Telepathy: A Vulgar Delusion

FOR years, the Psychical Research Societies have been lending countenance and an air of respectability to the grossest superstitions: belief in ghosts, clairvoyance, haunted houses, poltergeists, apports, ectoplasm, premonitions of the dying, and other sordid delusions.

Now comes Mr. W.H. Salter, Hon. Secretary of the British Society for Psychical Research, and, in an "answer" to the unanswerable argument of Surgeon-Rear Admiral Charles M. Beadnell in the Literary Guide for September, 1943, makes a plea for that vulgar delusion: telepathy.

We are no more impressed by the "big names" that have defended telepathy than by the "big names" (Gladstone, the Duke of Argyle, and Mary Pickford) who have defended Christianity. We are interested solely in facts.

For years, this writer (as a matter of "duty" to himself) wasted a precious lot of time studying the reports of the P.R.S.
In no series of papers are to be found more self-evidential material of downright dishonesty, outright lying, and a silly esteem for every type of voodoo enchantment and jungle witchcraft than these papers reveal. They are a disgrace to intelligence.

"No psychical researcher professes to know everything about telepathy," says Mr. Salter. Now, isn't that nice of him? If they knew anything at all about telepathy, they would put it to work, not in the Society's "proceedings" or in Sunday supplements, but in the world of practical demonstration.

When Marconi told the world he could send messages without the use of wires, he proved it. Today a billion-dollar industry is build on wireless telegraphy. How much is invested in telepathy? Today, after 60 years of "investigation", telepathy can't erect a single sending and receiving station. There isn't a banking house in the world -- and bankers are quick to grasp at anything that will "work" -- which would back a telepathy station or risk a German mark on any of the thought-transference didos of the psychical researchers.

After 60 years of telepathy, we still use the telephone and the telegraph, write millions of letters a year, and spend a billion dollars in needless postage when we could just as well be "thinking" our thoughts to others. Even Mr. Salter must convey his thoughts to us by means of the printed page.

Hans Driesch and Charles Richet were no more qualified to pass judgement on the "evidence" of telepathy than anyone who can analyze and think. They were, by temperament, less qualified, in fact, than thousands of scientific workers who reject telepathy and whose critical judgment is not impaired by a predisposition to swallow anything. If pressed to prove it, I will show that both Driesch and Richet were, in these matters, gullible fools.

Psychological research societies can exist only so long as they are able to feed on current superstitions. They thrive on credulity. Where would they be today if there were no victims of hallucinations, religious neurotics, ghost-chasing crackpots, hysterical subjects, and psychopathic "visionaries" on whom to base their reports? Long ago, Joseph Jastrow made a remark that is as valid today as when it was written: Create a belief in anything and the "facts" will create themselves. There are thousands of Christian Scientists today (not to mention a slough of Spiritualists) who will testify to whatever is required. Is Mr. Salter so naive as to believe that men will not lie?

"The imposing mass of evidence has convinced almost everyone who has studied it that telepathy occurs," says Mr. Salter. But has it? We haven't heard that the British Association or the American Association for the Advancement of Science has gone on record as endorsing telepathy.

When they do, telepathy will have made its first progress in sixty years.

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