1920s >> 1927 >> no-273-may-1927

Psychic Science

44, Maryland Road, W.9.
Dear Comrade,
Regarding your reply to my letter in the January number of your paper, I would say that it seems to me that Materialists neglect one branch of science, namely psychic science, taking no account of phenomena, which are really well-established, seeing that they are vouched for by large numbers of well-known people, some of whom were formerly materialists themselves.
Yours fraternally,

95 Northview Road, N.8.
I am at a loss to understand your attitude to psychic research and spiritism when, having investigated the phenomena, Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Crookes, Sir William Barrett, Professor Flammarion, and many other eminent scientific men, do not say that the claims of spiritualists are baseless, but rather the contrary. It is illogical to argue that, because spiritualism is a stumbling block in the way of working-class economic enlightenment, therefore spiritualism is untrue. It does not follow at all.


Both Florence Baldwin and Mr. Foster raise the same point in their letters, what one may call the “Great Man” point. Florence Baldwin talks of “psychic” science, but instead of telling where this “science” can be found, or the facts upon which it is based, she merely says the phenomena “are really well-established, seeing that they are vouched for by large numbers of well-known people.” But the facts of a science only need demonstrating, not “vouching for” by well-known people It is the merest truism to point out that “well-known people” have vouched for and defended fraud, superstition, crime and cruelty throughout the ages. Chattel slavery, feudal serfdom, the horrors of the Inquisition, the foul cruelties of the early days of Capitalism, particularly to women and children, and the terrible treatment meted out to native races today, have all been defended and supported and vouched for as the “proper way” by well-known people from Royalty to parsons. The case that has only this for support must be in a specially bad way, and it reflects little credit upon the intellectual abilities of those who can find nothing else for their argument.

Mr. Foster, in addition to the above rotten creed, misquotes our reply. We did not say that because spiritism is a stumbling-block—therefore it is untrue. If Mr. Foster will take the trouble to read our reply he will see that we said exactly the reverse—namely—that because the claim of spiritists were proved to be untrue, it should be cleared out of the way. We may also correct Mr. Foster when he suggests that Professor Flammarion supports the claims of spiritists. He does not. The most he will grant is that some mediums possess abnormal, but quite human, powers. No one disputes this as a general proposition. Several “well-known people” possess abnormal power. Cinquevalli possessed extraordinarily abnormal powers, far greater than any medium ever displayed in that line. Houdini was another instance. So—till quite lately, at any rate—did Jack Dempsey. But none of these persons claimed that their powers were due to spirits.” And, as pointed out in the answer to Isabel Kingsley, the “evidence” that men like Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir William Crookes consider convincing would not impose on a child. The medium that “convinced” Sir William Crookes was twice exposed as a fraud in his presence, but he had not the honesty, or moral courage, to admit his mistake.

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