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Was Prof. William James’s ‘White Crow’ a Scammer or a Marvel?

Posted on 21 June 2021, 8:35

Historical facts are often twisted, distorted, and misrepresented by historians and authors,  especially those who rely on hearsay or second-, third-, and fourth-hand accounts of a person or event. This is clearly the case with mediumship, in which the debunkers’ biases and slanted versions of history are accepted by many as gospel. The first two references to come up in my recent internet search for Leonora Piper, (below) the Boston medium referred to by Professor William James of Harvard as his “White Crow” – the one who proved that not all crows are black – make her out to be a scammer of some kind.  Of the first 10 references to her, only three are somewhat positive, but even they lack in critical information and analyses. 


I admit that when I first read about Piper some 35 or so years ago I struggled to see a “white crow.” She was more a light shade of gray.  It took about 10 years of off-and-on reading about her and other mediums before I began to understand all the obstacles to inter-dimensional communication and finally see her as a “white” crow.  Inasmuch as I had not come upon one reference that explained all the complexities, anomalies, and incongruities of such trance mediumship well enough for the average reader to grasp, I was prompted to write my 2013 book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, in an attempt to help others better understand. 


But reporting historical fact does not easily lend itself to creative writing or entertainment for readers. Thus, I realized that I could never get the more-complete story of Mrs. Piper to even approach the awe and wonder of a Harry Potter novel or some other work of spiritual fiction. The research carried out with Mrs. Piper by a number of distinguished scientists and scholars, most of them representing the Society for Psychical Research in London (SPR) and its American branch in Boston (ASPR), over some two decades, was lacking in fantasy, and it was too convoluted for even science-fiction enthusiasts. No matter that it dealt with the most important issue facing humanity; it simply wasn’t entertaining.  The best-seller lists suggest that most readers are looking for escape and entertainment, not truth.

With all that in mind, I can understand why Casey Cep and Emily Harnett, two talented modern-day writers, can’t see a “white” crow. Moreover, I realize that there are word limitations for all publications and that there is no way to summarize the research with Piper in a few thousand words.  It was difficult enough trying to summarize it all in a 200-page book.  I was taught in journalism school to be “clear, concise, and accurate,” but mediumship is not a subject to which those standards are easily applied.  The waters are too murky and muddy, or, more accurately, the air is too ethereal. 

In an article (Why Did So Many Victorians Try To Speak With The Dead?) in a recent issue of The New Yorker, Cep makes Piper out to be part of the “Spiritualism craze” that swept over the country during the latter part of the nineteenth century. She says that Piper was not fully discredited, but many people doubted her abilities, noting her failed readings and prophecies. When she did “score” big, psychological reasons were offered to replace the spiritual ones. A reader of Cep’s article might easily infer that not being “fully” discredited means she was “mostly” discredited. The article provides only enough about Piper for the know-nothing reader to suspect or conclude that she was indeed a hustler, con-artist, huckster or scammer of some kind. 

A Dreadful Person

In the February 4, 2019 issue of Latham’s Quarterly, Harnett, in an article entitled William James and the Spiritualist’s Phone, writes that James “had been fooled by a Boston housewife who claimed to speak to dead people.”  Harnett relies heavily on the opinion of Alice James, William’s sister, who referred to her as “the dreadful Mrs. Piper.”  There is no mention of the “sweet, pure, refined and gentle countenance” of Mrs. Piper, as reported by Anne Manning Robbins, who sat with Piper on a number of occasions and wrote a book about her very meaningful and veridical experiences with her. 

Neither Cep nor Harnett mentions the extensive research carried out by Dr. Richard Hodgson of the ASPR for some 18 years, studying her on the average of three times a week for most of those years.  Nor is there any mention of the 83 experiments Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist, conducted with her in England during the Winter of 1889-90. The all-encompassing research with Piper and other mediums reported by Professor James Hyslop, who had been teaching logic and philosophy at Columbia University before sitting with Piper and being so impressed that he decided to become a full-time researcher, is likewise ignored.  All three of those distinguished researchers and a number of others concluded that Piper was a true medium and, while initially giving some consideration to the theory that the information coming through her was the result of telepathy of a limited or expanded nature transmitted by some “secondary personality” buried in her subconscious mind, they all saw “spirits of the dead” as a much more reasonable explanation. 

The readers of The New Yorker and Latham’s Quarterly are given nothing to suggest that what was coming through Mrs. Piper was anything more than what pseudo-skeptics and debunkers of the time called humbug, bosh, hogwash, or twaddle.  No doubt the editors of the two publications saw entertainment value in the humor of past generations being so gullible as to buy into such woo-woo nonsense. 

While Harnett has Piper making a claim to talking with the dead, Cep has her making claim to “channeling” some famous people.  I was left with a picture of Piper in a Muhammad Ali-type rant about how great she is.  However, the Leonora Piper I studied for many years never made any claim other than that she remembered nothing of what took place while she was in a trance state. She left it up to the researchers to interpret what was actually going on with her.  She was much too dignified to make such claims. 

One might infer from what both writers had to say that Piper was a “Spiritualist,” but I came across nothing in my years of studying the research on her to suggest that she belonged to any Spiritualist organization.  She was baptized in the Congregational Church and is said to have read the Bible to her daughters nightly as she put them to bed. She may have had some associations with Spiritualist organizations in her later years, but I recall no evidence of this. 

In writing that Piper went “on tour” in England, Cep leads readers to infer that that she was giving readings to the public, in general. The records I read had her fully occupied with Lodge, Frederic W. H. Myers, and other researchers as they carried out experiments with her during her 1889-90 visit to England. Much the same seems to have been the case with her 1906-07 trip to England.  I recall nothing to suggest that her income increased “twenty-fold” over the years, as reported by Cep, although the way second-, third-, and fourth-hand reports written by debunkers a hundred years later exaggerate and distort facts, I would not be surprised to learn that someone surmised that without any evidence to support it.  But, so what, if she did?  Many people increase their incomes twenty-fold with experience, results, and reputation.

Candor & Honesty

Myers, one of the founders of the SPR, concluded his study of Mrs. Piper with these words: “On the whole, I believe that all observers, both in America and in England, who have seen enough of Mrs. Piper in both states [of consciousness] to be able to form a judgment, will agree in affirming (1) that many of the facts given could not have been learned even by skilled detectives; (2) that to learn others of them, although possible, would have needed an expenditure of money as well as of time which it seems impossible to suppose that Mrs. Piper could have met; and (3) that her conduct has never given any ground whatever for supposing her capable of fraud or trickery.  Few persons have been so long and so carefully observed; and she has left on all observers the impression of thorough uprightness, candor, and honesty.”

Professor William James, always very cautious in his proclamations, said: “I am persuaded by [Mrs. Piper’s] honesty, and of the genuineness of her trance…I now believe her to be in possession of a power as yet unexplained.”

Professor Herbert Nichols, a Harvard psychologist, had this to say in a note to Professor James:  “I had a wonderful sitting with Mrs. Piper.  As you know, I have been a Laodicean toward her heretofore.  But that she is no fraud, and that she is the greatest marvel I have ever met I am now wholly convinced.” 

Said Hodgson: “I had but one object, to discover fraud and trickery…of unmasking her… I entered the house profoundly materialistic, not believing in the continuance of life after death; today I say I believe. The truth has been given to me in such a way as to remove from me the possibility of a doubt.”

This from Lodge, who served as president of the prestigious British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1913:  “Then came the revelation, through the mediumship of Mrs. Piper, in the winter of 1889, not only that the personality of certain people could survive, but that they could communicate under certain conditions with us. The proof that they retained their individuality, their memory, and their affection, forced itself upon me, as it had done upon many others. So my eyes began to open to the fact that there really was a spiritual world, as well as a material world which hitherto had seemed all sufficient, that the things which appealed to the senses were by no means the whole of existence.”

And from Professor Hyslop: “Personally I regard the fact of survival after death as scientifically proved.  I agree that this opinion is not upheld in scientific quarters.  But this is neither our fault nor the fault of the facts.  Evolution was not believed until long after it was proved.  The fault lay with those who were too ignorant or too stubborn to accept the facts.  History shows that every intelligent man who has gone into this investigation, if he gave it adequate examination at all, has come out believing in spirits; this circumstance places the burden of proof on the shoulders of the skeptic.”

Strangely, even for intelligent people, it seems easier to believe that those esteemed researchers were all duped by a clever scammer. If nothing else, that version is more sensational and makes for more creative writing and perhaps more humor and suspense. So sad that even talented modern-day writers and internet historians don’t dig deeply enough to report the complete picture.  If James, Hodgson, Myers, Lodge, Hyslop and others are still in touch with what is going on here in the material world, they are no doubt shaking their heads in dismay and disgust. 

Next blog post: July 5

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


Mike always does an excellent job and this blog is a wonderful forum for the discussion of the topics that so interest us all.

