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Steve Stubbs: ". . . I finally figured out how the thing could be done by trickery. . . " ??

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  • Daniel Caldwell
    Steve Stubbs: . . . I finally figured out how the thing could be done by trickery. . . ?? Steve, you wrote: As for the materialization, I finally figured
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2002
      Steve Stubbs: ". . . I finally figured out how the
      thing could be done by trickery. . . " ??

      Steve, you wrote:

      "As for the materialization, I finally figured out how
      the thing could be done by trickery, which is not to
      say that it was done by trickery, but that does away
      with its value as scientific evidence of
      materalization. I persist in the belief that it makes
      more sense to tackle the difficult problem of
      explaining these things than to take the easier way
      out and deny that the incidents ever happened."

      The above quoted from:

      Steve, I am assuming that the materialization that you
      are referring to in the above extract is the "cup and
      saucer" incident. And I am also assuming that when
      you write:

      "I finally figured out how the thing could be done by
      trickery. . . "

      you are referring to your "third possibility"

      If my assumptions are correct, then I am somewhat
      puzzled and baffled by several of your comments.

      In the text of your "third possibility" speculation


      you write:

      "So here we have a very hot day in India. It is
      proposed to take a shovel and dig into hard ground
      which is impacted with tree roots in the middle of a
      boiling hot day. I can guarantee you that Sinnett did
      not turn a hand in that operation, but entrusted the
      job to one of the Indian servants, while he laid back
      as usual."

      "The servant, who is not a confederate, then spends
      some considerable time trying to break through hard
      ground and tree roots. This is not very entertaining
      so Sinnett and the others get bored. At some point
      they are easily distracted by conversation. The
      digging goes on but nobody is watching what is

      Steve, is this serious speculation on your part?

      In the accounts by both Olcott and Sinnett, the
      eyewitness testimony contradicts your speculation.

      Olcott wrote:

      "She [Blavatsky] consented; and, looking about the
      ground here and there, finally called Major Henderson
      to bring a knife and dig in a spot she pointed to. He
      found the ground hard and full of small roots of a
      young cedar tree near by. These he cut through and
      pulled up to a depth of say 6 inches, when something
      white was seen in the black soil; it was dug out, and
      lo! a cup decorated in green and gold, exactly
      matching the others Mrs. Sinnett's servants had
      brought. Madame told the Major to dig more; he did so,
      and at last found a saucer to match the cup! They were
      imbedded in the ground like stones naturally there,
      and the cedar roots grew all around them like a net
      work, and one root as large as your little finger had
      to be cut away to get at the saucer."

      Quoted from:

      Steve, the above eyewitness testimony says that Major
      Henderson --- not some servant --- was the one who dug
      up the cup and saucer. And please note that it was
      done not with a shovel but with a knife.

      Turning again to the first hand accounts, Sinnett
      himself wrote:

      "Then she [Blavatsky] marked a spot on the ground, and
      called to one of the gentlemen of the party to bring a
      knife to dig with. The place chosen was the edge of a
      little slope covered with thick weeds and grass and
      shrubby undergrowth. The gentleman with the knife
      [Major Philip Henderson] tore up these in the first
      place with some difficulty, as the roots were tough
      closely interlaced. Cutting then into the matted roots
      and earth with the knife, and pulling away the debris
      with his hands, he came at last, on the edge of
      something white, which turned out, as it was
      completely excavated, to be the required cup. A
      corresponding saucer was also found after a little
      more digging. Both objects were in among the roots,
      which spread everywhere through the ground, so that it
      seemed as if the roots were growing round them."

      Quoted from:

      So we see in Sinnett's account that it was Henderson
      who dug up the cup and saucer using a knife.

      Your speculation ignores all of the first hand
      accounts of what was reported to have actually

      Plus you speculate that "we have a very hot day in
      India". But was October 3, 1880 "a boiling hot day"
      in Simla, India? Remember Simla's elevation is about
      7224 ft.

      See chart at:


      for Simla's "Maximum average temperature in
      Fahrenheit" in October and September. Doesn't appear
      to be "very hot" to me.

      Steve, if your speculation was meant to be taken
      seriously, then your conjecturing only shows the truth
      of Dr. Ray Hyman's statement:

      "it is ALWAYS possible to 'imagine' SOME scenario in
      which cheating no matter how implausible, COULD HAVE
      occurred." Caps added.

      I hate to quote Barzun and Graff again but what they
      say is totally applicable to your "third possibility"
      speculation. They wrote:

      "The rule of 'Give Evidence' is not be be violated. .
      . .No matter how possible or plausible the author's
      conjecture it cannot be accepted as truth if he has
      only HIS HUNCH [which is not evidence] to support it.
      Truth rests not on possibility or plausibility but on
      probability. Probability means the balance of chances
      that, GIVEN SUCH AND SUCH EVIDENCE, the event it
      records happened in a certain way; or, in other cases,
      that a supposed event did not in fact take place."
      Caps added.

      Steve, your speculation is contradicted by the
      testimonial evidence.

      You have simply used the "unpacking method" that I
      outlined in the post at

      Steve, in spite of what I write above, I do appreciate
      very much your detailed comments. This shows that you
      have spent time and energy thinking about the
      incident. Your comments have been quite helpful and I
      and others have no doubt learnt from them.

      Daniel H. Caldwell
      "...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at
      their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and
      hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."
      H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.

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