Charles Robert Richet (August 25, 1850 to December 4, 1935)
was a Nobel Prize winning scientist who also investigated
evidence for the paranormal. Awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize
in Medicine, Richet was a French physiologist, chemist,
bacteriologist, pathologist, psychologist, aviation pioneer,
poet, novelist, editor, author, and psychical researcher.
in Paris, he received his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1869
and his Doctor of Science in 1878. He then served as professor
of physiology at the medical school of the University of
Paris for 38 years. Richet was awarded the Nobel Prize for
his research on anaphylaxis, the sensitivity of the body
to alien protein substance. He also contributed much to
research on the nervous system, anesthesia, serum therapy,
and neuro-muscular stimuli. He served as editor of the Revue
Scientifique for 24 years and contributed to many other
Richet, like so many of his peers, was a closed-minded materialist.
He admitted to scoffing at the reports by Professor William
Crookes of his sittings with the mediums Daniel Dunglas
Home and Florence Cook during the early 1870s. "…I
avow with shame that I was among the willfully blind,"
he wrote in his 1923 book, Thirty Years of Psychical Research,
which he dedicated to Crookes and Frederic W. H. Myers,
another pioneering psychical researcher, commenting in the
dedication that these two men, "equally distinguished
by their courage and by their insight, were the first to
trace the outlines of this science."
Eusapia Palladino, an Italian peasant, began producing phenomena
somewhat similar to that of D. D. Home, Richet, still puzzled
by Crookes's reports on Home, expressed an interest in studying
her. After attending evidential experiments with Palladino
in Milan during 1884, Richet began taking an active interest
in psychical research. He befriended many of the top psychical
researchers of the day, including Crookes, Myers, Sir Oliver
Lodge, and Dr. Albert von Schrenck-Notzing. In addition
to Palladino, he studied Marthe Béraud (Eva C.),
William Eglinton, Stephan Ossowiecki, Elisabeth D'Esperance,
and others. He served as president of the Society for Psychical
Research of London in 1905.
gave the name "ectoplasm" to what had previously
been referred to as teleplasm. "The word `ectoplasm,'
which I invented for the experiments with Eusapia, seems
entirely justified," he wrote, explaining that it is
a kind of gelatinous protoplasm, formless at first, that
exudes from the body of the medium, and takes form later.
"In the early stages there are always white veils and
milky patches and the faces, fingers, and drawings are formed
little by little in the midst of this kind of gelatinous
paste that resembles moist and sticky muslin." He added
that materializations are ectoplasm, "sarcoidic extensions
emanating from the body of a medium, precisely as a pseudopod
from an amoeboid cell."
researchers of the day were convinced that Palladino was
a charlatan, at best a mixed medium, sometimes producing
genuine phenomena and other times cheating. However, Richet,
who had more than 200 sittings with her, defended her. "Even
if there were no other medium than Eusapia in the world,
her manifestations would suffice to establish scientifically
the reality of telekinesis and ectoplasmic forms,"
he wrote, going on to explain that in her trance condition
"the ectoplasmic arms and hands that emerge from the
body of Eusapia do only what they wish, and though Eusapia
knows what they do, they are not directed by Eusapia's will;
or rather there is for the moment no Eusapia."
Béraud (given the pseudonym "Eva C") also
impressed Richet. He studied her in Algiers during 1905
and again in 1906, observing full materializations of a
phantom called Bien Boa. "The first experiments at
which I was present [in Algiers] impressed me greatly, but
I always distrust first impressions," Richet wrote.
In the following year, I returned to Algiers resolved to
repeat experiments under more rigorous conditions. The materializations
produced were very complete. The phantoms of Bien Boa appeared
five or six times under satisfactory conditions in the sense
that he could not be Marthe masquerading in a helmet and
sheet. Marthe would have had not only to bring, but also
to conceal afterwards, the helmet, the sheet, and the burnous
(hooded cloak worn by Arabs). Also Marthe and the phantom
were both seen at the same time. To pretend that Bien Boa
was a doll is more absurd still; he walked and moved, his
eyes could be seen looking around, and when he tried to
speak his lips moved. He seemed so much alive that, as we
could hear his breathing, I took a flask of baryta water
to see if his breath would show carbon dioxide. The experiment
succeeded. I did not lose sight of the flask from the moment
when I put it into the hands of Bien Boa who seemed to float
in the air on the left of the curtain at a height greater
than Marthe could have been even if standing up."
clearly accepting the reality of mediumship and other psychic
phenomena, Richet remained skeptical as to whether the evidence
suggested spirits and survival. "I oppose it (spirit
hypothesis) half-heartedly, for I am quite unable to bring
forward any wholly satisfactory counter-theory," he
wrote. Publicly, he leaned toward a physiological explanation,
but privately, at least in his later years, he is said to
have accepted the spirit hypothesis as the best explanation.
with other scientists who dared express a belief in such
phenomena, Richet came under attack by scientific fundamentalists.
"To admit telekinesis and ectoplasm is not to destroy
even the smallest fragment of science," he replied.
"It is but to admit new data, and that there are unknown
energies. Then why be indignant, when, on the basis of thousands
of observations and experiments, we affirm one of those
that did not resemble human forms or were only partial human
form – a half body or just a head – were scoffed
at by many. "It is imagined, quite mistakenly, that
a materialization must be analogous to a human body and
must be three dimensional. This is not so," Richet
responded to them. "There is nothing to prove that
the process of materialization is other than a development
of a completed form after a first stage of coarse and rudimentary
lineaments form from the cloudy substance. The moist, gelatinous,
and semi-luminous extensions that come from the mouth of
Marthe are embryonic formations which tend towards organization
without immediately attaining it."
colleagues often referred to the phenomena reported on by
Richet as "absurd." To them, he replied: "Yes,
it is absurd; but no matter – it is true."
Red Pill entry written by Michael E. Tymn, reproduced with
Reply to sender | Reply to group | Reply via web post |
Start a New Topic
Messages in this topic (1)
Visit Your Group
Return to Index