Wednesday, May 30, 2018

David Robertson On The Enfield Poltergeist

Shortly after Guy Playfair's death, I received an email from David Robertson. He's the last of the major initial investigators of the Enfield case who's still alive. He's also done other paranormal research with John Hasted and in other contexts. In addition to being the last of the major initial investigators of the Enfield case, he's the individual who was most involved in the efforts at filming the poltergeist and, to my knowledge, the last person alive who's seen some of the videos that weren't released to the public. His filming work has had a major role in how Enfield has been analyzed over the years. Anita Gregory cited some of his videos as evidence against the authenticity of the Enfield case, Gregory and Maurice Grosse carried on a public exchange about those videos for years, and The Conjuring 2, a popular movie loosely based on Enfield, makes reference to Robertson's videos. He performed scientific tests on Janet Hodgson that provided evidence of her paranormal abilities. He spent a lot of time in the Hodgsons' home and was largely responsible for arranging and documenting the events of December 15, 1977. You may have heard or seen him in Enfield documentaries over the years. For example, here's a video of him discussing the testing he did to demonstrate Janet's ability to bend metal paranormally. And here you can listen to him discussing the December 15 events.

Robertson has given me permission to post some of what he wrote in our email exchange. His comments are lengthy, they address a large number and variety of topics, and some of what he mentions about Enfield has, as far as I know, never been said publicly before. Much of it is highly significant.

Two independent sources have verified that the email address of the individual who contacted me is Robertson's. There's also good internal evidence, within the emails, that the individual is Robertson.

Since his comments are easier to understand if you know the general layout of the Hodgsons' house, here's a floor plan from the original edition of Playfair's book (This House Is Haunted [Briarcliff Manor, New York: Stein and Day, 1984]):

Click the floor plan for a larger image of it.

I'll occasionally interrupt Robertson's comments to offer some explanatory material, but the large majority of what follows will be what he wrote.

I'll start with his comments on how John Hasted influenced the Enfield case and how Robertson got involved. What Robertson says here not only sheds a lot of light on the reasoning of the initial Enfield investigators, but also tells us a lot about the controversial videos Robertson took. This fundamentally undermines the arguments of Anita Gregory and the many later Enfield skeptics who have cited her work. Notice what Robertson says about how the Hodgson girls knew they were being filmed all along. There was no hidden camera they were unaware of. Notice, too, that the playing around (tricks, joking, or whatever you want to call it) was an intentional part of the research process.

We [John Hasted and David Robertson] first learned about the Enfield case when Maurice asked for help with what was becoming a very difficult situation. He gave a detailed briefing with photos and tapes. Described the problems of small items being moved around, often striking people. Also the effect on the family. They were being thrown out of bed at night, having their hair pulled, kept awake. Their life and education were suffering the consequences.

Professor Hasted asked me to take a look, go there and talk to the family, try to quieten things down during the week. I ended up spending more of my time there than at the university. This didn't harm our work too much, as we could still attend regular sessions once a week doing metal bending.

It is also relevant that from then on, Maurice was occasionally briefing Prof. Hasted on what was going on at the house, sometimes coming to his office. I had experience operating recording equipment and visiting families, so I had a good idea of how he worked. I was thus doing my best to work with the Hodgson family, using Hasted’s general methods and following his ideas. But, at that time, I had limited experience with the different scientific approaches governing our interactions with them. I reported back to Hasted, generally verbally, usually once a week. I respected Maurice and Guy, as they were the official investigators and had a good deal of experience. I wouldn’t usually discuss policy issues with them, though. They made the major decisions for themselves. So, I would report back to Hasted, and he would discuss developments with the main investigators, usually with Maurice.

When I visited the Hodgsons' house, in my opinion, the investigators had significantly changed the nature of the spontaneous phenomena and become part of its focus. The nature of poltergeists is an expression of anger and frustration. Many things would happen behind our backs. Yet, at the very start, there were things moving in front of people, drawers being pulled out, furniture moving, toys flying. It seemed that the focus on direct observation and validation was being used [by the poltergeist] to frustrate the investigators.

When I was there, furniture was often thrown when an investigator turned to leave the room….

Over time, by changing the focus to play and using up energy, the poltergeist actually seemed to become less bothered about frustrating us….

It is important to understand the difficulties with this case, what we were doing to improve things. Also how I, and later Maurice, used Hasted's methods. The spontaneous effects directly in front of observers didn't happen often. There were a lot of night time disturbances and communication through knocks that had evolved into a poltergeist voice. The personality behind the voice was unsophisticated and swore a lot. This had an impact on the family, but we did our best to interact with it in a constructive way.

There were many different phenomena seen there, so it was natural to build on this to create a stimulating environment for the family, apply methods that had been successful in other areas of paranormal research, and generally divert emotions to areas they might find interesting.

At a discussion in the university, Maurice said he wanted to try spoon bending with the girls. This was initially fairly unsophisticated, handing out spoons and asking them to try to bend them with their mind while rubbing the stem. Most people of that era had seen this on television. There were initially no satisfactory results with the family, but they enjoyed trying. Maurice certainly didn’t have experience running any metal bending parties.

As we had access to a black and white reel to reel video recorder and camera at Birkbeck, I carried this to the house. Hasted thought it a good idea to use it and asked me to try some experiments. I remember making an extension lead for the camera and taking a few lights as well. The problem was that events usually happened when people weren't looking. Hasted had solved this in our work by using the right psychological approach. Maurice would visit Hasted occasionally to take advice, and it was on one of these occasions that we got permission to use the camera. It was one of the CV-2000 series machines, probably CV-2100 ACE. The machine had a camera that plugged into it, and output was to a video monitor. Sound had to be arranged separately, either a sound system or modulator unit to a tv. We did not have this at the house.

When using the camera at the house, we had to ask permission from Peggy. Guy wanted to use it to capture spontaneous events as Graham Morris had done. We didn’t have any way to fix the camera to the wall. We had a tripod and stood it up on short legs in a corner of the upstairs front bedroom….

We didn’t have any small hidden cameras we could set up. A formal attempt at [metal] bending had failed, and a camera might be expected to hinder things further….

With modern technology, it would be possible, early on, to cover the entire house with infrared cameras and record everything to disk. This is just about possible. Long wave infrared cameras could also be sited outside the house. One has to get the residents to forget about the cameras, though. Ideally, give no feedback at all about what they record. Hidden cameras installed secretly, even with notional consent, also pose ethical problems. There is also the problem that equipment recording these effects tends to malfunction. We experienced this with tape recorders and batteries quickly discharging….

