Was Daniel Dunglas Home a fraud a true medium(for open-minded people,only)?

Discussion in 'Pseudoscience Archive' started by Gravage, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Daniel Dunglas Home, pronounced hume, was once described by Beloff as ''the most celebrated medium of all time, judging by the number and impressiveness of the séances of which we have records and by the caliber of the observers whom he attracted in the many countries he visited". Nothing less than a phenomena, Home conducted over 1500 séances and physic demonstrations. He was investigated by world famous scientists, his 'acts' always conducted in broad daylight, and in settings other than his own home. No proof yet exists that Daniel Home was anything less than the 'real thing'...

    Daniel Home was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 20, 1833. His parents could not afford to raise him so his Aunt took over the responsibility until his parents were better off. At the age of 9, Home was able to rejoin his parents in Connecticut in the United States.

    The Strangeness Begins

    Upon arriving in America, his Aunt began to recount Home's extraordinary abilities. Beginning at the age of 4, Home was able to foresee future events. It was recorded that he once saw a friend who had died a few days earlier. His mother, herself a clairvoyant, knew that these types of abilities ran in the family, so the fact that Home was 'special' was not surprising to her.

    As Home grew older his abilities became more acute. By the age of 17, his household was experiencing a slew of poltergeist type events - knocking sounds, furniture moving about the house on its own accord, lights mysteriously flashing off and on. Strangely, the family at first had no inkling what was going on but their suspicions grew when it became apparent that Home was always present during the strange events. The final straw came when Home's father noticed Home smirking at the sight of a chair slithering about the house chasing his sister. His parents forced him to depart the home claiming he was demonic.

    Home the Medium

    Home wandered here and there, not sure what he should do with his gift. When he finally decided he could profit from them (not literally as Home never accepted payment specifically for his services), his fortunes began to pick up. Home began giving séances during which tables would raise off of the floor, rappings would be produced in the room, even spirit voices were heard. Home could even levitate persons against their will. What added to Home's credibility was the fact that all the séances were always held in broad daylight or well lit rooms. They were never held in his own house so no beforehand 'staging' was ever possible.

    Home astounded people by demonstrating his ability to give them accurate details on their life, some of which the person themselves had completely forgotten. In one case, a a woman was reduced to tears after Home's startling account of the details of her life.

    None the less remarkable was Home's demonstrated ability to elongate his body, often times up to a additional foot in length. This quite visible manifestation often shocked persons to such an extreme that they would flee from the room.

    In 1855, Home moved onward to Britain. Spiritualism was very big in Britain at this time so Home was well received by his peers. By this time Home had added levitation and apports (ethereal hands that would dissolve after materialization) to his routine. Prefaced by the appearance of famous mediums Mrs. Hayden and Mrs. Roberts, Home was an instant hit.

    One attendant of his sessions, Gauld stated,

    His sitters were quite frequently privileged to witness the most astounding events, often in good light - levitation of tables and other objects, playing of musical instruments by unseen hands, the actual materialization of spirit hands, and so forth'. Gauld further adds: 'He never charged for his sittings, whatever gains he made from them being indirect and in the way of hospitality and gifts.

    In another account, the attendee stated,

    I had hold of his hand at the time, and I felt his feet- they were lifted a foot from the floor! Again and again he was taken from the floor; and the third time he was carried to the lofty ceiling of the apartment, with which his hand and head came into gentle contact.

    Home's Fame Grows

    Home began traveling around the neighboring areas, possibly due to an early attempt on his life (1855), and visited places such as Holland, France, Russia, and Prussia. It is documented that he performed before Prince Murat, Napoleon III (who verified 'direct writing' of Napoleon Bonaparte signing his name) and Empress Eugenie (who claimed to see her dead father materialize). It was also during this time that Home briefly turned to Catholicism during which time he was received by Pope Pius IX. Other fans included Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Lord Lytton, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Ruskin, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Of course Home also had his detractors - it was known that the famous poet Robert Browning furiously detested him.

    In 1859 Home married Alexandria, god daughter of the Tsar, in St. Petersburg. They moved to London, England to set up permanent residence. Four years after their marriage Alexandria died, but not before she was able to birth a child they named Gregoire. Given the predicament of being a single parent, Home found it possible to support his small family by giving lectures on spiritualism.

