The Scole Experiment

Said to be the best evidence yet for the afterlife -- but how good is that evidence?

Filed under Paranormal

Skeptoid #179
November 10, 2009
Podcast transcript | Listen | Subscribe

Turn out the lights and link your hands, for today we're going to hold a seance and contact the dead, and have them perform parlor tricks for us in the dark. We're going to look at the Scole Experiment, a large, well-organized series of seances conducted by members of the Society for Psychical Research in the late 1990's in Scole, a small village in England. Reported phenomena included ghostly lights flitting about the room, images appearing on film inside secure containers, reports of touches from unseen hands, levitation of the table, and disembodied voices. Due to the large number of investigators and sitters involved, the number and consistency of paranormal episodes observed during the seances, and the lack of any finding of fraud, many believers often point to the Scole Experiment as the best scientific evidence that spirits do survive in the afterlife, and can and do come back and interact with the living, demonstrating an impressive array of conjuring powers.

There were a total of six mediums and fifteen investigators from the SPR. The Society for Psychical Research, or SPR, is based in London and is more than a century old. Its membership consists of enthusiasts of the paranormal. The authoritative source for what happened in the Scole Experiment is a report several hundred pages long, called The Scole Report, originally published in the journal Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, and written by three of the lead investigators who were present at the sittings, all current or former senior officers of the SPR: plant scientist Montague Keen, electrical engineer Arthur Ellison, and psychologist David Fontana. I have a copy here on my desk. It goes through the history of how the experiments came together, details each of the many seances, and presents analysis and criticism from a number of the SPR investigators who observed.

Unfortunately, the Scole Experiment was tainted by profound investigative failings. In short, the investigators imposed little or no controls or restrictions upon the mediums, and at the same time, agreed to all of the restrictions imposed by the mediums. The mediums were in control of the seances, not the investigators. What the Scole Report authors describe as a scientific investigation of the phenomena, was in fact (by any reasonable interpretation of the scientific method) hampered by a set of rules which explicitly prevented any scientific investigation of the phenomena.

The primary control offered by the mediums was their use of luminous wristbands, to show the sitters that their hands were not moving about during the seances. I consulted with Mark Edward, a friend in Los Angeles who gives mentalism and seance performances professionally. He knows all the tricks, and luminous wristbands are, apparently, one of the tricks. There are any number of ways that a medium can get into and out of luminous wristbands during a seance. The wristbands used at Scole were made and provided by the mediums themselves, and were never subjected to testing, which is a gross dereliction of control by the investigators. Without having been at the Scole Experiment in person, Mark couldn't speculate on what those mediums may have done or how they may have done it. Suffice it to say that professional seance performers are not in the least bit impressed by this so-called control. Tricks like this have been part of the game for more than a century. Since hand holding was not employed in the Scole seances, the mediums effectively had every opportunity to be completely hands free and do whatever they wanted to do.

Believers in the Scole Experiment are likely to point to specifics in the Scole Report and say something like "But according to the detailed notes, the medium never moved his hands," or something like that. But we have to remember that, assuming the Scole mediums were using trickery, the authors of the Scole Report were merely witnesses who were taken in by the tricks. Of course their report is likely to, and does, state that they could not have been fooled. This is a perfect example of confirmation bias. These Society for Psychical Research fellows firmly believed they were witnessing genuine spirit phenomena, and desired a positive outcome. They followed the mediums' instructions to the T and acted as an audience only and not as investigators. The Scole Report details the authors' perceptions of what happened in the room; no reader has cause to believe it describes what actually happened in the room.

Repeatedly, throughout the Scole Report, the authors state that no evidence of fraud or deception was found. For example:

There is a further complaint: that we made little mention of the views of people like West or Professor Robert Morris, "who expressed reservations on the basis of their experiences." That is partly because no such reservations were expressed to us at the time... We were looking for evidence of deception... We looked in vain.

If I go to Penn & Teller's magic show to look for evidence of deception, but I impose the rule that I have to stay in my seat and watch the show as presented, and I'm not allowed to go onstage and examine the performers or the equipment, or watch from behind, or observe the preparations, I guarantee you that I also will find no evidence of deception. Placing illuminated wrist cuffs on the seance mediums, and allowing no further controls, is perfectly analogous to having Teller show you his arms "Hey, look, nothing up my sleeves," then allowing him total control over everything that follows. It can reasonably be argued that the Scole Experiment investigators (whether deliberately or through near-total investigative incompetence) created the conditions of a stage show designed to fool an audience.

The phenomenon most commonly reported in the Scole Experiments were small points of light that flitted about the room, often striking crystals and illuminating them from within, or causing disconnected light bulbs or a small glass dome to light up. Since the mediums banned video gear, there's no way we can really evaluate these claims, other than by reading the Scole Report, which only tells us the perceptions experienced by a few true believers who were present. Mark Edward said these tricks have been commonly performed in seances with laser pointers since the 1970's when they first became available: Strike a light bulb or rock crystal with a laser pointer and it lights right up. An advantage of laser pointers is that the tip can be easily cloaked, obscuring the orifice from anyone whose eyeball is not the target of the beam. We have no evidence that the Scole mediums used such techniques, but their rules also prevented us from establishing that they didn't.

The next most impressive feat was the spontaneous appearance of images on film. During the seance, factory-sealed film cartridges were placed inside a padlocked box. The spirits were then asked to imprint images upon the film. The locked box was then taken and the film developed in the strict constant supervision of the investigators. This feat was repeated many times. One of the investigators, Alan Gauld, wrote critically of how he discovered this locked box could be quickly and easily opened in the dark, which allowed for easy substitution of film rolls. This box was provided by the mediums. Whenever any other sealed container was used, no images ever appeared on the film. Yet even while acknowledging these facts, the authors of the Scole Report still maintain that the film images are most likely evidence of the supernatural.

Perhaps the biggest red flag in the Scole Experiment is the venue in which the sittings took place: a room in the basement of the house in Scole where two of the mediums lived, Robin and Sandra Foy. Rather than controlling the environment, the investigators ceded total control over the room and conditions to the mediums. The seances were held about once a month, which gave the Foys ample time to make any desired alterations to the room. There's no evidence that they did so, but granting them unrestricted opportunity pretty much torpedoed any hope for credibility. The Scole Report states that the room was available for examination before and after every seance, but there's no reason to believe that any truly thorough examination was ever performed; and in any event it's a poor substitute for what the investigators should have done, which was to provide their own room over which the mediums had no control at all. (A few seances were held at other locations, but the Scole Report describes the results from those as "variable".)

The next biggest red flag was the mediums' insistence that the seances be held in complete darkness and their refusal to allow any night-mode video cameras or light enhancement equipment. The mediums' explanation was that they felt such equipment would distract the investigators! That's like telling a pilot that having instruments might distract him from flying. Astoundingly the investigators agreed to this, though they did express dismay, as if their desire and good intentions alone validate their conclusions. Audio recordings only were permitted, but since the claimed phenomena were primarily visual, the audio tapes are of essentially no value.

$2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

A third red flag is the fact that there's been no followup. If amazing phenomena truly did happen at the Scole Experiment, it would have changed the world. Mainstream psychologists and other academics would have gotten in on it, it would have made worldwide headlines, and it would be repeated in labs everywhere and become mainstream science. They did have the opportunity: experimental psychologist and author Richard Wiseman provided secure envelopes for the film rolls to the experimenters, within which film always failed to be exposed. Rather than coming away impressed and spreading the word, Wiseman summed it up to me in six words: "It was a load of rubbish!"

This same principle explains why we don't see articles from the Proceedings of the SPR, like the Scole Report, republished in scientific journals. A scientific investigation of a strange phenomenon assumes the null hypothesis unless the phenomenon can be proven to exist. But the authors of the Scole Report, with complete credulity, did the exact opposite: Their stated position is that the lack of disproof means their seances were real supernatural events. But a primary feature of good research is the elimination of other possible explanations, at which the Scole investigators made no competent effort. Many of the investigators expressed that they were not very convinced by what they witnessed, and it is to the credit of the Scole Report authors that they fairly reported this. But this raises the question: Why then write such a lengthy and credulous report, making such obvious conclusions that these phenomena were real? The lesson to take away from the Scole Experiment is a simple one. Although we all have preconceived notions, we have to put them aside and follow the evidence when we investigate.

Brian Dunning

© 2009 Skeptoid Media, Inc. Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Keen, M., Ellison, A., Fontana, D. "The Scole Report." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. 1 Nov. 1999, Volume 58, Part 220.

Mellenbergh, G.J. Advising on Research Methods: A consultant's companion. Rosmalen: Johannes van Kessel, 2008. 143-180.

The Seybert Commission. Preliminary Report of the Seybert Commission for Investigating Modern Spiritualism. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1887.

Troy Taylor. "How to Have a Seance: Tricks of Fraudulent Mediums." The Haunted Museum. Dark Haven Entertainment, 1 Jan. 2003. Web. 5 Nov. 2009. <>

Wiseman, R., Greening, E., Smith, M. "Belief in the paranormal and suggestion in the seance room." British Journal of Psychology. 1 Aug. 2003, Volume 94, Issue 3: 285–297.

Wiseman, R., Morris, R. Guidelines for testing psychic claimants. Hatfield, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press, 1995.

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "The Scole Experiment." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., 10 Nov 2009. Web. 24 Jul 2014. <>


Brian, where do you hear about this flim-flam? Thought that seances went out a century ago to be replaced by ghost hunters etc.

Robert Mcbride, Columbia, MD
November 10, 2009 10:16am

I'm with Robert - I thought seances went out of style decades ago. Maybe I should start up a spirit photography company - it's gotta be much easier with PhotoShop!

H. Tiberius Miser, Secret Underground Lair, Earth
November 10, 2009 12:17pm

I sent Brian the idea to look into The Scole Experiment after two independent people mentioned it when I was debating with them about the existence of the afterlife and speaking to the dead. Brian mentioned he had never heard of it (and neither had I).

It's great that Brian was able to get a copy of the report! Now when someone brings up this nonsense again, I can refer them here.

Bruce Murphy, Bracebridge, Ontario
November 10, 2009 1:27pm

It is amazing that a century and a half after the Fox Sisters, there are still people willing to go into a dark room without cameras or LI goggles, and willing to be amazed by the "spirit manifestations" they see.

Cambias, Massachusetts
November 11, 2009 6:16am

Thanks for the episode!, but this didn't even deserve your attention.

Pablo Colombo, Buenos Aires
November 11, 2009 1:08pm

Professor Richard Wiseman a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire and a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) believes that paranormal phenomena such as remote viewing, ganzfeld, and ESP are proven to the normal standards of science but that the claims of the paranormal require higher standards of proof.

Do you agree that those phenomena have been proved to the usual standards of science?


References below:

The wikipedia article on remote viewing:

"Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire and <b>a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) has said that he agrees remote viewing has been proven using the normal standards of science, but that the bar of evidence needs to be much higher for outlandish claims that will revolutionize the world, and thus he remains unconvinced:[26]
"I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do. (...) if I said that a UFO had just landed, you'd probably want a lot more evidence. Because remote viewing is such an outlandish claim that will revolutionize [sic] the world, we need overwhelming evidence before we draw any conclusions. Right now we don't have that evidence." Richard Wiseman Daily Mail, January 28, 2008, pp 28–29 [26]"</i>

Clarification on the quote by Wiseman on

“It is a slight misquote, because I was using the term in the more general sense of ESP – that is, I was not talking about remote viewing per se, but rather Ganzfeld, etc

pseudononymous,, ,bi-location
November 11, 2009 7:32pm

"Do you agree that those phenomena have been proved to the usual standards of science?"

No, Wiseman's standards of science may be low.

Max, Boston, MA
November 12, 2009 8:35pm

ESP and remote viewing have been proven to the usual standards of science FICTION.

H. Tiberius Miser, Secret Underground Lair, Earth
November 13, 2009 6:41am

The village of Scole isn't too far away from where I live. I didn't know anything about this-I'm going to see what I can find out about it.

Alyson, Norwich
November 13, 2009 11:58am

Hate to quibble, but if you go to Penn and Teller, they're totally open about the deception going on, so you wouldn't need to look for evidence at all. That's their gimmick.

Morgan, Tracy, CA
November 13, 2009 1:02pm

"Do you agree that those phenomena have been proved to the usual standards of science?"

Wow, how can I word this without stepping on too many toes. I would agree, to a point. If parapsychology did NOT make supernatural claims when valid natural claims were just as likely, their evidence would be valid.

We would accept both parapsychology and the natural methods(cold reading, chance, etc) as equally likely if they WERE both equally likely.

But one is completely natural and provable, and the other one uses unknown methods, so until we have proof that the supernatural is more likely than the natural method, the supernatural method is not accepted.

noname, lamesville
December 3, 2009 7:39am

I listened to this episode today. Very timely for me. I've been doing a ton of reading on psychics, etc. lately.

Thanks for another great episode.

Maria, Arizona
December 6, 2009 2:36pm


December 13, 2009 8:34pm

Morgan from Tracy, CA is right; most of the time, Penn & Teller reveal their trick after performing it. One of the tricks they gave away on live television was one involving the boxes which supposedly took apart Teller's body while they played a stupid song on "America's Got Talent".

Afterwards, they re-did the entire trick, using transparent boxes and a transparent platform. The amazing trick was Teller's dexterity, in literally crawling about the platform and sticking his head or arms through the holes in the boxes to make himself seem as though he were cut apart or disappearing.

Andariel Halo, Miami, Florida
February 3, 2010 7:12am

I haven't read the official report, but there were quite a few reputable scientists that were firmly convinced that the results were evidence for the afterlife (including NASA scientists). We're not talking about dummies.

Michael F., Greater Cleveland Area, Ohio
February 9, 2010 8:07pm

I just lost my 12-year old son to cancer. I am looking for evidence of life after death everywhere and all the time. Unfortunately, as you describe it quite convincingly, the "Scole experiment" is an obvious mystification. No controlled experiment, no proof. Simple.

Philip Draye, Phoenix
February 23, 2010 12:55pm

Modern science - A blindman looking through a venetian blind that is closed.

Archangel, uk
March 1, 2010 9:26am


That's a lot better than not looking at all, ie, "alternative science"

Andariel Halo, Miami, Florida
March 3, 2010 5:36am

""Modern science - A blindman looking through a venetian blind that is closed.""

Come again?

""That's a lot better than not looking at all, ie, "alternative science""

Alternative industry: "Aw, we don't need to look, the Chinese did this stuff 4000 years ago and they were SMARTER than us!"

Safe-Keeper, Norway
March 16, 2010 10:46am

Having read what I could find on the 'Scole Experiment' I am very thankful that those people spent so much time and effort on the investigation and puplished their findings so folk like me and you could get a glimpce of the other side. I know that life never ends I have had my own proof. A closed mind will stop you from experiencing the wonders that await you. Open your mind and heart to receive all that the Universe has to offer. All you need is Love for your fellow man.

Babs, Scotland, UK
March 22, 2010 2:55am


A closed mind? For whom?

The skeptic who researches in painstaking detail to find the truth or the "believer" who is prepared to be deceived without so much as a word?

Martin, Nottingham, UK
April 7, 2010 4:54am

I have to wonder at the astounding cynical nature of the mediums. They were most likely in the background performing these parlor tricks any magician could easily reproduce, and then claiming that the supernatural was real. Do they REALLY believe the supernatural is real when they stand in the dark flashing laser pointers or sneak processed film into boxes? And if they dont, what is their ultimate goal? I stand with many here: I will only believe in the claimed suprnatural abilities of some medium when they can produce their abilities under conditions controlled by sceptical experimenters. The Scole report is only good for people to read as an example of what researchers SHOULD NOT DO.