At Birkbeck, we had worked on the problem of getting people to produce spontaneous events under better control, so I was familiar with these situations. I decided to try to record a few camera sessions under relaxed conditions.

What I did was set the camera up on top of a wardrobe or cupboard opposite the door in the back room [upstairs]. It could see most of the room, and I could monitor from outside. I knew that excitement favoured things happening, and I needed to take attention away from an observer watching. At this time, we wanted to see if it was at all possible to use the camera as validation [that paranormal events were occurring]. I presented the camera on top of the cupboard as a bending and levitation detector. Of course, they [Janet and Margaret Hodgson] kept saying they knew it was a camera we had there. They were sharp, and they did know and were right, but it was important to focus on other things, so I just smiled and repeated ‘levitation and bending detector’. I made a game asking the girls to try to levitate, also bend things, etc. I stressed that the equipment details didn't matter. It was a sensor there to help them learn and was going to be fun….

I gave Janet and Margaret spoons and a big metal bar that was beyond their strength to bend. They were asked to bend the spoons and try to also bend the bar, letting me know if they thought they had any results worth reporting. I gave feedback, encouraging them and saying that I was detecting bending, but not bending by psychokinesis. After this, we tried levitation. They were to get up in the air. They did their best to bounce around, jump, flap their arms, pretending they were wings, and do what I asked. I again gave similar feedback, so the responsibility for their actions was mine, and I wouldn’t have expected them to know exactly what was taking place or its context. The focus of this wasn't to be on proof unless something extraordinary happened. I was talking with Janet and Margaret through the closed door, with them answering in their normal voices. No poltergeist voice replies took place, and I wasn’t addressing it. This was certainly not anything of value as evidence, because no phenomena took place, and it wasn't a formal test. I wanted to see if I could use play to give them feedback, build confidence, and create an environment where paranormal effects might fit in. I also wanted to take attention off the fact that I had a camera in the room. At that stage, it was quite experimental and informal. Maurice knew I was trying to get bending, had asked me to try, and came up the stairs occasionally. When the video material was replayed, he did not have sound available.

So, I was familiar with working using Hasted’s methods, even if they weren’t taught as a formal system. I was trying to adapt them to the poltergeist situation. The methods do work, as is seen with the larger phenomena at the end of the case. I wasn’t particularly skilled at explaining what I was doing and why. I am not even sure that explaining would always be a good idea. There are many indicators that experienced researchers look for in parapsychology, and if they were all listed and explained, then they would cease to be of value as indicators. The downside of this is that people can misunderstand and inadvertent upset can result, also confusion. Janet is bright and probably regarded what I was doing as stupid, because it often didn’t fit with her usual expectations. I encouraged some play, because I wanted excitement and not boredom, but I was serious about it and not lighthearted. I also didn’t give much verbal feedback about the household paranormal events or games, unless something was right in front of me, but I would help tidy up and frustrate what might be taken for games if they were creating chaos. This could have been difficult to understand.

In a similar way, people may think the same of skilled psychiatrists who are trained to not get angry and also not take things personally, always being friendly with patients, to take the focus away from negative thoughts.

Maurice usually gave a commentary [on what was happening with the case]. But the problem with a poltergeist situation is that it is a mental state of anger and frustration, so the feedback becomes reversed. If you are happy with something, then the poltergeist generally isn’t….

Guy and Maurice left me to work on this [filming] project. I told them that I did not have any bending or levitation results, but they did take a look at the monitor screen the next day. There was no sound, but a lot of jumping around [by the Hodgson girls], waving their arms, and pictures of them bending spoons manually. As I recall, I was rather surprised when they said that this could be viewed as cheating. I felt embarrassed and wasn’t so sure if this could be taken as a valid explanation, but they were the main investigators, so I shrugged it off. I wanted to check with Professor Hasted, ask him if I was doing the right thing, and go over the video with audio. I had asked them to bend a spoon to get things going and also try the metal bar, which was so strong that attempts to force it were useless. I was also watching and giving constant feedback.

I am not sure if this tape was shown to Anita. I think she may have asked to see it, and it may have been used as an illustration of how active the children were. I don’t have any objection to proper investigators looking at things they have heard about. I certainly did not say that cheating was taking place on it. Audio wasn’t available, and the context, methodology, and interpretation were not discussed by me with her. I am sure about that and also that she never asked me. One expects investigators to know what they are doing and ask if they are unsure. They also should resolve these points through the proper channels, which usually happened with Guy and Maurice.

Later, after carrying the machine back to Birkbeck, I mentioned my concerns about the proper interpretation, what the investigators were suggesting. Professor Hasted watched the video with me, listening to the instructions, and it was quite clear that the girls were doing exactly what was being asked of them, creating the right type of environment for effects. In his office, he later explained to Maurice that the approach was correct and reasonable for a house with poltergeist disturbances taking place, building their confidence with play and excitement away from bed time, and taking the focus off validation. They were doing something active and getting the correct feedback about what was taking place, also learning to categorise and identify more unusual phenomena. He explained that in his work, he allowed children to gently rub spoons at the start, because they were familiar with the method and the effects usually transferred to his instrumented specimen, which they were not allowed to touch. Hasted’s sessions did not ever need to use or encourage any manual force, because most of his subjects were exceptional, and the equipment sensitive enough to give feedback for very small effects….

Video was a huge problem in that era, very bulky and expensive….Tapes were expensive, as were cameras and recorders, so were reused and not plentiful. If you can imagine the difficulty getting to see anything (when it [poltergeist activity] would almost always happen when you turn your back), multiply that by the difficulty of recording tape after tape with nothing on it, and with only one fixed camera. Then having no assistants to operate it. So, you understand why there was no video result worth mentioning.

I haven't developed a good methodology for video. One thing I learned was that hiding such bulky and difficult to operate technology doesn't work. If you use a hidden camera or try to say that it is something else, then you have to essentially come up with a way to get a performance, because the tape is usually less than an hour long. Pushing people to levitate results in them trying to jump. Fine, they are trying, but sceptics will say they are cheating.

Video is usually an art form, used to record people's feelings. I wasn't skilled in this area, nor were the other investigators. We didn't try to record family impressions of what was going on. It would have been nice to capture obviously paranormal events, but we never did manage this. As we were working for a long time with the girls at Enfield, we were, over the course of months, able to get them to produce the voice while being watched and recorded. We did record some voice coming from Janet where the camera shows detail of her mouth, which was not moving. Maurice kept these tapes. Stewart Lamont's video captured both the voice and some knocking. Setting up video was time-consuming, heavy work, carrying it on the train, and not something I could do while having to run other equipment and cope with disturbances….

