Happy Birthday Paranormal Field!

I just wanted to take the time to say happy birthday to the paranormal community.  The modern spiritualist movement was founded 163 years ago on March 31st 1848.  It was this day, the Fox sisters claimed to have made contact to an entity the dubbed Mr. Splitfoot but later claimed it was the ghost of a murdered peddler named Charles Rosma. 

Though it doesn’t sound like much, Margaret, Kate, and Leah Fox are largely responsible for the birth of modern day paranormal investigation.

The best part of this whole thing is that Margaret Fox admitted the sisters had hoaxed the whole thing.  In 1888 published in the New York World a confession was given by Margaret.

“When we went to bed at night we used to tie an apple to a string and move the string up and down, causing the apple to bump on the floor, or we would drop the apple on the floor, making a strange noise every time it would rebound. Mother listened to this for a time. She would not understand it and did not suspect us as being capable of a trick because we were so young.”

“Mrs. Underhill, my eldest sister, took Katie and me to Rochester. There it was that we discovered a new way to make the raps. My sister Katie was the first to observe that by swishing her fingers she could produce certain noises with her knuckles and joints, and that the same effect could be made with the toes. Finding that we could make raps with our feet – first with one foot and then with both – we practiced until we could do this easily when the room was dark. Like most perplexing things when made clear, it is astonishing how easily it is done. The rapping are simply the result of a perfect control of the muscles of the leg below the knee, which govern the tendons of the foot and allow action of the toe and ankle bones that is not commonly known. Such perfect control is only possible when the child is taken at an early age and carefully and continually taught to practice the muscles, which grow stiffer in later years. … This, then, is the simple explanation of the whole method of the knocks and raps.”

Margaret also talks a little bit about the psychology of the people whom they duped.

“A great many people when they hear the rapping imagine at once that the spirits are touching them. It is a very common delusion. Some very wealthy people came to see me some years ago when I lived in Forty-second Street and I did some rappings for them. I made the spirit rap on the chair and one of the ladies cried out: “I feel the spirit tapping me on the shoulder.” Of course that was pure imagination.”

I have always loved this story and it is nice to see 163 year later, people are still perusing something that was admittedly based on a lie.  Happy Birthday Paranormal Field!!!!