Cam, Thunder Bay
April 30, 2010 8:00am

A most intetresting podcast. Considering you have the Scole Report I think some of your observations are somewhat biased. I have been to Scole and to the cellar, which is of stone construction, underground, has one entrance and is painted all in black. Walls are solid. NOTHING after through searching can be hidden in this bare room. Light phenomena is of interest, but you failed to mention that the lights did not just appear in the room, but passed THROUGH living tissue (arms, legs, ) to appear on the other side. A Laser pointer cannot do this. Professor Fontana ( he has written over 100 books ) and the team are all highly trained observers and scientists. I personaly know two of them. By all means be sceptical, but don't just be selective of the information you broadcast. You have not presented the full facts of this major investigation, including the materialisation phenomena. These experiments were repeated time and time again, Scole was far from a one off event.

Dr Malcolm Lewis, Preston, UK
May 25, 2010 7:56am

@ Dr. Lewis

What happened during the experiments may or may not have been factual, but how can you possibly excuse the basic and PROFOUND lapses in proper research methodology? There were ZERO controls placed over the mediums. So how can we really know if it was real, or deception? We cant. Although the more mundane explanation of deception fits very well since there is nothing here to rule it out.

Brian himself says: "But a primary feature of good research is the elimination of other possible explanations, at which the Scole investigators made no competent effort" and this is evidenced throughout the podcast.

Also, Carl Sagan and James Randi stressed that scientists are not as well prepared to spot deliberate deception as they think, while magicians can easily reproduce any of the stated effects in the experiment. And no, you wouldnt be able to see how they did it after either if they didnt want you to. There is nothing done there that a half-competent magician also couldnt do given the same conditions. The lack of controls totally failed to rule deception out.

By all means if you have solid evidence showing otherwise, I am sure we ALL invite you to present it. I await the references to reputable sources.

Cam, Thunder Bay
June 30, 2010 12:55pm

I came across your site whilst researching Scole, hoping to see both sides, I read your article, and I also visited the Scole site, something it seems you have not bothered to do. The Scole experiment website does detail much that you question above, including a response to people such as you; this is from way back in 2004! Part of the paper mentions that Monty Keen, passed away some years ago, did you know this? Or is it simply easier to insult a dead man!
Your obvious bias and lack of research only shows that you do not practice what you preach, you did not put your preconceived notions aside, and you most certainly did not follow the evidence! Unfortunately, when looking for the TRULY unbiased on BOTH sides of the argument, the world seems to be sadly lacking!
You say one Red Flag is that the mediums have all the control, why then, do you think that Sceptics would be any more objective? Fraudulent mediums, etc, are out there in swathes, but so are single issue fanatics, such as you, professing, to be 'saving' the ignorant from the clutches of the paranormal believers. Please, tell me how you are any different to cold-readers? You also seek to make your name, maybe on the opposite side as a sceptic, but you too make money from people’s beliefs! What a subject to choose, you know that the afterlife is unverifiable by the 'scientific' standards you yourself set, and so it follows that you will inevitably be proved right!

Krista, London,UK
August 9, 2010 3:45pm

@ Krista

Show me how they conclusively ruled out deception. Show me where they conclusively demonstrated something that a magician/mentalist/illusionist could not do given the same conditions.

I notice you did not include that in your statement in any way whatsoever, so show me what I missed.

You are hoping to find a truth no matter what stands in the way. I am trying to find a truth that withstands all tests. The Scole expertimenters failed to meet that standard in myriad ways.

Are ghosts real? I havent a clue, but if so that'd be wonderful. But shoddy experiments like this do nothing to constructively forward the argument. You seem determined to say they are real no matter what. Might be true, might not. Show me your proof.

Cam, Thunder Bay
August 11, 2010 9:31am

You say that 2 of the main problems are that the experiments were done in the dark and that no further work has been done, so the results should be completely dismissed. You might want to follow up on the report at

"The two mediums involved in The Scole Experiement, Alan and Diana Bennett, have continued to conduct their experimental sessions since the five-year series of experiments at Scole.

They are seeking to answer some of the questions, objections, and issues raised by the scientific investigators during the original experiments; a central concern being that some of the experiments had to be conducted in the dark and were therefore difficult to scrutinise adequately.

Campion News can report that authors, Grant and Jane Solomon, have been invited to attend the new experimental sessions, and remarkable images have now been produced using the most up-to-date technology, in fully-lighted conditions.

If the collection of these images can be repeated in the presence of scientific investigators, it could be a very important step towards proving the existence of other dimensions of existence."

It seems you couldn't be bothered to look for new information, or you neglected to mention anything that didn't fit your biased viewed. Either way you can't claim to be an unbaised authority on scientific research when you can't even spend 10 minutes researching the topic on Google

Neal, Nottingham
August 11, 2010 10:39am

@ Neal

"If the collection of these images can be repeated in the presence of scientific investigators, it could be a very important step towards proving the existence of other dimensions of existence."

So.......where are the repeatable, testable results of these new studies? I dont see you posting the studies I was asking for, only that they shall be forthcoming at some point in the future. The statement also implies that it hasnt been done in front of scientific investigators yet.

And I was commenting on the Scole study itself with its inherent flaws. You make these comments based on something I had never touched upon about stuff after. Red Herring, anyone?

Oh and I looked at the site you showed. You must have something more, I imagine, other then a half-page non-descriptive, general, brief blurb to account for saying this:

"It seems you couldn't be bothered to look for new information, or you neglected to mention anything that didn't fit your biased viewed. Either way you can't claim to be an unbaised authority on scientific research when you can't even spend 10 minutes researching the topic on Google".

Seems you spent precisely 10 mins on google decided I am biased. You may be guilty of "It seems you couldn't be bothered to look for new information..." yourself.

Cam, Thunder Bay
August 11, 2010 10:58am

@ Cam, Thunder Bay

"Also, Carl Sagan and James Randi stressed that scientists are not as well prepared to spot deliberate deception as they think, while magicians can easily reproduce any of the stated effects in the experiment."

Not only is James Randi NOT a scientist, he is not very good at his own craft(Magic). His 1 million paranormal challenge is a joke. It is NOT winnable in any way, shape or form.

James Webster, a Magician was present at Scole for 3 sittings. He has over 40 years of professional experience as a stage magician and as a psychical researcher, and On the strength of his experience and of his observations at Scole he is unequivocal that the phenomena witnessed there by him could not be duplicated by professional magicians.

Third, Any and ALL magicians were welcome to attend sittings at Scole, only James Webster availed himself of the opportunity. I wonder why the infamous Randi didn't jump on this chance.

Also referring to the original article,

"These Society for Psychical Research fellows firmly believed they were witnessing genuine spirit phenomena, and desired a positive outcome."

This can also be said for Non-Believers, who truly Dont WANT TO BELIEVE, and then get a negative outcome. (In other words Closed-minded).The SPR were open minded about Scole and RECIEVED a positive outcome. NotDesired

Sam, Los Angeles
August 12, 2010 12:56am

Guys, this is getting a tad ridiculous.

Let me sum this up again in one line: "The experimenters FAILED to rule out alternative explanations".

How is that so hard to understand? You say "you just dont want to believe" yet on one hand I am presented with one person who believe scpetics are fraudulent, another who presents a half page of stuff that may be shwon in the future but doesnt post anything definite, and yourself who says "a magician says it was real".

The room was not under the scientists control to rule out trickery. There was no equipment allowed to verify or refute the authenticity of the observations (these two strictures essentially removed almost all ability for objective observation), the experimenters were not allowed to move around and check stuff out (although when they checked the box with the film they found it was a sham right away).

Etc etc etc...

A proper experiment has the scientist in control of the environment to rule out other occurences or trickery. They also provide the materials for the same reason. They have equipment to make sure they are in fact seeing what they are seeing, and once again ruling out other effects or causes. The Scole people didnt do this and essentially were as Brian says "audience members".

Yet you attack us for mentioning this and say "This can also be said for Non-Believers, who truly Dont WANT TO BELIEVE". You are ready to accept anything at face value it seems.

Cam, Thunder Bay
August 12, 2010 7:10am

@ Cam, Thunder Bay

I was not claiming to post anything definite or conclusive. I was pointing out that you while you talk about putting aside preconceived notions and being unbiased you include no mention any new relevant information.

You seem to think that anyone who does not agree with you completely and dismiss the investigation as incompetent is a gullible fool who obviously believes every word. This straw man argument is insulting because you characterise anyone who puts forward a different opinion as attacking you

I myself am from a science background and do have reservations about the experiments and the conclusions, that doesn't mean I think something should be mocked and rejected out of hand simply because you can spot flaws in the scientific method. Many theories in the normal scientific world when first put forward have been treated with respect and investigated further by the scientific community on far less evidence.

In your reply to me you complain that you were only commenting on the original study and that I shouldn't mention anything else, if even related. You then take issue with me deciding that your article was biased because I had not spent enough time researching everything else about you. This double standard merely proves my point about your lack of objectivity.

Neal, Nottingham
August 12, 2010 11:04am

@ Neal

So how does a vague link which says "we will present information that may show something in the future and might be shown to scientists" count as new evidence towards validating the Scole experiment?

I notice for all the rhetoric that you havent once answered that question. You want to say the Scole Experiment was valid because of your weblink then you're falling quite short.

I am not the kind of person to dismiss compelling evidence, I am the kind of person to dismiss evidence for which I can easily find alternative explanations, or which is grossly insufficient. I have been there doing presentations on papers where I learned this lesson in the hardest way before distinguished academics at my University. But calling a vague half page of writing "information" can only be used in the loosest of terms, so in the strictest sense you had not called it evidence and I can be taken to account for that. But I can look for "information" on any site I want including the crackpot conspiracy theorist sites and call that "information" too under the same guise. Thats know by man things, splitting hairs being one of them. So how does that fall under the straw man argument?

This would be evident if you had taken your science background to heart.

Thing is, many notable researchers have tried, but have never yet come up with compelling evidence of the supernatural. Thats why most in the scientific community give it far less shrift. Its been tried.

Cam, Thunder Bay
August 12, 2010 12:07pm

@ Cam, Thunder Bay

When I said "Non-Believers, who dont ....etc", I was not referring to skeptics, I was pointing out a flaw in Brian Dunning's Logic. If Skeptics can be skeptical about the Scole Experiment, then I may also be skeptical about anyone who works under the James Randi Educational Foundation.


Richard Wiseman went on record at Study Day on Scole with the judgement that the Scole Report is `very impressive', and offered no suggestions as to how the phenomena could be replicated by normal means.

There is no record of him saying "It was Rubbish", we only have Brian's account. Maybe Mr.Dunning took it out of context or he is flat out lying?

Also without going into much detail, there will be a followup. The Norfolk Experiment.

This article also fails to mention that some sittings occurred outside Scole. For example, one sitting took place at Dr Hans Schaer's Holiday home in Ibiza. Medium's had zero control at those locations.

This article makes it seem as if SPR enforced no controls or a small amount. This is not so. The SPR enforced strict protocols on many different areas while investigating at Scole. For example, in their Photographic Films experiment(s), Richard Wiseman provided a fraud-proof security bag made of opaque triple layered polythene. The investigators placed a unopened tub of 35mm film in this bag, in hope of receiving transmissions in form of images. The results were impressive to say the least.

Sam, Los Angeles
August 13, 2010 2:49pm

Show me the links where Richard Wiseman has specificaly said this, and where he produced the evidence of the photography, and methodology involved. Like I said i wont dismiss it out of hand if you can provide this kind of evidence for me. If it is in fact real and Wiseman has documented it, you will have scored a real point worth looking at. These allegations were made earlier too, but after looking at Wisemans site i cant find where he said it or documented his findings. So up to you to provide them.

The Scole people failed in many profound ways to provide anything resembling a control froma researchers point of view though, which is why i am so hard on them. They sould have known better. What seems adequate to the layman is entirely insufficient at a scientists level. Wiseman has real standing though, so I would like to see the evidence.

As for Wisemans statment, he said it to Dunning, didnt report it in some journal someplace.

And no the link you did provide is a half page of actual vague rubbish saying someting will come along at some point and will be eventually shown to scientists. I wont buy that.

Cam, Thunder Bay, ON
August 14, 2010 11:42am

Of course, out of all good science comes applications.

How long is it that we have had psychic research that produces a result and not a single application?

At least perfectly sane fundamentalists can breed prize winning chickens and cows on the basis that the lord will provide. Mind you this doesnt discount the dark princes influences on brake linings.

If endeavours such as the above prove right, then an astounding piece of science has been discovered.

I will finally state my posit;

"If you want piece of mind, leave the lights on!".

It is the hubris in pig ignorance factor that rears its ugly head here. Why set up a darkened room when a few dark pillows will do just dandy?

After all the spookies have to come from somewhere and in no way has there been mention of them turning the city lights off on entrance.

You dont have to be psychic to have a bullsniffer, especially when you are presented with a feed lot.

Henk van der Gaast, Sydney
November 14, 2010 4:59pm

Good point about the field overall Henk. Sometimes I get stuck on why certain methodologies are flawed on studies like Scole and forget to mention that over the last century and a bit the SPR or any other agency has never once produced something tangible that independent observers can also relicate.

Not once.

Not a single time, with the many tens of thousands who have taken a swing at it with varying degrees of skill and fortitude.

Cam, Thunder Bay
November 18, 2010 8:41am

Cam... throw NCCAM's in with that and Brian wouldn't have a skeptoid.

We'd all be listening to dubious authorities every 3rd week in point of inquiry.

But then you cant interview Massimo by himself every week.

Actually, this is what I like about Skeptoid and SGU.

One just pillories junk pop culture and the other has a good panel that has a medico who can tell the folk why certain events seem to appear.

I do have issues with Steve discussing chemistry. I am pretty sure that even Massimo wouldn't try to explain things that need a good lecture to instill into a student.

Henk van der Gaast, Sydney
December 13, 2010 1:42pm

This skeptical analysis is well intentioned, but so full of inaccuracies it completely discredits itself. I produced and directed the documentary -The Afterlife Investigations - in which I thoroughly examine all the evidence for the Scole Experiment. I spent several years interviewing all the leading participants and I got to know them all well. As unbelievable as the activities at Scole are I found no evidence of fraud. The authors arguments like - I consulted with a colleague who told me its possible to remove a luminous arm, therefore all experiments which used this control at Scole are fraudulent- are childish in their logic. Given the space I could demolish this entire analysis - but its easier if you watch the documentary

Tim Coleman, London
April 26, 2011 4:42am

Tim, we all invite you to present your data.

I assume there was in fact data where you defined what the supernatural was, what its made it, where it resides, what spirits are, what they are made of, show us exactly how they interact with natural stuff, how do they talk to ppl and so forth.

I also assume you show exactly how deception was ruled out so ppl can indeed say something other then magic trickery was going on.

I always found it remarkable how something supernatural is claimed to interact with the natural and so forth.

I also read the study, there was little done in the way of experimental controls by the experimenters to rule out fraud. None of this is to say conclusively that NO supernatural stuff happened or saying that fraud DID happen, but like Brian says and the reports reeeaally points out, one cannot rule out deception. It sticks in an attentive and research oriented mind like a big thorn.

