Dr. Phinuit ever existed and they theorized that he was a secondary personality which was somehow able to telepathically tap into the mind of the sitter.  When information came through that was unknown to the sitter but later verified as correct, they further theorized that it was possible for Mrs. Piper’s secondary personality to read the mind of anybody in the world or to tap into some kind of cosmic reservoir in the ethers and extract information, then feed it back to the sitters.  As far fetched as that seemed, any explanation was preferable to spirits, as science, in the wake of Darwinism, was busy demonstrating that things spiritual were just so much superstition and folly.  The mere suggestion of spirits of the dead was cause for smirks, scoffs, and sneers among educated people. 

Hodgson’s confidence in his views was “shaken” after the accidental death of Pellew (below) on February 18, 1892, the result of falling down a flight of stairs.  At the time, Pellew, a Harvard graduate, was employed as an editorial writer for the New York Sun.


On March 22, a little over a month after Pellew’s death, Hodgson brought Pellew’s friend John Hart for a sitting with Mrs. Piper.  Early in the sitting, Dr. Phinuit (speaking through Mrs. Piper’s body) announced that “George” was there.  Phinuit then gave Pellew’s full name and the names of several close friends.  To give assurance that it was actually himself communicating through Phinuit, Pellew told Hart that the pair of studs he was wearing were once his and were given to Hart by his (Pellew’s) parents, which Hart confirmed as true.  Pellew then mentioned some mutual friends, Jim and Mary Howard, and asked Hart if he could get them to attend a sitting.  He also brought up a discussion he had had with Katharine, the Howard’s 15-year-old daughter, about God, space, and eternity.  As neither Hart nor Hodgson, who was also in attendance and taking notes, was aware of any such discussion with Katharine, this information, later confirmed by Katharine, fell outside the scope of simple telepathy.

Hodgson recorded that many personal references were made by Pellew, including one to a book he had not yet finished before his death, and that Hart was impressed, mentioning that various words of greetings and speech mannerisms were very characteristic of Pellew, even though the messages were relayed through Phinuit.  For privacy reasons, Hodgson called him George “Pelham” in the research records, or otherwise referred to him simply as “G.P.”

Some three weeks later, Jim and Mary Howard had a sitting with Mrs. Piper. They were somewhat reluctant to participate in such “occult activity,” but Hart’s account of what took place at his sitting made them curious. Hodgson did not tell Mrs. Piper their names or give her any clue as to their connection with G.P.  Yet, G.P. communicated.  However, rather than Phinuit speaking through Mrs. Piper and relaying messages from G.P., G.P. took over Mrs. Piper’s body and spoke directly to his friends:

G.P.:  “Jim, is that you?  Speak to me quick.  I am not dead.  Don’t think me dead.  I’m awfully glad to see you. Can’t you see me?  Don’t you hear me? Give my love to my father and tell him I want to see him.  I am happy here, and more so since I can communicate with you.  I pity those people who can’t speak…”

Jim Howard: “What do you do George, where you are?”

G.P.:  “I am scarcely able to do anything yet; I am just awakened to the reality of life after death.  It was like darkness.  I could not distinguish anything at first.  Darkest hours just before dawn, you know that, Jim.  I was puzzled, confused.  Shall have an occupation soon.  Now I can see you, my friends.  I can hear you speak. Your voice, Jim, I can distinguish with your accent and articulation, but it sounds like a big bass drum.  Mine would sound to you like the faintest whisper.”

Jim Howard: “Our conversation, then, is something like telephoning?”

G.P.: “Yes.”

Jim Howard: “By long distance telephone?”

G.P.: (Laughs)

Jim Howard: “Were you not surprised to find yourself living?”

G.P.:  “Greatly surprised.  I did not believe in a future life.  It was beyond my reasoning powers.  Now it is as clear to me as daylight.  We have an astral fac-simile of the material body…” 

The conversation continued.  G.P. mentioned that he had seen and talked with Martha Rogers, the deceased daughter of a mutual friend.  He said that she was still adjusting to her new environment. He also asked how Orenberg and Berwick, two other mutual friends, were doing, adding that Orenberg liked him but never understood him.  “We fellows who are eccentric are always misunderstood in life,” he said.  “I used to have fits of depression.  I have none now.  I am happy now.  I want my father to know about this.  We used to talk about spiritual things, but he will be hard to convince.  My mother will be easier…”

At a later sitting, the Howards brought their daughter, Katharine.  G. P. came through and asked Katharine about her violin lessons, commenting (apparently jesting) that her playing was “horrible.”  Not realizing the humor in it, Mary Howard spoke up to defend her daughter’s music, but G.P. then explained that he mentioned it because that is what he used to do when in the flesh. It was intended as verification of his identity.

Jim and Mary Howard returned again on December 19, 1892.  Mary Howard handed G.P. a letter from his father and asked him if he could read it.  G.P. said it did not sound like his father would talk to him when he was in the body, but that his father does believe that he still exists and is no longer in pain.  Mary Howard confirmed for Hodgson that this was the key message in the letter, which apparently was still in the envelope.  G.P. continued:

“That brings me nearer to my father; now give him my tenderest love and tell him that I am very near him, and see him almost every day, if I could go by days, but I can’t judge of that, because I have no idea of time; that is one thing I have lost, Hodgson…You of all others are the one that I want to be absolutely certain of my identity…Hodgson, I mean, and Jim, I want you both to feel I am no secondary personality of the medium’s…Now, about my theory of spirit life independent of the material substance.  I live, think, see, hear, know, and feel just as clearly as when I was in the material life, but it is not so easy to explain it to you as you would naturally suppose, especially when the thoughts have to be expressed through substance materially…Nevertheless, I am bound to do just all I can for you to prove to you that I do absolutely exist, independent of the material body which I inhabited…”

Jim Howard returned alone for a sitting three days later and asked G.P. to tell him something that only the two of them knew.  In fact, G.P. told Howard something so private and personal that Howard did not want it made part of the record, but he told Hodgson that he was perfectly satisfied with the information.  G.P. continued:

“Jim, I am dull in this sphere about some things, but you will forgive me, won’t you?...but like as when in the body sometimes we can’t always recall everything in a moment, can we, Jim, dear old fellow?...God bless you, Jim, and many thanks.  You often gave me courage when I used to get depressed.  You know how you especially used to fire at me sometimes, but I understood it all, did I not, old fellow?...and I used to get tremendously down at the heel sometimes, but I am all right now, and, Jim, you can never know how much I love you and how I delight in coming back and telling you all this…When I found I actually lived again, I jumped for joy, and my first thought was to find you and Mary.  And thank the Infinite here I am, old fellow, living and well…”

Over the period of time during which G.P. communicated, Hodgson brought 150 sitters, 30 of whom were known to G.P. when he was alive.  In each case, G.P. greeted them by name. The non-recognition of the other 120 was contrary to the telepathic and cosmic soul theories. That is, if G.P., or Mrs. Piper’s secondary personality, had been reading minds or searching in some cosmic computer, he (she) would have known the names of all of them. 

The emergence of G.P. moved Hodgson and other researchers to a belief that spirits of the dead were in fact communicating.  In effect, there was too much individuality, too much purpose and persistence, expressed by G.P. to attribute it to telepathy of a limited or expanded nature.  It was one thing for a medium to tap into another mind or cosmic reservoir for information, quite another for that other mind or reservoir to dialogue with the fullness of a personality rather than just fragmentary bits of information.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores. 