    When Gregoire was just a child, Home relocated to Rome where he could study sculpturing. His teachers soon discovered Home's uncanny talents and forced him to leave under charges of sorcery. Home reluctantly returned to Britain and vowed to forever restrain his abilities. He soon found that the powers he possessed were not under his direct control...

    Shortly after his return to Britain, his followers formed the Spiritual Athenaeum in order to provide financial support for Home. Once again, Home's abilities provided much fanfare and he quickly became a well-known celebrity throughout Europe.

    It was during this time, in 1868, that one of Home's most legendary events occurred. During a séance at the home of Mr. S.C. Hall (at No. 15 Ashley Place), Home demonstrated his abilities before a crowd of people. Home effortlessly floated across the room, passed out an open third story window, and returned the same way he left. Lord Linksay recorded the event:

    I was sitting on December 16, 1868, Lord Adare's rooms in Asley Place, London, S.W., with Mr. Home and Lord Adare and cousin of his. During the sitting, Mr. Home went into a trance, and in that state was carried out of the window in the room next to where we were, and was brought in at our window. The distance between the windows was about seven feet six inches, and there was not the slightest foothold between them, nor was there more than a 12 in projection to each window, which served as a ledge to put flowers on. We heard the window in the next room lifted up, and almost immediately after we saw Home floating in the air outside our window. The moon was shinning full into the room; my back was to the light, and I saw the shadow on the wall of the windowsill, and Home's feet about six inches above it. He remained in this position for a few seconds, then raised the window and glided into the room feet foremost and sat down. Lord Adare then went into the next room to look at the window from which he had been carried. It was raised about 18 inches, and he expressed his wonder how Mr. Home had been taken through so narrow an aperture. Home said (still in a trance) " I will show you," and then with his back to the window he leaned back and was shot out of the aperture head first, with the body rigid, and then returned quite quietly. The window is about 70 feet from the ground.

    Debunker Attempts

    As word of such events spread, debunkers began their crusade to prove that Home was a hoax. One debunker, W.M.Thackeray met with Homes and afterwards stated, "It is all very well for you, who have probably never seen any spiritual manifestations, to talk as you do; but had you seen what I have witnessed, you would hold a different opinion".

    Other debunkers offered various theories including the belief that Home chloroformed his sitters or used hypnosis in order to perform his events. Some claimed that Home used secret police information to obtain details on the lives of his sitters. Some even theorized that Home traveled with a hidden monkey that was responsible for the levitations and movements of furniture.

    Others claimed that they could duplicate Home's demonstrations in order to prove that a more earthly rationalization existed for his amazing feats:

    Prominent stage magicians such as Harry Houdini, John Nevil Mackelyne, and John Mulholland claimed that they could duplicate Home's feats but never did. Houdini announced he would duplicate Home's levitation at Lord Adare's home, but cancelled the event.

    Crooke's Scientific Studies

    In 1871, Sir William Crookes, a physicist and chemist, conducted tightly controlled experiments with Home. The iron-clad results were nothing less than stunning. Despite this, Crookes published results, in which the word psychic was coined, were publicly scorned by his peers.

    Crookes first tested Home's telekinesis by having Home move a spring balance placed on the other side of the room. During these controlled experiments, Home's feet and hands were bound to the chair he was sitting in. The chair was carefully examined before and after the experiments. If a table were used as a prop, it too was inspected before and after the tests.

    Crooke's next test involved a accordion placed in an iron cage. Situated on a table in front of Home, he was able to levitate the accordion and even play a short song on it. Lady Crooke's, one of three witnesses present, insisted that Home's facilities were not his own but rather the results of a second, unseen entity from 'the other side'. Her description of the accordion experiment indicated that she saw,

    a cloudy appearance which soon seemed to condense into a distinct human form, clothed in a filmy drapery...It was semitransparent, and I could see the sitters through it all the time. Mr. Home remained near the sliding doors. As the figure approached I felt an intense cold, getting stronger as it got nearer, and as it gave me the accordion I could not help screaming. The figure seemed to sink into the floor to the waist, leaving only the head and shoulder visible, still playing the accordion, which was then about a foot off the floor

    In a exhibition that was quite common for Home, he demonstrated his apparent resistance to fire. Home was able to pick up a hot coal from the fire, hold it in his hand while blowing on the coal until it turned white hot, then return the coal back into the fire it came from. Crooke documented the results of one such demonstration that he himself had witnessed,

