a dash of this and a filip of that

In 1972 some Canadian parapsychologists undertook an experiment.

The Experimenters

The members of the experiment attempted to create, through intense and prolonged concentration, a collective thought-form. The group consisted of Iris Owen, a former nurse and wife of the mathematician A. R. G. Owen; Margaret Sparrrows, former chairperson of an organization of individuals with high IQs; Andy H., housewife; Lorne H., industrial designer and husband of Andy H.; Al P., heating engineer; Bernice M., accountant; Dorothy O’ D., housewife and bookkeeper; and Sidney K., sociology student. Dr. A. R. G. Owen or Dr. Joel Whitton, psychologist, attended the group meetings.


The group fabricated the fictitious identity, physical appearance, and personal history of their “Philip Aylesford” who was born in England in 1624.  He had an illustrious role in the Civil War, becoming a personal friend of Charles II and working for him as a secret agent. But Philip brought about his own undoing by having an affair with a Gypsy girl. When his wife found out she accused the girl of witchcraft, and she was burned at the stake. In despair Philip committed suicide in 1654 at the age of thirty.


The Owen group began conducting sittings in September 1972 during which they meditated, visualized, and discussed the details of Philip’s life. After going for months with no communication, the group attempted table-tilting through psychokinesis.


Some weeks after changing to the séance setting the group established communication with “Philip.” He answered questions that were consistent with his fictitious history, but was unable to provide any information beyond that which the group had conceived. However, “Philip” did give other historically accurate information about real events and people. The Owen group theorized that this latter information came from their own collective unconsciousness.

One session was held in front of a live audience of fifty people and was videotaped to be shown on television. In other sessions sounds were heard in various parts of the room and lights blinked on and off. The levitation and movement of a table were recorded on film in 1974. “Philip” seemed to have a special rapport with Iris Owen.

As the group became more comfortable with their encounters with Philip, they began to treat him as just another member of the group. They learned his personality as if he was a good friend. And Philip would play tricks on them. At times, he would move the table around the room, especially to rush up to those arriving late as if to greet them and say “Hi”. Other times, the table would trap certain individuals in corners.


During one especially active night, one of the members jokingly admonished Philip by telling him that he could be sent away and replaced. After that, Philip’s activity began to decrease until it stopped altogether and the experiment was ceased.


Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 7:43 am  Comments (42)  
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fire walk with me

In the autumn of 1935 Harry Price organised the most high powered investigation of firewalking ever made. Kashmiri Kuda Bux, wearing a black frock coat and trousers, walked steadily and deliberately over the 11 foot length of a charcoal and log pit heated beyond the melting point of steel. There were no signs of blistering on the soles of his feet.


Price concluded that the secret of fire walking involved three factors: the short contact time of each foot on the glowing embers (with a limit of two steps per foot); the low thermal conductivity of burning or burned wood embers; and confidence and steadiness in walking.

Various other experiments have also been recorded. Jearl Walker, professor of physics at Cleveland State University was particularly intrigued by the research of Johann Gottlieb Leidenfrost, an 18th century German doctor who observed that if water was dropped onto a very hot surface, the drops danced about for a longer period than if the surface was cooler.

Jearl Walker lying beneath a bed of nails

He concluded that this “Leidenfrost effect” must be the secret of fire walking—that at a high temperature perspiration on the fire walker’s feet forms a protective layer long enough to prevent injury. Walker was courageous enough to put his theories to a personal test. He constructed a five-foot bed of hot coals in his back garden. He stated, “I suddenly found it remarkably easy to believe in physics when it is on paper, but remarkably hard to believe in it when the safety of one’s own feet is at stake. As a matter of fact, walking on hot coals would be such a supreme test of one’s true belief in what one had learned that I have suggested that graduate schools might substitute it for the PhD examination in physics. On one side of the pit of red-hot coals would be a line of fresh PhD candidates. On the other would be the physics professor with a handful of certificates. If a graduate student really believed in physics, he would stride across the coals without hesitation.”


In 1982 a team of doctors and students from the medical faculty at Colombo University, Sri Lanka, took part in an extraordinary event designed to highlight the superiority of medical science to magic and superstition. Vasectomies were on offer on the spot, there were educational stalls for family planning and medical treatment for snake-bite and venereal disease, and doctors staging demonstrations of fire walking. They deliberately flouted religious taboos as the doctors ate pork and imbibed alcohol while walking on red-hot coals without harm. The intention was to show that such fire immunity is a scientific phenomenon and not related to spiritual faith.


***This is not the first time we’ve tackled firewalking at the Gimcrack. you can reread the previous post here

I don’t think these shoes would offer much protection

I must I must I must increase my bust

Back in 1977 Dr Richard Willard set about trying to increase the breast size of a number of women by mind power.


At the first session the women were taught how to relax their muscles. Subsequently, they were asked to do this and then to imagine that they had a wet, warm towel draped over their breasts. They were asked to imagine that the towel was making their breasts feel warm, or to imagine that a heat lamp was shining directly onto their breasts.

Once the women were satisfied that their breasts were getting warmer, they were asked to develop an awareness of a pulsation within their breast tissue. It was suggested to them that they should become conscious of their heartbeats and feel each new beat pushing blood into their breasts. They were told to practise this exercise every day at home.


