Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Enfield Poltergeist Investigation Committee Report

A few decades ago, the Society for Psychical Research set up the Enfield Poltergeist Investigation Committee to reinvestigate the Enfield case and produce a report on their findings. Go here to watch a segment of a documentary that provides an overview of the subject. The report has been hard to access, and those who have read it have had restrictions placed on what they can say about it. A commenter in a recent thread asked me whether I've read it, and here's my response. I want to highlight it here, since the topic is significant and since the exchange is buried deep in the comments section of a thread and could easily be missed otherwise.


  1. Thanks Jason. I made enquiries with the SPR a number of years ago and was told that EPIC hadn't been digitized and that it could only be read at the SPR's library in Kensington. I am not aware of how lengthy the report is and if it might be uploaded to the SPR's online library or even to the Psi Encyclopedia.

    It is mystifying as to why it has been hard to access and why restrictions should have been imposed. Are you able to say whether it is because of the risk of legal repercussions? I do recall Playfair coming across as being unhappy about EPIC, saying that it was an odd situation for the investigators to themselves be investigated. As with the Anita Gregory thesis situation, it would be regrettable if skeptics were able to make capital out of controversy surrounding EPIC.

    1. Regarding the issue of digitizing material, we need to keep in mind that the SPR is addressing an enormous range of subjects, has an enormous amount of material in its archives, and is asked, expected, and hoped to do an enormous amount of work. But it doesn't get much funding or other support for carrying out that work. The public is highly apathetic and contemptuous toward the sort of work the SPR does. It gets some support, but vastly less than it ought to.

      Given the nature of the Enfield case, there are a lot of legal, ethical, relational, and other concerns to sort through in a lot of contexts. Melvyn Willin has a chapter on the EPIC report in his book on Enfield, and he gets into some of the issues there. Some of the material submitted to the committee was confidential. That's one of the factors involved. I'd expect different people within the SPR to have different concerns. But it's easy to see some people being concerned about issues of the types I referred to above (legal, ethical, and relational) when so many of the individuals involved in the original events are still alive. And given the limited resources of the SPR, it's easy to see how putting off something like releasing the EPIC report to the public would be appealing. You can avoid a lot of potential problems that way.

      The digitizing work done in recent years is an encouraging step in the right direction, and we should be grateful to the SPR for that. It opens up some new possibilities, but it takes time (and other resources) to sort through those. We'll see what develops.