So, since you claim you can knock the null hypothesis right off the seat, present your data.

Evidence in an experiment is only as good as the experiment itself. The reason why controls are used is to rule out alternative explanations. When one does not rule out controls one cannot rule out other explanations of your data.

The onus of proof is on the claimants sure, but the onus of making sure that ppl are in fact seeing what the claimants say they are seeing lies on the investigators.

We look forward to your presntation :D

Cam, Thunder Bay
May 3, 2011 10:23am


I watched the website and its full of ppl starting out looking for an answer and doing EVERYTHING they can do to find it.

Once again at least in the preview there is no indication of controls to rule out alternative explanations. I see examples of pareidolia everywhere with the pictures and who knows what the hell that EVP baloney is about.

You video only worsens your case, not makes it better.

So present your evidence here. Lets see what you got.

Cam, Thunder Bay
May 6, 2011 5:33am

There is a bizzare notion out there that the reason science does not accept the paranormal is that science is too snobbish to investigate certain phenomona incase it breaks a preset world view. But science loves having the concensus challenged. Most theoretical physiscs is based on asking what the weird stuff we cant explain in the universe is.

The thing with ghosts and the afterlife is that many of the things that are lazily assumed to be proof of life after death have been investigated and alternate solutions found; in psychology, neurology, thermodynamics, and in the way the human mind reacts to low frequency sound.

It may very well be that there is an effect we call a ghost that we do not understand yet. But assuming it is a lost soul, based on no rational evidence, is a silly leap. Like calling everything in the sky you cant identify an alien vessel.

Tom H, Kent, UK
May 6, 2011 2:00pm

I am an SPR member, but regretfully must agree with your critical article about Scole. And there is one further item which you didn't spot, but which is clear evidence of fraud (it is mentioned in the report): the fact that one of the exposed film canisters contained a strip of impressive-looking kabbalistic writings and drawings, which the intrepid investigator Tony Cornell showed as having been traced from a popular book on kabbalism. Cornell showed how the material could have been put onto tracing paper then exposed to produce an image identical to that obtained. He even found the marks where the tracing paper had been fixed against the film and exposed to create the fraud. This was a film which was in the easy-to-open box created by one of the mediums. It is clear proof of fraud and really shows that the SPR people at Scole were taken in. Yet Keen and Fontana would never admit that they may have been fooled. Very sad.

Peter Wadhams, Cambridge
June 17, 2011 10:36am

I was lucky enough to meet Prof. Arthur Ellison and Montague Keen with my wife at the SPR and over dinners after SPR meetings in London. They were sincere, incredibly experienced and sharp observers and absolutely convinced of the phenomena they saw, and which were also were witnessed abroad at several locations and in front of NASA scientists. The light phenomena (the full range) could not have been reproduced. Read the full Report for these.
Also Richard Wiseman said at the "Scole Study Day" in 1999(I was there with my wife and friends) that the phenomena were "very impressive" - then sat down quite quickly.
Five years after, Prof. Fontana and Montague Keen wrote a short article saying that still no-one had suggested any method of reproduction. This still stands.

This is an issue of a real unknown, nonphysical intelligent consciousness, intruding into our own personal space and many just cannot handle this, quite understandably.
For what it's worth I am a particle physics postgraduate in qualifications.

Keith, London
July 21, 2011 8:36am

Has anyone else noted the remarkable similarity between the spirit photo of what appears to be someone with a cigarette in his mouth and the front cover of the David Bowie ‘Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars’ DVD

Stuart, Portugal
August 6, 2011 8:37am

Keith, you may be a postgrad in physics but it doesnt mean you practice sound scepticism :P

You took them at their word that something cannot be reproduced and called it an unknown, then proceeded to identify the unknown as "nonphysical intelligent consciousness, intruding into our own personal space and many just cannot handle this" right away.

Sure unknowns may have happened or they may have not. But since no controls were in place to rule out alternative mundane explanations, AND all the stuff itnessed can be reproduced by magicians, its likely the whole thing was a clever fraud. In fact its close to certain that it was,but since they wouldnt let testing happen in controlled environments, all we have is their word.

Not quite good enough ;)

Cam, Thunder Bay
September 6, 2011 11:20am

There really is a very simple answer to all this. Repeat the experiment, in a fully lit room, with items provided by the observers and with the psychics only wearing clothing provided by the observers.

If they can still produce the same results then publish the results so they can be examined by the established scientific community.

If your phenomenon is real then you can reproduce it at will under controlled circumstances, if not then you are simply a fraud.

Steve, Carmarthen, UK
September 7, 2011 5:21am

I think this is a much much better treatment Brian than I anticipated from your later piece mentioning Scole.

To be fair one thing that is not covered here or to the best of my memory in the Scole Report is that Foy et al did in fact travel around the world, reproducing phenomena in conditions they did not control, in Switzerland and the USA to the best of my memory of their newsletter, which I believe was entitled The Spiritual Scientist. I have no idea if any investigations were performed at those locations.

However if anything this piece has left me more baffled than ever as to how you drew your erroneous conclusions about the SPR. Peter Wadham like me questions the evidence; then there is a reference to Tony Cornell's work in Peter's comment, and finally we have a reference to Richard Wiseman, council member for a decade of the SPR and still a member today. Given the "minority report" gives dissenting opinions from DJ west and Alan Gauld, you know of at least 5 SPR members who question strongly this case.

The SPR has never held corporate opinions: it contains sceptics and believers, and in my experience in fairly even measure. Perhaps you will consider joining us?

Still much better piece! :)
cj x

CJ Romer, Cheltenham UK
September 8, 2011 4:49am


Odd that the news hasnt gone worldwide that science has been able to discover repeatable, testable, reliable evidence of the supernatural that rules out alternative explanations.

You sure they have done seances under controlled conditions? I havent seen these other seances but i read this report and frankly it was awful.

And Wiseman, if he is a member of the SPR doesnt mean he supports the Scole study or anything else the mediums did. I certainly havent seen anything on his page stating the reality of the supernatural, nor anywhere else.

Does this omission make you wonder what kind of credence is being given to the mediums?

I think as well the "reproducing phenomena they did not control" might show you have a misunderstanding of the process.

The point is provide a testable operational definition of the supernatural that allows it to be examined, and to see what effects are expected and how, to conduct these processes in an environment not controlled by them, using materials not provided by them, and being observed in multiple ways, also with a magician observing and STILL being able to reproduce the alleged effects.

To do so like this rules out deception and trickery and would give serious credence to the supernatural.

This has been tried tens of thousands of times elsewhere, and researchers have always found alleged supernatural effects never show up ever when under controlled conditions which suggests natural explanations of various sorts.

Cam, Thunder Bay
September 22, 2011 11:00am

People dont wont to admite that there is something after you pass over,
Your body rusts away just like a car, Then you have to change the model,I think the same applies to us.
I have seem ghosts, white mist,(not sure how to spell ectoplasm)

Mike Crew, Nottingham
September 27, 2011 11:56am

The point that a lot of people seem to be missing here is that this investigation does not even come close to meeting the burden of proof. As Cam has pointed out many times, there is no evidence of the supernatural here. Strange events happening, even if they were not fraudulent, are not evidence of the paranormal. In order to even start thinking about some supernatural explanation, all possible natural explanations must first be ruled out. What is more likely: that the mediums were frauds or that something that has never had any reproducable or reliable evidence occurred? Using Occam's Razor the more likely event becomes clear.

Everyone should be able to agree that doing things in the dark in a space chosen by the mediums is indeed suspicious. If the results had been reproduced under scientifically-controlled conditions, it would have changed the world. Science is all about challenging our worldview based on evidence.

It's impossible to prove a negative, so it is not up to scientists to prove that the paranormal does not exist. One single piece of actual evidence would prove that the supernatural does exist. That is how science works. Feeling or thinking that something is true does not make it so. Any statment that begins with "I believe that..." is not science unless there is evidence backing it up.

Show me a single piece of reproducable, real, reliable evidence of the supernatural and I will change my mind. Until that happens, the logical default position is disbelief.

Kevin, Kingston, Ontario
September 28, 2011 9:03pm

Actually there is a lot of pure lies in this article, First of all, the lock box for the film was provided and specially made by one of the investigators, secondly there is night vision video of some of the experiments, They were told to turn their camera off but the one investigator actually kept rolling with a night vision camera, and there was some cool shit recorded because of this. I'm no expert on the subject, And I doubt anyone else commenting here is either, but what I recomend is this, go to youtube and watch the video about the Scole Experiment, it's pretty good and you will get a better idea of what actually happened than you will by reading this article. Thanks. and here is the address for that video:

The video is about an hour and a half long but it's worth watching it all. I really liked it. check it out peeps

Allen, Ontario
December 8, 2011 4:15pm

We are told of the pedigree of the many researchers in this Scole Experiment. We are encouraged to believe that either the effects were produced by contact with entities which are not in everyday experience, or that the observers were being misled by the four "experimenters" (mediums.)
But the screaming question surely is:
"Who, exactly, are these self appointed and practicing mediums?"
What is their pedigree? Have they a clean track-record, so to speak, or were they great fantasts or practical jokers at school. What is their profession, or were they always professional mediums, making a living from this occupation? If a thorough investigation of those that produced these effects had been done I would have found the report far more useful.

Dag Crawford, London
December 9, 2011 1:56pm



December 15, 2011 1:07pm

Believers will always want to trust an acount no matter how little evidence. The non-belivers will never believe an account no matter how much evidence.
I read the Scole Experiment a number of years ago and I found it fasinating. It is always difficult to fully believe such an account if you were not present. Based on my experiences I came to the conclusion many years ago that you can never prove the existance of the afterlife to another person, you can only ever prove it to youself. Let me give you an example. Many years ago I used the table. Letters around a table with a glass. People present would out their fingers on the glass and off it went rapidly spelling out messages. We did this for years and to say someone was pushing the glass? if you had been there you would not have thought so. But, I had to prove it to myself. So one night I took on the roll of asking the questions but I did this without my finger on the glass. I asked the questions in my head and not using my voice. No one knew the questions other than myself. The table still answered these very specific questions to which only I knew the answers. Now, I could be a liar or a trickster. But I know I'm not. You don't. So you see, you can only ever prove it to youself.

David Gwynne, Preston
December 20, 2011 7:09am

This all misses the point really.

Even if the events reported occured as described, that doesn't "prove" what they seem to think it proves. It would merely describe a set of very odd phenomena. What's to say that the explanation for that phenomena is ghosts or life after death? Why not aliens, or beings from another dimension or previously unknown "energy beings" or... I could go on.

The logical flaw here is fundamental. A real experiment would test their hyphothesis somehow, ideally against alternative possibilities.

Oh, and the burden of proof lies on the one making the claim -- and the larger the claim the more proof required to support it.

But happy new year!

Paul, Toronto
December 31, 2011 6:43pm

Well, VOYAGER 1 that NASA sent out in 70's has observed, which is that at Pluto's orbit at 7 light HOURS our Sun got really small, and then disappeared before 18 light HOURS, which means that the entire surrounding of stars (if they are near the size of our Sun) will be within light HOURS from Earth. With Voyager 1:s camera, any little dot of light will PROBABLY be within 18 to 17 light HOURS from Earth, BUT with The Hubble Telescope, which I calculated by using Hubble's picture of Pluto to see at the most 7 light HOURS further than Voyager 1:s camera, which means that ALL stars that we can see with Hubble will be at the most 25 light HOURS away from us. This means that if we don't send those space crafts towards a star, then we will miss it and all of them, because we have to get at least 10 light hours away from stars to see the star, if it is a sun-like star, and closer to see the star's planets. Talk about science fooling the crap out of everyone, and here you are ARGUING about spirits???

Well, let me tell you something, I live with spirits, I talk with them every day, and they will just let you all know that this planet is nothing but an artificial planet to get experiences from, BECAUSE around every damn star out there, you will have tons of planets like Earth with human beings and spirits living on them living as long lives as they want.

What, did you think universe was low-tech? Nah, an eternal development made it possible to create whatever you think is possible.

Daniel Ljungström, Göteborg/Sweden
January 27, 2012 8:27am

I have watched amazing feats performed by professional illusionists on stage.
I was there in the flesh when one magician seemingly made his assistant 'disappear' inside a large loop that would have been far too small for her body to have been wrapped around when inside it.
But 'disappear' she did, at least to our totally deceived minds.
Illusionists make a speciality of fooling our brains and five senses, and they do it very well indeed.
There is nothing these physical mediums can do that a trained illusionist or magician cannot perform, and under decent lighting as well.
And if spirits really do want to prove they survive, why are they seemingly intent on sticking to the same old parlour tricks that have been used for over a century? Can't the 'spirit world' come up with any new innovations of its own?
In the final analysis, The Scole Experiment proves nothing. If it had, it would have made international headlines and the mediums, if they had been able to prove there was an afterlife, they without doubt, would have won the Nobel Prize.

Sadie, Exeter
May 19, 2012 5:53pm

I recommend you guys watch the documentary before stating your opinions on the experiment. It seems like some of you never saw it because alot of the questions you guys ask have been answered in the video...

Davanand B, Ontario
August 25, 2012 12:07am

There are significant errors in the article and the commentary. I will point out two, both involving Richard Wiseman. Wiseman is the one who actually made the test box for the film that was used in the experiments. Wiseman NEVER attended ONE Scole seeance! His comments, much like those here and this article, were founded entirely on his own PERSONAL BELIEFS.

At least one other respected English magician, a Member of England's Magic Circle, did attend a Scole seance and could not explain what he had experienced.

I do concur that those who wish to comment should take the time to watch the documentary referenced in the comments above. It is quite useful. Of course, if you have already made up your mind, you will not seek it out. And you would be as guilty of closed-mindedness as this article alledges of anyone involved in the Scole experiments.

John S, Virginia USA
September 3, 2012 9:29am

@ John S

The close minded folks are the ones who look at 'Scoles' uncritically.

If the 'mediums' wanted to really prove their abilities, then they should be asking the investigators what do we need to do for you to accept our abilities.

There should be a method acceptable by all parties - and so that would have to at least employ a critical scientific methodology.

My thoughts are that the these paranormal types do not want thorough investigation for a reason, and that reason could be fraud. No one should be accepting as real any 'demonstration' that occurs in total darkness in an uncontrolled environment.

If paranormal 'powers' exist, then they exist, they exist day or night, they exist anywhere or are these believers saying that these things can ONLY happen in one room, of one house, in total darkness, on the entire planet?

Until psychics and their ilk can do what they claim they can do under scientific controlled conditions, then their claims are just that, claims, and no more 'real' than any other claim - be it the Loch Ness Monster, unicorns or gold at the end of the rainbow.

As for watching videos, ANY video can be edited and post production skills over the last few years - even for the mere amateur - are incredible.

I regularly trawl the Internet looking at such things, I have seen videos that 'prove' the ancient Egyptians were aliens and that the Queen of England is a Reptilian - maybe that burden of video proof is fine for you, but it is not for me.

David Healey, Maidenhead, UK
September 3, 2012 2:45pm

Psychics make it to TV and get to delude another generation of folk every year.

If medicine had the same exposure we would have three 24 hour channels that just picked the nifty stuff.

Psychics are recognised because it is a common sense. The fact that its nonsense doesnt occur to people.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
September 4, 2012 10:58pm

Just a thought.

