Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leslie Flint spirit communication recordings upgraded


Leslie Flint (1911-1994) was a direct voice medium. Direct voice is the strangest, rarest, and most controversial form of mediumship. I know of no practitioner of it today, although it is likely that they exist but prefer to avoid publicity and work privately in a circle of friends.

Most mediums, who convey messages from spirits who have passed through death to the Other Side, speak -- either consciously or in a trance -- in their own voice, sometimes altered by the personality of the spirit. (This posting will avoid the tedium of qualifying every statement with words like "alleged," "claimed," etc.; your blogger is fully aware that mediumship arouses no end of skepticism and objections, which will be touched on briefly later.)

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In contrast, a direct voice medium such as Flint enables the spirit to speak in his or her own voice, which seems to issue from somewhere outside the medium. That sounds impossible. We cannot say it is possible, only that it appears to happen. I hesitate to mention a suggested explanation, that a medium such as Flint creates a secondary voice box out of ectoplasm, because many fraudulent extrusions of ectoplasm have been exposed over the years. The word understandably has become a joke, but until a better explanation comes along we have to admit that ectoplasm may not always be a trick.

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Leslie Flint, photo from the cover of his autobiography

The spirits who were called up by Leslie Flint over many years were recorded. Here is a partial list of those who spoke in his presence, with links to the recordings. These come close to the Holy Grail of psychical research -- a "permanent paranormal object" that can be studied continually, as opposed to most paranormal phenomena that happen spontaneously in a particular time and place and are then unrecoverable, so that all that is left is personal testimony (sneeringly dismissed by the Materialist Scientific Establishment as "anecdotal").

There has still been one problem with the Flint recordings: the sound quality is godawful. He used a home tape recorder and what seems to have been a primitive microphone. As if that wasn't enough, the voices came from mid-air, which means that lots of ambient noise was also captured.

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Fascinated with the possibility of hearing the actual voices of spirits -- some of whom were famous during their Earth lives -- I have listened to a number of the recordings. Most have tried my patience. Not that the voices can't (in most cases) be heard and understood, but it's hard work making them out through the sonic grunge. Ever since the recordings first appeared on the Web many years ago, I wished that modern computer noise reduction techniques would be used to clean them up. I doubted it would happen in my lifetime, and possibly not ever.

But such a project apparently has started.

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The Leslie Flint Educational Trust now offers a few of the recordings in vastly improved audibility on its own YouTube channel. Some examples follow.

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Ellen Terry, image by the brilliant Victorian
photographer Julia Cameron

Ellen Terry (1847-1928) was the leading stage actress of her day, admired by almost all its leading artistic figures, even the sour George Bernard Shaw (with whom she carried on an extensive correspondence). Here is a brief recording of her spirit from the Flint tapes; here, a longer one.

I find these recordings convincing; aside from the elevation of the thoughts she expresses, the voice is what I would expect a leading actress of her time to sound like -- actors in the 19th and early 20th century were supposed to speak the "Queen's English," very posh. (I once saw a funny film clip of Laurence Olivier parodying the elocutionary style of stage dialogue he remembered from his youth.) You almost never hear an accent like this in England today, even in Oxford or Cambridge.

Arthur Conan Doyle devoted most of his last years to psychical research and wrote several books on the subject. Here he is in a Flint recording (if you're already familiar with his biography, you might want to skip the introduction):


Frédéric Chopin gives an eloquent description of his death and awakening in the afterlife:


The other recordings upgraded by the Leslie Flint Educational Trust can be accessed here.

Let us turn briefly to the skeptical objections to the authenticity of Leslie Flint's direct voice mediumship. A lot of them might as well be phrased, "The dead disappear, or they never return, therefore this carry-on is impossible, therefore it's phony." He produced his phenomena in the dark -- very common among mediums, which arouses much derision and has been used by fake mediums to hide their sins. Why spirits need darkness to appear has been the subject of elaborate discussion, and I don't fully understand the explanations given, but it is not prima facie evidence of fraud.

