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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Cambridge investigation In 1857, the editor of the Boston Courier newspaper offered a prize of $500 for the production of spiritualistic phenomena in the presence of three Harvard professors, Benjamin Pierce, Louis S. Agassiz, and E.N. Horsford. On June 25, 26, and 27, séances took place with Leah and Katherine Fox (of the famous Fox sisters), a “writing medium” named Mansfield, “rapping medium” Mrs. Kendrick, a George Redman, and the Davenport brothers. Despite this impressive array of top talent, the tests at what became known as the Cambridge investigation were total failures for the spook artists and victories for the skeptics. The spiritualist movement ascribed it all to “ignorance of the laws of mental and magnetic science” on the part of the Harvard professors.


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