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Sex in the Seance Room

by Mark Edward, Apr 03 2010

Margery the Sexy Medium

Some things never change. It has come to my attention that a few “prominent skeptics” may be falling under the spell of the charms of a few “prominent mediums.” I’m not naming names here, but recent developments have given me pause to reflect on a time when such things happened before and as they say, if we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat it.

Mediums have traditionally been a forward bunch of folks not given to shyness or modesty. They are crooks after all, and as such need to have nerve and be ready to “turn their tricks” at a moment’s notice. I have always admired that dodgy aspect of mediumship. Being able to think fast on your feet and being sharp enough to not only reply to any question a sitter might throw out at you with appropriate woo is part of the entertainment value that transferred from magicians like The Davenport Brothers and Houdini back in the day when nobody knew any better. It’s also a large area that falls into that shady netherworld where magic and con artistry meet.

The best of the lady mediums like Eusapia Pallidino, Margery (also known as Mina Crandon) and Mrs Leonora Piper exibited great charisma. If they weren’t beautiful to look at, they made up for that fact by displaying their wares in the most erotically misdirecting ways. From www.prairieghosts.com/margery.html this excerpt:

“Mina herself became well-known for her risqué and sometimes bizarre séances. It was not uncommon for her to hold sessions in the nude and according to some, she was especially adept at manifesting ectoplasm from her vagina. “

And the most pertinent line:

“It was also rumored that she had affairs with some of her would-be investigators, thus silencing a few of her most vocal critics.”

Margery Knocking them Out

Therein lies the tale. Mediums aren’t any less attractive or lacking in charisma these days (except Sylvia Browne of course). In fact, to keep up with the fashions and sexual climate of our Madonna laden times, many of these brazen neo-witches may  even be more crafty and nefarious in their seductive ways than ever before.They have to: It’s part of their act.

I haven’t heard about any nude seances besides a couple of interesting situations that occurred at The Magic Castle years ago, but I have heard (and seen with my own eyes and ears mind you) that some questionable antics have been going on within skeptical circles here and abroad. Hey, I’m no prude and having grown up in the 60’s, I’ve no objection to any of this. I’m just saying…

Houdini Holding Hands with Margery: Kinky? No, Just Careful...

Houdini’s exploits with Margery are a good case in point. If you can read up on that whole affair, where the folding ruler that manifested inside the box Houdini built to restrain Mina came from and exactly why it was pinned on Houdini is one of the great mysteries of the anti-spiritualism movement.Things remain very muddled when it comes to who did what and for what reasons.  My dear friend and late cult movie director Curtis Harrington was intrigued by this story and wanted to make a film about it. Too bad it never happened. It would have been a great dramatic premise that would still ring true today. When men of prestige and scientific acumen get wrapped up with sexy women who know how to “cast a spell,” you can bet there’s going to be controversy.

Read about Sir William Crookes, Florence Cook and the enigmatic Katie King fiasco. Whew! What a steamy story that one was. Then there was Sir Oliver Lodge and Mrs. Piper: Although a guest in the Lodge home, the medium was kept incommunicado and was constantly watched by experienced professional detectives. With Piper’s permission, her private mail was opened and read. Every possibility of her communicating with others and receiving any type of information was completely eliminated, yet Piper’s “spirit guides” provided accurate communication in every test that Lodge devised, which helped convince the researcher that spiritualistic phenomena were real. These “Sirs” were great scientific minds, but when confronted by the most material of fleshy fantasies, they apparently succumbed willingly. Ah well, I suppose we are all only human aren’t we?
The thing is; aren’t mediums and their lot generally rgarded by the public as highly advanced spiritual beings that are supposed to be super-human and far above such earthy delights? Apparently not. In a headline just in from Kualla Lumpur:
 
“COLLEGE STUDENT DUPED INTO HAVING SEX WITH ‘MEDIUM'”

A 20-year-old college student who sought a medium’s help to end her streak of bad luck ended up having to sleep with the man. She approached the medium, known only as master Choy, in April on the recommendations of her friends as she was worried about her well-being.The 50-year-old medium told her she would not be able to get rid of the bad luck unless she had sex with a married man. After some persuasion from the man, who is married, the girl agreed to have sex with him.

Sir Oliver Lodge: Skeptical Believer?

The historical (or is it hysterical?) precedents are all there for us to learn from. Distancing oneself from the flirtatious among us is never easy, but with a greater cause at stake, I’m only suggesting some common sense.The Victorian seance room was well known as a playground for the repressed and the darkness provided cover for all sorts of fun. Sitters are no angels either. One night at The Magic Castle Seance Room, I had a woman squeeze my thigh most provocatively during a dark seance with her husband sitting right on the other side of me! I was shocked in a pleasing way… Still, I wasn’t involved in any sort of challenge or serious investigation. If I had been, I would have thought differently.
This kind of hanky-panky  has been going on for a long time. Again, I’m the last to point a finger and here’s nothing wrong with a little footsie going on in most situations, but when it sways data or threatens to undermine research- we may have a problem. If you are serious about investigating so-called “psychic phenomena” or want to make a dent in the woo, beware.
 