If consciousness were a phenomenon over and above the neural activity of the brain - i.e. something that could 'transfer' to other realms or dimensions when we die - how could it be that your consciousness can get pissed when you go and drink 15 beers?

SayMyName, Canberra
September 15, 2012 10:08am

This is another excellent article from Brian.

Well written and well thought out.

It's a pity that "experiments" like the Scole Experiment detract from the credibility of the real psychic stuff.

Macky, Auckland
September 15, 2012 5:24pm

@ SayMyName, interesting observation !!!

You'd have thought that IF the consciousness was separate and independent of the brain that alcohol and drugs couldn't affect it.

@ Macky ???? Credibility of real psychic stuff? Don't be daft man, there is no evidence to accept that ANY psychic ability is true. It exists solely in the minds of believers and the people fleecing them.

When a 'psychic' accepts testing they fail and then make excuses. I have read enough of their bull in my life, they set experiments up where BOTH sides agree on the method and when they fail the psychic says that the test was biased or set up for a fail.

Most have gotten wise to this now and so either don't get tested or will only accept a very limited, form of testing where foul-play can't be ruled out.

Mr Randi still has a million bucks for ANY psychic who can prove what THEY say they can already do. What can possibly hard about that? I can walk across the road, I can hear humans speak to me all of my daily activities I can repeat in a lab anywhere on the planet. Why do psychics NOT accept the Randi challenge? They can't say that they don't need the money because they usually charge great sums for their 'gift'. So they need money.

For a while I believed in psychic reading and nonsense like that, then I found out how they do it.

Maybe there are true 'psychics' out there but after a 100 or more years of testing them, strange we haven't found even one. Why is that? Are they shy? Or do they not exist?

David Healey, Maidenhead, UK
September 16, 2012 5:45am


You're absolutely right in everything you've said in your two last posts.

I don't know whether dowsing comes under the heading of psychic phenomena or not, but in the days of my NZPO employment as a lineman/cable jointer/telephone installer, every district line depot seemed to have one or two guys that could be relied upon to dowse the whereabouts of a cable underground, and respectfully, I was one of those guys.

I used 8-gauge fencing wire bent into "L" shapes and held them out each hand straight forward. It was important to visualise ONLY telephone cable, otherwise the rods would close inwards when over other objects like water pipes etc.
Once found, the rods were opened again and while standing over the "found" cable, counting mentally say in 3" progressions, the rods would gradually close in until they were fully closed at "X" depth.

It wan't often needed, as our plans were pretty good, but where a road had been widened and then curbed, possibly landscaped as well, I had a good success rate at locating "our" cables.
Underground leads into a customer's property were more often located this way. I once used a bent nail to find one Maori chap's lead, he wouldn't let me anywhere near him after that :-)

There have been other occurences that could only be described as "psychic" phenomena, that have happened occasionally in my life, but I fully agree with you, there's far too much nonsense and outright fraud around in this area.

Macky, Auckland
September 16, 2012 5:36pm

Watched the video, and was impressed by the special effects. Slightly disappointed that, were they indeed to be genuine, so little serious material was drawn out from the 'other side', ie. answers to profound questions. Nevertheless, the existence of consciousness beyond the brain, not to mention the psychokinetic effects, are all consistent with the teachings of our oldest religions. Re. 'confirmation bias', I'm not sure which side of this argument is more vulnerable.. A devout sceptic is no less dogmatic than a 'believer', and both rationalise their views in relation to their supportive paradigms. Personally, the mediums looked very unlike professional'illusionists', and would have been taking an almost existential risk if falsifying the evidence. (Not to say that many probably do!) However, if they were so adept at magic, they would surely be earning topdollar like David Copperfield. Finally, I tend towards the view that of two explanations for a common phenomenon, unless evidence sways conclusively one way or the other,the simpler explanation is preferable. So iow, it's authentic. Seems unlikely? So is multiverse theory, but quantum physicists say it's the only thing that can account for life on earth.
Really a case of acknowledging that 'There are more things on heaven and earth..' etc and so forth.

Oxford Brucie, UK
October 8, 2012 4:35am

No Sadie, they would not have won the Nobel Prize as that award is now about as worthless and meaningless as they come. Yes, it has turned into a popularity contest for different celebrities.

I guess in the minds of people that think science is still in the 1800's/1900's we can look at it your way.

James, Los Angeles
October 10, 2012 11:03am

The biggest mistake the documentary made was its very tone. There were no skeptical remarks and the narrator was far too excited and credulous. The statements of veracity were subjective. There were no skeptics allowed at the seances and the phrase "there was no other explanation" was simply false. The bereaved are the most easily duped of all. I ask though, who would honestly want their loved one to continue on forever, watching over all the private deeds and flaws we all possess? I would not wish this on my worst enemy and definitely not a loved one. Utter death is difficult to accept as it is frightening and unknown to EVERYONE. Even honest people will dupe themselves simply for the emotional relief.

Dia Neighbors, Chattanooga
November 21, 2012 8:45pm

As long as no one collects on the 1 Million Dollar JREF Challenge all of these seances will be deemed hoaxes. I believe in the afterlife as I have witnessed certain aspects of it but so far this 1 million dollars has never been collected and until it has I will be forever sceptical in anyone who claims they have been in contact or in continual contact with the dead.

Roy Jones, Longwood, Florida
November 22, 2012 2:54pm


What are the certain aspects of the afterlife that you have witnessed ?

Macky, Auckland
November 24, 2012 1:06pm

You have your facts wrong about the film that images appeared on. You might want to watch the documentary again.

Jason, Texas
November 26, 2012 4:13pm

I'm concerned 'skeptic' may be throwing the baby out with the bath water. I'm sure the members of the investigative committee are well versed in the scientific process. I don't think the people who put the Scole project together ever intended it to be a tightly controlled experiment. I'd like our best minds to do further research. Clearly, the psychics are not in that group but they shouldn't be ridiculed unless there is proof of deception (which has not been proven but suggested). Take the Scole project for what it is, not proof but phenomena carefully reviewed by good scientists for fraud. Funding a scientific investigation in an effort to duplicate results seems the best action. As well, I'd like to see more research into DMT/LSD (Our perception of reality is limited and based upon our ability to 'sense'. There is more than we can perceive therefore we must improve our ability to sense/measure). I'm concerned ridicule, deception, misdirection, and treachery are all at play in an effort to kill any serious scientific investigation into the field in general and that's the most troubling issue regarding Scole. Shakespeare's perception is as relevant today as when he wrote it 'all the world is a stage' but who's directing the play and why is so much effort put into killing scientific curiosity? Don't forget, throughout history skeptics have been on the wrong side of many issues proven correct later. Being skeptical is easy but sometimes counter productive.

Ethan Dickenson, Raleigh NC,
November 27, 2012 2:52pm

I dispute what was said in the article about the photographs being fraudulent. I don't see how an image four feet long can be produced with any normal camera anyway, and if such equipment does exist I wonder how these people in Scole would have access to it?

The newspapers were produced using WWII ration ink on outdated publishing technology. How,again, would these people get their hands on the resources neessary to publish these WWII newspapers, including the one with the medium's sentencing to a jail term on the front page?

Can you reproduce such feats as the Scole experimenters were allegedly able to produce fraudulently, by other than supernatural means? That challenge has not been answered, either. It is a challenge that Skeptics should consider responding to. (Note: I am referring, also, to Randi's challenge.)

Elizabeth Jane, Queenstown, Tasmania
November 30, 2012 5:36am

According to yoga texts, conciousness is located in the heart and is spread,as "prana" through the body via the bloodstream. Certain types of meditation, mantra etc, will allow the yogi to observe the actions of the brain from "outside". There is nothing "supernatural" about this, nor even particularly religious, and I wish the conversation about "mind" and "brain" would get away from all this metaphysical spoon-bending. Really, basing a rejection of "soul" on the results of a sceance? Its just as bad as athiests who base all of their anti-religious arguments on the Abrahamic religions ( Judaism, Islam, Christianity )theology. There are other points of view, some very worthy of study. Eugene Paul Wigner was on the right track I think.

Jose Equis, New York City, NY
November 30, 2012 9:17am

This article seems to conveniently be missing a great deal in terms of the rigour of it's logic and reason, and ultimately succumbs to the very 'magickal thinking' it supposes to discredit. As an example, the article states 'The primary control offered by the mediums was their use of luminous wristbands, to show the sitters that their hands were not moving about during the seances. I consulted with Mark Edward, a friend in Los Angeles who gives mentalism and seance performances professionally. He knows all the tricks, and luminous wristbands are, apparently, one of the tricks' While we are told that 'so-and-so--'some whack-job mentalist 'expert,' knows all the tricks and that wrist-bands are one of these tricks, the precise mechanism is never described to us; we are simply left to believe this statement without any descriptive evidence. Yet it doesn't stop here, the article continues in it's magickal misdirection by committing the classic logic fallacy of the dogmatic-hysterical-extremist 'skeptic,' the 'slippery slope' of the 'confirmation bias' claim, wherein we are led to believe that because sensory phenomenon are reported as such, that the investigator-reporter is a 'true believer' who has been taken in by deception. Yet the article then goes on to contradict it's own deceptive trickery by stating 'We have no evidence' any of these deceptive techniques were used; which is highly convenient as the article fails to mention any mechanism.

Chris Gose, Albuqueruerque
December 3, 2012 6:43am

Here's a fun thing to do: take a "believer" into a room with no windows, just you and him, and lock the door from the inside. Then turn the light off and, in the complete darkness, kick him in the ass as hard as you can. Then turn the light back on, and tell him a ghost did it.

Peter, The Nueva York
December 5, 2012 6:42pm

I believe in existence of Spirits and stuff but the Scole things just a little over the top and oozing out a sense of trickery... Infra red, night vision camera would work just fine and put it in a none disruptive way like the medium requested. Agree not very good investigator. Well, I should say not very effective for this "Scole" thing anyway. Might as well sent in Scobby and his bunch to investigate instead. At least they always solves the mystery.

T, Columbus
December 6, 2012 1:31am

I'm both a skeptic and a believer, I know hard to comprehend, yet I exist. Sure the scole experiment is a bit over the top and full of nothing but the pro's, but I believe that is the point of the video. Rather it's fake, or not, doesn't really concern me because regardless if you it's real or not people will believe, or not believe, and no amount of evidence will change that.

But, like someone else mentioned, I would really like to see more experiments and research done on psychedelic drugs like DMT, LSD and so forth. I find it very odd that this class of drugs, being that they are extremely safe and do not show signs of addiction are of the most illicit drugs on the planet. Yet, the very few and sparce studies that have been done have shown such amazing results that one has to scratch their head and wonder... why?

I tell you, I used to be extremely pessimistic about an afterlife. I thought it impossible, along with religion and everything else. About 2 years ago I was introduced to DMT, and while I have absolutely zero experience with other psychedelic drugs, after doing some research on it I was intrigued and wanted to see just what a trip would be like.. Because for the life of me I couldn't comprehend what this could be about.

Low and behold, a couple dozen trips later my entire perception of life, reality, spirituality and such has done a 180. To say I was blown away is an understatement.

So yea, id like to see more research in this. Awareness is an amazing thing.

Robert Proctor, Earth
December 12, 2012 1:46pm

It is fascinating that there is so much evidence on things such as spirit & other supernatural occurrences such as ufo's, etc., and yet somehow serious study into these topics (by the scientific community) has been brought to the point of "ridicule".

Simply consider what science believed just 200 years ago, and look at where things are at now!

Also, places like pumapumku in south america - "science" would have us accept that the place was created using hand tools...."that" is laughable.

We (as a civilization) really do "need" the rigors of science and scientists to keep us grounded. However, to ignore all of these various phenomena, and not continue to conduct "serious" study (but actually condemn it to ridicule instead) is almost criminal.

just another person's two cents.

David V, phoenix arizona
December 19, 2012 4:47am

More than two cents worth, David, in my opinion.

The things you speak of have no scientific evidence for them, because science deals with the natural world.

Things like God, spirit, some UFO's etc can't be proven by science, nor can they be disproven, because the supernatural by definition lies outside the range of scientific enquiry.

One day a few more "supernatural" phenomena will be understood by science, and will not longer be in the realm of the supernatural.

200 years ago if we had told anybody that one day there would 250-ton aircraft flying through the air at 500 mph, and we would be able to watch a rock (what's that?) concert from around the other side of the world through a "window", imagine the derision and disbelief from those that didn't believe in anything but "scientific evidence".

I looked up Pumapumku BTW. Quite fascinating. 131 metric ton slab brought from 10km away up an incline. Wonder how and by who.

The wiki on it notes the sophisticated tech that must have been used to build the place was not matched by the Inca's hundreds of years later.

Macky, Auckland
December 20, 2012 11:45pm

David V:

We have no evidence of aliens or any other agency, other than humans, building monuments on Earth.

Just because we do not know the actual techniques used to create such things, doesn't mean that the ancient folks didn't build then, themselves.

We only so much about the construction techniques about the great Mediterranean civilizations because they left a lot of documentary information, and even then, there are puzzles.

A lot of the castles in the UK have puzzles as to some techniques, but some documentation and physical remains have helped us understand things more.

We live in an age where old skills, skills passed down for centuries, are being retired, and in the future we will have no idea how to achieve some of the things such artisans could undertake.

In the UK at Stonehenge folks came up with metaphysical explanation as to how huge stones from Wales had got the 200 miles to site. A few years ago, a scientist found that a glacier brought such huge things to the area from Wales. Of course the New Age Woo still think it was aliens, but we know glaciers exist.

In the 1770s, 400 men, and no machines, moved a 1,500 ton block about 4 miles, in nine months, in Russia, The Thunderstone.

We know how they done it because documentation exists, but if it didn't, I am pretty sure that many fringe folks would have considered it an act not done by man, as well.

passin thro, where my hat layeth
December 21, 2012 12:17pm

Yes I have no doubt about ancient man's ability to move and place huge stones.

Their knowledge of geometry and engineering must have been highly sophisticated.

My problem appears when I start considering time-lines.

For example, with the Great Pyramid, the estimated number of blocks, and the time that scholars believe it was built over, there would have had to be one block quarried, cut to precision, transported to site, lifted, and fitted (also to precision, and to plan) every 5 minutes day and night for 20 years.
That is without a hitch, and not taking into consideration the larger weight of some of the blocks, well over the 2.5 tons of the smallest.

If one promotes the idea of a huge number of workers to accomplish all this, then we are left with the problem of feeding, housing, bathroom facilities etc in order to maintain such a break-neck building pace lasting for so long.

Plus the supply and transportation of food to feed them from the surrounding country farms.

Macky, Auckland
December 21, 2012 7:16pm

After having watched the documentary, the padlocked box was not provided by the Mediums. It was provided by one of the investigators, along with the film, that of which never left his grip during the session. I'm not sure about the wristbands, but I believe they were provided by the researchers as well; as opposed to being provided by the Mediums.

Other postings have made great points, such as modern technology leading to disbelief of unfamiliar older technologies.

Why would the success of the Scole Experiments change the world? Any phenomena that is as outrageous in idea as this is likely to be welcomed with the skepticism you provide in your article.

Random Person, N/A
December 21, 2012 11:38pm

We have a body of evidence (that when taken in totality) suggests that there is much more to "reality" than what the scientific community has been able to prove so far.

(Scole type experiments / UFOs / ASC due to things like LSD / DMT, etc. to name only a few)

Which leads many of us to question: What more could be accomplished if (some) in the scientific community would just stop attempting to shut-down serious investigation by labeling phenomena (that they simply may not understand "yet") as "rubbish"?