Next blog entry:  March 25


Nice! Just wanted to respond. I thoroughly loved your post. Keep up the great work on .

prescription testosterone, Tue 15 Oct, 19:43


Thank you for the comments about Trucks, or whatever his name is.  At least he had the sense to take down the “conman” label he attached to me. Of course, I made a copy of it for my libel file. It is only a matter of time before Forests realizes how expensive defense lawyers are in England.

Michael Tymn, Thu 28 Mar, 00:40

For interest despite this rather extraordinary communication there were significant reasons why Leonora Piper was so highly rated. Almost the entire proceedings of 1915 concern her as she was so heavily researched by the SPR. In the introduction all the then SPR papers are listed:

To show this PROCEEDINGS OF THE Society for Psychical Research.

The main interest of Mrs. Piper’s trance phenomena lies
undoubtedly in the evidence they afford of knowledge acquired
otherwise than through the senses whether from the living
or from the dead. This evidence has been set forth and
discussed in numerous papers in the Proceedings, of which
a list is given below. To these papers I must refer those
who are interested only in such evidential matter. For in
the present paper they will not find what they want. There
is no attempt in it to give any of the evidence for supernormal
powers, with which it is concerned only incidentally.
Its object is to throw light on the working of the trance
ii Mrs. Henry Sidgwick.

consciousnesses from a psychological point of view, and, among
other things, on the question whether the intelligence that speaks
or writes in the trance, and is sometimes in telepathic communication
with other minds (whether of the living or of
the dead), is other than a phase, or centre of consciousness,
of Mrs. Piper herself.


Vol. VI. (1890), pp. 136-659. “A Record of Observations
of Certain I na of Trance,” by F. W. H. Myers,
Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Walter Leaf and Professor William

This deals with the sittings m Ki.irliimi in 1889-1890.
Vol. VIII. (1892), pp. 1-168. “A Record of Observations of
Certain Phenomena of Trance,” by Dr Richard Hodgson.
This deals with sittings in America from 1886 to 1891.
Vol. XIII. (1898), pp. 284-682. “A Further Record of Observations
of Certain Phenomena of Trance,” by Dr
R. Hodgson.

This deals with sittings in America from 1892 M 1895.
Vol. XIV. (1898), pp. 6-49. “A Further Record ..f Observations
of Certain Phenomena of Trance,” by Professor
Romaine Newbold.

This deals with sittings with which Professor Newbold
was concerned from 1891 to 1895.

LXXI.] Psychology of Mrs. Piper’s Trance. Papers. iii
Vol. XVI. (1901), pp. 1-649. “A Further Record of Observations of Certain Trance Phenomena,” by Professor
J. H. Hyslop.

This deals with Professor Hyslop’s sittings in 1898-1899,and contains also accounts of certain experiments by him, and discussions. Professor Hyslop has published accountsof his later sittings in the Proceedings of the [new] American Society for Psychical Research.

Vol. XXII. (1908), pp. 19-440. “A Series of Concordant Automatisms,” by Mr. J. G. Piddington.

This deals with concordant automatisms between Mrs.
Piper and other automatists, and some experiments during
her visit to England in 1906-7.

Vol. XXIII. (1909), pp. 2-121. “Report on Mrs. Piper’s Hodgson-Control,” by Professor William James.

This records and discusses the Hodgson communications whether as control or communicator during the year following his death, namely 1906.

Vol. XXIII. (1909), pp. 127-280. “Report on some Trance
Communications received chiefly through Mrs. Piper,”
by Sir Oliver Lodge.

Most of this paper is concerned with sittings with Mrs.
Piper arranged for by Sir Oliver Lodge, and at which
he was generally present, in England, in 1889, 1890, 1906,
1907. Two sittings in 1905 in America are included.

Vol. XXIV. (1910), pp. 31-200. “Further Experiments with
Mrs. Piper in 1908,” by Mrs. H. Sidgwick, Mrs. A. W.
Verrall and Mr. J. G. Piddingfcon.

This deals with Mr. G. B. Dorr’s sittings in America in 1908.
Vol. XXIV. (1910), pp. 351-664. “Report on the Junot
Sittings with Mrs. Piper,” by Miss H. de G. Verrall.

This gives the record of all” Bennie Junot’s” communications
from 1899-1905.

a2iv Mrs. Henry Sidgtoick. [PART

All the above papers are primarily concerned with th<>
exhibition in Mrs. Piper’s trances of knowledge supern<>nn.illy
acquired, though incidentally some other points are discussed.
There have also appeared in the Proceedings four papers
discussing the published evidence, viz. :

Vol. XTV. (1898), pp. 60-78. “Discussion of the Trance
Phenomena of Mrs. Piper,” by F. Podmore.

This paper takes the view that there is undoubtedly
telepathy with the living, but insufficient evidence to jn-.

further. The Piper phenomena are compared with
those of Adele Maginot and others.
Vol. XV. (1900), pp. 16-38.
” Discussion of the Trance
Phenomena of Mrs. Piper,” by Mrs. Henry Sidgwich

This paper takes the view that, assuming there is communication
with the dead through Mrs. Piper, the evidence
poiints to it being telepathic in character.

Vol. XV. (1900), pp. 39-62. “Discussion of the Trance
Phenomena of Leonora. Piper,” by Andrew Lang.
This paper is described by its author as
“Reflections on Mrs.Piper and Telepathy.”

Vol. XXVI. (1912), pp. 147-173. “The Latin Message Experiment,”
by Bin. Anna Hude (with Note on same by
Mr. J. G. Piddington).

Not Ahtun Re, Tue 26 Mar, 04:48



The monkey was in the Sun FYI

W. R. N. “Sir Walter, is the sun all fire, or has it a solid core ?”

Sir W. Scott. “...This is caused by gravity understand where we are we have now reached the limit, we find it very warm and deserted like a deserted island. We wish to find its inhabitants if there are any i.e. if it has any.

Now we see what we term monkeys, dreadful looking creatures, black extremely black, very wild…”

Followed by…

Sir W. Scott. “Oh you could not have thought that I wished to convey the idea that there were actually monkeys living in the sun, sir!”

Not Ahtun Re, Tue 26 Mar, 04:41

Sorry my typo error. Skeptiko. (Alex)

I honestly do not believe any amount of evidence will convince Forests since he has clearly concluded there is none.

Antony, Sat 23 Mar, 00:54

I may be that “Antony” is referring to Skeptiko and not Skeptico.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 21 Mar, 18:00


Thanks for telling me.  I wasn’t aware that Skeptico had a comments section and can’t seem to find it.

Forests recently deleted his comments at on a review of my Piper book by by Dr. Howard A. Jones, so I thought that perhaps he had “seen the light.”

Michael Tymn, Thu 21 Mar, 00:03

Wow Michael your book as certainly provoked Forest & friends to go on a trolling rampage over at Skeptico. Was it something you said!!

antony, Wed 20 Mar, 02:02

If her mediumship was true then she should not of made silly mistakes and said false things like that.

You are assuming that if the mediumship exists, then it is perfect, but this assumption may be false and in fact is false because the phenomenon is too complex for the mediums are perfect.

I have never seen a white medium in my life…

Besides Leonora Piper, the medium Eileen Garrett is another example of mental medium was probably in contact with the minds of the deceased.

Grey makes no sense, use some common sense if a medium is genuine and has genuine supernormal powers then why do they need to cheat? The only type of medium that exists is black.

Although a medium is genuine, she may not always be able to do what is asked, which can lead to resort to fraud.