Thank you for the kind comments.


Yvonne Limoges, Sun 11 Jul, 17:06

Thanks Yvonne for you comprehensive response.  As I recall, Dr. Carl Wickland, psychiatrist, and his wife also worked to release earth bound spirits and documented some of their work in “Thirty Years Among the Dead: Historic Studies in Spiritualism; A Psychiatrist’s Investigation of Spirit Mediums and Psychic Possession in his Patients” and Dr. Edith Fiore also documented her work with spirit release in “The Unquiet Dead: A Psychologist Treats Spirit Possession”.  Thanks again for sharing your personal experience as a medium.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 11 Jul, 14:17

Dear all,

Yvonne Limoges has given her account of actual experience, notably in what I believe is often called ‘rescue work’.

I am very pleased that she has done so. We need to hear the voice of experience, as I have said before. As that is what her comment is, I shall voice no more myself on the immediate subject.

A respectful “thank you”, Yvonne, you are an Experiencer. I look forward to Mike (Tymn’s) future blogs, and hope to feel I have something worth saying in response to them, and I also thank Jon Beecher for ‘White Crow’ books. We would all be much poorer without each other.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 11 Jul, 09:45

Below a response to request about mischievous spirits and a few comments regarding spirits feeling like they are still in the material world:

The different perception of time has to be taken into consideration for those spirits that have transitioned and are very confused about whether they have physically left their body. Some spirits have been sometimes confused for centuries of our time, in a mental construct mostly of their own making.

Also, if you close your eyes and go to sleep while in this material world, then feel you have opened your eyes and are awake yet someone (a spirit that looks to you like a regular person on the otherside) tells you are no longer in the material world and your physical body is dead, but you feel no different; how does one know right away where one truly is? That is how it is for many spirits. 

Our spirit guides bring these spirits to communicate via mediumship so we can say things like, “Look at your hands. Are they yours?” They are shocked to not see their own.

We educate each spirit differently, each according to their needs. Our spirit guides point out to them that we are telling them the same thing they are, which is helpful.

Spirit influence (we are all susceptible) and obsession (there are differing degrees)

In general, we are all influenced from time to time by spirits (our spirit guides, familiar spirits- friends and family, wandering spirits, spirits that were our enemies and more) about us, but we have our freewill, willpower and our own mind and feelings as to how much they influence us. 

Regarding bothersome spirits, we have much experience with these types of spirits. People who know of me and our group contact us for help (locally or from around the country) with what appears to them as some kind of possible spiritual matter. Right away upon contact, myself and/or several of the other mediums feel, hear and/or see the offending spirit(s) that is about, and either right away or after some investigation, determine the specific reason the spirit is acting the way it is.

The people suffering from the effects of these types of spirits have either had sudden terrible nightmares, sudden headaches, suddenly felt scared upon arrival to their homes and especially when alone, feel someone is watching them or have a feeling of dread, hear voices, felt a presence sit down on their bed at night, suddenly aware of strange odors, heard knocks on their door with no one there, items being moved, to even more physical situations such as being slapped or pushed down by an entity they cannot see. Things that came on suddenly and without any other explanation. After our mediumship intervention, these disappear.

We have young people who attend our group and when they have told their friends about their spiritual beliefs, some have attended our meeting. If a person, for example, had addiction problems in their past, they may still have spirits from during that time (the mediums see) that are about them and are trying to still influence the person towards relapse to try and satisfy their own needs. 

We have dealt with very obsessive, persistent spirits of evil and violent intent, like spirits that want to kill a person. 

The first step to resolving the matter is that the problem be revealed and the spirit finds itself discovered, and then next requesting assistance from our spirit guides in order help us educate both parties about their spiritual realities - the spirit and the recipient of the problem, as well as to take the spirit where they need to go for their own well-being and progress.

Some of these issues sre revealed at a general session, some require a private mediumship session. Yet, I have handled some of these types of problems over the phone, the troubling spirits immediately presenting themselves to me (as distance is no obstacle) and angry for my intervention.

Some problems are resolved by spirits (we have one spirit that does so specifically in our group) that comes specializing in spiritual healing via a medium and involving the transmission of spiritual (take your pick) fluids/magnetism/energies.

Generally, whatever has not been completely resolved, our spirit guides then take the spirit away to handle themselves.

Some cases can be persistent and require many interventions. Spirit obsession can be a trial for a person and this is discussed in the books of Allan Kardec. There was one case where the parents had to take their daughter (totally obsessed in a depressive state) to a Spiritist hospital in Brazil. I have visited one and it is wonderful how doctors and mediums work together. 
The fact that our group is involved in this type of work makes it very important that the mediums conduct themselves morally correct to the best of their ability, be ever vigilant and always be in mental contact with their spirit guides and the spirit guides of the group for spiritual protection.

The superior influence of the good spirits is very powerful, and the more deserving one is of their assistance the better. 

I recommend for further information about spirit life situations, with many spirit communication by Allan Kardec and his Society, conducted and documented in his book, Heaven and Hell. Very interesting!

Also, for an extensive explanation of mediumship and spirit obsession, besides Kardec’s books, I highly recommend a book published in 2013 by university psychology professor Jon Aizpurua - Fundamentals of Spiritism. Mike T. and Stafford Betty mention these topics specifically in their reviews of the book. 


Yvonne Limoges, Sat 10 Jul, 19:13

Thanks Eric,
somethimes I think that my myopia gives a better view of reality than when I wear glasses…it’s not so solid without and everything seems to be moving a bit. Let’s hope some genius invent glasses to see spirits as solid beings.

Chris De Cat, Sat 10 Jul, 10:16

Dear all,

Chris de Cat again makes some important observations. I would like to add one of my own, again based on an understanding of terrestrial physics. Speaking rather simplistically, but making a valid point, our solid matter is almost entirely empty space with the mutual repulsion of electrons holding the outside ‘skin’ of atoms rigid like a well-stretched tent. It is this electrical tension that produces what our relatively huge-scale and insensitive sense of touch senses and describes as solid. Those who live in other universes than our own feel themselves as solid, probably in exactly the same way as we do. Some part of their total constitution senses their own being-there, their personal reality, as solid, just as we sense ours as being consciousness embodied in the solid matter of muscles and bones. Spirits have sometimes remarked this when communicating with us, though I cannot remember any one such source to cite. Mike Tymn will certainly be able to point us to instances of this in the literature. A realm that seems non-solid to us, non-physical,  and therefore attracts the word ‘spirit’, seems solid to its own population of Beings. This certainly explains some assertions we have in the literature when we realise that, to them, our being seems to be what we would describe as ghostlike. This realisation produces in our minds a very different perspective on the other universes.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 9 Jul, 22:38

Spirit helps human and human helps spirit, the best proof that we are all connected and that we should take care for each other. Great job, Yvonne!
Also in the circle of Ken Hanson there are visiting spirits of a different level ,if I may say so. They even admit on different occasions that they don’t know the answer and that they must ask other spirits. Even than they got discussions on the subjects, so it seems not to be the case that if you enter the spirit world ,you are suddenly omniscient. Progress is a continuing learning process…not only on earth.

Chris De Cat, Fri 9 Jul, 20:03

I found your most recent comment interesting in that you mentioned mischievous spirits and other spirits with less than “heavenly” intent.  Do you have any experience with that kind of entity in that it becomes focused or attached, so to speak, to an earth-bound person?  Not that they are evil per se, but that they seem to derive some kind of excitement in frustrating or harassing an individual on earth?  (Sorry, I know I haven’t asked this very well.) - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 9 Jul, 17:17

Yes, discernment of all spirit communications is of paramount importance.

And, the main emphasis at our meetings and the teachings of our spirit guides is on personal responsibility and our own moral improvement in this life. 

As for educating spirits, our group helps those in various circumstances: those “stuck” within the circumstances of their death (usually a sudden or violent one), those completely unaware their spirits have left their physical bodies, those that have an intuition that they have transitioned but are in complete denial, those in grief or anger on leaving the material world, wandering spirits that feel lost, mischievous spirits, obsessive spirits and those in many other situations.

The spirit guides of our group and those of the mediums are instrumental in aiding us in this spiritual work. We strive hard to be deserving of it.


Yvonne Limoges, Thu 8 Jul, 20:20

Dear Yvonne, thanks for your clairifying answer.

With respect,

Chris De Cat, Wed 7 Jul, 11:42

Chris, if I am understanding you correctly, no, that is not the most common way mediums work.

As mediums working within the Spiritist practice, we strive to use our faculty of mediumship in serious, sincere and humble spiritual service.

Mostly, we work to receive moral and spiritual messages, and to provide charity to those spirits that are brought to us for help (educating them mostly about their current situation).

We receive spirit messages of an evidentiary nature,spirits come to do spiritual healings, as well as provide some personal messages which are usually of a moral or serious nature.

