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Ectoplasm: Hokey but True?

Posted on 11 February 2013, 5:09

It is difficult not to laugh or even scoff at some of the photos of supposed materialized spirits one comes across in books or on the Internet.  Some of these photos are hokey,  bizarre, and absolutely ridiculous.  Who in his right mind would possibly believe that such ludicrous objects are spirits of the dead?  Consider the photo below, which shows a supposed spirit form developing out of ectoplasm produced by British medium Helen Duncan.  Clearly, it is a fake, right?  I wouldn’t be so sure.  At least, the photo in itself does not prove that Duncan was a fraud, as any “rational” person might assume. 

duncan

Or consider the photo below of an entity called Bien Boa, which materialized in the presence of Dr. Charles Richet through the mediumship of Marthe Beraud, also known as Eva C.  It looks a little more realistic than the Duncan materialization, but appears to have no legs and is hokey nonetheless.  But Richet, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, had no doubt that it was real.  “I shall not waste time in stating the absurdities, almost the impossibilities, from a psycho-physiological point of view, of this phenomenon,” Richet wrote.  “A living being, or living matter, formed under our eyes, which has it proper warmth, apparently a circulation of blood, and a physiological respiration (as I proved by causing the form of Bien Boa to breathe into a flask containing baryta water), which has also a kind of psychic personality having a will distinct from the will of the medium, in a word, a new human being!  This is surely the climax of marvels!  Nevertheless, it is a fact.”

boa

Richet added that Bien Boa walked and moved, and his eyes could be seen looking around, and when he tried to speak his lips moved. He also floated in the air, far out of the reach of the medium, and vanished into the floor under his eyes three times, only to reappear, “bowing like an actor who receives applause.”

Along with Doctors Gustave Geley and Albert Schrenck-Notzing, two respected scientists, Richet observed the materialization process from the beginning.  “A kind of liquid or pasty jelly emerges from the mouth or the breast of Marthe which organizes itself by degrees, acquiring the shape of a face or limb,” he further reported. “Under very good conditions of visibility, I have seen this paste spread on my knee, and slowly take form so as to show the rudiment of the radius, the cubitus, or metacarpal bone whose increasing pressure I could feel on my knee.”

Richet further explained that the materializations were usually gradual, beginning with a rudimentary shape with complete forms and human faces only appearing later on.  At times, they waited for two to three hours for a full materialization.  “At first these formations are often very imperfect. Sometimes they show no relief, looking more like flat images than bodies, so that in spite of oneself one is inclined to imagine some fraud, since what appears seems to be the materialization of a semblance, and not of a being.  But in some cases, the materialization is perfect.”

Richet’s comments might very well explain why the Duncan materialization appears so imperfect. That is, it was incomplete and may never have progressed beyond that point because the medium was not strong enough or the discarnate attempting to materialize was incapable of doing so.
.
In one sitting, a communicating entity told Richet that he was unable to materialize because he could not remember what he looked like when alive.  However, the spirit later materialized without a face. 

In her 1892 book, There is No Death, Florence Marryat, a popular writer of the Victorian era, told of a sitting with a medium in which an old family friend, John Powles, communicated but initially declined to materialize.  Peter, the medium’s spirit control, communicated that “he doesn’t want to show himself because he’s not a bit like what he used to be.” 

However, when Marryat persuaded Powles to show himself, she saw only a face that didn’t resemble her old friend in the slightest.  She wrote that it was “hard, stiff, and unlifelike.  Powles then told her that he would try to do better the next time.


For the next sitting, Marryat brought along a necktie that had belonged to Powles, keeping it in her pocket and telling no one about it.  Soon after the séance began, Peter told Marryat to hand over the necktie and put it on Powles’ neck.  “The face of John Powles appeared, very different from the time before, as he had his own features and complexion, but his hair and beard which were auburn during life, appeared phosphoric, as though made by living fire,” Marryat wrote, adding that she then mounted a chair, put the tie around his neck and asked if she could kiss him.  Powles shook his head, but Peter then told her to give him her hand. “I did so, and as he kissed it his moustaches burned me,” Marryat wrote.  “I cannot account for it.  I can only relate the fact.  After which he disappeared with the necktie, which I have never seen since, though we searched the little room for it thoroughly”.

As I understand it from other research in this area, the discarnate must visualize his or her old self and project that image into the ectoplasm.  The ability of discarnates to do this apparently varies as much as artistic ability varies among incarnates.  While some people have artistic talents and might do a good self portrait, my self-portrait would look more ridiculous than the Duncan materialization above. 

