Lord Rayleigh

Lord Rayleigh


          John William Strutt, one of the last intellectual giants of the Victorian era, world-famous as experimental physicist and discoverer of argon.

In 1876 in the discussion of William Barrett's paper on spiritualism before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, he declared that his own interest in the subject dates from 1874. He was first attracted to it by the investigations of William Crookes. "Although," he said, "my opportunities have not been so good as those enjoyed by Professor Barrett, I have seen enough to convince me that those are wrong who wish to prevent investigation by casting ridicule on those who may feel inclined to engage in it."

Physical phenomena impressed him more than mental ones. He had many sittings with Mrs. Kate Fox-Jencken and Eusapia Palladino. He was nonplussed by the result. Yet he never felt sufficiently convinced to declare himself in public. To automatic writing and trance he paid little attention. He did not think the evidence for telepathy conclusive, but he declared that, given irrefragable evidence, for telepathy between living persons, he would have no difficulty in extending it to telepathy from the dead.

Speaking of Mrs. Kate Fox-Jencken and D. D. Home in his presidential address before the SPR in 1919 (Proc. Vol. XXX. pp. 275-290) he said:

"I repudiate altogether the idea of hallucination as an explanation. The incidents were almost always unexpected, and our impressions of them agreed."

Source (with minor modifications): The Society for Psychical Research, 1882-1982: A History by Renée Haynes (1982, Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd, London).



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