Science - Page 84

consisted entirely of magic tricks performed by professional con artists .
Consider William Crookes . A brief list of Crookes ’ research would include meteorology , chemistry , economics , spectrometry , radiation , and cathode rays . But between 1871 and 1874 , Crookes also undertook scientific examination and testing of several professional séance mediums — Kate Fox ( yes , of the Fox sisters ), Florence Cook , Daniel Dunglas Home , and Anna Eva Fay — investigations mostly conducted in his self-constructed home laboratory . For example , he tested Fay in February 1875 , having her hold two electrodes in an electrical circuit connected to a galvanometer in the next room . Somehow Fay managed to cause objects in the room to move , and to produce sound from a musical instrument , and Crookes became convinced of her psychic abilities .
Although he was sure that the electrical control had not been broken , skeptical researchers maintained that Fay could have freed her hands to produce the phenomena while using other parts of her body or a resistance coil to keep the electric circuit intact .
Thirty-eight years later , Fay explained to Society of Psychical Research investigator Eric Dingwall how she had fooled Crookes and other researchers , using a repertoire of magic tricks . A decade after that , in retirement , she also shared her secrets with Harry Houdini ; the two developed a late-in-life friendship of

84 sorts based on a kind of mutual respect as professional performers and deceivers . Fay told Houdini that in the Crookes galvanometer test she had gripped one handle of the battery beneath her knee joint , keeping the circuit unbroken , leaving one hand free to manipulate objects in the dark séance room .

D . D . Home , who tended to avoid scientists and any sort of challenge testing , also fooled Crookes . Home ’ s most notorious claim to fame was that he had floated out the window of a third story séance chamber and floated back in through the window of an adjacent room — all without any skeptics or scientists present , and , of course , in pitch-black darkness . The key witness to Home ’ s levitation is believed to have been Home ’ s lover , but Crookes somehow overlooked that compromising fact . And when Crookes was investigating the beautiful young medium Florence Cook , who happened to be living in the Crookes ’ s home — the writer Trevor Hall speculated that Crookes was having an affair with her ( while his wife , pregnant with their tenth child , remained bedridden )— that cozy situation didn ’ t dent his belief that he was impartial . To be sure , it was not unusual for mediums to receive embraces and other amorous favors from the spirits ; many , in the darkness of the séance room , engaged in complete sexual encounters with apparitions from the beyond . I suppose you never know what can happen if a spirit is willing . . . and the flesh isn ’ t weak .
Florence Cook routinely manifested the spirit known as Katie King . While Cook was supposedly tied to a chair in a spirit cabinet or behind a curtain , King would walk among the séance sitters , sometimes touching them , and occasionally even disrobing before them ( in order to prove herself human , donchaknow ). Many witnesses observed that the spirit of Katie King looked remarkably similar to the medium Florence Cook , and that they were never clearly seen together at the same time , one or the other being obscured or invisible . In one séance , a skeptic grabbed the hand of the spirit of Katie , and a violent wrestling match ensued , leaving the skeptic bleeding . The spirit escaped , and when the lights came on the medium was found once again tied to her chair , albeit disheveled and with her clothing in disarray .
When all is said and done , one must agree with the conclusions of the science historian Sherrie Lynne Lyons , who determined that Cook had easily tricked Crookes ; after all , she had been repeatedly exposed as a fraud and had been “ trained in the arts of the séance .” The alleged spirit “ Katie King ” was on most occasions Cook herself , and at other times was an accomplice . Lyons wrote , “ Here was a man with a flawless scientific reputation , who discovered a new element , but could not detect a real live maiden who was masquerading as a ghost .”
And then there was the Italian medium , Eusapia Paladino , widely hailed by spiritualists , who boldly and frequently permitted herself to be examined by scientists in France , Germany , Italy , England , and the United States . ( When she arrived in the United States in 1909 she garnered widespread press coverage from the New York Times to Cosmopolitan .) She was exposed as a charlatan in every one of those countries , but that mere problem did
Crookes Experiment