When William T. Stead first materialized after dying in the Titanic disaster, only his face appeared. When he was asked about this, he said that he visualized only his face. He explained that it was explained to him by other entities that he had to visualize himself among the people in the flesh and imagine that he was standing there in the flesh with a strong light thrown upon himself.  “Hold the visualization very deliberately and in detail, and keep it fixed upon my mind, that at that moment I was there and they were conscious of it,” Stead explained.  It was in the same way he was able to get a message through.  He stood by the most sensitive person there, concentrated his mind on a short sentence, and repeated it with much emphasis and deliberation until he could hear part of it spoken by the person.

Although I cannot immediately recall the reference, I do remember a case in which a researcher asked a spirit to show himself on a photographic plate. The spirit said he had to quickly visit his old home to view a photograph of himself before he could project his image on to the photographic plate, as he, too, didn’t remember what he looked like when alive. . He returned in a matter of seconds and the photograph that developed looked very much like the portrait on the mantel at his old house.

Likewise, materializations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Raymond Lodge which manifested in the research of Dr. T. Glen Hamilton of Canada looked like old photos of them, which immediately suggested fraud.  But think about it, if you had to telepathically project an image of yourself to someone, what would the self-image be based on?  What you see when shaving or applying make-up in the morning or a good photograph of yourself?  I’m pretty sure that I would visualize myself based on a 40-year-old photograph.  I know that when I sometimes look in the mirror I wonder who it is looking back at me and that person in the mirror does not match the more idealized likeness I have of myself.  And I know that when I think of my brother, who died in an accident 40 years ago, I picture him as he appeared in a high-school graduation photo, not as he appeared in some fleeting moment in our interaction during his lifetime.

Keep in mind also that before photography and quality mirrors, many people had no clear-cut idea as to what they looked like.  If you had no photographs of yourself from your childhood, would you know what you looked like at age 7 or 10? I don’t think I would. 

This might also explain why several early materialized spirits looked something like the medium.  The most famous case in this regard is that of Katie King, who materialized through the mediumship of Florence Cook.  Because many observers concluded that Katie looked like Florence, there was speculation that Florence was somehow doing a fast costume change, even though the room was thoroughly investigated beforehand and no costumes found. 

But Sir William Crookes, a famous British scientist, said that Katie was much taller than Florence and, in fact, saw them both at the same time – Florence in trance inside the cabinet and Katie in a materialized form. The reason that Katie looked so much like Florence may have been because Katie lived before photography and did not have a fixed image of herself, only that she was much taller than Florence.  Thus, she identified with Florence’s image.  As far-fetched as that may seem, it makes more sense, to me at least, than other explanations offered by debunkers.  . 

“To suggest that these trained observers were all deceived by fraudulent operations, those stupid and very tiresome performances which mislead no one but the uninformed and gullible, is to offer an explanation which offends our reason and shows willful indifference to truth,” Hamilton wrote, referring to Crookes, Richet, Geley, Schrenck-Notzing, Sir Oliver Lodge, Alfred Russel Wallace, and other esteemed men of science who witnessed materializations.

Schrenck-Notzing also observed that the cynical press was quick to accept unsubstantiated debunking reports and sensationalize them, thereby defaming innocent people.  These sensationalized reports then became “fact” as far as the public was concerned and later became part of standard reference books, muddying up the waters so that people today don’t know what to believe.  I find it easier to believe that those esteemed men of science were competent investigators than that they were duped in dozens, even hundreds, of materializations. 

“This ectoplasmic formation at the expense of the physiological organism of the medium is now beyond all dispute,” said Richet, who won the Nobel Prize for his research on anaphylaxis, the sensitivity of the body to alien protein substances.  “It is prodigiously strange, prodigiously unusual, and it would seem so unlikely as to be incredible; but we must give in to the facts…Yes, it is absurd; but no matter – it is true.”

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 post:  February 25        


Comments

Forests writes That is NOT me!! ….. I am not “Darryl” or Exterminator, they were false accounts pretending to be me

According to a skeptiko moderator forum post Forests = Darryl = Exterminator, both the latter names were banned from forum. So you are now claiming that a person making the same arguments as you, same spelling mistakes as you, is impersonating you. That is quite a conspiracy theory.

Is it the real you or the fake ‘Forests’  that is falsely implying ‘Open Mind’ on another forum that is a (banned) poster called mu on skeptiko forum after I told you this is false!

