(1) Those where some prearranged action is accomplished, personal contact being maintained between the operator and the sensitive.
(2) Similar performances where there is no contact whatever.
(3) Where a name, number, object, or card is guessed or perceived and expressed by speech or writing without any perceptible means of obtaining intelligence by the senses or through any of the ordinary channels of communication.
(4) Where the same ideas have occurred or the same impressions have been conveyed at the same moment to the minds of two or more persons widely separated from each other.
The first and second of these classes are simply examples of the "willing game" carried on under more strict conditions, but they are not counted as of special value on account of the possibility of information being conveyed when contact is permitted, and by means of slight signals, mere movements of the eye, finger, or lip, which might quickly be seized upon and interpreted by the sensitive, even when there was no actual contact. The third and fourth class, however, seem to exclude these and all other ordinary or recognizable means of communication.
The following are examples of the third class, namely, where some object, number, name, or card has been guessed or perceived without the aid of the senses, and without any of the ordinary means of communication between the operator and the subject.
The first experiments here reported were made in the family of a clergyman, by himself, together with his five daughters, ranging from ten to seventeen years of age, all thoroughly healthy persons, and without any peculiar nervous development. The daughters and sometimes, also, a young maidservant, were the sensitives, and the clergyman, when alone with his family, acted as agent. The test experiments made in this family were conducted by two competent and well-qualified observers, members of the society, and no member of the family was permitted to know the word, name, or object selected, except that the child chosen to act as sensitive was told to what class the object belonged; for instance, whether it was a number, card, or name of some person or place.
The child was then sent out of the room and kept under observation while the test object was agreed upon, and was then recalled by one of the experimenters; and while giving her answers she "stood near the door with downcast eyes," and often with her back to the company. The experiments were conducted in perfect silence excepting the child's answer and the "right" or "wrong" of the agent.
It has been charged that these children, later, were caught signalling during the experiments. This is true by their own confession, but it is also true that there was no signalling during the earlier experiments, also that the signalling when used did not improve the results, and furthermore that after they began signalling the effort to keep the mind consciously active and acute during their trials injured the passive condition necessary for success, and eventually destroyed their sensitiveness and thought-reading power altogether.
Besides, most of the tests were made when only the one child was in the room, and, as will be noticed, many of the tests were of such a nature that signalling would be out of the question, especially with their little experience and clumsy code.
The following results were obtained, the name of the object agreed upon being given in italics: -
A white-handled penknife. Was named and color given on the first trial. A box of almonds.
Named correctly. A three-penny piece. Failed. A box of chocolate. A button box. A penknife, hidden. Failed to state where it was.
Trial with cards, to be named: -
Two of clubs. Right. Seven of diamonds. Right. Four of spades. Failed. Four of hearts. Right. King of hearts. Right. Two of diamonds. Right. Ace of hearts. Right. Nine of spades. Right. Five of diamonds. Four of diamonds (wrong); then four of hearts, (wrong); then five of diamonds, which was right on the third trial. Two of spades. Right. Eight of diamonds. Wrong. Ace of diamonds. Wrong. Three of hearts. Right. Four of clubs. Wrong. Ace of spades. Wrong.
The following results were obtained with fictitious names: -
William Stubbs. Right. Eliza Holmes. Eliza H. Isaac Harding. Right. Sophia Shaw. Right. Hester Willis. Cassandra - then Hester Wilson. John Jones. Right. Timothy Taylor. Tom, then Timothy Taylor. Esther Ogle. Right. Arthur Higgins. Right. Alfred Henderson. Right. Amy Frogmore. Amy Freemore, then Amy Frogmore. Albert Snelgrove. Albert Singrore, then Albert Grover.
On another occasion the following result was obtained with cards, Mary, the eldest daughter, being the percipient: In thirty-one successive trials the first only was an entire failure, six of spades being given in answer for the eight of spades. Of the remaining thirty consecutive trials, in seventeen the card was correctly named on the first attempt, nine on the second, and four on the third.
It should here be observed, that according to the calculus of probabilities, the chances that an ordinary guesser would be correct in his guess on the first trial is, in cards, of course, one in fifty-one, but in these trials, numbering 382 in all, and extending over six days, the average was one in three, and second and third guesses being allowed the successes were more than one in two, almost two in three.
The chances against guessing the card correctly five times in succession are more than 1,000,000 to 1, and against this happening eight times in succession are more than 142,000,000 to 1, yet the former happened several times and the latter twice - once with cards and once with fictitious names, the chances against success in the latter case being almost incalculable.
The following experiments were also made among many others, Miss Maud Creery being the percipient: -