Sir A. Conan Doyle Declines

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Sir A. Conan Doyle Declines is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Daily Express No. 5481 on 1 november 1917.

Sir A. Conan Doyle Declines

Daily Express No. 5481 (p. 3)


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle declines the offer of the "Daily Express" to give mediums whose genuineness he has proved by experience an opportunity of demonstrating their powers before a selected number of men and women to whom he could not possibly object.

He writes as follows:-

To the Editor of the "Daily Express."

Sir, — I do not think that any committee which you could assemble could possibly be more weighty than that which formed itself under the name of the Dialectical Society. In its report it says: "Four-fifths entered upon the investigation wholly sceptical as to the reality of the alleged phenomena, firmly believing them to be the result of imposture, delusion, or involuntary muscular action."

Forty meetings were held under test conditions, with the result that the sub-committee upon the phenomena reported unanimously upon the truth of the claims made by the Spiritualists.

In the same way the Psychical Research Society originated in a body of men many of whom were entirely incredulous. It is now well known that Mr. Myers, Dr. Hodgson, and other leaders, who began as sceptics, were forced by the evidence to reconsider their views. It is true that these were individual expressions of opinion, for the society has never presented a collective report.

There have been several other such investigations at different times, and I am not clear that anything is to be gained by another one. People seem to be continually demanding new evidence when they have never taken the trouble to master the evidence which already exists.

I may add that this is, in my opinion, a subject to be treated with decent reverence even by those who are merely inquirers. A suggested investigation which begins by applying the comic term of "spooks" to the spirits of those whom we have loved and lost is not one with which I could be associated.

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex,
Oct. 30.