Have Spiritualists Split the Atom? (Dec, 1953)
Have Spiritualists Split the Atom?
CAN a rose pass through a solid wall? A plant grow from seed to maturity in a matter of minutes? A barn burn to the ground where no barn stood before?
If you’re inclined to hoot at haunted houses and minimize the mysterious operation of the ouija, you’ll regard these questions as ridiculous. However, before pooh-poohing the possibility that all three can be answered in the affirmative, we should consider the fact that some of the best scientific brains of the century have sought and frequently found proof that such inexplicable incidents do occur.
Admiral Usborne Moore of England’s Royal Navy has testified that he witnessed the passage from one room to another, through closed doors, of fresh flowers produced by a medium named Mrs. Harris. A well-authenticated account of supernatural plant growth lies in the library of Stanford University in California. And Mrs. Laura Abbott Dale, investigator for the American Society for Psychical Research, has in her files two separate eyewitness reports of a barn burning under strange circumstances in the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania.
The apport hypothesis, which dates back to the Biblical miracle of the loaves and fishes, presents a puzzling challenge to the atom-splitting scientists of today. It assumes that solid objects can in some unknown, supernormal manner, be disintegrated atom by atom, transported over great distances (passing through any solid substances that may bar their path) and instantaneously reformed into their original structure. In the light of recent research, parapsychologists attach utmost credibility to Scriptural statements that five loaves of bread and two fish were multiplied to the point where they provided a full meal for 5,000 people.
“There is enough evidence,” comments Professor Gardner Murphy, head of the psychology department of the College of the City of New York, “even when studied
with a cold and critical eye, to show that the paranormal is not only a legitimate field of inquiry, but one of great importance from which we are likely to learn a great deal about ourselves. Workers in this field stand on the threshold of a huge unknown, urgently calling for investigation.”
While food, flowers and books seem to be favorite apports, no collection of materialized matter can compare with that in the Stanford University museum. No evidence of extrasensory powers is more conclusive than the stenographic reports, covering 11 years of extraordinary experimenting, on file in the University library. This material was brought to America almost forty years ago by millionaire Thomas Welton Stanford after he had obtained positive proof that the oddly-assorted apports were materialized through the medium of Charles Bailey, a shoemaker in Melbourne, Australia.
Sitting in his shop one day, Bailey was startled by the sight of a live fish, wet and flopping, which appeared from out of nowhere and fell on the floor in front of him. This was the beginning of an amazing series of similar occurrences and the curious objects he displayed to his customers soon made him a local celebrity. Bailey was brought to the attention of Stanford who, while interested in psychical phenomena, was a shrewd and practical businessman with a reputation similar to that of his brother, Leland Stanford, the California statesman, railroad builder and founder of the university that bears his name.
Equipping his Melbourne mansion with a special seance room, he arranged to have the shoemaker produce his apports there. In the centre of the room was a large cage, covered with fine netting, in which Bailey was locked at the beginning of each experiment. Beforehand, he was stripped naked and provided with fresh clothing that had been carefully examined to prevent anything from being concealed on his person. The room and the cage were also checked by witnesses and the doors and windows secured with locks that could be opened only from the inside.
When they waited in the darkened room for hours and nothing interesting developed, the visitors, including scientists, judges and members of parliament, were disappointed. On other occasions, however, he would be joined by ghostly companions or odd objects that materialized within the cage. Birds native to India were seen to fly about, some even settling on nests containing warm eggs. When a pot was provided for materialized seeds, they grew into plants before the eyes of the astonished assemblage. Once a fresh, sticky leopard skin was found on the floor.
During his trances, according to the accounts, the medium gave the place of origin and explained the purpose of the various articles. The inventory of apports includes spears and arrows, ancient and modern manuscripts, hundreds of old and new coins, the headdress of a Borneo chief, a Saracen helmet, a Greek astronomical chart, a Zulu bracelet, the satchel of a Persian priest, carved Chinese figures and paintings, inscribed tablets, mosaics, tapestries, snakes, fish, turtles, over 300 live birds and, perhaps strangest of all, the wallet of a British soldier who had fought in India in the middle of the 19th century.
Stanford’s guest list read like Who’s Who, Madame Lillian Nordica, who was famous as an opera star at the turn of the century, attended one of the seances when she was keeping a singing engagement in Melbourne. “Mr. Bailey brought forth yards and yards of cloth woven from grass,” she later told friends. “He said it had come that very instant from a remote region of New Guinea and that it had been produced especially for me. I also received a seed from the cage which, when I planted it, immediately began growing roots and sprouting leaves.”
Clothing, jewelry and similar items from the cage were preserved in Mr. Stanford’s private museum, the birds were placed in his aviary and the plants set out in the gardens surrounding his home. Many of these Australian apports were brought to Pala Alto and put in the university museum, but only a comparative few survived the 1906 earthquake. Those remaining serve as reminders of the remarkable power possessed by Bailey who, like most other apport mediums, was as amazed as his audience by his ability and at a loss to explain it.
A staid, studious British army general named Lorrison is on record as having had a woman friend who could produce apports. Because she was of a retiring nature and her ability only made her more so, she conducted seances only in the presence of her husband and the general. In a single year over a thousand apports were materialized through her. They ranged from flowers to toys and the latter were given to needy children. She seemed to specialize in the creation of eggs, which were found by the dozen all over her home but, in one instance, made a pillow suddenly bulge with apples which filled it almost to the bursting point.