Ultimately, are they not potentially wasting valuable time in driving the human race to a higher-understanding (by dissuading many brilliant minds from openly and freely studying these things)?

To offer some level of consideration on the subject, isn't it valid to point-out that since we have only "theories" of what is going on at the quantum level, that "all" in the scientific community would at least stop the ridicule and admit that "everything" is fair game for valid study?

Or, am I missing something? (which admittedly, maybe I am)

Thanks for your well thought out responses...these are important questions to ponder.

David V, phoenix arizona
December 26, 2012 1:24pm

Yep, you miss a lot and make a lot more up. Welcome to skepoid.

These are important questions for folk who really don't like looking things up.

Mud, missing point, NSW, Oz
December 26, 2012 8:22pm

David V

Good post.

"there is much more to "reality" than what the scientific community has been able to prove so far."

Absolutely. Science's "reality" also changes almost by the week as new discoveries are made, particularly it seems in astronomy.

Certain telepathic experiences (and other phenomena) between people on LSD are well known among those that don't need to look things up. They already know it from experience.
Others who regard themselves as skeptics have often had the same thing happen to them but deny the experiences as "not real".

"Which leads many of us to question: What more could be accomplished if (some) in the scientific community would just stop attempting to shut-down serious investigation by labeling phenomena (that they simply may not understand "yet") as "rubbish"?"

Unfortunately there is a lot of fraud in the psychic world. It only reinforces the position of the skeptics who point to the fraud as evidence that such things are rubbish.

Also, corporate and business influence on scientific research ensures that mostly such things as psychic phenomena will not be researched, as it has very little financial reward for them.

Churches ministers (confirmed by experience) and priests (I have heard) often condemn such things as well, because if everyone regained their lost abilities, they would see the churches for what they are, cargo cults that promise hope and reward for slavish obedience to a few at the top, the same as anywhere else.

Macky, Auckland
December 26, 2012 10:38pm

Macky - I think this is the primary disconnect between you and the mainstream science community: the definition of what constitutes useful evidence. You point to personal experience as what constitutes "knowing"; while the scientist knows that personal experience is about the worst possible way to learn anything - personal experiences are subject to so many variables, perceptual phenomena, biases, expectations, interpretations, etc. Effects that appear to be "psychic" have always disappeared once controls have been applied. In short, you're never going to convince the scientific community of anything by citing personal experience or by using phrases like "confirmed by experience".

Brian Dunning, Laguna Niguel, CA
December 27, 2012 12:59am

Brian - well perhaps then that's why there is so much pseudoscience in the world.

The disconnect between scientific method, and everyday personal experience.

Diminishing the importance of personal experience as the worst possible way to learn anything seems to me absurd.
Personal experience is what keeps you alive, enables you to steer the ship in the right direction, to keep away from certain dangerous situations, to do your job properly.
One doesn't have to scientifically prove the danger of driving a car on the wrong side of the road.
Personal experiences of others provide the proof, as the annual road toll shows.

No wonder scientists seem so remote from the ordinary citizen.
It's like they are in a world of their own, making the rules, then judging everything by them.

Why should everything be scientifically proven in the lab before it is accepted as "real", when every year science itself is upgraded ?

The scientific questions that are answered today will only lead to more questions tomorrow,on and on.

And scientists' disregard for psychic phenomena seems strange when many of them are seen in church on Sunday, accepting the supernatural as "personal experience" of God, scientifically unproven, but very real in their minds.

It's tolerated readily,and why not?

I admire science,truly. But its strength is also its limitation.

Mankind got along well for tens of thousands of years on trial and error, personal experience in fact, not science and its methods.

Macky, Auckland
December 27, 2012 3:43am

Guys! You, Macky and Brian should stop arguing like this!

For all Macky's fallacies (read the last post) with all its allusions to the breast fed nd lubricated "common sense" I think they are now mine to unfold.

Sure Macky requires space for explanation (and to the great god of all gargles) Macky has always a superb.

I have noticed that from time to time his literacy skills are so great that his allusions to science in passing are "positable" but ingenuous in their plagiarism.

Personally, the disconect between everyday science and personal experience is probably a hand cream.

Look, I have had fantastic results with Macky as he learns more, writes better, and will always improve.

Skeptoid needs an anti Maynard and amaynardism is now mine to cope with.

Macky, BS as you will..Its grand, its glorious and.. when really pressed you are honest.

Brian has a treasure in you (may as you dont see now)

Now as to being miffed...That homeopathic hot tub water that I recieved as a festival greeting was hardly homeopathic.

Gloves and pillow cases off when nurse Ratchett and Pho, the chef and the girl boxer have had their fill of being slugs and go back to work.

Look, Macky is nothing compaerd to a 20 YO girl child who is an artist/feminist (both by qualification) who is a natural martial artist

Give me laughing police interviews..

They look at my ripped son and.

I think its pronounced

"kong hai fat choi"

2013... is going to be KONG

Grease up Macky!

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
December 27, 2012 5:55am


are you suggesting that science should treat personal experience as valid proof for the existence of something, without any other kind of supporting evidence?

If you're arguing that it's a reasonable place to start, then I would agree with you. But unless something can be observed and measured, predicted and repeated then it can't have any scientific validity. That's not a flaw in the scientific method, it IS the scientific method.

You're right to say that everybody knows it's dangerous to drive on the wrong side of the road, we don't need science to tell us that. But science can tell us HOW dangerous it is ie the probability that you will die in a head on collision, because experiments can be run and the outcome measured. Statistics can be compiled and risk assessments made. It was work like that that convinced many governments to introduce seatbelt & drink driving laws, despite personal experience of the "I'm a safer driver when I've had a few" variety.

If people want to believe in ghosts, flying saucers, or fairies at the bottom of the garden that's their right, but nobody has to believe it on their say-so. Maybe, for whatever reason, science can't prove it one way or another, but that's no reason to say "Oh well, we'll just have to accept it then."

Darren, Liverpool, UK
December 27, 2012 6:01am


"Look, I have had fantastic results with Macky as he learns more, writes better, and will always improve."

I indicated from the beginning that I was here to learn.
And I have. Others have remained stuck in their positions.
I note your ongoing tendency to skirt around direct assertions.
Name a fallacy of mine, or two, and directly debate them.

The rest of your post is, as usual, clear as mud.

Darren, always good to read your posts.
Your first sentence, certainly not. Engineering projects depend on solid science for their success, not trial and error.
But personal experience still plays its part in that success.
And I agree with the rest of your post, as well.

We shouldn't accept some so-called psychic's "revelations" without question. That's what's created a lot of fraud and confusion in the world.

But to simply dismiss some phenomena as "rubbish" because it's not repeatable in a lab setting is certainly sticking to science's tenets, but it's not taking into account the value of personal experience as a valid and complementary consideration.

It can lead to the scientific method itself becoming rigid and uncompromising in some minds, leading to the automatic discounting of even casual personal enquiry with no intention of scientific proof, only personal interest and experience.

My posts on the viewing of the "etheric" glow around the body, and the derisive and "slamming the shutters down" nature of Mud's replies are indicative of what I'm saying here.

Macky, Auckland
December 27, 2012 1:23pm

I thought the posts I read here seemed significantly polite and civil.

I simply didn't read enough of fault. I should have realized that I simply utilized a sample-size that was too small.

The only point I (and Macky) are trying to make was that the scientific community should avoid labeling the paranormal "rubbish" which has the effect of driving others (in the scientific community) away from the subject (for fear of ridicule).

While I will always appreciate and respect the "need" for the scientific method - I'm glad I'm not confined to your narrow restrictions and can utilize common sense when appropriate.

One would think that the scientific community would find a tremendous amount of interest in the phenomena produced during the Scole experiments. Why? - because either the amazing phenomena were "real" (mind you, I'm not attempting to tell you "how" those things were accomplished) - or - the level and extent of the fraud is (in itself) worthy of scientific explanation.

Perhaps in your attempt to explain "how" the fraud was perpetrated, you would conclude which explanation sounded more incredible(?)

I "get" where you guys are coming from (to a point) and I also realize that I'm not the 1st person to pose this sentiment.

At some point in the future, you (the scientific community) will catch-up with the common sense being deployed by us mere simpletons (regarding this overall topic) - it happens that way over and over again throughout time.

David V, phoenix arizona
December 27, 2012 2:38pm

Totally agree with David V.

The main reasons, I suspect, for scientists shying away from genuine investigation of "paranormal" events etc is the stigma that corp-driven media has managed to bestow on such things.

Corporate influence in our societies has been both incidious, and often blatant.
Big Business buys govts, but has no social responsibility.

Any scientist caught displaying an interest out of mainstream (read profit-making enterprise) can consider his career all but over.
There have been exceptions where science has finally embraced the heretic, but they are few and far between.

Status quo rules. Science is also used as enforcement to quell anything that threatens the resident power structure (political, religious, or military) whether the scientists themselves are aware of it or not.

How many scientists are actually working for themselves in their own business that reflects their science?
Hardly any, it seems. They all mostly work for someone else, or a group, a corp. in fact, who are often nowhere near as educated as the scientist, but who maximise profits and wield power in the world.

Corporates and banking cartels run the world. They have for a very long time. Scientific research is either funded from corporates, or from the govts that the corporates largely control.

Any competent "paranormal" activity is a direct threat to corporate power.

Imagine a competent telepath with an altruistic view of the world, at a directors' meeting ?

Not on, old boy.

Macky, Auckland
December 27, 2012 5:43pm

David V - All scientific knowledge comes from a single group or individual making a discovery, which then spreads to the rest of the community as results are confirmed and repeated. This is the way it's always been and it continues to be the formalized process today.

Brian Dunning, Laguna Niguel, CA
December 28, 2012 6:43pm

Providing of course that that discovery is of sufficient interest to the scientific community, and more importantly, to the ones that fund them, in the first place.

Macky, Auckland
December 29, 2012 12:54am

Macky - Do you seriously think that the existence of an afterlife, alien visitation or whatever - if there was genuine, plausible evidence of such - would not be of interest to science? Or that rapacious capitalists would not be able to find a way to make money out of it?

Darren, Liverpool, UK
December 29, 2012 4:40am

Darren - it appears that history has multiple examples of committed skeptics (scientists) that after researching and finding an avalanche of "plausible evidence" became a believer.

I'm certainly no expert on the subject - but one such case I read about involved sir william crookes' change of belief (apparently there are many others).

The fact is there IS a lot of plausible evidence. Do you think the people in Phoenix suffered a mass hallucination in march 1997?

If they did have a mass hallucination - why didn't the scientific community find that (in itself) worthy of investigating so they could explain (scientifically) how that many people could mass hallucinate?

I (and my wife and son) saw a large UFO myself (for at least 15 minutes while driving across new mexico on my way to arizona) - i videotaped it. Perhaps if I didn't see that myself, I wouldn't have enough curiosity to care.

Perhaps all 'committed skeptics' simply are not curious enough about the subject matter...otherwise, I certainly can't explain the lack of interest (other than how effectively the scientific community has scared away most from conducting any further serious study).

David V, phoenix arizona
December 29, 2012 7:22am

In answer to your reasonable questions, I have given solid reasons why scientists have been steered away from invstigations on such things as the afterlife, alien visitations, etc, whether they are actually aware of it or not.
Rapacious capitalism is a means to an end. Let's face it. The powerful families and corporates already have so much money for any material wants. It goes beyond that. It's the use of money and resources to wield power in the world.
It always has been throughout history.
Globalism has now increased that power, but the tech developed during and since WW2 (that time of great leaps in science and engineering) has also increased methods of detection, and the thousands of sightings etc continue as we speak.
Sightings have always been made over the ages. Post-WW2, radar regularly tracks targets that are not conventional aircraft.

I have also commented on how in an organisation of thousands of people, is it possible that only a few at the top, and perhaps one or two strategically placed further down, know the real truth of the organisation's agenda.
Scientists can be working diligently away on assigned projects that support an infrastructure on an everyday basis, never knowing that there are a few in the B.O.D. that hold an advanced level of truth,e.g. about alien contact.

It's quite possible.

Also many (not all) "committed skeptics" in fact are only at the other end of the same stick as "believers" in the paranormal.
They are only "non-believers".

Macky, Auckland
December 29, 2012 12:39pm

Macky - from reading your comments here and on other topics I think I can paraphrase your stance as follows : 'In an imperfect world, we can never be 100% sure about anything. There will always be dark corners and in those dark corners the truth probably lies. Therefore people like Brian are wrong to dismiss the idea of the supernatural/alien visitation/global conspiracies because we can never know with cast-iron certainty that those things aren't real.' Would that be a fair summing-up? Apologies if that seems fatuous. It's not meant to be.

Darren, Liverpool, UK
December 29, 2012 2:41pm

Close, Dareen

Question everything.
Question the official story.
Question the psychics and the paranormal advocates.
Question the scientists. Not so much the science itself, but what it can become in the scientists' minds, i.e. the all and end-all.

Not only in the dark corners. The evidence is sometimes right in peoples' faces, but still they cannot see. Or they may see but don't perceive.

People like Brian I count among the salt of the Earth.

They are truth-seekers.

Their compassion compels them to expose fallacies and outright bullshit that cause people to suffer, and lose their impetus for life. Their contribution to mankind is entirely positive.

With Brian's people, their scientific tenets of enquiry unfortunately can become rigid, and limiting.

Take rogue waves for example. There was "no scientific evidence"
for them even up to 1995, and they were regarded as "near-mythical", "old mariners' tall tales" etc.

Mere observation and personal experience by mariners over years counted for nothing, according to scientists.

But suddenly one day, a ship with scientists aboard caught one off the Dogger Bank, and along with an measured occurrence on an oil platform, plus the QE2 smashing into one, rogue waves began to be studied by scientists.

The interest suddenly leaped up a hundred-fold and today rogue waves are known to be common-place.

Personal experience, and observation, after all, were proven valid.

And the scientific method was found wanting.

Macky, Auckland
December 29, 2012 8:13pm

Correcting my last post.

The QE2 was hit by rogue waves in 1995.

The RRS Discovery was the ship
"57.5° N , 1 2 .7° W, 1 75 MILES
FEBRUARY 8 , 2000"

I imagine the ship's laundry was working overtime once things settled down again.

It seems that not until "scientific" measurements, plus the "personal experiences and observations" of scientists did rogue waves become seriously studied by scientists.

Naturally ship-owners and corporate interests would back the study of rogue waves. It's in their financial interest to do so.

Even with space exploration there is commercial speculation re possible asteroid mining.

The fact is, most scientists ultimately work for corporate interests, either in university studies funded by corporates, smaller companies contracted to corporates or govt agencies, whose govt officials are heavily influenced by corporate power.

Bankers and corporates wield the power in the world.
There's very little commercial interest in the paranormal. It has been ridiculed (sometimes aided by fraudulent actions by "psychics") as "not scientifically" proven etc etc.
Genuine psychic ability would also be a threat.

I would go as far to say that scientists themselves are often used by corporate power via their own scientific methods of enquiry, which are right and proper in a lab setting, but continue to be found wanting in many broader areas of human experience and observation.

Macky, Auckland
January 1, 2013 1:13pm

I'll treat the rogue wave issue as a new red herring tactic.

But lets get back to the insidious

"Providing of course that that discovery is of sufficient interest to the scientific community, and more importantly, to the ones that fund them, in the first place.

