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Physical mediumship is defined as manipulation of energies and energy systems by spirits. This type of mediumship is claimed to involve perceptible manifestations, such as loud raps and noises, voices, materialized objects, apports, materialized spirit bodies, or body parts such as hands, legs and feet.


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The medium is used as a source of power for such spirit manifestations. By some accounts, this was achieved by using the energy or ectoplasm released by a medium, see spirit photography. Most physical mediumship is presented in a darkened or dimly lit room. Most physical mediums make use of a traditional array of tools and appurtenances, including spirit trumpets, spirit cabinets, and levitation tables. Direct voice communication is the claim that spirits speak independently of the medium, who facilitates the phenomenon rather than produces it. The role of the medium is to make the connection between the physical and spirit worlds.

Trumpets are often utilised to amplify the signal, and directed voice mediums are sometimes known as "trumpet mediums". Leslie Flint was one of the best known exponents of this form of mediumship.

In the later half of the 20th century, Western mediumship developed in two different ways. One type involved clairaudience or sensitives who hear spirit, and then relay what they hear to their clients. The rhythm and the intonation of the voice may also change completely. A widely known channeler of this variety is J.

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Ghosts and Spirits: Insights from a Medium

Knight , who claims to channel the spirit of Ramtha , a 30 thousand-year-old man. Others purport to channel spirits from "future dimensions", ascended masters, [30] or, in the case of the trance mediums of the Brahma Kumaris , God. Rueckert for Ra. Senses used by mental mediums are sometimes defined differently from in other paranormal fields.

A medium is said to have psychic abilities but not all psychics function as mediums.

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The term clairvoyance , for instance, may include seeing spirit and visions instilled by the spirit world. The Parapsychological Association defines "clairvoyance" as information derived directly from an external physical source. Spiritualists believe that phenomena produced by mediums both mental and physical mediumship are the result of external spirit agencies. The idea of mediumship being explained by telepathy was later merged into the " super-ESP " hypothesis of mediumship which is currently advocated by some parapsychologists.

In their book How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age , authors Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn have noted that the spiritualist and ESP hypothesis of mediumship "has yielded no novel predictions, assumes unknown entities or forces, and conflicts with available scientific evidence. Scientists who study anomalistic psychology consider mediumship to be the result of fraud and psychological factors. Research from psychology for over a hundred years suggests that where there is not fraud, mediumship and Spiritualist practices can be explained by hypnotism , magical thinking and suggestion.

A fraudulent medium may obtain information about their sitters by secretly eavesdropping on sitter's conversations or searching telephone directories, the internet and newspapers before the sittings. The psychologist Richard Wiseman has written:. Cold reading also explains why psychics have consistently failed scientific tests of their powers. By isolating them from their clients, psychics are unable to pick up information from the way those clients dress or behave.

By presenting all of the volunteers involved in the test with all of the readings, they are prevented from attributing meaning to their own reading, and therefore can't identify it from readings made for others. As a result, the type of highly successful hit rate that psychics enjoy on a daily basis comes crashing down and the truth emerges — their success depends on a fascinating application of psychology and not the existence of paranormal abilities. After the seance, approximately one third of the participants incorrectly reported that the table had moved.

The results showed a greater percentage of believers reporting that the table had moved.

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In a television segment on Last Week Tonight featuring prominent purported mediums including Theresa Caputo , John Edward , Tyler Henry , and Sylvia Browne , John Oliver criticized the media for promoting mediums because this exposure convinces viewers that such powers are real, and so enable neighborhood mediums to prey on grieving families. Oliver said " From its earliest beginnings to contemporary times, mediumship practices have had many instances of fraud and trickery. Physical mediumship that has been investigated by scientists has been discovered to be the result of deception and trickery.

A very large part is played by fraud in spiritualistic practices, both in the physical and psychical, or automatic, phenomena, but especially in the former. The frequency with which mediums have been convicted of fraud has, indeed, induced many people to abandon the study of psychical research, judging the whole bulk of the phenomena to be fraudulently produced.

