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HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS

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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #195 on: November 15, 2009, 05:50:57 am »

But in time even Hodgson met his Waterloo. Sent to the United States to investigate the trance phenomena of Mrs. Leonora Piper, he was forced to confess that in her case the theory of fraud fell to the ground, and as is well known he ended by developing into an out and out spiritist. A few days before Christmas, 1905, he suddenly died in Boston; and, if reports from the spirit world may be accepted, the once-renowned ghost hunter has himself become a ghost, visiting in especial two of his American colleagues, Prof. William James and Prof. James H. Hyslop.

[Pg 227]

To return, however, to the early days of the Society for Psychical Research. Valuable as were the results obtained by Hodgson and his associates on what may be called the anti-swindle committees, they had a distinctly negative bearing on the supreme object of inquiry—proof of the existence of a spiritual world in which human personality exists after the death of the body. Some enthusiasts did not hesitate to proclaim at an early date that such proof had actually been secured, basing this assertion on the seemingly supernatural facts brought to light by the committees on telepathy, clairvoyance, and apparitions. But the society, under the leadership of the cautious Sidgwick, who was its president for many years, steadily refused to countenance this view, and insisted that before any definite conclusions could be reached far more evidence would have to be assembled. Thus the first ten years of the society's existence were marked by few positive results,—the most important being the statement of the case for telepathy and of its possible relationships to apparitions and hauntings, as well as to the purely psychical phenomena of spiritualism.
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« Reply #196 on: November 15, 2009, 05:52:20 am »

Indeed, the society formally expressed its acquiescence in the telepathic hypothesis as early as 1884, in the words, "Our society claims to have proved the reality of thought transference—of the transmission of thoughts, feelings, and images from one mind to another by no recognized channel of sense." But to no other dictum did it commit itself until ten years more had passed when, following the so-called census of hallucinations, it gave voice to its belief that between deaths and apparitions of the dying person a connection existed that was not due to chance. And since then the society has contented itself with steadily accumulating evidence designed to throw light on the causal connection between deaths and ghosts, and to illumine the central problem of demonstrating scientifically the existence of an unseen world and the immortality of the soul.

Individuals, of course, have been free to express their views, and from the pens of several have come striking and suggestive analyses of the evidence assembled in the course of the society's twenty-five years. In this respect, beyond any question, primacy must be given the writings of Myers. Even[Pg 229] before the organization of the society, his personal researches had led him to suspect that, whatever the truth about the life beyond the grave, there was reason for radical changes of belief regarding the nature of human personality itself. In the light of the phenomena of the hypnotic trance, clairvoyance, hallucinations, and even of natural sleep, it seemed to him that, instead of being a stable, indivisible unity, human personality was essentially unstable and divisible.
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« Reply #197 on: November 15, 2009, 05:52:43 am »

And as the years passed and he was enabled to coördinate the results of the investigations carried on by the different committees, he gradually became convinced that over and beyond the self of which man is normally conscious there existed in every man a secondary self endowed with faculties transcending those of the normal wake-a-day self. To this he gave the name of the "subliminal self," and, in the words of Professor James, "endowed psychology with a new problem,—the exploration of the subliminal region being destined to figure thereafter in that branch of learning as Myers's problem."

Not content with this, he gave himself, with all the earnestness that had originally drawn[Pg 230] him into activity with Sidgwick, to the formulation of a cosmic philosophy based on the hypothesis of the subliminal self and its operations in that unseen world of whose existence he no longer doubted. Here he laid himself open to the charge of extravagance and transcendentalism, and undoubtedly exceeded the logical limit. But for all of that his labors—cut short by death six years ago, and only a few months after the death of his beloved master, Sidgwick—have been little short of epoch marking, and amply suffice to vindicate the existence of the once despised, and still by no means venerated, Society for Psychical Research.
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« Reply #198 on: November 15, 2009, 05:52:56 am »

Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Mr. Frank Podmore are other members of the society who have granted the outside world informative glimpses of its workings and discoveries. Sir William Crookes, of course, is best known as a great chemist, discoverer of the element thallium, and inventor of numerous scientific instruments; while Sir Oliver Lodge's most striking work has been in electricity, and more particularly in the direction of improving wireless telegraphy. But both have long been actively interested in psychical[Pg 231] research, and perhaps most of all in those phases of it bearing on the telepathic hypothesis, their great aim being to discover just what the technique of telepathic communication from mind to mind may be.

Mr. Podmore, on the other hand, like Richard Hodgson, has chiefly concerned himself with psychical research from the detective, or critical, standpoint. He began his labors late in the '70's, associating himself with the Cambridge group, and has consistently maintained the attitude of a skeptical, though open minded, investigator. To-day, to a certain extent, he may be said to occupy the place so long filled by Henry Sidgwick as a sane, restraining influence on the less judicial members of the society, who would unhesitatingly brush aside all objections and embrace the spiritistic hypothesis with all its supernatural implications.[T]
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« Reply #199 on: November 15, 2009, 05:53:06 am »

Of course, psychical research has by no means been confined to the English organization. All over the world investigators are now probing into the mysteries of the seem[Pg 232]ingly supernormal. But, as a general thing, their methods scarcely reach the strict standards set by the organized inquirers of England, and as a natural consequence they are more easily deceived by tricksters.