Macky, Auckland
December 29, 2012 12:54am"

I would ask, what is the intent of this post?

For a guy who lambasts fundamental science to all of a sudden start squawking about market driven technology is "just a little bit bullshit".

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 3, 2013 2:41am

I don't see what your problem is, Mud.

Darren made some pretty close summings up of my stance on the world in general.

My Dec 29 post answered to those, one of which was not quite right.

I've posted often enough on how science's methods of rigorous enquiry etc, while being its strength, can also be its limitation, with scientists extending science's methods of proof in lab settings etc into the broader world of personal experience and observation, and judging them on its restrictive rules.
In other words, something that has no scientific proof virtually does not exist, or is not valid.

The subject of rogue waves is a classic example of experienced mariners descriptions, and strong circumstantial evidence of otherwise unexplained ship disappearances, being largely ignored by scientists, until finally one of their little instruments measured a rogue wave, a few large passenger liner incidents rang warning bells, and then to top it all off, scientists themselves in a ship at sea personally experienced and observed a rogue wave(s).

That is not a lambasting of fundamental science, and once again you are saying things that are not true in a very sneaky corporate-style way.

You are lying, in fact.

"Question the scientists. Not so much the science itself, but what it can become in the scientists' minds, i.e. the all and end-all."

I have said on this site ( and elsewhere) that I have great respect for science.

Science however, does not ( yet ) explain everything.

Macky, Auckland
January 3, 2013 1:23pm

your para three is patently incorrect and shows biases from ignorance.

On your new red herring (rogue waves) you havent defined what a rogue wave is. Given that its painfully obvious from the literature since the sixties (feel free to check), your discussion is mixing observations.

If you want to continue with this please refresh your position and argue the appropriate one.

As to the repeated "I am offended statement series, I offer no comment. Its your habit, not mine.

As to your respect for science, get off your lazy tail and learn some. Your anti science posts that are clearly unnoticed by yourself, your ignorance of what science is, what science does, how it affects you, what scientists are and how they operate are often repeated here.

I am ashamed that a modern human that has spent the last 60 odd years on earth could single out ranting as a fair argument and not even have the wherewithall to do the simplest math and science to verify any statement.

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

It only takes the teensiest literature review that may take 10 minutes of your life before posting.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 3, 2013 9:30pm

Oh dear, Mud,

Only four days into the new year and already you lose your temper.

I defined a rogue wave for you on the other thread.
Not able to understand that ?

A rogue wave is defined as wave(s) that are over twice the height of the mean average of the top third of the waves in a given record.

Got that ?

I used the rogue wave thingy as an example of how scientists can ignore repeated personal experience and observation of experts, because of their applying science's rigorous approach to enquiry for everything under the sun.

If you didn't understand the points that I was making, then you don't have to be ashamed on my behalf.

Just so you know, this is a site for critical analysis of pop phenomena, with a strong science base. But some of the subjects here do not require a strict scientific definition.

Brian will correct me if I'm wrong.

In the meantime, if you don't understand the straight-out points that I make, then I can't help you.

I do respect science and its achievements, but it's not the all and end all, as someone like you seems to try and make out.
Science itself proves that by continuously updating itself, its strength, and its limitation.

Your scientific arrogance comes through with blinding clarity when you tell me to get off my lazy tail and learn some.

Who do you think you are ?

Until Brian, who I remind you owns this site, tells me to pull my head in, I will continue to post clear opinions and am prepared to be corrected in a proper manner.

Macky, Auckland
January 4, 2013 12:33am

The entire question was;

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

No the scientists ignoring things is not an argument. I wont comment further on these.

Pop science? sure, look at all the spooky alien articles. You direct VIEW and speculation and argue it. In that your straight out points become invalid. They are just strings.

Sorry, I dont comment on your Offended routine. Its clear that by posting your view of me along these lines is just your using another fallacy to answer the question;

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

So here is your big chance... do a literature survey for about 10 minutes and get a clear shot at

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

Go on, show us some verifiability in continuing a conversation without dragging your hoary old litanies and mantras into a very serious discussion.

On the rogue wave issue I have given you three great hints at pinning down a reasonable view rather than;

Theres waves scientists arent allowed to look at!

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 4, 2013 12:48am

"Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?"

Been there, done that, Mud.

Several times.

Macky, Auckland
January 4, 2013 1:26am

Macky, show us your understanding of these phenomena rather than just posting a tag line of wikipedia.

Sheesh, dont be as mean spirited as you claim scientists are when you have an entire comment section to show us that you actually can answer

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

You see that since 1960 (as you now clearly know from your expansive literature survey) oceanographers have been looking into the matters bounding "rogue waves".

So, dont keep us in the dark any longer,

let us know ...

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

Mud, missing point, NSW, Oz
January 4, 2013 1:40am

I have explained my views on certain aspects of enquiry into the natural world , world events, and the questioning of official reports etc.

It is reasonable, I think, to expect that where the subjects that are being discussed are beyond the personal experiences of the writer, that references are presented to support the writer's assertions and /or speculations.

These references are often found at the bottom of pages to support most serious articles.

It is also reasonable to expect that these references are as reliable as possible and are not merely from sites or writers that are known to take irrational claims about the subject.

In short, references, or the quoting of, are not merely "cut and paste" exercises to be passed off lightly.
Brian rightly often uses them in his articles.

Where a writer makes frivolous statements with no intention that they be taken seriously, then the tone of the writing should reflect that. It should be obvious to any reader.

Where the writer expresses opinions or beliefs without any proof, they should be clearly outlined as being just that, no more.

And on a site such as Skeptoid, with its mandate for uncovering the truth, it is only fair that any writer accept correction from others better informed, when appropriate.

I have attempted to follow the above guidlines on Skeptoid.
I have acknowledged when I've been wrong, and am happy to change my views, via solid evidence, not by statements themselves that have no foundation in fact.

Macky, Auckland
January 4, 2013 1:27pm

Here I ask you to define a rogue wave and how it would affect us. In light of the context of this skeptoid, how is it relevant?

I am not giving you any more hints..

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 7, 2013 11:04pm

That's a relief.

I've already given you a reasonable definition several times.

How would it affect you ?

A sure cure for constipation I would think.
Here's a link to a video of a ferry out in Cook Strait, the area where I spent my modest times at sea, if you're interested.

Macky, Auckland
January 8, 2013 12:01am

So, I can now progree on the article you cut and pasted the merest definition that you admittedly (50% Stat/LHC) that is not understood?

If yes, lets continue or leave the rogue wave argument before having to backflip ad nauseam.

You Know, like the back flip on chem trails, Etherics, acupuncture and the LHC.

A ps follows.. you criticised homeopathy elsewhere and lauded the "small ether" gargle and Qi and acupuncture..

as ridiculous as it sounds..homeopathy has a hell of a lot more going for it than acupuncture. The fact that you never spotted it in your "research" is astounding.

Hint...Homeopathy refers (rightly) to acupuncture practices as allopathy. For two woos critical of each other.. they base the same religious practice as; science.

Sure One is 200 years out of date. Goodness knows what the other is.

To date there is no such thing as a bounding life force to be notice by science unles you are standing pie eyed at a darkened doorway.

Do the same experiments with...

The lights off...

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 9, 2013 11:57pm

I haven't particularly researched any of the so-called alternative therapies, by your definition of the word.

Homeopathy doesn't seem as though it would work, from what little I know about it.
I could be wrong.

I haven't researched acupuncture, except scanned a few anatomical charts with points and the meridians drawn in. I argued the case for acupuncture on common ground, not on personal research, or even personal experience.
I don't use it.

"Etheric" was only a simple personal experiment to try, only if you're interested. I didn't tie that in with chi or any other life force.

My personal experiences with complementary healing I have no repeatable proof for. I posted them as information of complementary therapy. I don't expect you to believe in them as such.
You don't seem to believe in anything if it's not in some science journal or other.

So what was your last post all about then ?

More mixing up of what I've said in other posts and presenting it as contradictions and backflipping ?

I don't know how many times now I've asked you to present some specific examples of me backflipping in my posts.

You continue to work the word "backflipping" into almost every post you write in answer to mine.

So come up with the goods, Mud. Tell me and Skeptoid where I've backflipped on all the subjects that you say I have.

Given that you haven't understood my plain English so many times now, I have doubts you can even put a coherent thought together long enough to do it.

Macky, Auckland
January 10, 2013 10:45pm

With a strong light behind you, hold your hand up in front of you with your fingers spread as you look into a dark doorway, usually better at night. Put your eyes out of focus and look "past" your finger tips.
Try this for about 5-10 minutes a day.
As I say, I started to see a glow around my fingers and hands after about 2 weeks. Sometimes it was the colour of uninhaled cigarette smoke ( blue-grey ), other times purple.

I didn't develop the ability any further, I merely post for those that are interested to try it for themselves.
(Macky July 27)


I promise you there's no BS, Mud. Why don't you be the scientist that you say you are. Enquire, evaluate, test for yourself. Stick your neck out from your safe comfortable belief system that you so ardently defend.

Macky aug 02

Do it in the dark Macky

Today, Mud.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 11, 2013 7:52pm

You apparently have never seen the documentary they did on Scole where not only did they allow a film crew in but the film crew also didn't turn off their cameras when asked and still didn't find anything to say they faked it

Chris Davis, Wyalusing, PA
January 12, 2013 3:31pm

Mud Jan 11

"Do it in the dark Macky

Today, Mud."

And what am I expected to see then, Mud? Or not?

Macky, Auckland
January 13, 2013 1:02pm

If this is supposed to be a refutation of life after death, you have not done a very good job. All you have done is express your opinion of the Scole experiment.
As an ultimate sceptic, I was neither for nor against the possibility of life after death, until it could be proved one way or the other. I am now quite satisfied that life IS continuous and that we wear these bodies simply as a vehicle in which to explore the physical dimension.
My conviction came about via my dogs, of which I have had many. All dogs have their own "personalities" and these are often marked by specific traits and characteristics which are not evident in any of the other dogs ... until they die. Then, all of a sudden, one of the other (live, obviously) dogs will display certain idiosyncrasies that were specific to the now dead dog. The "visited" dog will not respond to its own name, but will react, quite joyfully, when the name of the dead dog is mentioned. This state of affairs can last for up to ten minutes. Then the dead dog disappears and the dog it "visited" is once again its old self, no longer responding to the name of the dead one and no longer displaying its traits. ... until next time, when either the same dead dog or some other of our deceased dogs decides to "drop in" for a "visit".
Scoff if you like, but one of my cousins, a devout Christian and her husband have been present when such visitations took place. My cousin, was more than a little "freaked out" as you can imagine.

Keith Taylor, Johannesburg, South Africa
January 14, 2013 12:47am

This is pretty weak. You are leaving out pertinent details. Example: The locked box was questioned due to possibility of tampering, but such questions were SWIFTLY satisfied by the fact that the scientists (NOT ALWAYS BELIEVERS) held the damned things the whole time.

Also, you mentioned professional seance performers and stage magicians and how all of this is supposedly old hat. Well hold up the buss Guss! Professionals HAVE been put to the task of explaining how this could all be faked under the same conditions. Now, can you find one of them who had an explanation, or was able to replicate this so called "fraud"?

Experimentation is scientific. Blind dismissal without investigation is just reactionary dogmatic nay-saying.

I love how DEBUNKERS pat themselves on the back for being so much more "scientific" in their religious nay-saying. Skepticism is crucial... but a single minded commitment to debunking is a mental illness. A determination that anything we don't already have explanations for cannot exist. That is like the mentality of a goldfish, who's reality never extends beyond the bowl they swim in. It is nothing more than a disturbing obsession with negative assertion that rarely goes anywhere near any actual scientific process or method.

It's easier to just say, "no, that's not real", leave it at that, and then feel as if you are somehow more scientific and rational. Tsk... children.

Jim N, Ravenswood, WV
January 30, 2013 11:04pm

>This is pretty weak. You are >leaving out pertinent details.

Of course. He has to do that. The strategy of pseudoskeptics is always to split the cases in smaller layers and then to attachk each layer pronouncing it at the end as the extraordinary combination of little rational layers. The good part of the equation is that they are going on the record with their fundamentalism which will serve as a fantastic educational point in the future.

Unhacked_Skeptic, Ljubljana
January 31, 2013 10:56pm

"Perhaps the biggest red flag in the Scole Experiment is the venue in which the sittings took place: a room in the basement of the house in Scole where two of the mediums lived, Robin and Sandra Foy"

I fail to see how that by itself is a red flag. If you want to study the phenomenon of "hot water coming out magically from the earth" then you have to go to a place where a hot water spring exists. You cannot study it at demand in a laboratory.

Seancer's claim that such phenomenon more easily occur in a place where they have been trying to make them appear over a course of time. If there is something special about Scole which makes these happen, then you have to go there to study them.

Mayuresh, Chicago
February 11, 2013 12:04pm

The thing that has always defied belief with the 'skeptic' view, is that they never actually approach looking at the Scole evidence (or much else for that matter) in an open manner, and immediately dismiss everything that defies what 'conventional' science can't yet explain; rejecting everything else that remains with old worn out labels & platitudes. Their basis in argument is always to say there is no 'control' over the events thus none of it can be credible! Yet, with their sweeping statements of 'debunk' they never actually come up their own indisputable evidence to prove the events did not happen in manner in which data is offered and presented! It is blind 'skepticism' for it's own sake! Their sweeping dismissing statements lack the substance they readily project on data such as Scole. It is a case of "It didn't happen in the manner portrayed, regardless of the data and investigative evidence placed before us, merely because we chose not to believe it did!" And that is neither 'science' nor valid mature discussion. The skeptic 'messiah' James Randi, has even had to apologize twice for taking exacting paranormal data and evidence and blatantly LYING about it results just to meet the skeptic view. When one of the most 'respected' lights of the global 'skeptic movement' gets caught doing this, it begs the question, how many times has it happened before...and who's 'credibility' is really in question here!? BTW Science has announced proof that the 'soul' lives after death!

Nathan, London
February 14, 2013 6:24pm

If this were a believer's article, it would without a doubt be scoffed by the author and many skeptics alike, not only for the lack of proof and abundance of mere ignorant opinion, but even more so for the ads and begging for donations, which can be found on the entire website. To skeptics, this would be an easy indication of "fraud" (as displayed in most "reviews" of theories or opinions that are non-mainstream, and feature ads or donation requests), yet apparantely not so if the website is a skeptics narrow minded opinion?

I was led here with the idea that the scole experiment would be debunked, yet all I got to read was the narrowminded opinion of a person who obviously knows nothing more than me and didn't debunk squat.

I'm sad you wasted my time with this rag of a biased review, in the future (that would be now) perhaps you could, or maybe even should, add a disclaimer in the likes of: "I know as much or as little as you do, read for your enjoyment but nothing more, we'll find out when we die, until then, here's my clueless opinion"

Maybe you'll be a bit more open minded in a next life, I hope so for you, or you'd be stuck on this rock for a few more lifetimes :)

Cheers, your friendly open minded skeptic who doesn't claim to debunk the undebunkable.

whatisthisidonteven, Everywhere
March 7, 2013 1:04pm

You gotta love how the portion of the wikipedia article on mediumship addressing the Scole experiment entirely leaves out the findings of the Scole report itself, failing to even cite it as a source. Instead, the only source cited is this joke of an article by Brian Dunning. It's horrifying to think that there are real scientists out there who don't object to this kind of careless, hypocritical, and thoroughly unscientific "debunking."

