Science: Houdini, Doyle

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Wilhelmina Houdini has waited three and one-half years for word from her late husband Harry, magician and ghostbuster. Before he died he promised to communicate with her from the grave if possible. Many have been her attempts, all futile, to talk with him. Often she has been approached by mediums who claimed spiritual contact, but she knew they were all faking. She and Houdini prearranged a code, in which no medium has yet brought word from him.

Last week, her patience exhausted, Mrs. Houdini announced that she has lost all hope of effecting contact with her husband, that his attempt to Houdinize-himself from the (a) spirit world has been a failure, that this is another proof that Spiritualism is all fakery. Spiritualists retorted that it proved nothing. Some even charged that Houdini's spirit is being stubborn.

Another spiritualist development of last week was the resignation ol Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the British Society for Psychical Research, after 36 years membership. Reason: the flaying, by Theodore Besterman. Secretary of the Society, of a book delineating wonders accomplished by an Italian medium.†

After reviewing the performance of the medium. Besterman concluded: "To put forward such a book as this as a serious contribution to psychical research . . . with such claims of infallibility ... is to bring our subject into contempt and disrepute."

Incensed. Sir Arthur retorted: ". . . [The work of the Society] is an evil influence—is anti-spiritualist." He called for other members to resign with him. Replied the Society: "There is nothing but an honest difference of opinion. While Sir Arthur regards spiritualism as a 'cult,' the Society was founded to carry on critical investigation.''

*Houdinize—"to release or extricate oneself from confinement, bonds, etc." (Funk and Wagnall's dictionary).

†Modern Psychic Mysteries, Millesimo Castle, Italy, by Gwendolyn Kelley Hack.