Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Ghost and Ms. Kean

Probably many readers are already aware that the well-known UFO writer Leslie Kean has of late been dabbling in the supernatural, specifically claims of Life After Death. Kean has been co-author of all of those recent New York Times articles about Navy UFO investigations and the like. Her 2010 book  UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record claims to tell us about "‘Unexplained’ Cases" - but only if you ignore all explanations.  Her latest book, published in 2017, is Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence of an Afterlife.

Well, Kean seems to be following the old example of going farther and farther out on a limb. Her latest metaphysical infatuation seems to be a Scottish doctor who lived two hundred years ago, brought back to solid flesh and blood (at least temporarily) by the skills of one Stewart Alexander, a physical medium operating in the UK. Not a lot of public information is available about Mr. Alexander; he seems to be keeping a low profile, choosing his clientele carefully. In one account of one of Alexander's seances published in 2011, we read

Ray said a prayer and a lovely piece of music was played while Stewart went into trance. It was only a few minutes before we heard the first voice come through Stewart. It was White Feather, Stewart’s North American Indian guide. He is the first and last to speak in every séance. He greeted everyone and said, “…for a while we shall endeavor to remove the barrier between our two worlds so that once again, within this place of infinite love, we may converse together. We may once again be together as one united whole.” He told us that he spoke few words because there was so much to be done, and then he was gone.

Christopher was the next to come through. He is very likable and fun. He is responsible for relaxing the atmosphere and soon had everyone laughing. He told us he was there to entertain us as everything was being made ready.

Walter Stinson was the next to come through. Walter is a Canadian by birth and was the brother of the famous Boston physical medium from the 1920s and 30s known to the world as Margery. Stewart told us before the séance that Walter is largely responsible for creating the physical phenomena and is in control of experimentation and further development within the home circle. He is also quite a ladies’ man with a good sense of humor. He uses laughter to raise the energy in the room....

We heard a new sound and Ray explained that a voice box was forming between Stewart and Carol. We were told that Dr. Barnett usually uses a voice box, which is formed from ectoplasm and used to produce his audible voice. (Dr. Franklin Barnett is a 19th-century Scottish physician who worked with American trumpet medium George Valentine) Barnett’s voice finally became audible and he told us that he was speaking through a device that they have created. He told us that it takes a great deal of energy to accomplish this and that often, when he is finally able to vibrate our atmosphere with his thoughts, there is little energy left for the communication. 

That's a pretty impressive assembly. Where would any medium worth his salt be without a North American Indian guide to lead us to the Spirit World?

Recently Ms. Kean was interviewed by Michael Tymn, who writes about spiritualism. She told him that she has "absolutely no doubt, not one iota," that Alexanders' manifestations are genuine.

Stewart demonstrated his unusual abilities over many years with a variety of elaborate physical restraints, visible knee markers, and with his hands held on both sides. His mediumship was scrutinized by many astute investigators in multiple locations in different countries, always in spaces under the complete control of others. Hundreds of people have attended sittings with him over the decades. No major controversies or claims of fraud have been made concerning Stewart’s mediumship in the past forty years. That’s because there isn’t any.....
In May, 2019, I experienced a full form materialization in a seance with Stewart. His communicator Dr. Barnett, who normally speaks in independent voice, walked out of the cabinet, stood in front of me and touched my hair. He then placed both his large hands on top of my head, bouncing them up and down for about a minute and a half. (That’s a long time). These were solid “living” hands. He spoke in his recognizable voice. “I just wanted to let you know that I am a solid human being,” he said. He then returned to the cabinet and disappeared.

She noted how she had written in her Epilogue to Alexander's book An Extraordinary Journey:

The mind can barely grasp the fantastical nature of a human form emerging from ectoplasm, walking, talking, touching, and then receding back to from where he came.  And where is that? Dr. Barnett says he once lived on this earth. Is this materialization proof that we survive physical death? Or does it mean something else? I don’t think we can answer that question with any degree of certainty. But this experience will live with me forever.

The only problem with this is that other, perhaps less careful mediums have been detected in fraud using these very same methods, in some of the same locations. Our sort-of-sister site Bad Psychics reports, Gary Mannion Secretly recorded cheating in the seance room at The Banyan Retreat Spiritualist Centre.  He writes,

Nicolas Whitham from Banyan Retreat (Address: Lake House, Maidstone Road, Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom) has secretly recorded Gary Mannion faking spirit activity in the seance room!

Now Whitman created a website anonymously (which I will not link too) and posted a load of videos, I dig some digging and found out he was behind it, I am guessing he and Mannion had some kind of dispute so Nicolas decided to stitch Mannion up, and break the age old spiritualist code of exposing one of your own.

Basically you get long boring videos of Gary Mannion exiting his spirit cabinet, wondering around the room, touching people on the head, waving a spirit trumpet about ala Colin Fry, But he also gets naked which is rather disturbing!

Kean's spiritualist guru Stewart Alexander has also produced manifestations in that same seance room. In the illustration below, a sitter illustrates what is supposed to have happened in the dark (but not seen) in one of Stewart Alexander's seances.

"With help and advice from Dr. Barnett (in Spirit), the illustration [above] has been created to show what we would probably see if light was introduced during trumpet phenomena." 

Here is a really entertaining video of medium Warren Caylor performing in front of an audience, secretly recorded in Toronto, Canada, 2014. I love how he struggles and grunts his way through this!

So it does seem that Mr. Alexander has been producing his 'spirit effects' in the same manner as other mediums whose trickery has already been exposed. Unless Alexander can produce his miraculous manifestations in a way that genuinely precludes trickery, there is absolutely no reason to conclude that any of his "manifestations" are real. But every reason to conclude that Leslie Kean is very gullible. Keep that in mind the next time you read her claims about UFOs (or UAPs) in the New York Times.

And while the Amazing Randi has passed on, and his Million Dollar Psychic Challenge with him, we should not forget that our friends at the Center For Inquiry Investigations Group (CFIIG) in Los Angeles still offer a $250,000.00 award for proof of psychic powers under properly controlled conditions, which is not too shabby.  Any medium or other supposed psychic who genuinely had such powers could pass such a challenge (the specifics of the test are always negotiated very carefully beforehand by both sides), bringing not only fortune but fame, and more importantly, vindication. That person would be in a position to say to the world, "See? I really do have these powers!" And probably have the biggest new story of the century. But the "psychics" we keep hearing so much about scrupulously avoid such testing, because they know they are phonies, and don't want to get caught.

[Update January 19, 2021]: It turns out that Leslie Kean has also been interviewed twice by "Goop", Gwyneth Paltrow's goofy new-agey venture (which sella a "vagina candle" that recently exploded).