The Psychic Mafia – Part 6
Note from the Anonymous Typist: The following bibliography appears more or less as it did in the original publication of the book. However, I don't share their appraisals; so, I'm taking advantages of my Omnipotence as editor to add a few embellishments here and there. I've added a list of additional books at the end of this bibliography.
The authors believe this bibliography to be the most comprehensive of its kind in a book such as this for the general reader. It includes, besides objective and critical works on spiritualism, many hard-to-find titles on such associated subjects as stage mentalism, carnival torture feats, and the specific methods of fraud used by particular mediums: for example, the “regurgitation” mediumship of Helen Duncan.
Readers who wish to go deeply into the psychology and psychology of spiritualistic fraud will find sufficient leads here to launch them well on their way.
Some books in this bibliography, such as Fodor’s and Carrington’s, take the view that though fraud exists, genuine psychic phenomena also exist. This is the view of William Rauscher, Allen Spraggett and, to a lesser extent, Lamar Keene.
- Abbott, David P. Behind the Scenes with the Medium. Chicago: Open Court, 1907.
- Anderson, George. “It Must Be Mind-Reading.” Chicago: Ireland Magic, 1963.
- Anderson, George. “You, Too, Can Read Minds.” Chicago: Magic, 1968.
- Annemann, Theodore. Practical Mental Effects. New York: Holden’s MagicShops, 1944. Methods of revealing unknown knowledge.
- Annemann, Theodore “202 Methods of Forcing.” Chicago: Magic, 1964.
- Bach, Marcus. The Will to Believe. Englewood Cliffs,N.J.: Prentice-Hall. 1955. See Chapt. 10, “Do We Live After Death?” for account of a materialization seance with medium Fanchion Harwood.
- Baggally, W.W. Telepathy: Genuine and Fraudulent. London: Methuen, 1922.
- Barbanell, Maurice. “Seance Room Scoundrel,” Tomorrow Magazine 6, No. 3, Summer 1958: p. 49. The story of the medium William Roy.
- Barbanell, Maurice. This Is Spiritualism. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1959.
- Bayless, Raymond. Experiences of a Psychical Researcher. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1972. See chapters 2, 27 and 28 on Spiritualism, Fakers, Magicians and Mediums.
- Blackmore, Simon Augustine, S.J. Spiritism Facts and Frauds. New York: Benziger Brothers, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, 1924. A tracing of spiritism from necromancy in ancient times from the viewpoint of the Catholic Church.
- Blunsdon, Norman. A Popular Dictionary of Spiritualism. London: Arco Publications, 1961.
- Bowers, Edwin F. Spiritualism’s Challenge. New York: National Library Press, 1936. See Chapter 14, “Honest and Dishonest Mediums,” and reports of the enigmatic mediumship of Frank Decker, with a report on his mail-sack escape and his association with Dunninger the magician. The checkered career of Eusapia Palladino confounds the writer of this book. She explains to a reporter, when asked if she has ever been caught cheating, “Many times I have been told so. You see, it is like this. Some people are at a table who expect tricks– in fact, they want them. I am in a trance. Nothing happens. They get impatient. They think of the tricks– nothing but tricks. They put their minds on the tricks, and I– and I automatically respond. But it is not often. They merely will me to do them. That is all.”
- Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1970. Excellent history of the early days.
- Cannell, J. C. The Secrets of Houdini. New York: Dover Publications, 1973.75 “Carnival Torture Feats.” Atlanta, Ga.: Pinchpenny Press, n.d.(mimeograph). How to perform physical feats of torture withoutgetting hurt– everything from needle-jabbing and pulse controlto putting your fingers in hot lead.
- Carrington, Hereward. Sideshow and Animal Tricks. Kansas City: 1913; Atlanta, Ga.: Pinchpenny Press, 1973.
- Carrington, Hereward. The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism. New York: American Universities, 1920. A critical book covering all phases of physical phenomena and explaining many methods still in use today.