At the end of the 12-week experiment, 85 per cent confirmed that a significant increase in their breast size had been achieved and 46 per cent reported that they had had to buy bigger bras. The average increase in breast circumference was 1.37 inches; in breast height, 0.67 inches; and in breast width, 1.01 inches. Most women reported that by the end of the experiment they could feel warm blood flowing into their breasts simply by thinking about them.

Do you remember when queenwilly and The King gave me a Mark Eden Bust Developer?

I don’t know if it’s any more effective than imagining warm wet towels enveloping my bathykolpian chest but it certainly worked for June Wilkinson


“They decided to make me the most publicized pin up and nude in the world so they hired Russ Meyer to take pictures of me.  Russ begged me saying I’ve got to have your breasts in my movies somewhere. He said I won’t show your face and I won’t give you a credit. So, for free and for fun one day I just did that one shot that shows my breasts where you can’t see my face. And, of course, breasts are like fingerprints…no two are alike. Everyone still knew they were my breasts immediately.”


affix stamp here

About a decade ago, social scientists conducted an experiment to test the limits of the US Postal Service.

“We sent a variety of unpackaged items to U.S. destinations, appropriately stamped for weight and size, as well as a few items packaged as noted. We sent items that loosely fit into the following general categories: valuable, sentimental, unwieldy, pointless, potentially suspicious, and disgusting. We discovered that although some items were never delivered, most of the objects of even highly unusual form did get delivered, as long as the items had a definitely ample value of stamps attached. The Postal Service appears to be amazingly tolerant of the foibles of its public.


$1 bill. Sealed in clear plastic, with label attached with address and postage. Days to delivery, 6.

$20 bill. Days to delivery, 4.

Football. Days to delivery, 6. Male postal carrier was talkative and asked recipient about the scores of various current games. Carrier noted that mail must be wrapped.


Rose. Postage and address were attached to a card that was tied to the stem. Delivery at doorstep, 3 days, beat up but the rose bud was still attached.

Molar tooth. Mailed in clear plastic box. Made a nice rattling sound. Repackaged in padded mailer by unknown individual; the postage and address had been transferred to the outside of the new packaging. A handwritten note in a woman�s writing inside read, “Please be advised that human remains may not be transported through the mail, but we assumed this to be of sentimental value, and made an exception in your case.” Days to delivery, 14.


Sound-emitting toy. A monkey-in-box toy that, upon shaking, shouted, “Let me out of here! Help! Let me out of here!” Addressed in big letters to LITTLE JOHNNIE. Sound toy was equipped with a new battery. Delivery at doorstep, 6 days.

Hammer. Card was strapped to hammer handle; extra-large amount of postage was attached. Never received.

Feather duster. The card with postage and address was attached by wire to the handle. Days to notice of delivery, 6. Clerk at station commented that mail must be wrapped.


Ski. A large amount of postage was affixed to a card that was attached to the ski. The ski was slipped into a bin of postage that was being loaded into a truck behind a station (a collaborating staff member created a verbal disturbance up the street to momentarily distract postal worker’s attention). Notice of postage due received, 11 days. Upon pickup at the station, the clerk and supervisor consulted a book of postage regulations together for 2 minutes and 40 seconds before deciding on additional postage fee to assess. Clerk asked if mailing specialist knew how this had been mailed; our recipient said she did not know. Clerk also noted that mail must be wrapped.

Never-opened small bottle of spring water. We observed the street corner box surreptitiously the following day upon mail collection. After puzzling briefly over this item, the postal carrier removed the mailing label and drank the contents of the bottle over the course of a few blocks as he worked his route.

Helium balloon. The balloon was attached to a weight. The address was written on the balloon with magic marker; no postage was affixed. Our operative argued strongly that he should be charged a negative postage and refunded the postal fees, because the transport airplane would actually be lighter as a result of our postal item. This line of reasoning merely received a laugh from the clerk. The balloon was refused; reasons given: transportation of helium, not wrapped.


Street sign. Conceivably a stolen item, or illegal possession. Notice of attempted delivery received, 9 days. Handed over at station with comment that mail must be wrapped.

Box of sand. Packaged in transparent plastic box to be visible to postal employees. Sent to give an impression of potentially hiding something. The plastic box had obviously been opened before delivery and then securely taped shut again. Delivery without comment at doorstep, 7 days.

Deer tibia. Our mailing specialist received many strange looks from both postal clerks and members of the public in line when he picked it up at the station, 9 days. The clerk put on rubber gloves before handling the bone, inquired if our researcher were a “cultist,” and commented that mail must be wrapped.

walking stick

Large wheel of cheese. The cheese was already extremely ripe (rancid) at the time of mailing. Mailed in cardboard box. The cheese had oiled its way through the bottom of the cardboard box by the time of pickup, 8 days. The box had been placed in a plastic bag.

Dead fish, old seaweed, etc. Mailed in cardboard box. Notice to pick up at station, 7 days. The postal supervisor warned our mailing specialist that he could be fined for mail service abuse, even as a recipient, should this happen again.


Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 7:50 am  Comments (39)  
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