After Death Communication: The Book Tests - Some of the Best Evidence
Posted on 14 August 2017, 8:37
Anyone relying on popular Internet references for information on various renowned mediums from the past will likely conclude that they were all a bunch of fakes. The debunkers have taken control of many of the popular encyclopedic sites and have obviously made it their mission to discredit, disparage, or destroy all mediums. They make out the researchers who concluded that the mediums were genuine to have been dupes and rely on pseudoskeptics for their biographical sketches of the mediums.
Fortunately, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in England is making an effort to offer the true known facts about mediumship and other psychic phenomena with its Psi Encyclopedia. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a dozen or more biographies and subjects at this site, including one just recently posted, the “Book Tests.”
Conducted by Charles Drayton Thomas, (below) a Wesleyan minister and a member of the SPR, the book tests are considered some of the very best evidence for spirit communication. “The primary purpose of these efforts was said [by my father] to be a demonstration that spirit people were able to do that for which telepathy from human minds could not account, a demonstration calculated to clarify the evidence already existing for the authorship of their communication,” Thomas wrote in 1922.
Thomas was especially interested in the popular theory that the medium was reading the mind of the sitter in providing information. He said that it was his father, John Thomas, also a Wesleyan minister, who, posthumously, gave him the idea of the book tests. It was during a sitting with Gladys Osborne Leonard, (below) a renowned British medium, early in 1917, that the father and son on different sides of the veil began collaborating in the experiments.
The senior Thomas, who died in 1903, told his son that the tests had been devised by others in a more advanced sphere than his and the idea passed on to him. At the time, Drayton Thomas (he went by his middle name) had had over 100 sittings with Mrs. Leonard, although later in his career that number exceeded 500. He mentioned that the tests were secondary to other business which he and his father discussed and that his father continually gave other evidence of his own identity.
Drayton Thomas would arrange a notebook on a table with a lighted lamp. Leonard would take a seat several feet from him and after two or three minutes of silence she would go into a trance. Suddenly, in a clear and distinct voice, Feda, Leonard’s spirit control, would take over Leonard’s body and begin using her speech mechanism while relaying messages from the senior Thomas and others in the spirit world. There was no similarity between Leonard’s voice and that of Feda, who spoke like a young girl. Moreover, Feda spoke with an accent and had frequent lapses of grammar.
The idea behind the book tests was to communicate information gleaned by the father from a book in the son’s extensive library. For example, in one of the earliest experiments, the father told the son to go to the lowest shelf and take the sixth book from the left. On page 149, three-quarters down, he would find a word conveying the meaning of falling back or stumbling. When the younger Thomas arrived home that evening after his sitting with Mrs. Leonard, he went to the book and place on the page, where he found the words, “…to whom a crucified Messiah was an insuperable stumbling-block.”
The father explained to the son, through Feda, that he was able to get the “appropriate spirit of the passage” much easier than he could the actual words. However, over a period of 18 months experimentation, he found himself able to pick up more and more words and numbers, gradually shifting from “sensing” to “clairvoyance.” It was made abundantly clear by the father that he was experimenting on his side as much as his son was on the material side. The debunkers don’t seem to have the ability to grasp all that, however, If the wording was not exact, it had to be, in their limited minds, fraudulent.
It was certain that Mrs. Leonard had never visited Thomas’ house and knew nothing of the library of books in it. Realizing, however, that his subconscious might somehow have recorded such detailed information in the book when he read it years before as well as the exact location of the book in his library, Thomas decided to experiment with books in a friend’s house. He informed his father of the plan so that the father knew where to search. In one of the tests there, Feda told Thomas that on page 2 of the second book from the right on a particular shelf, he would find a reference to sea or ocean. She added that the discarnate Thomas was not sure which, because he got the idea and not the words. When Drayton Thomas pulled the book from the shelf of his friend’s house, he read, “A first-rate seaman, grown old between sky and ocean.”