Working within a group of long-time and tested mediums, the content of all spirit communications are always analyzed and corroboration sought.

We emphasize that discernment is of tantamount importance. We tell all who listen to any spirit communication to use their reason and reject what does not make sense.


Yvonne Limoges, Wed 7 Jul, 01:58

Great piece Michael,

I hope you sent it to Cep and Harnett to give them another perspective.


Lee, Mon 5 Jul, 23:49

Dear Chris de Cat,

Thank you for a truly humane response, which I fully understand and feel rapport with. Thank you for understanding me.

I have already downloaded the material from Hanson, and thank you for it, and I dip into it from time to time. It is, at least, very interesting.

As for the slight expressed by the quotation from Robbie Burns, I think we all know what to think of that.

I am looking forward to Mike’s next blog, which I think he said should appear today.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 5 Jul, 11:36

Keith P,

Did I not make it clear that I was embarrassed to be taking up so much space with less relevant comment on Mike’s blog, that I did so reluctantly and only because Newton requested it, and that I did not want to continue that?

And you have still not answered my query about whether you understand a view that may be right, but which seems to have entirely escaped the attention of professional physicists. OF COURSE I want to see comments that are relevant to the topic Mike writes about. I want to see mediums themselves making their experienced opinions known. Have I not twice made THAT clear too? Where is my blameworthiness?

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 5 Jul, 11:20

Dear Eric, I understand that you get a little bit fustrated about the lack of reaction on your theories. In my case: my home language is Dutch and I’ m not a scientist. Two reasons why I haven’t react on your comments. It is already difficult for me to understand English and to write it down and google translate has not yet the quality to make everything understandable in Dutch. So don’t be upset, the lack of reaction was in my case a sign of respect . When people (me included)are ready , they will get it, but always keep an open mind . Respect for everyone and everything is the most important attitude we can have. Maybe this link can be usefull:

Keep up the good work!

Chris De Cat, Mon 5 Jul, 10:24

I did not reply to your question, Eric, because I did not intend to prolong this tedious
blog-after-blog discussion of your pet theory. I was hoping my previous comment was enough to bring back respect for the idea that comments should be restricted to discussion directly relevant to what Mike has written. The whole point of my original comment was to bring it to a close and not extend it by replying. It is, after all, his column and not yours. I see that I have failed in this, and I apologise to everyone who agrees with me for this failure.

Keith P in England., Mon 5 Jul, 09:35

Dear all,

As Mike Tymn says, some things speak for themselves. (Res ipsa loquitur) But some things speak well for themselves yet are still disastrously misunderstood, and a reading over of ALL the comments on the present blog shows me that none of the commenters have understood my blood-sweating attempts to explain how Relativity grounds the many CONTEMPORANEOUS universes idea. Do you think that word contemporaneous is there just for fun? I keep putting the word in, and in capitals, but clearly not one of you sees why. If you all, including those who quote Robbie Burns, READ ME AGAIN, far more carefully, as if every word does actually mean something, you may be able to see it. Keith, for instance, says that the multiverse idea is bunk. It probably is. But it is NOT what I am talking about. Give that word contemporaneous its proper meaning, and realise, please, that I do not spue out words without intending their meanings, and that I am NOT talking about Everett-Wheeler or anything like it. I said this in comments months ago, yet, even now, Keith P, and probably others, are still thinking I must be referring to that same old speculation that they think they have long discredited. Wake up, please, treat me with respect, and read what I have said, not what you think I have said but in reality have only read in your own books.

I note that neither Keith P nor Amos Doyle has answered the question I asked each of them a comment or two back.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 4 Jul, 18:18


I’m sorry I misunderstood your question.  I really don’t pay much attention to to the “New Age” stuff, and so I don’t know exactly what it is all saying these days. Most of what I have seen advertised here and there is not about the evidence, and that is what I try to focus on.  The legal doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor should have been invoked a hundred years ago with regard to the evidence.  Coincidentally, I was prompted by a friend to read a fairly recent book, “Conversations with the Dead: The Connection” by Bonnie Vent.  I’m not far enough into it to have an opinion at this time, but let me keep your question in mind as I read this, and I’ll get back to you or maybe write a blog on it. In the meantime, I would appreciate your legal opinion on the subject matter of my next blog, which should go up on Monday. It has to do with Church vs. State.

Michael Tymn, Sun 4 Jul, 09:59

Dear all,

A few days ago I suggested we should all take notice of what people with the experience of mediumship say of all the matters that interest us. We, the majority of us, are enquirers. They are experiencers. The voice of experience is always, and rightly, valued more highly than the voice of unsupported assertion, for instance.

Yet I notice that Yvonne often actually signs her comment “respectfully”, as if Nature had to address science with deference, while others are clearly disparaging without reason of some of what they read.

I suggest again that we enquirers ask respectfully the opinions of the experiencers, trusting their rigorous honesty, and hope to see THEIR comments more often.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 4 Jul, 09:14

Dear Yvonne, what an amazing curriculum vitae and what an great job your are doing. I never met a medium for so far as I know. On a seemingly popular site with You Tube films I saw a medium taking to an alien and a spirit. The subjects they spoke about where questions who people long in advance send in…not to a third person but to the medium itself. Is that the normal way of doing? I can understand people questioning the honesty of the medium because preparation of the subject by the medium can be involved and not the spontaneous reaction of the spirit communicated to the medium.
I’m not judging the medium who works that way, but it can cause some doubt.

Chris De Cat, Sun 4 Jul, 08:25

I’ll try this one last time. As should have been evident from a long series of prior posts, my questions ASSUMED the validity of mediumship (including the physical variety), the existence of the spiritual realm and the afterlife, the abiding presence in our lives of guardian angels, etc. My intent was to explore another bedrock spiritualist principle; i.e., DISCERNMENT, something Imperator, among other “heavyweights,” is big on. FOR EXAMPLE, how do we distinguish (or do we?) between the results of the painstaking work of the SPR with Leonora Piper and other mediums, and (leaving “The Road to Immortality” aside) the latest New Age book channeling some historic figure up to and including Jesus Christ? For me, this is a most serious question, and I dare say that the credibility of what we (for want of a better word) call spiritualism rests more upon a viable answer to it than on all the mind-blowing signs and wonders in the world.

Newton E. Finn, Sun 4 Jul, 03:09


I also recall something to the effect of the light situation you have described, but I don’t recall from where.  I haven’t had time to read the Hanson book yet, but I have it on my list and look forward to reading it.  Thanks for bringing it to my attention and to those of others.

Michael Tymn, Sat 3 Jul, 20:46

Regarding this comment:

Here’s a pertinent and (for me) perplexing question to put us back on track. Is communication with the departed a most difficult, tentative, tenuous, and confusing process, replete with bosh even at its best (as noted by William James and recounted in Michael’s “Resurrecting Leonora Piper”), OR are the departed able to orate seamlessly, in great breadth and depth, about the nature of the afterlife in the manner of, for example, “The Road to Immortality?” And where, if anywhere, do Imperator & Co. and Patience Worth fit in between these seemingly polar opposites? - Newton E. Finn, Fri 2 Jul, 01:30
My response to the above is both; and all of the above. Mediumship manifests on a wide spectrum.

What occurs, what messages received and how mediumship manifests, depends on the medium’s particular physical organism, their health at the time, their particular faculty or type of mediumship, their cooperation, their mood and mental state, as well as their level of morality and intelligence, also what the spirits need and utilize (from all in attendance) on a fluidic/energy level, AND, the ambience in the room, the influence of the participants (their level of morality, their mood and mental attitude), and whether there are any other distracting conditions in the vicinity. Most importantly is …the intent of all parties concerned (of the medium(s), the participants, the spirits themselves) in attendance at the time. This is not an all-inclusive list.

Further, superior spirits can and do overcome any difficulties if they want to, usually for a serious purpose.   

This is my opinion based on having directly observed and experienced the phenomena of mediumship and psychic phenomena for over 50 plus years (I am age 66). I have experienced mediumship and paranormal experiences since a small child. I have attended spirit sessions throughout many years with hundreds of mediums of a wide variety (individual non-denominational mediums); mediums in Spiritist and Spiritualist circles/groups, and mediumship conducted at their national and international conferences and congresses. I have experienced spontaneous effects of mediumship from people in a wide variety of places and conditions. 

I am myself am a medium; I feel, hear, see, receive writings, have prophetic and vivid dreams, and I am also a trance medium. I have conducted spirit mediumship sessions since I was 18 years old, where there have been either two to up to 8 mediums at the table at once, and, have conducted mediumship classes (still do) for mediums-in-development for many years.

Yvonne Limoges

(Previously on the Board of Directors of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc., and, a writer for various Spiritualist/Spiritist/Psychic magazines and U.S. and international lecturer at Spiritist and Spiritualist conferences and congresses)

Yvonne Limoges, Sat 3 Jul, 20:42

Dear Amos,

To whom are you applying the quotation from Robbie Burns, and what evidence do you give us of the appropriateness of doing so?

