Deception by trickery: psi investigators Osis and Haraldsson
Posted by robertpriddy on March 24, 2013
A well-researched paper entitled ‘Deception by subjects of psi research’ points out that psi researchers are overwhelmingly untrained in the many illusions and stage magic techniques, which in practice means that they are as easily confused or duped as the average member of the public. The book by Professor Erlendur Haraldsson, not being based on any scientific investigation but only on observation and collective hearsay, falls into the category of unfruitful psi investigation, and Hansen’s paper refers to Hodgson who pointed out that “When scientists report their observations in professional journals, they imply that they have the technical competence to make the observations and the expertise to evaluate them. Failure to report the lack of such a background is deceptive to the reader.” (HODGSON, R. (1894). ‘Indian magic and the testimony of conjurers’. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 9, 354–366). Haraldsson maintained that there was no proof of fraud by Sai Baba, nor that his powers were a proven fact. However, his book was rather overwhelming in its presentation of positive, (yet unconfirmable) reports by devotees of countless and often wholly incredible miracles by Sai Baba. Haraldsson made few critical comments on these reports. He further defended SB against the claim of visible fraud when he was seen on a famous video to fumble a supposed materialization of a necklace. All this eventually led a majority of Sai Baba followers to believe that his manifestations were genuine. No comments were made by Osis or Haraldsson on patent untruths, vast exaggerations or other deceptions done by Sathya Sai Baba, which seems suspect considering that he was a major deceiver of people.
Hansen continued: In the case of Sai Baba, it can be noted that Christopher 1979, pp. 114-116) described a number of events suggesting trickery.” (see CHRISTOPHER, M. Search for the Soul. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.) Haraldsson and Osis were only spectators of the supposed ‘materializations’, even though they had briefly visited a few magicians, and the book ‘Miracles are My Visiting Cards’ consisted very largely in reproduction of anecdotal evidence gathered by Haraldsson among Sai devotees, though including a few who had left Sai Baba’s fold. Hansen again: “The knowledge and background of witnesses must be considered. Some people will be more reliable observers than others, and this is especially true when attempting to detect trickery. For instance, most experienced magicians have watched thousands of simulations of paranormal events. Further, they have spent years studying such methods. Hodgson (1894)” It is of note that neither Osis nor Haraldsson referred to nor sought the assistance of some of India’s magicians who had investigated Sai Baba, not least son of P. C. Sorcar – the most famous ‘father of Indian magic’. P. C- Sorcar junior, who had even copied manifestations of vibuthi etc. in front of Sai Baba, whereupon he was ejected from the ashram! (see Sai Baba: Miracle Man or Petty Magician)
Or also http://www.india-today.com/itoday/20001204/cover3.shtml
’Deception by subjects of psi research’ (source materials)