Letter to Harry Price (9 october 1925)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This letter was written by Arthur Conan Doyle on 9 october 1925 to Harry Price about spiritualism trickery, Mrs. Deane, and other spiritualists.


9th October, 1925.

Dear Mr. Price,

There is all the difference in the world between an 'unsatisfactory sitting' and a 'clear cut case of trickery.' You use both expressions in your note as if they were interchangeable terms.

I am all in favour of uncompromising honesty when a case is clear. But I know the immense harm done during the whole history of the movement by so called 'exposures' which really need just as much examination as the methods of the medium.

It is perfectly certain that Mrs. Deane was honest in the Cushman case and in the long series of experiments carried out by Mr. Warrick. Therefore it is a very great responsibility to throw doubt upon her results unless the evidence is overpowering.

I think Spiritualists are very wrong to hush up cases which are certain, and if you could give me any particular instances I should be glad to do all I could to bring the facts to light. I went as far as I could in the case of the Falconers, for I have no absolutely final evidence and there is some in their favour." Therefore I could only express my suspicion. I admired McKenzie's uncompromising honesty as regards Moss. At each stage he said exactly what he had reason to think was true, regardless of how it affected himself. Here the exposure was entirely due to spiritualists, and so it was with Hulme in the N. of England. Another medium, Evans, is being attacked in The Two Worlds, so that it seems to me spiritualists play very fair in these matters.

I should say in answer to your question that your Laboratory would be well advised to concentrate upon positive things rather than negative. The worthless experiment is simply discarded by the chemists. Clear fraud should of course be denounced but let it be clear.

Yours sincerely,

A. Conan Doyle