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According to the Wikipedia article about Flint:
The Society for Psychical Research investigated Flint and concluded that the voices heard at his séances were auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis. Another experiment conducted by Dr. Louis Young involved roping Flint to a chair and putting colored water to hold in his mouth during the séance. After the ceremony, the researchers found that the water that was stored in Flint’s mouth was only fractionally less, which implies that his throat did not open in an attempt to speak. Other studies conducted by The Society for Psychical Research as well as other researchers of Flint involved conducting séances with plaster-sealed lips, microphones wired to amplifiers placed over his larynx to magnify noises, and the fixation of an infrared telescope on Flint to focus on his every movement in the dark. Flint was also investigated by Professor William Bennett of Columbia University, who after extensive testing concluded that Flint was genuine. Despite these studies failing to disprove that Flint was producing the noises through his throat, it is believed that he may have produced voices from his stomach. He has also been accused of using prerecorded tapes to produce voices, as well as live accomplices providing a two-way voice channels.
Being able to hypnotize a tape recorder time after time is perhaps more bizarre than enabling spirits to speak in their own voices. So is the idea that Flint was a ventriloquist who could speak with his lips sealed and holding water in his mouth. If he produced the voices with his virtuoso stomach, then I can sing "Celeste Aida" by wiggling my ears.

It is theoretically possible that the speakers might have been living accomplices, though most of his sessions were attended by witnesses who probably would have sensed the presence of an extra person even in the dark. Besides, it would take an actress of Royal Shakespeare Company or National Theatre caliber to convincingly emulate the Ellen Terry we hear, and it's hard to imagine a reputable actress being willing to participate in any such dodgy enterprise.

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Some commenters I've read claim the voices all sound suspiciously alike, or like Leslie Flint. That is so wide of the mark that I can only assume they are from Americans, who are clueless about British accents -- reviewers on the American Netflix site gripe that British films should have subtitles.

Consider the recording of the spirit of John Brown, Queen Victoria's companion in her later years at her estate in Scotland. It's not one of the cleaned-up recordings, but it's fairly clear. That's Scottish speech if I ever heard it. (There has been much speculation about the reason for the close relationship between Victoria and Brown; based on the Flint tapes of them both, Brown was a medium and Victoria a secret spiritualist -- the monarch obviously could hardly make her belief public.)

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Or Thomas Jefferson.  This one, unfortunately, was recorded at too low a level, but if you boost the volume to the max or your computer is connected to an amplifier, you can make him out. To my ear, he talks in a combination of the speech of England and the lovely traditional Virginia drawl. I live in Virginia and recognize it. The hybrid accent is exactly what you would expect of a man born in the British colony of Virginia.

And hark to Jeremiah, who was killed serving in the army of Oliver Cromwell whose forces de-throned and eventually de-headed King Charles I. I've never heard an accent like this. We may be listening to the voice of a man of the 1640s, as if we traveled back in time.

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None of this means there can be no reasonable objections to the phenomena. Although I have little doubt that Flint was able to bring spirits into his environment, not all were necessarily the persons they claimed they were. Many childish spirits take great amusement in conning the living and impersonating famous deceased. I have read they can be quite convincing.

Like everything else in psychical research, the meaningful question is not whether we have strict proof. The verdict rests on a more commonsense consideration: what seems most likely based on the evidence, taken as a whole?

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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just read your blog. I have listened carefully to the tapes and I ma convinced they are sincere. I just find it amazing that after all the tests people of 'science' come up with the most implausible explanations.

deustace2010@hotmail.co.uk

Stogie said...

I am not convinced of Flint's authenticity. Most of the speakers talk of mundane generalities -- they seem to be talking merely to exhibit their speech patterns.

However, Chopin's descriptions of the afterlife, the bright light emerging and growing larger, the vibrant colors that extend beyond those sensed by man, all are consistent with descriptions from many near-death experiences, and thus seem real.

What I would need to hear to be convinced is specific, little know facts and minutiae from the speaker's life, facts that could be documented or at least seen to be plausible. Generalities don't do it for me.

eveshi said...

Those who deny Leslie flint or inasmuch challenge the veracity of the recordings do so from willful ignorance.

I met Leslie Flint for the first time in London England in 1978; we both went to an event The Physic Dinner and Dance which took place for many years and was an occasion for mediums and healers meet to relax and learn about each other.

The next time I sat with Leslie was in 1982. I was invited to sit with him in Paddington London in his home. His séance room looked like a small cinema, but comfortable, we did not sit in a circle but in a row of 5. On cinema benches we looked towards Leslie Flint. Lesley talked about mediumship; he was not in favor of mediums. He said that mediums today came from an assembly belt like in a factory. He said that they did not understand the meaning of mediumship.

After a few minutes Mickey, his cockney spirit guide came through. Leslie was fully awake, sitting snorting, like he had smoked too much and was clearing his throat. This irritated Mickey, and he asked him to shut up. We could hear their voices taking on top of each other, one voice overlapping the other – they were talking at the same time – telling each other off. I found this interesting to hear. Mickey more than once asked Leslie to be silent. This made sitters smile. It was like a normal conversation between friends.

Mickey was a funny young boy; sometimes he could be rather hostile, especially if the questions put to him were irrelevant to spiritualism or Spirit. If the questions put to him were about New Age he would flip out.

