“Some physical mediums claimed to have experienced levitations. One of the most famous is Colin Evans. The photograph was taken by infra-red light during a seance in 1938. – Comparison of several photos of this event shows that he remained in the air for some time!” [Antigravity Power]
Or was he? I never paid much attention to this photo, having seen it many times, as I simply assumed it was a crude hoax and the “medium” appeared to be suspended by an invisible string.
It turns out he accomplished the feat by another method. Can you guess how? Keep reading for more photos of his levitations that may help.
And what about this:
Notice how his feet seem to be vanishing in the air. Perhaps some sort of gravitational distortion? The photos taken from the side also reveal the awkward position of his body, and all of them (which record at least two different levitations) show some kind of cord in his left hand.
“[The photograph] is nothing short of hilarious. It is a flash-illuminated picture of a séance held at Wortley Hall in Finsburg Park, London, showing the attendees holding hands and medium Colin Evans ‘levitating’. A cord leading from a device in Evan’s hand indicates it was he who triggered the flash-photograph – a critical act since the evidence of the photo itself reveals the mechanism of ‘levitation’ and thus indicates its momentary nature: Evan’s feet are a blur above the seat of his chair, his body is in a partially crouched position, and his hair is in disarray. If springing into the air from a crouched position is levitating[…]”, writes skeptic Joe Nickell in Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation.
And that’s it, those photographs merely depict Evans jumping into the air. His movement was freezed by the flash, which he himself activated with that cord, but not entirely, as his feet are blurred. The next question is then, how that packed crowd didn’t denounce the hoax?
In fact, ghost hunter Harry Price already knew the answer to that shortly after Evans’ presentations. One can read in “Fifty years of psychical research: a critical survey”, published in 1939:
“Another unsatisfactory séance was that held at … Regent’s Park, on May 27, 1938, with Mr. Colin Evans. This medium claims that, in complete darkness, he is ‘levitated.’ Mrs. A. Peel Goldney, Mrs. Henry Richards and others were convinced that at this particular test no levitation took place and the cheque paid to the medium was returned to the sitters. A photograph of an alleged psychic levitation of this medium was published in the Daily Mirror, June 13, 1938. See also Photography for January, 1939. How photographs can be obtained of a man assumed to be levitating, but in reality jumping, is graphically recorded (with illustrations) in Proc., SPR, Vol. XLV, Part 158, pp. 196-8.”
And that’s the whole it. Colin Evans managed to fill a room with a crowd, but he could only “levitate” in complete darkness! That’s why nobody is looking at him levitating, that is, jumping. They didn’t see a thing. The photos were captured with a momentary flash. The photos were all Evans wanted. Even so, sitters probably realized what was going on.
But the rest is history, or that is, so many people reproducing those images originally made famous by the Daily Mirror, which were in fact explained away as the hoax they were less than a year later. And this has been going on for 70 years now. Nickel criticizes the photo being presented as “incontrovertible proof that the pull of gravity can be defied” in Joyce Robins’s The World’s Greatest Mysteries (1989). The Internet didn’t make things that much better, but at least and long last you are now reading this exposé!
Some other Levitation Secrets
One may think Evans’ case is a particularly bad example, and remind of how a psychic investigator correctly noted the hoax immediately after the event, and that is very well true. Unfortunately, not that serious “investigators” and many other cases of crudely hoaxed levitations are everywhere to be found in popular resources.
You can see that photo was also captured with the flash triggered. The Enfield case does not consist solely of that photo, but that photo alone hardly is evidence of anything out of the ordinary.
Not to mention centuries-old tricks originally from India being reason for some media buzz to this day:
Finally, when discussing human levitation claims, one has to mention D.D. Home and his alleged levitation through a window witnessed by four respectable men. To this day we don’t know how he did it, or even if he actually did it. One would assume he probably didn’t, but we can also concede it probably looked like he did.
So, how he did it? Among the many suggestions, one of the most interesting involves a Pepper’s Ghost effect, the same one used at the Haunted Mansion. Home would have appeared to be floating outside the window when in fact it was just his reflection. Imagine seeing something like this through your third story window:
This explanation does have its problems, and we will probably never know how Home did it. Or even if he did it. But it surely would beat the other tricks discussed here.
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