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Re: Ergates

Sep 18, 1995 10:34 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

According to
> The goal is not "control" of a publication or discussion, but a fair
> portrayal, with words which are obviously biased, like "charlatan" etc.
> called into question. For example, in the Smithsonian article, the author of
> that article quoted from the 1884 Report of the Society for Psychical
> Research, but did not bother to mention that the same Society WITHDREW that
> report in the mid-1980's. That's what I call unfair. One can at least
> present BOTH SIDES of a hotly debated issue!

Edward Hower told me that he got 65 letters of protest,
virtually every one of which repeated the same misinformation
that you do above. It seems to me that the U.L.T. and both
T.S.'s are promoting a false idea of Vernon Harrison's study
and its relation to the S.P.R.
1) At the time of its publication, Dora Kunz acclaimed it in
the AT as a "vindication" of HPB by the SPR. When I met Vernon
Harrison that summer of 1986 in London, I asked him whether
this was appropriate. His response was that it was MOST
DEFINITELY NOT A VINDICATION, but rather a condemnation of
Hodgson's methods and a verdict of "not proven" for his charges
against HPB. That does not mean that Harrison has proved HPB
innocent of the charges, which he would heartily dispute.
2) The S.P.R. never "withdrew" the Hodgson report, which for
100 years it had been saying was the responsibility of the
author and not the society. They simply published Harrison's
attack on it, and the editor commented that HPB had indeed been
mistreated by Hodgson. But the society takes no position on
the matter.
3) In a review of In Search of the Masters for the very same
SPR journal, Harrison said he found my portrayal of HPB
"entirely plausible" and went on to detail the ways in which he
considered her unreliable in her claims. So it is not quite
fitting that the same people who would exalt Harrison into a
defender of True Theosophical Orthodoxy also attack
my work as "character assassination" etc.
> As for letters on the Smithsonian article, my understanding was that the
> editor there had received 33 letters IN GENERAL, not necessarily letters of
> protest or letters from Theosophist.
Good. But if Hower got 65, all of them Theosophists saying
"Hodgson's been discredited and why didn't you say so?" that
argues for a semi-organized campaign to intimidate an author
who does not see HPB their way.

If I had seen the piece before publication I'd have recommended
that Hower say something about the Harrison report, and the
specific flaws he finds in Hodgson. But I would not portray
Harrison's work as total vindication, nor as an official action
on the part of the SPR. Nor would I fail to point out the many
parts of Hodgson's report that are not discussed by Harrison.

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