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(from the Greek ektos and plasma, meaning “exteriorized material”) A term originated either by wealthy amateur scientist Schrenck-Notzing or by physiologist Charles Richet, this designates the amorphous substance said to be extruded from all the bodily orifices of the spirit medium during séances. It could assume the form of a hand or a face, but in photographs it generally resembles a piece of coarse net like cheesecloth. The resemblance is very close.
Ectoplasm, as generally described and photographed, could be simulated by means of netting coated with luminous paint, which in the heyday of spiritualism was usually water-based. Though early writers on spiritualism had actually solved the true nature of some of their experiences with ectoplasm, they failed to realize that fact. Dr. Gustav Geley (1868-1924) described his encounter with the strange substance during a séance with Eva C. (Eva Carrière) during which a “luminous hand” touched and patted him. A “drop” of luminous substance, he reported, fell to his sleeve, where it continued to glow for about twenty minutes. This behavior is exactly what would be expected of cheesecloth coated in luminous paint.
A book on the subject complains that ectoplasm's resemblance to such materials as cheesecloth has often provoked allegations of fraud, as well as making it possible for fraudulent mediums to simulate ectoplasm.
At risk of being thought rather difficult, one might suggest that the words ectoplasm and cheesecloth could be interchanged in that last paragraph, to produce an interesting comparison.
If it can be imagined that mediums might actually cheat, it would appear to be wise for a cheater to secure the luminous cheesecloth by means of a cord, so that it might not fall out of reach or be left behind when the lights came up in the séance room. Consider, then, the following naive account of a séance with medium Margery Crandon:
In the “Margery” séances in Boston . . . ectoplasm was photographed. . . . In several of these photographs the ectoplasm is visible . . . [in] a form then reduced to a species of placenta attached to the medium by a cord which, in its turn, calls up the appearance of an umbilical cord.
The possibilities are evident.
Sitters are prohibited from touching the ectoplasm, for fear that the medium may be harmed. It may be that the reputation of the medium might also suffer.
In illustrations of ectoplasm often-shown in credulous books, it is obvious that some cotton wool has been teased out and stuck on the medium's chin. But to the spiritualists, this is ectoplasm or an etherial body in the process of forming.
Also often seen is a photo of a paper cutout with a length of white cloth fastened to it, stuck up on the wall with a thumbtack above the medium's head. The believers describe this as a “spiritoid form draped in a white ectoplasmic veil.” Incredibly, they actually believe this.
Ectoplasm is differentiated from apport and ideoplast, which see.
Eddy, Mary Morse Baker
(1821-1910) Though Mrs. Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, was said to be an ill-tempered, neurotic woman who suffered from chronic problems — what she called “nerve disorders” and “spinal inflammations” — all her life, she denied that illnesses were real, claiming that they all resided in the mind and were the result of “error.” That is the basic teaching of her church, that illness and death are malfunctions and can be avoided by proper conduct. All medical help, therapy, medication, or other such services are strictly forbidden to church members.
Nonetheless, Mrs. Eddy wore glasses and walked with a cane (though she was never photographed nor seen in public using them), had false teeth, and for most of her life took morphine for pain to the point where she became seriously addicted.
She was married three times. Her first husband was a Mason named George Washington Glover, and thereafter membership in the Masonic Order was the one single “outside” affiliation that was allowed to church members by Mrs. Eddy. Six months after their marriage, Glover died of (imaginary) yellow fever. Her second husband was Daniel Patterson, a dentist (and thus a medical man!) and a homeopath (thus almost a physician), who left her after twenty years of stormy marriage. The third was Asa Gilbert Eddy, a spiritualist who died of (imaginary) heart failure six years after their marriage. Mrs. Eddy, despite the results of a careful autopsy, maintained that her husband had actually been poisoned by malicious animal magnetism, which see.
The church specializes, to this day, in the treatment of diseases solely by means of the consultations and prayers of “practitioners.”
Often, the evidence offered in support of psychic powers has to be examined critically, and in particular credentials of those endorsing such matters. A good example is the Hungarian would-be parapsychologist György Egely, who has enthusiastically endorsed the powers of such psychics as Uri Geller. He has stated that he is a Ph.D. professor and physicist at the Central Research Institute for Physics (CRIP), in Budapest. He also says that he “examined by electron beam scattering” a spoon bent by Mr. Geller and that he has no explanation for the event.
The would-be parapsychologist “Dr.” György Egely.
A simple inquiry at the Research Institute for Atomic Energy (RIAE), CRIP’s successor, resulted in information that:
1.Mr. Egely “is not and never was a professor at the Institute [CRIP].” He once worked at CRIP briefly as a mechanical engineer, but was dismissed “because he failed to produce any useful work.”
2.he “is not a professor of anything at any Hungarian university.”
3.he has received a “doctorate” — but under Russian standards which are no longer recognized in Hungary — and by Hungarian standards is not considered to be a Ph.D.