- Carrington, Hereward Personal Experiences in Spiritualism. London: T. Wetner Lurie, n.d.
- Christopher, Milbourne. “One Man Mental Magic.” New York: Tannen Publications, 1952.
- Christopher, Milbourne. Mediums, Mystics and the Occult. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1975. A famous magician attempts to give the inside story on how to distinguish honest psychic research methods from the charlatans that prey upon the hopes and fears of the gullible. Well documented with many details.
- Christopher, Milbourne. Panorama of Magic. New York: Dover Publications, 1962. See material on famous mentalists.
- Christopher, Milbourne. ESP, Seers and Psychics. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1970. Although negative toward the reality of ESP and psychic phenomena, it does provide background material on specific psychic personalities but gives little credit to them or to reputable researchers. Fake methods are presented and postulated.
- Christopher, Milbourne. The Illustrated History of Magic. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1973. Material on mind-readers and mentalists.
- Confessions of a Medium. London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden, and Welsh, 1882.
- Confessions of a Medium, Columbus, O.: Nelson Enterprises, 1969 (mimeograph). Throws a “ruthless spotlight of truth on the grafters and frauds that infest the Spiritualistic movement and the psychic business.”
- “The Nail Writer: Swami Gimmic, 24 Astounding Effects with the Mentalist’s Miracle Gimmic, A Full Treatise on the Proper Handling of the Nail Writer.” New York: Louis Tannen, n.d.
- Corinda. Thirteen Steps to Mentalism. New York: Louis Tannen, 1968.
- Corinda, and Read, Ralph W. (Ed.) The Complete Guide to Billet-Switching. New York: Louis Tannen, Inc., 1976; Booklet. This clever 46 page guide reminds you to look at the spectator when you switch a Billet-not your hands and when the spectator has written something to say “what you are thinking” NOT “what you have written.” This work was compiled for entertainment purposes. It is important for the student and psychic researcher for learning the methods of billet switching so that public or private demonstrations by mediums, psychics and “mentalists” do not confuse and confound the sincere seeker.
- Cox, William E. “Parapsychology and Magicians.” Parapsychology Review (May-June, 1974).
- Curry, Paul. Magician’s Magic. New York: Franklin Watts, 1965. See Chapter 10, “The Power of Thought.”
- Davenport, Reuben Briggs. The Death Blow to Spiritualism. New York: G. W. Dillingham, 1888. An attempt to write a true account of the origins of spiritualism, approved by Maggie and Kate Fox. Contains statements quoting them in respect to their fraudulent practices.
- Dexter, Will. This is Magic: Secrets of Conjurers’ Craft. New York: Bell, 1948. See Chapter 14, “Is It Second Sight?”
- Doyle, Arthur Conan, The History of Spiritualism. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1926. A sympathetic approach originally published at the author’s own expense. Conan Doyle was interested in “phenomena for over 30 years.” He says, “My one aim in life is that this great truth, the return and communion of the dead, shall be brought home to a material world which needs it so badly.” Conan Doyle’s credentials as a researcher were often in question especially when he attributed certain escapes of magician Houdini to dematerialization. It should be said that those who fault Conan Doyle as an investigator also pay tribute to his total integrity and unimpeachable character. The same cannot be said for Houdini in respect to his ego-centered psychic investigations.76 Intriguing correspondence exists between the author of Sherlock Holmes and the Escapologist in the book Houdini and Conan Doyle, “The Story of a Strange Friendship” by Bernard M. L. Ernst and Hereward Carrington published by Albert and Charles Boni Inc., New York 1932.
- Dunninger, Joseph. Houdini’s Spirit Expose: From Houdini’s Own Manuscripts, Records, and Photographs, and Dunninger’s Psychical Investigations. New York: Experimenter, 1928.
- Dunninger, Joseph. Inside the Medium’s Cabinet. New York: David Kemp,1935.
