Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is also known for his belief in spirits and fairies. His credulity seemed almost infinite. By the time he published The History of Spiritualism, most of the mediums he discusses in that book had been exposed resorting to fraud, in some cases repeatedly. Some of the mediums had even confessed. None of this deters him. He is able to defend the supernatural abilities of anyone who seems to display gifts that in some way bolster his religious beliefs in a spirit world.
Note: The following essay is based on a segment from Skepticality.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is known for many things: the creation of Sherlock Holmes, a spectacular mustache, and his belief in spirits and fairies.
M’colleague, Bob Blaskiewicz, has discussed Doyle’s* seemingly ludicrous belief in the Cottingley fairies, but spiritualism was Doyle’s burning passion. He possessed a religious, missionary, perhaps even messianic zeal to promote belief in discarnate spirits and life after death. He lectured and wrote voluminously on the subject, including a two volume History of Spiritualism.
It’s easy to make fun of Doyle’s beliefs. Really easy. Stunningly easy. In fact it’s quite hard to refrain from making fun of them. In his writings on spiritualism, he displayed the same degree of levelheadedness and perspicacity that led him to conclude that this is an actual picture of a fairy:
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