Creating LIFE From Thought? - The Story Of The Philip Experiment
Don't think too hard about this one. ;)
Can the power of thought alone create something? Can you think something into existence? These are just a few questions I want to cover today when we talk about The Phillip Experiment from 1972, an experiment that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. It begins with the thought (pun intended) that I posed at the beginning. The thought that something, or someone, can be manifested just by thought alone. This idea is more commonly known as a tulpa and has ties to Tibetan Buddhism. It was their belief that one could create a second consciousness in their head; one that had different thoughts, opinions, and beliefs from them. Something that could give them a second look at things. This was only in the mind, though. The Philip Experiment planned to take this to a new level.
The man who proposed the idea in the first place was mathematician A.R.G. Owen. He is also an author with various books about cases in the paranormal realm, most of which take place in Canada. The entire experiment was overseen by a psychologist from the University of Toronto, .. The experiment itself was rather simple. Owen, Joel, and a handful of other participants, whom we’ll touch on soon, would create a fictional character and attempt to bring them into existence in various ways.
The group, including Owen and Joel, consisted of 8 individuals; Iris Owen, Margaret Sparrows, a former chairperson for MENSA in Canada, an industrial engineer Andy H., and his with Lorne, a heating engineer Al Peacock, an accountant named Bernice M, bookkeeper Dorothy O’Donnel, and a sociology student named Sidney K. The belief was that this group could bring a totally fictional person into reality. So… who were they trying to manifest? The name they eventually landed on was Philip Aylesford. His name and history were completely made up by the group.
It began in the mid-1600s. Philip was a Catholic Englishman aristocrat who was incredibly well off living at Diddington Manor. He was married to a woman named Dorothea described as “beautiful but cold”. She was the daughter of a nobleman but their marriage was not perfect. The story goes on to say, Philip, while out riding, came across a gypsy encampment as met a woman named Margo. The two fell in love and soon Philip began having an affair. He even invited Margo back to his home where she stayed in the gatehouse, away from the prying eyes of Philip’s wife.
The arrangement only lasted a short time, though, as Dorothea discovered Margo and subsequently accused her of witchcraft to seduce her husband. Philip, unsure of what to do, said nothing and Margo was burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft. Not long after Margo had been killed, Philip took his own life. They said he was unable to handle the grief, and guilt knowing Margo had her life taken because he had simply stayed quiet. The team kept this knowledge in their heads the entire first year of their experiment.
It began with a group meditation. Everyone would envision Philip in their heads, imagine him being there in hopes of him manifesting before them. The group had no success. They knew there would be no success in the experiment if they continued this way, and so, following the suggestion from Kenneth J. Barcheldor, a psychologist, they moved to try seances. It was here that things took a turn in the direction they were hoping. The group went through with a traditional seance; sitting at a round table, dimming the lights and putting up drawings of Philip, as well as photos of castles they believed were similar to the one they’d visualized.
In September of 1972, with the group gathered together around the table, they began talking about Philip and to Philip. It was here that Philip finally made himself known by tapping on the table they were seated at. It quickly became his means of communication; two taps for no, one for yes. There is a short video from the experiment (linked below). At some points the taps are hard to hear, other times, they are very audible. Later in the video, the table even seems to have been lifted by Philip while the group sings songs from his time.
The film is about as clear as video from the early 70s could be, but at a glance, you can’t see anyone under the table or any strings that would be used to lift the table up. I’m not saying that isn’t the cause, just that we can’t see them in the video. Other claims are that of the lights being turned on and off though I haven’t seen video of that. Now, while the group knew what the answers to their questions would be (they created him after all) Philip was said to create a personality for himself. Some taps on the table were louder than others depending on his feelings on the question. Questions about his wife were often met with harsh, loud taps, while questions about Margo or drinking were met with a light, soft taps.
Unfortunately, that seemed to be the limit of what Philip could do. That and lifting the table. Some participants said they heard Philip whisper in their ear, however, no voices were ever captured on tape. Other claims (that were never verified) include a mist forming over the table, and the table itself trapping some participants in corners of the room or if they were to show up late, move the table in front of the door so they could not get it. All of this was claimed to have taken place by something that was created by a group of 8 people; allegedly.
The seances soon began grabbing tons of media attention and a documentary was even created about the entire process once the experiments were done. In the documentary, claims that Philip moved the entire table and all those sitting at it across the room over to three spectators. Some say this footage is real, but I’m more inclined to believe it was a dramatization for the sake of the documentary. Still, though, the group was never able to achieve their final goal; make Philip manifest. Make him actually show himself in the room.
Once the study was over, many theories about the validity of it, and possible explanations came forward. The main idea is that the group was simply participating in some kind of hoax. This, however, doesn’t hold up very well as no one in the study had anything to really gain; other than a few television interviews. Along with this, a seance was held with an audience of over 50 people and, from what I understand, there were no illusions at play, or an act put on. Next would be the theory of a shared delusion. Induced delusional disorder seems to sound like what we’re talking about.
A quick definition of this disorder states, “a dominant person (known as the 'primary', 'inducer' or 'principal') initially forms a delusional belief during a psychotic episode and imposes it on another person or persons (known as the 'secondary', 'acceptor' or 'associate') with the assumption that the secondary person might not have become deluded if left to his or her own devices.” While this does sound similar to what we were speaking of, the Philip experiments were still much different. Instead of one person coming to another and explaining a delusion, a group came together and created a delusion. Still, the science is there.
Finally, there is the conclusion that the experiment was a success. It could be that the group was able to conjure up a man named Philip Aylesford from the 1600s just from their sheer will power, and concentration. Other instances of this experiment seem to back this up. Once the original experiment was disbanded others took place under very similar conditions. One of the most notable instances is The Skippy Experiment that took place in Sydney, Australia.
Skippy Cartman was their subject. She was a 14-year-old girl who had her life taken by her Catholic school teacher Brother Monk after some incredibly dark things took place between them. Skippy was buried in a shallow grave and discovered sometime later. Brother Monk was never charged for the crime as he’d left Australia, never to be seen again. The group gathered, and for 6 months received no results. It’s said, the results came only when the group changed the table they were using. They opted for one with three legs, rather than 4. With this, Skippy seemed to begin communicating with them in the same way Philip did; tapping on the table and messing with the lights.
Unlike the Philip experiment, though, this study has no physical evidence in the way of video or audio. There were claims that the group planned to get back together and film the entire process in 2007 but as of now, there has been no more mention of it. Is it because the experiment was never and actual success? Or has everyone lost interest?
So now, I pose the question to you all. Do you believe what took place during the Philip Experiment was real? Did this group really manifest this man into existence in some form? Or, was it simply a well-crafted hoax? The other experiments, like that of Skippy, were they hoaxes as well? I would really love to hear your take on this and get a discussion started. Personally, I want it to be true, simply because the thought (pun intended again) of it is incredibly fascinating. But still… It’s hard to believe.