Forests claims Rudi Schneider was caught cheating by six different scientists.

Utter nonsense. Your Rational Wiki article is error after error and you probably do not know how absurd it is due to taking on faith prejudiced political materialist resources like the ‘skeptics dictionary’ and it’s biased selective reporting.

Forests writes ‘....anyone please email me and we discuss any of this in further detail if you are interested in any evidence against Duncan, Piper or Schneider etc. Cheers. ...

I accept the challenge.  I can correct your Rational Wiki article on Rudi Schneider line by line. All you have to do is agree to join the skeptiko forum and explain your errors … and I can ask moderators to check your ISP doesn’t match a long list of previously banned posters.
Do you accept the challenge to debate the Rudi Schneider case based upon your own article on the Skeptiko forum?

Open Mind

Open Mind, Wed 6 Mar, 18:53

Open mind! What is your obession with this Fodor character? That is NOT me!!. It seems that user is a skeptic who is educated about anomalistic psychology. I would shake his hand if I knew him but his knowledge seems more than me on psychology, i am only interested in debunking spiritualism, I found a study debunking psi but I don’t usually focus on psi. my beef is not with the psi believers, it is just with the spiritualists. tony cornell was a believer in psi but wrote that all physical mediumship was fraud, i would of shaken his hand!

I am not a fan of wikipedia, they shoot down spiritualist claims which is great, but they endorse the Big Bang fraud amongst other things that I disagree with.

I am not “Darryl” or Exterminator, they were false accounts pretending to be me amongst countlss of others. You obviously dont understand how wikipedia works, it goes with the consenus. ie. those reliable scientific sources, not a single spiritualist book. Users who try and add fringe views on the paranormal or conspiracy theories to articles on wikipedia are banned.

I used to be a believer in spiritualism lol. you think I started off as a total skeptic? I was a member of the SPR and spent money on spiritualist books even got invited to a seance once, it was total fraud. I picked up the books of trevor hall, Milbourne Christopher, Eric Dingwall, Houdini and Joseph F. Rinn et al and I realised I had been duped!

Rudi Schneider was caught cheating by six different scientists. It is obvious that you wont accept a single medium has ever cheated, this is an odd attitude considering most parapsychologists even accept physical mediumship is fraud, see Max Dessoir, Alan Gauld, Tony Cornell, Brian Inglis, Harry Price, H. H. Price, D. Scott Rogo, C. D. Broad, J. B. Rhine, William Mcdougall, Théodore Flournoy and Hilary Evans etc al. All the dudes in your own field who are devout believers in psi don’t even believe in mediumship.

But I agree there is no point in discussing this subject anymore becuase you are a true believer and I am the opposite, we wont find any middle ground!. please email me on the email address I left on Prince Emmanuel’s talk page on rationalwiki. I can send you details which debunk Duncan or other mediums. I also figured out that Piper was a fraud, she was doing muscle reading in some of her seances, (look it up) it is a mentalistic technique.

I would appreciate if the admin of this would let this last comment through, please!! i honestly wont reply anymore and anyone please email me and we discuss any of this in further detail if you are interested in any evidence against Duncan, Piper or Schneider etc. Cheers. Enjoy the rest of your discussion.

forests, Tue 5 Mar, 22:43

Forests writes ’...Open Mind you are wrong about Duncan using no blindfolds, have a look on google images. Duncan did use blindfolds thoughout her career: ..’

You are not listening. Duncan only used a blindfold to protect her eyes, apparently due to potential damage to rapid ectoplasm recoil during flash photography. That is why it is in many photographs have blindfolds.  If you have a source that claims otherwise, quote it.  Also are arguing against yourself, it is you who is arguing Duncan was performing a puppet show (in red light) are you seriously going to argue she wore a blindfold while doing so?


http://survivalafterdeath.info/photographs/duncan/baby.htm
In the above photo is an early seance, way before Price. Notice the plastic childrens doll wrapped in cloth.

How did you measure it was ‘plastic’? Price didn’t use this photograph, it is not regarded as particularly damaging to Duncan case (2) The above photograph seems to have different history compared to the 2 grotesque doll heads Price used.  (3) The faces of other sitters is cut out of shot in the Price/Maule source photographs, unlike others which show other sitters.

