Sir Conan Doyle Gives Reply To Edison On Future

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Sir Conan Doyle Gives Reply To Edison On Future is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Sun (Baltimore) on 19 february 1928.


  • in The Sun (Baltimore) (19 february 1928 [US]) as Sir Conan Doyle Gives Reply To Edison On Future
  • in The Sacramento Bee (7 march 1928 [US]) as Conan Doyle Cites Spirit Story Hitting Edison Stand

Sir Conan Doyle Gives Reply To Edison On Future

The Sun (Baltimore) (19 february 1928, p. 9)

Takes Issue With Inventor's View That Question Of Survival In Great Beyond Is 50-50 Chance.

Describes "Return" Of Young Man Killed In Auto Crash Who "Talked" To Son Through Medium.

[Written for the Associated Press.]

Crowborough, England, Feb. 18. — I opened my paper the other day and the first item which met my eyes was the pronouncement by Mr. Edison, the venerable inventor, that the question of survival was a fifty-fifty one and that the chances were equal whether mankind had a future or not. What a bleak outlook for humanity if such an assertion were true, but it is not true, and we have the means of Proving that it is not true.

If Mr. Edison was really in touch with the evidence he would never have said a thing which will cast a shadow on many a heart and weaken many a spirit. He has, like so ninny honest thinkers, been repelled by those superficial and obvious flaws for which our movement is not really responsible.

Offers Came In Refutation.

But, all the same, he is much to blame in lending the weight of his name to such a statement Teeming a subject which he has obviously not examined. I could give him offhand a hundred cases within my own knowledge which would show that there is no fifty-fifty in the matter, but that one can safely claim to be a hundred per cent. believer in the life to come.

I have just room to give one case for his consideration, and ask him, if he honestly faces it, whether it does not cut the ground from under his feet. I will use names, for I am by nature a downright person and I have no use for stories which concern Mr. Plank or Mrs. X. This matter is too important for us to stand upon form and ceremony.

Some months ago the Hon. D. Duncombe, the young brother of the Earl of Feversham, was killed in a motor smash on the Great North road. His car at 2 in the morning ran into a lorry and his neck was broken.

Son Figures In Test.

Young Duncombe was a member of a little coterie of youths all at the same tutor's and all of them very keen on high-speed racing motors. My two boys, Denis and Malcolm, were of "the gang," as they called themselves.

Denis was very close with young Duncombe and some weeks ego he felt that he might get into touch with him. The reason for his belief was that some strange physical phenomena — the movement of objects, etc. — had been observed in his room and, he imagined, rightly or wrongly, that they had a meaning.

Therefore he went to consult Mrs. Barkel, a well-known medium at the Psychic College, in Holland Park. The rule of the college is that no name in given to the medium, so that, until my son entered the room she knew nothing of her sitter.

Dead Man Talks About It.

Notes were taken by Denis an he listened, and they lie before me as I write. The medium, falling into apparent trance, young Duncombe at once came through. He greeted Denis by name and referred one after another to all of the gang.

He gave his own nickname, and the nicknames of the others. This without any questioning or prompting. He then denied vehemently that he was asleep, as stated, when the accident occurred.

He described the accident minutely, drawing a diagram with the medium's hand, and he commented upon the evidence at the inquest.

He remarked upon a physical weakness which in life had made dancing difficult, and said that he was quite free from that now. He referred to a new racing car which my sons had bought, showed keen interest in it and chaffed them about it. He mentioned that one of the gang, even when in evening dress, carried a small spanner in his pocket.

Denies Collusion.

In fact, if the boy had been In the chair, instead of the entranced woman, he could not have talked more freely of all that was of mutual interest.

Now there is a case for Mr. Edison's consideration. Collusion? That is ruled out. To quote telepathy or the subconscious knowledge in long extended conversations is to explain by that which is itself inexplicable. These are the facts duly noted at the moment.

It is one of a hundred cases, but, taking it alone, I claim that Mr. Edison's fifty-fifty vanishes into smoke, and that my hundred per cent. contention must hold the field so long as there is logic and sanity and clear perception in the world.