    Mr. Home told me to leave my seat and come with him to the fire. He asked me if I should be afraid to take a live coal (ember) from his hand. I said, no, I would take it if he would give it to me. He then put his hand among the hot coals (embers), and deliberately picked out the brightest bit and held it in his hand for a few seconds. He appeared to deliberate for a time, and then returned it to the grate, saying the power was too weak, and he was afraid I might be hurt. During this time I was kneeling on the hearthrug, and am unable to explain how it was he was not severely burnt.... After Home had recovered from the trance I examined his hand with care to see if there were any signs of burning or of previous preparation. I could detect no trace of injury to the skin, which was soft and delicate like a woman's.

    In Crooke's studies, he documented currents of air, quantifiable changes of temperature, percussive noises, deviations in the weight of objects, movement and levitation of furniture with no contact, levitation of Home himself, movements of objects from a distance, luminescences (points of light darting about), materializations, direct writing (hands visible of invisible taking up pens to write messages), apparitiond, and demonstrations of knowledge that Home would have had no way of knowing in advance (Home could tell people specific events about their life and their future).

    Other scientists and debunkers attended Home's 'sittings' - none were ever able to prove that Home was a fraud.

    Home's Last Days

    Shortly after these tests, Home married a second time to Julie de Gloumeline, a affluent Russian heiress. He then proceeded to cease his unearthly activities.

    Two years later, in 1873, Home moved to the Mediterranean due to a recurring bout of tuberculosis. He spent the remainder of his life there until he died on June 12, 1886 at the age of 40. He was buried at St Germain-en-Laye.

    My question:So,is it truly possible that Home was a true medium and could do all of these stuff above,even so the most famous and the most respected scientists of the Home's time couldn't find the evidence of the fraudness?
    I mean no scientist was able to prove his fraudness,not even William Crooks.

    Now,I just found a website about the book which proves that Daniel Dunglas Home was a fraud,and how he was able to make a sir William Crookes another believing victim-here is the website about the that book:

    Any comment,please(for only open-minded people)?
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Gravage Registered Senior Member

  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Gravage Registered Senior Member

  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Gravage Registered Senior Member

  8. Gravage Registered Senior Member

  9. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Could you clarify a point from the thread title. Do you mean open-minded or just gullible? Or to put it another way, can you find even one person on this forum who claims to have a closed mind? So why specify the requirement? It just invites off-topic posts like this one.
  10. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

    I'm open-minded enough to accept that Home was a fraud.
  11. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Yes,after all,any of these tricks like levitation and elongation of body have been successfully made by magicians.daniel Dunglas Home was nothing more than a mere fraud,he even fooled some of the greatest chemists and physicists of the 19th century.However,it had been thorougly investigated and examined almost any of the famous mediums and all of these mediums where extremely adept hoaxers.Part of these seeing,is also self-suggestion which has very powerful effects on people,as well as subconsciously manipulating them to see things that don't exist.
  12. itachi Registered Member

    The Sorcerers of Kings
    Gordon Stein, Ph.D.
    Foreword by James Randi
    Prometheus, 1993, 116 pp, notes, bibliography, index, €35.80, ISBN 0-87975-863-5.

    Scientists of the time remained aloof from the phenomena of spiritualism, unwilling to attend séances or examine the phenomena under controlled conditions. A rare exception was Sir William Crookes (1832-1919), a chemist and physicist who was roundly ridiculed by many of his fellow scientists for his five-year investigation of a number of important spiritualists and mediums, including Daniel Dunglas Home, Florence Cook and Anna Eva Fay. Although many were later proven frauds, this was never the case with Daniel Dunglas Home - until now.

    "the answer to life the universe and everything is 42"
  13. Neildo Gone Registered Senior Member

    Lemme guess how the foreward goes..


    No idea if that guy is legit or not, it's just something I find amusing with James Randi, heh.