Kenny Florence, NC
March 15, 2013 1:43pm

Kenny, I have an extremely noisy kitchen table.. Some times its quiet when I play Alex Harvey on my od-pod and then its gets raucous when I play the Pixies..

But when I play Judas Priest... the neighbours car catches fire..

God Bless Rock and Roll!

Satan Bless heavy Metal!

Mud, Pho\'s Slave palace, Gerringong the Brave, NSW
April 1, 2013 1:56am

Just like most of you i too find the skeptics arguments regarding the paranormal almost stupid. I live in Fiji and if anyone wants to see true paranormal things you need to come and visit. James Randi himself was apparently brought in to see the Fire walkers of Beqa island. These guys light a huge fire in a pit heat up stones and till they are white and then stroll on them and the hot coal as if they are on a nice white sandy beach. Mr. Randi left Fiji perplexed but as usual he will never admit it. This is done over and over again by this tribe and the powers were given to them by their ancestors spirits. These guys perform in front of tourists in the middle of open ground with no chance of trickery. We have many such paranormal stuff happening in Fiji. Most are BS but quite a few are real and not explainable.
The writer also fails to explain how that Italian fellow's radio kept talking and receiving voices with all the transmission equipment in the radio removed. This was part of the Scole experiment video. This is a simplistic opinion at best with no real attempt made at debunking.

Reaaz Ali, Fiji
April 8, 2013 6:02pm

I have read a bit about the scole report and many bits saying its a load of rubbish. In my humble opinion i dont believe anything much till i see it with my own eyes,simples. It seems to me that there are many things that cant be explained in our world,creation for example. Big bang my arse,who created it?Anti-matter,who or what created that ?Nothing?who gave it the will to become something,etc etc. I cannot explain or understand these things but i exist therefore something happened eh! I dont believe in god but i cant dismiss the fact that something/one must have created us and the whole universe etc.Science has no explanation at all,just meaningless mathematics that explain everything,except why?how etc and until someone provides a plausible answer for these huge questions,you cant just accept it. My point in all this is that there are so many things that are unexplainable to me,including my own existence,that its very possible that there is something 'outside' our normal experience. I will never see jupiter or any other part of space with my own eyes,yet i believe it exists. I will never see many millions of things,ever, yet i believe they exist. So why not 'ghosts' or something like it. I dont believe personally but ive seen far too little to in real terms,to say 'no,defo its not true'. Only a fool or an arrogant liar would do so. You should never believe anything you read or hear till you see it yourself really,too many agendas and egos. Id love to be proved wrong tho!

parabenjy, england
April 17, 2013 3:06pm

Just because you have not seen spirit does not mean that they are not around us. It must be awful to be of low vibrational energy wasting time disproving spirit. You'll be kicking yourselves when you die.

Annie, England
April 28, 2013 10:32am

Can a spirit kick itself? Would it feel it if it could? Interesting philosophical question there.

Pascal's Wager rears its head again. I'd prefer to be embarrassed in the afterlife then accept dubious things on no evidence in this one.

Darren, Liverpool, UK
April 29, 2013 3:25am

Parabenjy, buy a telescope. We believe in Jupiter and in the rest of space because we can look at it and see it. We explore the theory of the Big Bang because we can see indications that make it likely something like that happened. All you need are the right tools, and you can convince and prove these things yourself. That's part of the scientific method. Someone claims a discovery, and thousands of other scientists around the world skeptically try to disprove or reproduce it.

Whereas, in the paranormal, there is never evidence, only conjecture. You can always fabricate a reason why the skeptic fails to find proof. That's why it's called the supernatural: it is supposed to defy proof. It works the same way as conspiracy theories. There is no way of disproving conspiracy theories to the satisfaction of their subscribers, because their position is that lack of a proof of non-existence, is sufficient proof of existence. They can always fabricate an additional layer to the conspiracy that explains the lack of proof. The same way, you can always come up with some reason why none of the supposed paranormal happenings take place as soon as scientific observation takes place. It's so very convenient to claim that the spirits don't come out when a video camera is recording.

There is nothing inexplicable about the paranormal. But its explications are provided by psychology, not natural science.

Daniel, Switzerland
May 2, 2013 4:57pm

Look how many believers responded. And as usual believers are very loud about their disgruntlement with the skeptics. I don't mean that as a 'dis' I'm just saying please note it. There's a reason for that.
I'd like to propose a few things. 1 is that we don't become Us vs Them. We all want the truth, that's the thing that should bring us together. We aren't trying to prove or disprove anything, we are looking for the truth. 2. is that these questions are important, so when someone is trying to PROVE their truth, they should themselves be the most diligent about observable and repeatable results. I spent 40 years being a 'believer' and now I'm a skeptic. With good reason too, because as I sought answers (and I've had the freedom to do so) the facts became more and more supportive of what we're calling 'the skeptics view' and less and less the 'believers view'. There's no bias, just freedom and an inquisitive mind. As a friend and fellow human, I suggest all that happens in our world is "Natural" and that when someone proposes something 'unnatural', while there is a slim chance that it is just an as yet, undiscovered natural phenomenon. Mostly you can just "follow the money" whomever stands to profit from convincing you of the 'supernatural' is generally the source of it. While you will notice that scientists and skeptics generally don't make their money from convincing you of their 'rightness'. Let's remember we are all 'Explorers' on this mortal coil. We all seek truth.

JohnnyWho, Boston
May 6, 2013 10:53am

Search "saint paul cathedral blitz" in google image. You'll find the truth about scole experiment.

yann celor, paris
May 11, 2013 12:58pm

Greatest Comment Ever. Dunning, he gave you the written equivalent of a savage beating. Now go get your shine box.

P Henry, Boston
May 28, 2013 10:18am

I don't know if this experiment proved, or disproved. It really doesn't matter what any one believes, except your own beliefs. Everyone will be sprites in the end, and will find out for there own selves. I think humanity want's to believe there is life after death. Personally I do believe, not because someone told me something. I have had the privilege to experience the supernatural myself. And no I could not replicated, and would not want to. It was meant to happen in the time it did. it was personal, and unless you yourself have had an experience yourself, you will be a none believer. This world is not about who is right, or wrong. It is about people living in peace, with there own tough's, and respecting others for there's. it's what makes us humans. *Peace*

Laci Hart, Albuquerque NM
May 30, 2013 7:06pm

Hi I must admit I was taken in by the scole experiments and i found a comment on here that I found interesting from yann celor which said search saint paul cathedral blitz. So I did and I saw that it was a famous photo shot during the second world war which made me a little suspicious so I went to the scole experiment site on facebook and asked the question does this mean it's all fake to which I got the lovely reply see here:

I responded in kind to this dribble and the next day what a shock! my answer was no where to be found in fact I couldn't even comment anymore and still can't, what does this say to all of you about these nice people whom it seems don't much like criticism?'s a funny field they work in if that's the case.

Edward Ryan, Bodmin
June 15, 2013 5:11am

Edward... thanks for breaking the paragraph free comment rule in this Skeptoid comments.

You were (obviously) not shocked at all by conspiracy forums tactics..

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
June 29, 2013 2:14am

I'm sure there is a spirit realm and everyone can communicate with the spirits. But I'm not sure if the spirits are real or only exists because we think they exists. How to prove something that only exists in our own spirit?
Sadly many people try to make profit with this and faking things, which makes it even harder, upon that - if it's real then many people would do everything to make us none-believe because it would change our way of living to the ground.
How would you change your life if you would know for sure that your spirit is eternal? I would for sure enjoy my life more and would do more to bring my spirit in a good shape emotionally. Well, guess we should do that anyway even if we don't know for sure ^^

Hans Aplast, Germany
July 4, 2013 1:36am

spirit realm?

Maybe here is a cultural thing I am missing here..

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
July 4, 2013 4:36am

The thing that is hard to explain away as fake, is the floating hand that people saw, and the light that would knock on the table, and make a noise as it did, and then pass right through the table, and the table that levitated and spinned so fast with lights on it, it was a blur.

The experts there were no fools, they have seen hundreds of fakes, and said they know all the tricks, and came away saying it was real.

The problem with people who do not believe in a afterlife, is they will not believe no matter what, there is nothing that will make them believe. If the universe, and the complexity of it, and life, and the extremely unlikely odds that life can even exist in the first place are not enough for them, then nothing is. They will find out one day like the rest of us.

Chip Coffee, a medium who has been able to see the other side all his life, has said ghosts remain on earth because they don't know they are dead, or are afraid to cross over as they fear judgement. I actually believe this, along with the theory they have unfinished business, or restless spirits.

I saw something a few years ago that I cannot explain to this day, a large bright light in the night outside my window that seemed to float across the garden, hovered for a second and moved out of view.

There is something going on, many credible people see these things, with multiple witnesses at times, to call them all liars or crazy is to deny the truth that there is something going on we cannot explain

Nick, UK
July 4, 2013 2:40pm

I was a little disappointed in the documentary of the study for many of the reasons stated in the article. There didn't seem to be any real controls in place for the experiments. I was anxious to see some real evidence of paranormal activity but I was left feeling that the investigators bought into a complicated hoax. My own thoughts were that the investigators were not diligent in controlling the experiments and that compromised the whole effort in my opinion. My hope is that one day there will be some truly undeniable evidence to support the existence of human consciousness beyond death.

Bryce, NC, USA
July 8, 2013 10:02am

This article is a load of trash, so far nobody has been able to explain , marccello bacci , no one! mark edward lied when he said he replicated all the phenomena, and was called to task about it on coast to coast by the producer of the scole report.
if it was a hoax then perhaps the editor should give us a breakdown of how bacci is able to do what he does. and not just say he was faking, bacci has been tested along with his radio by italian scientists rigourously, so no parlour trcks here then.

darren burke, uk
August 1, 2013 9:00am

To be honest I cannot say yay or nay and anyone who says they can shows their true ignorance and inability to think outside their own tiny world.. If one thinks we are it then prove it I do not have to prove that we are not because it is not required. However the facts are there were some very intelligent and professional individuals who studied this and agreed it did not prove BUT it could not be dis-proven. Maybe since people are stuck within their tiny box they are delusional to the World outside. Besides we all know that in Science if it cannot be measured, or quantified then you cannot and will not agree that it is possible.. This goes to show just like the Global Warming HOAX maybe you're not as intelligent as you think.. Maybe you should open your mind and realize that whether you can measure it or NOT ANYTHING is possible.. Why even a Wormhole surpasses the speed of light in time movement while NOT exceeding the speed of light...

enigma, Global
September 17, 2013 12:18am

Excellent article and very well said ... the Scole 'affair' is all crap. None of it can be replicated in properly controlled environments, no real solid evidence is given. As far as the correct definition of an experiment is concerned the Scole experiment is nothing more than a stage show and not even a particularly clever one.

The SPR should be wanting to prove without doubt that it is not all fake .. but they don't. They control the whole 'experiment' and will not allow unbiased experts to properly investigate.

There is plenty of evidence (real solid evidence) of mediums being nothing more than con artists and scammers .. so far there is no such solid evidence to the contrary.

The Scole experiments prove nothing.

The mystic, uk
September 21, 2013 5:58am

"There didn't seem to be any real controls in place for the experiments."

I find it real interesting how these 'psychic practitioners' always demand that their OWN conditions are met for any 'experiments', or they'll take their crystal balls and go home.

'Controlled Conditions' seems to be a concept beyond their comprehension.

Well, I think the only investigators of 'psychic phenomena' should be professional magicians. If THEY can't figure it out, then there's probably something to it.

I really hope there is something to it.
No luck so far.

Ron, Calgary Alberta Canada
September 21, 2013 10:27am

I have more or less thoroughly read into the Scole Experiment report, and I feel that those who attempt to explain the happenings never come across as very impressive and always tend to hit at areas which are easier to explain to prove their point, the vital seemingly inexplicable points in the investigation.

For example in regards to the images being imprinted on films in boxes, and how when any other container was used it didn't work is simply not true.

Walter Schnittger, a German engineer was a sitter in the Scole Experiment and had taken a special wooden box which has been thoroughly inspected and those who had inspected it said it could not be opened whilst locked without breaking it's seals. Schnittger placed his own roll of film in the box with his own padlock and the keys to this padlock were left in the car before the sitting. During the sitting Walter has held on to the box on his lap, and therefore no one could have had access to the box during the sitting.

After the session was over he retrieved his keys and opened the padlocked box and made a thorough inspection of the processing machine. He removed the film itself when it developed and it has scribblings along with old German writing which was characteristic of the German written in the 1800's. It turned out to be a German poem. The origin of this poem has never been found despite being sent to several German Scholars and Historians, so really a magician would have to explain how someone's own padlocked

Jordan, Leeds, United Kingdom
September 22, 2013 6:46am

Controlled conditions are necessary to be taken seriously with regards to credible scientific research is it not? So why did scole go through all the effort then? Surely not for science. I hope one day, scientists will research the possibility of the afterlife correctly. Who knows for certain? Real paranormal phenomenon could have taken place during the scole (dare I say) experiments. I hope so. Sadly though, I'm certain most of the findings cannot be taken seriously. I challenge a qualified group to conduct controlled Methodological experiments using the latest technology. I also challenge any so called mediums to step up to the plate. Record everything and take all precautions necessary to rule out any trickery.

Fred Flintstoned, Deadrock
November 7, 2013 10:56pm

It's not just skeptics who have criticised the Scole experiment. Psychical researchers and SPR members have also claimed the experiment was flawed.

If you study the history of psychical research we actually see the majority of parapsychologists have exposed physical mediumship as fraudulent and are no friends of the spiritualists.

See the papers by Alan Gauld, Tony Cornell and Donald West:

Cornell, A. D. (1999). Some Comments on the Scole Report. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 58: 397-403.

Gauld, A. (1999). Comments on the Scole Report. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 58: 404-424.

West, D. J. (1999). The Scole investigation: Commentary on Strategy and Outcome. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 58: 393-396.

Tom, England
November 20, 2013 12:56pm

The Scole 'Experiment' allowed plenty of room for fraud.
Many of the black and white war pictures said to be produced by spirits can be found in the National Archives.
And as for that picture of an alien, well, don't tell me, they've been visited by the 'Greys' as well.
It is my belief that the Foy's wanted to produce a book that they could sell to supplement their income (or is it pension?)..
Remember, they live in Spain, where the only way to get an income is by earning it (the benefits system is almost non-existent out there).
And isn't the title of the book a little ironic?
'Witnessing the Impossible'
Might the title not be a way to circumvent any claims of fraud?
Are the Foys just all taking us for a ride?
I don't know obviously, but these questions make me very sceptical of the mediums' claims.

susan, romford
November 25, 2013 1:20pm

"A third red flag is the fact that there's been no followup. If amazing phenomena truly did happen at the Scole Experiment, it would have changed the world. Mainstream psychologists and other academics would have gotten in on it, it would have made worldwide headlines, and it would be repeated in labs everywhere and become mainstream science."

I am sorry, but this third flag just throws away your all article, because it shows you are naive...That's like saying "if they could cure cancer, they would have already cured it"....

November 29, 2013 12:29am


One thing is clear from the Scole experiments, they did not rule out the possibility of fraud. Ockham's razor would be the scientists and skeptics friend here and correctly so. The controls were weak, the experiments were flawed and even psychical researcher like Tony Cornell wrote that even if there was not fraud there is naturalistic mundane explanations for some of the phenomena observed, so putting far-fetched spirits in the gap is nonsensical.

