The Sideric Pendulum (The Otago Daily Times)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Sideric Pendulum is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Otago Daily Times (New Zealand) on 21 december 1920.

It was a reply to Geo M. Thomson's letter published on 20 december 1920 in the same newspaper (see below). Geo. M. THomson refers to The Sideric Pendulum article published in The Strand Magazine in august 1920.

The Sideric Pendulum (21 december 1920)

The Otago Daily Times (21 december 1920)


Sir, — It is a curious fact that some people can never discuss an unknown phenomenon without becoming rude. Thus the Hon. G. M. Thomson alludes to the pretty little problem involved in the sideric pendulum, and yet must needs quote St. Paul, talk about charlatanry, and make himself generally offensive. The phenomenon is not claimed as spiritualistic, but as abnormal and unexplained. Anyone can test it for him or herself, and the test is a harmless amusement, with nothing to justify the ire of the Hon. G. M. Thomson. Take a piece of fine string or silk, tie one end round the finger, and attach a weight — a gold ring for choice — to the other end. Stand north and south. Now hold the ring about an inch above any photograph. Within a minute the ring, if the photograph is of a male, will describe circles ; if it is of a female it will describe an ellipse. This is the simplest test, but there are many extensions of it. It is a very old observation, extending back to the Romans, and has in ancient days been used for divination. I would return the Hon. G. M. Thomson's text by saying: "Try all things. Hold fast to that which is good." — I am, etc.,


The Sideric Pendulum (20 december 1920)

The Otago Daily Times (20 december 1920)


Sir, — A few months ago an article en titled "The Sideric Pendulum" appeared in a popular magazine, and was prefaced by an introduction by Sir A. Conan Doyle. This article was a wicked thing, and did a good deal of mischief among credulous women. Pretending to be scientific, and using terms employed by physicists which have a definite scientific meaning, the writer averred that anyone could detect certain facts by the swinging of a gold ring. I need not go into details. The thing was either a piece of charlatanry of the grossest type, or the writer was one of those foolish credulous people of the sort referred to by Paul, "which creep into houses and lead captive silly women." If Sir A. Conan Doyle wishes to convince his hearers of the matter of his lectures, he might explain how he came to countenance the article referred to. — I am, etc.,

Geo. M. Thomson.
Dunedin, December 18, 1920.