Dark Intrusions

I haven’t read Dark Intrusions, but from a review by Nick Redfern, which can be read in its entirety here:

“… this is a truly excellent and wide study of a phenomenon undertaken by a man who has not only been touched and changed by SP [sleep paralysis] himself, but who has had the courage to seek out the answers to this mystery, and who ultimately triumphs, rather than merely playing the role of victim to the menacing entities that invade our slumber.

As Proud states: “… the SP state puts you in direct contact with your soul.”

The publisher has more about the book here, including a table of contents. This whole subject is just so disturbing and scary to me. I don’t know what to make of it (which doesn’t mean I’m not buying it, I try to have an open mind). The subject makes me think of Communion, Whitley Strieber’s book about alien abduction. (Strieber gets a chapter in Proud’s book.) I also didn’t know what to make of Strieber’s experiences either. But ever since reading his book, from time to time at night I look out the window and wonder how I would respond if aliens suddenly appeared. I feel lucky that I’ve never had to answer that question.

Great Footage from a 1976 Movie

Thanks to Guy Jackson for pointing me to The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena on YouTube, and thanks to ChortleNEOK, the person who uploaded it. In it are brief appearances from all sorts of people I learned about while researching my book.

It was uploaded in 8 parts. Part 6, for instance, has a small section about EVP which begins at 6:52. Raymond Bayless and medium Attila von Szalay (I wrote about them in my book) show up with writer/researcher D. Scott Rogo at 7:52.

[Videos removed because the link no longer works.]

I also liked the section about Ted Serios in part 3 (Jules Eisenbud also appears). Gaither Pratt, a Duke parapsychologist, wrote that Serios had to get drunk in order to perform. Apparently they all had to wait around while Serios drank and drank. It just made me laugh reading that, knowing how serious Gaither could be. So I laughed again when I saw the quick shot of a bottle on the table in the Serios section, which starts at 7:16.

[Videos removed because the link no longer works.]

The actress Kathryn Grayson, who recently died, was brought in to play a psychic in part 2. Anyway, it’s fun, for the history, and the people who made this really did a lot of research. Something interesting called the Central Premonitions Registry was mentioned in part 1. It comes up when I google it, but nothing to indicate that it’s still an active concern.

IBM and ESP Part One

One of the most fun finds I made while going through the Parapsychology Laboratory’s correspondence was a 1938 exchange between J. B. Rhine and IBM.

Rhine contacted them first. “I am writing you concerning the possibility of adapting the Test Scoring Machine which you have invented, to the purpose of research we are conducting at the Parapsychology Laboratory here in extra-sensory perception.” Rhine was always trying to refine their experiments and tighten the controls, and part of that quest was the creation of an ESP machine.

The best part in this exchange however, was the response from IBM. “There is no question in my mind,” Reynold Johnson wrote back enthusiastically, that “it would be possible to develop a machine along the lines that you outline.” Again, this was 1938.

Reynold Johnson wasn’t just any IBM employee. He had designed the test scoring machine Rhine mentioned while working as a high school science teacher, and his design was bought by IBM, who then hired him as an engineer. Johnson went on to have an amazing career, with 90 patents to his name and he has been called the “father of the disk drive. (His Wikipedia entry is worth reading, he was an interesting guy.)

“I have given some thought to the application of the Test Scoring Machine to the problem you describe,” Johnson went on, “and have made out several forms which might possibly work out for the purposes you have in mind.” A detail from one of the forms he sent is shown above.

Johnson wasn’t sure if his machine could do the trick and said, “Undoubtedly a special machine more along the lines you outlined could be developed, but a good deal more information would have to be made available to us,” and then they talked about where the funds would come from in order to pay for the development of such a machine.

In the last letter I found Johnson said he was going to take up the matter with their Engineering Department and get back to him, but I couldn’t find any more letters after that. That isn’t to say they aren’t in there. There are over 700 boxes in the Parapsychology Laboratory archives at Dukes and I didn’t go through them all.

I keep meaning to post about how much else is in there to explore. I just scratched the surface. There are still countless discoveries like this one to be made.

Ectoplasm: Myth or Reality – A Lecture on February 16

As part of the Parapsychology Foundation’s Perspectives Lecture Series, Walter Meyer zu Erpen, historian, Archivist and President of the Survival Research Institute of Canada, will give a talk based upon photographs of ectoplasm taken by Dr. T. Glen Hamilton during experiments conducted in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1918-1935. From the press release:

“In trying to decide whether ectoplasm is myth or reality he will discuss the authenticity of the T.G. Hamilton archival collection and the question of photographic fraud highlighting the integrity of the Hamilton family and other researchers.”

