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THE NEW YORK TIMES Jan. 7, 1925 Page 15, Column 1

Members of Scientific American Committee Say He Gave No Proof.
Ask Why the Magician, If He Detected Medium in Fraud, Did Not Expose Her at Séance.
Margery supposedly producing ectoplasmMembers of The Scientific American’s Committee on Psychic Phenomena who were criticized recently by Harry Houdini, magician, for the manner in which the tests of “Margery,” a medium, were conducted, were defended yesterday by other committeemen. “Margery” is the wife of Dr. L.R.G. Crandon of Boston.

The following letter was received by the times:

Jan. 2, 1925.

To the Editor of The New York Times:

The attention of the undersigned has been called to statements in the new york times of Dec. 20, purporting to have been made by Mr. Houdini, intimating that Messrs. Carrington and Bird have been guilty of gross conduct in the experiments with “Margery” (“trickery which they might indulge in, countenance or resort to”), and directly charging the latter with complicity in fraud by the medium (“was ‘sufficiently deluded’ to add to the phenomena ‘with little effects at proper times’ ”).

It is only fair to say that no proof of the culpable conduct so described, on the part of the named gentlemen, has come to our knowledge directly or through Mr. Houdini. He has indeed made general assertions, but no intelligible specifications, much less proved them in a manner which would be admissible in a court of justice.


J. Malcolm Bird, who, with Dr. Hereward Carrington, was a target of Houdini’s criticism, made this statement:

“Houdini went to Boston obsessed by the fact that the other members of the committee had sat some fifty times without finding fraud; and by the idea that he would find it in two sittings, showing them up as blunderers.

“He found none in the séance room. Two signed statements exist, carrying his name and testifying to phenomena under conditions of perfect control of all sources of fraud. When he claims to have observed fraud, he attempts to go behind these statements. In his recent Boston engagement he was asked from the floor why, if there were fraud in these sittings, he did not expose it at the time, in the séance room. This question he ignored. In point of face there is no answer to it.

“Houdini claims that Margery’s head was under the table at certain moments when my hand was on her shoulder or in her lap in such a way as to enable me to contradict him. Mr. Munn had a hand free, just as Houdini did, and he had it under the table at times when the table was moving; but he found nothing suspicious there. Houdini claims to duplicate from the stage Margery’s performances. In point of fact, the things he does and the apparatus he uses are so entirely different from what one sees in Margery’s séances that he was challenged on this point by Eric J. Dingwall, British magician, from the floor of the Boston Symphony Hall. He had no other answer than personal abuse of Dingwall. Margery offered to sit in red light; Houdini refused, insisting upon darkness. Why?

“At two sittings Houdini was charged by the ‘spirit voice’ with attempting fraud against the medium. The evidence is against him and he presents no satisfactory defense beyond a mere denial.”

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