Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 September 2019
Chapter Four focuses on the experimental approaches of physical-psychical scientists to psychical phenomena. It focuses on four key examples from the 1870s-1890s: William Crookes’s investigations of ‘psychic force’ ; Crookes and Cromwell Varley’s electrical tests of mediumship; the SPR’s studies of Reichenbach’s ‘od’ ; and Oliver Lodge and Benjamin Davies’s ideas about and experimental tests of telekinesis. The chapter shows the extraordinary lengths to which physical-psychical scientists went to achieve greater control over, to measure and record psychical effects, and to turn domestic seances into sites of experimental physics. The limited effectiveness of this work was partly due to perceived flaws in experimental design, a lack of suitable experimental subjects (mediums), and because physical-psychical scientists believed their professional and intellectual goals were better served by focusing experimental research on purely physical topics.