- Dunninger, Joseph, as told to Gibson, Walter B. Dunninger’s Secrets. Secaucus, N.J.: Lyle Stuart, Inc., 1974.
- Edmund Scientific Company Catalog 761. Barrington, N.J.: 1976. Within the more than 4,500 items listed of a “scientific” nature are items suitable to the fake medium, such as black light paint, clear liquid that glows in the dark when applied to any surface, and a kit to transfer pictures and photos to cloth surfaces, plus other items from this supply house for industry, schools, and hobbyists.77
- Edmunds, Simeon. Spiritualism: A Critical Survey. London: Aquarian Press, 1966. Contains full account of exposed medium William Roy and his methods.
- Evans, Henry Ridgely. The Spirit World Unmasked. Chicago: Laird and Lee, 1897.
- Evans, Henry Ridgely. Hours with the Ghosts. Chicago: Laird and Lee, 1897. See methods used by the Davenport Brothers as originators of the Spirit Cabinet.
- Fodor, Nandor.Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1966. See “Fraud.”
- Fodor, Nandor. The Haunted Mind. New York: Helix Press-Garrett Publications, 1959. See chapter XVI, “Demon Lovers and Mediumship.”
- Frikell, Samri, Spirit Mediums Exposed. New York, New York Metropolitan Fiction 1930. (Actually written by Fulton Oursler).
- Fuller, Uriah. Confessions of a Psychic, The Secret Notebooks of Uriah Fuller, published by Karl Fulves, Box 433, Teaneck, New Jersey, 1975. A magician’s view in booklet form of how fake psychics perform seemingly incredible paranormal feats. This is an attempt to speak for Uri Geller and to relate how he bends metal, reads sealed drawings and apports objects. It also hints at the possibility of Nina Kulagina in Russia having magnets in her bra to move a compass and all the deceptive methods which may be employed in what the author believes is the “underground of deception.” It makes the exaggerated claim that the only persons qualified to examine self-claimed psychics are magicians experienced in the “double think” or “lateral thinking” approach to their craft.78
- Gaines, Steven S. Marjoe: The Life of Marjoe Gortner. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1973. The biography of a fake evangelist.79
- Gibson, Walter B. The Bunco Book. Holyoke, Mass.: Sidney
- H. Radner, 1946. Methods of confidence men and schemers from games of chance to short-changers.
- H. Radner and Young, Morris N. Houdini on Magic. New York: Dover Publications, 1963.
- Gresham, William Lindsay. Nightmare Alley. New York: Rinehart, 1946. A gripping novel of the rise and fall of a mind-reader.
- Hall, Trevor. The Spiritualists. New York: Helix Press, Garrett Publications, 1962.
- Hardinge, Emma. Modern American Spiritualism. New Hyde Park, New York: University Books, 1970. A twenty-year record of Spiritualism in mid-nineteenth century America.
- Hill, J. Arthur. Spiritualism: Its History, Phenomena, and Doctrine. New York: George Doran, 1919.
- Houdini, Harry. The Right Way to Do Wrong. An Expose of Successful Criminals. Boston, Mass.: Harry Houdini, 1906.
- Houdini, Harry. “Houdini Exposes the Tricks used by the Boston Medium `Margery'” New York: Adams Press, circa 1924. Known as the famous “pink pamphlet.”
- Houdini, Harry. A Magician Among the Spirits. New York: Arno Press, 1972. This book details the adventures of Houdini the escapologist with spiritualists and mediums.80
- Houdini, Harry, and Dunninger, Joseph. Magic and Mystery: The Incredible Psychic Investigations of Houdini and Dunninger. New York: Tower Publications, 1968.
- Hoy, David. “The Bold and Subtle Miracles of Dr. Faust.” Chicago: Ireland Magic, 1963.
- Hull, Burling. “The Last Word in Blindfold Methods: 12 Sensational Blindfolds.” Woodside, N.Y.: Burling Hull, 1946. Privately published.