With the work at Enfield, the only regular experimental series we had going was the [poltergeist] voice production. By the end of the case, it might have been possible to record larger effects, but Guy and Maurice thought that it was in the best interests of the family to stop….

I did not shoot any videos where the girls were unaware of there being a camera in the room. What I did do was deliberately focus on the interpretation of their activities and encourage them to enjoy what they were doing and become excited by the ideas of levitation and metal bending….

The context of such recordings is very important. Is it a formal test that they are participating in, with consequences for what they do, or an informal interaction or game? A one-off or a series. I wanted to catch real phenomena, but set up a somewhat artificial game environment to try to evoke it. They knew I could tell what was going on from the camera, as I would say as it went along that it was detecting them trying, but not getting paranormal results. So, it was a bit of fun for them, but unfortunately not anything useful as evidence at that stage. It takes time and skill to get the right situation set up and working. Hasted explained some of this to me.

These methods are used in metal bending parties, creating a relaxed environment, building confidence that something will happen, then getting people to shout out and hold it up if there is a bend. They are even allowed to push the cutlery at first. As things progress, more happens without touch. To start our metal bending experiments with a new family, we used to let children hold and try to bend a spoon next to our sensors in the hope of the bending effects spilling over. Anita should have known about these methods, and how families work, but perhaps she didn't have enough practical experience. The academic circles did still seem to value scepticism as an approach in those days. That's one reason I didn't get involved with the SPR [Society for Psychical Research] professors much, not knowing how to cope with it. Guy and Maurice did this.

To describe it [Janet playing around on video] as "merrily cheating away" [as Anita Gregory described it] is not only misleading, but completely misses the context of what was happening. Anita didn't ask me about this context, what we were trying to achieve. There were random shots on the tape, and they were shown [to Anita] as a courtesy and illustration of how busy and chaotic things could be and used as an illustration of the difficulties getting real phenomena in a house with excitable children, children in this case being encouraged to play games and become excited, and for good reason. Excitement or strong emotion is a major determining factor in psi. Anita may have had her own line she wanted to push, for her own reasons. She was well respected, and none of us wanted to upset her. Of course, she was expected to be a professional with experience of children and working in disturbed psychological environments. We treated her as such, and I am rather disappointed at her reaction.

The problem was that she didn't spend enough time at the house and, as with other people, wanted everything to happen immediately on her own terms. I think this interpretation could be said to reflect the academic environment of the times. If you aren't going to spend time investigating and understanding a case, then it is very easy to use your reputation to play on this academic environment and portray everything as examples of cheating. I am speculating that Anita may have been part of this environment, decided to use it to enhance her reputation, and was not fully aware of how we were working.

We ran our experimental sessions at Birkbeck very carefully. We tried to create a warm and friendly atmosphere, allow children to bend spoons in the way they were familiar with. Then, if we got results, we would get them to focus more on the no-touch metal sensor and run under various conditions, time and again, making changes as necessary to study the physics, promote genuine phenomena, and educate the subjects about what we were trying to do, where possible. We would also try to make an interesting session for them, with discussion of their hobbies, etc. Validation properly comes as a byproduct of the research, not as the primary focus. If there isn't any genuine phenomena, then of course there won't be any research findings, and the subject is quickly dropped. Our concern was with the science and physics intrinsic to the phenomena. Limiting the question to one of existence [of the paranormal] only both throws away the opportunity to study a lot of interesting effects and makes the experiment vulnerable to deliberate fraud, because there is no possibility of using a stream of new findings as validation….

Initially, the girls were asked to try to bend cutlery that they were holding, using their minds while being watched. They were allowed to hold the spoons and rub them. The reason people hold and rub them is to build up a mental connection with the object and a feeling that they are performing a meaningful action related to bending. In metal bending parties, some force is initially allowed, and if the metal softens, they are encouraged to shout out and get excited. This builds up emotion and increases success rates. We could have hung up spoons and not allowed touch at the start, but we didn't, because one has to build up to this in a gradual way. Phenomena are evoked in stages. This was the problem at Enfield. We couldn't get immediate large effects in a controlled way, so we had to work on a longer-term strategy, building a comfortable and fun environment, then changing the focus and validation methods….

The girls were asked to try their best to do various tasks, using whatever they felt might work. This is similar to allowing children to hold a spoon and bend it while rubbing the stem. We aren't interested in the spoon, but want the effects to spill over onto the no-touch instrumented specimen. The same is often done with moving mobiles by pk [psychokinesis]. Subjects initially work with background air currents present and later add and reduce the size of an enclosure, add masks over the mouth, etc.

We knew they [the Hodgson girls] knew there was a camera present, but we called it a bending detector and presented feedback in terms of it detecting normal forces, but no paranormal effects (e.g., flying through the air, but no levitation). This created an environment set up to stimulate and educate them, so that they would become more excited at certain results that we were looking for, and build up excitement through their play activity. The later results with levitation and teleportation actually validate the approach. The girls were able to move on to producing paranormal effects with an experimenter outside the room encouraging them, the same format applying, but without detectors giving feedback, unless you assign this role to the other sister in the room or the people across the street [who saw Janet levitating on December 15, 1977]….

The ongoing problem at the house was disturbances taking place well into the night and the girls missing school the next day. Hasted asked me to concentrate on using up their energy, trying to do exciting things, so they would sleep later. I did exactly as he asked. Another key difference at that later stage was that I was talking to the poltergeist voice and getting replies from it, because poltergeist phenomena, including the voice, would use up energy. The girls' task was to report to me what was happening. So, in a sense the key thing was interacting with the spirit, not getting the girls to try to do their own things themselves, and the way they used energy didn't matter to me. It just happened, as is often the case, that if you cease to focus on getting well-controlled results as the primary objective, then they often come along anyway….

Guy warned me about this video work and that it would get misrepresented.

I asked him to comment on Anita Gregory's involvement in the case more broadly:

The problem is I wasn't aware of this debate with Anita or what was said. They [Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair] shielded me from it, you could say. But, then again, I didn't really discuss the theory of what I was doing with them. One of the problems of that time was that we were rather more concerned with the problems in the house. Overloaded, one could say….

I was definitely present at least once when Anita came to the house for a rocking table experiment she had planned. This was one early evening….

