Sceptical open minded investigator
Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Mr. Frank Podmore are other members of the society who have granted the outside world informative glimpses of its workings and discoveries. Sir William Crookes, of course, is best known as a great chemist, discoverer of the element thallium, and inventor of numerous scientific instruments; while Sir Oliver Lodge’s most striking work has been in electricity, and more particularly in the direction of improving wireless telegraphy.
But both have long been actively interested in metaphysical (paranormal) research, and perhaps most of all in those phases of it bearing on the telepathic hypothesis, their great aim being to discover just what the technique of telepathic communication from mind to mind may be.
Mr. Podmore, on the other hand, like Richard Hodgson, has chiefly concerned himself with metaphysical (paranormal) research from the detective, or critical, standpoint. He began his labours late in the 1870’s, associating himself with the Cambridge group, and has consistently maintained the attitude of a sceptical, though open minded, investigator.
Today, to a certain extent, he may be said to occupy the place so long filled by Henry Sidgwick as a sane, restraining influence on the less judicial members of the society, who would unhesitatingly brush aside all objections and embrace the spiritual hypothesis with all its supernatural implications.
Of course, metaphysical (paranormal) research has by no means been confined to the English organization. All over the world investigators are now probing into the mysteries of the seemingly supernormal. But, as a general thing, their methods scarcely reach the strict standards set by the organized inquirers of England, and as a natural consequence they are more easily deceived by tricksters.
This is particularly true of the European ghost hunters, whose laxity of procedure, not to say gullibility, was clearly shown by the ease with which Hodgson exposed the pretensions of Eusapia Paladino after Continental savants had pronounced her feats genuine.
And it is even more strikingly exhibited by the pathetic fidelity with which they still trust in her, notwithstanding the Hodgson exposure, and the fact that they themselves have on more than one occasion caught her committing fraud.
In the United States, however, metaphysical (paranormal) research worthy of the name took root early, owing to the establishment of an American branch of the English society under the capable direction of Dr Hodgson.
A year or so ago, after his death, this branch was abandoned. But in its place, and organized along similar lines, there has arisen the American Institute for Scientific Research, the creation of Prof James H. Hyslop. Until a few years ago occupant of the chair of logic at Columbia University, Professor Hyslop is unquestionably one of the most conspicuous figures in metaphysical (paranormal) research in this or any other country.