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 3 Jul, 11:22

In the link I gave earlier there is a spirit called Elisabeth from who is said that she belongs to the higher spheres. She is seen (by the lower spirits) mainly as a white glow. In the spheres she lives everything is mostly white ,even the vegetation. There living there as a sort of groupsoul were an individual soul can separate temporally from the group to fullfill certain duties (like the communication). So I think that in the spiritworld they evolve or progress to pure essence of light and the individuality exists but the community is the most important. I think the way to progress is from a mind of separation to connection with everything ,what I think is All That Is or God.  That is not the only case where the white sphere is mentioned. I don’t remember where I read it but some spirit said that the higher spheres were less colourfull than the spheres where most of the spirits that he knew ,lived.

Chris De Cat, Sat 3 Jul, 06:54


I think Amos probably answered your question better than I could have in a condensed manner.  I don’t know if you are a baseball fan or not, but, if you are, you probably know how difficult it is to hit a 98 mph fast ball.  The average person would never hit the ball, unless he left the bat out there over the plate and hoped that the ball might hit the bat a time or two.  As I see it, it’s that way with mediumship, too. Most of us have no mediumistic ability.  The few that do have an ability are like major league ballplayers, where there is still a very wide range of ability. Those with limited ability are still in the minor leagues. Only a very few mediums are in the “Hall of Fame” category.  But even Hall of Fame ballplayers miss the ball two out of every three times at bat, i.e., a .333 lifetime batting average will get you into the Hall of Fame (one hit in every three times at bat). Moreover, just as great ballplayers have different types of skills relating to power, speed, agility, range, etc., so it is with mediums. Some of the best physical mediums offered next to nothing in the way of mental phenomena, while some of the best mental mediums offered no physical phenomena at all. 

I believe the direct-voice mediums provide the best evidence and that Etta Wriedt was probably the best of them all. Read my past blogs about Etta or go to the PSI Encyclopedia for my entry on her there. After reading about the phenomena reported there, ask how any person could have faked that phenomena. If not faked, then what caused it?  Superpsi is just a far-fetched theory, without any real empirical support, designed to avoid the survival hypothesis.

Dr. T. Glen Hamilton, a Canadian physician and psychical researcher, studied a number of mediums during the 1920s and ‘30s.  He concluded that the burden was upon those denying the spiritistic hypothesis to prove otherwise, stating: “Whenever and wherever genuine trance personalities are encountered, we are met with the claim that the trance intelligence is in fact a deceased person.  This has occurred in the work of every investigator since the beginning of serious study in the middle of the 19th century.  All investigators of psychic events, whether they be Christian, agnostic, or frankly atheistic, have reported the manifestations, in some form or other, of the survival idea, by the trance entities.  Any theory which attempts to account for the reality of psychic phenomena must explain why this particular pattern of expressed motivation is present.  It is obvious that the spiritistic hypothesis has the least difficulty in so doing.”

In effect, the question is why the supposed secondary personality buried away in the medium’s subconscious is a liar.  Why are all these subconscious entities from around the world pretending to be spirits of the dead? What is gained by the deception and how did they all collaborate in the scheme? I have yet to hear any scientist or parapsychologist subscribing to a subconscious explanation address that question.

As to whether it is all “truth” is another issue. Apparently, we get much distorted information coming through from the spirit world—either distorted by the medium’s brain or due to the fact that the spirit is not that advanced and doesn’t really understand how little it knows.  That’s a whole different subject.

As Sir Oliver Lodge said, it is the cumulative evidence that convinced him, no one particular case.

That’s my two-cents on the subject.

Michael Tymn, Fri 2 Jul, 22:33

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.”

= Robert Burns

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 2 Jul, 21:05

To expand on my original question (and thanks to all who took an initial stab at it), is it not almost an axiom in the field of afterlife communication that the higher a spirit is, the harder it is, and the less inclined a spirit is, to re-engage with the earthly realm and attempt to converse with the incarnate? Again, how does this “axiom,” this generally recognized spiritualist principle, relate to something like “The Road to Immortality” and its map or outline of the sequential stages of the afterlife? Note that Imperator & Co in “Spirit Teachings” are primarily concerned with correcting theological mistakes and offering guidance about how to live THIS life, repeatedly warning us against getting too far ahead of ourselves in trying to comprehend the next one. Also note that the voluminous literature of Patience Worth offers little, seemingly by design, in the way of afterlife description. Is there, I wonder, a profound and often glossed-over difference, if not conflict, between the phenomena of mediumship and channeling? And yes, Keith, now I’ll shut up for a while.

Newton E. Finn, Fri 2 Jul, 17:04

Dear all,

“Fabricating mathematical diagrams” badly misrepresents a paper Amos has been offered twice but has never read. Tut! Tut! Very careless! Very intellectually dishonest. Neither do I claim to have proved survival, as Amos implies, but only the possibility of there being other universes around and through our own which may be inhabited. The point I make is that it is SCIENCE ITSELF that DOES give ground for the possibility of such ideas being real entities. The belief is not groundless. The rest of the proof (absolute proof is impossible anyway, in any field) is up to the honesty of mediums, but who can doubt the genuineness of most of them?
We have all seen the pathetic performances of self-deluding charlatans, but Piper, Osborne Leonard and Geraldine Cummins are surely just three of many we ought to rely on in Court.

I agree that the central question for each of us is the question of our individual survival, (and in a much nicer world, please) so is it not worth making the point that the Great Being Who eternally encompasses all that was, is, and ever will be is FAITHFUL and HONEST? (My paper even deals briefly but decisively with this question.) Our assurance of a better life ahead is surely brought very very near to 100% by that simple consideration that does not insult the being we have traditionally called God.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 2 Jul, 16:31

Here is the question: What is the point of communication with the dead? What is to be achieved—-reassurance that death is not oblivion?  Who has been able to answer that question best?  Which medium? William Stainton Moses, Leonora Piper, Etta Wriedt, Geraldine Cummins, Eusapia Palladino,  Gladys Osborne Leonard,  Daniel Dunglas Home, Mae and Lizzie Bangs, the Fox sisters, Cora Richmond, Leslie Flint, George Chapman, Chico Xavier, John Edward, George Anderson, Matt Frazer, Pearl Curran and a myriad of less publicized but very good mediums—-there are so many!

They all provide interesting information taken as evidence of survival by some but is anyone convinced yet or is there still room for doubt? Well of course, there is room for doubt even if it is only 0.2%.  Mediums may provide real evidence of survival of consciousness but who is to say which medium provides valid information and which medium provides information that comes from their own conscious or subconscious mind or the mind of some other living person.  Admittedly some of the information transmitted is very impressive so that a spirit hypothesis is very tenable but that explanation usually comes to a “dead end” since where does one go from there?  Conjecturing that it must have been spirit communication does not provide proof of anything, neither does fabricating mathematical diagrams of multiple universes provide proof of survival.

What it all comes down to is one’s personal belief system or should I say one’s personal ‘hope system’. Only those who have had a personal encounter with death are able to obtain reassurance or not that they will survive it—-at least for a while. The rest of us will just have to ‘wait and see’!- AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 2 Jul, 14:02

Dear Mike (Tymn),

It is interesting that you are now working on an article for the SPR Psi Encyclopaedia. I trust it was commissioned, and that you are not wasting your effort. I submitted a possible chapter for their recent book ‘Is there Life after Death?’, and while it was not chosen (there were 90 other chapters offered) it was said that the decision did not result from any inadequacy in the quality of my chapter. I later submitted an abridged version for possible inclusion in the SPR Journal. It was rejected outright by a classicist(!) and two others of unstated specialism. It seems clear to me that pride and prejudice infect the SPR’s decision-making just as they fill the rest of our human world. While I am not a worshipper of this world’s system of academic qualifications I do think important decisions should be made by those who are able to make them. I have made my claims regarding the relevance of Einstein’s Relativity to the possibility of both higher and lower universes on the basis of a self-taught understanding of physics, and it is interesting to note that not a single conventional expert has demonstrated to my own satisfaction that I am in error in the simple core insight I have expressed. The “unqualified” and the autodidact have sometimes been right. I wonder what Einstein himself thinks.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 2 Jul, 11:33


Coincidentally, I am now working on an article/entry for the SPR’s PSI Encyclopedia which to some extent addresses this, but I am already up to about 11,000 words and have several thousand more to add.  I doubt that I can condense it in a few hundred words, but I’ll give it some thought tomorrow.  It’s bedtime here in the Sandwich Isles.  Thanks for the question.

