Harry Price – A scientific examination of Rudi Schneider – 04 Conclusions
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Rudi Schneider – A scientific examination of his mediumship, compiled by Harry Price (Honorary Director, National Laboratory of Psychical Research)
It has not been our policy to solicit reports from all of the sitters who have attended our experiments, but nine gentlemen, most of them scientists or literary men, have published their impressions of the phenomena in the public Press, or have furnished private reports or observations.
These gentlemen are Dr. William Brown, Professor A. F. C. Pollard, Mr. C. E. M. Joad, Dr. Eugene Osty, Mr. Hannen Swaffer, Captain McDermott, Mr. Shaw Desmond, Mr. Will Goldston, and Mr. Frank Lawton, and their views have been incorporated in this report.
- The ' Observations' by Lord Charles Hope is a valuable document, containing, as it does, his impressions and details of the phenomena while he was responsible for the control of the medium and when he was inside the cabinet and at cabinet opening. Lord Charles has had considerable experience in psychic matters. The above gentlemen write from different angles, but all are deeply impressed at what they saw and heard.
- Dr. William Brown is, of course, the eminent psychotherapist and author.
- Professor Pollard is a scientist at the Imperial College.
- Mr, C. E. M. Joad is a philosopher and psychologist.
- Mr. Hannen Swaffer speaks for himself.
- Dr. Eugene Osty gives his expert view as the chief psychist in France.
- Captain McDermott writes and analyses merely what he sees.
- Shaw Desmond is a spiritualist and novelist and tackles the problem from that angle.
- Mr. Will Goldston attended solely in his capacity as professional magician, determined to put his finger on the 'trick', if it existed. He declares that not even a 'body of magicians' could have produced what he saw under the conditions.
- Mr. Frank Lawton, the actor, enthusiastically describes his first seance and the things which impressed him.
It is important that we should publish the opinions of others, just as it is important that we should have a variety of sitters and a change of controllers.
No one who has attended any of our seances with Rudi has ever been able to say that there was the slightest suspicion of fraud on the part of any one present. All have told me privately how impressed they were with the medium, the triple control, and the phenomena. No one could possibly give a valid unfavourable report of any seance ; no one can say the phenomena are produced fraudulently. So our guests can give only a favourable report or say nothing.
No visitor to our experiments has been asked to sign the protocols, copies of which were available if required.
The dictaphonic notes were made as they occurred, in the hearing of those present at the seance, and thus the accuracy of the events could have been challenged by any person present. But of course it never was. I think it is a mistake to ask, a visitor to sign the seance protocol, as it puts him in a peculiar position. He may not want his name published in connexion with psychic matters; he may want to experiment further; he does not know what use may be made of his name; he may sign unwillingly because he thinks he is under an obligation to you and does not like to refuse. He may even afterwards change his mind! Several of the sitters offered to sign, but as we were not preparing the report in that manner, we did not record their signatures. No, the spontaneous accounts of impressions which we publish are worth many signatures at the foot of one of our own protocols.
Some of the scientists who have seen Rudi are either in posts held under Government or the universities, or are in active professional practice. In the present state of orthodoxy it requires a very strong man indeed to come out in the open and say what he thinks. But a period of freedom is coming.
One famous scientist who attended our seances was going to broadcast his impressions of what he saw, but the British Broadcasting Corporation would not permit it. Apparently the time is not yet ripe for scientists to say what they like with impunity! As Dr F.C.S. Schiller remarks,
'Scientists unhesitatingly disbelieve even their greatest and best authorities, so soon as they claim to have made discoveries in this field' (psychical research).No wonder the scientists feel discouraged and are afraid. They dare not-in many cases-say what they believe. If a man is strong enough like Sir Oliver Lodge-he can shout from the house-tops what he believes to be true. But a smaller man has to be careful. He has his living to get and a future to provide for; he must not quarrel with orthodoxy-and his bread and butter'
That is, not- yet. But as a professor remarked at Oxford University recently when I gave an address on the Schneider boys,
'As sure as the sun rises to-morrow morning, so surely shall one day be established at Oxford University a Chair of Psychical research’.
And Rudi has made that day less distant. Already there has been established a Department of psychical Research at Buenos Aires University; this modern university has hewn for itself a new path through hidebound orthodoxy which, some day, every other university will be compelled to follow.
Including the April sittings, the following scientists have been present at the Rudi experiments: Lord Rayleigh, Professor A. O. Rankine, Dr.F C.S. Schiller, Dr. William Brown, Professor Nils von Hofsten, Professor A. F. C. Pollard, Mr. C. E. M. Joad, Mr. A. Egerton, Professor A M Low, Dr. Braun, David Efron, Dr.Eugene Osty, and Dr Jeans. Miss Elizabeth Williamson, the astronomer, and Mrs. Mitcheson (sister of Professor Haldane) are interested in, or connected, with official science. Some of the above gentlemen have had one seance only, their duties precluding their attendance at the complete series, to which they were invited. Two or three men of science whom we invited were not able to come themselves, but suggested others. AII these witnesses of Rudi's manifestations were very impressed. Every criticism of Rudi's phenomena or of our arrangements has been met. The criticisms, be it noted, were made usually by persons who have never seen Rudi or our seance room, and have had no experience of our electrical control or its application to sitters and medium.
We have shut up our note-taker in a mosquito net because some newspaper readers are supposed to have thought that our secretary was in league with Rudi (one idiot who wrote to the Daily Mail thought she was Rudi's secretary!), and she has sat (controlled with the other sitters) in the circle when I was not there. Also, both Miss Kaye and I have been absent when phenomena occurred. We have had controllers behind the net who were watching the note-taker; and I even thought of having the controllers watched! We have invited to our experiments the most competent-and best known-professional conjurer in England because some obscure members of the Magic Circle kept shrieking, 'Invite the conjurers', though these same people were careful not to come themselves and accept any of our challenges to duplicate the phenomena.