The lecture will be held at the New York Open Center, 22 East 30th Street, New York, NY, 10016 with doors open at 6:45 p.m., the lecture begins at 7:00. Donations in support of non profit Parapsychology Foundation at the door of $10 are welcome.

(The photograph below is not from this series, this is from my collection and originally from the Rhine Research Center archives.)


News and Articles

I think I have The Daily Grail to thank for bringing my attention to a British Journal of Psychiatry report that auditory hallucinations in children may be common and not a sign of mental illness.

I’ve said this before, but had science paid attention to the discoveries of Dr. Louisa Rhine we’d be fifty years ahead of where we are now on this subject! (That is Louisa Rhine in the photograph.)

I also want to link to a couple of interesting pieces. I’d love to get some feedback to this first one from some parapsychologists.

It’s an interview with Dr. Michael Persinger, and the headline reads: Neuroscience Researcher and Laurentian University professor, Dr. Michael Persinger, demonstrates telepathy under laboratory conditions.

The second is an interesting article called, Not Your Daddy’s Team: The Queer Side of the Paranormal.

Forgotten Mediums of New York

In 1945, J. B. Rhine started corresponding with the widow of Lt. Ernest D. Wenberg, an Army doctor who died on December 23, 1944, while a POW of the German government. Like so many other widows who wrote J.B., Mrs. Wenberg wanted to communicate with her dead husband. Her letters to Rhine described all her recent sittings with the psychics of New York, where she was living at the time, and also a few of her encounters outside New York.

For instance, the Rev. C. Drayton Thomas had held four proxy sittings for her with the British medium Mrs. Leonard, who doesn’t really count as a forgotten medium, at least not forgotten by any students of parapsychology.

But the more interesting parts of Mrs. Wenberg’s letters were the sections about mediums I’d never heard of. Mrs. Wenberg was getting advice from a Miss Gertrude Tubby, the former secretary of the late Dr. James H. Hyslop (a Columbia professor turned psychical researcher). Miss Tubby said she only knew two reliable mediums in New York. The first was Beulah Brown.

When I googled Brown I found that she was still working as a psychic until at least the late 1970’s. She gets a brief mention in a Jazz Times article about the composer and musician Horace Silver. “Around that time, in the late ’70s, he also consulted with the New York-based medium, Beulah Brown, who gave him the name for his label, Silveto.”

This was an ad placed in the New York Times in the 50’s.


The second medium recommended by Miss Tubby was Mrs. Tellier, the widow of Louis Tellier, a French golfer who hung himself in a shelter on the grounds of the Brae Burn Country Club in Newton, Massachusetts.


I have yet to find out a thing about Mrs. Tellier, who refused to sit with Mrs. Wenberg. She told Mrs. Wenberg she was “not taking any more sitters for a couple of weeks, due to physical and emotional fatigue.”  

Update:  a relative of Mrs. Tellier (Sheila Ryan) has very kindly sent me a photograph of Mrs. Ella Tellier.  She is the one in white in the back row at the left.  Sheila doesn’t know a lot about her, but she is going to try to find out more and she said she would share what she learned.  Thank you Sheila, and thank you for the photograph.


Meanwhile Mrs. Wenberg continued to visit mediums, whether they were recommended by Miss Tubby or not. She tried to see someone named Eddie MacKay, but at the time MacKay was “very skittish and would not see me unless I was vouched for personally or by letter by my informant,” who was not named. The unnamed informant in turn recommended a medium named Edward L. Thorne.

However, in her letter Mrs. Wenberg describes Thorne as “the most mercenary and unmitigated fake. He holds no private sittings—why should he, since he gets a dollar for an average of 2 1/2 minutes of drivel at his public meetings and must pull down $75 dollars easily every night.”

Thorne is to the far left in this picture, which is from a June 16, 1941 Life Magazine article about the skeptic Joseph Dunninger. Mrs. Wenberg said Thorne looked “something like an older edition of Orson Wells” and I can see it. That’s Dunninger on the other side of the table.

Mrs. Wenberg attended two of Thorne’s public sittings and her accounts are quite detailed. But when it came to Thorne, Mrs. Wenberg sided with Dunninger. “… it is sickening to see such creatures battening on the credulity and perhaps grief, of people. Not the least distressing thing is to have individuals who seem to be intelligent recommend frauds to one. It makes me doubt what one reads in even apparently well-authenticated books.”