Michael Tymn, Fri 2 Jul, 09:42

Dear all,

My very hesitant and tentative suggested answer to your question, Newton, would include drawing attention to a few seeming facts:

There seem to be universes around ours which themselves house (if that’s the word) beings at low levels of consciousness. Some communicators seem to have technological difficulties in establishing communication. That type of difficulty seems part of a world that tries to achieve by its own efforts, no higher than ours. A higher universe might be expected to achieve communication by means more intuitive and intangible than ours, by will, perhaps, rather then by technology. We, for instance would see the mysterious entity telepathy as a higher than normal, and real but very arcane ability. If telepathic knowledge were commoner amongst us we might say of our own universe that it is not the lowest. Having said that, it does seem that animals live nearer the level of spiritual insight than arrogantly self-reliant humans. They are often aware of what we fail to sense. But, surely, in some way the universe Imperator lives in seems to enjoy inspirations and guidances that are very rare down here. And we cannot imagine what the powers available to beings in still higher universes might be. This is rather vague, of course, and I doubt whether many of us would regard the wet dogs experienced by Geley in his researches as showing that a dog’s life is closer to the angels than ours, and so judge it to be ‘higher’ than ours. Our own judgements are somewhat emotional, and are often matters of taste rather than of ethics. We would be wise to “Judge not, that we be not judged”. Our opinions are often binomial, when our eye ought to be single, but our viewpoint and our spiritual ‘eyesight’ are simply not ‘high’ enough to be reliable.

I recognise that this comment is pretty rough, just ill-formed hurried suggestions, but the 24/7 caring duties are very pressing, so please forgive.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 2 Jul, 09:39

Here’s a pertinent and (for me) perplexing question to put us back on track. Is communication with the departed a most difficult, tentative, tenuous, and confusing process, replete with bosh even at its best (as noted by William James and recounted in Michael’s “Resurrecting Leonora Piper”), OR are the departed able to orate seamlessly, in great breadth and depth, about the nature of the afterlife in the manner of, for example, “The Road to Immortality?” And where, if anywhere, do Imperator & Co. and Patience Worth fit in between these seemingly polar opposites?

Newton E. Finn, Fri 2 Jul, 01:30

Dear Keith P, and all,

I agree that readers’ comments on Mike’s current blog should have been about Leonora Piper. I have been embarrassed all along by my seeming to take the whole stage for a while. But you must remember that I have only done so in response to Newton’s suggestion that I try to explain how Relativity relates to the claim that there are many dwelling places in the Father’s house. Mike has acquiesced in my making this effort. He is a kind and tolerant man.

The various hypotheses that there is a multiverse bear no direct relation to the thought that there are many CONTEMPORANEOUS universes such as can be envisaged on the grounds of the limited velocity of light, that is, on the grounds of General Relativity. The various constants required for organic life are also more or less irrelevant to that idea. That they are important is not denied, of course, and the theistic interpretation of their reality is indeed the most rational by far. I would go so far as to say, as Laplace might have done had he known of them, that the fine tuning of those necessary constants is a strong argument for the view that the region of space-time in which WE live MUST BE the work of a huge intelligence Who intended us to live and move and have OUR nanometre-sized Being in it.

So I agree with you Keith P, for what that is worth, and I assure you I have now completed my wholly verbal (ie nearly impossible) exposition of the way Relativity supports the belief that there may be habitable universes around us to which we go after our threescore years and ten down here. The two simple graphics I have mentioned make that exposition wonderfully clear for our human level of creative intellect, but I hope a few of Mike’s readers have understood the explanation in words only.

One other comment: If I have unwillingly received too much space in the comments recently perhaps others should say more and take up their share. As I said, Mike Tymn is a very genial author and administrator of his own blog, but some readers are rather passive. We would like to hear from them.

Just one final question, Keith: Do you understand my explanation of the relevance of Relativity?

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Wed 30 Jun, 16:33

Dear Keith P: I get it. I merely wanted to draw out Eric’s relativity theories in relationship to spirit communication, the QM stuff having been bandied about for a long time. I also wanted to briefly revisit Michael’s prior post on Dr. Greyson, having run across relevant new material on that NDE subject matter. Henceforward, I/we should indeed be concentrating primarily on the topics at hand—in this case, the hatchet jobs Michael brought to our attention concerning the most scientifically scrutinized medium of all time, who came through that scrutiny, contrary to Cep and Harnett, with flying colors. Thanks, Keith, for furnishing what Kierkegaard called “the corrective.”

Newton E. Finn, Wed 30 Jun, 16:07

It seems to me that Eric (and Newton) are rather dominating this conversation by talking about relativity theory one blog after another, instead of referring directly to the subject Michael has written about. I think this is a shame. I think we should stick to stuff directly relevant to what Michael has chosen to enlighten us about, i.e. in this case, Leonora Piper. Even though Mike has welcomed these comments, my own view is that his blog seems to have been hijacked.

Having said that I always understood the multi-verse theory to be a load of bunk. The point is that the Universe, the Earth, and life on Earth all appear to be amazingly fine tuned for our existence here. Scientists acknowledge this fine tuning exists but are horrified by this extraordinary unlikeliness, while remaining desperate not to have to come to a theistic conclusion. Its just that the odds are so unbelievably slim for all these finely tuned constants to have happened together and by accident; by which I mean odds of trillions to one against. So the multiverse has been invented to create an infinite number universes so as to make what we have here an inevitable consequence, and we just happen to be the lucky ones to get the fine tuning world we live in, since all the options for constants also exist too, in other locations. In my view this is so much tosh. A theistic conclusion is entirely reasonable in the circumstances and a better fit for the facts. I would only add that I do not subscribe to any religion and this comment is not made in defence of loyalty to any religious creed.
I would also add that scientists are willing and enthusiastic to talk about string theory, for which there is no real evidence whatsoever apart from mathematics, and they are equally reluctant to talk of a spiritual dimension where former human beings on Earth now live and from which they can communicate with us - for which there is evidence !

Keith P in England, Wed 30 Jun, 12:59

Dear all,

I think that Newton is thinking of the Everett-Wheeler speculation that a single universe splits continuously as “time” passes, the two universes resulting from each split never communicating after each split. He is at least as familiar as I am with such speculations, but they are entirely different from the scenario of universes that are contemporary, running alongside each other but not normally in communication, that Relativity theory suggests to me is likely to be the reality. Whilst I think that Newton has read and understood at least as much physics as I have I am quite sure that there is a mathematical (ie a logical) necessity in the possibility of multiple CONTEMPORANEOUS universes that befits the further view that while Quantum Theory describes the universe(s) in which life is possible, via its unpredictability, Relativity befits the nature of non-living thing-ness, a kind of substratum for life with its freedom of choice, and hence its ethics. We are, I believe, moral agents penned up temporarily (to test what we will do) in a thing-world in which our ethical choices of action are supremely important. I agree entirely with Newton that “occasional communication between the incarnate and the discarnate” takes place. Concerning that matter of evidence, I would add only that “Blessed are those who have NOT seen, yet have believed”. I don’t remember where in the Bible someone says that, or who said it, but I believe it’s there, and I trust the statement is true. I do believe that the Great All likes us to have trust in her/his trustworthiness and love for her/his creatures.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Wed 30 Jun, 10:29

The likely existence of multiple separate universes has long been a hypothesis of QM, especially the string theories which evolved from it. I think what Eric is getting at is that the likely existence of other universes, not separate from but INTERPENETRATING ours, finds independent support in relativity theory. I hope that Eric continues to focus on relativity, laying out what he sees as its unique contribution to better understanding the strange, elusive, but undeniable fact (at least to those of us in Michael’s “congregation”) of occasional communication between the incarnate and the discarnate.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 29 Jun, 18:05

Dear Mike (Tymn),

I am glad that what I write seems to make some sort of sense. You find the assumptions from which logical argument starts a problem, but every area of human study starts from at least one assumption, often more ethan one. These assumptions are the ‘axioms’ of the subject, assertions that are taken to be self-evidently true, without proof. Even mathematics starts from axioms. I believe the accepted set of axioms is due to the mathematician Peano, and are named after him, the axioms for the system of natural numbers at least.

Eric (Franklin)

Eric Franklin, Tue 29 Jun, 09:45


Thanks for sharing your ideas. While I have completed basic metaphysics and intermediate metaphysics, I am not into advanced metaphysics to the extent you are.  I get the gist of what you are saying, but it all seems to begin with basic assumptions, e.g., “the big bang” from which we make other assumptions.  I don’t see how assumptions add up to evidence. Perhaps they can be expressed in mathematical formulas.
Hopefully, what you have said is meaningful to others. Your participation is very much appreciated.

Michael Tymn, Mon 28 Jun, 23:30

Dear all, but especially Newton,

Your query seems to me to be a very perspicacious one, and the resolution of it is probably precisely as you suggest, but you are viewing the whole matter as one of a single universe, I think.

Remember that I am self-taught, but that I therefore have the advantage of being unhampered by the conventional view, which freedom allows the higher Beings to whisper occasionally and send me a non-conventional snippet of insight.