This is particularly true of the European ghost hunters, whose laxity of procedure, not to say gullibility, was clearly shown by the ease with which Hodgson exposed the pretensions of Eusapia Paladino after Continental savants had pronounced her feats genuine. And it is even more strikingly exhibited by the pathetic fidelity with which they still trust in her, notwithstanding the Hodgson exposure, and the fact that they themselves have on more than one occasion caught her committing fraud. In the United States, however, psychical research worthy of the name took root early, owing to the establishment of an American branch of the English society under the capable direction of Dr. Hodgson. A year or so ago, after his death, this branch was abandoned. But in its place, and organized along similar lines, there has arisen the American Institute for Scientific Research, the creation of Prof. James H. Hyslop.
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« Reply #200 on: November 15, 2009, 05:53:17 am »

Until a few years ago occupant of the chair[Pg 233] of logic at Columbia University, Professor Hyslop is unquestionably one of the most conspicuous figures in psychical research in this or any other country. Like Professor Sidgwick, he first became interested in the subject through religious doubt, and forthwith attacked its problems with the zeal of a man whose principal characteristics are intense enthusiasm, resourcefulness of wit, and intellectual fearlessness. As everybody knows, his experiences with Mrs. Piper led him to unite with Hodgson and Myers in regarding the spiritistic hypothesis as the only one capable of explaining all the phenomena encountered. But he is none the less able and eager to expose fraud wherever found, and if only from the police view-point his society will undoubtedly do good work. Associated with him are many of the American investigators formerly identified with the English society; some of whom, notably Prof. William James of Harvard, the dean of psychical research in the United States, also keep up their connection with the parent organization.
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« Reply #201 on: November 15, 2009, 05:53:42 am »

Summing up the results of the really scientific ghost hunting of the last twenty-five years, it may be safely said that if the hunters have[Pg 234] not accomplished their main object of definitely proving the existence of a spiritual world, their labors have nevertheless been of high value in several important directions. They have exposed the fraudulent pretensions of innumerable charlatans, and have thus acted as a protection for the credulous. They have shown that, making all possible allowance for error of whatever kind, there still remains in the phenomena of apparitions, clairvoyance, etc., a residuum not explainable on the hypothesis of fraud or chance coincidence. They have aided in giving validity to the idea of the influence of suggestion as a factor both in the cause and the cure of disease. They have given a needed stimulus to the study of abnormal mental conditions. And, finally, by the discovery of the impressive facts that led Myers to formulate his hypothesis of the subliminal self, they have opened the door to far-reaching reforms in the whole sociological domain,—in education, in the treatment of vice and crime, in all else that makes for the uplifting of the human race.
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« Reply #202 on: November 15, 2009, 05:54:06 am »

FOOTNOTES:

[R] Gladstone's words were—"Psychical research is the most important work which is being done in the world—by far the most important."

For details of the Hodgson "manifestations" the reader may consult Professor Hyslop's recently published book "Psychical Research and the Resurrection"—particularly Chaps. V-VII.

[T] A new work by Mr. Podmore is announced for immediate publication, with the characteristic title of "The Naturalization of the Supernatural." It is said to contain a detailed analysis of the work of various well-known mediums.
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« Reply #203 on: November 15, 2009, 05:55:28 am »

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« Reply #204 on: November 15, 2009, 05:55:49 am »

"The latest voice of modern scientific investigation."—Chicago Daily News.

THE RIDDLE OF PERSONALITY

By H. ADDINGTON BRUCE
AUTHOR OF "HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS"
CONTENTS CHAPTERS    APPENDICES

   1. Early Phases of the Problem
   2. The Subliminal Self
   3. "Pioneers of France in the New World"
   4. American Explorers of the Subconscious
   5. The Evidence for Survival
   6. The Nemesis of Spiritism

   

   1. D. D. Home and Eusapia Paladino
   2. The Census of Hallucinations
   3. Hypnotism and the Drink Habit
   4. Hypnoidization
   5. Spiritism vs Telepathy
   6. Hints for further reading

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"A volume of genuine value and one that will be read with profit by those who are interested in and have followed the arguments and experiments of curious delvers into the mysteries of the human mind. It is a clear, logical and impartial presentation of the whole subject from a scientific point of view, in which is set forth all that can be absolutely classed as fact regarding the latent faculties of man, revealed by study, accident, personal observation and experiment."—Boston Evening Transcript.

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« Reply #205 on: November 15, 2009, 05:56:08 am »

Transcriber's Note:

Puctuation errors (e.g. commas used instead of periods, incorrect quotation marks) have been corrected without note. Unusual spellings (e.g. accordeon, breesquely, roystering) have been retained.

The following corrections were made:

    * p. 145: litttle to little (clergymen of the little Connecticut village)
    * p. 157: oustide to outside (how he was supported outside)
    * p. 181: ignoance to ignorance (professing complete ignorance)


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« Reply #206 on: November 15, 2009, 05:56:29 am »

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« Reply #207 on: November 15, 2009, 05:56:59 am »

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