Forests writes ‘...One last thing your claim of a conspiracy theory comes from The story of Helen Duncan, materialisation medium by Alan Ernest Crossley. Crossley was a convinced spiritualist, the book was published by Psychic World Classic. This is not a neutral source or a scientific source. ..’
You are not listening. The conspiracy long predates Crossley, it emerged not long after after Price’s tests and a series of events all involving Price directly or indirectly. Roy Firebrace (of British Intelligence)  tested Duncan prior to Harry Price in 1931, it was Brigadier Roy Firebrace, head of Scottish Military Intelligence during WW2 who reported Duncan in 1940s to British Intelligence stating she had correctly reported sunk ship, his family confirm that is what triggered the police raid in a TV documentary (as did Firebrace to others) i.e. the reasons given for the Duncan arrest are not what pseudoskeptical revisionists wish to argue.

Forests writes ‘...You have also been claiming on michael prescotts blog that no photographs were used against Duncan. This is false, as I said read the book …’ ?
You are not listening. Your favourate doll-headed ones were not used in the court cases. Molly Goldney asked Price why he didn’t provide them to the prosecution.

  In 1944 years Duncan came out of Prison, a policeman raided Duncan house and they witnessed a cheesecloth dolls spinning across the room. When the lights were turned on the doll was not found. Duncan’s husband had hidden it. 
You are not listening. That is the 1956 event. Nothing was captured by police. They even returned the following day to search for a spirit dog they had seen during… nothing. 

Also google search Helen Duncan cheesecloth, for over 40 photos that look like cheesecloth, how do you get round this? Even stitching is visable and rubber gloves.
You are not listening. Most of them with one or two exceptions emerge via one man .. Harry Price… who faked photographing a radio wave in 1899 (his achievement is missing from his library). He lied about the date existence of his Rudi Schneider photograph in 1932. He was accused of faking photographs in other cases. He assistant during the Duncan tests was Molly Goldney whom Duncan accused of trying to frame her, Goldney lied in at least once séance. Price’s other assistant Joad was caught lying about attending a séance he never did and when silent when challenged. Apart from this Price has connections suggestive of working for British Intelligence.

. To keep on believing would be a case of true believer syndrome and such a thing is what we find with religious fundamentalists.
You are not listening. I have never stated Duncan was genuine or not!!  There are many positive witness reports and 4 magicians made signed statements Duncan was not detected in fraud. I have said there was a conspiracy to arrest Duncan confirmed by the person who initiated events. I have said the photographs are not of reliable source or known circumstances. I am very skeptical of Price who endorsed cases of psychic phenomena too.
Also you are not listening properly … I never said I had not read the posts of MU!! (a poster banned from skeptiko forum, where you previously posted under the pseudonyms Darryl, Exterminator etc. ) I said I did not know who the person was who posted as MU!! which you have twisted to claim I had never read his posts …. you wiki edits are full of errors .. I could correct them. You are not reading or listening properly.
Please stop wasting my time or the time of others who will have to undo all your incorrect edits that have been copied to wikipedia via a poster called ‘Fodor Fan’.

PS Sorry to other readers, if the post has typos or missing words, letters, etc. I do not have time to proof read it.

Open Mind, Tue 5 Mar, 19:07

Forests, if the court cases against Duncan couldn’t use those photographs as evidence, neither should you. My analyst said it couldn’t be proven it was or wasn’t Duncan. More importantly, I have repeatedly said whether it is Duncan or not, it is irrelevant as evidence without knowing the circumstances of photographs. For example anyone could trick a blindfolded person to look foolish for a photograph, etc.

Forest writes ’ ...Non-physical “spirits” would not be able to talk through the physical brains of mediums, this would contradict known physics and scientific laws such as the conservation of energy.

This type of ‘conservation of energy’ argument is unproven in quantum mechanics.

<b> ‘.. This argument depends on identifying ‘standard physics’ with classical physics. The argument collapses when one goes over to contemporary [quantum] physics, in which, due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, trajectories of particles are replaced by cloud-like structures, and in which conscious choices can influence physically described activity <i> without violating the conservation laws or any other laws of quantum physics. Contemporary physical theory allows, and its orthodox von Neumann form entails, an interactive dualism that is fully in accord with all the laws of physics. <i> Any perception merely reduces the possibilities.’ - Physicist Henry Stapp

Open Mind, Tue 5 Mar, 07:43

Open Mind you are wrong about Duncan using no blindfolds, have a look on google images. Duncan did use blindfolds thoughout her career:

http://survivalafterdeath.info/photographs/duncan/baby.htm

In the above photo is an early seance, way before Price. Notice the plastic childrens doll wrapped in cloth.