    - N
  14. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    What do you mean,now?
    How they proved Home is a fraud,has anyone today(without high-tech help) duplicated all of his tricks?
    Do you know how did they expose Florence Cook and Anna Eva Fay,Minnie Harrelson and all others...?
    And it's not spiritualism,it's spiritism.Spiritualism means something different-it doesn't describe medium's capapbilities,ghosts themesleves,it has different meaning,I just read it in the vocabulary.
  15. Silas asimovbot Registered Senior Member

    Did you know that a recent relative of Dunglas Home became Prime Minister of Great Britain - Sir Alec Douglas-Home was PM from October 1963 to October 1964. (Dunglas(s) is still a family name in that dynasty - prior to succeeding to his earldom - he was the 14th Earl of Home until he renounced that title to become Prime Minister - Alec Douglas-Home had the courtesy title Lord Dunglass, and it was as Lord Dunglass that he accompanied Neville Chamberlain to the 1938 Munich talks with Hitler.)
    At a distance of 120 years and more with nothing other than documented eyewitness evidence, the fact that there is no "proof" that he was a fake in reality means no more than to say that the documented eyewitness evidence constitutes proof that he wasn't. And it doesn't.

    A swift application of Occam's razor here - no need for multiplying the entities responsible, if Dunglas Home was clearly responsible for the "haunting" he was clearly responsible for it. Evidently he had a talent for tomfoolery which he employed for his own amusement. No mystical forces need apply.

    You know, the phrase "parlour trick" has its origin in exactly this kind of activity.

    Undoubtedly he was an excellent cold reader.

    Quite laughable, I'm afraid. I myself could probably take nearly a foot off my height (as Sherlock Holmes once did - ref: The Empty House in The Return of Sherlock Holmes) and then "magically" grow taller in the presence of strangers.

    What is more notable about this story, however, is that a supposed ability to lengthen one's body has nothing, surely, to do with the ability to contact the dead and get details of people's lives? Instead it indicates a personality who is prone to use any means to bamboozle and astonish an audience - a natural illusionist, in other words.
    So, he did make a fairly good living from his talent then!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    However that is not the point I'm making here. This section is a good example of looking out for what they don't tell you as well as what they do. For example, all we are told is that people experienced "the playing of musical instruments by unseen hands". I suppose this puts into most people's minds an image of a violin and bow having no visible means of support, and giving a quick rendition of The Flight of the Bumblebee. But in fact there are all sorts of ways to get musical instruments to emit sound that does not involve conventionally playing them. For example, if a piano was involved, it is possible (particularly with an upright) to hit the mute pedal in such a way that notes can clearly be heard. Not a tune - but it doesn't say that a tune was played.

    Again, this is illusionism - the evident purpose here is to amaze and entertain rather than to genuinely use supposed supernatural powers in order to help people, or even oneself. If Dunglas Home really had an amazing power of levitation, one would rather expect him to utilise it on a day to day basis, out on the street. Instead of going upstairs to bed (or to a room upstairs in which he was going to perform a séance) why would he not as a matter of course levitate his way to his destination?

    There seems to be scarcely an item in the medium's bag of tricks which Dunglas Home did not perform. On the other hand, there is nothing that he did perform which is notably original to him. Spirit writing is an old trick, many people have been fooled into thinking they saw their dead relatives by many mediums over the years.

    This vow - was it made in public? Was it reported at the time to a friend? Or was it later when retelling his life story (and having clearly not given up his activities) that he told of this supposed recantation? In any case, it obviously did not stick, and he rapidly regained his celebrity - just as David Copperfield or David Blaine might do.

    Same objection I made earlier - if the man could fly, why does he only do it when he's performing? I'm not making any claims about how this particular trick was performed, but a trick it undoubtedly was. Also we have the disbenefit of not having a visual record, but only the written statement of an eyewitness. Since the purpose and method of illusion is to lead the audience to see only what the illusionist wishes them to see, there is no way to determine from this account what it was the illusionist did not want Lord Linksay to see. (But as I said before, the evidence that there was something to hide is shown by the fact that Dunglas Home did not routinely levitate for his own convenience).

    The trouble with people of a scientific bent attempting to debunk mediums is that they are only scientists, not professional illusionists. They are still conditioned to look at what they are seeing - and they are only seeing what the illusionist wants them to see. The various theories involving chloroform, secret police and monkeys do nothing more than demonstrate ignorance of basic human psychology.