For Anita’s experiment, she arrived and did talk with us at the start to tell us what she planned. She must have spoken to Guy and Maurice before her visit to coordinate it with them. There were certainly plenty of stories going around about what was happening at the house. She seemed to be aware of the difficulties of the case, but I do remember she did not ask me for details about any past events that I had seen, and she did not ask about our strategies or discuss hers. She brought along a rocking table with paper and pen. She then set up her table and formally addressed the girls, verbally explaining the function of the swinging drawing board with paper and pen and tried to get the girls interested, but didn't demonstrate it working. I think this may have been a crude strategy to try to frustrate them and the poltergeist. I certainly wanted to see it working, but it didn’t do anything, and I don’t think there was much interaction with the poltergeist. She was polite, seemed to make an effort to talk to the girls, but was not good at naturally engaging them. She was a bit academic and dry. She wouldn't let the girls play with the table at all, nor did they ask. There was not any build-up through different activities, no group work moving of the table, or anything that would demonstrate she knew how to obtain results in any experimental situation through a planned sequence or created narrative. I don't remember anything much happening at all. She just kept watching the device for an hour or two, so no one could touch it without her seeing.

With these situations, the usual way to work is with existing effects, investigating them and putting them to new use. Knocks and voice are obvious examples. It isn’t impossible to get results with one subject working on a piece of equipment, but usually there has to be a way to start off with small effects and give feedback, so that they can become larger under the more controlled conditions. Another common method is to take the focus off the experiment at some point, by diverting attention to some other topic, perhaps asking questions of the subject or spirit, or stopping for breaks.

The rocking table seems rather like a ouija board, so it would seem logical to initially introduce some random human motions, then change the focus to the results while reducing contact with the apparatus. Anita did not attempt this, and, so far as I know, she did not try any more sessions.

She was polite and formal, but I think wasn't there long enough to know the case well. I don’t remember seeing her stay late for bedtime events, although I believe she did on one or two occasions….

The problem was that Anita may have been looking at the case in terms of black and white. Either it is out in the open as you want it to be or it is fake. She wasn't there long enough for me to know what her approach was to the different situations…We didn't have any discussion about our overall strategy, and I don’t think she ever tried to sleep in the room with the family overnight.

Anita may have misinterpreted the context of the video. There wasn't much to show her. Actually, I am a bit surprised that she would write anything for such a short and unproductive set of visits. It takes time to formulate a strategy for dealing with a case, and then patience is essential. The significant things won’t happen straight away. The attitude of the investigator does seem to have some effect on what happens, but equally the paranormal agency may not be one hundred percent perfect at hiding the paranormality of what is disturbing the family….

When I first met Hasted, we talked about his findings at length. On car journeys, we usually discussed theoretical issues that might be needed to explain some of the things we encountered, like the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, the surfaces of action, and what they might be (intersections with other spaces), local changes to quantum constants, information processing structures that might resolve problems with temporal loops in general relativity, also the lack of any mental structures in present day physical models of reality (Bohm had ideas on this). This curiosity, mutual trust, and respect was integral to normal interactions.

So, we had a deep intellectual affinity. I never felt this with Anita. She was very closed to intellectual discussion, which was odd, as she obviously had academic ability. Difficulty articulating things might indicate a lack of mental tools for properly dealing with problems. There could be other worries or stresses. I just want to note that I didn't experience this connection with her.

I asked him whether the tricks played by the girls were of a high enough quality to support a fraud hypothesis as an explanation of the entire Enfield case:

The idea that it was all fraud is total fantasy and wishful thinking. They were young, playful girls from a poor home. They didn't use highly-skilled magic tricks and would have been all too happy to show us such tricks if they could do them….

Invoking a normal explanation [for the entire Enfield case] isn't reasonably possible. One would have to have a pre-built basement with trap doors, servomechanisms in hidden ducts. Yes, many events, like furniture going over, could be faked on a film set, although they would probably use computer graphics these days. But in real life, a case like this can't be faked.

What happened to the Enfield videos Robertson was involved with? He writes:

We then concentrated more on using the poltergeist voice, bringing it into well-lit conditions. Some recordings of Janet and the voice were made. I think Maurice kept these videos….

I certainly didn't ever have any tapes of evidential value worth keeping….

I do remember filming with Maurice. He would have had the tape [of the poltergeist voice being analyzed by a speech therapist] or it could be with Hasted’s boxes from Birkbeck. The college did take a van load to Cornwall for him. I think this [video] would have been kept. Perhaps the SPR has it?...

I never kept any videos when I left Birkbeck, and I don't currently possess any and don't know their locations. Hasted was dealing with evidential issues, and although videos were around, I didn't feel they were particularly valuable or have any inclination to collect them. Working with phenomena was routine for us. I wasn't aware of Anita causing problems and didn't expect it of her. The strength of this scientific work is in the methods that can be used to repeat it and the data collected over many sessions. For metal bending, we knew these methods, and other groups around the world were doing similar work at that time. For Enfield, we had reached a certain stage where all the valuable videos of voice were with the investigators or Hasted, and the main investigators didn't wish to continue developing training methods.…All the recording gear used on the case belonged to the physics department, and I left it all in its proper place at Birkbeck, including tapes. I also left our metal bending chart recorders and amplifiers, as Sadiq wanted them to stay with the department, although they were bought with an SPR grant, and I told him so.

If anybody comes across any of the videos of the girls playing around, like the videos Anita Gregory objected to, what should be done with the videos?

…there should be a caption at the start to the effect that the girls were aware that they were being recorded on camera and instructed that they were to enjoy themselves and free to do whatever they liked, and that they were to follow instructions from outside. This may not have been recorded on tape, or it might be clear from the audio track. It wasn't being recorded to be kept, unless something extraordinary happened, and I didn't at the outset intend to make a fully balanced video with clear definition of what I was doing, suitable for public release. However, I am sure they knew what the camera looked like, that it was a camera, and also that they clearly told me they knew it was a camera, because I remember them pointing out the lens.

Does he regret how the video situation was handled?

What I regret is that they [the Hodgson girls] weren't able to articulate later that I was doing an experiment that was leading them to perform actions that were programming an association between command, anticipated perceptual response, and intention - that could become generalised when the conditions were right for pk. As they didn't fully know what was going on and couldn't challenge people's cheating hypothesis, it put them in a rather awkward position. What we learned about Anita, although it is interesting, simply wasn't worth the stress on the girls and investigators. At this point, it is difficult to be sure if Hasted reviewed the tape with Anita. If so, then she deliberately misrepresented it. It was recorded more for his benefit. I perhaps should have just watched on the monitor [rather than recording anything on tape]….In the case of this video [seen by Gregory], it certainly seems to have been very useful in bringing out initial prejudices.

