Chevreul, Michel Eugene (1786–1889)
French chemist, expert on color theories, researcher on animal
fats (culminating in discovery of margarine), Michel Eugene
Chevreul was born on August 31, 1786 in Angers, France.
Chevreul conducted experiments on behalf of the French
Academy of Science on divining by means of a pendulum. In
his book De la baguette divinatoire (1854) he concluded that the
movements of a pendulum in response to questions are the result
of involuntary muscular movements in the hand induced
by mental processes.
‘‘Chevreul’s pendulum’’ is often cited to disprove the reality
of the information obtained by such devices as pendulums or
divining rods, much as Michael Faraday’s similar explanations
for table-turning in Spiritualist séances. Although it seems likely
that Chevreul was correct in his investigation of some of the
mechanisms of pendulum divining, and also in his assumption
that mental processes may affect the pendulum movement,
there is equal evidence of paranormal information obtained by
the pendulum or divining rod when suggestive factors are not
operating.
Chevreul’s scientific discoveries made him an international
treasure, which was made evident on his 100th birthday celebration
given by France and England and his funeral held at
Notre Dame Cathedral. He died on April 9, 1889 at the age of
102.
Sources
Bird, Christopher. The Diving Hand. New York E. P. Dutton,
1979.

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