He also had a lot of sympathy for other people. He once told a man whom I know of, that Mickey was very sad for him because his wife, Sue, had passed away many years before but she had never come through to him. He had been sitting with Leslie for about ten years and he had never received a message from her, despite their having been married for many years.

Then Mickey said: “Funny we had some foreign speaking spirits coming through some time ago, but the sitters did not understand what they were saying. There is another foreigner here today” (meaning me, being Danish) and he asked me to listen to a tape that had been made previously. I thought the voice in the tape was speaking in an Eastern European language and was allowed to borrow the tape. The voices were very stressed and fearful. There was about three voices talking to each other; it was like listening to a conversation between them.

I took the tape to a friend of mine, Ruth, whose parents came from Poland. She told me that this was a conversation between three people who were going to the gas chambers during the Second World War. These lost spirits had found their way into the séance.

Some time later I was invited again, this time with my wife Simeon. Suddenly a voice came through, and speaking in Danish it said: “Marion jeg er glad for at du blev skilt” – it was my Father – he told me he had learned a little English, and would I like to hear it? He then repeated in very bad English: “eveshi I am glad you got divorced.”

Nobody in that room knew that I was married before, and had now married Simeon.

Nobody knew that my father could not speak or understand English. The English accent was very bad, but my father’s accent in Danish was perfect.

About 1998 (after Leslie Flint had died) I was invited to another séance with a different physical medium. Leslie Flint came through accompanied by Gordon Higginson. They came up to me and said: “Do you remember the Psychic Dinner and Dance we all went to”? Then they told me something that was done that evening that nobody else knew. They also described the evening dress I wore and told me its color. They were both very charming. Then they reminded me about the TV- and radio programs we had made together….

forests said...

Forums don't work, I will give you some advice. Listen to me, I have am a sceince student. You can't change peoples belief systems on the internet.

I admit I have done wrong for doing spiritualist debunking on the internet. I no longer research the subject. I did my last posts on the d.d home issue. The whole thing is fraud. Honestly theres no truth in it. I believe in the afterlife but spiritualism is a scam.

I am not claiming to be perfect. I admit I have trolled several paranormal forums last year insulting spiritualists. I debunked some of the mediums although I admit I can't make a dent in Leslie Flint. I beleive eveshi.

Now to ectoplasm. It's just cheesecloth and newspaper, or muslin all physical mediumship is silly all of us know this deep down. Know this; OK I can't shoot down the Leslie Flint ectoplasmic voice box. Know I cannot.

This doesn't mean the afterlife is not real. Or it might be. Physical mediumship is an embarresment to parapsychology or psychical research. If you are interested in the afterlife then look into some of the other ideas not anti-scientific nonsense. But Leslie Walter Flint, ok now, he is for real.

Comments?

Darryl Forests

Rick Darby said...

Eveshi,

I apologize for not responding to your comment when you sent it. At that point I was going through quite a bit of stress and I had to put all my effort into just keeping it on the road.

How interesting to hear from someone who knew Leslie Flint and had sittings with him! I imagine him as a very ordinary man who had an extraordinary talent for one thing. Who can say why he was chosen for his role?

Darryl Forests,

I think you're struggling with phenomena you can't understand and can't fit into your current world view. You'd like to wash your hands of the whole business but you have enough intellectual honesty to admit that some cases, like that of Leslie Flint, just can't be explained away.

The late 19th and early 20th century was the Golden Age of psychical research. It was socially and scientifically respectable, as it should be today. Naturally there was a certain amount of fraud and unconscious self-deception -- that's part of human nature. But if you look at the evidence as a whole, it is hard to doubt that under some conditions the door between this world and the astral plane opens and communication takes place.

Anyone who investigates this field ought to be reasonably skeptical. But some very intelligent people have looked into the phenomena of spiritualism and decided, sometimes against their own wishes, that it had a basis in hard fact.

I recommend The Spirits' Book and The Book on Mediums, by Allan Kardec, the founder of Spiritism (not Spiritualism). They involve extended conversations with spirits of a high degree. See if you then think all communication with spirits is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Rick Darby,

Is there any chance you can ignore/delete or at least not accept anymore comments from "eveshi" or "Darryl forests".

If you google search "eveshi" or "Darryl forests" you will see what has been going on. This person has been pretending to be these people on the internet and posting silly comments on various blogs in an attempt to blacklist their usernames. Both eveshi and the real Darryl (username forests) are believers in the paranormal.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Talk:Andrew_B._Chung/archive1#MU_pretending_to_be_Jon_Donnis.2C_Forests.2C_and_eveshi

If you read the above link, his impersonation of these people has been going on since September 2012.

