IN AN earlier chapter I promised to make further mention of the experiments that I have been carrying out for many months past with Dr. Wiesner and Professor Thouless, two of the keenest and most able psychic investigators of the day.
It is not possible, in these pages, for me t show the analytical brilliance of these two mwn, for this would involve going deeply into theories that would be understood only by those well versed in the history, experimentation and terminology of psychic research. So I must content myself with a brief threefold task: first to give emphasis to the particular approach that we make to the series of experiments; second, to describe one or two of the experiments that we have carried out (and are still carrying out) together; and, finally, to show that psychic research is still possibly the most important work being carried on in the world today.
That last assertion is not intended to be dramatic. I have sound reasons for making it, and shall come to them at the end of this chapter.
First then, let me show the spirit in which these many experiments were conducted. They were not held in an examination-room atmosphere, neither did we indulge in any nonsense of darkend rooms, tense silences, or sepulchral whispers. On the contrary, we usually met at Wiesner's flat in Welbeck street, and there, suitably sustained by tea, cakes and cigarettes, would tackle a number of experiments in a leisurley and cheerful manner.
It is not only possible to do serious things in a light-hearted way, but it is also wise. To imagine that an atmosphere of gloom is needed for the production of psychic phenomena is a fallacy. What is far more important is that there should be freedom from restraint, freedom from suspicion and freedom from anxiety as to the results.
The finest way to attain such freedom, strange as it may at first seem, is to establish the most rigid control over all experiments. 'Control', for those unfamiliar with psychic research terminology, means establishing conditions under which it is impossible to obtain results by trickery, by inferential knowledge or by any means other than that of the faculties under investigation. I will give examples of this in a few moments.
We three have known each other for a long time. I have the highest respect for the ability of my two friends, and I know that they would not fool me in any way - for example, by misleading me with regard to the mechanics of any experiment. If I were trying to point out one red card from among a set of black cards, all face down, I need never fear that one of my colleagues might have removed the red card '...just to see what would happen'.
On the other hand they, I am sure, have implicit faith in my integrity regarding these matters. They know that I would never pretend to gain a result by one means when, in fact, I had gained it by another. But I emphasize once again that this spirit of trust is strengthened by the fact they they bring all their skill to bear in exercising the most rigid control over me during the experiments. I would never wish them to do otherwise.
There is no financial arrangement between us. The two doctors have given up many hours of their time to the investigation of my powers, knowing full well that there is no material benefit to be won from this research - and precious little credit except throughout a limited circle. For my part, I have put myself at their disposal for these investigations, neither expecting nor wanting any material gain from it.
So it is that we meet and work in an atmosphere of mutual trust, all sincerely imbued with the desire to discover what it is in our power to discover. Thouless and Wiesner do not say: 'Marion is the clairvoyant. Clairvoyance works in such-and-such a way. Now we will do a dozen experiments to prove it.' We do not set out to prove anything. We set out to discover. The attitude is: 'Let us see if Marion can do such-and-such a thing. It is physically impossible for him to do it. He cannot by his five senses know where the red card lies among this set of black cards.' If, in a series of experiments, I show that I am able to do this impossible thing with a consistency that is beyond the bounds of chance, coincidence, trickery or any inferential knowledge, then we say, 'Here is a fact to be studied, analysed, and isolated if possible by variations of the experiment.'
A fact. Mark that, you scientists, or at least those of you who become mental pin-heads at the evidence of something beyond the limits of your microscope and slide-rule. Even that atom of yours, the ultimate particle of matter as you held it to be for so many years, has proved to be composed almost entirely of energy ... energy beyond your understanding.
How I should love to take you to task, to quote your remarks on psychic research at length, and to show how false you are to the principles of your great calling. How I should love to dilate on the fact that because psychic phenomena do not fit into the mathematical plan of the universe as you know it, you cry, 'It is not so!'
You do not say: 'Here is a fact. It has occured. Even if it has occured only once since this world was born, it has still occured and is therefore of this world and of humanity.' Many of you, you know, have played down the importance of psychic phenomena on the grounds that such things occur so seldom!' This is false to the first principle of Science, which demands that you should ascertain facts. If the facts do not fit your ready-made conceptions, you pass them by and cry, 'It is not so!"
