A very interesting read, I find it very interesting that the paranormal community works so hard to try to make Thomas Edison a member of the club. I'm sure that it is an attempt to legitimize the field of EVP and ITC which in mainstream science has no legitimacy. Let's briefly go section by section.
Introduction: "it is generally accepted that two such types of communications exist one is known as electronic voice phenomena (EVP)an early term that was used in the English-speaking world to designate a special kind of paranormal phenomenon consisting of words or sounds of unknown origin recorded by electronic devices in the way that defined normal explanation." - Generally accepted by who? Certainly not by the scientific community, it is only the paranormal community that accepts EVP's as evidence of the paranormal. The human sensory trait of pareidolia is the more rational explanation for EVP's not to mention the numerous audio and acoustic variances of recording.
What Edison said: "Skeptics have indicated that a sciences such as Thomas Edison would never have engaged in matters involving the spirit world." - From the evidence I have gathered Edison did not use one moment of his invention empire to engage in matters of the supernatural. He was however curious about the spiritualist movement that was going on around him at the time, since he was a man of curiosity I am sure that he looked into the matter to see if there was anything to it. All of your quotes throughout this paper come from interviews from magazines and newspapers. Edison had a complex relationship with the press he was the Britney Spears of his time and the press would seek him out knowing that they could get some interesting quote from him, and it was not unlike him to tell them what he thought they wanted to hear. Even though the sections of interviews you selected leave me wondering what point you're trying to drive home.
1919: The famous letter to Mr. William B.Lamont, no one ever publishes the whole letter at the end of the letter it is quoted "I am sending Dr. Miller Hutchinson to pay you a visit and discuss your work so far." The original letter resides in the Rose Bethera private letter collection. Why is that last section so important the name. There are no records in the archives of activities dealing with Dr. Miller Hutchinson or William B.Lamont this is puzzling considering the fact that the letter is dated December 8, 1919, and the top of the letter reads "I received your letter of November 17 with enclosures" and the archives for 1919 are very complete and the other end of this correspondence simply doesn't exist and where are the enclosures logically they would be in the archives. So we have no idea what the two men were discussing, we have entered the middle of the conversation.
1920s: " In the January 23, 1921 New York Times Edison gave a comprehensive interview regarding new work he was embarking upon to try to understand the nature of life while some have suggested that Edison was perpetuating a hoax, this author does not agree Edison was not the sort of man given to such things." - Many historians would disagree with that statement and that he was the sort of man who had no problem pulling a fast one on the press.
"There is no doubt Edison intended to build an apparatus working from a theory of what he called "life units" - I would say there is a great deal of doubt, I always interpreted life units as being biological. And the attempt at connecting Francis B. Grierson with Edison. "It is fair to say that Edison most likely had heard of Francis B. Grierson." This is the highest of speculation.
Francis Grierson meets Thomas Edison: Here's where things get interesting. "American author Frances Grierson claimed to have met Edison in London." The source for the statement does not come from any archives or book published it comes from medium Bonnie Vent, who claims that she communicated with Grierson through means of mediumship. Considering the fact that communication with the dead has not been established as a remote possibility makes the source unacceptable.
Edison and Psycho-phone's: "let us begin with what we know there are apparently no surviving prototypes of any devices developed with this intent by Edison or by any of his known colleagues. Likewise there are no architectural plans of the device.Some might wish to stop any further considerations in light of these truths." - You would think so, but why let truth get in the way of a good urban legend.
"However it was not uncommon for Edison and colleagues to destroy nonworking and what Edison considered unimportant prototypes." - Threw out this paper you have stressed the point of how important the development of this device was to Edison, you would think that one scrap of paper one notation in a diary would survive such an important mission. The truth is there are over 5 million documents at Menlo Park alone, there is not one single mention anywhere within the body of those documents that suggest that Edison used even a single moment of his time in pursuit of a device that could speak to the dead. This is also the official stance of the Park Service who oversees the archives for Menlo Park and Fort Myers the researchers there have made the statement that Edison was joking with the press. From the vast research I have conducted I see no reason to question their judgment in regards to this issue.