Anonymous said...

Rick,

I'm not a big fan of Leslie Flint until I found out that he, like me, was gay.

Still I think that the so called voice box on his shoulder was Photoshopped, sorry, but there is no way that isn't papier mache or cheesecloths.

My 2 cents, great blog, thanks for it and your time.

Jon Donnis

Rick Darby said...

What on earth makes you say Leslie Flint was gay? I have never read or heard of such a claim. You gays want to believe that everybody was either gay or had tendencies in that direction.

To the best of my knowledge Leslie Flint did not use a "voice box." The voices simply emerged from the air.

Anonymous said...

Rick.

No offense but you haven't any idea what you are talking about.

Flint was as gay as I am. Read his book.

I did.

Then look at this from his book.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2d/Leslie_Flint_with_Ectoplasm.jpg

That's called a voice box and it is where Flint used vaudeville ventriloquism to fool people into thinking they were talking to dead.

Note the word 'dead' as in DEAD.

Jon Donnis, Psychic Medium

Anonymous said...

Rick,

Why did you delete my Comment?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2d/Leslie_Flint_with_Ectoplasm.jpg

See the voice box...or not?

Fake.

Flint wrote in his book that he was gay.

I read it.

you did not.

Jon Donnis

Rick Darby said...

I did not delete your comment. It appeared, naturally, here in the posting you were commenting on, not the most recent.

As for the voice box, ectoplasm, and his alleged gayness, I'll withhold comment until I can find out more, if I can.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the "tapes". Chopin does not sound authentic at all.
He was raised in Poland, never did learn French exceptionally well, and while he likely learned English, it is unlikely that he would have been as fluent as the speaker on the "tape". Also, there is no Polish accent, rather a bit of a French, even that is rather strained.

Jon Donnis said...

Anonymous, you are acting the foolish. Ectoplasm changes the sound of the voice being faked into the larynx box.

So you are right but wrong :)

Jon Donnis
RIP Eveshi Arouet my loving cat in spirit

Rick Darby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Leslie Flint is a real medium and not like today's mediums that are all fake. I believe in afterlife and I wished he was alive and he could put me in contact with my son. I have been reading in internet and afterlife since three years ago and half ago and enough about Leslie Flint and his tapes to totally believe that he is truthful medium. His tapes help me a lot. His tapes showed me that my son is alive and waiting for me. Today's mental mediums are all fraud and waiting to get your money. Even the best are fraud. We don't have mediums like Leslie Flint, Emily French (she was not charge anything for her readings) or medium Mirabelli. I respect Leslie Flint and I wish when my time comes and I go to afterlife I can thank him for his help.

Simon Van Hough said...

Hi Rick. I would like to believe that Leslie Flint was genuine. However what do you say about the following comments from a skeptic - Much of which I agree with. Also I noticed many of the voices sounded the same.

1) Every single one of the speakers on the audio files has an English accent. Even Bessie, the stereotypical cotton picker from Alabama. Her accent fluctuates from a lame attempt at an American south accent to British cockney to Scottish. Listen (it will come on automatically) to her recording and see if you don't agree.

2) Chopin speaks perfect English. He was Polish, and ostensibly only visited England a few times.

3)The speakers all have the same basic speech pattern, with little to no deviation between them. They all talk about the same stuff, about how wonderful it is on "their side." They all use the same terminology, no matter what time period or part of the world. Also, the English of 18th Century England is very different from the English of the 20th century, which is something that obviously has slipped Elizabeth Fry's mind.

thanks
Simon

Shaktivirya said...

These voices are a very strange phenomenon indeed! This extremely rare effect is so poorly understood by most skeptical researchers that all they can do is try to understand them in terms of their own limited paradigm of thinking such as (according to an article on "RationalWiki") "auditory hallucinations brought on by hypnosis." Being skeptical would be a natural reaction to something as rare and bizarre as ectoplasm which is not only terribly misunderstood, unscrupulous charlatans throughout the history of spiritualism may have completely destroyed all credibility regarding any past or present actual manifestation of ectoplasm.

It is a sad and unfortunate fact that the main limitation of ectoplasm is that it can only come from a medium's body and even worse, like undeveloped photo emulsion, it cannot be exposed to light, heat, or static electricity without it instantly snapping back into the body of the medium, often causing severe or sometimes fatal damage to the medium's body. That was how Hellen Duncan (falsely accused of "witchcraft") eventually died after her last seance was broken into by enforcement officers completely unaware of the extreme vulnerability of the medium. However, photos using a minimal amount of deep red light or infrared light can sometimes be taken, just as inside a photo developer's dark room, a little red light can sometimes be used to help see what one is doing.

