Science: Ghost-Hunter

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"The most striking incident was where the alleged spirit of Lieutenant Irwin came back within 48 hours of the crashing of the R-101 airship and gave a circumstantial, detailed, and highly technical account of the disaster. The psychic was Mrs. Garrett, the British trance medium, who does not know one end of an airship from another. The sitters present at the seance were also quite ignorant of such a highly specialized business as navigating an airship; yet 'Lieutenant Irwin' gave particulars of the R-101 which were semi-official secrets, and which afterwards were confirmed at the public inquiry. Where did the information come from?"

In an interview with a remarkable French clairvoyant named Mlle Jeanne LaPlace, Mr. Price drew a snapshot of a young girl from his pocket, handed it to Mlle LaPlace without saying a word. The clairvoyant made 34 detailed statements about the girl, many of which were correct, including her first name and age. The possibility of telepathy was ruled out because Mlle LaPlace gave the girl's name as Mary, whereas Mr. Price had always heard her called Mollie, did not discover until later that her baptismal name was Mary. This performance was pronounced by the investigator a genuine and brilliant example of "clairvoyance, lucidity, or cryptesthesia—call it what you will."

It was Harry Price who brought the famed Austrian medium, Rudi Schneider, to England in 1929. As an improvement on the ordinary method of "controlling" a medium who works in the dark (the sitters on each side holding on to the performer's arms and legs), Mr. Price developed an electrical control system. The medium and all the sitters, sitting hand to hand and foot to foot, wore electrically conducting gloves and socks connected in series with a red light indicator.

If the circuit was broken the signal was flashed instantly. Under these conditions Rudi produced "floating, levitation, and other movements of a coffee table, wastepaper basket, handbell, handkerchief, etc.; the tying of knots in handkerchiefs; writing on paper by pseudopod or psychic terminal; shaking of cabinet curtains as if by a violent wind; playing of toy zither in midair; raps, knocks, etc.; the production of pseudopods resembling arms, hands, 'childlike form.' 'snow man,' etc., all showing volition and, sometimes, intelligence; cold breezes. . . ." Investigator Price had such faith in his electrical control that he was constrained to consider all these phenomena genuine.* Later, though, he had reason to believe that Rudi had lost his powers, started faking. So the investigator rigged up a device by which a slight change of weight on the table around which the seance was held made an electrical contact and snapped an infra-red photograph of the proceedings. One such photograph showed Rudi's arm sticking straight out behind him. He had obviously snatched a handkerchief from the table and dropped it on the floor. When he showed this picture to Rudi the medium had nothing to say.

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