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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

automatic writing A claimed phenomenon similar to that of the Ouija board. The operator holds a pen or pencil which is then said to move independently across a sheet of paper and write out messages from other living persons, from deceased persons, or from unknown discarnate entities.
      This idea has been popular with spiritualists from the beginning of that religion, and one Swiss spirit medium named Hélène Smith (née Catherine-Elise Müller, 1863?-?) even invented an entire written language which she used to relate details of Martian civilization to her sitters. Psychologist Theodore Flournoy examined Mlle. Smith's claims and found that this language was very similar to French, using the same syntax. Mlle. Smith's native tongue was French.
      Also known as “psychography.”
      See also ideomotor effect and planchette.

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