Psycho-phone device: The only thing wrong historically is that A.B.Saliger's company was making Psycho-Phone's as early as 1927 not 1928. More than likely the device pictured on San Diego Paranormal's webpage is a very early Model No3. I have never seen a photograph of the Psycho-Phone owned by the couple in Ohio but from the description it to is most likely a Model No3. A.B.Saliger never made a single paranormal claim, so I find it odd that the couple in Ohio are connecting paranormal events with the introduction of the device in their home. My source is of course from an e-mail posted on the above website.
Mediums and Edison: Again any claims that Edison made metaphysical appearances to mediums is unacceptable source material. "Perhaps these stories are not so far-fetched perhaps Edison would like us to know of his true interest then and even now." - no comment.
If any medium would like to be put to the test that they are communicating with Thomas Edison a controlled test could be set up, engineers like myself could come up with simple engineering formulas that would be elementary to Thomas Edison. Only the questions would be given to the medium, the answers would have to come from Thomas Edison. The only way the medium could answer the question would be if they went out and got an engineering degree the night before. Of course the control questions would get progressively more difficult.
Recent ITC Developments "more recently inventor Frank Sumption developed an IPC technology that has come to be known as "Frank's box" others in the EVP and ITC communities have used this device and other similar to it in their continued attempts to talk with deceased communicators. From this lore has emerged the notion that Edison and others involved in early EVP and ITC development have attempted to communicate with their own modern-day counterparts." - The biggest user and profiteer from the Frank's box is Chris Moon, who claims he is using Edison has some type of cosmic switchboard operator. The Frank's box is nothing more than to radio receivers scanning in opposite directions the audio mixs producing a random noise. Conveniently enough Mr. Moon is one of the chosen few who can make interpretations of the random noise.
Summary: "Ultimately he was not been successful in this particular endeavor during his life, of that point that there is no debate. However, this new evidence suggests that not only did he attempt to build the device but even now hints that he may still be continuing to try to solve the mystery." - What new evidence? This white paper has not brought the issue even a quarks closer to being resolved. To historians and skeptics and biographers and archivists, the story is open and close there is no evidence. As harsh as it sounds, suggesting that Edison is now communicating from the grave to work on an unfinished project, is utter nonsense. The only way this debate will go away is hard evidence, evidence that simply does not exist that is why your paper does not contain a single quote from the Edison archives.
Regarding Dr. Israel, he is perhaps the most informed person in the world regarding Edison. He was aware of how this information was garnered.
I have worked with the U.S. Park Service in the past, and in fact that was how the use of mediums in rewriting history was actually pioneered.
In the 1980s a piece of history was developed during a trance session regarding the U.S. Supreme Court. This information was passed to at the time the world's leading authority on the Lincoln Presidency and his assasination, a Park Service historian of some note and merit. Working with another Government historian the two were able to confirm, to their surprise, a detail regarding a past Supreme Court that literally caused this historian to say "you have changed American history." So mediumship has on this and other occasions proven useful in historical research.
The quanitative process has already been explored in mediumship research and the body of evidence is quite impressive. Again, it is important that anyone who is sincere about this work study this evidence before commenting. The qualitative research has been done and clearly shows evidence of successful mediumship. We are now focused on the process-oriented research which is mainly qualitative in nature.
Based on the above, I think you can see why I tend to refute statements such as "this methodology has no merit nor credibility and has no place in serious study of any kind." Clearly those engaged seriously in these studies, both in research parapsychology and history have already placed confidence both in the methodology and its outcomes.
Last Edited by on Mar 23, 2009 9:18 AM
Phenomlnvestigator, man! you need a shorter username like para-Bob, or something. By the way I hope you never take my assessments personally. They are never meant to be.
"Regarding Dr. Israel, he is perhaps the most informed person in the world regarding Edison. He was aware of how this information was garnered."
