Abbott, David P(helps) (1863–1934)
Amateur magician and investigator of Spiritualist mediums.
He was born in Falls City, Nebraska, September 22, 1863. His
early education consisted of three months a year in a country
schoolhouse on Nebraska prairies, and a final nine months in
Falls City High School. In later life Abbott followed the trade
of a money lender but took a great interest in science and philosophy.
He also became an amateur magician, inventing and
performing many startling feats of magic. He lived for some
years in Omaha, Nebraska.
Abbott published numerous essays and several books on
psychical subjects. His book Behind the Scenes with the Mediums
exposed many techniques of fake mediumship, including slate
writing and billet tests (see pellet reading). In spite of his skepticism
regarding the claims of mediumship, however, Abbott
did not rule out the possibility of genuine phenomena. In a
thoughtful contribution to the second volume of The Dream
Problem by Ram Narayana (Delhi, 1922), he stated: ‘‘I mention
these things to show that telepathy is far from established as a
fact, yet I must say that I believe it to be possible under certain
conditions, but positively it can not be commanded at will in the
slightest degree.’’ He then related personal and family experiences
of veridical dreaming.
Sources:
Abbott, David P. Behind the Scenes with the Mediums. Chicago:
Open Court Publishing, 1912.
———. The History of a Strange Case. Chicago: Open Court
Publishing, 1908.
———. Spirit Portrait Mystery . . . Its Final Solution. Chicago:
Open Court Publishing, 1913.

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