Friday, July 11, 2008

Upton Sinclair's Mental Radio

Mental Radio: Does it work, and how? (1930) was written by the American author Upton Sinclair. This book documents Sinclair's test of psychic abilities of Mary Craig Kimbrough, his second wife, while she was in a state of profound depression with a heightened interest in the occult. She attempted to duplicate 290 pictures which were drawn by her husband. Sinclair estimated Mary successfully duplicated 65 of them, with 155 "partial successes" and 70 failures. These experiments were not done in a controlled scientific environment.

The preface was written by Albert Einstein who praised Sinclair's observation and writing abilities as well as good faith and reliability. Einstein writes "The results of the telepathic experiments carefully and plainly set forth in this book stand surely beyond that which a nature investigator holds to be thinkable. On the other hand, it is out of the question in the case of so conscientious an observer and writer as Upton Sinclair that he is carrying on a conscious deception of the reading world; his good faith and dependability are not to be doubted." William McDougall was influenced by the book to establish the parapsychology department at Duke University.

Dr. Walter Prince of the Boston Society for Psychical Research conducted an independent analysis of the results in 1932. Based on his analysis it was his opinion that chance, educated guessing, or conscious or subconscious fraud were not sufficient in explaining the data. He asserted that telepathy had been demonstrated in Sinclair's data.

When Mrs. Sinclair's health improved she was tested with precautions by William McDougall. This time the results were less than satisfactory. At one occasion in a seance Upton Sinclair claimed a young psychic levitated a 34-pound table eight feet over Sinclair's head.

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