- Hull, Burling. Thirty-Three Rope Ties and Chain Releases. New York: Stage Magic, 1947. All a fake medium needs to know about the art of rope-tying and release, including escape from a sack. Privately published.
- Hull, Burling. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mentalism, vol. 2. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Micky Hades Enterprises, 1973. A gigantic collection of complete mentalism methods, secrets, instructions, and routines.
- Jackson, Herbert G., Jr. The Spirit Rappers. New York: Doubleday, 1972. Letters, memoirs, court records, newspaper accounts, and journals are cited in this story of Kate and Maggie Fox, founders of the American Spiritualist Movement.
- Kaye, Marvin, The Handbook of Mental Magic. New York: Stein and Day, publishers, 1975. An interesting book– pretentious and self important but interesting. The author calls himself Count Emkay the Miraculous and has written a pompous and self centered volume.81
- Kerr, Howard. Mediums and Spirit Rappers, and Roaring Radicals. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972.
- Knight, Marcus. Spiritualism, Reincarnation, and Immortality. London: Gerald Duckworth, 1950.
- Kreskin. The Amazing World of Kreskin. New York: Random House, 1973. The author uses all the terms of parapsychology to lead the reader into accepting his mentalism tricks as something more. Allen Spraggett suggests that this book be retitled The Not-So Amazing World of Kreskin.82
- Lawton, George. The Drama of Life after Death. A Study of the Spiritualist Religion. New York: Henry Holt, 1932.
- Longridge, George. Spiritualism and Christianity. London: A. R. Mowbray, 1926.
- Lustig, David J. La Vellma’s Vaudeville Budget. For magicians, mind-readers, mental telepathy, or silent thought transference.
- MacDougall, Curtis D. Hoaxes, New York: Dover Publications, lnc. 1958. A book about ingenious deceptions and fascinating frauds. Note Part I and II on incentives to believe and hoaxing in areas of the historical, religious, scientific, literary and governmental.83
- McHargue, Georgess. Facts, Frauds, and Phantasms: A Survey of the Spiritualist Movement. New York: Doubleday, 1972. A comprehensive and objective survey.
- Medhurst, R. G. Crookes and the Spirit World, in association with K. M. Goldney and M. R. Barrington, New York, Taplinger Publisher Company, 1972. The investigations by Sr. William Crookes, OM, FRS, in the field of psychical research.
- Mental Catalogue. Box 476 Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Mickey Hades Enterprises.
- Mental Magic and the Allied Arts. Catalog 28. Columbus, Ohio, 1966. (A former company catalog of the world’s largest manufacturers of mental equipment.)
- Menotti, Gian-carlo. The Medium. New York: G. Schirmer, 1947. Opera libretto.
- Morris, Bud. Magic with Electronics. Oakland, Calif.: Privately published. Detailed methods of using microminiature electronics as aids in apparent mind-reading; author also supplies such items as subminiature wireless transmitters.
- Mulholland, John. Beware Familiar Spirits. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1938. Inside information on many of the methods used by such mediums as Anna Eva Fay and Henry Slade.
- Nelson, Robert. How to Read Sealed Messages. Columbus, O.: Nelson Enterprises, 1961 (mimeograph).
- Nelson, Robert. Secret Methods of Private Readers! Columbus, O.: Nelson Enterprises, 1964 (mimeograph). How to give psychic readings, switch billets and envelopes, and present private psychological or cold readings. It begins with the private reader’s creed, “I like to see their eyes, mouth, and pocketbook open at the same time.”
- Nelson, Robert, and Moore, E. J. Super Prediction Tricks. Columbus, O.: Nelson Enterprises, n.d. (mimeograph). All you need to know to perform feats of prophecy, from predicting tomorrow’s headline to a sentence selected from a book in the local library and then baked in a loaf of bread or frozen in a ton of ice.
- O’Donnell, Elliot. The Menace of Spiritualism. New York: Frederick A.Stokes, 1920. This well-known writer of ghostbooks offers his views on spiritualism with the Old and New Testaments in mind, and has a chapter on the danger of fraud of all kinds.
