Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Philip Experiment



Philip Experiment – Develop Fictional Character

The experiment had been directed by a mathematician, A.R.G. Owen and supervised by Dr Joel Whitton, a psychologist. The test group comprised of Iris Owen, the wife of A.R.G. Owen and former chairperson of MENSA in Canada, Margaret Sparrows, industrial designer, Andy H. his wife Lorne, heating engineer Al Peacock, accountant Bernice M, bookkeeper Dorothy O’Donnel together with sociology student Sidney K.

All the eight participants were members of the Toronto society for Psychical Research and none of them were psychical gifted. Their aim was to develop a fictional character through determined methodology and thereafter attempt to communicate with it through séance. The group at first contrived the fictitiousidentity, physical appearance and personal history of a character.

The character thus created and agreed was called `Philip Aylesford’ referred as Philip at the time of the test and his fictional history partly coincided with the real events and places though with numerous contradictions and faults. Born in 1624 in England, he had an early military career and was knighted by the age of sixteen. He was involved in the English Civil War and developed personal friendship with Charles II, while working for him as a secret agent.

No Apparition/Unexplained Phenomena Documented

Philip though married to Dorothea was very unhappy and later on fell in love with a gypsy girl who happened to be accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. In 1654 out of depression, Philip had committed suicide at the age of thirty. The group at first were seated around a table with séances yielding no contact or communication and no phenomenon.

Owen changed the test conditions by reducing the lights and changing the environments to mimic of a more out-dated séance and the participants being aware of a presence, unexplained echoes, table vibrations, breezes and rapping sounds which seemed to match the responses to questions connected to Philip’s life. At one point of time, the table seemed to tilt on a single leg.

 Inspite of these claims, no apparition or unexplained phenomena had been documented. The Owen group started conducting sittings in September 1972 wherein they meditated, visualized and discussed the life of Philip, in details.


After several months with no communication, the group then attempted table tilting through psychokinesis – PK and this activity was popular during Spiritualism séances involved people sitting around a table, with their fingertips lightly on the surface.

The table tilting practice had been recommended by Kenneth J. Barcheldor, the British psychologist who had speculated that some of the group members would be scepticism regarding their venture. He was of the belief that séance setting probably would have created a communication with Philip which was the expectations of the sitters.

One session was also held in the presence of a live audience of fifty people and was videotaped to be shown on television. In other sessions, sounds were heard in different areas of the room with the blinking of lights on and off. Besides this the rising and movement of a table had also been recorded on film in 1974.

Philip is considered to have a special connection with Iris Owen and some members assumed that they heard whispers in response to queries though effort to record them on tape was unconvincing.

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