In Britain, the Society for Psychical Research has investigated mediumship phenomena. Critical SPR investigations into purported mediums and the exposure of fake mediums has led to a number of resignations by Spiritualist members. No doubt a great importance in the paranormal field is the problem of fraud. The field of psychic research and spiritualism has been so notoriously full of charlatans, such as the Fox sisters and Eusapia Palladino —individuals who claim to have special power and gifts but who are actually conjurers who have hoodwinked scientists and the public as well—that we have to be especially cautious about claims made on their behalf.

Magicians have a long history of exposing the fraudulent methods of mediumship. Rose Mackenberg , a private investigator who worked with Houdini during the s, was among the most prominent debunkers of psychic fraud during the midth century. Many 19th century mediums were discovered to be engaged in fraud.

Browning seized the "materialization" and discovered it to be the bare foot of Home. To make the deception worse, Browning had never lost a son in infancy. Browning's son Robert in a letter to The Times , December 5, referred to the incident "Home was detected in a vulgar fraud.


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Hall exposed the " levitation " of Home as nothing more than his moving across a connecting ledge between two iron balconies. In a series of experiments in London at the house of William Crookes in February , the medium Anna Eva Fay managed to fool Crookes into believing she had genuine psychic powers. Fay later confessed to her fraud and revealed the tricks she had used.

The medium Henry Slade was caught in fraud many times throughout his career. The magician Chung Ling Soo revealed how Slade had performed the trick.

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The British medium Francis Ward Monck was investigated by psychical researchers and discovered to be a fraud. Monck ran from the room, locked himself in another room and escaped out of a window. A pair of stuffed gloves was found in his room, as well as cheesecloth, reaching rods and other fraudulent devices in his luggage.

It was discovered that the cut piece matched a cloth found in Eglinton's suitcase.

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Rita, were detected in trickery at Amsterdam. Her Indian spirit control "Pocka" was found to be the medium on her knees, covered in muslin. In the American stage mentalist Washington Irving Bishop published a book revealing how mediums would use secret codes as the trick for their clairvoyant readings. Keeler and Henry Slade. Margaret Fox revealed that she and her sister had produced the " spirit " rappings by cracking their toe joints.

Goldston wrote "I saw at once that it was a gauze mask, and that the moustache attached to it was loose at one side through lack of gum. I pulled at the mask. It came away, revealing the face of Husk. She was described by the magician Harry Houdini as "one of the most extraordinary fake mediums and mystery swindlers the world has ever known". In the late 19th century, the fraudulent methods of spirit photographers such as David Duguid and Edward Wyllie were revealed by psychical researchers.

Stead had claimed was genuine. Stead visited a photographer who had produced a photograph of him with deceased soldier known as "Piet Botha". Stead claimed that the photographer could not have come across any information about Piet Botha, however, Tuckett discovered that an article in had been published on Pietrus Botha in a weekly magazine with a portrait and personal details.

The trance medium Leonora Piper was investigated by psychical researchers and psychologists in the late 19th and early 20th century. In an experiment to test if Piper's "spirit" controls were purely fictitious the psychologist G. Stanley Hall invented a niece called Bessie Beals and asked Piper's 'control' to get in touch with it. Bessie appeared, answered questions and accepted Hall as her uncle. Piper's knowledge. Her hands were grabbed and she was wrestled to the ground. A female police assistant physically examined Rothe and discovered flowers as well as oranges and lemons hidden in her petticoat.

She was arrested and charged with fraud. The psychical researchers W. Baggally and Everard Feilding exposed the British materialization medium Christopher Chambers as a fraud in The spirit photographer William Hope tricked William Crookes with a fake spirit photograph of his wife in Oliver Lodge revealed there had been obvious signs of double exposure, the picture of Lady Crookes had been copied from a wedding anniversary photograph, however, Crookes was a convinced spiritualist and claimed it was genuine evidence for spirit photography.

In , Hereward Carrington exposed the tricks of fraudulent mediums such as those used in slate-writing, table-turning , trumpet mediumship, materializations, sealed-letter reading and spirit photography. In at a hotel in Naples , the psychical researchers W.