- O’Neill, Tom. “The Tragic Deceptions in Materializations.” Southern Pines, N.C. Psychic Observer. July 10, Aug. 10, 1960.
- Pages from a Medium’s Handbook. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Micky Hades Enterprises, 1971 (mimeograph). The ways and means of fake mediumship, by an anonymous author.
- Pearsall, Ronald. The Table-Rappers. New York: St. Martin’s Press,1972. An excellent survey of Victorian Spiritualism. Contains many methods of fraudulent practices citing those caught cheating and how they did it.
- Pidgeon, Charles (pseud.). Revelations of a Spirit Medium. Edited by Harry Price and Eric J. Dingwall, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1922. Facsimile edition, with notes, bibliography, glossary, and index. This book was first published in 1891. Many of the methods described are dated, but the general opinion regarding “sitters” is still valid. Excellent glossary.
- Podmore, Frank. Mediums of the Nineteenth Century, vols. 1 and 2. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1963. An indispensable account of great mediums and the problems of research by “the most formidable critic that Spiritualism has ever encountered.”
- Price, Harry. “Regurgitation and the Duncan Mediumship.” London: Bulletin of the National laboratory of Psychical Research, 1931. Believe it or not, the results showed that Mrs. Duncan could and did swallow and regurgitate so-called teleplasm, which was merely cheesecloth. Illustrations show, among other examples, how a piece of cheesecloth six feet long, thirty inches wide, and weighing 1 1/2 ounces can be rolled into a small wad and placed in the mouth
- Price, Harry. Confessions of a Ghost Hunter. New York: Causeway Books, 1974. Chapter 15, “Stage Telepathy and Vaudeville henomena,'” relates encounters and friendship with some of the great spellbinders of all time.
- Proskauer, Julien J. Spook Crooks! New York: A. L Burton, 1932.
- Randi, The Amazing. The Magic of Uri Geller. New York: Ballantine Books, 1975. A purported expose of Uri Geller. Funny in places but unreliable.84
- Rauscher, William V. “ESP and Mentalism.” Psychic. Vol. V, No. 4 (April, 1974): pg. 50.
- Rauscher, William V., with Spraggett, Allen. The Spiritual Frontier. New York: Doubleday, Inc., 1975. See appendix on Houdini Code Mystery Solved.
- Reilly, S. W. “Table-Lifting Methods Used by Fake Mediums.”Chicago: Ireland Magic, 1957 (mimeograph).
- Rinn, Joseph F. Searchlight on Psychical Research. London: Rider, I954. A record of sixty years’ work, with countless references to methods of fraud.
- Roberts, Bechofer, C. E. The Truth about Spiritualism. London: Eyre and Spottiswood, 1932.
- Robinson, William E. Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena. New York: Munn and Company Scientific American Office, 1898. The author was associated with the famous magicians Alexander, Herrmann, and Harry Kellar. He covers table-lifting, raps, ties, and slate tests, including seance spirit tricks.
- Seybert Commission. Preliminary Report of the Commission by University of Pennsylvania to Investigate Modern Spiritualism. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1887. Results are discouraging in this report, presented as “one of the most thorough investigations of the truth of Spiritualism ever attempted.”
- Sommerlott, Robert. “Here, Mr. Splitfoot!” New York: Viking Press, 1971.
- Spence, Lewis. Encyclopedia of the Occult. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1968. See “Fraud.”
- Spraggett, Allen. The Unexplained. New York: New American Library, 1967. See Chapter 6, “Frauds and Teasers.”
- Spraggett, Allen, with Rauscher, William V. Arthur Ford: The Man who Spoke with the Dead. New York: New American Library, 1973. See Chapter 6, “The Gospel of Spiritualism,” Chapter 8, “Mentalists and Mediums,” and Chapter 11, “The Bishop Pike Affair.”