At one time, even professionals referred to galaxies as ‘island universes’. We now know there are or have been, since the `Big Bang’ (assuming that hypothesis correct) billions of them. Within each universe I believe what I have tried to describe in words without even the two graphics you, Newton, do have does prove that there are lacunae beyond communication continuously coming into being and flowing into our real space-time and out of it, so allowing for at least another universe, probably many, to flow through ours and normally remain undetected. A medium is, by verbal definition, a channel from one place to another, and seems to function in precisely that way - and we do not know the mechanism. We, the Apostle Paul said, have no alternative but to have faith, trust, for all our hopes regarding life. i do not see that as an insuperable barrier to belief. Paul says it is exactly WHY we have to believe, because we cannot prove. Hence Mike’s being only 98.8% assured we live after throwing away our bodies. Recall that Crookes (I believe it was he) stated that he was not saying that certain events were possible, but simply that they happened. This bespeaks the stance of a true scientist. (Bertrand Russell: “Concern yourself only with facts.”) So I certainly think you are on the right lines, Newton, in suggesting that a medium is in some way we do observe, but in a way we cannot understand, demonstrate or prove, but can believe on the ground of empirical results we observe, a kind of entangler. It seems as if within our own one universe Tonomura discovered the foundations, not directly observable (see our book for a high-level layman’s account), and Aspect demonstrated the observable stratospheric connections we call entanglements that seem to overspan our universe. BUT, when we then consider the possibility of OTHER universes contiguous with ours, there is no problem in applying Relativity Theory in the way I do and noting that the space time lacunae throughout our one universe do allow others to snuggle up alongside. To that extent Aspect and Tonomura become no longer any barrier to understanding or explaining. Entanglement WITHIN OUR universe does not preclude the normal incommunicability of OTHER universes that is a mathematical necessity shown by Relativity. Only mediums can traverse that barrier, and we do not know how they do it. It is sufficient that they do seem to succeed, so long as they are humble and honest. When pride gets in we are all in severe trouble, of course.

I hope this is not too garbled, too hasty, or too inadequately expressed, and that it does not raise the ire of those with a very thorough but wholly conventional view of the science and the philosophy involved, such as SM, with whom I have had some correspondence.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 28 Jun, 10:00

Or as an afterthought, is a medium somehow an “entangler?”

Newton E. Finn, Sun 27 Jun, 18:24

Eric, would you kindly clarify or expand upon the following statement: “As the cone starts from a point it develops at the velocity of light, which is high but not infinite. Because the velocity is not infinite there is always a sort of ring round each dimension of the expansion from point into cone that NOTHING can reach.” Within OUR universe, the speed of light limitation seems to be eclipsed by so-called entangled particles, which QM indicates can “communicate” with each other virtually instantaneously regardless of distance. My lay understanding of science is that this is one of the principal points where relativity theory and QM are in conflict. How do you resolve this apparent conflict? Might entanglement between persons, caused by former mutual existence in OUR universe (or perhaps, on a deeper level, by common divine origin), allow for instantaneous communication between persons now existing in the separate universes you envision, a separation caused by the death of one of them? Is it this strange power of entanglement that permits veridical communication via mediumship, or are you going in an entirely different direction? Hope my questions don’t gum up the works.

Newton E. Finn, Sun 27 Jun, 18:19

Dear all,

The following is a bit rushed, but if you each supply the attention that the day’s rush has denied me, it will explain to you how there can be, and probably are, many universes close around us and inhabited by the Beings we have called angels, and others, with which we are normally totally out of contact. Contact via mediums seems to take place, however. That such universes exist is not proved, but the possibility that they exist, and within our own hard science of physics, IS proved.


Isaac Newton described the orbiting of planets around the sun, and calculated how much reduction in their speeds would make them fall into the sun. His theory, and the resulting calculations, worked very well indeed, and still do for many purposes. But they are wrong as descriptions of the actual processes, of the REAL nature of what is happening. They are useful only as instruments of prediction. They will tell you to a second when a long future eclipse will start and end. Among other theoretical problems with Newtonian theory the fact that all ‘things’ or ‘stuff’ fall at the same rate if there is no air resistance suggested to Einstein a different, and truly explanatory, modus operandi. Things are falling in straight lines that are in fact very slightly curved (Yes!), as if there were no gravity at all in the Newtonian understanding. I shall not try to explain this here because it is unnecessary for grasping the notion of contiguous universes out of all communication with the one we inhabit, which is my objective. But if we pursued it, it would show itself part of the demonstration that Einstein’s theory of space and time, and of what Newton called ‘gravity’, but misunderstood, is as near proven as anything in all of science (despite, if he will forgive me saying so, what Amos stated a few posts ago). Relativity really is as good as proved. Better ‘proved’ than anything else, in fact.

So perhaps we can now go on without the science and the maths being scorned.

But straight away, at this point, we have to say something within that other field of science, Quantum Theory, before returning to Relativity Theory later.

Our universe changes, develops, has a ‘history’, progresses, flows, by tiny sudden ‘jumps’ as energy leaves one particle of matter, radiates outward, and interacts with another particle. That is not an adequate statement, but the briefest I can think of that is correct, and not misleading. Einstein pointed out that the world we can observe consists of nothing but these interactions of energy with particles. These interchanges do not take place instantly, that is to say at an infinite velocity. They happen ‘at the speed of light’, which is very fast, but it is not instant, not infinitely fast. It is not always even at the very high speed at which light travels through a vacuum. Refraction of light by glass is an effect of the slowing of its velocity in the dense glass as compared with its speed in the less dense air, or in the afore-mentioned vacuum. The velocity of light is therefore NOT constant, despite the one-time belief that it would prove to be so.

We can illustrate the travel of energy, on its way to react with something other than the particle that emitted it, by means of a simple graph. Mike (Tymn) alerts us to the fact that the software we are all using for comments cannot process graphics. I am happy to supply both the graphics I need to complete this explanation to anyone who emails me at <> The very simple graph I want to send can show us three things: the travel of the quantum of energy in one direction of space, its travel (as a spherically expanding wavefront) in one other direction of space, and the wavefront’s expansion in the ‘direction of time’. We cannot show the expansion in all three dimensions of space on a two dimensional piece of paper, or a computer screen. There is no such thing as time, as we said a post or two ago, but we can show a line on the graph to represent the NON-INSTANTANEOUS direction of the quantum jumps we just mentioned. That sequence of changes is what we PERCEIVE AS the flow of time. Something that is very personally ‘US’ remembers things as they ‘were’ a moment ago, a year ago, a lifetime ago, and that memory gives us a sense of flow that we called time. We can show that on a graph, in a schematic sort of way.

The other graphic I want to share with those of you who repudiate prejudice (why would anyone want to share understanding with others who love prejudice?) is a kind of perspective drawing of the cone that results as the wavefront expands into a hollow sphere. As the cone starts from a point it develops at the velocity of light, which is high but not infinite. Because the velocity is not infinite there is always a sort of ring round each dimension of the expansion from point into cone that NOTHING can reach. Please ‘see’ this in your mind before reading on.

That unreachable place is called ‘Elsewhere’ in the physicist’s terminology. It is changing continuously, quintillions of tiny volumes of ‘Elsewhere’ continuously entering our universe as ‘somewhere we CAN contact’, but that flow of ‘Elsewhere’ is the momentary ‘place’ where an entire universe can exist right through our own, yet do so completely unsuspected and completely beyond contact by us. It’s as simple as that. Our own universe is full of the tiny lacunae of ‘Elsewhere’ in which another universe, or even multiple universes, are present, but hidden. And most physicists happen, oddly, never to have realised the fact. For some reason that, perhaps, only a medium of complete humility and compliance with her/his controls, can illuminate, is an inherent consequence of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the firmest science there is. What a strong support for our belief that mediums are speaking to us of things in other universes, and speaking the truth.


Eric Franklin

If anyone wants to see the two simple graphics that illustrate this, making it easy to ‘see’, they have only to contact me.

Eric Franklin, Sat 26 Jun, 14:56


I look forward to your revised take on the application of Relativity Theory to the survival hypothesis, but I don’t think graphics can be offered here in the comments section.

Michael Tymn, Sat 26 Jun, 08:05

Something different: I found some spirit teaching ,more in the style of the ‘old school’. I did not yet read it all, but it seems very convincing and the themes are explained clearly. Spirit teaching of New Zealand, early 21e century. I googled Ken Hanson , but there was not a lot to find.

Chris De Cat, Sat 26 Jun, 08:04

Thanks, Newton, for providing the two links to Dr. Bruce Greyson’s research and writing.  It is too bad he didn’t include the mediumship cases in his recent book.