If you are reading this and have been dallying with a New Ager, psychic or medium who is begging for your help, you know who you are.
If you feel weak and in need of rescuing something, might I suggest  going to your local animal rescue and getting a Basset Hound?  These pups will look up to you more steadily, seldom channel demons, not threaten your reputation and eat far less.

 

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63 Responses to “Sex in the Seance Room”

  1. MadScientist says:

    ‘Master’ Choy should join the catholic priesthood; I’m sure the pope would welcome him (and protect him when those nasty guardians of earthly laws come around).

  2. Robo Sapien says:

    And such is the plot of the next Ghostbusters movie, where Ray and Egon get in a fist fight over who gets to “investigate” the vaginal ectoplasm.

    Seriously though, seances and psychics are bullshit, and everyone involved in these investigations knows it. How seriously is a man going to take BS research when the prospect of nookie presents itself? It is historically proven that men will say anything to get a woman in the sack, this is no different.

    It is a case of men facing a dilemma, continue this serious critical inquiry into some obvious nonsense, or play wounded doe and score? Hmmmm let me think real hard on this…

    “Oh, yeah sure, I totally feel that spirit presence. And stuff.”

  3. TheSaint says:

    It would be brilliant if a skeptic accepted a ‘medium’s’ sexual favors and exposed him/her anyway.

  4. Anita Ikonen says:

    Since we are talking about me, dear Mark Edward, I need to make some comments as I find your insinuations here to be offensive. I have been involved in Skepticism for over a year now. I am reading about it, and interacting with Skeptics as I investigate my own paranormal claim and prepare myself in becoming a real investigating Skeptic myself once I finish the work of falsifying my own claims.

    I just ended a four year long loveless relationship, and since half of those I know are fellow college students and the other half lately has been comprised of Skeptics, and since I was always only attracted to older men, chances are that I be likely to find someone in the latter. I did begin dating a Skeptic. Not because I am a woo trying to infiltrate the skeptical community and plant chaos, but because beside all the other things that I am, I am also just a woman.

    I never try to use my charms or other personality characteristics to skew data or to try to change the conclusions in an investigation. As a student of chemistry I know that chemicals will do what they do and they never change their mind even if we are charming, and I let my test results have the same integrity.

    I happen to be a very friendly, loving and caring but also shy and introverted person, but I am that in every situation in my life. That is who I am. And I am sorry if some of the times when I approach a person may come across as flirtateous or raise suspicion of alterior motives, but perhaps that is the consequence of when persons who otherwise would never have come together, meet, but that is how Skepticism brings people together.

    I ended up dating a Skeptic out of mutual attraction, and I do believe it was he who made the first hint. And at the risk of having you censor this out, you yourself have shown and indicated plenty of interest in me.

    I am offended that several Skeptics will misinterpret my continued investigation, hoping and desperately trying to unveil the next fraudulent psychic con artist that isn’t there. And when facts are not to be found to support their suspicions, they will drop the requirement that Skepticism, as science, needs to be impersonal, and they then try to attack and destroy my harmless investigation by use of irrelevant details of who I am in my personal and private space, that has got nothing to do with this investigation at all.

    It is the way lawyers try to win an argument by first trying with facts, and then trying to prove their case by trashing the character of the person. But Skepticism is not to be won by the most persuasive or malevolent side. We are interested in finding the truth in every case, impersonal to emotions.

    I am offended that several of you seem to make yourselves distracted by my “feminine charm”, kindness, looks, or other personality characteristics that I may have or that you may perceive of me, and that you then hold me responsible for any of its consequences on your practice of Skepticism.

    In spite of this disrespectful column, I will continue valuing our friendship. I learn a great deal from you, as you too have taken that big step from woo and into Skepticism. Many Skeptics turn their hatred of woo against me personally and are making it exceedingly uncomfortable for me to join them as Skeptics, but I know a good thing when I see it, and no amount of insults or personal attack is ever going to turn me away and force me back into woo.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      I don’t think anyone here would have a problem with you, if you weren’t such a baloney artist. Your name, likeness, or investigation were mentioned nowhere in this post, unless you are the nameless person who touched his thigh, in which case everything you just said is void of credibility. Touching a dude within dangerous proximity of the winky goes far beyond a bat of the eyelash. In fact, nobody would have been the wiser, but you’ve done a fine job of exposing yourself (pun intended).