- Stemman, Roy. Spirits and Spirit Worlds. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1976. A sympathetic though critical book lavishly illustrated with old and new photographs from the archives of Spiritualism.
- Tanner, Don. “How to Do Headline Predictions.” Chicago: Ireland Magic, 1957.
- The Lambeth Conferences (1867-1948) Reports. London: S.P.C.K., 1948. See report on spiritualism.
- Thurston, Herbert. The Church and Spiritualism. Milwaukee, Wis.: Bruce, 1933.
- Tietze, Thomas R. Margery. New York: Harper and Row, 1973. An intriguing account of the medium Mina S. Crandon, known as Margery, and the perplexing events and personalities involved in her seances at the Landon House on Lime Street in Boston, Massachusetts,
- Whalen, William J. Minority Religions in America. New York: Alba House, Division of the Society of Saint Paul, 1972. “The Spiritualists,” page 253, contains an account of a visit to Camp Chesterfield.
- Dr. X. On the Other Side of the Floodlights: An Expose of Routines, Apparatus, and Deceptions Resorted to by Mediums, Clairvoyants, Fortune Tellers, and Crystal Gazers in Deluding the Public. Berlin, Wis.: Heaney Magic, 1922.
- Zolotow, Maurice. It Takes All Kinds. New York: Random House, 1952. See chapter 2 on Dunninger.
Additional Books and Sources recommended by the Anonymous Typist85
- The Skeptical Inquirer, magazine. Published by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), P.O. Box 703, Buffalo, NY 14226-0703. Subscription $25.00/year.This quarterly magazine examines paranormal claims from a scientific point of view. It has been criticized for being too critical of the claims, but on the whole I’ve found it to be a much-needed counterweight to the flood of uncritically pro-paranormal literature out there.86 It’s probably the only magazine evaluating these claims from a consistently critical point of view.
The writing is sometimes a bit stodgy, and has to strike a balance between scientific content (which turns off many readers) and popular-science writing (which people criticize for not being scientific enough). But there’s no other magazine like it, and open-minded people owe it to themselves to take out a subscription.from Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY. Call 1-800-421-0351 for a free catalog:
- Randi, James. The Truth About Uri Geller, Flim-Flam!, The Faith Healers.Enough has been said in these footnotes about Randi’s books and his history as an investigator, so anything I say here would be redundant. Besides Gardner’s books, they’re the most spirited attacks on paranormalism in print, and few people are as qualified as Randi to examine these claims. Essential reading.
- Frazier, Kendrick, editor. Paranormal Borderlands of Science and Science Confronts the Paranormal. These are althologies of the first ten years of The Skeptical Inquirer. Good stuff,
- Marks, David, and Kammann, Richard. The Psychology of the Psychic.Its scope may be narrower than most, but this is a solid appraisal of the most spectacular psychic claims of the mid-1970’s. Two researchers at the Stanford Research Institute claimed scientific proof of paranormal abilities, such as Uri Geller’s and Ingo Swann’s remote-viewing. Marks and Kammann tried to replicate the results, with no luck; then they checked into what really went on during those experiments, and found a history of stonewalling, fraud, deceit, and just plain poor science. Even arcane and technical issues are well-explicated in this book.
- Gardner, Martin. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, Dover Books. Science: Good, Bad and Bogus. Avon Books, and Prometheus Books.The two best books to begin with.
- Abell, George O. and Singer, Barry. Science and the Paranormal. Scribner’s, 1983.A good overview of various paranormal claims, consisting of brief essays about everything from Velikovsky to psychic healing.
- Randi, James. The Mask of Nostradamus. Scribner’s 1990.
- Schultz, Ted, editor. The Fringes of Reason: A Whole Earth Catalog. Random House.The Whole Earth catalogs and its quarterly update magazine frequently dealt with semi-paranormal and fringe-science issues in a somewhat uncritical way; for example, acupuncture and many brands of `Holistic’ medicine were recommended with little evaluation outside of New Age encouragement. The one issue they did on the fringe– from a very criticial point of view, and where they turned around and attacked many New Age beliefs– enjoyed extremely high sales, so they assembled this wonderful overview of the New Age.
