The questions floated around in my head for awhile, but it wasn't until last Sunday that I decided to act on them. Inspired by Houdini, I made up a basic pass/fail test that I could apply a few times to see if someone was actually in tune with all the truths in the universe: If I made up a dead sister and asked a bunch of psychics to connect with her, how many wouldn't be able to tell I was full of shit?
In 1925, Samuel Soal claimed to have taken part in a series of séances with the medium Blanche Cooper who contacted the spirit of a soldier Gordon Davis and revealed the house that he had lived in. Researchers later discovered fraud as the séances had taken place in 1922, not 1925. The magician and paranormal investigator Bob Couttie revealed that Davis was alive, Soal lived close to him and had altered the records of the sittings after checking out the house. Soal's co-workers knew that he had fiddled the results but were kept quiet with threats of libel suits.[142]
A major advantage of live phone readings versus in-person appointments is that there is no chance that the reader can cheat. During a face-to-face session, a reader can gather many clues and insights about a person based on demeanour, clothing, jewellery, hair, make-up, and overall attitude and appearance. The psychic might draw conclusions about someone based on those clues and form the reading around those things.
Some scientists of the period who investigated spiritualism also became converts. They included chemist Robert Hare, physicist William Crookes (1832–1919) and evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913).[13][14] Nobel laureate Pierre Curie took a very serious scientific interest in the work of medium Eusapia Palladino.[15] Other prominent adherents included journalist and pacifist William T. Stead (1849–1912)[16] and physician and author Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930).[17]