Magazine and Date:

Psychic World, April 2001

Unfounded Allegations of Fraud at Scole

 - by Prof. David Fontana -

Dear Ray,


...Turning to other matters, I agree with Victor Zammit (Psychic World, March 2001) that any charges of fraud against the Scole Group are completely unfounded - At no time during our sittings with the Scole Group did Monty Keen, the late and sorely missed Professor Arthur Ellison or myself (or any of the other investigators who were invited to sit with us from time to time) detect any hint of fraud. In addition, we were convinced of the total integrity of each member of the Scole Group. I believe that the only attempt to refer to fraud in print was by Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times. Appleyard, the science correspondent of the Sunday Times, had no sittings with the Scole Group, and his article was based only on hearsay from critics and contained numerous factual errors. To take just one example, Appleyard printed, without bothering to check on its accuracy, a claim made to him that no magician had been present at Scole. In fact James Webster, a retired professional magician, an associate of the Inner Magic Circle, and a man with many years of experience in psychical research, attended three sittings, and made it abundantly clear (for example at the SPR Study Day on Scole at which he was one of our platform speakers) that in his professional judgment the phenomena at Scole could not be duplicated by trickery. I wrote to Appleyard listing the many errors in his Sunday Times article, and published a paper detailing them again in the Paranormal Review, one of the publications of the SPR. Unfortunately (though I fear all too predictably) Appleyard neither apologised for his errors nor printed corrections to them in The Sunday Times.


In our concluding chapter to the Scole Report (and at various points throughout the Report itself) Monty Keen, the late Professor Arthur Ellison and I detail all the vast range of activities which the Scole Group would have had to carry out (and the detailed equipment they would have needed) if fraud was even to be attempted. No critic has taken up the challenge of explaining how these activities could have taken place in the presence of experienced investigators and given the circumstances of the room at Scole in which the sittings were held. In addition, as authors of the Scole Report, we challenged critics to duplicate by normal means and under the conditions operating at Scole phenomena we witnessed there. No-one took up the challenge.


Yours Sincerely,


Prof David Fontana



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