From the PREFACE.
The present volume may be considered as a supplement to the one on Science and a Future Life, which has been published. In that work I gave a very inadequate summary of the phenomena bearing upon Telepathy and Apparitions, and I said nothing whatever regarding several other types of phenomena having an equal scientific interest. I was occupied in that volume with facts related more directly to the question of survival after death, especially as experimentally supported. In the present book I have seized the opportunity to go over the whole field of the supernormal. While I have discussed Telepathy and Apparitions more exhaustively than before, I have added much material on Crystal Gazing, Coincidental Dreams, Clairvoyance, and Premonitions, with some illustrations of Mediumistic Phenomena without involving these with the more scientific case of Mrs. Piper. I have tried to give all of them that unity of interest and meaning which are due to the supernormal having psychological character and demanding more scientific investigation than it has yet received.
The nature of the present work must not be misunderstood. I have not quoted the various experiences in the work for purposes of scientific proof of a transcendental world, and much less as evidence of what such a world is, if the facts should prove it, but as evidence of something which needs further investigation. Taken collectively the facts have an impressive character for some general conclusion, but those who understand psychology will want to reserve their judgment for something more than a probable supernormal. Speculations ignoring normal experience must still wait awhile, and perhaps ought always to be discouraged on the part of any but the most expert.
The reader may wonder why the illustrations chosen are so old. It will be noticed that some of them extend back into the previous generation, and I shall no doubt be asked why I have not included incidents of a more recent origin. The answer to an inquiry of this kind is very easy. I selected the cases quoted because they had received the recognition of a scientific body, and do not represent the judgment of any single person. I am here dealing, not with experiences which individually might have no value, but with matter that has received the imprimatur of the Society for Psychical Research, and whatever its value to others, it bears an impressiveness that it would not have if presented by an individual. There are plenty of recent phenomena having the same character, and I have a number of cases in my own possession. But I should not think of publishing them until they received the consideration of scientific men. There are perhaps more than a thousand similar instances in the files of the American Branch of the parent society, but these require systematic treatment and publication in a scientific manner before they can obtain attention in this work. The nature of the phenomena is such, and the perplexities of the problem are such, that only large collections of incidents can count for scientific purposes, and we can safely use only such as have received the endorsement of an intelligent body of men. Besides, I do not wish in this work to assume responsibility for the facts, but to give some unity of interpretation to such as have been deemed by others as worthy of attention....