One last thing your claim of a conspiracy theory comes from The story of Helen Duncan, materialisation medium by Alan Ernest Crossley. Crossley was a convinced spiritualist, the book was published by Psychic World Classic. This is not a neutral source or a scientific source.

If want a neutral scientific source for the facts, see

You have also been claiming on michael prescotts blog that no photographs were used against Duncan. This is false, as I said read the book The trial of Mrs. Duncan which was written by a judge and contains multiple witness reports.

In 1944 years Duncan came out of Prison, a policeman raided Duncan house and they witnessed a cheesecloth dolls spinning across the room. When the lights were turned on the doll was not found. Duncan’s husband had hidden it.

Also google search Helen Duncan cheesecloth, for over 40 photos that look like cheesecloth, how do you get round this? Even stitching is visable and rubber gloves. To keep on believing would be a case of true believer syndrome and such a thing is what we find with religious fundamentalists.

forests, Tue 5 Mar, 04:20

If I thought I would learn something valid from the book I would buy Libet, Freeman and Sutherland
that Forests reckons scientifically disproves psi {e-mail, 4 March}. But I have read so many of these scientific ‘proofs’ that I grow weary of continually repeating my objections to the way evidence is selected and interpreted. The book is available from Amazon at £14 but I really don’t think it’s worth the investment just to counter Forests arguments. See my Amazon review of Stenger for example. The arguments against God are much the same as those against psi.

Dr Howard A. Jones, Tue 5 Mar, 00:57

Forests,

I wasn’t going to respond to your last comment to me about the voices since it is clear that you are stuck in the muck and mire called scientism, which is not “science.”  It is equally clear that your mind is made up and so I see no point in responding, other than to clarify things for others who might read this and be confused.  This, however, will be my final comment on this entry..

Let me begin by quoting one of the great scientists, Sir Oliver Lodge, a world-renowned physicist:    “It is not easy to unsettle minds thus fortified against the intrusion of unwelcome facts; and their strong faith is probably a salutary safeguard against that unbalanced and comparatively dangerous condition called ‘open-mindedness,’ which is ready to learn and investigate anything not manifestly self-contradictory and absurd.”  Of course, one can put his own definition to the word “absurd.” 

First of all, no one has said that the medium’s brain is used when materialized spirits are speaking.  Indications are that it is the independent voice, or direct voice, which seems to by-pass the medium’s brain. In the direct voice, or independent voice, the spirit entity molds its own voice box or larynx from the ectoplasm and speak independent of the medium.  Mrs. Piper, for example, was a trance voice medium, and the words came through her mouth after apparently being filtered through her brain. In the independent voice,  such as that discussed with Etta Wriedt (see October 2011 entry), the voices come through independent of the medium’s vocal cords, usually emanating from above the medium’s body.  Mrs. Wriedt was not in a trance and could be talking to the person next to her as the “voices” came through.  With Independent Voice mediumship, there have been times when two or three voices could be heard at one time, each talking to a different person in the room.  Exactly how the medium’s mind contributes to the direct or independent voice, if at all, is unknown.  In other words, science hasn’t figured it out.  It might come as a surprise to you that “science” is still expanding, still learning, has not yet figured out everything. In fact, indications are that science is still in the elementary stages. 

Levitation also defies the known laws of science, but there is simply too much evidence in support of levitation to reject it. There are just so many things in the whole spiritual realm that are beyond science and only an ignorant person would say that science has figured out everything.  How does one understand non-linear time?  I don’t pretend to grasp it, but quantum theory suggests that non-linear time exists. 

You brought up Bessie Beals before and I intended to discuss her in a future blog if I can ever find my references – references which indicate that discarnates cannot always distinguish between the “living” and the “dead.”  Indications are that we are living in two or more worlds at once.  Our higher self is in the spirit world and the lower self that we recognize is in the lower or material world.  Thus, spirits in search of other spirits are not always certain that they have contacted the “lower” person, rather than the “higher” one or another fragment of the higher one.  It may be that the lower person is sleeping at the time while his higher self is doing things on the other side, although there are indications that the lower person can be awake and doing things while other aspects of the same person are doing things elsewhere, even living multiple lives at the same “time.” 

All that may seem like a cop-out to you, but the e bottom line is that you cannot take refuge in science for things science has yet to figure out.