In another experiment, Drayton Thomas was told to look at page 9 where he would find a reference to changing of colors. Upon opening this book, Thomas found, “Along the northern horizon the sky suddenly changes from light blue to a dark lead colour.” In still another test at his home, Feda told Drayton Thomas to go to a book at a certain point on a shelf and he would find words looking like “A-sh-ill-ee” on the cover. Feda explained that she was giving the sound but not the correct spelling. When Thomas arrived home, he went to the exact spot indicated by Feda and found a book authored by Mrs. Ashley Carus-Wilson.
In yet another test, Thomas was first reminded by Feda of some strange knockings in his room recently and then was directed to the top of page 17 of a book on the second shelf, fifth from the left end. Thomas found the book to be a volume of Shakespeare and the words, “I will not answer thee with words, but blows.”
Over a period of about two years, the father and son researchers carried out 348 tests. Of those, 242 were deemed good, 46 indefinite, and 60 failures. The discarnate Thomas explained the failures as his inability to get the idea through the mind of the medium or the medium’s mind somehow distorting the message. However, if you check the references by the debunkers, all you’ll read about is the failures or the so-called researchers who didn’t get results as good as Thomas did. For more on the book tests, go to https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/book-tests
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.
Next blog post: August 28.
Thank you for your continued work on this fascinating and important topic. Every time I visit your blog I come away with new information that I doubt I would have easily obtained elsewhere.
Please keep ‘em coming!
Eric Newhill, Fri 15 Sep, 16:51
Thanks for your kind comment on my work (hobby) Amos. Watch out for the next exciting instalment in a few days time !! ‘The Flying Dutchman’ is a presentation about the clairvoyant Gerard Croiset, and I’m doing the final tweaks right now.
Keith P in England, Tue 29 Aug, 13:45
Yes, how could I not have named D.D. Home! ! !
While you have recommended (not really) YouTube for Susan Gerbic, I would like to recommend YouTube for Keith Parsons. I thoroughly enjoyed your videos and hope that you produce many more. You are a multi-talented man who does it all. I patched together a copy of ‘Newborn’ which you use at the end of your videos while the credits are presented. After a little work I can now play it over and over again on my piano at my leisure. So nice!
Thanks Keith. I can’t say enough good things about you and the videos you produce. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 24 Aug, 23:28
I of course don’t know Susan Gerbic but I have read that she leads a group called Guerrilla Skeptics who edit Wikipedia pages to suit their tastes and belief systems regardless of evidence that exists to the contrary. Based upon pictures of her and a YouTube video I believe that she received chemo therapy at one time for something. Her association with Wikipedia is of no real consequence to me as I do not regard Wikipedia as a reliable source of any information. With all of the other web sites available I don’t understand why anyone would want to use a site whose reputation is to provide incomplete, biased and otherwise erroneous information written by nincompoops and to do it using the tactics of guerilla warfare, that is, they anonymously kill anyone that disagrees with them by deleting, deleting and deleting edits and banning contributors until they get their way.
I suppose a debt of thanks is owed to Gerbic for prompting the development of the excellent web site, Psi Encyclopedia at https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/ under the excellent tutelage of Robert McLuhan which provides more balanced articles about people and things—-things which current scientific investigation has not been able to fully explain.
I also, in response to the inaccurate and incomplete information about Pearl Curran and Patience Worth currently on Wikipedia (actually a garbage-grinder version of what I had written on Wikipedia several years before Gerbic became a Guerrilla Warrior), developed my own web page about Patience Worth http://www.patienceworth.com/ which I hope presents a more balanced and accurate report of Pearl and Patience.
I can’t help but think that some people who suffer serious illnesses and undergo painful and deleterious treatments, sometimes maimed in the process, often develop a lot of pent-up long-lasting anger and hatred sometimes directed at God, other people or anything that suggests some purpose and meaning to life. Such hatred and anger stops development of any higher intellectual powers and they tend to flounder around in self-pity.
Perhaps that is the motivating force behind the leadership of Guerilla Skeptics. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 24 Aug, 22:52
Thanks for the comment. I Googled Susan Gerbic. All I can say is that I feel sorry for her, but at the same time I want to vomit.
Thanks to all others for their comments here.
Michael Tymn, Thu 24 Aug, 21:17
I liked this piece, Mike. Thanks. It is very evidential. I also appreciated that Amos (below) was so stimulated by it that he made his comments which I both enjoyed and endorse. I might add that he missed out so many other people under the heading ‘a multitude of others’ - Sir William Crookes, Daniel Dunglas Home, Gary Schwartz…... and a multitude of others!