The book is more even-handed than the Skeptical Inquirer, and demonstrates an empathy for the claims that many skeptics miss. Essays include historical and sociological insights that illuminate such curiosities as Theosophy, Flat-Earthery, and even saucer-worship in a broader social context.
- Stang, Rev. Ivan. High Weirdness By Mail. Publisher not known.A hilarious collection of addresses for UFO fans, Jesus contactees, Spiritualists, psychic readers, fringe scientists, and lots of other cognitive flotsam. Stang’s commentary is wonderfully sarcastic, sparing nobody, and the sheer scope of this work makes this a must-read.
- Sladek, John. The New Apocrypha. Stein and Day 1973.Sladek assembled this well-researched overview of fringe science just before CSICOP got underway, and in many ways it’s an indispensable guide. Interesting Historical Note; After writing this, Sladek wrote a hoax astrology book under the pen name `James Vogh,’ claiming that there’s a thirteenth Zodiac sign (Arachne, the Spider). He managed to fool a LOT of people with this one.
75. This book’s okay, but only if you want to know how Houdini effected his escapes.
76. Here we see Spraggett’s grudge against magicians at the fore. Conan Doyle was certainly sincere about his spiritualist beliefs; in fact, he was so sincere that he even endorsed photographs of fairies as genuine (in the Cottingley fairy hoax). Doyle was a rotten investigator; he may have had an unimpeachable character, but that just means he didn’t lie about what he believed.
Houdini presents us with an intriguing picture. He was certainly a skilled showman, and a case could be made for Houdini’s exposures of spiritualist frauds to be motivated by self-promotion. But Houdini stated often that the reason he investigated so many fraudulent mediums was so he could eventually find a genuine one– so he could be reunited with his mother, to whom he was devoted.
77. I grew up near the Edmund Scientific company, and, aside from a phase during the mid-1970’s when they were pushing pyramid power, Edmund was consistently chock-full of neato-keen items of interest. Call for their catalog– it’s worth flipping through for the REALLY fun stuff.
That reminds me– time to order some weather balloons for some UFO hoaxes.
78. Now It Can be Told: Confessions of a Psychic was written by Martin Gardner under the pseudonym “Uriah Fuller.” As for the business about magicians and psychics being an `Exaggerated claim,’ we can easily see Allen Spraggett’s ego coming to the fore. Spraggett claimed to be able to detect fraud– but was unable to explain how James Randi could duplicate some of Uri Geller’s feats (see footnote, page ?). Exaggerated claim? Actually, it’s very close to the truth.
79. Available on videocassette is the documentary Marjoe, which is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in faith healing and the like. Marjoe Gortner was a child evangelist who left the sawdust trail to try to make it as an actor. When that didn’t work out, Gortner went back to the tent-show healings. Only he brought along a camera crew to expose the racket. Marjoe is a brave, honest, and revealing film about religion in America.
80. An indispensable guide. Houdini was very much the scourge of Spiritualism in his day, and this book is one of the best overviews on the subject. The only drawback is in the chapter which describes how mediums gain information on their clients. Houdini describes them bribing intimates, using listening devices of the time, breaking into houses and hotel rooms and the like. . . but he provides little documentation on this. I have no doubt that Houdini was being honest when he wrote this chapter; I just wish he could have cited more detailed examples. Believe it or not, the book you’re reading now is more informative in this regard.
81. Oh, well, then.
82. Kreskin’s always been a sort of anomaly among paranormal fans and magic fans. Kreskin performs a `Mentalist’ act, using magician’s techniques to simulate paranormal powers, and has never to my knowledge used these tricks beyond showmanship. For example, Kreskin hasn’t been offering to help police departments find missing children, or predict the best stock market investments.
