I seem to be popping up everywhere in the past week. (Well and truly spoiling 10 hard years of work cultivating a totally obscure existence). After being interviewed by Reality Sandwich, which was then generously linked to by David Pescovitz at Boing Boing (via Strange Attractor - thanks Mark!), I've also made a guest appearance on Michael Prescott's blog, commenting about afterlife research and dubious skepticism.
I emailed Michael in response to an earlier posting of his regarding 'super-medium' Leonora Piper, and Martin Gardner's extremely weak 'debunking' of her work - Michael was nice enough to post my thoughts to his readers. Part of it is the little known - and astonishing - fact that Leonora Piper at some points had three 'personalities' communicating through her at the same time - one in trance, talking, and one through each hand via automatic writing...and what's more, the scripts were written backwards, mirror style:
Came across something when reading an SPR journal which is a decent response to one of Martin Gardner's accusations against Leonora Piper. Thought you'd probably be interested in it:
Gardner: "Mediums in a city know one another. Those who patronize one medium usually visit others. At the time there were scores of mediums in Boston, forming a network of scoundrels who passed information freely back and forth."
SPR Journal: "That Mrs. Piper should have worked up the dossiers of all the sitters some time before was practically impossible. No doubt it was permissible to assume a freemasonry amongst professional mediums, and that any information obtained by one of the fraternity would be at the disposal of all. But a considerable proportion of Mrs. Piper's sitters were not even numbered amongst the 500 odd Members and Associates of the A.B.S.P.R. ; and very few had ever been to a professional medium before." ...
Also, as you mentioned the simultaneous voice and writing communication in your original blog, I thought it worth pointing out this passage from Michael Sage's book on Piper. Fascinating aspect of the phenomenon IMO:
"The voice may keep up a conversation with a sitter while the hand keeps up another in writing with someone else on a wholly different subject. If the sitter who is talking with the hand allows his attention to be distracted by what the voice says, the hand recalls his attention by its movements. When anyone is speaking to the hand control, it is necessary to speak to the hand, and close to the hand, or there is a risk of not being understood. In short, one must behave as if the hand were a complete and independent being.
"Observation of this phenomenon suggested to Dr Hodgson that by using the left hand he could perhaps obtain three communications on three different subjects. He tried and succeeded, although imperfectly; no doubt because, in the normal state, the left hand is not used to writing...
"The writing often looks like that on a lithographic stone, and can only be read when reflected in a glass; this writing, which is called mirror-writing, is produced as rapidly as ordinary writing, though Mrs Piper, in her normal state, would be unable to write in this way. This mirror-writing has been often observed in subjects who write automatically; the cause for it is still to be found."
In my opinion, the SPR investigation of Mrs Piper deserves far more attention than modern science has given it...