A Psychic Experiment

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

A Psychic Experiment is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Times on 3 june 1930.

A Psychic Experiment

The Times (3 june 1930, p. 12)


Sir, — A psychic experiment was tried last year winch has attracted very much less notice than it deserved. The full account of it, however, is to be found in the official report of the American Psychical Society, which has only just been issued, and a synopsis of it might interest your readers.

Two psychic groups, the one conducted by Count Bon in Venice, the other the well-known Crandon group in Boston, endeavoured to transmit a message. The suggestion came from Venice and the arrangement was that the two groups should assemble, the Italian at 11 p.m. and the American group at 5 p.m., upon the same date, taking Italian time. That would synchronize the two assemblies. Both groups included scientific and responsible people, whom names are given. The transmission from America was en-trusted to the psychic powers of Mrs. Crandon, the wife of Dr. Crandon, the well-known investigator, the reception in Venice to the psychic perceptions of Valiantine, an experienced sensitive.

The procedure was as follows. Mr. Bligh Bond, secretary of the American society, tore off from the calendar certain numbers, holding them face downward, so that neither he nor any of the group was allowed to see what the numbers were. They were placed inside an envelope, which was sealed. Presently the room was darkened and Mr. Bligh Bond, acting Upon instructions from the entranced medium, unsealed his envelope and took out three of the slips, one by one, leaving them for some minutes in the dark upturned upon the table. The three slips were then replaced in his pocket. This concluded the proceedings so far as the American group Was concerned. At the conclusion the lights were turned up and the three numbers were taken. They proved to be three, five, and ten. A letter was at once written to the Venice group stating the numbers. This letter crossed one from Venice written upon the same evening and giving the same numbers, which had been duly recorded by Valiantine.

Three days later a modification of the experiment was tried. Valiantine had, in the meantime, left Venice, but the Italian group contained two Venetian ladies both of whom had psychic powers. On this occasion there was a greater delay and some difficulty at the Italian end, but finally the three numbers, four, two, and nine, were duly recorded. These proved to be the next three numbers on the slips in the envelope.

I have left out a great deal of detail which would have caused my letter to have been unduly long. I have, however, given the essential points. The interest of the experiment hes in the fact that it rules out the idea of telepathy, since the numbers transmitted were unknown to any of the Boston group. The only alternative seems to he in the spiritistic hypothesis which assumes an invisible intelligence, capable of manifesting at far distant points at approximately the same hour. It may be added that the experiment was carried out on the presumption that such a power existed, each step being taken at the direction of an unseen supervisor. Such an experiment opens up a vista of the wonderful possibilities which the future may bring.

Yours faithfully,

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex, May 27.