      It is also noteworthy that you do not need to falsify your own claims, IIG has already done that for you. You should know, you were there. Do I come off as malicious? Good, because everything you just said makes my bunghole very angry. Not only are you accusing mark of strawman tactics, but levying this conspiratorical notion that all the skeptics hate you and wish to “force you back into woo”. You paint a perfect picture of backward logic and defensive rationalism.

      This is a watering hole for critical thinkers, and nobody with a shred of sense in their head is going to perceive you as genuine because you dated a skeptic, or carry on some charade of good intentions. As they say, the road to hell is paved with them. You play the victim well by claiming to have seriously believed in your powers, but were just horribly misled by fate.

      Could acceptance be the real issue here? Your constant defensiveness, victim mentality and attraction to older men seems to hint at some “daddy issues”, if you ask me. Which is ok, we all have issues. My mom used to wrap me in a wet towel and stick me in the dryer to try and unwrinkle my fat head, but you don’t see me using it as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for my choices. Ok, that didn’t happen, but I really have no idea what caused my issues so I had to make something up to finish my point.

      What was my point? Oh yeah, acceptance. Your old ways of woo got you some degree of it, but now that the woo has been crushed you are seeking acceptance here instead. If you want to get accepted here, then stop bullshitting everybody to save face. When I read that you plan to become a “real investigating skeptic” just as soon as you finish “investigating your own claim”, I recall the exact same behavior in smokers who say “I’m going to quit smoking just as soon as I get rid of all this stress” — I should know, I smoke.

      So anyway… wanna have some drinks or catch a movie later or something?

      • Sgerbic says:

        LOL Robo!

        Your mama used to wrap your head in a wet towel and stick you in the dryer….! I’m still laughing…..!!!

    • MadScientist says:

      If you think the article is about you, it would probably be best to direct your letter to Mark rather than making it public. As far as I’m concerned what you do in your private life is no one’s business but your own and I would be happy to shout at Mark if I thought he was engaging in idle gossip rather than discussing skepticism, but that certainly does not appear to be the case here – at least not with what little Mark has written.

    • Max says:

      Phew, at least he wasn’t talking about Randi.

  5. Sgerbic says:

    Excellent article Mark. I remember reading in several books about the practice of men having sex with their dead wives at the seance. I’m sure you can quote the source as I can’t remember now, but it seems that the “wife” would appear in “spirit form” and the widowed husband would “recognize” the manifestation as his dear dead wife who has only passed over to the other side and wants to continue taking care of his psychical needs (no not clean the house and darn his socks but that other kind of need). Once the man was in agreement with his wives suggestion they continue their marriage vows after her death, he would move into the next room with the “spirit”. I’m sure these were popular regular sessions. Wonder how the medium explained how this was NOT prostitution to the judge? “Your Honor, money wasn’t given to the spirit, he was only having sex with his dead wife. Yes, your Honor his wife died 3 years ago, but he was lonely and needy and it was a ghost not a prostitute that he had sex with”. Boy that would have made all the newspapers and a standing room only crowd at the ole courthouse.

    Medium investigator Dr. Crawford (written about in Mary Roach’s book “Spook”) apparently was fixated with underwear. Roach writes that Crawford believed that the ectoplasm that medium Kathleen Goligher materialized came from her rectum. “He first arrived at this unorthodox notion upon finding ‘particles of excreta’ in the white drawers that he asked the medium to put on before – and return after – the seance.”

    Roach also discusses the Margery Crandon investigations, in which several of the scientists decided that the ectoplasm was coming from “between her legs”. Conjurer Grant Code also investigated Margery and said she had been caught “drawing from the region of the vulva two or three objects” Code wondered if Margery’s husband (who was a doctor) had helped put objects “in Margery’s most convenient storage warehouse?”

    Mary Toft gave birth to rabbits. Yep you read that right. When the doctor investigating her turned his back “she would transfer into her birth canal a rabbit, or rabbit portion which she had concealed in a special ‘hare pocket’ inside her skirt.” Yes I know this has nothing to do with mediums but it does fit in with scientific men investigating vagina’s for science.

    Roach tells the story of Helen Duncan who “tended to swoon and fall off her chair and occasionally wet herself in the frenzy of spiritual possession. She once emerged from the seance cabinet naked under a floor-length ‘ectoplasmic viel’ …Helen Duncan was the hottest ticked in town.”

    Sex sells!

    • Robo Sapien says:

      I have psychic medium powers myself, and for a fee, I’ll have sex with the ghost of anyone’s wife, and make sure she gets that otherworldly orgasm that he never delivered.

  6. Sgerbic says:

    Being in the skeptic universe since 2000 I have come across some really interesting “scandals” between woo and skeptic. I don’t know what the attraction is, maybe the skeptic wants to “save” the woo, and the woo needs the attention or the wants credibility? Maybe opposites do attract (but rarely manage to maintain a healthy relationship for long from what I’ve seen).