Piper’s mediumship (all of it was explained by)

Muscle-reading, fishing, guessing, hints obtained in the sitting, knowledge surreptitiously obtained, knowledge acquired in the interval between sittings and lastly, facts already within Mrs. Piper’s knowledge.

No, Piper researchers as William James concluded beyond reasonable doubt that at least Piper had access to a paranormal source of knowledge.

One last thing that none of you have thought through, if spirits exist then why do they need to enter peoples brains and talk to us?

You’re assuming that if the spirits of the deceased exist, then they could communicate directly with living beings, but this assumption may be false, and you cannot play God and say how it should be reality if certain things happen.

<i<Spiritualists oppose reincarnation. The reincarnationists oppose the spirit world. Apparitions are opposed to spiritualism, according to ghost hunters spiritualism is a hoax and apparitions look nothing like the “spirits” of ectoplasm.</i>

No, some spiritualists are not opposed to reincarnation, and the fact that most of mediumistic communications not try the reincarnation does not mean opposing the reincarnation because mediumistic communications indicate that people have more or less the same knowledge after his death. The reincarnationists are not opposed to the spiritual world, but that the spiritual world is between successive lives. Spiritualists do not dispute that may occur apparitions of the deceased and some ghosts hunters largely unknown spiritualism.

The key is that there are several types of evidence converge independently that there is a form of afterlife: the near death experiences, the deathbed visions, the shared death experiences, the apparitions of the living and the deceased, the mediumship, transinstrumental communication and children who seem to remember past lives, which makes that the case for the afterlife is stronger.

Psi there is no scientific evidence for it, it is incompatible with the laws of science…

Of course there is scientific evidence of psi, some scientists just refuse to admit it because of its implications. Nor is it true that psi is incompatible with the laws of science, contrary to popular belief, it is incompatible with certain metaphysical assumptions of modern science.

...if psi existed then it would debunk spiritualism up front, mediums would just read their victims minds etc.

No, psi is incompatible with spiritualism only if we assert that all cases of mediumship are instances of psi only between the living and the material realm, but spiritualism can admit that there are some psi abilities.

<i<“ganzfield research” has never been replicated and lack of scientific controls were in place.</i>

There are Ganzfield experiments have been replicated statistically, not puntually, which is enough to accept the existence of psi phenomena.

The near death experiences has been explained by modern neuroscience but even if they were real evidence for the afterlife they contradict spiritualism, according to the NDE experience there are no “spirits” and it is like a dream world i. e. people are still in the flesh and based around fantasy, desires or other subconscious information.

Modern neuroscience has not explained all aspects of near death experiences, as happens a hyper-lucidity while brain activity collapses or veridical extracorporeal experiences. These aspects make the NDE evidence of the afterlife. NDEs as evidence of the afterlife does not contradict spiritualism because people died that is perceived by NDE experiencers can call spirits of the deceased.

Juan, Sat 16 Mar, 22:26

Thanks for the link to Mrs. Piper’s statement.  Obviously it is not an admission of anything other than that she is tired of the publicity and of being used by the “Psychical Research Society”. Like other mediums, she doesn’t really understand her “gift” any more than anyone else.  I can’t help but have a sympathetic reaction when I read her own words about her mediumship.  Thanks Arun.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 16 Mar, 19:04

Read Mrs. Piper’s confession at

If one believes it as her honest confession he will at least appreciate the fact that she was not dishonest at least. She claimed nothing special of herself and accepted that she was a just a research machine used. She could have claimed something special to flourish her private career but she didn’t.

Now assuming she was actually a fraud and was able to misguide such eminent members of SPR over so many years by her trickery on such a sensitive and highly suspicious subject we all must accept that she was having intelligence out of the world. She must have been given noble prize for that! We are just not eligible to judge her then – she is beyond our knowledge.

Victim of the circumstances my emotional outburst forced me to contact two well-known mediums in recent past. I had compelling reasons to believe in their ability to comfort my inner self but just within 5 mnts into both my readings I was clear that they were shamelessly cheating and all info coming through are nothing but bogus. If these established mediums of modern age with all modern technologies like internet etc. could not convince a bit a person of negligible intelligence like me I wonder how Mrs. Piper was able to manipulate those great minds who tested her tirelessly!!

ArunM, Sat 16 Mar, 02:06

You really don’t deserve a response to your verbal tantrums but I can’t resist using your erroneous thought process to call you a liar based on what you said in your last post.  If you really knew anything about anything, you would know that Richard Hodgson never married.  He had no wife.  Therefore if you lie about one thing you lie about everything.

Liar!  Case Closed!

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 14 Mar, 23:46


I agree with your last comment. I would add that the “experts” who subscribe to the secondary personality theory with Patience don’t explain how all that knowledge, wisdom, and information got into the subcoscious of a woman with no more than an eighth grade education and who had never traveled more than a few hundred miles from her home in St. Louis.  Today, they would likely say that her play pen was next to the television for several years and her subconscious absorbed it all from the various TV programs her parents were watching, but Pearl Curran lived before television and even before mass radio programs, so that explanation doesn’t hold up.  As Patience said, “I be I and she be she.”

Michael Tymn, Thu 14 Mar, 22:58


I have already addressed most of your questions below or in other blogs and don’t have the time or desire to keep going around in circles with you on this matter, especially since it is clear that your mind is made up. I think Antony sums it up in his last post.  Let me just add a suggestion that you obtain a copy of Dr. Walter Franklin Prince’s 1930 book, “The Enchanted Boundary,” subtitled “Being A Survey of Negative Reaction to Claims of Psychic Phenonmena 1820-1930.” This book is still available if you go to He devotes 16 pages to discrediting Tuckett.  He also discusses Hall and Tanner, pointing out the many distortions and errors in their clearly biased reports.

As Antony says, it is not a black and white situation as you seem to want it to be, nor does everyone become a “spiritualist” just because he or she doesn’t remain a skeptic or debunker and speaks out in favor of the phenomena. 

If you want to believe that Lodge was out of his mind, that Crookes had a romantic interest in Florence Cook, that Crawford’s suicide was because he knew he was wrong, etc., etc. you are free to do so.  I’ve heard them all.  You are not going to convince me any more than I am going to convince you, so please find another hobby.

Michael Tymn, Thu 14 Mar, 22:48

antony you are setting up ad hominem attacks against the authors, without even reading the book by McCabe.

It does not matter if a book was written by an atheist, a nazi, or someone who sells hotdogs for a living, if they have written an honest book then they deserve to be heard not shunned.

It turns out the skeptics have got it all right, it doesn’t matter if they were atheists or believers in God or what their religion or lack of religion beliefs were that is not on topic. Just flick open the McCabe book, everything he says in it was the truth about those fraud mediums, they have been caught red-handed. It is a short book, you should check it out.

“In the Pellew case how was it that Piper managed to identify 30 of his friends whom she had never met. How could she possibly know about intimate details?”

There is a rational explanation for it, it is all explained in the Tuckket book I was reading it last night but it is over 90 pages. I will summerise it for you at some point becuase obviously nobody else here is going to read his book. You can’t accuse Tuckket of being an atheist either, he was an agnostic.

Interestingly I am not sure why you brought up the atheist thing, most parapsychologists are atheists, and even if an afterlife was real it could still be compatible with atheism and nothing to do with any God/s.