Let me add the case of “Jennie,” and “Bessie” (both pseudonyms for privacy purposes) as related by Dr. Minot J. Savage, a popular Unitarian clergyman and author.  Jennie and Bessie, ages 8-9, were close friends in a city in Massachusetts, and both were afflicted with diphtheria.  Jennie died on Wednesday, but Bessie was not informed of her friend’s death, as her family felt it might stand in the way of her recovery.
On Saturday, Bessie apparently realized that she was going to die and began telling her parents which of her brothers, sisters, and playmates should receive her treasured belongings.  “Among these she pointed out certain things of which she was very fond, that were to go to Jennie – thus settling all question as to whether or not she had found out that Jennie was not still living,” Savage wrote.
A little later, as she approached death, she began seeing deceased grandparents and others gathered around her bed. “And then she turned to her father, with face and voice both expressing the greatest surprise, and exclaimed, ‘Why, Papa, why didn’t you tell me that Jennie had gone?  Why didn’t you tell me of it?’”

Michael Tymn, Sat 26 Jun, 07:59

Interesting paper here, c/o Dr. Greyson, related to my question (posed to rule out even the most extreme form of telepathy) whether an NDE had ever revealed the presence in the afterlife of someone whose death was not known at the time by ANY OTHER LIVING PERSON. Close comes the good doctor, damn close, but still no cigar.

Newton E. Finn, Wed 23 Jun, 00:49

The latest assignment from “Newton College” is to enjoy the below-linked presentation by Dr. Bruce Greyson, whose book “After” was the subject of a recent post by Michael. In light of this new assignment, you are excused from reading the articles by Cep and Harnett.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 22 Jun, 23:09

Noting Dr. Wadhams’ comment about Eleanor Sidgwick’s bio not having any mention of her psychical research contributions, I wondered if no mention is better than some mention. For example, my bio of Professor Robert Hare was just posted at the SPR’s PSI Encyclopedia (
Note that in his obituary in the Philadelphia Ledger, it was stated that due to his being worn and weary in his old age, he suffered delusions, believing it was possible to communicate with the dead.

Michael Tymn, Tue 22 Jun, 21:42

Ha! NEWTON college?  That’s what happens when one relies on one’s brain for information.  I must have been thinking of Newton Finn,.  Thanks to Peter for the correct name—-NEWNHAM college! (Sorry Eleanor!) - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 22 Jun, 13:38

Dear all,

I offer the opinion that Mike Tymn has got it totally right in his latest comment on his own blog.

Just one remark that may puzzle because I cannot expound it now: the secondary-personality hypothesis may be correct BUT ONLY IN A SPECIAL WAY WHEN ONE REALISES that, in a myriad and very minute ways we are each a very faulty facet of [the character of] BEING ITSELF, Whom we have called God, Theos, Yahweh, Ho Own, etc etc during history. I can’t spend words on it now - 24/7 duties with an hour’s respite while eldest son and daughter in law are here helping (hugely), but THINK ABOUT IT. It is often NOT taking thoughts RIGHT TO THEIR LOGICAL LIMITS that we fall short of attaining better knowledge and more correct distinctions than we presently have.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 22 Jun, 09:50

Re Mrs Eleanor Sidgwick, she was of course a great figure in Cambridge University in addition to her psychic interests. She was Mistress of Newnham College (one of the first ladies’ colleges) and the road which runs past the college (and houses most of the arts faculty buildings) is Sidgwick Avenue. Imagine my astonishment when I picked up the latest issue of “Cavendish” (an official university glossy magazine of Cambridge history) which had a long article on her life without a SINGLE WORD about her psychic interests or her long service with the SPR. Talk about self censorship! Regards Peter Wadhams

Peter Wadhams, Tue 22 Jun, 09:39


In addition to being the wife of Henry Sidgwick, Eleanor was also the sister of British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, as you likely know.  No doubt she was a very intelligent person, but, like William James, she sat glued to the fence on the survival issue. As I recall, she preferred the secondary personality explanation. I quote Myers, Hodgson, Lodge, and Hyslop simply because they had much more experience studying Piper than the others and all four had the guts to come off the fence in spite of the bull being on that side of the fence. Thus, I don’t think reading Tanner or Sidgwick’s reports, as you suggest, really adds anything to understanding Piper’s mediumship.  They only muddy the waters more. At some point, you have to go with the researchers who spent the most time with her, assuming that they touched all bases in an objective manner, and I believe they did.

Michael Tymn, Tue 22 Jun, 08:01

Dear all,

Yvonne makes some thought-provoking points, especially regarding the attitudes of spirits in other worlds, and their intentions. Those worlds are not all even as high, ethically and spiritually, as our own, which is itself patently rather low. The false ideas about Satan came from somewhere. The low, mischievous spirit with no love of truth was discerned a long time ago, despite the human general ignorance that was only gradually awakening and learning. We do indeed have to test the spirits, and it is not easy.

Within our own world, discernment of the low moral character of Hall and Tanner is, I think myself, obvious enough, especially after reading the utter flannel and pseudo-poetic (and utterly unscientific) fluff that Amos helpfully quotes for us from Tanner. That drivel is entirely new to me, and I shake my head in bewilderment that anyone should award a PhD degree to a mind so dogmatically wayward as to write it.

My own suggestion arising out of comments so far on this blog is that we should surely take much more notice of those among us with personal sensory experience of the matters in hand, in other words, the mediums themselves, such as Yvonne. The recorded word of mediums from past generations, such as Piper, is, of course, invaluable, but today’s mediums, if they know in their hearts that they are being honest, should perhaps publish what they can (some is too private) of what they perceive in their mediumship, and so enlighten us all. Interpretations based on the books we have is good, but not sufficient.

A kind of PS: I have not forgotten Newton’s asking Mike (Tymn’s) permission to expound the relevance of Relativity Theory to the existence of those other worlds. If Mike remains tolerant, I would like to complete my explanation of this, with two graphic illustrations, and I shall try to write the necessary text as briefly as I can, and very soon. Anyone who would like to read either version of my paper on the matter (longer version for an anthology, shorter for an intended journal article) is welcome to ask me.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 22 Jun, 07:41

Concerned that I would forget to follow-up with a summary of James Hyslop’s debunking of the Hall-Tanner investigation of Mrs. Piper, I spent about 20 minutes searching for the article today, but without success.  I just saw it and browsed over it about a week ago while sorting through old issues of the SPR and ASPR Journals, from 1886 to 1930, but they are too disorganized to carry out a detailed search.  They are all falling apart, some missing covers, and my wife won’t know what to do with them once I graduate. 

As I recall, however, it was clear to Hyslop that Hall and Tanner were clearly intent on debunking Piper and their approach was in line with that intent. Their negativity defeated good results, but they did experience some phenomena, all of which they attributed to a “secondary personality.” Moreover, it was at a time when Piper’s mediumship was in decline. 

Incidentally, my SPR and ASPR journals were once part of the library of the ASPR in New York City, as evidenced by the stamps on the covers and note on some covers that they are the “property of Gertrude Tubby.”  Gertrude was the executive assistant to Professor Hyslop, although it may have been OK to call her his secretary at that time. It’s possible that Hyslop’s fingerprints are still on many pages of the copies I

Michael Tymn, Tue 22 Jun, 06:27

I agree with you about Eleanor Sidgwick.  It seems to me that she was publicly known as Mrs. Henry Sidgwick as she was in the article published in the SPR. Those were the times when women were known by the man they were married to.  Women were often allowed to attend University and complete the studies but they were not awarded a diploma or title upon graduation.  As I recall Emily Hutchings (of the Patience Worth story) had a mother who completed medical school but was not given the recognition of physician so she later became something like a medicine woman in the neighborhood in which she lived.  I believe that Madam Currie also deferred at that time to her husband for her discoveries. But regardless of the lack of respect that Eleanor Sidgwick received I think she was a pretty smart cookie! - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 21 Jun, 23:35

Hi Mike,

I really liked your article about Leonora Piper and of course also your magnificent book on the topic I read seven years ago.

I have been subscribing to the New Yorker for at least 40 years and am often envious of what stunningly talented writers many of its authors are. It appears to me as if most of them were born brilliant and were child prodigies. Undoubtedly quite a few of them growing up as school students in some ways knew more than their teachers and were certainly more competent. They quickly became accustomed to being the smartest knife in the drawer and this really seemed to develop an unshakable self-confidence.

But over the years many of them apparently began to believe they were omnicompetent, inherently superior and capable of penetrating every mystery they encounter. Indeed, a good number of them apparently became convinced they were infallible. 

Once again, I admit my envy and observing them take on a very complicated topic , engorge the books of a dozen or more expert scholarly authors authors on the topic, conduct an intensely analytical appraisal of the subject at hand and then spin out their conclusions about what the real truth actually consisted of.

Almost from word one of your article responding to the New Yorker piece critiquing Leonora Piper and asserting with supreme confidence that she was nothing but a scammer I had the strong gut feel that that vain writer fit squarely into the “know it all” category.