Concerning researchers who didn't experience much or anything paranormal at the Hodgsons' house:

So, there was ample opportunity for anyone serious to spend time at the house. We would have welcomed more help….Most people have other things to do and not enough patience. But to really know what is going on, you have to invest the time. So, that's why I have never really taken part in the debates. If people don't want to do the work themselves, then they should listen more to those who have….

I do remember one evening where outsiders came to the house, probably as a result of publicity. The first few were openly invited in to help. Then more came, and they started letting others in until there were maybe 15 or 20 people wandering around, most completely unknown to the family. That was the only time we had to actually prevent people coming in to help. Earlier on, before I joined in, the photographer from the Mirror [Graham Morris] spent a good few evenings there. He did invest the time, to his credit….

I did have the impression that the SPR and some of the people there had a rather strong focus on scepticism and were more concerned with if genuine effects exist at all, in their academic circle. Our focus was more on the physical mechanisms, the environmental conditions needed to produce results, and validation through detailed technical study of those results.

Regarding some paranormal events he experienced (some of which, as far as I know, haven't been discussed publicly before):

I remember soap powder from the cupboard being thrown over the floor. Once, as I left the front room for the kitchen, the wooden unit of shelves and storage cupboard, on my left, was thrown over. Janet was well behind and sitting at the time, so she didn’t physically touch it….

As an example, later in the case I had knocking from the bedboard right next to me when Janet was on the other side of the room and no one else on that floor of the house….They [the knocks] came from the front room bedboard next to my head. They weren't insects or anything like that. They didn't come from somewhere else. They were loud knocks on the wood right next to me, as if you hit it with the back of your hand or a hard object. No one was there faking it. It was just creepy. There isn't any doubt about this. That's why it is a bit unnerving. It was quite apparent that it was genuine….

Things in the living room would move if one's back was turned. The girls were saying their legs were being pulled, and the slippers flying off. It is difficult to know how much is genuine and how much is play. I just started putting everything that moved into a heap in the middle of the floor. That way, I could watch it all. Soon there wasn't anything left to throw, and I was watching the pile with the girls on my left. Then something heavy hits me on the side of the head and falls to the floor with a thud. It was a big plate-sized ashtray from on top of a fish tank behind Janet. Quite heavy. No, I don't think she could have reached up behind her and thrown it without being seen. Quite apart from the problem of it causing injury, hitting me with such a weighty object, it would have been going much faster under normal throwing conditions….

I remember Maurice telling the voice on one occasion to put an object through the window. He meant that he wanted the object to paranormally pass through the glass or be teleported outside, so that we would have good evidence. His poor phrasing ended up being used against him, so that an object was used to smash through the glass window, and he had to apologise and get the window replaced….

I did see a few things during the course of calming things, usually pillows being thrown, and on some occasions they would come from Janet’s direction. But her hands were clearly visible at the top of the covers, where she couldn’t have thrown the things….

I also remember the voice wanting me to do a trip with the girls outside to a green area (I think it mentioned a graveyard), promising to levitate Janet in front of me if I did. Obviously, the girls were tired with never having any excursions. The voice often seemed to be a collective unconsciousness manifestation….I asked Maurice if it wouldn't be possible to take the family out, as he was almost a member of it [the family] by now. He answered this quite carefully, that he wanted to keep some distance from the family, as his role was investigator. If he got too close, then he would no longer be seen as being objective.

The girls also mentioned that sometimes when they went out to the shops, things would happen spontaneously, as with items coming out of boxes and onto the floor. They said they would laugh quietly at this sort of thing. Seeing a constant stream of paranormal events does change your worldview and increase the frequency of these events….

I did on a couple of occasions sleep on the front bedroom floor while the family were in their beds as usual. I think Guy suggested it to quieten things down and give them a chance of a rest. This went well, although the floor was a bit hard. I was woken in the morning by having my hair pulled sharply. It then happened again when I tried to close my eyes again and get some more rest. I remember Janet was awake and talking from her bed. The hair pulling was surprisingly painful and quite difficult to find just the right angle to reproduce it. This wasn't trickery….

Towards the end of the case, the main problem was that the family were being kept awake much of the night and the girls having to take days off school. This was becoming a serious problem with the school and social services, so the investigators spoke to Hasted about it. He suggested making an effort to use up more of their energy earlier in the day. I remember Hasted asking me to do this, and I did so. When the girls were off school, I suggested to the family that the girls could help us by taking part in an experiment with the poltergeist up in the front bedroom. They were willing to help, and I set about trying to get the poltergeist voice speaking and active. By that time, I could usually get the voice to speak and reply to me, but to get more interesting things to happen, to use up their energy, I had to follow its instructions and wait outside the front bedroom, just at the top of the stairs. It is worth noting that, in this case, there was a high probability of successfully using energy, so worth bargaining with the voice.

As I left the room, the door would slam shut and the bed crash up against it rather violently, me outside and Janet or both girls inside. This wasn’t a problem, as I was well clear of the door, and the girls were on the other side of the room. I started asking the voice to do various things, like vanish small objects. I had to think of tasks to use up the energy. It wasn’t particularly difficult to get it to oblige.

I initially started with asking the poltergeist to make small objects vanish. The girls could then inform me of progress. This seemed to work, and small objects would disappear with both girls witnessing what was happening and reporting back to me. I would then enter the room and help them search for the things. This became predictable. The objects were found under the beds, the sheets, pillows, etc. They were often able to correctly suggest places. It would sometimes take a while to find the thing….

So, we started using larger things, such as a book. This went on for a while, and the girls described the objects being lifted up and vanishing. It was difficult to assess what was going on from behind a closed door, but it seemed to be using their energy. What is similar with other work is that the object was found elsewhere in the room, in the case of a boy metal bender [not involved in the Enfield case] it went to a flower pot behind me. This also fits what the girls reported. I was outside the room talking to the voice and asking it to make objects vanish. The things were usually set down on the floor. When the girls said that it had gone, having usually levitated and seen spinning round before vanishing, I would then enter the room and try to find it. The girls could usually suggest places to look. This was a good game for them, but difficult for me, as the objects usually turned up under the bed, carpet, or mattress, taking time to find.

