The Letter That Gave Us "Whisper"

Dr. Arthur Twitchell, 1883 [1]
25 September 1883
Red Building, Pembroke College, Cambridge

To: Arthur Twitchell PhD, Research Fellow
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA, USA


Dear Sir:

With the commencement of the academic year, it has come to my attention that you have published a letter pertaining to the supposed source of Etheric Power in the 03 August edition of the fledgling journal Science. Your assertion that we “capture the souls of the dead and press them into the equivalent of postmortem slavery” to fuel the current industrial revolution in both our countries is not only wildly inaccurate, but irresponsible to the point of madness.

In this modern Age of Reason, we apply the scientific method to uncover fact by rigorous examination of nature, involving exact experimentation and publication of methodology, observations, and support or contradiction for the experiment’s theoretical basis. Perhaps you may have heard the term “scientific method” in passing in the halls of your university? If not, I strongly encourage you to research the term, as the “research” you have published allows no independent repetition. It is impossible to verify the observations you have made with “Lucy” (obviously a pseudonym). It demonstrates the worst perversion of science, straying into the realm of quackery and, dare I say, charlatanism.

Your assertion that this “Lucy” can somehow communicate with the spirits that give an etheric sphere its power has no basis in rational thought. Seances, spiritual communication, and the supposed sensitivity of mediums have all been debunked as trickery designed to part the gullible from their hard-earned coin. Whispering with the dead for the purpose of entertainment is one thing, but attributing the abominable practice of slavery to a technology that is transforming the world before our eyes is, in a word, unconscionable. You, sir, who work in research should feel ashamed for your actions.

Reginald Olcott, FRS [2]
Etheric power has been shown to be a freely occuring form of electricity that we may harness for the good of society. It is no more sentient than a bolt of lightning or a geyser’s spray. It is a natural artefact of atmospheric movement, nothing more.

Your insistence at painting human faces on natural phenomena has no basis in science. If you, sir, are a creature of science as you profess, I implore you to recant your letter of this summer past before your work is debunked. I should warn you I am at work on experiments which would not only completely disprove your assertion, but reduce your reputation to the point that working in academia would be but a fond memory for you.

This wild speculation falls not only outside the bounds of scientific thought, but at the farthest edge of fiction. It is a child’s fantasy which portrays Luddites as Abolitionists and would, should it gain sufficient popularity, push back technological and industrial progress to the point of telling ghost stories by firelight. It is not becoming for a man of your station and reputation to engage in potentially damaging speculation. I implore you to reconsider your words before it is too late.

Ever the servant of science,
   Reginald Olcott, PhD, FRS
   Professor of Etheric Sciences, University of Cambridge


[1] - Photograph by Marian Hooper Adams (1843–1885) (Massachusetts Historical Society) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

[2] - Photograph by Hills & Saunders (Bibliothèque nationale de France) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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