Newspaper Tests
Ingenious experiments devised by séance-room communicators
to exclude telepathy as an explanation of hypothesized
spirit communication. Rev. C. Drayton Thomas in Some Recent
Evidence for Survival (1922) published many remarkable instances
as recorded in sittings with the medium Gladys Osborne
The method of the communicators was to give in the afternoon
names and dates that were to be published the next day
in certain columns of The Times, or, if so requested, in coming
issues of magazines. The information so obtained was immediately
posted to the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), London.
The results when verified were so much more striking
since neither the editor nor the compositor in the offices of The
Times could tell at the hour when the communication was made
what text would occupy the column mentioned in the next edition.
The following tests were given on February 13, 1920
‘‘The first page of the paper, in column two and near the top
the name of a minister with whom your father was friendly at
Leek. (Perks was found, a name which verified from an old
‘‘Lower in this column, say one quarter down, appears his
name, your own, your mother’s and that of an aunt; all four
within the space of two inches. (John and Charles were correctly
found, then came the name Emile Souret which presumably
suggested Emily and Sarah, his aunt and mother.)
‘‘Near these the word ‘Grange.’ (It was not found.)
‘‘In column one, not quite half-way down, is a name which
is your mother’s maiden name or one very like it. (The maiden
name was ‘Dore,’ the name found ‘Dorothea.’)
‘‘Somewhat above that is named a place where your mother
passed some years of her girlhood. (Hants. Correct. Shirley,
where she spent her girlhood, being in Hampshire, for which
‘Hants.’ is the recognized abbreviation.)
‘‘Close to the foregoing is a name, which suggests an action
one might make with the body in jumping. (Cummock, a bad
pun come knock.)
‘‘Towards the bottom of the column is named a place where
you went to school. (Lincolnshire. Correct.)
‘‘There is a word close by which looks to your father like
Cheadle. (Not found.)
‘‘Higher in column one, say two-thirds down, is a name suggesting
ammunition. (Found the ecclesiastical title Canon.) Between
that and the teacher’s name is a place-name, French,
looking like three words hyphened into one. (Braine-leChateau.)
‘‘About the middle of this page, the middle both down and
across, is a mistake in print; it cannot be right. Some wrong letters
inserted or something left out, some kind of mistake just
there. (The word ‘page’ printed imperfectly ‘Paae.’)’’
Out of the items in this test, two entirely failed, the others
forecast at 3 P.M. the day previous to the publication of the
paper were correct. At 6 P.M. a copy of this test was posted to
The News Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
the SPR. Inquiries at The Times revealed the fact that in some
cases the particular notices referred to might have already been
set up in type at the time of the sitting, in other cases they were
probably not set up and in any case their ultimate position on
the page could not be normally known until late in the afternoon.
By the spirit of his father the following explanation was furnished
to Thomas
‘‘These tests have been devised by others in a more advanced
sphere than mine, and I have caught their ideas. I am
not yet aware exactly how one obtains these tests, and have
wondered whether the higher guides exert some influence
whereby a suitable advertisement comes into position on the
convenient date. I am able to sense what appears to me to be
sheets and slips of paper with names and various information
upon them. I notice suitable items and, afterwards, visualise a
duplicate of the page with these items falling into their places.
At first I was unable to do this. It seems to me that it is an ability
which throws some light upon foretelling, a visualising of what
is to be, but based upon that which already is. Sometimes I see
further detail upon visualising which I had not sensed from the
letters. I think there is an etheric foreshadowing of things about
to be done. It would probably be impossible to get anything
very far ahead, but only within a certain number of hours, and
I cannot say how many. I scarcely think it would be possible to
get a test for the day after the morrow, or, even if possible, that
it could result in more than a jumble of the morrow’s with a few
of the day following. I think they should impress people more
than book tests. It becomes clear that telepathy cannot explain;
you find in the paper that for which you seek, but given in a
form which you did not expect and about which you could, in
the nature of the case, have known nothing. Two sets of memory
are combined to produce them, my memories of long ago,
and my memory of what I found this morning about preparations
for the Press.’’ (See also Book Tests; Chair Test; Prediction;
Thomas, C. Drayton. Some Recent Evidence for Human Survival.
London William Collins, 1922.