love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

Skepticism

I just looked into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle a little closer. I never had before. I have his complete works on Sherlock Holmes, and they were always a favorite of mine growing up. I was curious about being told that he believed in fairies etc…
I wondered how someone could write of such a profound skeptic, who was determined to show what others assumed, (ghosts, giant hounds, etc ) should never be assumed.
such lovely things as…

““The more outré and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined.”

“WATSON: Then you are yourself inclining to the supernatural explanation.
HOLMES: if Dr. Mortimer’s surmise should be correct, and we are dealing with forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature, there is an end of our investigation. But we are bound to exhaust all other hypotheses before falling back upon this one.”

“The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning.”

“presume nothing”

and so many more..

I started with the fairy stories and photographs that wooed him. And realized he was not alone in being taken in. Then looked into his claims that one could communicate with the dead…and that he had received messages that there would be proof found soon of the spirits of nature, apparently some time before the photographs were produced…

I instantly wondered if he was married and had children ….and if so , had the losing of one been in between the Sherlock Holmes novels, and the spiritualism.

A quick look at his biography revealed this to be true.
Interesting to note, in real life he actually helped overturn two cases that had been closed by the police, in which case he believed the men to be innocent, and because of him these “closed cases” were overturned…..

However…
He was very human….like you and I….

” Following the death of his wife Louisa in 1906, the death of his son Kingsley just before the end of World War I, and the deaths of his brother Innes, his two brothers-in-law (one of whom was E. W. Hornung, creator of the literary character Raffles) and his two nephews shortly after the war, Conan Doyle sank into depression. He found solace supporting spiritualism and its attempts to find proof of existence beyond the grave. In particular, according to some,[35] he favoured Christian Spiritualism and encouraged the Spiritualists’ National Union to accept an eighth precept – that of following the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth. He also was a member of the renowned paranormal organisation The Ghost Club.[36] Its focus, then and now, is on the scientific study of alleged paranormal activities in order to prove (or refute) the existence of paranormal phenomena.

On 28 October 1918 Kingsley Doyle died from pneumonia, which he contracted during his convalescence after being seriously wounded during the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Brigadier-General Innes Doyle died, also from pneumonia, in February 1919. Sir Arthur became involved with Spiritualism to the extent that he wrote a Professor Challenger novel on the subject, The Land of Mist.” (from wiki)

I was an avid fan of Houdini. So this interested me to find that they became friends, and were both driven to spiritualism due to the death of a loved one.
However….they took differing paths…as we humans do when dealing with grief….
Houdini determinism to search for the truth regardless of what it would tell him caused him to be willing to use those deductive and reasoning, and observation skills Doyle so delighted once in sharing through fiction…but could not bring himself to do when grief knocked upon his door.

He even refused to see the evidence Houdini shared with him, to the extent that it led to a very public parting of the ways…

This saddened me, regarding an author I enjoyed so very much growing up,
and yet….I do understand.

Sometimes skepticism and truth ….cannot heal the heart….

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1 Comment

  1. “There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power.” — Gandalf

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