Investigation of the Felix Experimental Group: A Status Report
Stephen E. Braude
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy
University of Maryland Baltimore County
This talk summarizes and reports the latest developments of my investigation of the Felix Experimental Group (FEG) and its exhibitions of classical physical mediumship. It’s been nearly a century since investigators have had the opportunity to carefully study standard spiritistic phenomena, including the extruding of ectoplasm, and the FEG is the only current physical mediumistic circle permitting any serious controls.
At last year’s SSE conference I reported the progressively stringent séances I supervised with the FEG, culminating in some very careful experiments with video documentation in a secure and private location in Austria belonging to one of the investigators. These latter séances yielded videos of a full table levitation, and also the medium apparently extruding a large quantity of ectoplasm from his mouth, which then accumulated in an apparently animated heap on the floor in front of him. The ectoplasm was produced despite numerous controls, including a careful strip search of the medium, examination of the medium’s clothes, and inspection of the cabinet in which he sat.
Recently, evidence has surfaced from séances other than those I’ve conducted suggesting strongly that the FEG medium, Kai Muegge, may have resorted to fraud on several of those occasions. Although this has clearly tarnished the case as a whole, it remains unclear whether (or to what extent) the hypothesis of fraud can be deployed successfully with respect to all the FEG phenomena, and my investigations in particular. Thus, it remains unclear whether Kai’s mediumship deserves being classified charitably as a case of “mixed” mediumship (combining both fraudulent and genuine phenomena). By contrast, in several other, well-known, cases of mixed mediumship—for example that of Eusapia Palladino, some phenomena seem quite clearly to be genuine. However, that conclusion is warranted because Palladino (and others) produced phenomena under much more stringent controls than Kai Muegge has so far allowed.
In this talk I’ll summarize the arguments both for and against the paranormality of the FEG phenomena generally, and I’ll discuss what steps Kai must take to dispel the cloud of suspicion currently hanging over all his phenomena.