I then asked the voice if it could lift the girls up. It said it could and to get out of the room. I did so, and the door slammed shut behind me. Then the bed immediately crashed up against it again. The girls described a series of levitations. As I remember, we tried each in turn, then both together. This went on over a few days, and the purpose was to use their energy. I also suggested doing somersaults. They were willing to try, and screams came as it happened. This went on a bit, and they became quite excited. There was screaming, and I asked if it could do anything else.

It said that it could and that they could go through the wall. We had discussed this sort of thing in the past, as objects sometimes moved from one room to another. This time, the girls began screaming loudly and then there was silence. I was just wondering if I should try to push the door open when the screams resumed. They described a trip next door, or at least to another room, but they said there were no windows, only a light there and white walls. We stopped this after a while. I didn’t want to overdo things on any one day, but it did seem to use up energy as intended.

On the scientific testing of Janet's paranormal abilities:

We did use a laryngograph to record Janet while the voice was talking. This consists of an electrode held each side of the larynx by elastic. It has an ac voltage applied across the electrodes. The resulting current is measured. The signal is at a couple of megahertz and records changes in internal capacitance. The demodulated output is then recorded on one channel of audio. It also has two screen or guard rings around the electrodes to prevent surface skin conduction, so each is flat, circular in shape and fairly large. This worked well, and I was present when Maurice recorded a long tape, interacting with the voice and sometimes with Janet. The voice coming from her vicinity.

The laryngograph was from a university department on the Euston Road (I think City University), and the tape went back to them for analysis and report. I collected the report, and, strangely, the man doing it asked me if there was anyone else in the room producing the voice while it was being recorded. I said no, just the investigators and Janet. The report said it was the false vocal folds being used to produce the sound, not the usual vocal cords of the larynx. That may be so, but on a few occasions, Maurice had sticky tape over her mouth, and we still heard a clearly enunciated voice….

The metal bending experiment with Janet was of a much higher standard than the weight measurement work. The reason is that we were quite confident in our equipment, using it regularly, and had established procedures.

Once the equipment has been set up, we always allow it to run for a half hour on slow paper speed. This tells us if there are any potential electromagnetic disturbances in the area. The same takes place at the end of a session if possible.

The sensor is tested manually to check relative sensitivities of strain sensors to normal bending. If signal ratios during parts of a session reflect those from manual bending, then this implies that actual strains are taking place.

For the instrumented metal bending with Janet, a brittle eutectic bar was used. It was cast and had a trapezoid cross section with narrower top. There were milled slots parallel to the length and cut into it parallel to the top and bottom faces, but not exactly centrally placed. The gauges were inside the metal with well-shielded covering and a single ground point. For manual bending, the channels had different sensitivity by a factor of two or three. The eutectic bar was hung by its shielded cables from a metal laboratory stand and clamp. The control channel was kept on its most sensitive range throughout.

Janet had previously tried to bend spoons using her mind without success and was by now relaxed and familiar with attempting it. The equipment I had set up was quite sensitive to small bending forces.

The session starts gradually with small signals, and these build up in size with time and encouragement. Audio feedback is from the sound of the pens moving in the recorder. If chart recorder sensitivity is reduced, then bending signals usually get larger to compensate. This was the case with Janet, and her larger signals caused the metal bar to swing slightly. She produced back and forth bending strain signals at about three to eight wobbles a second. This was unusual, but done without touch while I was observing the sensor. She could also follow instructions to produce a specified number of signals in a group or signals that are long or short in duration. Signals stop if the subject stops work. Large signals in no-touch bending can produce permanent no-touch bends or break the specimen. Near the end of the session, the bar was visibly bent, then broke when I switched to one of the least sensitive ranges.

The metal was observed by me directly, so I know it happened without touch. Janet's hand was nearby, maybe six inches from the sensor. She had been told to try to bend the metal, but must not touch it, and I would tell her if anything happened. At first, there were very small effects and I told her when I observed them and encouraged her, making sure that her hand wasn't too close. She was facing the sensor and the recorder. I was to the side, monitoring the equipment and her hands. We usually ran sessions like this, giving feedback and encouragement until the effects are big enough so that they can hear the pens moving. In time, the signals got larger and took the form of bursts of back and forth bending strain. By that point, the recording pens were making enough noise so that I could directly watch Janet's hand and hear the results as I asked her to produce a burst, two bursts, and so forth. The only change I made during the session was to switch to less sensitive ranges of the chart recorder. This reduces the audio feedback from the noise of the pens moving and elicits larger bending effects from the subject. Towards the end of the session, we were on fairly insensitive recorder settings, metal was sometimes swinging a bit, and it did also visibly bend without any touch, so we have a macroscopic confirmation.

This tells us that Janet is most likely a strong psychic. I suppose there could have been another agency at work, but this could also be said of all our work. With metal bending, there is usually a mixture of softening of the metal and a force. As the bar was brittle and also bent during the session, there must have been considerable softening of the metal.

We tried the experiment again on one other occasion, but she didn't get any results. This is a bit surprising. She may have lost interest, but it is also consistent with the unpredictable nature of poltergeist effects.

My recommendation for future work would be to follow the same method. First, concentrate on feedback to build up to fairly big effects. Then, work on trying to get specified numbers of bursts of action, as we did. It might also be a good idea to have equipment to measure bursts of charge or conduction paths using phase sensitive detectors. Take account that the results could be a one-off and difficult to repeat. It would have helped to have had a replacement sensor. I could have then used this for a second session after a short break. If things are going well, then it would be possible to bring in other observers at the end, because these sessions can sometimes be disrupted by new people arriving….

The lab work on weight changes [done on Janet in the early 1980s] I remember, as I built most of the system. It used a load cell and had further digital gaussian averaging to cope with sudden movements at high sensitivity. The load cell used an internal strain gauge driving a professional display, which was based on a voltage controlled oscillator. This I interfaced to a microcomputer to do gaussian averaging, so all-in-all it was quite good at making accurate short-term integrals to remove noise from heartbeat, respiration, etc….

The weight experiment was towards the end of Hasted's time at Birkbeck. Maurice kept in touch with the [Hodgson] family, and I think Hasted contacted him. The levitation work was an interest of Koestler and taken over by Hasted, but, unfortunately, Hasted wanted to retire and so didn't carry on with this. I did try making some equipment to measure weight using piezoelectric discs with an integration circuit. These perform well, in fact, and are less susceptible to problems with sideways forces. It is a major undertaking to do a series of experiments, though….

