Powers - Introduction
The selection of unusual characters presented in
this section represent what are generally called ‘paranormal’,
‘supernatural’ powers and abilities. These ‘wild talents’ as Charles
Fort, pioneer collector of strange phenomena, called them, can take many forms.
Unfortunately, due to the anecdotal nature of the vast majority of the evidence, none of
these claimed abilities are recognized by science.
Powers of the mind are the
most predominant, and in the case of alleged
Nina Kulagina, include ESP (extrasensory
perception), telepathy, and the apparent ability to move objects using the
mind alone - psychokinesis (PK for short). Clairvoyant healing and prophecy were
among the abilities claimed for that strangely talented individual
Cayce. Some individuals in this section, like
(possession) and the mysterious
(extreme mind powers) allegedly buried alive for nine months, only seemed to acquire their unusual abilities
when entering into a deep trance state. Odd and often unique talents are
detailed in the cases of
J. Raoul Derosiers (dowsing, x-ray vision), and A.W.
(fire breathing). Mind control and Hypnotism are also
represented in the rather sinister, though unproven case of Candy Jones.
The characters included are spread over a fairly
wide time period, from Lurancy Vennum in 1870s
Illinois, right up
to the present with English psychic healer Matthew Manning. On the whole their
abilities changed their lives for a short time, but, with the exception of Matthew Manning and
dowser J Raoul Derosiers, did not bring them any great benefit in
the long run. Indeed, in the latter part of their lives both Lurancy Vennum and
Nina Kulagina hid from the publicity surrounding their talent.
The often unverifiable nature of
such powers has led to a plethora of charlatans and frauds. Psychic
abilities are very often down to downright fakery, whether by skilled magicians or even by ordinary people and
much of the public are too often willing to believe on too little evidence. It
is even possible that one day there may turn out to be rational or prosaic
explanations for most of the occurrences described in this section, though at
the moment I doubt it. Unfortunately, though the evidence for what took place in these cases is
abundant, it is almost always anecdotal, and so often impossible to prove.
That a large
amount of people can be hoaxed over an extended period of time is best evidenced
by the Mary Willcocks - Princess
Caraboo case, which though not involving paranormal
activity, should serve as a warning to all involved in the investigation of
person-centered unexplained phenomena.
Understandably, bearing in mind the number of
charlatans in the field, scientists have at best shown mild curiosity and some
annoyance at those professing psychic, healing or other strange powers. However,
both Manning and Kulagina were tested by men of science, though the standards of
these tests varied considerably and the
results were not published or are difficult to obtain. It would be fascinating to know what such
experiments would have made of Lurancy Vennum, the Indian fakir, or 18th
century remote viewer Bottineau.
interest in strange and unexplained powers is at a high, mainly due to the
profusion of show business magicians, TV shows dedicated to the paranormal, and
the internet, with its online psychics, healers and tarot card readers. Though
whether these people have anything in common with the mysterious characters
detailed in this chapter is questionable. At best, the strange and unique lives
of many of the characters in this
collection of human enigmas allow people a glimpse of something away from the
routine, something that can take you beyond the bounds of the everyday, and into
another, often fantastical world. As
such we should value them. The world needs those rare individuals that make us
feel that anything is possible for ourselves, if only we dare to imagine it.
2005 by Brian
Haughton. All Rights Reserved.