I said earlier that I have never erased or rejected your comments as I don’t have the ability or means to do that.  The entries, even this one, go to a webmaster first and he posts them.  However, I see no point in going around in circles on this as you are not prepared to recognize the limitations of science and thus I will ask the webmaster to reject any future comments from you.  Others are being turned away by your fundamentalism and I simply don’t have the time or desire to answer you each time, when it is clear that you are not ready to understand.  Perhaps in time you will. I will pray for you in that regard. wink

Michael Tymn, Tue 5 Mar, 00:39

Open mind the Duncan debate on here has been finished , but I sent the Duncan photos to my brother who is a forensic anthropologist student and he has compared the photographs and used various techniques such as metric characters and an analysis of the phenotypic features of her face and head, he told me it is the same lady. You don’t have to believe me, but it is!.

forests, Mon 4 Mar, 12:38

http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~moulton/Moulton_Kosslyn_2008_Neuroimaging_Psi.pdf

Scientific paper disproving psi.

Non-physical “spirits” would not be able to talk through the physical brains of mediums, this would contradict known physics and scientific laws such as the conservation of energy. See:

Wilson, D. L. (1999). Mind-brain interaction and the violation of physical laws. In B. Libet, A. Freeman, & K. Sutherland (Eds.), The volitional brain (pp. 185-200). Thorverton, UK: Imprint Academic.

Mohrhoff, U. (1999). The physics of interaction. In B. Libet, A. Freeman, & K. Sutherland (Eds.), The volitional brain (pp. 165-184). Thorverton, UK: Imprint Academic.

Any opinion on this Michael Tymn how do you get round these facts?

forests, Mon 4 Mar, 06:43

Open Mind and Michael,

Thanks for our concluding comments.  A concluding remark on my part.  I suspect that “soul mist” is related to ectoplasm.  Ever since my blog about soul mist during October 2010, people have been leaving comments now and then about their personal experiences with soul mist.  One that was left today reads:

“Several years ago I tried to kill myself by ingesting many pills. A while
after taking the pills and while I laid in my bed, I saw a grey mist coming
out of my chest and abdomen. Fortunately, I did not die but I clearly
remember this greyish, vapor like mist.”

Michael Tymn, Sat 2 Mar, 14:26

Michael Tymn, I will respect your wishes to end this discussion with this post to Forests (and one final comment upon your original topic)

Forests writes ‘..You are the only guy as David said who believes those photographs are frauds. ..’

You mean of all the armchair critics and revisionists who witnessed nothing and don’t know the origins of the photographs? 

Compare this to all the witness reports (over a hundred) …most favourable but lets add in unfavourable ones too ….  absolutely nothing like grotesque doll heads are described.

There were 2 police raids of Duncan….. none of them found doll heads.

The scientific consenus is that those photographs are Duncan, and 99% of spiritualists even accept those photos are Duncan.

There was no scientific consensus amongst the researchers who investigated.
  David speaks much sense in his post and you failed to explain his or Michaels comments on why those Price photos in his lab reveal rubber gloves and cloth on Duncan.

Ectoplasm if real would have to emerge like fine material .. a gas or liquid would disperse, a hard solid would damage body, so unless you expect it to look like hollywood, perhaps gauze like is the first step however Helen Duncan believed Price tampered with the photographs.

There are some suspicious technical aspects about the lab photographs such as objects at same distance not being in same focus, missing shadows and possibly over exposures to disguise something added later.

Does this photograph look tampered with?
http://www.harrypricewebsite.co.uk/Seance/Duncan/duncan-plates-08.htm

Open Mind, Sat 2 Mar, 11:14

“Someone sent me an e-mail that the Helen Duncan thing has gotten out of hand.  I agree.”

Personally I think the discussion has been very interesting. I’ve ordered Hartley’s book, and am at least a little bit more open to the possibility that Duncan has been defamed.

The one scenario I personally would rule out of bounds is that the puppet figures were actual materializations. This is way past my boggle threshold.

“I have never in any way cited Duncan as a medium through whom evidential information has come.”

The HMS Barham episode seems pretty evidential, though I suppose it could be argued that Duncan learned of the ship’s sinking (which was classified information) through some clandestine source.

Michael Prescott, Thu 28 Feb, 23:08

In line with my prior comment, I think we should bring this discussion to a close.  We seem to be going around in circles at this point.  I do appreciate the comments, but let’s move on.  Thank you.