We only had access to Janet as a subject for a short time, as a one-off visit, and we had done relatively few single subject runs. This is why it [the weight experiment done on Janet] was reported as a preliminary piece of work. There was an unresolved issue about how further experimental work would affect the family. I don’t know the details of the discussions about withdrawing from the case once Janet got more control over events. I think Maurice also had to do a long car journey to collect Janet, and it wasn’t practical to transport the heavy equipment to her house. Professor Hasted also had little spare time, as he was getting ready for retirement.

The weight measurement equipment we had was ideal for static measurements, but, as I said above, I would want to run a long series of tests to become familiar with what conditions would produce weight changes and know how often they happened.

I say this to emphasise that the work was at a preliminary stage. To reiterate, many sessions are required to really get anywhere with mechanisms. The bending work with Janet was of a very high quality, because we often used the equipment, and I personally observed macroscopic no-touch bending along with the instrumented data.

A famous ventriloquist, Ray Alan, visited the Hodgson home in 1978. You can read a lot about his visit by going to my article here and running a Ctrl F search for the relevant portion of the article. Margaret Hodgson allegedly confessed to Alan that the poltergeist voice had been faked. Robertson told me:

I was there when the ventriloquist Ray Alan dropped in. I had seen him on television, so I knew who he was. It was odd that he didn't interact with us much at all. All he really wanted to do was speak to Janet and Margaret, in turn, in private. I remember that, and it struck me as very strange. He was not interested in knowing what we had seen or experienced, how the girls had produced a normal-sounding voice with their mouths sealed. He didn’t want anyone else there to independently witness what was going on with his interviews. He did manage to upset and traumatise Margaret, so much so that we couldn’t talk further with her that evening. I felt very bad about the distress they had caused to the family that evening. They didn’t deserve that, and it was completely disrespectful in a house they were visiting. Margaret was not strong in being able to stand up to bullying. Personally, I wouldn't value his [Alan's] statements much. He obviously has skill at manipulating people and ventriloquism, but wasn't, in my opinion, a serious investigator or interested in the family or phenomena. I do remember that evening completely destroyed the respect I previously had for Ray Alan, confession or no confession….

On the night of Ray Alan's visit, I recall being surprised when someone said that there had been a confession, that the girls were cheating and I might as well go home. I think I waited until the Mirror representatives left, then it was clear that it was an awkward situation that they needed time to discuss and find out what had happened. Also, Maurice and Guy had to have time to talk to the family. I think I most likely left for a few days, as I don't recall Maurice's discussion [with the family] the next day. I think Maurice or Guy probably phoned to let me know, possibly via Prof Hasted. Anyway, it became clear that my help was still needed, as it [the situation with Margaret's alleged confession] hadn't stopped the disturbances.

I asked him about characteristics of the house that researchers could use to test hypotheses. For some examples of what I have in mind, watch the video here. Graham Morris comments on how people should have been able to have heard Janet walking around or jumping from her bed if she'd done so on an occasion when she allegedly was thrown across a room by the poltergeist. Similarly, Playfair mentions in his book that one of the windows was "very stiff and impossible to open without attracting the attention of the others in the room" (This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], 131). Here's what Robertson said when I asked him if he could think of characteristics of the house similar to what Morris and Playfair brought up:

The house upstairs front window on the left as viewed from inside was very stiff, difficult to open, and made a noise when I tried to open it. Floors did creak a bit, but I didn’t monitor people this way.

I asked him about the events of December 15, 1977. Playfair's book refers to how Janet was given a red pen to draw a line on the ceiling while levitating, and he refers to how Peggy Nottingham saw a red line on the ceiling after one of the occasions when Janet claimed to have levitated. Playfair also comments that the place where the line was drawn was too high to reach without putting a bed underneath it. The people outside the room at the time should have heard the bed being moved, which they didn't. I asked Robertson if he also saw the red line. And I asked if he agreed with me that the area of the ceiling in question couldn't be reached even if a bed had been placed under it. (I've never been in the house. I'm basing my conclusion on videos I've seen of the room.) He replied:

I can't comment on this, because of a lack of specific memory. I was somewhat surprised that people outside saw what was going on and that it matched what Janet was describing. The pen idea was probably something I suggested. I used a few of those felt pens in notebooks. Also, we asked other levitators to take polaroid photos of themselves while up in the air, write on the ceiling, etc. You see, from my point of view, levitation doesn't really tell you much unless it is part of a long series of tests looking at the specifics of the changes to space in that region. We know that some have a box type of structure round them, others use a spherical particle field. We already know that people levitate. There are numerous accounts. We don't know how matter is affected in these regions or how it is connected to teleportation. We also don't have a good way to reproduce it reliably, or if we can, we don't have a way to get physicists working on it.

Playfair's book refers to three people outside the house who saw Janet levitating on December 15. Some of Hazel Short's comments seem to imply that a fourth individual, Margaret Hodgson, also saw the levitation from outside the house. Listen to Short's comments here until 29:31. In a 1995 television program about Enfield, there's a segment about the December 15 events. In that segment, Margaret is shown referring to how she saw Janet levitating in a way that's reminiscent of what Short describes. Margaret moves her hand down as she's talking, as if she's referring to Janet moving up and down, which is how Short referred to her moving as well. Margaret refers to Janet levitating "in front of the windows". That's almost the same phrase Short used in a documentary about a decade later (Short used the singular "window" instead of "windows"), and using the window(s) as a frame of reference makes more sense from outside the house than inside. Unfortunately, the program gets some details wrong, such as showing Margaret in the room with Janet in their reenactment of the event. But since Short implied that Margaret saw the December 15 levitation from outside the house, and the 1995 television program seems to corroborate that conclusion (despite the garbling involved in the reenactment), it's likely that Margaret was a fourth witness of the event. I asked Robertson if he knew of anybody else, aside from those four, who saw the levitation:

With the December 15, 1977 levitation of Janet, there were people outside on the other side of Green Street collecting their children [from the school that was there]. I suspect there were more than four, but some probably didn't want to be interviewed. Some were quite frightened. Maurice and Guy dealt with this as they had the audio recorders and collected statements. All I can say is that if you could identify the school and class, you might get others.

Here are some other significant comments he made about the December 15 events:

It [what Janet said to Robertson as she was levitating] sounded very interesting from her description, but she did scream on occasions when having to fend herself off from the windows.

The experiments got interrupted by a knock at the front door and call from below. People outside had seen a cushion on the roof and Janet floating round the room. I think Guy arrived about this time and started taking statements. I told him that Janet had been describing what was going on inside the room, with me outside the bedroom door. I also briefly outlined some of the earlier work that week aimed at using up the girls’ energy during the day, as it now seemed more important. He naturally wanted to focus on the events of December 15th. In retrospect, it might have been better to keep more detailed notes, but it wasn’t intended to be evidential, so I didn’t….

