Inquiries Into Margery Case Show Houdini Was Witness At Seances--Walter Appeared Amid Clotheslines in Emerson 11
"Disbelief in cases of spiritistc phenomena comes only after the observers go home and think it over," said Dr. M. W. Richardson '89, last night. Richardson was one of the authors of the report on the Margery psychic experiments carried on during the last ten years by Dr. L. R. G. Crandon '94. Harvard professors have been members of various groups investigating the phenomena. "The question of whether or not the phenomena were supernatural or not depended on the degree of the observer's belief that control of the psychic was perfect," he said.
Houdini was witness to one of the exhibitions of mediumship. Having fastened Margery in a box with only her head and arms free, Houdini felt along her arm with his own hand until it had passed through the hole in the box. Then the voice of Walter, the spirit, intervened. "What did you do that for, Houdini? You--! Putting up a plant like that on a girl. There is a ruler in that cabinet."
During the seance the "teleplasmic" arm appeared, stretched forth a "cold, slimy finger which felt as though it had flexible bones in it," and engaged in a regular handshake with the professor.
In examining the detail of the octoplasm, Dr. William McDougall, former Harvard professor of Psychology, found "all the appearances of the lung of some animal surgically manipulated to resemble roughly the shape of a human hand." He implied, the report states, that the ectoulasm was realy some substance held in Margery's mouth and thence extruded.
At a later session Emerson 11 was decorated with three clothes lines, on each of which was attached an illuminated clothespin. Walter announced, "I'll show you a very nice trick in a moment." The "doughnut," a phosphorescent disc, seemed to move on the table towards Margery. "An earthquake," said Walter. He then rocked the table to demonstrate that it was not solid on its feet. He tore a piece out of the doughnut held over the table around a professor's left thumb. "Psychic dinner," the spirit said. Then Walter again said "Good Night."