In the late 19th century, the fraudulent methods of spirit photographers such as David Duguid and Edward Wyllie were revealed by psychical researchers.[95] Hereward Carrington documented various methods (with diagrams) how the medium would manipulate the plates before, during, and after the séance to produce spirit forms.[96] The ectoplasm materializations of the French medium Eva Carrière were exposed as fraudulent. The fake ectoplasm of Carrière was made of cut-out paper faces from newspapers and magazines on which fold marks could sometimes be seen from the photographs.[97] Cut out faces that she used included Woodrow Wilson, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, French president Raymond Poincaré and the actress Mona Delza.[98]
In 1970 two psychical researchers investigated the direct-voice medium Leslie Flint and found that all the "spirit" voices in his séance sounded exactly like himself and attributed his mediumship to "second-rate ventriloquism".[173] The medium Arthur Ford died leaving specific instructions that all of his files should be burned. In 1971 after his death, psychical researchers discovered his files but instead of burning them they were examined and discovered to be filled with obituaries, newspaper articles and other information, which enabled Ford to research his séance sitters backgrounds.[174]
The British direct-voice medium Frederick Tansley Munnings was exposed as a fraud when one of his séance sitters turned the lights on which revealed him to be holding a trumpet by means of a telescopic extension piece and using an angle piece to change the auditory effect of his voice.[129] Richard Hodgson held six sittings with the medium Rosina Thompson and came to the conclusion she was a fraud as he discovered Thompson had access to documents and information about her séance sitters.[130]
The trance medium Leonora Piper was investigated by psychical researchers and psychologists in the late 19th and early 20th century. In an experiment to test if Piper's "spirit" controls were purely fictitious the psychologist G. Stanley Hall invented a niece called Bessie Beals and asked Piper's 'control' to get in touch with it. Bessie appeared, answered questions and accepted Hall as her uncle.[101] The psychologist Joseph Jastrow wrote that Piper pretended to be controlled by spirits and fell into simple and logical traps from her comments.[102] Science writer Martin Gardner concluded Piper was a cold reader that would "fish" for information from her séance sitters.[103] The physiologist Ivor Lloyd Tuckett who examined Piper's mediumship in detail wrote it could be explained by "muscle-reading, fishing, guessing, hints obtained in the sitting, knowledge surreptitiously obtained, knowledge acquired in the interval between sittings and lastly, facts already within Mrs. Piper's knowledge."[104]
Attempts to communicate with the dead and other living human beings, aka spirits, have been documented back to early human history. The story of the Witch of Endor (In the most recent edition of the NIV witch is rendered medium in the passage) tells of one who raised the spirit of the deceased prophet Samuel to allow the Hebrew king Saul to question his former mentor about an upcoming battle, as related in the Books of Samuel in the Jewish Tanakh (the basis of the Old Testament).

Illusionists, such as Joseph Rinn have staged fake séances in which the sitters have claimed to have observed genuine supernatural phenomena.[44] Albert Moll studied the psychology of séance sitters. According to (Wolffram, 2012) "[Moll] argued that the hypnotic atmosphere of the darkened séance room and the suggestive effect of the experimenters' social and scientific prestige could be used to explain why seemingly rational people vouchsafed occult phenomena."[45] The psychologists Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones in their book Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking (1989) wrote that spirits controls are the "products of the medium's own psychological dynamics."[46]
Mediumship became quite popular in the 19th-century United States and the United Kingdom after the rise of Spiritualism as a religious movement. Modern Spiritualism is said to date from practices and lectures of the Fox sisters in New York State in 1848. The trance mediums Paschal Beverly Randolph and Emma Hardinge Britten were among the most celebrated lecturers and authors on the subject in the mid-19th century. Allan Kardec coined the term Spiritism around 1860.[12] Kardec claimed that conversations with spirits by selected mediums were the basis of his The Spirits' Book and later, his five-book collection, Spiritist Codification.
What actually transpires during the trance is that the clairvoyant medium sees visions, hears voices, feels the energy and interprets his experiences in intelligible human language. The narration of the sequence of events is convincing as it divulges the secrets and facts, which are known only to the seeker. This revelation of personal facts builds trusts between the seeker and the clairvoyant medium.
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]