THE NEWSPAPER TESTS: OVERCOMING SUPER ESP
After conducting a number of book tests, it was suggested to the Rev. Charles Drayton Thomas, a member of the London-based Society for Psychical Research, that he experiment in a different way – what Thomas came to call the “newspaper tests.” The suggestion was made by Thomas’ father, the Rev. John Thomas, like his son a Wesleyan minister when he was alive.
The newspaper tests, which also involved the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard, began in 1919, some two years after the book tests. In the newspaper tests, the discarnate Thomas, who had died in 1903, would provide information to be found in newspapers and magazines not yet printed. Thus, he would exercise a sort of precognition and clairvoyance. This would seemingly rule out what was being called Super ESP, the ability of the medium to go beyond reading the mind of the sitter and tap into the mind of anyone having a particular knowledge of a subject.
In a test on January 16, 1920, the junior Thomas was told to examine the Daily Telegraph for the following day and to notice that near the top of the second column of the first page the name of the place he was born. Thomas was born in Victoria Terrace on Victoria Street in Tuanton. When Thomas checked the paper the following day, he found the word “Victoria” exactly where his father said it would be.
In a test on February 13, 1920, Thomas was told to go to the London Times of the following day and near the top of column two of the first page he would find the name of a minister with whom he (the father) had been friendly when living in Leek. Lower in the column, he would find his (Drayton’s) name, his mother’s name, and an aunt’s name, all within a space of two inches. When the paper appeared the morning after the sitting, Thomas saw no familiar names relative to the minister friend. He then consulted with his mother who immediately called his attention to the name “Perks,” informing her son that the Rev. George T. Perks was a friend of his father’s and had visited him while they were living in Leek. Looking lower in the column, Thomas found his name, a slight variation of his mother’s name, and an aunt’s name, all within a space of 1 ¼ by 1 ½ inches.
In the same test, Thomas was told that two-thirds of the way down column one, he would find a word suggesting ammunition, and between that and the name of a former teacher of his he would find a French place name, looking like three words hyphenated into one. While Thomas found the name of a former teacher, “Watts,” it was in the column next to the one indicated by his father. As for the ammunition reference, the word “canon” appeared twice, apparently taken by the discarnate Thomas as “cannon.” The Belgian town of Braine-le-Château was also found in the column indicated.
Drayton Thomas checked with the London Times and concluded that the page from which his father took the information had not yet been typeset at the time the information was given to him through Leonard and Feda.
Many other newspaper tests were carried out by Drayton Thomas. In each case, he would immediately write down the information and file it in a sealed envelope with the Society for Psychical Research at a time before the type was set at the newspaper office. Further, Thomas would check papers from at least 10 other days, being sure that the same names did not appear in those editions, thereby ruling out coincidence. Some of the tests were inconclusive and a few were failures, but there were many more positive results.