“Hodgson was no fool as he already debunked other mediums so I trust someone who was there on the scene rather than post hoc analysis over a century later by armchair sceptics”

You need to look into the background of Hodgson his wife died and the day she died he claimed to see her spirit, he was a devout spiritualist from the beginning of his career and his belief biased his judement, he was not an exposer of fraud mediums like spiritualists like to claim. Which mediums did he expose? Spiritualists are then silent. The only false medium he exposed was Blavatsky, but Blavatsky was not really a spiritualist she was a Theosophist and her stuff was childish so it was not hard to expose.

“philosophical commitment to materialism/atheism which itself is a claim that needs to be tested”

Science is the study of the physical world. If you are invoking spirits, then that is a metaphysical world view. The guys I quoted had no philosophical world view they just reported the facts.

“Final point – even without spiritualism there are other lines of evidence which challenge the brain=mind view, NDEs, crisis apparitions, reincarnation research, terminal lucidity, psi, ganzfield research etc. If anything these pose a serious problem for materialism.”

All these things contradict eachother. Spiritualists oppose reincarnation. The reincarnationists oppose the spirit world. Apparitions are opposed to spiritualism, according to ghost hunters spiritualism is a hoax and apparitions look nothing like the “spirits” of ectoplasm.

Psi there is no scientific evidence for it, it is incompatible with the laws of science, so if it existed it would be metaphysical and outside of the material realm to study, and if psi existed then it would debunk spiritualism up front, mediums would just read their victims minds etc. psi believers such as alan gauld or tony cornell have opposed spiritualism.

“ganzfield research” has never been replicated and lack of scientific controls were in place.

The near death experiences has been explained by modern neuroscience but even if they were real evidence for the afterlife they contradict spiritualism, according to the NDE experience there are no “spirits” and it is like a dream world i. e. people are still in the flesh and based around fantasy, desires or other subconscious information. All your “evidences” contradict eachother.

As for your other claim about “materialists”. Spiritualists are materialists. According to the spiritualists spirits are made up of a finer type of matter or “etheric matter” even the medium who claimed to chanell the son of Oliver Lodge Raymond claimed the spirit world is made up of spheres made up of finer types of matter. I don’t believe in ectoplasm becuase it is just cheesecloth and muslin but according to spiritualists ectoplasm is a physical substance made from a finer type of matter. No spiritualist has ever claimed that spirits are totally non-physical. So you are indeed a materialist antony, as is Michael Tymn and every other spiritualist.

forests, Thu 14 Mar, 20:41



Joseph McCabe was a militant atheist with an ideological chip on his shoulder out to destroy/attack any religion so I hardly think one would expect a balanced & fair treatment regarding spiritualism from him anymore than I would expect Joseph Goebbles to espouse the merits of racial equality. Yes there have been clear examples of fraud, cheating of many varieties & when evident this should be exposed for what it is however this does not address those numerous clear examples of ‘hits’ that Michael refers to. In the Pellew case how was it that Piper managed to identify 30 of his friends whom she had never met. How could she possibly know about intimate details?  What about the steps Hodgson took to have her followed by private detectives or intercept her mail or having proxy sitters attend??  Yes its logically possible she somehow managed to acquire secret background information but logical possibility does not mean it is realistically practical. Hodgson was no fool as he already debunked other mediums so I trust someone who was there on the scene rather than post hoc analysis over a century later by armchair sceptics.  On the issues of her successes or failures - why do things have to be black or white?  Only debunkers view the world this way. Life is not like that. Human performance is subject to numerous variables so why should mediumship be any different. Your assertion that if she is genuine she should not make errors is simply naïve as we are clearly dealing here with altered states & levels of consciousness. If the spirit hypothesis is correct then success or not may depend on whether the communicator can impress or overlay its thought processes onto the instrument. There may have been times for whatever reason, ill health, fatigue, that no communications was possible & Mrs Pipers sub consciousness took over resulting in fantasy, false communications.  These do not mean she was a fraud.  If you are a genuine truth seeker you need to look at all sources of evidence pro & con & assess it fairly not just rely on debunking literature which I have found to be without exception motivated by an underlying philosophical commitment to materialism/atheism which itself is a claim that needs to be tested.  Final point – even without spiritualism there are other lines of evidence which challenge the brain=mind view, NDEs, crisis apparitions, reincarnation research, terminal lucidity, psi, ganzfield research etc.  If anything these pose a serious problem for materialism.

Carry on researching as the road to truth is a never ending journey……………

antony, Thu 14 Mar, 16:42

I would like to address the secondary personality theory so often proposed as an explanation of mediums.  This theory, including multiple personalities and dissociation is often used by those very erudite professorial types who are either on the fence regarding survival of human consciousness or deny it outright.  Stephen E. Braude,  Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland stumbles back to this explanation of the Patience Worth case and Pearl Curran in his book “Immortal Remains”.  Perhaps in some cases that explanation may be correct.

Contrary to most classic secondary personalities as defined in psychoanalytic literature, Patience Worth was present at the same time as the primary personality Pearl Curran, that is, Pearl Curran was fully conscious and was able to carry on normal conversations with “sitters” in her circle as well as smoke, drink and write at the same time that Patience Worth, her “control” was communicating by way of the Ouija board or typewriter. Pearl Curran was not displaced by Patience Worth.  Similar to Leonora Piper, Curran was able to write or speak one train of thought while writing another train of thought with her other hand. One personality was not displaced by the other.  According to those who posit this theory, I guess they believe that Pearl Curran and Leonora Piper manifested two personalities at the same time, somewhat unusual for multiple personality cases.

According to Curran she was able to hear Patience Worth speaking to her and interpreting or translating what Curran was seeing in her mind’s eye, When Curran “heard” a foreign language in her mind, Patience Worth would translate it for her.  Secondary personality is an easy theory to banty-around but in my opinion it does not explain the Pearl Curran/Patience Worth case and probably not the Leonora Piper case.

To get a feel for the difficulty of explaining the Patience Worth case, try to recite something you have memorized like the “Pledge of Allegiance”, “Lincolns’ Gettysburg Address”, “The Night Before Christmas” or whatever you have memorized, letter-by-letter.  Then try to create a blog post, poem or the first page of a novel, reciting it out loud letter-by-letter while someone else writes it down. Now try to do this while you are conversing with your sitters.  You can’t pause or rewrite; just let the letters flow.  I don’t know about you, but I find this very difficult.  Pearl Curran did this with ease for years and years, creating numerous quality poems, aphorisms, and novels letter-by letter while carrying-on conversations with her sitters and responding to her “secondary personality”.  Eventually Curran was able to recite them word by word as Worth spoke them to her in her mind.  If this all came from a secondary personality, then perhaps we all should develop one.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 14 Mar, 04:02

Michael you are silent on the spirit from Piper claiming Monkeys live in the sun, and you are silent on her spirit guide moses say a great world war was going to break out involving those specific countries, such a thing never happened that is enough for me for her mediumship to be bogus. If her mediumship was true then she should not of made silly mistakes and said false things like that. I have never seen a white medium in my life (read on to see what I mean by white medium).

As for your questions about Lung cancer and smoking this is not acceptable example to be comparing to mediumship and I can’t answer you becuase I have not studied that field, I would be talking from ignorance but let me relate to the black, grey and white medium.

Athur Conan Doyle the spiritualist wrote there were three types of mediums:


The white mediums are perfect mediums who have never been revealed as fraud (none exist ever). The Grey medium is a medium who cheats but also has genuine ability and the black medium is the complete fraud medium who cheats everytime (the black is the reality of mediumship). I have not see any greys.