It was not until I read Leslie Flint's humorous book, "Voices in the Dark" and scrutinized all 300 recordings that I started to suspect this effect had to be a real phenomenon. After listening to enough of the tapes, one is soon forced to realize that the conversations are genuine and nothing like anything acted out by "live accomplices for providing two-way voice channels" which would be the only other "rational" explanation. Such an elaborate magician's show or hoax would require hundreds of paid, psychically gifted actors in the very limited space, time, and early 1950s technology Leslie Flint would have available to produce such voices which were often described by witnesses as seeming to come out of thin air, move freely around the room, and often heard conversing at the exact same time Leslie Flint was speaking. Sometimes several voices were heard simultaneously. They often read the sitter's mind and seemed to know everything about the sitter only known to him or her self. If anything was faked, the logistics of pulling off such a "fake" would seem to be far more difficult, costly and challenging than an actual communication.

Shaktivirya said...

Those who wrote the "RationalWiki" article on Leslie Flint obviously were completely unaware of the physics of ectoplasm and the workings and limitations of the artificially created independent voice box or larynx constructed from ectoplasm by spirit chemists and scientists. Even though it may seem like a telephone used by spirits to communicate through, it is actually an ectoplasmic larynx or subtle vocal cord "clone" of Leslie Flint's vocal cords that can only be manipulated (by those in spirit) in pitch, tone, and to some extent, accent to try to match the original voice of the spirit communicator as close as possible.

Unfortunately, this artificially created larynx has other limitations too in that all spirit communicators can only use that same or similarly constructed organ of expression (which must be "cloned" by the spirit "chemists" from the medium's vocal cords) resulting in often similar sounding voices. If it seems that similar phrases and words are being used, it may be because the thoughts of the spirit communicators often channel through the subconscious (habitual) mind of the medium causing the voice box to sound off phrases not originally intended by the spirit, but only closely approximate to what the spirit was originally intending to say. However the variations in pitch, tone, personalities and accents are still considerable. Even some spirits speaking or sometimes singing in certain foreign and dead languages have come through.

The spirit communicator must concentrate on the box (looks to the communicator like a greenish mask) "like billy-o" to get his or her message of life eternal across to the sitters in the seance room. The medium and other intruding influences must completely get out of the way to allow for a clear channel. Success in communication is subject to all manner of complex conditions such as total darkness, the cooperative emotional harmony of every one of the sitters, the mental, physical and emotional health of the medium and others in the room, the amount of available subtle energy from the medium, others and the environment, the temperature, humidity and all other physical and psychic conditions in the atmosphere.

On another topic, I would like to express my deep dismay on the recent change to the original Leslie Flint Educational Trust website. I am deeply concerned about the sudden removal of over 300 paranormal voice recordings. It must have taken thousands of hours for Larry Taylor and other volunteers to upload, organize, and document each one of them onto that beautiful deep-blue website. Until now I thought that site was always going to exist in its original state as a timeless beacon of light on the internet. The removal of over 300 vital afterlife messages of life eternal from public access is unpardonable, and I would imagine, most upsetting to those in spirit who desperately needed their voices heard to anyone still on Earth who would listen, even if not until over 50 or 60 years later. I found immense, immense inspiration, healing and comfort in these recordings and countless individuals around the world are going to sorely miss them. I made it my life's work to study them in great detail.

Nana said...

The debate on whether Mr. Flint was gay or not has nothing to do with his work and sounds just plain silly. As to the dialects, you must remember that they are speaking telepathically. They start out confused and unsure of themselves but once they get the hang of it, it's hard to stop them. I truly believe that are coming through. Check out John Brown. He wants us to know that there was nothing between Queen Victoria and him but friendship and mediumship. I'm usually very skeptical but I've had to listen to people talking my entire life. I hope to meet some of them when I cross. I've also had a lot of experience with spirit, some subtle, some not too much. They are there.

Leesaa Slipsun said...

I am a strong advocate of the afterlife and physical mediumship; as such I am convinced of both. The problem I have with Leslie flint is that the voices just don't ring true. He has a ladies posh voice, a gentlemens posh voice, a ladies working class voice, a gentlemens working class voice, a standard foreign type voice at male and female pitch, then a falsetto type voice which is supposed to be a boy's voice. There's his American accents which he struggles to hold and his Scottish lilt which he uses effectively. They all use the same vocabulary set and meander on in the same fashion; sounding like the same personality.

a.chandanais said...

Well said!!