FACTS, FRAUDS AND PHANTASMS: A Survey of the Spiritualist Movement by Georgess McHargue

FACTS, FRAUDS AND PHANTASMS: A Survey of the Spiritualist Movement

KIRKUS REVIEW

Georgess McHargue, who inspired our confidence in the existence of The Impossible People and The Beasts of Never, here examines the claims of spiritualism in a more critical light and comes up with a carefully hedged maybe. Physical mediumship, which began with the ""rappings"" of the Fox sisters in 1848, evolved into a curious amalgam of parlor game, religion and scientific study, but (except for the puzzling case of Eusapia Pallaclino) the fraudulence of spirit manifestations is well documented -- in one case ectoplasm turns out to be chewed up newspaper, in another a ""spirit thumbprint"" was traced to the medium's dentist. McHargue is unable, however, to write off the existence of clairvoyance as practiced by the psychic medium Eileen Garrett and evidenced in the Bishop Pike case though she does present some interesting psychological hypotheses such as unconscious memory and suppressed guilt. These hints of uncanny forces at work are tantalizing, or would be were it not for the prevailing emphasis on frauds, fakes and fools. As it is, it's a well researched and intriguing case study in human gullibility (our favorite is the woman who claimed she was ""transported bodily into another sphere, where she had tea with Jesus Christ"") and invaluable background for would-be investigators of occult phenomena.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday