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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

Cook, Florence Eliza (1856?-1904) Miss Cook was dismissed from a teaching job at age sixteen, then worked with several different professional spirit mediums who were later exposed as frauds, as she herself was when she took up the profession.
      Cook's spirit guide was known as Katie King (a character who was to reemerge a generation later as a guide to medium Eusapia Palladino), and Cook was able to produce full-size, full-form materializations of this character, who, strangely enough, in all photographs appears to be an exact double for Cook. Never were the medium herself and Katie both seen at one time. Also, if the materialized form was not really a spirit, the part of Katie King may have been created and played by Cook's look-alike sister, also named Katie.
      Sir William Crookes (which see) was closely associated with Cook and wrote copiously on her mediumship. Though he and other investigators employed overly intricate and cosmetically scientific systems to control Cook, and superficial accounts of their research state that such instrumentation showed no sign of trickery, the actual records disagree with such reports. Cook actually failed to satisfy the controls, and yet her supporters glossed over major problems and ignored quite positive evidence of trickery. Her sister Katie failed entirely to pass controlled tests, even to the very loose standards of those who tested her.
      Eventually, following a séance given on May 21, 1874, Crookes seems to have abandoned his belief in Cook, though he never publicly retracted his support of her.
      See also Mary Showers.

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