    I remember a “story” 4 years ago about an unnamed skeptic and a Woo TV person that shared some “special moments” that compromised the skeptic’s credibility.

    Started to write about a few more of these interesting relationships…but better not.

    Has anyone even considered Montel & Sylvia? I mean what’s up with that relationship….yuck! http://www.stopsylvia.com has reported Montel clearly does not believe in Sylvia as anything but entertainment, yet they have this freaky link. Heck right now on some channel I bet you can turn on the TV and see them selling juicers together. In their case I hope it is just money that links them, otherwise…don’t think about it….sorry a bit off topic!

    • Claus Larsen says:

      I’m afraid the explanation could be far more sordid than the two merely bumping uglies.

      Montel Williams has multiple sclerosis.

      Sylvia Browne has predicted that a cure for multiple sclerosis will be found in Montel’s lifetime.

      Go figure.

  7. Some things never change. It has come to my attention that a few “prominent skeptics” may be using their fame and power to cause young women to “fall under the spell of their charms”.

    I’m not naming names here, but recent “developments” have given me pause to reflect on a time when such things happened before and as they say, if we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat it.

    Apparently, men have for YEARS been using their fame, money, and charisma to lure unsuspecting young women into bed. These women may be in a situation where they seek employment, respect, or standing in the skeptic community, and these men offer to provide these things in exchange for sexual favors!

    If you are reading this and are a skeptical man who has been dallying with a young skeptic who is begging for your help, you know who you are.

    If you feel weak and in need of poking something, might I suggest going to your adult store and getting a Fleshlight? These toys will always be available, will never tell your other partner, won’t threaten your reputation and eat far less.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      That is a mighty feministic view you have there. Allow me to point out that these “unsuspecting young women” are also wielding their own sex appeal to exploit the guy with fame, money and charisma so they can take a shortcut to a better lifestyle.

      They only become “victims” when said man protects his own livelihood, a practice which is often at the root of success.

      Besides the fact that your comment has fuck all to do with this thread and more to do with some personal indignance, I have to say your comment about the sex toys is an insult and entirely out of line. This would be more appropriately posted on Angrymanhatingbitchesblog.com

      • AmSci says:

        This entire blog post is about how innocent skeptics should resist the nearly irresistible pull of evil woo vagina. A little bit of a “feministic” perspective is welcome.

        And if you’re really upset about personal indulgences, you should be equally annoyed that this post seems to be in response to a vague occurrence of interpersonal relations between two unidentified people that is absolutely no one’s business.

        And if you’re the type of guy who believes women with sex appeal can never be victimized by men, then the Fleshlight comment specifically applies to you.

      • TheSaint says:

        I don’t think anyone would dispute that a man could ‘victimize’ an attractive woman; just whether a professional skeptic could ;) Skeptics seem to be renowned more for their scientific Spock-like thinking than their charisma and seduction skills (which, Mr Edward posits, is exactly the province of mediums and the like).

      • Robo Sapien says:

        Ack, sorry.. missed a /b somewhere

      • Robo Sapien says:

        Any human can victimize another human. Regardless of the origin of this post’s inspiration, it is a critical piece examining the effects of human nature (specifically, male pursues mate) on an investigation. You omit the fact that the playing field is NOT level, do you seriously think that an equal ratio of men to women would have an equal ratio of seduction prowess? Get real.

        Criticizing Mark of sexism, then countering it with more sexism just makes you a hypocrit. Sure, it is tragic when a deft man victimizes a naive girl, but the reality in most cases is that they are both trying to use each other, and when things go sideways it is vastly easier for the female to be perceived as a victim.

      • AmSci says:

        Baseless generalizations don’t become any more convincing when written in bold text.

      • Robo Sapien says:

        That was a goof, I missed a closing b tag. Sue me. In spite of markup errors, what you say is true of baseless generalizations, but not of my comment. You are in some serious denial if you think women don’t have the upper hand in the seduction arena.

      • Some men are able to have sex with women without promising a better lifestyle. Or paying them.

        Some women have sex with men just because it feels good, and not in an attempt to sway results of psychic tests.

        Also, satire.

      • Bad satire perhaps, but satire.

  8. badrescher says:

    I am not quite sure how to respond to this drivel. On the one hand, you’ve accused some unnamed person of something that is none of your business or ours. However, you have also painted quite a victorian picture of women beguiling men in which are faculties are lost under the spell of sex appeal – a picture that is ridiculously out of touch and the inclusion of your token quote about a man seducing a girl does not save it from its sexist overtones.

