"Ask any critic of the paranormal to account for the
evidence of the cross-correspondences, and you can be assured
of bewilderment or, at best, ignorant dismissal."
Montague Keen (afterlife investigator for the British Soicety
for Psychical Research).
W.H. Myers was a Cambridge Classics scholar and writer late
last century. He was also one of the pioneers who founded
the Society for Psychical Research and was involved in investigation
of the afterlife. When he was alive he was particularly
interested to find a way of proving that information transmitted
through mediums could not have come from their own unconscious.
The method he thought up was cross-correspondences
— a series of messages to different mediums in different
part of the world that on their own would mean nothing but
which when put together would make sense. He and his fellow
leaders of the Society for Psychical Research felt that
if such a thing could be done it would be a high level of
proof of continued existence.
After he died in 1901 more than a dozen
different mediums in different countries began receiving
a series of incomplete scripts through automatic
writing signed by Frederick Myers.
Later there were scripts signed by his fellow leaders of
the Society for Psychical Research, Professor Henry Sidgwick
and Edmund Gurney, as they too died.
The scripts were all about unusual classical
subjects and did not make sense on their own. But when the
mediums were told to contact a central address and the scripts
were assembled, they fitted together like the pieces of
In all, more than three thousand scripts were transmitted
over thirty years. Some of them were more than forty typed
pages long. Together they fill 24 volumes and 12,000 pages.
The investigation went on so long that some of the investigators,
such as Professor Verrall, died during the course of it
and began communicating themselves.
The mediums used by Myers and the others
from the afterlife were not professors of the Classics.
They were not highly educated and all messages transmitted
were outside their learnt knowledge and experience. On one
occasion one of the mediums, Mrs. Coombe-Tennant, was conducting
a discussion using 'automatic writing' between the spirit
entity of Professor Sidgwick and his living colleague G.
W. Balfour on the 'mind-body relationship', 'epiphenomenalism'
and 'interactionism'. She complained bitterly that she had
no idea what they were talking about and lost her temper
that she was asked to transmit such difficult things.
Myers did say it was extremely difficult
to transmit his messages from the spirit world across to
the mediums. He described as being like:
" …standing behind a sheet
of frosted glass which blurs sight and deadens sound dictating
feebly to a reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretary "(Wilson
The information transmitted in the Myers
experiments was so accurate that it stunned the members
of the Society for Psychical Research. At one stage those
who were investigating the Myers Cross-Correspondences hired
private detectives to put Mrs. Piper, one of the mediums
involved, under surveillance. Her mail was opened, private
detectives followed her, questions were asked about her
friends and about those she spoke to. All the investigations
proved her innocent of fraud or conspiracy or trickery.
The evidence is absolute. All the original
documents are on file and there are at least eight complete
sets of copies in existence for any investigator to study.
For those who have initiative to investigate, sufficient
information is available. And whilst for the investigator
of the Myers Cross-Correspondences the information available
is challenging, the rewards are evidentiary proof of the
One person who took the time to study the
Cross Correspondences in depth was the former atheist Colin
Brookes-Smith. After researching them he stated in the Journal
of the Society for Psychical Research that survival should
now be regarded as a sufficiently well-established fact
to be beyond denial by any reasonable person. Further he
argued that this conclusion should not be kept in the obscurity
of research records but should be presented to the public
"a momentous scientific conclusion
of prime importance to mankind. "