Michael Tymn, Thu 28 Feb, 22:58

Open Mind I am not David, I was gonna stay away from this blog but you keep mentioning my name, so let me give you one last comment. See the talk page of the article for the skeptiko forum on the rationalwiki site it is all explained if anyone is interesting in the events surrounding me.

As for deleting those photos off rationalwiki. Not a chance mate. I don’t know who added the photo to wikipedia, I am not on that website but as they only accept scientific sources, then no, it won’t get deleted based on your conspiracy theory. I quit rationalwiki but you are wrong becuase the skeptiko forum 60% of the members on that site believe those Duncan photos were real, see the thread called physical mediumship. You are the only guy as David said who believes those photographs are frauds. I am not sure if you are trolling or you actually have fooled yourself deep down. A chat with a member from your own forum even said he thinks you have lost the plot on this one!

The scientific consenus is that those photographs are Duncan, and 99% of spiritualists even accept those photos are Duncan. I am sorry but at the end of the day you are a single guy mate and the world does not evolve around your personal opinions. David speaks much sense in his post and you failed to explain his or Michaels comments on why those Price photos in his lab reveal rubber gloves and cloth on Duncan. The doll photos are Duncan, I think it is highly irrational to invoke conspiracy theories that have no basis in reality.

All books on Duncan claim those photographs were Duncan. I suggest you look up what a consenus is. If there are 200 books and reports claiming those photographs are Duncan (there are!) then we don’t go with the single book claiming they are a hoax. If that is your logic, then aliens and creationism would be taught in the classroom and all science would fall down. I understand you want to believe and you will find a way to believe even if it is twisting the facts but please don’t claim you are correct on this one. If Helen Duncan was the earth, you are pluto my friend, that is how far you are away from the truth.

As the user below said the whole Duncan thing has got out of hand. Wasting our lives discussing this when there are productive things to be doing. When I was researching mediumship non stop all my grades at college went down the pan for two months. None of this mediumship has any basis in reality in my opinion. I am glad that I exposed some of these fraud mediums for the world to see but the subject can be addictive and for me has no basis in reality, it is magical thinking. If I want some fantasy I will stick with some sci-fi films. Perhaps sci-fi films even have more truth in them than Duncan, now that is saying a lot! Cheers. raspberry

If mediumship is true, then anybody should be able to do it, I should!! But it don’t happen and this is why it is a scam lol. There is no such thing as “psychic ability” if materializations are real then all of us should be able to do it at anytime, anyplace, not in a dark seance room lol.

I am reading dd home exposed by gordon stein. good stuff. Home is the last medium I will expose. I am even gonna draw diagrams! o well thats not for now. My exposure of home will be released in 6months or so. Have fun researching!

Forests, Thu 28 Feb, 19:15

Conclusion

David (Forests), please do the honorable thing

You have added these 2 photographs to numerous Rational Wiki and Wikipedia pages as if an authentic source, either remove these photographs completely OR or better still add Manfred Cassier’s quote I have provided to let people know the photographs were never proven to be an authentic resource.

Please also remove the photograph from the ‘skeptiko’ forum rational wiki page,  for you to claim it represents their viewpoint is not an error, not just vandalism, it is the sleaziest of tactics to discredit with disinformation.

Open Mind, Thu 28 Feb, 12:47

David writes ‘...The dolls photographs were her 100%!

Sigh ....

(1) Only a pseudoskeptic would claim a person in blindfold concealing the upper face is ‘100%’ proof of identity. Research has shown that facial recognition from the lower face is much poorer than upper face. Here the eyes have a blindfold, ears are covered, upper part of nose is covered. Fat people have more similar chin lines.

(2) We are debating whether the photograph is real or not. Arguing it looks like Duncan is not evidence it is genuine, if it faked to discredit Duncan, it is meant to look like Duncan. either by adding extra stuff to photograph or finding a look-a-like (and Esson Maule with a blindfold would looks similar to Duncan)

(3) To quote Cassier on photo ... ‘.. Price is silent about their origin in his published works, or about the circumstances under which they were taken—supposedly at Helen’s home — and Price’s correspondence with Esson Maule is missing from the files at Harry Price Library. Mr Wesencraft has no certain knowledge of these items, which may have been removed by his executors; with what purpose one cannot even guess. It is even possible that the photographs are reconstructions of what was supposed to have been seen, in line with others to be presently considered. As “exposures”, other than by the camera of Miss Esson’s photographer, they must rate low. - Manfred Cassier 1996 ‘Medium on Trial’

