Remarkable Psychic Experiences Of Famous Persons


Official Investigator American Society for Psychical Research

It does not necessarily give an occult incident more weight that it was

experienced or related and credited by a person whose name is prominent

for one reason or another. The great are nearly as likely to suffer

illusions, pathological hallucinations, and aberrations as the humble

of mankind, or, according to Lombroso a good deal more so. Nor

have famous persons a monopoly of veracity. Besides, a rare

psychological incident is not more or less a problem, nor has it more or

less significance in the experience of honest John Jones than in that of

William Shakespeare.

And yet it is natural and quite proper to look with somewhat enhanced

interest upon the experiences or the testimonies of those whose names

are in the cyclopedias and biographical dictionaries. It is legitimate

to set these forth and to call attention to them. These persons at least

we know something about. William Moggs of Waushegan, Wisconsin, may be a

very excellent and trustworthy man but we don't know him, and it is

tedious to be told that somebody else whom we may know as little knows

and esteems him. How do we know that the avouching unknown could not

have been sold a gold brick? But Henry M. Stanley, and General Fremont,

and W. P. Frith, and Henry Clews are characters whom we do know

something about, or at least whom we can easily look up for ourselves in

biographical dictionaries and Who's Whos. They are names which have at

the very outset a reputation which has impressed the world, which stand

for assured ability, genius, achievement, forcefulness of one kind or

another. Even though we have no particular data at hand regarding the

veracity of a particular member of the shining circle, it is not easy to

see why he, having an assured reputation, should dim it by telling

spooky lies. It is easier to conceive of William Moggs, a quite obscure

man, calling attention to himself by the device, though as a rule the

William Moggs's do nothing of the kind. We spontaneously argue within

ourselves, in some inchoate fashion, "That fellow made his mark in the

world; he gained a big reputation by his superiority to the rank and

file in some particular at least; it will be worth while to hear what he

has to say."

We present herewith a group of such testimonies either given out to the

world by prominent persons as their own experiences or as the

experiences of persons whom they knew and believed, or else as told by

friends of the prominent persons whose experiences they were.

It is not owing to any selective process that the material is mostly of

the sort which favors supernormal hypotheses. We take what we can get.

Whenever an experience is accompanied by a normal explanation, such will

be included only a little more willingly than an experience which does

not readily suggest a normal explanation. But, let it be noted, the

groups which we propose will be composed of human experiences, and not

opinions, except as the opinions accompany the experiences. And it

cannot be expected that, after certain types of experiences as related

by certain men have been given, we shall then proceed to name other men

who haven't had any such experiences. True, against Paul du Chaillu's

assertion that he had seen gorillas was once urged the fact that nobody

else had ever seen gorillas. Nevertheless the sole assertion of the one

man who had seen them proved to outweigh in value the lack of experience

on the part of all other travelers up to that time.