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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Telepathy and Ectoplasm

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Telepathy and Ectoplasm is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Spectator No. 4987 on 26 january 1924.


Telepathy and Ectoplasm

The Spectator No. 4987 (p. 123)

[To the Editor of the "Spectator."]

Sir, — I should advise my friend, Mr. Edward Clodd, to go very carefully in this matter of Ectoplasm. I do not wish to see his honoured name quoted by posterity in the same black list which contains those who called Galvani "the frog's dancing master," or who described hypnotism in its earlier form of mesmerism as a "vulgar superstition." Those who go out of their way to ridicule are often those who are themselves ridiculed before the story is done.

I speak with some certainty upon this point as I have held a string of ectoplasm between my finger and thumb in a good light. I have a photograph of Professor Flammarion inspecting the same phenomenon at close quarters under the same form in the same week. Many men can be quoted who will say the same, speaking from their own personal experience. Dr. Giley's experiments alone were checked by a hundred scientific men. What is Mr. Clodd's negative hearsay evidence compared with the mass of positive testimony which we can advance? If, however, the existence of sceptics makes us the more careful in checking our facts, then it is all to the good. There are rogues in the business, and I was very glad to read that one of them received a well-deserved thrashing at the hands of Dr. Schrenck-Notzing.

As to telepathy it is a waste of time to argue. The evidence is overpowering, but one cannot force a sceptic to examine it. Let the doubter read the second chapter of Phantasms of the Living (Kegan Paul), and then ask himself how many facts in Science have been as clearly demonstrated. The book was published in 1886. — I am, Sir, &c.,

Arthur Conan Doyle.
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.





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