In 1918, Joseph Jastrow wrote about the tricks of Eusapia Palladino who was an expert at freeing her hands and feet from the control in the séance room.[121] In the séance room Palladino would move curtains from a distance by releasing a jet of air from a rubber bulb that she had in her hand.[122] According to the psychical researcher Harry Price "Her tricks were usually childish: long hairs attached to small objects in order to produce 'telekinetic movements'; the gradual substitution of one hand for two when being controlled by sitters; the production of 'phenomena' with a foot which had been surreptitiously removed from its shoe and so on."[123]
In the 1930s Harry Price (director of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research) had investigated the medium Helen Duncan and had her perform a number of test séances. She was suspected of swallowing cheesecloth which was then regurgitated as "ectoplasm".[151] Price had proven through analysis of a sample of ectoplasm produced by Duncan, that it was made of cheesecloth.[152] Helen Duncan would also use a doll made of a painted papier-mâché mask draped in an old sheet which she pretended to her sitters was a spirit.[153] The photographs taken by Thomas Glendenning Hamilton in the 1930s of ectoplasm reveal the substance to be made of tissue paper and magazine cut-outs of people. The famous photograph taken by Hamilton of the medium Mary Ann Marshall depicts tissue paper with a cut out of Arthur Conan Doyle's head from a newspaper. Skeptics have suspected that Hamilton may have been behind the hoax.[154]
Direct voice communication is the claim that spirits speak independently of the medium, who facilitates the phenomenon rather than produces it. The role of the medium is to make the connection between the physical and spirit worlds. Trumpets are often utilised to amplify the signal, and directed voice mediums are sometimes known as "trumpet mediums". This form of mediumship also permits the medium to participate in the discourse during séances, since the medium's voice is not required by the spirit to communicate. Leslie Flint was one of the best known exponents of this form of mediumship.[28]
In March 2017, medium Thomas John was targeted in a sting operation and caught doing a hot reading. The sting was planned and implemented by skeptical activist Susan Gerbic and mentalist Mark Edward. The unmarried couple attended John's show using aliases, and were "read" as a married couple Susanna and Mark Wilson by John. During the entire reading, John failed to determine the actual identities of Gerbic and Edward, or that they were being deceptive during his reading. All personal information he gave them matched what was on their falsified Facebook accounts, rather than being about their actual lives, and John pretended he was getting this information from Gerbic and Edward's supposedly dead—but actually nonexistent—relatives.[209][210]
Humans have been fascinated with contacting the dead since the beginning of human existence. Cave paintings by indigenous Australians date back 28,000 years, some depicting skulls, bones, spirits and the afterlife.[3] Other cave paintings in Indonesia date back a further 10,000 years.[4] Mediumship gained popularity during the nineteenth century, when ouija boards were used by the upper classes as a source of entertainment. Investigations during this period revealed widespread fraud—with some practitioners employing techniques used by stage magicians—and the practice began to lose credibility.[5][6] Fraud is still rife in the medium/psychic industry, with cases of deception and trickery being discovered to this day.[7]