    But, what really gets under my skin is your lack of understanding of the processes of investigation and research, which are as weak as Anita’s. Data cannot be “swayed” or “skewed”. Data are data. Data may be hidden from others (fraud). Data may be misinterpreted (poor reasoning). What I suspect you fear is that the tests themselves may be weak in design, but this is why we have full disclosure. Any weakness in a test is revealed in a report of how a test was conducted.

    We are capable of drawing our own conclusions. The only thing which can “sway” the outcome in the eyes of the reader/viewer of a test is FRAUD. Are you accusing someone in the community of fraud?

    • Robo Sapien says:

      You are assuming that “data are data” and is always correct, unless misinterpreted or deliberately tampered with. Data becomes skewed when an unseen outside factor is introduced while the test is conducted.

      Let’s suppose, in some hypothetical experiment, that all of the data is being recorded in a CSV spreadsheet. If one of those fields contains just the right amount of commas or quotes (an unseen outside factor) as to falsify that record without disrupting the continuity of the table, then you have what is known as skewed data.

    • TheSaint says:

      It doesn’t have to be outright fraud to represent a serious conflict of interest, does it? Most skeptics are probably aware of studies which have examined medical research trials and sources of funding, finding a correlation/association between the source of study funding and its outcome. Here’s but one example: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040005
      And a pertinent sentence from a story on the same topic says “He says subtle conflicts of interest often color decision making, yet most people — especially doctors — think they are immune.”
      http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5391L820090413
      It would be nice if scientists and skeptics could separate their personal and professional lives to such a degree that a conflict would not exist (what I was getting at in my first comment), but it seems unrealistic to expect. If someone doing an official investigation for a skeptical organization develops a “compromising” relationship with a person they’re supposed to be investigating, they should make that public, and likely recuse themselves from the investigation. If they don’t, I see no problem with outing them. However, if it’s just a random skeptic hooking up with a bullshitter they’re NOT investigating, then it is a private matter.

      As an aside, does anyone else find it odd that Ms. Ikonen choose to out herself as the alleged subject of the piece? A tad attention-seeking.

      • badrescher says:

        Well, conflicts of interest introduce bias, but bias exists anyway. That’s why we use the scientific method. So, again, a study speaks for itself.

        In scientific studies, conflicts of interest lead to cherry-picking data and other forms of fraud – that’s why we question them. Tests for psychic abilities are very simple studies to design and execute with virtually no subjective measures and very little room for bias.

        In my opinion, unless someone can show that a prominent skeptic has rigged a test or is claiming that the self-proclaimed psychics in question do indeed have supernatural powers, it’s none of our business what they do with said self-proclaimed psychics.

        And, yes, I do think that Anita is a bit presumptuous and attention-seeking. It seems her strategies work quite well.

      • Anita Ikonen says:

        I happen to know for a fact that the “I’m not naming names here” refers to me, and I assure you it is not that I would be happy to step in to assume the role of some whore woo slut as described here. Although I find Mark’s text to be highly interesting about this historical aspect of the dynamics between woo and Skeptic, and very well-written as always, I was heavily offended to have the parallel drawn from the likes of Margery to me.

        I will admit that I find Skeptics absolutely irresistible. Intelligence and conscious awareness, as we know, is an attractive quality indeed.

        But let me counter this discussion by asking did you ever come to think that some woos might possess an irresistible charm and that it is the Skeptic who falls for it and has himself to blame? Perhaps the allure comes not from the woo herself, but from the subjects of woo that she embodies.

        All I know from my case is that the attraction was mutual. And although it makes me more of a Skeptic (through osmosis if not otherwise), I assure you I have been unsuccessful in making him understand woo the way that I do. But I did manage to have him take me out ghost hunting.

      • Robo Sapien says:

        There was never any parallel drawn between you and Margery, both of your cases were cited in completely different context.

        some woos might possess an irresistible charm and that it is the Skeptic who falls for it and has himself to blame

        Flatter yourself much?

  9. Daphne Ross says:

    The entire post read like something out of a Minerva Press Victorian Gothic Romance. If there were more heaving bosoms and less Vaginal Ectoplasm I would have found myself shivering in delight with the cold dread of the unknown.

    Our hero, a man of science finds himself helplessly bound at the altar of the feminine by the gossamer ephemeral ties cast by a Neo-Pagan Witch. What man, when in the grip of the vaginal wrench can think… think… or resist the urge to say whatever the naughty daughter of Eve he worships wants him to say? “Yes!, Yes! It is true, while with her I have seen the Divine, I have tasted the salty ectoplamsic traces of her gifts! The data supports the fact that she knew EXACTLY what I needed to feel better, she knew exactly where to touch me, I never said a word!”

    Give me a break. If Mark Edward were not one of the fold, this post would be ridiculed for the innuendo laden nonsense that it is. If Sylvia Browne tried this kind of coy hit job on a skeptic the whole community would be up in arms. The inclusion of examples from a less sophisticated sexually repressed time in the history of paranormal investigations added nothing.