If you are interested in the tactics of the guerrilla skeptic movement go to Youtube and look up Susan Gerbic. She is the founder of Skeptic Action, and leader of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW). She has published talks on Youtube under Atheists United and JamesRandiFoundation (yes, him!) which thankfully have had relatively few views. However in the Randi presentation, apart from wearing a notably silly hat, she points out that she has been ‘skepticising’ Wikipedia content since 2011, and is now doing so in 17 languages with the help of over 90 editors. So it is a force to be reckoned with. For myself, I make Youtube documentaries on spiritual topics that I hope are balanced and which skeptics can’t alter.
Keith Parsons in England., Wed 23 Aug, 21:30
I agree with you 100%. I think to myself sometimes, what it would be like if somehow scientific proof became available that consciousness did not survive the death of the body. What then?
What do we make of all of the voluminous writings and other reports purporting to document a spiritual reality? What about the near death experiences of thousands of people; what about the veridical past life reports of maybe more than thousands of people; what about all of the direct voice séances and materializations; what about reports of phantoms, and death bed apparitions; what about the precipitated paintings of the Bangs sisters and the Campbell brothers, what about the creative writings of Chico Xavier and Pearl Curran and others; what about the dictated music of Rosemary Brown? What about Leonora Piper, Eileen Garrett, Helen Duncan, Emily French, Alec Harris, Leslie Flint, Etta Wriedt? What about the cross correspondences and the book tests?
What is it that John Edward does, and George Anderson, and Cristopher Stillar and Matt Fraser and many many others do? Are they all fakes, cold readers, charlatans, people who just want to bilk the bereaved out of their money? What about Matthew, Mark Luke and John? All liars I guess?
Was William Usborne Moore an idiot along with Wallace, Myers, Doyle, Hodgson, Hyslop, and a multitude of others. Were they all liars or to be kind, just mistaken intellectuals who were getting along in years? What does one make of all of this?
Well, those hundreds or thousands of people would have to be fabricating, lying or otherwise mistaken about what they reported, wouldn’t they? Part of the human condition I guess. The will to believe the unbelievable or—-what? - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 18 Aug, 15:23
Yvonne Limoges, Thu 17 Aug, 18:32
Thank you for continuing to compile important information for future generations that could be lost.
The information in this article provides wonderful evidence of “spirit communication.”
As for spirit identity, it remains problematic.
In Allan Kardec’s The Mediums Book, in Ch. XXIV item 255, he states:
“...we are reduced to an appreciation based on moral and intellectual considerations,
judging them as we judge of men by their thoughts and their language.”
That being said, as a practicing Spiritist medium of over 40 years, not only do I take into consideration what is stated above, I can also feel what the spirit feels, and this is another aspect that I can use to assess their possible identity.
I have an urge to say to so-called scientific experts who maintain ironclad skepticism in the face of overwhelming evidence of survival, “I will not answer thee with words, but blows.”
That doesn’t apply to skeptics or agnostics who haven’t looked into the question because of lack of interest. Almost by definition, those who aren’t interested in something are ignorant about it. (But it’s hard to fathom why anyone wouldn’t be concerned about what happens once our ride through physical life reaches the last station.)
I continue to be surprised at how much evidence is available once you start looking for it—and there always seems to be more to discover, although a lot has been nearly lost because it’s in old or out-of-print books. But there’s plenty in easily available sources.
For a scientist or researcher in the field, it is irresponsible to “debunk” the huge volume of convincing evidence and concentrate only on fake manifestations (which no one denies have occurred) or indulge in the standard cop-out that if there is any conceivable way a medium might have cheated, that invalidates well-attested phenomena.
Rick Darby, Thu 17 Aug, 16:01
A clever demon, this contributes nothing in ascertaining whether it was his father speaking or another entity.
Gavin Doyle, Tue 15 Aug, 11:58
Thanks, Mike. I’ve always esteemed these book tests but never knew exactly how they were carried out.
Stafford Betty, Mon 14 Aug, 21:47
Add your comment