    The first point I would make is that two of these magicians were not contemporaneous with Dunglas Home. In the perforce absence of any kind of visual record of what Dunglas Home did, it is therefore impossible to tell whether any trick performed by those well-known illusionists would have exactly duplicated what Dunglas Home did or not. But they certainly all performed tricks every bit as mysterious as those done by Dunglas Home. If Dunglas Home ever did any unique trick that had not been done by any other medium, then it is certainly a shame that Houdini did not take the opportunity to duplicate it, but that does not seem to be the case, and since Houdini was constantly recreating séance tricks as part of his campaign against mediums, there hardly seems to be any point in adding another one. Nonetheless, the fact that other illusionists can't reproduce a trick is not proof that it can be done. Annoyingly, of course, the converse is true as well. In fact this is a problem with James Randi, because in my personal view, the fact that James Randi can reproduce a trick (using normal illusion) is not proof that the purported psychic is using Randi's method.

    Since Crookes' peers were presumably physicists and chemsts, the fact that the experiment was scorned by them is the first indication that they were perhaps not as scientifically sound as Dunglas Home's defenders would have you believe. It is precisely the acceptance of one's experimental methodology by other people who know what you are doing which makes what you do there part of the scientific world - and if what one has done is not accepted by one's peers, ie by other people who know your field as well as or better than you do, then what you do does not become part of the scientific world.

    But what was the result? If the spring balance moved, how far did it move? The assumption is that some extraordinary result occurred, but we are not told exactly what it is.

    A remarkable account, indeed. But not seemingly corroborated by the other witnesses. This might indicate some kind of posthypnotic suggestion, but I don't particularly wish to talk about how the illusions were done, only that there is still nothing here that could not have been achieved by an expert illusionist. For example, we do not know under what circumstances the accordian ended up in the iron cage - it is possible that Crookes allowed Dunglas Home to get closer to it than should have really been allowed in a true blind test, and that Dunglas Home managed to finagle some kind of device which would make the accordion play. I'll just note here that there can hardly be any kind of instrument easier to get a note out of at a distance than a bellows instrument such as an accordian in a way that would not be possible with a trumpet, let's say. In fact, it is the fact that an accordion was used that instantly invites suspicion. So who suggested the instrument? Was it Dunglas Home or was it Crookes? A moments thought would have made any genuinely impartial scientist pick an instrument that seriously could not be played without some considerable physical effort being made. So Crookes is doubly doubtful as either a co-conspirator or at least as totally credulous to the expense of his own scientific credibility.

    Another illusionists' classic - a lump of coal painted red, palmed and apparently "picked" out of a fire - but notice that the coal was not given to Crookes even in tongs for him to examine closely, but was "put back". Of course, if there was no actual red hot coal, then the absence of burns on Dunglas Home's hand is doubly to be expected!

    In other words, so far from conducting a totally verifiable scientific experiment with safeguards against trickery, he simply had Dunglas Home perform his usual routines - levitations of objects and illusionist, cold reading, writing tricks (Houdini was a dab hand at those) and then to his amazement he cannot see how Dunglas Home does it! Well, this is not surprising, because Dunglas was evidently an expert.

    Which you would not be able to do if you were attending a "sitting". And see my remarks about the incompetence of scientists generally to correctly expose fraudulent psychics - it needs another trained illusionist to really get to the heart of it, and even then you can never tell if exactly the same techniques were used.
    And now I will check out that debunking book!
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2005
  16. Silas asimovbot Registered Senior Member

    I would like to point out that until I opened this thread, I was not remotely aware of Daniel Dunglas Home, or of William Crookes, and I did not check that link out (or the equivalent on amazon.co.uk) until I had finished reading Gravage's post and written my response. So nothing written there is based upon anything else than my own analysis of what Gravage wrote/quoted. Take my post as a pure exercise in skeptical thinking.

    Checking out that spritiwritng.com link I found this regarding scientific controls on experiments with mediums:
    Mme. d'Esperance, Miss Wood and Miss Fairlamb were meshed in nets like fish to prevent masquerading during their seances of materialization​
    Hmmmm.... scientific detatchment? Or a fishnet fetish??

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  17. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

    Well done, Silas. It was an interesting read.
  18. Silas asimovbot Registered Senior Member

    You're not going to believe this, but I'm sitting at home reviewing this topic, and behind me on the TV, on comes the episode of South Park in which Stan debunks TV medium John Edward!

    Coincidence??! I don't THINK so!!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


Share This Page