    Grow a set, stop being coy and if you feel there is fraud being perpetrated by an investigator let the community know.

    Otherwise the post can be summed up as follows: A skeptic of some note may or may not be investigating other things that go bump in the night with someone whose claims he is investigating. This might or might not influence the results of his investigation.

  10. badrescher says:

    Robo Sapien: Data are not “skewed” by errors in processing. “Skewness” is a property of the way that data are distributed. It is not a misrepresentation of reality.

    People misuse the term often and they usually mean that someone has contaminated a study. Regardless of contamination, data are data. Study design and execution(which includes the possibility of contamination) is a separate issue that is related to conclusions one may draw from findings, not the findings themselves. Errors like the one you described are simply errors.

    It may seem that I am splitting hairs, but it is an important distinction because the misunderstanding leads to other misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Mark suggested that having a relationship with someone somehow affects the outcome of a study, but a well-designed study stands on its own and makes such a relationship irrelevant. The only thing that a relationship could do to the outcome is change the way that someone reports either the study’s procedures or the findings, which is fraud.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      That is a solid analysis, but I take issue with labeling it fraud, it just seems a bit polar to me. Who is to be accused of fraud if there was no intention of it from either party? Errors like the one I described are cannot always be apparent, and may be mistakenly interpreted as good data thus altering the results. Just a shot in the dark here, but I’d gamble that historically there is some amount of science that was corrupted and not emended for years, causing some collateral damage.

      • badrescher says:

        I think I was unclear about something: I wasn’t saying that the error you described is fraud, just that it’s not “skewing” the data. But mistakes like the one you described are not made because someone has a personal bias, either, so it’s not what Mark is alluding to.

        Misinterpreting findings is certainly a way that bias enters the picture, but procedures and findings are reported so that people can draw their own conclusions. That’s essentially what peer-review is. Scientists cite findings as evidence, not the researcher’s interpretation of the findings. Journalists cite those. ;)

  11. Sgerbic says:

    I thought this blog was about how skeptic researchers investigating seances became sexually involved with female mediums, afterwords the “research” became “support of the ability of the medium”?

    Nowadays the investigations into the paranormal (if done by a reputable organization like the JREF or IIG or many skeptic groups with tight protocol) a conflict of interest between the claimant and the researcher is less likely to interfere with the data. I think that these relationships are common, but should be public and the skeptic should excuse him/herself from the testing. Just common sense really. A parent/sibling/cousin should do the same thing, not just lovers.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      You’re right, but its not as if any of these discussion threads ever stay on track. And Mark touched on a hot issue when he brought up the vaginal ectoplasm.

      • Sgerbic says:

        Was it the vagina or the ectoplasm that set you men off? Not like you have never seen either? MEN!

      • Sgerbic says:

        Oops that just came out sexist! Gosh Golly Gee I better watch it. (almost said “wash my mouth out with soap”, but I could just see all the jokes associated with vaginas and ectoplasm from it)

    • badrescher says:

      Again, “interfere with the data”???

      1 – Researchers do not “interfere” with data. They don’t “skew” data. They don’t “sway” data.

      2 – The data in a test of psychic abilities usually consists of the number of “hits” that psychic makes among a small set of possible “hits” in extremely controlled conditions with several witnesses. Hardly something likely to blow the million-dollar challenge.

      This post is nothing more than gossip, and whether or not you (mostly men, I’m guessing) think that women whine too much about the evils men do, it IS sexist.

      • Robo Sapien says:

        “Women whining about the evils men do” is not sexist in itself? Newsflash: Women do just as much evil, albeit much in different ways. Feminism is as sexist as you can get, a plea for “equal treatment” which really means special treatment. I find it no less offensive than the concept of reparations.

  12. AUJT says:

    Please please don’t use S. Browne, vagina trickling ectoplasm in the same sentence. Yecthtoplasm!

    And Robo, ROFLMAO!!!!

  13. Mark Edward says:

    Okay. It’s TIME TO RELEASE THE KRAKEN!Despite rants to the contrary, the original blog I wrote was not all about Anita Ikonen, It never has been. She’s free to fantasize that it was if it makes her feel better and pushes her closer to her stated goal of “falsifying herself.” She’s not the only gamer in town.

    Just to focus on her for the sake of argument However, her last comment about being “dragged back into the woo” by the mean ol’ skeptics show she is obviously setting the table for the big reveal – and the excuse that SHE was used and taken advantage of by older men who understood her weaknesses, allure, etc.

    Just as the skeptics trot out the “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof” line and much as this may be impossible, humans that we are, I’m saying if we as skeptical investigators are going to in a sense
    investigate things that are allegedly “beyond the normal human abilities,” tough but fair and holding ourselves to a higher standard so that the community can look to us and KNOW that there is no bias or ulterior motives is what is called for. Nothing less will do in the final analysis.