Hasted’s ideas about letting the girls have fun seemed to have worked, and taking the focus away from validation in the early stages had again paid off later on.

So, this turn of events required a rethink. Guy and Maurice had, of course, got a number of good witness statements [from people who witnessed the December 15 events] and were pleased with this. We also had a partial solution to channeling the energy of the girls and giving them a chance to rest at night. It was also becoming increasingly obvious that we could now be seen as having a role in maintaining some of the phenomena at the house. While this might have been partly true earlier, it was now more so, as the increased phenomena in daytime was having a significant impact on people walking past the house. Some of them were becoming seriously frightened, trembling when they tried to talk about what they had seen.

I think this forced Guy and Maurice to decide where they stood as investigators. Were they there to help the family or do research? Guy and Maurice had their statements, but hadn’t been directly involved with the afternoon work [on December 15]. So, now it was argued, the best course of action for the family would be for all the investigators to stop going to the house and see if everything stopped. If the night time disturbances resumed, then we would use Hasted's ideas again in some form. I was surprised at this turn of events.

Various odds and ends about life with the Hodgsons and his fellow investigators:

The back bedroom had a bed in it and two dressers with mirrors. I slept there quite often. The family kept together in the front room. If the girls tried to sleep in the back bedroom, they got flung out of bed, and the furniture overturned, sometimes things flung down the stairs. This is why they needed more furniture in the end. Things were thrown around with a lot of force at times. Next to that room, at the top of the stairs, was a small box room with furniture stacked up. It wasn't used for sleeping in….

It was kind of him [Guy Playfair] to buy the meal that evening. Free meals were good in those days. Maybe a few times he brought some back for the family, too. I'm trying to remember what I usually ate. Probably canned fish and a loaf. Later on, Peggy would sometimes make egg sandwiches, and I got them eggs a few times. None of us had much money, and one time the [poltergeist] voice started calling me a scrounger! Wasn't true, though.

Before I close this post, I want to address some negative comments Janet made about Robertson several years ago. You can read the comments here, on page 194 of a book by Will Storr, in which Janet was interviewed a little over a decade ago. Given how Robertson's videos have been abused so much over the years to argue that Janet and her sister faked the whole Enfield case, it's understandable that Janet would be upset over the situation. Maybe that's a big part of her negative reaction to Robertson. And maybe Robertson pressed her too far at times in the process of trying to get paranormal results from her. I have no way of knowing.

But there's always more than one group affected by a paranormal investigation. There needs to be concern over the welfare of the individual or family at the center of something like a poltergeist. At the same time, other people who will be influenced by the case, including other individuals and families who go through similar experiences, need to be considered. A responsible investigator won't just consider the immediate results of his work, but also the more distant implications. Enfield is an unusually valuable case, and much of the value it has is due to the work of David Robertson, including his persistence in running tests and providing documentation. From what I know of the Enfield case, including my own interactions with Robertson, it's evident that he and his fellow investigators were concerned about the welfare of the Hodgson family. They were also concerned about other people who would be affected by their work, and that concern about other people is also commendable.

Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair are dead now. That leaves David Robertson as the last of the major initial investigators who's still alive. It falls on him to finish their work and make a lot of decisions that will determine what Enfield's legacy will be for future generations. I hope we'll be hearing a lot more from him in the years to come.


  1. Thanks for all your excellent and thorough work on the Enfield case, Jason. I have been aware of it for many years after watching the channel 4 documentary. Apart from that I hadn’t looked into it in any depth. Seeing some of your posts reignited my interest in it recently. I’ve just finished reading through all your work on it. Like, I said, you’ve done a fantastic job and I look forward to anything else you might add in future. I came to it in a sceptical manner, but open to it being genuine. I didn’t quite realise the quantity and quality of much of the evidence and along with the inadequacies of the explanations by sceptics, I have come to view it as very probably genuine.

    I had a couple of questions too:

    I don’t recall you writing much about Bill Wilkins (apologies if you did and I missed it), and some of the specific claims the voice made. And also his son confirming those claims years later. What would your response be to Mary Rose Barrington’s claim that such information could have easily been attained by Janet? Interested to know your thoughts on that one.

    Also, are there any other paranormal cases you’ve looked into, aside from Enfield, that you think are sufficiently evidenced?



    1. Thanks, Joshua!

      The voice claimed to be many people, Bill Wilkins being just one of them. It often made false claims and contradicted itself, which gives us even more reason to not trust it. There's a reference in Playfair's book to how Wilkins was "a nice old man, by all accounts" (This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], 259), which doesn't line up well with how the poltergeist voice often behaved. The comments about the circumstances surrounding Wilkins' death are significant in some ways. Whatever source produced the voice had some familiarity with the word "hemorrhage", was able to speak such a long sentence, etc. That occurred within a few days of when the voice originated. That's problematic for some hypotheses about the voice. But I think Janet could have gotten information about Wilkins' death by normal means without much difficulty. Playfair and Grosse didn't think the Hodgsons knew the information about Wilkins' death when the voice made the comments in question (ibid., 102-3, 259), but a neighbor of the Hodgsons talked to them about the details of Wilkins' death within several months of the comments made by the poltergeist voice (ibid., 103). Janet could have picked up the information from that neighbor or from some other source before the voice made the comments in question. So, I think the comments have some evidential value, but much less than what advocates of the voice's authenticity often suggest.

      Regarding other paranormal cases, I consider many of them authentic. I haven't studied any other case as much as I've studied Enfield, but I've addressed some of them more briefly: Eusapia Palladino, Leonora Piper, Ted Serios, near-death experiences, etc. Here's a good video presentation by Stephen Braude that's focused on the Serios case, but covers some others as well.

  2. Thanks for the response Jason.

    Interesting thoughts on Bill Wilkins. I remember first hearing about that part of the voice phenomena and when I heard it was revealed by his son that those comments were true years later, it did give me chills! But yes I would agree that not too much should rest on that aspect. It’s certainly possible Janet could have got the information by someone in the neighbourhood, but it seems strange that she would have remembered such details, especially if she wasn’t expecting to need them further down the line (unless she was deliberately planning to collect information to use as part of a hoax). And perhaps one would expect the Nottinghams to have remembered talking about those details in the girl’s presence.

    Thanks for those extra references about other cases. I’m going to look into those.