Kindest regards,


David Stang, Mon 21 Jun, 23:09


I’m aware of the comments by Eleanor Sidgwick and Amy Tanner, but I try to keep the blogs under 2000 words and did not feel their comments contributed much, if anything, to the discussion.  Sidgwick flip-flops in favor of Piper, but she is a bit too long-winded for me and beats around the bush too much.  Because of that, I didn’t find space for her in my book. She seems to have been highly respected by other members of the SPR, but I am not sure how much of it was a result of her husband’s position in the SPR.

As for Tanner, you probably known that she and G. Stanley Hall were out to debunk her from the beginning and made conditions as inharmonious as possible.  Professor Hyslop wrote a long article in the ASPR Journal tearing their research apart, piece by piece, and I was going to offer the summary of Hyslop’s article here, but I can’t find that issue right now.  If I do find it, I will summarize it. There were also other researchers who might have been quoted, including Professor William Newbold and Dr. Minot Savage, but, again, I try to keep them under 2,000 words.

Thanks for the comments.

Michael Tymn, Mon 21 Jun, 22:46


It is always disheartening when people write negatively about mediumship, especially when they have not themselves fully researched it and/or experienced it first hand.

It discredits authentic mediumship which has always existed, and will continue to exist. Yet, even when people are exposed to authentic mediumship, some cannot accept it for what it is.

However, the earth revolved around the sun, no matter how many people believed otherwise. I think 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said it best: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” Each person is at a different level of moral and spiritual comprehension regarding, especially spiritual and moral matters.

Further, there spirits in the spirit world that do NOT want this knowledge of mediumship and the afterlife to be revealed to the masses. These spirits influence those in the material world by placing doubts especially in the minds of the ignorant.

Many of these spirits were previously Catholic priests and members other religious sects who either consider what mediums do heresy or its “secret knowledge” (of which they fully know about) but believe should not be taught to the general population because they think they are not able to deal with it or are not ready for it. They still cling to the old beliefs they had when they were in the material world.         

For example, while translating into English an old book on spirit communications, I (a medium) had to put up with these types of spirits trying to stop me from my work through subtle suggestions to quit. Some communicated at sessions and were highly upset about what I was doing. Fortunately, I am fully cognizant of their motives and modus operandi.

Fortunately, in the grand scheme of things, the Divine plan leans always towards progress and imperfect humans cannot stop its march.

Important truths are revealed and accepted over time as mankind evolves.


Yvonne Limoges, Mon 21 Jun, 22:20


Good article. It amazes me that people can question the abilities of Piper given all the evidence in her favor.

Mike S.

Michael Schmicker, Mon 21 Jun, 21:41

I hate to do this but here is another link to Matt Frazer.  I just don’t see how he could know these specific things.  Very little he is saying is general, or cold reading or fishing.  Frazer has reached a point where I don’t understand how anyone could think he is a fraud.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 21 Jun, 20:25

Why would a mother with bad and fraudulent intentions read out of the bible for her children? Not logical I think. Michael, thank you for this interesting piece.

Chris De Cat, Mon 21 Jun, 20:19

The two modern day writers you cited, Casey Cep and Emily Harnett could very well be women who write for Wikipedia since apparently, they ‘cherry pick’ information that furthers their beliefs.  I totally agree with you that articles written from “Historical facts are often twisted, distorted, and misrepresented by historians and authors, especially those who rely on hearsay or second-, third-, and fourth-hand accounts of a person or event.”

For that reason, I prefer to try to find documents written at the time the medium was alive and practicing her craft and preferably written by people who actually knew the medium.  Two voluminous negative reports about Leonora Piper are those written by Eleanor Sidgwick and printed in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research” in 1915 and another report written by Amy Tanner published in her book “Studies in Spiritisim” published in 1910.

I find these analyses by these women of Mrs. Piper’s activities as a medium communicating with the dead to be very necessary documents to read carefully in order to perhaps get a deeper understanding of Mrs. Piper’s abilities and what they were or were not.

Mrs. Henry Sidgwick nee Eleanor (Nora) Balfour was without a doubt an exceptionally talented and intelligent woman with four honorary doctoral degrees.  She was an astute investigator and compiler of facts and a most intelligent woman being Principal of Newton College for Women and Secretary for the Society for Psychical Research for many years.

Sidgwick wrote that “My own opinion in 1899 was that, however true it may be that there is really communication between the living and the dead, the intelligence communicating directly with the sitter through Mr. Piper’s organism is Mrs. Piper.” It is obvious that Mrs. Sidgwick had an interest in evidence for survival of human consciousness after death and perhaps believed it to be true, and she considered carefully purported evidence that appeared to support that belief which at that time centered around Mrs. Piper’s mediumistic activities.  I think in addition to information coming from Mrs. Piper’s subconsciousness she also tended to support telepathy with the living AND DEAD as the source of Piper’s information. 

Sidgwick emphasized that “To prevent misapprehension, I am anxious to say emphatically at the very beginning of my discussion [of Mrs. Piper] that I have no doubt whatever that knowledge is often exhibited in the course of Mrs. Piper’s trance utterances which can only have reached her by some supernormal means—-by which I mean otherwise than through the ordinary channels of sense.”

Sidgwick’s report should be read carefully as she admits that she wanted to show “Mrs. Piper’s trance communications at their worst” acknowledging that there was an abundance of favorable information about her.

Amy Tanner, PhD was an assistant to
Dr. Stanley Hall PhD and professor of philosophy at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Tanner and Hall spent time with Mrs. Piper and participated in nine or more seances with her. Tanner’s report is very revealing not so much about Mrs. Piper but more about Amy Tanner and Stanley Hall both of whom were intent on discrediting Mrs. Piper’s mediumistic activities.

These two books are part of the history of mediumship I think and should be read by those seriously considering fact from fiction as related to mediums and the information they communicate as coming from the deceased.

Here is a snippet of the ‘scientific’ report by Tanner:

“In Mrs. Piper, the eye with its primacy of function is shunted out; so is general sensibility; probably her digestive, and certainly her respiratory, functions, taste, smell, general tactile sensibility and motor innervation are asleep.  But, as the tide ebbs, there is in her strangely configured soul a singular land-locked bay, where the tide stays at half ebb until it rises again and reunites the bay with the sea and its forms of life, and cadences its waves to those of the ocean.  Perhaps we fish and explore a little on the banks of this cut-off inlet and wonder that it seems so high when the tide is all out and far.  We think we see in its depths skyey objects which we never see in the ever-turbulent sea.  Sea-rovers, who have never seen a lake, come from far and marvel at the transparency of this for their eyes could never penetrate any depth of the ocean.  They bathe in it for their diseases, they think it mystic, sacred, therapeutic, while in the low susurrus of its ripples on the shore, when the breeze stirs and ruffles its surface, they find voices, and they cast auguries by the ripple-marks.  They seem to see straight down through the very earth, which is only the heavens reflected.  They cast stones, and the splashes say things; they see their own reflection and learn first the powers of a mirror, and self-knowledge is begun.”

There you have it!  Everything you needed to know about Mrs. Piper by Amy Tanner, PhD - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 21 Jun, 18:17

Thanks for another very insightful piece that fully exposes the outrageous biased hatchet jobs so many skeptic critics have been and are giving Piper and other great mediums. I don’t think these so-called journalists have any excuse at all.

“If James, Hodgson, Myers, Lodge, Hyslop and others are still in touch with what is going on here in the material world, they are no doubt shaking their heads in dismay and disgust.” I could only add that this is my reaction also.

David Magnan, Mon 21 Jun, 17:45

I wish for all the negative writers of Mrs. Piper a visit from their deceased relatives as they dream tonight and the next night and the next.  I wish they could experience the other side with all its love and caring.
Thanks for this Mike Blessings Karen

Karen Herrick, Mon 21 Jun, 16:49

Nice work Michael as always and I also thank you for your well written defense of Piper. It has always astounded me how the positive findings of some of the greatest minds regarding mediums is completely overlooked. Keep up the great work. You are a rare bird and a blessing to this form of research.
N. Riley Heagerty
Aurhor/Editor: The French Revelation; Portraits from Beyond; The Direct Voice; Spectral Evidence; Wizards of The North; The Hereafter; The Phenomena of Spirit Materialization.

riley heagerty, Mon 21 Jun, 14:54

A very eloquent defence of Piper, Michael.
Thanks. I can think of a few skeptics who should read this, and I hope this includes the journalists whose coverage you have criticised !

Keith P in England, Mon 21 Jun, 12:22

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Proof of Survival by Lord Dowding – I think that "Raymond" is a very important book because its main purpose appears to be to convey to the world proof of human survival after death. This proof is conveyed by the publication of a series of messages from Raymond Lodge, the son of Sir Oliver Lodge, the famous scientist and author of the book. Read here
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