    Watch and see that if necessary Anita herself will play that particular card when/if she feels like it. Note that she couldn’t resist setting the story straight that it was a skeptic who “made the first hint.” Right. She’s in a win/win situation. If any affair is exposed she’s the harmed party. If it isn’t she sullies the reputation of the skeptics and – as we heard on the recent “Rational Alchemy” podcast she magically appeared on – buying herself a free-ride in the skeptical press. Next Stop: she goes professional and points to all the skeptical groups (and individuals) who found her claims “interesting” and “worthy of further investigation.”

    I found it most interesting that Anita wasted no time in jumping on the victim wagon, stepping boldly into a cow-pie that in her case might have been better left un-trodden upon. By her own comments, she managed to make my point beautifully. Thanks Anita!

    I’m for as much sex as possible in nay given situation – just wary of where romance ends and taking advantage (a well-known trait of psychics and mediums) begins. You can call me a sexist-skeptic pig if you must, but gender has little to do with the “heads up” I was sincerely offering to the skeptical community. While it is true that the lion’s share of psychics and mediums tend to women, I’m sure that with a little research, we would find that there are plenty of male mediums who have put these same tactics to use.

    There are several cases in the last five years where investigations, television shows and other skeptical events have been at the very least compromised and in the worst cases, caused people who spent many long hours of hard work and developing strict protocol to be seriously concerned with what did (or might) happen when things get too close for comfort. This is true across the skeptical map, in many countries and in many labs, just as it always has been in the brief historical references I mentioned.

    I chose not to mention names to purposely deflect any aura of gossip and train the attention of skeptics everywhere on the possible dangers of such relationships. It was written not merely to arouse any prurient interests in what will now be officially known (thanks to Robo-Sapien) as Gynoplasm.

    BTW: Innuendo is defined on Dictionary.com as: “an indirect intimation about a person or thing”

    Since no person, persons or things were directly named or intimated about, it’s hardly fair to level that charge against me. I was purposely painting with a broad brush. If specific people chose (or choose) to get caught up in those brush strokes and make an issue out of themselves, perhaps they “doth protest too much.”

    And finally as for this thread being a “nonsensical Minerva Press Gothic Romance with heaving bosoms,” et al, I’ll take as big a slice of that as I can have please – and with whipped cream on top too thanks.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      There were heaving bosoms and I missed it? I must have been too busy dealing with all the sandy cracks and whiney cry-holes.

      Mr. Edward, this was an awesome thread. You are like a constructive sociopath, I admire that. I have to call you out on this one though, I believe your actions were deliberate. You were skeptical of Anita’s “conversion” from the beginning. The article was completely legit, but I can tell you weaved some clever nudging in there to draw her out and show her true colors. And that is a tasty morsel of trickery drizzled with awesomesauce.

  14. Greg the Goofy Antiscience Guy says:

    Mark Edward wrote:

    “The best of the lady mediums like Eusapia Pallidino, Margery (also known as Mina Crandon) and Mrs Leonora Piper exibited great charisma. If they weren’t beautiful to look at, they made up for that fact by displaying their wares in the most erotically misdirecting ways.”

    I’d love for you to point me to your source for Leonora Piper “displaying her wares” and exhibiting “great charisma”. I thought I’d read pretty much all the source material on her mediumship, but I’ve obviously missed something because your description does not match what I’ve read.

    As for implicating Oliver Lodge as “succumbing willingly” to his “fleshy fantasies”…again, source?

  15. Sgerbic says:

    “I’m sure that with a little research, we would find that there are plenty of male mediums who have put these same tactics to use.”

    Thanks Mark.

    I’m thinking of the scandal of Bess Houdini and the (male) medium. I think his name was St. John (?) This was after Harry’s death, the medium found that Bess could use some comfort and guidance in the lonely world after Harry. If she had been Betty Nobody he wouldn’t have bothered, but Houdini’s widow! What a goldmine. We have mostly forgotten it nowadays but at the time it was quite a scandal. Totally exposed Bess as the weak individual that she really was, ruined her reputation completely.

    • B. Kildow says:

      The medium, as I recall, was the ever-lovely purveyor of tripe, Arthur Ford. At the time, Bess Houdini was described by many of her friends as drinking heavily, a not-unlikely circumstance following the death of a loved spouse; self-medicating loss and depression with alcohol is common. I would not describe her as, “weak” nor would I say that it “ruined her reputation completely”. I would describe her as a woman going through a horrible loss and grasping at hope while under the influence of alcohol. Her reputation among her friends did not suffer; she was seen as someone to be pitied, not censored. And the only “scandal” per se was the fact that she was seen in public inebriated on more than one occasion. Women drinking themselves to death in *private* was one thing (and also not at all uncommon). Drinking to a state of being affected by it in *public* was quite another matter at the time.