Having studied the Scole and looked into the subject I believe fraud was involved. Robin Foy and his wife own a physical mediumship website where they claim fraudulent mediums like Mina Crandon and Helen Duncan were genuine, it's unclear if they are just credulous or if they just enjoy writing nonsense to make money, it's probably both.

Tom, England
November 29, 2013 5:55am

I attended the Scole Group on two occassions and have spoken extensively with the researchers since. I was most impressed. I also have a PhD in Environmental Science so I believe that I am not as credulous as the you imply that I must be. At least I have the evidence of my own experience. You appear to have none. This severely limits the value of your observations, especially when you are clearly not seeking to be impartial but are making money on the pretence of being a sceptic. Doubting is one thing, being deliberately dismissive is another - doing so for money whilst deliberately manipulating the data is contemptuous. Your "laser light" idea and suggestion that the locked boxes were accessible are wrong and your suggestion that they should have been able to perform using other peoples' research methods is ridiculous. I would note that the Scole Group made no money from the experiment - so what was their motivation if it was mere deception? I believe they were at least seeking the truth - which is clealy not something you are seeking to do. The experiments were designed to be replicable and similar results (but not so dramatic) were gained by my own group and others. No - of course their results are not final "proof". Science rarely succeeds in that! But it is data which, I believe, is of extraordinary value. That is the best we can ever expect. And intelligent discussion is what it deserves, not supercilious derision.

Robert Cook, Plymouth University
December 7, 2013 1:00pm

"I would note that the Scole Group made no money from the experiment - so what was their motivation if it was mere deception?"

That's not true Robert. Robin Foy and his wife have written books on the subject which they have charged expensive prices for. They also run a website on the topic which ruins off donations. They also have done various interviews and promotions over the years in spiritualist publications and with paranormal groups in which they were paid decent sums of money. Nothing is free in the spiritualist community lol. It's all fraud and about conning people out of their money.

Every medium investigated by psychical researchers or scientists has been caught in fraud:

Tom, England
December 8, 2013 5:24pm

Perhaps we are not meant to understand and gain the scientific evidence for an afterlife? What society would we have if we knew that an afterlife existed? if we had a poor hand in this life lets get out of this one into the next.... morals would not exist, perhaps one day we may be capable of understanding but are we ready?

George, Gloucestershire
December 27, 2013 6:41am

No, they haven't.

It's strange that a "scientific mind" would use a wikipedia link as a serious reference!
It looks like part of science and the so called skeptics just systematically refuse any explanation, in a way that when they can't prove of find any fraud they end up concluding that it "must be a fraud", since they can't verify it.
For some, science has become another sect or religion, for they previously dismiss some things as impossible.

Antony, Brazil
January 17, 2014 9:06am

This article proves, as always, that there is a huge difference between a closed (skeptical) mind and one open to evidence.

Steven Narbonne, Indio, CA
January 20, 2014 6:37pm

Steven Narbonne what evidence? The scole experiment was nothing more than the medium dressing up in a cloth and moving some objects around the séance room. No matter the evidence of fraud you will reject it, so you are not exactly "open minded" either.

Eveshi, Manchester
January 23, 2014 2:13am

As always,the sceptics are unable to accept anything outside their own sphere of "control".

The Parson, Londres
January 25, 2014 5:17am

Has The James Randi Foundation investigated this? If not, why not?

Speculation Boy, Washington, DC
February 14, 2014 4:41am

It's cheesecloth ectoplasm and it's been debunked that's why.

Eveshi, Germany
February 14, 2014 11:11am

Helen Duncan used cheesecloths as her ectoplasms lol. The skeptic Jon Donnis exposed her.

Michael Larkin MU, England
February 16, 2014 1:56am

I have witnessed spirits before my very one eyes. Only once while I was awake with someone I trusted. It is said it runs in my blood as it has since past generations of my lineage.
The truth bites people in the ass everyday, but humans are to stupid to understand it or believe it. Materialism and individualism along with the illusion of success and fame have watered down what is left of true spiritualism. These experiments could have been fakes or not, that does not matter really, the truth is still the same spirits are around us and when you die you will become one.
I am optimistic about the future, even though I still think people will get what they deserve when the truth is revealed to all. What is important now will become the least important of all, only those whose eyes are open will experience that in the flesh.

Energy, Largo, FL
February 24, 2014 11:02am

I believe in the afterlife but I remain skeptical about this physical mediumship stuff. It is very dubious.

Tom, Europe
February 25, 2014 6:25pm

"I consulted with Mark Edward, a friend in Los Angeles who gives mentalism and seance performances professionally. He knows all the tricks, and luminous wristbands are, apparently, one of the tricks."

"Without having been at the Scole Experiment in person, Mark couldn't speculate on what those mediums may have done or how they may have done it. "

Seriously? Your argument is less worthy of being considered than theirs at scole.

Syam, cochin India
February 27, 2014 1:10am

To bad the person writing this bunk didn't know they used night vision (infrared) camera's the mediums did not know were on. Research, this is fact, no fraud of any kind was ever found.
What was found, was a skeptic could replicate a few things, but not the photos, not the motion film, and could not explain things floating when the night vision camera's were on.

I don't think ghosts, Ever wonder why a ghost has clothes on? Do clothes have ghost's too lol?

I think they were dealing more with "Chi" or "Orgone" a life energy.

Scott, Montana, USA
March 11, 2014 12:32pm

"I think they were dealing more with "Chi" or "Orgone" a life energy."

You are happy to make fun of ghosts but then put something just as silly (orgone energy) in it's place. Wilhelm Reich and his research into "orgone" has been shot down, there's no scientific evidence such an energy exists. It is wishful thinking.

You should read the commentaries by Tony Cornell, Alan Gauld and Donald West they correctly pointed out the conditions in the scole were far from scientific. Fraud is the most likely explanation.

Tom, UK
March 15, 2014 8:32am

To me, the "experiments" were nothing more than the old illusionists' trick such as sawing a lady in half.

Impressive but, even if they did really "saw a lady in half", it doesn't prove anything about spirits or the afterlife.

Martin, Derbys, UK
March 31, 2014 4:00am

The producers continually fell back upon the either/or fallacy. Hoax or the Dead? In the last 20 minutes, they briefly raised the possibility of so-called "paranormal" abilities in living humans: telekinesis and telepathy especially, but dismissed these as "weak." A 4th possibility is that these are examples of the "Gray Aliens" messing with us. After all, none of these phenomena are beyond the capabilities of a civilization perhaps only a few hundred years ahead of ours.

Why do the spirits choose such offbeat and questionable ways to communicate with us? C'mon guys, just show yourselves. Reanimate a decaying corpse and talk to us in broad daylight through it. Or even better, stop the Earth in its orbit without destroying everything on it. Or maybe the spirits are just weak 3% spirits.

The Fairbridge profile could fit any number of persons. His daughter's apparent recognition of her father in the fuzzy photograph can be easily explained by Pattern Recognition. She saw what she wanted to see.

The total darkness assertion assumes total darkness-to humans. No such total darkness exists. These images could be produced by the mediums (or those pesky aliens again) somehow manipulating other parts of the spectrum.

My opinions, in order: A hoax, paranormal human abilities, pesky aliens, the dead.

John, Iowa, USA
April 3, 2014 8:58am

Since I have become a medium, best in my class, I have been able to exude ectoplasm. I soon will be materializing ectoplasmic spirits including my discarnate lover Arouet Eveshi-Forests.

I appreciate all your research, I know you disagree with me but I want to thank you for the debate... even if you think I am a pseudoskeptic I have presented more material than other skeptics on this forum. I am critical of this spiritualist stuff and I don't believe in the paranormal. There is a naturalistic explanation for this stuff in my view. I respect magicians, they should be appreciated for all the work they do bu they are not mediums as I am. Best in my class.

Jon Donnis

Jon Donnis, Athens, Greece
April 21, 2014 12:08pm

More impersonations Paul C. Anagnostopoulos/MU?

According to Jon Donnis official twitter:

"I do NOT post on any forums or sites other than my own. Any such posts are NOT me, so please delete or ignore them! They are an imposter."

Tommy, UK
April 23, 2014 1:30pm

I did find the Scole Experiment quite fascinating when I read into it. But I have to say that I find most of it very unbelievable or totally out of the realm of what I would deem possible per se.

Especially when then they were apparently contacted by a group from the future calling themselves something like 'Group 2109' and saying that there has been a rip in the fabric of space time, and that they were a group from the future who were using a device (Which sounded like it was taken out of an outdated Sci Fi Novel) called something along the lines of 'A Crystalline Time Probe'. This group from the future said that the contact was dangerous and they had to seal this time portal, to avoid potentially hazardous consequences.

There were a lot of other things which would arise scepticism in a rational person, for example a being called 'Manu' who was one of the main communicators with the Scole Group said he had a Human Father and a Bird Mother and he lived millions of years ago. This is where the plausibility radar sinks way below the surface for me. The name 'Manu' is clearly taken out of the ancient character from the Dharmic (Hinduism namely) religions. Another interesting note for me to add is that The Scole Group conducted a session once with the relatively unknown Italian Transcommunicationalist, Marcello Bacci.

'Manu' came through. Answering with very uninformative questions. But the most peculiar thing was that he was speaking English with a heavy Italian Accent.

Mr Parker, United Kingdom
June 2, 2014 8:06pm

Now why would a Human Hybrid being who is Millions of years old and has a Sanskrit Vedic name called 'Manu' have a relatively modern sounding Italian Accented, English speaking voice?

Does this prove Marcello Bacci as a fraud and further induce scepticism regarding the honesty of the Scole Group? Perhaps not. Marcello Bacci has gone through some rigorous tests in the past and to me he seems to with hold some credibility to his name. And I've also heard that he acts as the medium to his radio device, so his conscious is essentially the receiver which could explain the Italian accented English but still this is another occurrence which happened within the Scole Group which arises doubts for me.

More obvious suspicion inducing and questionable flaws in the Scole Group were things such as not allowing Cameras in the room, even infra-red cameras and not giving very good answers for their reasons of doing. There were many other indiscretions that I cannot quite remember unfortunately. Another problem was with the Society of Psychical Research, whom although were very Academic often of the time going by their reports and judgements and their credulousness also very naive.

Someone pointed out that scientists cannot see trickery and more likely a skilled magician would. There was one magician who observed over proceedings and enthusiastically stated how real it was and how there possibly couldn't be any sign of fraud. His name was 'James Webster' the only problem was that

Mr Parker, United Kingdom
June 2, 2014 8:38pm

(Continued) James Webster was a strong believer in the paranormal himself and also a spiritualist. He may have been a magician but was he a skilled magician? James Randi would have been more impressive of course, however considering how someone on that scale couldn't have been expected at least someone along those lines would have fitted enough.

Despite all these flaws which in my opinion accumulated all together constitute for potential major flaws in the Scole Experiment. There are still quite a few things which remain inexplicable. For example a German couple were once called, the man was called 'Walter Schnittger' he acted as a sitter at one of the Scole Experiments. He had brought his own padlocked box with his own roll of film inside, a new unopened roll of film as he had heard of the prospect of discarnate entities imprinting messages on rolls of film. The box was locked with a large metal padlock, and the key was kept in his car. He claimed to have held onto the box at all times during the Scole Session. After the session was over he went to the car with the padlocked box, and sent it to Germany. In Germany they opened the padlocked box and looked at the roll of film. To their astonishment there were scribblings of German writing.

It was a poem in authentic 19th Century German. This particular poem has been sent to several different German literary scholars and none have identified the source of these poems, potentially ruling out fraud.

Mr Parker, United Kingdom
June 2, 2014 8:53pm

(Continued) I am aware that magicians have done things which seem impossible in the past. But for me this really does make it hard to see how there is any conceivable explanation for something like this and how such an occurrence can be put down to trickery. I would find it very interesting if some of the world's greatest magicians explained this 'trick', to rationalize it for me.

Some other interesting things which may add credibility to the scole experiment were some of the images which were imprinted onto the apparently empty film rolls during the sessions. Including one of 'Sir Arthur Conan Doyle', a portrait which apparently has never been found. Someone gave an in depth analysis into this photograph once, claiming it has been fraudulently produced and had marked similarities to another more obscure portrait of 'Arthur Conan Doyle' but I never quite read into it.

I think with something like the 'Scole Experiment', just like the 'Vertical Plane Story' which consists of both questionable and very faulty, to fascinating and venturing into the inexplicable material it's hard to get a clear enough perspective to arrive at a genuinely grounded conclusion.

I often find that sceptics tend to pick quite indolent arguments (Only picking out the flaws which are quite obvious but intentionally or subconsciously intentionally not addressing the full body of material as a whole. For example in the Scole Case a sceptic straight away would begin the dismantlement of the Case as a

Mr Parker, United Kingdom
June 2, 2014 9:11pm

A simple question, has anyone in this Group, ever sat for 5 yrs, in a circle, watching it progress, along the way, too some amazing thought provoking, outcomes, has anyone seen like I have a 17 stone medium, lifted to the ceiling, by unseen forces, no noise, as I sat 2 seats away, from him, solid hands, under red light, electrical ties, coming together, zipping in a loop, within 2 seconds, and floating to me, try doing that, impossible, lay flat, up in the air, circled each other, then zipped, its fine being a sceptic, no issues there, but if your going to talk or be critical, at least attend a few meeting's.

Alan Moss, Manchester
June 22, 2014 1:09am

Alan what you are describing is a levitation trick. There are a number of ways this can be performed but a few things:

1. If spirits or "unseen forces" really can "levitate" people then why not in broad day light? Why are these "spirits" not levitating people at the local shopping mall or when one is driving a car, washing the dishes, playing golf or watching TV? Do you not find it suspicious that such "paranormal" feats only happen in dark conditions?

2. How do you know the medium was 17 stone? Did you personally weigh the medium, or you just take his word for this?

3. Why is red light needed? This is quite unacceptable as a scientific control. It's dark. Why not full lights on? Or the séance conducted in broad daylight?

4. Would this medium repeat this feat in scientifically controlled conditions with a magician or skeptic present? :)

Leon, England
June 24, 2014 10:17am

You haven't presented a very good argument have you? This science fiction is the be-all-and-end-all is nonsense. You talk about standing over mediums at the back filming or checking equipment, any fool can see that is not possible. There were cameras allowed into filming in the nineties and released. There were also sceptic scientists invited on the premise they too would "rubbish" the experiment, but one of whom (at least name escapes me) came away saying ' I cannot disprove' scientists who can't disprove a thing, intelligent, well educated men supposedly come away and say menial sentences like "it was a load of rubbish".

Everything you've said is a stab in the dark (pardon the pun), proves nothing, offers nothing in way of disproving these experiments. Of course the mediums set the conditions. You don't bring a carpenter in to build you a wardrobe and then tell him how to do it. You don't ask a baker to bake a cake and tell him how to bake, you don't invite an expert forensic analyst to a crime scene and then tell them how they should go about it or put your conditions on all of them in doing their profession.

Just calling down something you don't understand doesn't mean you've disproved anything, there is little, if anything, that comes near in this disjointed, uninformed drivel of an article.

Just because science can't prove it, doesn't mean it won't exis. Bit like heaven and yell, just because you don't believe in it won't stop you going to either of them.

C MacDonald, Scotland
July 9, 2014 2:17am

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