Yes, indeed. I should love to do all this. But it has already been done with such scholarship and so exhaustively by Mr. G.N.M. Tyrell in his book The Personality of Man (chapters twenty-six to twenty-eight), that it is quite impossible for me to cover fresh terrain on the subject. And while you are reading, as you should, that gentle yet devastating condemnation of your crassness, I will make apologies to the reader for my short outburst and get back to my story.
As I say, Thouless and Wiesner study the facts which emerge from our experiments, and from them try to ascertain certain psychic principles. I do not intend to go into the theories so far evolved. For one thing, the experiments are still continuing and the theories are those of my friends; they are not my own. In their own good time Wiesner and Thouless will make know their conclusions.
But I will describe one or two of the simpler experiments, to show the lengths to which we go in order to ensure that the most rigid possible control should be excercised. The experiment which is simplest to explain and to understand is the red and black card experiment. Basically it consists of my finding, by extra-sensory-perception, a red card mixed up among a number of blacks.
During early experiments of the series I would 'sense' the red card and hand it to one of the two doctors, who would then shuffle it thoroughly amid seven or eight black cards and lay them seperately face down on a table. Standing on the far side of the room, I would then say, 'The red card is the third from the left,' or whatever it might happen to be.
We had great success with this, and decided to make it a little more difficult. Perhaps, subconsciously, my eyesight was so wonderful that I was able to distinguish the red card by infinitesimally small specks or markings on the back. This remote possibility was easily eliminated by my not seeing the card when 'sensing' it. But still we were not satisfied. Perhaps my sense of touch was so miraclous that I could distinguish the difference of the card-backs, an my co-ordination of senses so wonderful that when gazing at the backs from a distance of ten feet or more my eyes could pick out the differences my fingers had felt.
So we put the cards in a toast-rack. I would 'sense' the red card; it would be shuffled in with several blacks, and then Wiesner or Thouless would place the cards on edge between the uprights of a toast-rack. The backs were towards me, of course, but it was quite impossible for me to see them, as they were hidden by the uprights.
Result - overwhelmingly above the possibilities of chance or guesswork.
But perhaps ... perhaps subconsciously I was gaining indicia of some sort while handling the card, indicia which helped me to distinguish it from the others. So the next variation was for me to 'sense' the card through a door, without either seeing it or feeling it in anyway. One of my friends would hold up the red card behind the door, and I would place my hand against the door on the opposite side. At no time during the experiments, incidentally, did either Thouless or Wiesner know where the red card lay among the blacks into which it was shuffled. There was no question of my gaining indicia from the two doctors.
The results remained as high as ever.
A further variation, aimed, I believe, at avoiding what might be called the neccessity of my giving a numerical statement as to where the red card lay among the blacks, was this: when the cards were laid out in the first instance, either face down or in the toast-rack, my only method of indicating the red card was to say 'the third card from the left', or whatever it might be; we changed this so that the cards were laid face down in a circle on the floor after shuffling, my task being to walk once round the circle, without bending, and stop at the red card. Result - high above chance once again.
So the experiments went on, and are still going on. They are not all of the same type, for both Wiesner and Thouless are so prolific with their ideas that we are continually ringing the changes. Already we have carried out many thousands of experiments together, and doubtless we shall carry out many thousands more. The conclusions to be drawn from this mass of data may well prove quite startling. I believe they will.
Working with Wiesner and Thouless is a pleasure to me. I feel that we are getting somewhere. The atmosphere is ideal for good psychic results, for we are not sceptical of each other's integrity. We are neither sceptical, credulous or anticipatory in our attitude towards the results obtained. We simply take them as they come and endeavour to build from them a complete and satisfying theory. We do not tryto fit them into a preconcieved theory.
Sometimes other people have been present during a session. If the person has the same open-mindedness as ourselves, the atmosphere remains harmonious, the circle of influences is unbroken and the results are as high as ever. If the person brings an aura of suspicion and doubt, results may drop.
To talk of a 'circle of influences' may sound like fortune-teller's jargon, but it is quite justified. We are dealing with fine and delicate powers, with little-realized faculties of the mind which extend far beyond the grey matter of the brain. It is quite reasonable to assert that those powers can be disturbed, unintentionally perhaps, by the outpouring of another mind, just as a radio-wave can be distorted by the emanation of a second radio-wave.
When I say that results may drop under these conditions, I mean just that and no more. Results do not become negative. My many years of practice, before sceptical music-hall audiences, sceptical bodies of investigators and sceptical private clients, have made me ninety per cent proof against such an atmosphere. But it is a point, nevertheless, which should be borne in mind.
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