  16. Jim Carr says:

    I was directed to the comments here from my website devoted to exposing the claims of Anita Ikonen, aka VisionFromFeeling aka Alenara the Breatharian (click my name for the link) and from an e-mail from someone who found my site by visiting Anita’s website (she calls my site her “fansite” and links to it).

    I had seen your blog when originally posted, thought it interesting, and moved on. In no way did I see the dubious interpretations put forth by Anita. Unfortunately, the interpretation is not surprising.

    I don’t meant to attack Anita personally, but her claim of ending a “four year long loveless relationship” contradicts her *repeated* claims of being very much in love and being engaged to his man. This same man is also an alleged witness to her two claims of healing powers. First, she claims he was healed by her. Second, she claims he witnessed her healing a friend of his by transmitting “light” from her mind to the “dark areas” of his brain and adjusting the voltage related to his optic nerve. He has also an alleged witness of her telepathy and other various feats.

    I bring these points up as context for why skeptics and Anita would be discussing her love life in the first place. She brought him up herself to provide unconfirmed anecdotal “evidence” – the backbone of her claims. Unconfirmed because he has never verified any of her claims publicly or privately.

    The other times she brought him up was when she made false accusations of sexual harassment and engaged in public flirting with a member of the JREF Forums. She made it a point to tell us that they were deeply in love, and he was comfortable with the attention other men gave her because he was secure in their relationship.

    All of my claims can be backed up with publicly available links to sites should I be called upon to do so.

  17. desertgal says:

    Mark Edward says: “Next Stop: she goes professional and points to all the skeptical groups (and individuals) who found her claims “interesting” and “worthy of further investigation.””

    Exactly so. Anita Ikonen is continually attempting to have her most marketable claims stamped with a “Skeptic Approved” label. Her less marketable claims – the ones that could be demonstrated with a simple, conclusive test with self evident results – are brushed to the side as whenever she is asked to test them.

    Mark Edward seems unwilling to give her another “free ride in the skeptical press”. Good for you, ME.

  18. AUJT says:

    We’re gonna be rich!!! We open The Skeptologist’s Psychic Bordello right outside Las Vegas! Right next to my Catholic themed Casino, The Nevatican. We’ll rake in the dough and buy our own tv network. I hear that Fox News is gonna be a steal soon. :-)

    • Sgerbic says:

      Awesome! Just think we can frequent it during TAM. (just make sure you wash after) Wonder if it will be built by July? Need to save up you know.

      LOL the Nevatican! At least this blog is generating some great new words. Wonder if the skeptic’s dictionary would be interested in Aujt and Robo’s new words?

      • Robo Sapien says:

        For a small fee, she’ll work her crystal ball. For a large fee, she’ll work your balls. Brilliant. Condoms and Proton Packs available at the front counter. Visitors could also tour the fun house, and witness otherworldly phenomena such as gynokinesis and vaginal projection.

      • Sgerbic says:

        I hear that Quark’s Bar was closed down. Maybe this would be a great location?

      • Robo Sapien says:

        Wouldn’t know, never been out that way, as my mediocre income prohibits. I’ll have to settle for internet woo-porn.

      • Sgerbic says:

        Woo-Porn. Stop it your insane. For some reason I’m picturing Winnie-the-Poo

  19. Robo Sapien says:

    Somebody call Loxton, I smell a new skeptical kids cartoon: Pinnie the Woo

  20. Neighbour says:

    I am so relieved that this strange phenomenon has been experienced by other people too! And that it’s been substantiated! It happened to me! Right here in London!

    I was just passing this house when the door opened and there was this girl who I had never seen before in a state of undress, beckoning me in, saying that she needed a male volunteer for a seance experiment. It couldn’t have been more than two minutes of succumbing to her invitation that I entered a trance-like state.

    When I awoke, I was stark naked and I could hear the young lady, as if from afar, excitedly describing in meticulous detail to someone just what wild sex had happened between us. She had apparently put me into a hypnotic trance, to realise, I suspect, some wild and erotic fantasy. I didn’t know that at this time she was on the phone to the police.

    Honestly officer! That’s exactly what happened! Can you loosen these handcuffs a bit? My hands are going numb. I’ll come quietly. Promise!

    (Transcript of Statement for defense/sexual assault – excerpt thereof. Regina v Neighbour, Old Bailey, 2005.)

  21. Janus says:

    Keep fighting the good fight Mark, and go Force One!

  22. kabol says:

    vaginal ectoplasm

    dangerous proximity of the winky

    irresistible pull of evil woo vagina

    i just don’t know about this. unless…band names?