However, he is somewhat evasive and contradictory in his public statements as to whether such powers exist or not. A lot of people are under the mistaken impression that he passes himself off as a genuine psychic. All in all, Kreskin is just an entertainer, and to take his pronouncements regarding psychic abilities and hypnosis with a grain of salt. Just enjoy the show.
Martin Gardner, in Appendix 1, describes Allen Spraggett’s weird grudge against Kreskin.
83. The Anonymous Typist also recommends this book.
84. This book is now titled The Truth About Uri Geller, and is now published by Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY.
James Randi, as though you didn’t know, is a professional magician who has been investigating psychic claims for almost forty years. Because he hasn’t found any evidence of such claims– and because he’s debunked some of the most notable claims in the field– believers are quick to accuse Randi of unfair and biased methods. History has, more often than not, shown Randi’s conclusions to be accurate.
One entertaining chapter is titled, “Alan Spraggett Throws Down the Gauntlet, and Then the Towel.” Spraggett invited Randi onto his talk show ESP-Extra Special People, and demanded that Randi accomplish the same miracles that Geller had performed– bending spoons and nails, reading the contents of a sealed envelope, etc.
After Randi demonstrated spoon-bending, Spraggett offered a pseudo-explanation: “The spoon was bent as you were picking it up. . . there is a stress point, and with a little bit of leverage, it separates quite neatly.”
“You mean, that’s the way Geller does it?” Randi asked.
“No, that’s the way you did it!”
“Oh. you say Geller doesn’t do it that way?” And so on.
When Spraggett produced an opaque envelope containing a drawing– pre-stamped, sealed with tape, and he claimed that the room he’d drawn the picture in was guarded as well– he demanded that Randi duplicate just what Geller had. Geller had held the envelope for ten seconds, and then duplicated the drawing exactly. Randi asked Spraggett, “But would you be impressed enough to say I’m a psychic?”
“I don’t know,” Spraggett said.
“Wait a minute,” Randi said. “You say that Uri Geller is a psychic because he did this. Now, if I were able to do it, would you say I’m a psychic?”
“You do it, and I’ll say that the Amazing Randi has amazed me.”
Which is more or less what happened; Randi duplicated the drawing exactly, leaving Spraggett gasping for an explanation. . . and trying to insist that, while Randi used trickery, Geller still used genuine psychic powers.
Spraggett terms Randi’s book `Unreliable’ because it describes how Spraggett has his balls handed to him on live TV.
85. Not to be confused with Mofo, the Psychic Gorilla.
86. The best analogy I can think of is pretty much in another ballpark. I used to hear a lot of criticism that the PBS series South Africa Now was far too left-wing. However, when considered against the rest of PBS’s news shows– The McLaughlin Group, Firing Line, Wall Street Week, Adam Smith’s Money World and the like– one realizes that the marketplace of ideas has been skewed far to the right, and that overtly left-wing shows just don’t exist.
In other words, when literature on the paranormal is dominated not only by the supermarket tabloids, but by a variety of New Age magazines and the old war-horse Fate magazine, an arch-skeptical stance is needed to provide just a touch of balance.
For the contents of Appendix 1, see Martin Gardner’s book: Science: Good, Bad and Bogus. It has a chapter (23) on Allen Spraggett’s book Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead, a reprint of a New York Review of Books, May 3, 1973 and subsequent letters. As this book is easily obtainable no part of it will be reproduced here.
Some books recommended by your distributor.
- Ruth Brandon, The Spiritualists. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1983.
- Brian Inglis, Natural and Supernatural. London: Abacus (Sphere Books), 1979.
- R.L. Moore, In Search of White Crows. New York, 1977.
- Janet Oppenheim, The Other World – Spiritualism and Psychical research in England, 1850-1914. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge UP 1985.
- James Webb, The Occult Underground. LaSalle: Library Press, 1974.
- James Webb, The Occult Establishment. Glasgow: Richard Drew, 1976.
Both volumes of James Webb contain a wealth of material on various occult organizations.