Interestingly Doyle wrote most mediums were grey with a handful of whites. But Doyle was a convinced spiritualist. Hereward Carrington wrote most mediums were black with a few greys (he wrote 98% of mediums were frauds) and Harry Price wrote most were black. Both Price and Carrington spent their lives studying mediums, you cannot accuse these men of being “Skeptics” becuase both actually believed in psychic phenomena so they were not “materialists” as you are known for calling people.

Trevor H. Hall who spent most of his life studying mediumship wrote they were all black, as did Gordon Stein, Joseph Jastrow, Ivor Lloyd Tuckett and countless of other scientists and psychical researchers.

Joseph McCabe wrote every medium is a black medium i.e. they all cheat. I agree with McCabe.

Grey makes no sense, use some common sense if a medium is genuine and has genuine supernormal powers then why do they need to cheat? The only type of medium that exists is black. There is no grey or white mediums. 

After a detailed study McCabe exposed Palladino, Piper, Cook, Home and Slade etc as black mediums.

McCabe debated Doyle and published his conclusions in:

Is spiritualism based on fraud ?: the evidence given by Sir A.C. Doyle and others (1920)

Online Free:

Honestly if you read the above book you would not believe in spiritualism or mediumship and your worldview would be shattered and you would regret embracing it all. I used to be a spiritualist that was one of the first books which made me realise I had been duped. It is a truthcentric book and it has nothing to do with being a skeptic. The author just reported the facts.

Spiritualists books are biased they never report the trickery that actually has been going on with mediums, they fan it all out. That is dishonest and why I gave up looking at spiritualist literature. If you do not believe me then go onto google books and type in Leonora Piper “moses” “1899” or Leonora Piper “Bessie Beals” or Leonora Piper “monkeys” the only books which report any of this are non-spiritualists books, spiritualists leave out the Bessie Beals character, that Piper “spirit” said monkeys live in the sun or the 1899 silly prophecy by moses.

The same thing has happened with many other mediums. The spirit Bien Boa which was discovered to be a dressed up man is only reported in non-spiritualist books. Also the medium Eva C in one photograph the words “Le Miro” can be seen, her ectoplasm was a clipping from the French magazine Le Miroir and people scanned back copies of that magazine and found the heads Woodrow Wilson, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, French president Raymond Poincaré that Eva C had cut out and used as her fake ectoplasm. None of these facts are mentioned in any spiritualist book. The list goes on.ère

Piper’s mediumship (all of it was explained by)

Muscle-reading, fishing, guessing, hints obtained in the sitting, knowledge surreptitiously obtained, knowledge acquired in the interval between sittings and lastly, facts already within Mrs. Piper’s knowledge.

Now you don’t have to take my word. These were the words of the scientist Ivor Lloyd Tuckett who spent 6 months studying the Piper mediumship and wrote 90 pages debunking her. You can find his chapter here free online.

No spiritualist has ever read the above book, they have ignored it.

As for keep quoting Oliver Lodge, the man was mentally ill. No this is not me attacking the man. Charles Arthur Mercier (1851-1919) M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.S. and a leading expert on insanity and mental illness wrote a whole book debunking Oliver Lodge and a psychological evaluation of why he converted to spiritualism, he went nutty after his son died. The book is called Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge and was published in 1917 I think.

According to wikipedia “Thomas W. M. Lund who attended a sitting with Piper recalled that before the séance began he told another sitter about his son’s illness and his wife’s plans “within earshot of Mrs. Piper.” In the séance Piper’s control mentioned his statements. Lund suggested that Piper was not unconscious during the séance and that she had used clever guess work and other mentalist tricks”.

One last thing that none of you have thought through, if spirits exist then why do they need to enter peoples brains and talk to us? lol. If they exist we should be able to see them and communicate with them, no medium would be needed and no “psychic ability”.

You dont want to hear it but at the end of the day all mediumship is fraud, I am glad I discovered this truth. In time you may find it, but not many people do when they get sucked into the religion of spiritualism, like all belief it is hard to break out.

You probably wont read the McCabe book that I cited but do check out the Tuckett book.

forests, Thu 14 Mar, 00:13


Thanks for your comments.  If you are interested, a slightly more comprehensive bio of G.P. is now up at

Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Mar, 23:28


I just wanted to comment on a movie I saw last night on Netflix.  It was titled “The Gift”.  It is a murder mystery involving a rather run-of-the-mill psychic living in the deep south of the United States.  I liked the movie because it portrayed what I think might be a more realistic experience of a psychic or medium if you will.  This psychic was a single mother whose husband had been killed and who experienced moments of insight and frank hallucinations, seeing people who had died.  The “donations” she received from her sitters helped her to support her three children.  Locally she was know as a “fortune teller” and women came to see her for help.  I won’t spoil the movie for you but I think the portrayal of this character was very good and I recommend that you watch this movie. You may see that, at least in this portrayal, the psychic struggled to not only maintain her sanity but also to endure the criticism, threats, name-calling and actual physical abuse of many of the people in the small southern community in which she lived and at the same time try to live a normal life with her children while they adjusedt to the loss of their father.  I don’t think that this was necessarily the experience of Leonora Piper and other mediums of the 19th and 20th century but I think it would be good for you to see a portrayal of a medium that is not out to con everyone.  There are several story lines in this movie but if you put yourself in the place of the lead character—-the psychic, maybe you will be able to empathize a little more with real people who were blessed or cursed with “the gift”.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 13 Mar, 22:26

If communicating “spirits” are indeed the surviving conscious minds of people who have previously lived on earth, do we then assume that by transitioning to another reality they quickly loose their humanness?  Should we expect absolute truth and honesty, as we understand it, from them and that their participation in a communication with sitters would be “deadly” serious?  Do we assume that all of them can now see into the past and future and report it with absolute accuracy?  Do they become omniscient?

If we can move past those and other assumptions, then perhaps we can allow human consciousness to retain its “humanness” with all of its frailties and weaknesses after it moves to another reality.  That is, humans do at times forget things, misinterpret things, and misunderstand what is being said to them.

It could be that in a reality where disease, sickness or death is not a factor, that a certain light-heartedness may take over at times and in some situations participation in a séance may be regarded as a lark for those on the other side especially for newcomers or “lower level” entities. Humans do have a sense of humor and like to play a good joke on others from time to time; maybe spirits do too!

Maybe in that reality what seemed important to remember on earth is of little significance where they are now.  Perhaps after having lived several or many incarnations on earth with many different names and personalities, that in a spiritual realm names are not that important anymore. In a future life we will be known by another name.  So who are we really?  It might be fun when asked for an identity to say in a light-hearted way,  “I’m Elvis, or Attila the Hun, Abdul,  Hiawatha, Santa or any other exotic person.  (Who wants “Herman Samuel Glabowitz” as a control?  As many of you know, Phinuit said his full name was “Dr. Jean Phinuit Sclivelle”.)

Maybe in that new reality we become part of the great “I am Who am!” and our identity is recognized by what we are as a soul entity, rather than what we are called on earth in one incarnation.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 13 Mar, 20:26

I have been reading Richard Hodgson’s notes of Piper’s sessions with Mrs. Bessie Blodgett circa 1888.  I see that Mrs. Blogett’s name at one time was “Bessie Barr”.  I wonder if the Hodgson control’s memory was compromised somewhat (having gone through the death transition experience etc. and trying to communicate through a medium and all that entails). If Hodgson was like many of us, after years go by we sometimes get confused about names and perhaps he thought that “Bessie Beals” was “Bessie Barr” whom he had met in 1888.

