Chapter 55



As mentioned earlier at the end of chapter 53, I was diagnosed as having "walking" pneumonia on September 15, 1972, and was confined to bed for two weeks. I was really sick and weak and felt it. I simply blacked out for about the first three days, but Zelda woke me every four hours to administer the prescribed penicillin and lots of water.

The penicillin quickly did its job, although I was still confined to bed. So, on about the fourth day I began to reread the book THOUGHTS THROUGH SPACE, "A Remarkable Adventure in the Realm of Mind," co-authored by Sir Hubert Wilkins and Harold M. Sherman, published in 1942.

By any measure, this book clearly constitutes one of the most exceptional documents of the twentieth century, especially so in that Sir Hubert Wilkins was one of the all-time great and daring-do explorers of the two poles, and who had chalked up numerous aviation feats and records as well.

Yet the book apparently became quietly and quickly forgotten. One is forced to grasp for explanations as to why.

One possible reason might have been that although the Wilkins/Sherman experiments took place in 1937-1938 before World War II commenced, the book itself was unfortunately published in 1942 during the hottest part of the war, during which the topic of parapsychology was of little interest to anyone.

Another reason could have been that the book was about long-distance telepathy -- a topic that was considered with disgust by the modernist scientific mind-sets of the Western world.

But the experiments were overwhelmingly successful in parapsychological terms. So why it was forgotten in parapsychology circles is difficult to understand or explain -- and it WAS forgotten in those circles because no parapsychologist I was able to ask about it had ever read it.

However, if the limiting microPSI aspects of statistical parapsychology are considered, the book was a record of some kind of macroPSI that flew in the face of microPSI, and which also clearly portended that practical applications COULD be possible.

The activities of Sir Hubert and Harold Sherman were characterized by them as telepathic in nature. But in fact only a small part of their experiments could be thought of as telepathic.

The reason is that the larger portion of their experiments clearly equate to the out-bound remote viewing model established at the American Society for Psychical Research during 1971. Of course, telepathy and remote viewing are only names for something not well understood.

But still, Wilkins went somewhere far distant from Sherman, who, at intervals, was supposed to "see" and describe the locale of where Wilkins was, what he was doing, and what was going on around him.

In 1972, when I discovered and read the book, it was difficult to discover any biographical background for Harold Sherman, except that everyone thought he "must be" dead. His biographical details were to become available later, and I’ll include them at the appropriate juncture ahead. That he was living in New York City at the time of the experiments during 1937-38 is established in the book itself.

SIR GEORGE HUBERT WILKINS (1888-1958) was the noted British explorer born in Australia. He made a number of trips to Antarctica and to the Arctic regions.

Valuable experience was gained when he accompanied Vihjalmur Stefanson’s expedition (1913-18) to the Arctic regions, and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition (1921-22) to Antarctica prepared Wilkins to assume the leadership in the following years of a number of polar expeditions.

A pioneer in the method of air exploration, he was the first to fly (1928) from North America to the European polar regions, traveling from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Spitsbergen. His book, FLYING THE ARCTIC (1928), described his observations during the flights. He was knighted that year.

He commanded an Antarctic expedition (1928-29) during which flights were made in the region of Palmer Peninsula, and in 1931 he headed a submarine expedition to the Arctic regions, an exploit depicted in his book, UNDER THE NORTH POLE (1931).

Though mechanical difficulties made it impossible for his submarine, the NAUTILUS, to reach the North Pole, Wilkins work was to be very valuable for future Arctic exploration by submarine.

From 1933 to 1939, he was manager for Lincoln Ellsworth’s trans-antarctic expeditions. His THOUGHTS THROUGH SPACE (with H. M. Sherman, 1942) recounts the attempts made by Wilkins and Sherman to communicate by mental telepathy, during the period when Wilkins was searching (1938) for a group of Russian aviators lost in the Arctic.

During World War II and afterwards, Wilkins served as a geographer for the British army.

The biographical notes above are taken from the Columbia Encyclopedia, but they do not at all illuminate the tremendous popular and media interest at the time of the often dramatic and challenging exploits Wilkins undertook.

But the notes do imply that Wilkins was not a fool, and was someone to be taken seriously, as indeed was the case. He would have been consistently demanding, accurate, and scrupulous with regard to his long-distance experiments with Sherman.

While Wilkins was traversing the Arctic and undergoing woes and unpredictable difficulties, he was frequently out of radio communication with anyone. Furthermore, events, accidents, and inclement weather made it necessary to alter schedules and agendas time and again. And so there was no feed-back to Sherman for long periods of time.

Sherman recorded his telepathic impressions three nights a week, and promptly mailed copies of them to a Mr. Samuel Emery, identified as a "resident of the City Club of New York," and to Dr. Gardner Murphy at Columbia University. Sherman’s "impressions" were therefore in good hands long before any confirmation of them could be achieved.

Gardner Murphy was a distinguished psychologist and an extremely influential leader in psychical research and parapsychology, and at the time was on the Board of the American Society for Psychical Research, later becoming its president in 1944.

One important element of the Wilkins/Sherman experiments was not made all that clear in the book itself. During the 1930’s, Sir Hubert Wilkins had achieved enormous renown and his merits were highly respected throughout the world. He had become a larger-than-life, even an heroic personality in conventional terms that were taken very seriously.

Telepathy was certainly beyond the scientific pale in those conventional terms. So Wilkins didn’t have much to gain, but perhaps much to lose, by involving himself with Sherman in such long-term experiments that attracted much media attention while they were taking place.

Then there was the matter of the apparently large confidence Wilkins placed in Sherman in order to commit himself to an experiment that was to take place over a six-month period. Thus, one wonders what Sherman had demonstrated to Wilkins so as not only to acquire the latter’s support but, more importantly, his enthusiasm?

There was also the smaller matter of why the Wilkins/Sherman experiments were not somehow associated with Dr. J. B. Rhine, the founder of statistical parapsychology, and who had become highly visible during the 1930s.

[NOTE: THOUGHTS THROUGH SPACE was first published by Creative Age Press, New York, in 1942. A revised paperback edition was later published by Fawcett Publications, New York, 1971.]

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