"We cannot deny with any degree of certainly the presence of the psychic element in human nature, but we do know that there has never yet been a public or private demonstration of spiritualism which has not been exposed eventually as trickery and fraud. It is my personal belief that no one who has left this earth has, or ever will come back in body or spirit," said Mr. Frederick Dunworth, well known exposer of fraudulent spiritualism, after fully convincing a large audience in the Living Room of the Union last night that he could raise tables mysteriously, make spirit photographs, and read minds, by trickery.
Performs Card Tricks
Mr. Dunworth opened his program, which he calls "Spiritism, an Instructive and Educational Expose," with a series of clever card tricks which he accompanied with the customary rapid fire conversation for the "mis-direction of the attention," so essential to observers of magic. All of the tricks were explained and the superiority of the hand over the eye was again demonstrated.
Following this demonstration Mr. Dunworth read one of Dr. Frank Crane's short talks on the evils of commercial spiritualism, and then gave a short history of spiritualism in America.
In 1840 two sisters, Margaret and Kate Fox perpetrated the first spiritualistic fraud in America. Their claim to supernatural power lay in their ability to produce tapping noises. In later years, after fooling experts of two continents, the older sister disclosed the secret of the taps, which were produced by moving the joints in the ankle and toes.
From this first known case of spiritualistic trickery, down until the famous expose of "Margery" by Harry Houdini at Symphony Hall last winter, mediums, mind readers, and fortune tellers have invariably been discovered as false. Mr. Dunworth cited the interesting case of Mrs. Thompson, a well known medium who professed to be capable of producing a mysterious substance from the spirit world which she called Ectoplasm. At one of her seances she unfortunately wrapped the Ectoplasm around the neck of an extreme skeptic. The suspicious gentleman promptly bit into the substance to discover its nature, whereupon Mrs. Thompson screamed and retired to nurse the teeth marks in her arm. It appears to be true, according to Mr. Dunworth that there have been more fake spiritualists among women than men, but that the men are as a rule harder to discover.
Mr. Dunworth attacked both of the noted English spiritists, Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and accused the latter of making a great deal of money through his lectures "in which he knowingly perpetrates fraudulent spirit-photography, and at the same time makes the statement that 'Spiritualism is the only hope of world salvation.'"
Legal Suppression Does No Good
"The state of New York is attempting to curb fake spiritualism by prohibiting the advertising of fortune tellers, clairvoyants, and mediums," continued Mr. Dunworth. "Now they hang out a shingle with the inscription 'Church of Truth', or 'Lotus Temple' and make twice as much money."