The Researches of Sir William Crookes (1870-1874)
Credits to "The History of Spiritualism"
Volume I, Chapter 11
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir William Crookes, who was born in 1832 and died in 1919, was pre-eminent in the world of science.
Crookes became interested in spiritualism in the late 1860s. In this he was possibly influenced by the death of his younger brother Philip in 1867 at age 21 from yellow fever. In 1867, influenced by Cromwell Fleetwood Varley, Crookes attended a séance to try to get in touch with his brother.
Between 1871 and 1874, Crookes studied the mediums Kate Fox, Florence Cook, and Daniel Dunglas Home. After his investigation he believed that the mediums could produce genuine paranormal phenomena and communicate with spirits
The research into the phenomena of Spiritualism by Sir William Crookes-or Professor Crookes, as he then was-during the years from 1870 to 1874 is one of the outstanding incidents in the history of the movement. It is notable on account of the high scientific standing of the inquirer, the stern and yet just spirit in which the inquiry was conducted, the extraordinary results, and the uncompromising declaration of faith which followed them. It has been a favourite device of the opponents of the movement to attribute some physical weakness or growing senility to each fresh witness to psychic truth, but none can deny that these researches were carried out by a man at the very zenith of his mental development, and that the famous career which followed was a sufficient proof of his intellectual stability. It is to be remarked that the result was to prove the integrity not only of the medium Florence Cook with whom the more sensational results were obtained, but also that of D. D. Home and of Miss Kate Fox, who were also severely tested.
Crookes confesses that he began his investigations into psychical phenomena believing that the whole matter might prove to be a trick. His scientific brethren held the same view, and were delighted at the course he had adopted. Profound satisfaction was expressed because the subject was to be investigated by a man so thoroughly qualified. They had little doubt that what were considered to be the sham pretensions of Spiritualism would now be exposed. Far from it
* THE INTERNATIONAL PSYCHIC GAZETTE, December, 1917, pp. 61-2.
I have never had any occasion to change my mind on the subject. I am perfectly satisfied with what I have said in earlier days. It is quite true that a connexion has been set up between this world and the next.
In reply to the question whether Spiritualism had not killed the old materialism of the scientists, he added:
I think it has. It has at least convinced the great majority of people, who know anything about the subject, of the existence of the next world.