The cross-correspondences

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A new 300-page book has just been published on this extended experiment on mediumistic communication, carried out by members of the SPR a century ago:
Trevor Hamilton, "Arthur Balfour's Ghosts: An Edwardian Elite and the Riddle of the Cross-Correspondence Automatic Writings"
http://books.imprint.co.uk/book/?gcoi=71157100349240

It has been reviewed by Donald West for the SPR, who describes it as the most detailed history of the cross-correspondences available, though West's final verdict on the experiment is negative:
"In this reviewer’s opinion, the Hamilton study points to the cross correspondences project having failed to generate any advance in knowledge about psi. Had the investigators been more proactive in guiding their ‘communicators’ to more precise tasks, the results might have been different. ... The heritage of the all the endeavours devoted to these cross correspondences is a collection of historic material open to endless and unproductive dispute."
https://www.spr.ac.uk/book-review/arthur...c-writings
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"a collection of historic material open to endless and unproductive dispute"

- that could be a fair description of the entire history of the world, past, present and future. But does that assessment actually mean anything or is it mere empty rhetoric?
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(2018-01-02, 02:22 PM)Typoz Wrote: "a collection of historic material open to endless and unproductive dispute"

- that could be a fair description of the entire history of the world, past, present and future. But does that assessment actually mean anything or is it mere empty rhetoric?

It sounds sophisticated. Bells and whistles have always been used to sell, supposedly by impressing the less intelligent.
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before..."
(2018-01-02, 02:22 PM)Typoz Wrote: - that could be a fair description of the entire history of the world, past, present and future. But does that assessment actually mean anything or is it mere empty rhetoric?

Based on what I've read elsewhere about the cross-correspondences, I think it's fair to say that evaluating their significance does depend largely on subjective interpretation, often of a very arcane kind. More so than any other parapsychology experiment I can think of.
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(2018-01-02, 03:50 PM)Chris Wrote: Based on what I've read elsewhere about the cross-correspondences, I think it's fair to say that evaluating their significance does depend largely on subjective interpretation, often of a very arcane kind. More so than any other parapsychology experiment I can think of.

Archie Roy wrote a very comprehensive study of them https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eager-Dead-Arch...1846241839.

I read the book (and others), which makes detailed references to them and to be honest found it all a bit hard to gauge. I can’t say it they struck me as a clear and shining source of survival evidence - that doesn’t mean they aren’t of course, but I felt like it was a lot of effort to read with not much to show for it at the end. That could of course be more a reflection of my own meagre intellect.
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(2018-01-02, 04:56 PM)Obiwan Wrote: Archie Roy wrote a very comprehensive study of them https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eager-Dead-Arch...1846241839.

I read the book (and others), which makes detailed references to them and to be honest found it all a bit hard to gauge. I can’t say it they struck me as a clear and shining source of survival evidence - that doesn’t mean they aren’t of course, but I felt like it was a lot of effort to read with not much to show for it at the end. That could of course be more a reflection of my own meagre intellect.

Yes, I think it is hard to gauge, partly because a huge amount of material was generated, so a fair number of correspondences would be expected to arise by chance.

I must admit I didn't get very far into Archie Roy's book, though I have read W. H. Salter's account of the cross-correspondences, in his 1961 book "Zoar", which is available online for those who are interested:
https://www.survivalafterdeath.info/libr...ntents.htm
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(2018-01-02, 05:42 PM)Chris Wrote: I must admit I didn't get very far into Archie Roy's book ...

Now I have to admit I've given up about halfway into Hamilton's book. The first half is an outline of the source material, and the second is an assessment of what it all meant. It's obviously a well written and very thorough examination of the evidence, but based on the part I read, Donald West's assessment of the material certainly rings true. Hamilton's conclusion is evidently that the scripts contain strong indications of some kind of psychical phenomenon, and he hopes that his work will stimulate efforts to make all the material available online and that funding will be forthcoming for a substantial multi-disciplinary team to investigate it. I really wonder whether that would be a productive use of resources.
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(2018-05-29, 10:36 PM)Chris Wrote: Now I have to admit I've given up about halfway into Hamilton's book. The first half is an outline of the source material, and the second is an assessment of what it all meant. It's obviously a well written and very thorough examination of the evidence, but based on the part I read, Donald West's assessment of the material certainly rings true. Hamilton's conclusion is evidently that the scripts contain strong indications of some kind of psychical phenomena, and he hopes that his work will stimulate efforts to make all the material available online and that funding will be forthcoming for a substantial multi-disciplinary team to investigate it. I really wonder whether that would be a productive use of resources.

I seem to remember struggling with Archie Roy's book too. The impression I got was that he considered the CCs to be the ultimate best evidence but I  found it hard to follow the trail and ended up confused as to who was dead or alive, who was using pseudonyms and who was collating the material.
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(2018-05-30, 05:11 AM)Kamarling Wrote: I seem to remember struggling with Archie Roy's book too. The impression I got was that he considered the CCs to be the ultimate best evidence but I  found it hard to follow the trail and ended up confused as to who was dead or alive, who was using pseudonyms and who was collating the material.

That is one criticism I would make of Hamilton's book too. He talks about people by name, giving instructions or information to the people producing the scripts, when what he means is that the people in question were dead, and this is the "pro-psi" interpretation of what was happening. Given that many of the alleged discarnate communicators had themselves been psychical researchers, and some of them died in the course of this decades-long experiment, that can be very confusing.
(2018-05-29, 10:36 PM)Chris Wrote: Hamilton's conclusion is evidently that the scripts contain strong indications of some kind of psychical phenomenon, and he hopes that his work will stimulate efforts to make all the material available online and that funding will be forthcoming for a substantial multi-disciplinary team to investigate it. I really wonder whether that would be a productive use of resources.

A big problem with modern-day reinvestigation of the scripts is that most people today don't have the same familiarity with the literary sources that influenced the scripts, especially the classical Latin and Greek sources. In fact part of the point was that some of the allusions were so obscure that they pointed towards specialised knowledge of classical literature that was rare even a century ago - knowledge that the alleged discarnate communicators had possessed. 

Perhaps there would be scope for computer-assisted analysis of the language of the scripts (as Hamilton suggests) and to search for and assess the statistical significance of purely verbal correspondences within the material. But detecting the subtle and complicated "jigsaw puzzles" would be very difficult - and after all, the idea is that it's the indirect and complicated correspondences that provide evidence for survival, where the simpler and more direct ones could be produced by telepathy.

The other aspect of the cross-correspondences that has been made public only relatively recently, is that supposedly they didn't just represent an attempt on the part of deceased psychical researchers to provide evidence of survival. They were also part of a plan to influence world history, which involved the birth of a messianic child - Henry Coombe Tennant - produced by an adulterous liaison between Gerald Balfour, one of the investigators, and Winifred Coombe Tennant, one of the automatists (disguised at the time as "Mrs Willett"). Of course, this puts a very different complexion on the whole affair, and gives a whole new meaning to the concept of investigator bias. 

Incidentally, the Wikipedia article on the cross-correspondences doesn't even mention this aspect of "the Plan" (nor do the articles on Winifred Coombe Tennant and Gerald Balfour). In this case, Wikipedia's reliance on the older sceptical literature (mostly written while the messianic aspect was still a secret) has robbed it of a powerful debunking argument. Whatever one thinks of the cross-correspondences, Henry Coombe Tennant didn't turn out to be a messiah. 

(Checking the long article on the cross-correspondences in the psi encyclopaedia, I can't see any reference to Henry Coombe Tennant there either. Given that the article was written by Hamilton only last year, I find that incomprehensible.)
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