Amos Olier Doyle, Wed 13 Mar, 18:13


How do you feel about the scientific evidence suggesting that smoking causes lung cancer and shortens lives?  If you agree with that finding, how do you explain the dozens of life-long smokers who live to age 90 or older, even a few who have made it to 100 without having contracted lung cancer?  Does the fact that some smokers defy the general rule mean that all the research should be thrown out and that there is no positive correlation between smoking and lung cancer?  Was it junk science because there are many exceptions to the general rule?

That is just what you are doing with the research involving Mrs. Piper —completely disregarding the “hits” and focusing on the misses.  The misses don’t mean that the hits weren’t valid ones.  They only mean that there are many things about such mediumship that we don’t understand and at this point in time are beyond science.  Do you really think that science has reached its end and that there is nothing else to explore?  Science has always lagged behind Truth and always will as we continue to evolve.

Do you really think you are qualified to second guess men like James, Lodge, Hodgson, Myers, Hyslop, and many others, who had no doubt that Mrs. Piper was a legitimate medium?  Do you really believe that muscle reading can produce all kinds of names and facts and that this would not be detected by the researchers over 20-plus years-plus of observing her?  You read a few books by James Randi and that makes you much more knowledgeable than men who were on the scene and observed her numerous times, Hodgson on hundreds of occasions.  Give me a break!!! 

I’ve already discussed the barriers to spirit communication in prior blogs and don’t have the time to go into them here.  Go into the archives and look at the last two entries for April 2012.

Go back to my comment two blogs ago about Bessie Beals.  Indications are that spirits can’t always tell if a person is incarnate or discarnate as they see the person’s true self, not just his physical shell.  There have been numerous reports that when we are sleeping that we are in the spirit world or even when we are awake that our higher self is in the spirit world.  You are trying to apply terrestrial thinking to matters that we have no conception of.  But it may also have been an impostor spirit or some suggestion by Tanner or Hall that influenced Mrs. Piper’s subconscious.  There were many similar confusing communications observed by Hodgson, Hyslop, et al, but they understood the difficulties in communication and still recognized her as a genuine medium.

If Mrs. Piper had truly been out to deceive all the researchers, do you think she would have mentioned the monkey on Mars thing?  That lends itself more to her credibility than it does to indict her of fraud. 

And if you will refer to some of my earlier blogs, you will note that spirits don’t necessarily retain the name they had in a particular lifetime and some advanced spirits, such as Imperator and Rector seem to be group souls who have taken a name for identification purposes.

There is no indication as to how extensive the investigation to identify Phinuit was, but as Alan Gauld has pointed out, most of the records that would have identified him were destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War.

And, yes, I should have qualified my earlier comments about lying spirits.  Clearly, there are many earthbound spirits that muddy the waters in the whole area of spirit communication.  Rector took over from G.P. and Phinuit because he said that Mrs. Piper’s body was weakening and allowing many lower level spirits to interfere with the communications.  It is likely that some low-level spirit was posing as Sir Walter Scott. My question is why would Mrs. Piper’s secondary personalities – and those of all other mediums around the world – represent themselves as spirits of the dead?  How and why did all these secondary personalities collaborate in their efforts to dupe the world into thinking that people survive death?  Why hasn’t one secondary personality admitted to being just a secondary personality?

Let me finish this with a couple of comments by Professor Hyslop, who probably understood trance mediumship better than anyone else, even you and James Randi combined:. 

“Fishing and guessing do take place, and yet the phenomena are still genuine.  The fishing and guessing are on the other side.  That is, the psychic is not fishing and guessing to try the sitter’s response, but to try that of the communicator who labors under difficulties analogous to our communication over a telephone or whenever there are obstacles to communication with each other in normal life.  Either the psychic or the control does not receive the messages or impressions clearly and has to guess at what they mean until the communicator assents to the right name or impression.”

As for the “control” Hyslop had this to say: :

“We have to reckon with what is always called the control, or the ‘guide,’ as it is sometimes called.  We must remember also that the guide and control may be different personalities.  They are not always, if ever, the same personality.  It depends on circumstances.  If you regard this control as a secondary personality state of the medium, you have all the complications of secondary personality in the case, serving as medium besides the automatic machinery of the living organism in the suspense of the control of the normal consciousness over it.  But if you assume that the control is a spirit, as is more evidently the case for all who have intelligently investigated the problem, you have another mind beside that of the medium with which to deal in the problem.  There is not only the third mind which we have called the medium (the “sitter” and the “communicating spirit” being the first two), but the fourth one complicating all its influences with those already complicated enough to make us wonder that we get any message at all from the dead.”

If you are not a smoker, Forests, you should consider taking it up.  Clearly, the exceptions to the general rule—the smokers living to 90 and older—prove that there is no positive correlation between smoking and lung cancer.

Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Mar, 13:20

Hi Forests – please don’t take it personally but why are you (or your skeptic group) in such a hurry to reach a conclusion! Definitely these matters are rationally way hard to believe so it’s quite logical that you are question – no problem with that but why assume we (scientists, doctors etc.) know everything by now.
I personally had no interest and no faith in such matters just few months back but now I’ve a compelling reason to believe in afterlife. I contacted two mediums in recent past and I know I got cheated by them top to bottom – I was fully aware of the fraud even during the reading. It might happen that I will never come across a single personal evidence of afterlife in my life time but I won’t still be able to deny all the researches of renowned scientists, psychologists, doctors and other eminent personalities who worked on the field. We certainly don’t know the truth – but how come we blatantly conclude that all these distinguished personalities, all their observations, findings, writings was wrong or they were nothing but fraud.

Now there can be two scenarios here if we narrow down to this specific blog on Pellew’s case :-

Assume the write up or conversation between Pellew and his friends posted here or in the original book is just something cooked up and not a reality – in that case there is no point in discussing further. But remember in that case we are assuming all persons involved here are fraud – that’s very one sided assumption but it’s up to the person who reads it and nothing can be done after so many years.
Now anybody is free to assume that Dr. Stanley, Alan Gauld, Andrew Lang (your favorites) were also fraud. It doesn’t take us anywhere you see.

Now the second assumption is the write up is correct and that’s what actually happened – discussion can continue on this topic. Instead of quoting other write ups (as you mentioned) can we focus on this Pellew’s case for the time being. If you believe it actually happened can you explain this case by fraud, telepathy, secondary personality or super-psi or anything like that? I’m not saying it has to be spirit communication but you too need to agree that this Pellew’s case cannot easily be explained by normal scientific means.

Instead of accusing Michael Tymn on every statement of his blog have you ever thought for any possible explanation of such phenomena? Might you could have figured out something very normal trick and could have made all paranormal believers believe in your way. You could have stopped many people from being cheated by these mediums or from other paranormal performers.

When skeptics talk about frauds, secondary personality etc. to debunk a specific case they should explain what fraud what personality etc.—- otherwise just these words don’t make much sense.

ArunM, Wed 13 Mar, 06:07

“Eyewitness reports also have Piper with her eyes open throughout her seances at times.”


You have stated many times that eye witness accounts cannot be trusted (the classical skeptical argument) now you are using it to prove your point? On top of that there are no sources for this.  Hopefully you are taking a logic course this semester.

You also completely ignore all the compelling cases and highlight her misses.  Again your arrogance to think you know more than Williams James, Hyslop et al astounds me.  I find your arguments sleazy and unconvincing.