Ophelia Corrales of San Jose, Costa Rica, made headlines years ago when she suddenly developed apport mediumship. Subjected to stiff tests, with every possible precaution against trickery taken, she produced flowers, books and furniture to the complete satisfaction of investigator William Thomas Stead, publisher of Borderland, a psychic research journal.
One of the most interesting stories of the supernatural is that told in the book, Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Madame David-Neel, who began a study of the supernormal and succeeded in performing experiments with conscious purpose and getting results without the use of a recognized medium. “My habitual incredulity led me to make experiments myself,” she wrote. “I chose a most insignificant character: a monk. I shut myself in seclusion and proceeded to perform the prescribed concentration of thought. After a few months, the phantom monk was formed and grew gradually fixed and life-like. I then started for a tour with my servants and the monk included himself in the party. Now and then it was not necessary for me to think of him to make him appear. The illusion was mostly visual, but sometimes I felt as if a robe was lightly rubbing against me and once a hand seemed to touch my shoulder.
“A herdsman who brought me a present saw my creation in my tent and took it for a live lama. There is nothing strange in the fact that I may have created my own hallucination. The interesting point is that in these cases of materialization, others see the thought-forms that have been created. I ought to have let the phenomenon follow its course but it turned into a ‘day-nightmare’ and, after six months of hard struggle, I succeeded in dissolving the phantom.” The late French scientist Dr. Gustav Geley proved the reality of psychical phenomena in relation to a medium, Franek , Kluski, with the materialization of both human and animal forms. He was assisted by the eminent English scientist, Sir Oliver Lodge. Apports created by Kluski were visible only as long as the seances lasted but impressions of hands, feet and paws were made in paraffin and these molds are now the property of the Metaphysical Institute of Paris. Dr. F. Schwao of Berlin, who was fairly successful in photographing psychic phenomena, secured a picture of a cushion moving through the air with no apparent means of propulsion. Working with medium Maria Vollhart, he shot a series of photos of a vase being transported from one table to another. In one of them, the vase did not show at all and he found this photo to be acceptable proof that the vase had been dematerialized.
The science of metaphysics is a division of philosophy dealing with the abstract in the study of reality in relation to mind and matter. It can be divided into three classifications, Cryptesthesia, Telekinesis and Ectoplasm. Cryptesthesia is a hidden sensitiveness that differs from normal sensorial faculties and manifests itself in a mental awareness of events happening at a distance, in the present, past or future. Telepathy and clairvoyance fall into this category. Telekinesis is super-normal mechanical action, such as movement being brought about without contact on persons or objects. Ectoplasm is applied to the formation of objects, seemingly emerging from a human body as a filmy, whitish substance that takes on the appearance of something real.
An analysis of apport production points to various combinations of telekinesis and ectoplasm, with the occasional addition of Cryptesthesia. Modern miracles of the “loaves and fishes” type are not uncommon. Dr. Philip S. Haley, San Francisco; Rev. John Bunker, Eaton Rapids, Michigan; Leonard Stott, Philadelphia and Frank Decker, New York rank foremost among mediums who have produced apports.
In obtaining increases in food by supernormal means, Dr. Haley held seances under strict supervision and in the presence of as many as 75 well-qualified witnesses. In a series of 54 experiments, he was instrumental in the materialization of increases up to 66 per cent and discovered that the fewer the original pieces, the greater the increases. He also found that it was necessary for him to fast for some time before he could get results. Attempting to determine which pieces of food were materialized, as distinguished from the original pieces, he reported: “We cut a pear into 22 pieces, marking each with red by dipping the end of a toothpick into dye and pressing it into the side of the pieces. Mrs. Haley and I had eaten three pieces each, looking carefully to see whether the dye appeared on them and noting that it did. We noted also the nuclear centres of bright red. The remaining pieces totaled 18, each one having the distinctive red markings. It was thus clear that the dye had also been materialized, since there had been an increase of two pieces of pear.”
The study of such phenomena has not been restricted to scientists experimenting under rigidly-controlled laboratory conditions. In recent years, thousands of amateur researchers have been convinced that such things can and do happen and the files of parapsychical societies devoted to psychological investigation of the paranormal bulge with fat folders filled with accounts of apports that have withstood careful checking.
TV comedian Jackie Gleason, who has a 350-book library devoted to psychical subjects, told me that his interest in this field stems from his study of theology. “The super-normal powers of the saints made me curious to understand this phenomena,” he said.
The real nature of apports is relatively unknown for several reasons. Except in this century, most men trained in normal science have been reluctant to face abnormal facts. Ridicule, abuse and allegations of fakery have tended to make those who have delved into the mysteries of metaphysics keep their findings to themselves. It is known that only certain individuals have apport ability and that none knows of any real reason why. Atomic researchers, while electing to stay silent on the subject, are of the opinion that this puzzle that has baffled mankind for centuries is one that modern science may soon solve.
“We know through our experiments that communication from one mind to another without the aid of the senses is an established occurrence,” states Dr. J. B. Rhine, Professor of Parapsychology at Duke University. “We know, too, that in a measure the human mind has influence over matter. We suspect that the same mysterious faculty of the human mind functions in both phenomena, but we are still not certain this is so.
“In the meantime, we are investigating the psychic “powers of man, which for so many years conventional science has relegated to the junkpile of superstition. Using the most reliable means possible, we must find out whether or not the powers we call psychic are evidence of a transcendant self that is not entirely mortal. Among the many tasks that confront us is that of determining scientifically whether there is any such thing as a human soul.”