- When I hear back from Mr. Israel concerning this subject. I will know firsthand, if he approves of this methodology I of course would like to have his opinion as to why.
I have worked with the U.S. Park Service in the past, and in fact that was how the use of mediums in rewriting history was actually pioneered.
- When and where please, I would be interested to know when and where our tax dollars have gone to such research.
"In the 1980s a piece of history was developed during a trance session regarding the U.S. Supreme Court. This information was passed to at the time the world's leading authority on the Lincoln Presidency and his assasination, a Park Service historian of some note and merit. Working with another Government historian the two were able to confirm, to their surprise, a detail regarding a past Supreme Court that literally caused this historian to say "you have changed American history." So mediumship has on this and other occasions proven useful in historical research."
- Sources please.
"The quanitative process has already been explored in mediumship research and the body of evidence is quite impressive."
- In my humble opinion the state of parapsychology as it stands seems to approach its research with preconceived notions, with this in mind I can see why parapsychology would use the quanitative process, seeing as how data is open for individual interpretation. Perhaps this is why my little proposal for using the most elementary of scientific evidence gathering that is the control question, seems very scary. Perhaps you could show me a case where parapsychology is putting the null hypothesis into practice.
"Based on the above, I think you can see why I tend to refute statements such as "this methodology has no merit nor credibility and has no place in serious study of any kind." Clearly those engaged seriously in these studies, both in research parapsychology and history have already placed confidence both in the methodology and its outcomes."
- Until some serious un-disputable evidence comes up I will stand by my statement and then some. I do not see how anyone who has even a molecule of critical thinking in their body could accept this method of historical fact checking. And as for confidence already been placed in this method as you suggest. I have not been given any sources to check, to even reach a conclusion.
"Your question was is Dr. Israel aware of the methods used, the answer is yes. I can tell you he is not a proponent of mediumship, which is not surprising. Our discussions had to do with the historical aspects of the work which is his expertise."
What a coincidence you brought this up
In regards to the above post, I did hear back from Mr. Paul Israel I sent him a PDF copy of the White Paper I also asked him if he was aware of the method of historic verification as described in the postscript. He replied to me with a very gracious note which included this quote.
"I was not aware that the phone interview that I did regarding Edison was in connection with this mediumship. It is indeed highly unorthodox and not what I would consider a reliable method of verification." - Source private communication e-mail March 27, 2009.
A stark contrast to this quote.
"Regarding Dr. Israel, he is perhaps the most informed person in the world regarding Edison. He was aware of how this information was garnered." -- Source posted March 24, 2009.
The first half of your statement is true. The second half comes into serious question, in light of Mr. Israel's quote regarding this issue. I am now certain that if Dr. Israel had been aware of your methodology he would not participate. I shudder at the idea that someone of Dr. Israel's stature could have been misled, this is not responsible research.
This was a personal communication between myself and Mr. Israel, Bonnie has my e-mail address if she would like to see the thread for verification of authenticity I will do this by request.
The purpose of checking with historical experts is to verify the information and assumptions developed during documentary research. This was done in the current case and there was agreement on the material points of history. This research was done using normal documentary techniques.
Mediums are part and parcel of the Edison story. Claims have been made, and they are a part of the history, whether true or not. Three such claims were reported, which is appropriate in a paper such as this one.
Historical mediumship is not meant as a replacement for good document-based research. Of course this would not be right. However it is a useful approach when other avenues of research have failed to produce useful information. Most historical research is based in part on personal intuition. Historical mediumship simply represents another mind thinking about the problem. There is nothing wrong, immoral or unethical with this approach. The historian is still free to reject the findings, as one would if one followed any path that proved unfruitful. Historians routinely check themselves to be sure their own assumptions have not led them to false conclusions, so it is too with historical mediumship. We rigorously check the data and do not by any means accept it on faith.
Based on the direction this thread has taken, it is clear to me there is nothing more to discuss.
I understand a paper is being written on Edison and the Psychophone for the Skeptical Inquirer, and await its publication.