Ray, Wed 13 Mar, 06:05


There certainly is powerful evidence of personal communication in the case of Leonora Piper and George Pellew (and others like Benny Junot). And to claim fraud for all of Mrs. Piper’s mediumship is ridiculous, considering the details of the long investigation. And super ESP seems generally untenable for a lot of reasons, except for a small subset of cases.

But it still looks like a losing battle to try to defend the validity as deceased personalities of many Piper “spirit controls” (and those of other mediums like Mrs. Leonard’s “Feda”) that were clearly fictitious. Mrs. Piper’s GP was probably one of the most convincing controls, but Gauld points out that there are many lower levels of control “entities” that graduate down in quality to those with no element of reality at all (like Helene Smith, and shamans’ nature spirits). The implication of this is that the psychological processes of the trance exercising of dramatic gifts are at the basic level the same.

It seems that some more nuanced theory is needed that accepts spirit communication but also accepts that mediums do unconsciously generate fantasy personalities and fantasy stories as part of the altered consciousness which is required to be receptive to the spirits of the deceased. This is Gauld’s theory of “overshadowing”, also based on the thinking of both Mrs. Sidgwick and William James. “Behind Mrs Piper’s dramatic rendering of communication from the dead, overshadowing it and somehow directing its course, there might sometimes lie those same deceased persons who figure as characters in the drama. The medium writes many of the speeches, and ensures continuity in the plot; but some of the lines (perhaps the most important ones) are filled in by outside authors. Let us call this theory the theory of ‘overshadowing’” (Gauld, pp. 117,118).

Walter Franklin Prince made the following remarks concerning some sittings of he and his daughter with Mrs. ‘Chenoweth’ after the death of his wife (Gauld, p.118):

“… It was the peculiar selective character of the details purporting to come from my wife and relating to her last weeks on earth which most impressed me when I realized it … in the alleged communications there is no hint of the features of the case which to us stood out so prominently, and in fact she never knew what her malady really was, she never realized that there was an open wound, and she expected, up to her last five minutes, to get better and return to her home. On the contrary, what we do find is a multitude of true little details, her back being rubbed, her head rubbed in a particular way, the trouble with her foot and knee, continuing sensations of hunger, the sensitiveness of her head when her hair was washed or combed, feeling that she would be all right again, trouble with her back towards the last, yet not being permitted to lie on her side, the chicken broth which Theodosia brought her, the trouble her ‘store’ teeth were to her, a sensation of fulness in the chest and of bad pain in the abdomen, pain stopping all at once (from the opiate), comforting visions of her relatives, sense of rebellion associated with death, etc. It came to me as I scanned this list that it was these details and others like them that had loomed large in my wife’s sick mind … I, Theodosia, or both of us, knew all the above details, but some were wan and fading images in our minds, luridly overshadowed by the memories I have mentioned and others.”

The facts were known to Prince and his daughter, present at the sitting. The point of view was that of the late Mrs. Prince, as if the medium’s words were shaped and directed by the external overshadowing presence of Prince’s deceased wife.

doubter, Wed 13 Mar, 05:28

Romaine Newbold who attended several séances with Piper wrote:
“In all the years of Mrs. Piper’s mediumship, she made no revelation to science, her efforts in astronomy were utterly childish, her prophecy untrue. She never has revealed one scrap of useful knowledge. She never could reveal the contents of a test letter left by Dr. Hodgson”

What is this test letter he talks about?

forests, Tue 12 Mar, 23:52

Michael here is the stuff about the monkeys:

When describing the sun Piper’s “spirit control” Walter Scott said:

“we find it very warm and deserted like a deserted island. We wish to find its inhabitants if there are any i.e. if it has any. Now we see what we term monkeys, dreadful looking creatures, black extremely black, very wild. We find they live in caves which are made in the sand or mud, clay etc.”

He also said there are tree like creatures living in Venus, and that many of the planets do not have a solid core. Sorry but this is pure fantasy. Would great a make science fiction film though!

forests, Tue 12 Mar, 23:48

“Forests”, you fail to see the forest for the trees; actually you really fail to see the trees for the leaves and the insects on the leaves. Expand you focus.  Try to get the bigger picture.  I suggest you look at Bernardo Kastrup’s YouTube site and his web page at Metaphysical Speculations.  Maybe Bernardo will help you to realize that the reality we experience may have many explanations, some of which are not fully understood by today’s science.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 12 Mar, 23:28

Michael how do you explain this?

“One day Dr. Stanley Hall (the famous American psychologist) had a sitting with Mrs. Piper and asked for the spirit of a niece called Bessie Beals, a characyer which he had invented on the spur of the moment. “Bessie” duly appeared and accepted Dr. Hall as her uncle, giving more or less appropriate answers to Dr. Hall as her uncle, giving more or less appropriate answers to Dr. Hall’s questions and imaginary reminiscences. Dr. Hall then told the control “Hodgson” that he had never posessed such a niece. Now “Hodgson” who claimed to have fetched this niece from the spirit world to talk to her uncle, had taken “Bessie Beals” quite seriously. He tried to wriggle out by saying that he himself had known a real Bessie Beals in his life and that this was the spirit he had brought to Stanley Hall by mistake. This excuse is not plausible. If the spirit was the Bessie Beals Hodgson had known, why should she claim Stanley Hall as her uncle and
assent to his imaginary reminiscences?”

Source: page 248 Julian Franklyn. A Survey of the Occult (1935)

forests, Tue 12 Mar, 22:06

According to Alan Gauld in his book Pioneers of Psychical Research one of Pipers controls was Sir Walter Scott and asserted that there are monkeys and other beings that live inside the sun and that himself has visited the sun as well as other planets. How do you explain this sillyness Michael? Are we really going to claim spirit monkeys are living inside the sun? Either Piper was having a good joke by making all this up, or it was some kind of fantasy from her subsconscious.

forests, Tue 12 Mar, 21:48

“That is the “group soul” and “higher self” theories, or a combination of the two, which suggests that the person we are here on the earth plane is but a fragment of the greater self or higher self and that we all exist in different dimensions and perhaps even living past and future lives all at the same time.  All that is beyond my comprehension and perhaps even yours, but seems to be supported by quantum theory.”

Can you explain how a higher self is supported by quantum theory? I would love to see some scientific evidence for such a claim!

Andrew Lang on Mrs Piper:

“Mrs. Piper would cheat when she could—that is to say, she would make guesses, try to worm information out of her sitter, describe a friend of his, alive or dead, as ‘Ed.,’ who may be Edgar, Edmund, Edward, Edith, or anybody. She would shuffle, and repeat what she had picked up in a former sitting with the same person; and the vast majority of her answers started from vague references to probable facts (as that an elderly man is an orphan), and so worked on to more precise statements.”

Piper was a cold reader, theres no need for super psi or spirit hypotheses. Thomas Barkworth who held the hand of Piper in discovered her to be muscle reading. Piper would feel the forehead of her sitters, is that normal for someone who is meant to be in a totally unconscious trance state? Eyewitness reports also have Piper with her eyes open throughout her seances at times.

Fraud. Case closed smile, Tue 12 Mar, 21:30


There are some pieces of evidence which contradict that Piper was in contact with spirits.

Firstly in 1899 a “spirit control” of Piper claiming to be moses (from the Bible) said that a great world war was going to break out in the next few years which England and America would fight France and Russia, and Germany would take no part. Of course no such thing ever happened.

Why would a spirit lie? And that spirit was meant to be Moses!

Also her “spirit control” Phinuit has no record of living on earth.

