The exposures of fraudulent activity led to a rapid decline in ectoplasm and materialization séances. Investigator Joe Nickell has written that modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use "mental mediumship" tactics like cold reading or gleaning information from sitters before hand (hot reading). Group readings also improve hits by making general statements with conviction, which will fit at least one person in the audience. Shows are carefully edited before airing to show only what appears to be hits and removing anything that does not reflect well on the medium. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bnXtZd4Su7_JBfVRlbHdn0krhuy0ptNM/view?usp=sharing
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In 1991, Wendy Grossman in the New Scientist criticized the parapsychologist Stephen E. Braude for ignoring evidence of fraud in mediumship. According to Grossman "[Braude] accuses sceptics of ignoring the evidence he believes is solid, but himself ignores evidence that does not suit him. If a medium was caught cheating on some occasions, he says, the rest of that medium's phenomena were still genuine." Grossman came to the conclusion that Braude did not do proper research on the subject and should study "the art of conjuring."
"Mental mediumship" is communication of spirits with a medium by telepathy. The medium mentally "hears" (clairaudience), "sees" (clairvoyance), and/or feels (clairsentience) messages from spirits. Directly or with the help of a spirit guide, the medium passes the information on to the message's recipient(s). When a medium is doing a "reading" for a particular person, that person is known as the "sitter". https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GEKx89qSKkJWI3i0M9kXg4Jy6OlYi_Qz/view?usp=sharing
Michael Shermer criticized mediums in Scientific American, saying, "mediums are unethical and dangerous: they prey on the emotions of the grieving. As grief counselors know, death is best faced head-on as a part of life." Shermer wrote that the human urge to seek connections between events that may form patterns meaningful for survival is a function of natural evolution, and called the alleged ability of mediums to talk to the dead "a well-known illusion of a meaningful pattern."
^ "Glossary of Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology" Archived 2010-12-24 at the Wayback Machine, Parapsychological Association website. "Materialization: A phenomenon of physical mediumship in which living entities or inanimate objects are caused to take form, sometimes from ectoplasm." Retrieved January 24, 2006 "Medium – Definition". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
In 1910 at a séance in Grenoble, France the apport medium Charles Bailey produced two live birds in the séance room. Bailey was unaware that the dealer he had bought the birds from was present in the séance and he was exposed as a fraud. The psychical researcher Eric Dingwall observed the medium Bert Reese in New York and claimed to have discovered his billet reading tricks. The most detailed account at exposing his tricks (with diagrams) was by the magician Theodore Annemann.
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The medium Frank Decker was exposed as a fraud in 1932. A magician and séance sitter who called himself M. Taylor presented a mail bag and Decker agreed to lock himself inside it. During the séance objects were moved around the room and it was claimed spirits had released Decker from the bag. It was later discovered to have been a trick as Martin Sunshine, a magic dealer admitted that he sold Decker a trick mail bag, such as stage escapologists use, and had acted as the medium's confederate by pretending to be M. Taylor, a magician. The British medium Estelle Roberts claimed to materialize an Indian spirit guide called "Red Cloud". Researcher Melvin Harris who examined some photographs of Red Cloud wrote the face was the same as Roberts and she had dressed up in a feathered war-bonnet. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iNJHdoD_cWl7w6CeDnxPZDFbC2hEXKQD/view?usp=sharing
The poet Robert Browning and his wife Elizabeth attended a séance on 23, July 1855 in Ealing with the Rymers. During the séance a spirit face materialized which Home claimed was the son of Browning who had died in infancy. Browning seized the "materialization" and discovered it to be the bare foot of Home. To make the deception worse, Browning had never lost a son in infancy. Browning's son Robert in a letter to The Times, December 5, 1902 referred to the incident "Home was detected in a vulgar fraud." The researchers Joseph McCabe and Trevor H. Hall exposed the "levitation" of Home as nothing more than his moving across a connecting ledge between two iron balconies.
A widely known channeler of this variety is J. Z. Knight, who claims to channel the spirit of Ramtha, a 30 thousand-year-old man. Others purport to channel spirits from "future dimensions", ascended masters, or, in the case of the trance mediums of the Brahma Kumaris, God. Other notable channels are Jane Roberts for Seth, Esther Hicks for Abraham, and Carla L. Rueckert for Ra.
The suffix Voyant in Clairvoyant does not necessarily imply seeing pictures, graphics or pictorial presentation as such. ‘Seeing’ may also mean ‘understanding’ like in ‘Oh, I see!’ In this context the ability of the clairvoyant medium may also include clairsentience, which means that the clairvoyant medium clearly senses the things and the situations. He experiences a kind of gut feeling about what is going to happen or how a situation can be best tackled to provide good results.
In a 2019 television segment on Last Week Tonight featuring prominent purported mediums including Theresa Caputo, John Edward, Tyler Henry, and Sylvia Browne, John Oliver criticized the media for promoting mediums because this exposure convinces viewers that such powers are real, and so enable neighborhood mediums to prey on grieving families. Oliver said "...when psychic abilities are presented as authentic, it emboldens a vast underworld of unscrupulous vultures, more than happy to make money by offering an open line to the afterlife, as well as many other bullshit services."
In such situations, the clairvoyant medium clearly understands that it is the powerful spirit and not he who is trotting out the facts so fast. It is in fact the spirit, which is providing him with facts, names of the persons and events, dates and other related information. The job of the clairvoyant medium then boils down to just working in tandem with this spiritual energy.
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. Other cave paintings in Indonesia date back a further 10,000 years. 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. Fraud is still rife in the medium/psychic industry, with cases of deception and trickery being discovered to this day.
^ Paul Kurtz. (1985). A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology. Prometheus Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-87975-300-9 "Florence Cook was caught cheating not only before her séances with Crookes but also afterward. Furthermore, she learned her trade from the mediums Frank Herne and Charles Williams, who were notorious for their cheating." Also see M. Lamar Keene. (1997). The Psychic Mafia. Prometheus Books. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-57392-161-9 "The most famous of materialization mediums, Florence Cook – though she managed to convince a scientist, Sir William Crookes, that she was genuine – was repeatedly exposed in fraud. Florence had been trained in the arts of the séance by Frank Herne, a well-known physical medium whose materializations were grabbed on more than one occasion and found to be the medium himself."
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While I still am unsure why the translucence varies, I believe it’s a mixture of how closely they are still tied to the physical earth (more connected to earth, more ‘earthly’ looking, less connected, more ‘spirity’ looking). I also think it has to do with their skill level at being able to appear and the amount of energy they have to appear - it takes a lot of skill and energy to appear as a human in physical form without an actual physical body to work with!
The medium Henry Slade was caught in fraud many times throughout his career. In a séance in 1876 in London Ray Lankester and Bryan Donkin snatched his slate before the "spirit" message was supposed to be written, and found the writing already there. Slade also played an accordion with one hand under the table and claimed spirits would play it. The magician Chung Ling Soo revealed how Slade had performed the trick.