(4) Curiously these 2 doll head photographs Price used in his case book have the initials EM for ‘Esson Maule’ but the photographs emerged after the Esson Maule 1930s trial or Maule would have used these during court case) as Duncan did not give any seances to Maule after the court case. So although the photographs have the initials ‘EM’ on the back, Esson Maule is extremely unlikely to have been present at these photographs i.e. the source is unknown  

(5) Do you seriously think Helen Duncan, made these crude, grotesque puppet heads and invited a photographer into her own home to take pictures of these? 2 years after Harry Price ridiculing her with photographs? It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever that any trickster (as skeptics believe) would try to expose herself in such a manner.

Open Mind, Thu 28 Feb, 12:37

David writes .. Even spiritualists accept the vest incident:

“However, another exposure followed on January 5, 1932, in Edinburgh. Peggy, the materialised child control, was seized by Miss Maule and found to be identical with the medium.

“I see no escape from the conclusion,” wrote J. B. M’Indoe, President of the Spiritualists National Union in Light, Feb. 10, “that Mrs. Duncan was detected in a crude and clumsy fraud - a pitiable travesty of the phenomena she has so frequently displayed. I have no doubt that the fraud was deliberate, conscious and premeditated.”

but J. B. McIndoe changed his opinion ... he spoke at the trial and stated Esson Maule’s version of events had totally changed from what she had previously told him.

Open Mind, Thu 28 Feb, 10:18

David writes ‘.. Esson Maule was a policelady according to the book The Supernatural by Roy Stemman, see pages 114-116

Also according to Manifred Cassier’s book ‘Mediums On Trial’ it claims Esson Maule was a ‘well off member of the nursing profession’ ...

‘..I am in the process of speaking to Roy, I might even send him the link so he can comment on this blog. Hes a spiritualist, but an honest one who admits that Duncan was a fraud…’

I doubt that is Roy Stemman’s opinion (without even reading his book) ... I’d rather here Stemman speak for himself, his former boss directly witnessed the Duncan phenomena, Stemman did not.

Open Mind, Thu 28 Feb, 10:03

Someone sent me an e-mail that the Helen Duncan thing has gotten out of hand.  I agree.  My original point was that the photo, in itself, does not prove Duncan a fraud, because so many imperfect materializations were even more ridiculous looking.  I have never in any way cited Duncan as a medium through whom evidential information has come.  She may have been a genuine medium, she may have been a charlatan, she may have been a mixed medium, i.e., producing real phenomena at times and using tricks when her powers failed her.  I don’t know and I don’t really care.  There is more than enough evidence coming to us through mediums who were subjected to more scientific testing, whether Forests understands or appreciates the evidence or not. 

Forests and other pseudoskeptics can talk about Mrs. Piper’s supposed confession, Bessie Beals, and other things which they don’t understand, and which they don’t want to understand, but the evidence favoring them is overwhelming if not absolute. 

I’ll devote a future blog to explaining Bessie Beals when I find my references on her.  I’m very disorganized at the moment and am not sure when I’ll be organized again.  I know that the explanation will not satisfy Forests and others grounded in terestrial/materialistic thinking, but that is their problem. 

There is just so much of the celestial that is beyond human comprehension and materialistic thinking that it does little good to try and present the spiritual explanations.  That was the primary purpose of this blog entry, but it seems to have drifted away from that.

The bottom line is that whether Duncan was a genuine medium, a fraud, or a mixed medium is unimportant in the great scheme of things. If she was a fraud, it certainly doesn’t mean that all mediums are frauds, even if that is the way Forests and others prefer to see it.

Michael Tymn, Thu 28 Feb, 08:00

Thanks for the info, Open Mind. I’ll have to look for that book.

Still, the lab photos themselves are pretty damning, aren’t they? The “ectoplasm” has visible stitching in some shots.

Michael Prescott, Thu 28 Feb, 05:52


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“Dying” by Stafford betty – What is dying like from the point of view of our spirit friends? And what immediately follows dying? One of the richest descriptions of the afterlife was transmitted from the mother of an Anglican minister, Rev. Vale Owen, in 1917. Owen’s mother had died eight years earlier. The book, The Life Beyond the Veil, was first published in 1920. In it is a moving description of a passing that vividly suggests the difference in attitude between typical earth-side views of death and the spirits’. Bear in mind that the speaker is the Rev. Owen’s deceased mother. Here is the full account. Read here
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