We don't know that there were a dozen of them, maybe only six or seven, but dozen makes a better title. We're referring to the self-confessed liars that the Woman's Home Companion calls "investigators", and sent forth in a dozen cities to get the grim and ghastly low-down on "mediums" and "psychics." They agreed on a yarn about an imaginary dead marine, his widow and children, and $2500 savings, and palmed it off on some twenty alleged mediums - all of whom, of course, lied right back again, thereby proving something or other.
Tut-tut! to all such crusaders. Only twenty of these miscreants, when Round Robin could have tipped you off to twice that number, and no trouble at all? Zealots for truth or profit have been exposing pseudo-spiritualism for the last hundred years, so WHC is no Columbus.
The real viciousness of this Companion article, of course, is its implication that spiritualism has been tested and overthrown - altho in fact it does not offer a single word of honest recognition of spiritualism, as a formidable accumulation of facts and a vast body of belief. It names only "investigators" and fraudulent "mediums" - from which the public draws the easy inference that all spiritualism is fraud.
We point out that the brew was already cooked, and elaborate lie devised, and certain anonymous "investigators" sent out with intent to deceive, and with, the purpose, not to find truth, but to gather material for an expose.
We recall a hackneyed principle of the common law, about coming into court with clean hands.
And is there any reason to suppose that these "investigators" knew anything at all about psychic matters, or had a single day's experience in this obscure and difficult subject.
On what basis did the "investigators" select these twenty horrid frauds? (Of course, not with the idea of getting expose material!!). There are responsible organizations and research men who could have recommended trustworthy mediums - if the "investigators" had wanted to find them.
We're aware that spiritualists are far from blameless for the campaign now being waged against them. They have never yet been able to clean house, tho some of them are really trying to do so. All the same, we object to the tacit identification of some twenty probable crooks picked out by a dozen or so liars, with the whole religio-scientific movement of spiritualism.
"If the riddle of death is solved," says the WHC article, "if communication with spirits is established, if the future is to become an open book, all this will be heralded from pulpit and press as was the atomic bomb."
Whoever set down that gem, let him break staff and drown book, for he has achieved the ne plus ultra of child-mindedness. Catholicism  has recognized the facts of spiritualism for fifteen centuries, and many a Protestant minister acknowledges them, and scientists by the hundred, and tens of thousands of intelligent people everywhere - but we have still to hear the official acceptances of orthodoxy, either religious or scientific. The reasons for this, of course, lie in our whole historical and cultural background.
And does this here-unnamed WHC writer really think there is some connection, or identity, or logical sequence between the first three pregnant pauses of his sentence - between "solving the riddle", "establishing communication", and the opening up of all future mysteries? It is hard to see how anyone could possibly know less than this WHC author does about spiritism.
The beagles of the WHC also discovered (!) the "lunatic fringe" - that is, the sizable company of fanatics, sensation hunters, and gulls-by-nature who hang about seance rooms. There's plenty of them, and plenty of fattening fakers to flourish on them, among a hundred and forty million people. We have vaguely discerned a similar aura around other religionistic groups also, of the 190 listed in Milner's Religious Denominations. Spiritualism has some distance to go, to catch up even with old-fashioned revivalism, in sensational effects.
Yet the intent of this Companion article, mind you, is supposed to be snow white, of a purity supreme. These twenty fraudulent "mediums", one gathers, are gnawing at the very roots of civilization - and here are the items of indictment: (1) They do an immense business; (2) they confuse weak-minded people; (3) some times they break up homes; (4) they befuddle their clients with crystal balls; (5) the grief-stricken are lured away by them from "the honest therapy of religion" (We did NOT make that one up); (6) They "discredit sincere scientists" (Maybe they do, but with whom, besides the WHC editor?); (7) Finally, their victims are "lured away from the true faith of priest, minister, or rabbi." (As ecclecticism, that's a gem of purest ray - but maybe those three worthies would object, and we would have three true faiths all at once).
The WHC writer saved that thunderclap for his last paragraph, with true climactic instinct. There is perhaps nothing finer, in the whole realm of poppycockiana.
We almost forgot to put in that crack about "ectoplasmic spirits of the astral plane". If that twaddle actually came from a seance room, it's proof enough of the "plane" on which these eager beavers were "investigating". What things are done in the name of public welfare!
Et nos patientiam da - Lord, give us patience!
ENTRÉE INTERDITE aux radiesthesistes. Will the day soon come when this will appear over the entrance, for all "sporting events" and stock exchanges and similar temples of Mischance? So fears La Meuse at any rate (Paris). For now le pendule, the pendulum is all the thing (or swing) in la Belle France - and in once-merrie England too, for that matter. And it appears that one M. so-and-so has gained 40,000 francs, betting on pendulum predictions for horse racing. Well, if it's any object to get people interested in La Radiesthesie, et les pendules surtout - Voilà!
- Price, Harry. Leaves from a Psychist's Case-Book. London: Victor Gollancz, 1933. Print. <http://amzn.to/1j2R6Ou>
- "Grave danger to the mothers and widows of our soldier dead; an investigation of commercial spiritualism in sixteen cities." Woman's Home Companion Jan. 1946: 20-2?, 55. Print.
- Milner, Vincent L, and J N. Brown. Religious Denominations of the World: Comprising a General View of the Origin, History and Condition of the Various Sects of Christians, the Jews and Mahometans, As Well As the Pagan Forms of Religion Existing in the Different Countries of the Earth: with Sketches of the Founders of Various Religious Sects, from the Best Authorities. Philadelphia: Bradley, Garretson & Co, 1867-72. Print. [Digital: <https://archive.org/details/religiousdenomin00milnrich>]