4.he “is not a physicist.”
5.the “electron beam scattering” examination could not have taken place at CRIP because “the Institute does not have, and never has had, the equipment for such a test.”
A further inquiry to Dr. Gyula Bencze of Budapest reveals that
“for several months Mr. Egely was a guest lecturer at the Eotvos University in Hungary, where he began lecturing on paranormal subjects and, as a result, the Dean of the Science Faculty banned him from doing any further teaching activity there.”
How often are such inquiries made? Not often, and though an endorsement of a psychic event may come from individuals with excellent, genuine, qualifications, unless their expertise includes certain special talents needed for proper investigation of such matters, it is often useless.
(1857-1933) An English materialization medium and, from 1884 on, a slate writer contemporary with Henry Slade. He enjoyed a certain period of success beginning in 1876, mostly because of the endorsement of Dr. Charles Richet, but almost immediately he was caught cheating when wigs, beards, and cheesecloth “ghosts” were discovered on his person during a séance. Then in 1886 he was thoroughly exposed as a fake by Professor Lewis Cargill. Such reversals did little to affect the belief of his followers, however.
Eisenbud, Dr. Jule
Elemental / Elementary Spirits
Entities said to inhabit the four medieval elements. Salamanders inhabit fire, sylphs the air, gnomes the earth, and nymphs the water. It is not stated which ones frequent discos.
Certain materials (such as carbon, iron, oxygen, and gold) are themselves unique substances which are not combinations of other ingredients. These are the proper chemical elements.
The alchemists believed that all substances were combinations of sulfur, mercury, and common salt, which they said were themselves composed of the four basic “elements”: fire, air, earth, and water. (Sulfur and mercury actually are proper elements, but salt is a combination of the metal sodium and the gas chlorine, each of them elements.) Every element, to the alchemists, had specific attributes. These were:
Fire: colors red and orange, hot and dry conditions, motion, light, and heat, animals, strength.
Air: color yellow, hot and damp conditions, light, activity, bravery, intellect.
Earth: colors brown and black, cold and dry conditions, fertility, passivity, silence.
Water: colors blue and green, cold and damp conditions, intuition, wisdom, cleansing.
Early Tibetan scholars recognized, in addition to these four basic elements, a fifth which they called “ether.” The five elements of the early Chinese were fire, earth, water, wood, and metal.
In medieval times, only 10 of the real elements were known to occur in a natural, uncombined state. We now know of 107 elements, 90 of which occur on Earth naturally, 17 of which are created during nuclear reactions or radioactive decay.
Elixir of Life
See philosopher's stone.
A device consisting of a sensitive electric meter, a battery, a “resistor bridge,” and two metal handles. These are connected in parallel so that touching the handles together causes a maximum deflection of the meter, indicating a resistance of zero. In effect, when the handles are held by a subject, one in each hand, the device measures the resistance of his body. The reading will decrease or increase depending on the pressure of the grip and the moisture present, as well as the emotional state of the subject, via a phenomenon known as “galvanic skin effect.”
Another version of this idea attempts to be a diagnostic tool. In this mode, one electrode is “grounded” to the arm of the patient, and the other is a probe that is used to explore the hand, which serves as a homunculus, the thumb representing the head and neck, the index finger the right arm, etc. The harder one presses down on the probe, and the damper the precise spot on the hand, the lower the resistance reading.
In 1950, Volney Mathison demonstrated a “galvonomic box” to later-Scientology guru L. Ron Hubbard. (Interestingly enough the patent number stamped on that machine turned out to belong to a variety of threshing machine patented in 1860 with the U.S. Patent Office.)
A Dr. Reinhold Voll of Germany claims to have discovered the principle of using the “galvanic skin effect” as a diagnostic tool. Dr. Ernst Roscher of Frankfurt also claimed to have invented a slightly different version of this diagnostic application designed to determine whether medicine would be effective for a patient. An attempt by Roscher to market his Probe in the United States through JS&A Products was made in 1983.
In all of these applications the “galvanic skin effect” is ineffective in determining anything except skin resistance.
End of the World
A notion preached endlessly by religious fanatics and almost always said to be due “soon.” The cartoon eccentric parading about with the sign saying THE END IS NIGH actually exists, an unreal character mislocated in the real world.
The predictions of a final cataclysm are numerous; see Appendix III of this encyclopedia for a listing of forty-four of them.
See also Armageddon.
A language and alphabet of angels which Dr. John Dee said was used to communicate prophecies to him. It actually has a syntax and though very cumbersome could serve as a means of communication.
These are known in Germany, where the idea originated, as “Erdstrahlen” or “earth rays.” E-rays are the German equivalent of the French discovery, N-rays, and are just as real. They are said to be radiations that are emitted from unknown sources deep in the ground, giving rise to “hot spots,” and causing cancer. These rays, say the believers, cannot be detected by any sort of instruments, but are believed to exist because dowsers — and only dowsers — can sense them.