As Dr. Alfred Schofield wrote:

“Dr. Phinuit, the celebrated spirit control of Mrs Piper, who stated he was formerly a French doctor in Marseilles, has been shown not to be what he professed. He said he was born at Marseilles in 1790, and died in Paris in 1860. Enquiries fail to give any trace of gim. He had no knowledge of medicine, and only appeared to know a few French phrases!”

Source: Page 200 in Modern Spiritism: Its Science and Religion (1920).

forests, Tue 12 Mar, 21:21


Let’s just assume that George Pellew was a secondary personality.  The first question then becomes how the secondary personality obtains all the evidential information that is given.  How did the secondary personality know the names of all of Pellew’s friends—30 them according to Hodgson? How did the secondary personality know about the discussion GP had with the Howard’s daughter and many other bits of information not even covered in the above referenced material?

If you are a reductionist, you may say that Mrs. Piper was a fraud and had a private investigator digging up all these facts, but even the best PI will not get the triviality that came through.  To suggest that Mrs. Piper was such a fraud is also to suggest that some very reputable scientists and scholars, including Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned physicist, were liars, since they reported that the sittings were under strictly controlled conditions.  That is, Mrs. Piper didn’t know who they would be bringing in to sit with her, was given no names, and often was already in a trance state when the sitter came in. If you choose to believe that they were all liars, that is your privilege and problem.

The second question is: “Why were all these secondary personalities—not only Mrs. Piper’s “controls” but those of all other mediums who had similar “controls”—all engaged in the same “game”?  What was their objective in pretending to be spirits of the dead?  Mrs. Piper and all the other credible mediums could have made much more money being “mentalists” and appearing on the stage while demonstrating what great intellects and brains they had.

If you are a parapsycholist who resists survival and spirits, you will say it is all Super ESP or Superpsi.  Since such a hypothesis cannot be disproved, it is your choice.  However, it is one thing for Mrs. Piper or her secondary personality to tap into some mind hundreds of miles away or into some cosmic computer for bits of information, quite another for the secondary personality to engage in lengthy dialogue with the sitters.  I find it much easier to believe in spirit communication than in Super ESP, but I realize that others don’t find it so easy.  Again, your choice.

I discussed this with Alan Gauld several years ago and he seemed to be on the fence, not knowing what to believe.  I think Braude is in the same boat, as evidenced by his comments about Patience Worth. So many modern day parapsychologists are reluctant to endorse any spirit theory because it is considered so “unscientific” and might very well result in losing funding, etc., etc.  I believe the researhers who directly studied Mrs. Piper—Hodgson, Myers, Lodge, and Hyslop, especially, were much better qualified to address the issue than modern day researchers who can only speculate as to what might have been.

I addressed the Bessie Beals case two blogs back and so will not go over all that again, other than to suggest that there is an explanation that is somewhere between spirits and secondary personalities.  That is the “group soul” and “higher self” theories, or a combination of the two, which suggests that the person we are here on the earth plane is but a fragment of the greater self or higher self and that we all exist in different dimensions and perhaps even living past and future lives all at the same time.  All that is beyond my comprehension and perhaps even yours, but seems to be supported by quantum theory. 

G.P. told Lodge that Phinuit was a real spirit, not a secondary personality.  Here again, why lie about this?  What was the game?  What did Mrs. Piper or her secondary personality gain by saying this? 

To quote Patience Worth, when asked if she were a secondary personality of Mrs. Curran’s: 

“I be I and she be she,” or words to that effect.

Michael Tymn, Tue 12 Mar, 14:47

Both Alan Gauld and Stephen Braude studied this extensively and still concluded that most spirit “controls” are most likely subconscious fabrications related to multiple personality disorder. Gauld, in his authoritative book Mediumship and Survival (1982) (at ) discusses Mrs. Piper’s “controls”, pointing out (p. 114):

“To begin with, there are a number of controls who are quite certainly fictitious. Phinuit is one. Chlorine is another. Among others are, for instance, a Julius Caezar [sic] and a Sir Walter Scott so totally unlike the originals that one can hardly even regard them as impersonations. The ‘Imperator’ band of controls also belong in this group. They claimed identity with the controls of the same pseudonyms who had manifested through the famous British medium, W. Stainton Moses (see 160). They were never able to establish this identity, but hazarded all kinds of incorrect and contradictory guesses at their own ‘real’ names. Even the most life-like and realistic controls, such as GP, show signs of being impersonations (not deliberate ones). They break down at just the point where Mrs Piper’s own stock of knowledge runs out, viz. when they are required to talk coherently of science, philosophy and literature (which the living GP could readily have done).”

And (p. 115):

“That the trance drama of communication with the departed really is only a piece of play-acting by the medium (not a deliberate piece of play-acting—call it rather the enactment of a dream) is strongly suggested by the following further consideration. Some controls, like GP, or Bennie Junot, are very life-like, and in fact convinced many people of their authenticity. Others, however, like Julius Caezar, Sir Walter Scott, and the George Eliot who claimed she had met Adam Bede in the next world, are so implausible, and so stilted and stylized in their diction and sentiments, that no one could possibly regard them as anything other than fictions. Yet the most plausible communicators will in the firmest tones guarantee the authenticity of the least plausible ones, so that the authenticity of the former is inextricably and disadvantageously tied up with the authenticity of the latter, and it becomes abundantly clear that the maintenance of the drama is all-important and that every one of the controls, from GP down to Julius Caezar, is part and parcel of the playwright’s creative fantasy.”

I guess it is possible that while most “controls” are subconscious fabrications, a few others (like GP) are actually genuine, but it seems more parsimonious to conclude that they all are fictional. The degree of convincingness or versimilitude would depend on the talent of the medium.

Braude points out that the “discarnate” communicators themselves also are sometimes clearly imagined by the medium’s subconscious mind. At ) he points out:

“....For example, in 1909 Stanley Hall deceived Mrs. Piper’s Hodgson control by asking for, and then receiving, messages from a niece, Bessie Beals, who never existed. When confronted by Hall, the Hodgson-control could only offer lame explanations.”

It is interesting that Mrs. Sidgwick, who extensively studied Mrs. Piper’s mediumship, apparently concluded that although mostly fictions invented by deep levels of the subliminal mind, at least some of the communications from “spirit controls” and discarnates were still from the surviving human beings they were claiming to be. If this is the case the talent of the medium determined the degree to which the actual discarnate could “overshadow’ the fantasy creations of the medium’s unconscious.

doubter, Tue 12 Mar, 02:33

Excellent article, Mike!

It is a shame that too many people do not have the opportunity for these very personal experiences with mediumship.

However, I have found that many have been touched and been given hope of an afterlife by some of the more well known mediums that go on TV and especially when they see the emotional reactions of the recipients of “spirit messages”, that provide very specific personal information.

(It is up to each person’s free will to decide for themselves the validity and quality of the “spirit messages” and also the quality and sincerity of the medium in question.)

Also, would it not be logical that the spirits (especially the morally and intellectually higher ones) want the message that there is an afterlife to reach the masses in our world if it is the truth?

Yvonne Limoges, Mon 11 Mar, 18:42

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“Life After Death – The Communicator” by Paul Beard – If the telephone rings, naturally the caller is expected to identify himself. In post-mortem communication, necessitating something far more complex than a telephone, it is not enough to seek the speakers identity. One needs to estimate also as far as is possible his present status and stature. This involves a number of factors, overlapping and hard to keep separate, each bringing its own kind of difficulty. Four such factors can readily be named. Read here
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