In Germany, these invisible rays and hot spots are accepted by almost everyone, even governmental agencies, who pay dowsers to indicate to them how to relocate the desks of federal employees away from the positions where E-rays can intercept them; hospital beds are similarly moved about to protect patients from cancer.
Professors H.L. König and H. D. Betz of Munich, two German authors of a highly supportive 1989 book on the German government tests, have refused to identify any of the dowsers they tested in preparing their book, or even to put the dowsers in touch with other researchers. Their reasons for this lack of cooperation are not clear.
See also N-rays.
See Extrasensory Perception.
See Zener, Dr. Karl.
See Carrière, Eva.
The glance of certain individuals, described in the Malleus Maleficarum as “fiery and baleful eyes,” was said to induce curses and even death. The Latin term was fascinatio, and it was said to be prevented from doing damage to any intended victim about whose neck a band of multicolored threads had been fastened.
Pliny the Elder prescribed spittle as an antidote to the evil eye, and the wearing of a fleur-de-lis amulet was believed to be effective for that same purpose. In modern Italy, the evil eye is generally known as mal d'occhio, but in the south, especially in Naples, it is jettatura, and in Corsica, innochiatura. Along the Mediterranean and in the Arab countries, the effect is taken quite seriously.
The Frankish queen of the sixth century, Fredegund, was said to be endowed with the evil eye. Perhaps she merely lacked regal charm.
The expulsion of the Devil, spirits, and demons from persons, animals, or places by occult or religious rites.
The Roman Catholic exorcism rite first came into use at the end of the third century, and in A.D. 341 it is mentioned in church writings. A specifically ordained order of exorcising priests was created, and the process is still practiced by the Roman Catholic church today.
As recently as 1972, Pope Paul VI affirmed the existence of demons and the Devil:
Sin, on its part, affords a dark, aggressive evildoer, the Devil, an opportunity to act in us and in our world. . . . Anyone who disputes the existence of this reality places himself outside biblical and Church teachings.
Perhaps inspired by this declaration, in 1976 Germany's Bishop Stangl instructed two priests to perform the rite of exorcism upon a twenty-three-year-old epileptic Bavarian girl, Anneliese Michel. The local newspapers reported that the church had decided her body was being inhabited by various demons, including Lucifer, Adolf Hitler, Judas Iscariot, and Emperor Nero. Anneliese, an epileptic, died in the process of being exorcised, and the autopsy showed she suffered beating and starvation. Her parents and the two priests were convicted of negligent homicide and given suspended sentences.
Significantly, when Bishop Stangl died during the trial, his death was attributed to a stroke, not to demonic possession.
In recent years, similar exorcism farces have taken the lives of children in the United States, too.
Christians who believe in the Holy Bible must also believe in demons, devils, and other such creatures, and they must believe that those entities cause disease and that they can be “cast out” by proper ceremonies — exorcism — simply because it's in the Book. If they deny the reality of those entities, they deny the Bible, and thus their faith. It is not a matter of choice, but dogma.
(ESP) A term invented by Dr. J.B. Rhine and used by him to refer to supposed abilities such as telepathy, which involves being able to tell the thoughts of another person without the use of the recognized senses. Clairaudience, clairvoyance, and precognition (all of which see) also fall under this term.
See also parapsychology.
See blindfold vision.
Eysenck, Dr. Hans J.
(1916 - ) Psychologist Eysenck studied in the U.K. with Sir Cyril Burt and invented the “Eysenck Personality Scale,” which is believed to measure a subject's basic temperament for purposes of evaluating results obtained in parapsychological tests.
In 1983, Eysenck, with Dr. Carl Sargent, produced Know Your Own Psi-IQ, a naive book designed to enable the layperson to design and perform extrasensory perception (ESP) tests. Attempting to provide a simple, convenient randomization method, for example, the authors instead gave users a highly biased procedure that would make experiments meaningless and certainly discourage further investigation by the amateur.
In 1957, before very much was known about the poor control and sometimes devious methods used by some scientists to develop their evidence for paranormal phenomena, Dr. Eysenck wrote:
Unless there is a gigantic conspiracy involving some thirty University departments all over the world, and several hundred highly respected scientists in various fields, many of them originally hostile to the claims of the psychical researchers, the only conclusion the unbiased observer can come to must be that there does exist a small number of people who obtain knowledge existing either in other people's minds, or in the outer world, by means yet unknown to science.
Such a “gigantic conspiracy” is not at all necessary to explain the fact that some scientists have seen what they expected and wanted to see and have accepted the conclusions of others without question. The fact that none of the findings of the paranormalists have been established but like the work of Soal, Lévy, Rhine, and so many others have instead fallen out of serious consideration upon subsequent examination, has apparently not altered Dr. Eysenck's conclusion.