Steve, did you know Marion Meade "explains" the cup and saucer incident??
Mar 09, 2002 09:56 AM
by Daniel Caldwell
Brigitte Muehlegger now tells us to look for an
explanation about the teacup and saucer incident in
Marion Meade's MADAME BLAVATSKY, p.223-224.
Brigitte, do you actually agree with Meade's
Is Meade's explanation just one of many "possible"
explanations or is Meade's explanation the most
"probable" explanation in light of all the known
evidence? In other words, are we at step 2 or at step
4 with Meade's "explanation"?
Anyway, as Brigitte ponders the above, I give Meade's
"At the time and even later Alfred could find no
loopholes in what came to be known as 'the cup and
saucer incident.' He based his conviction mainly on
the fact that Madame Blavatsky could not have known in
advance that there would be seven guests in the party,
as the judge had arrived only at the last minute.
OBVIOUSLY she did know, and so did Patience Sinnett
because Olcott overheard her telling the butler: 'It
was very stupid of you not to put in another cup and
saucer when you knew that the other gentleman would
have to have tea.' It seems reasonable TO ASSUME that
H.P.B. had instructed Babula to bury the cup and
saucer, then led the picnickers to the spot herself.
In fact, this notion had already occurred to the judge
and police chief who later in the afternoon examined
the site. Their final conclusion was that it was
theoretically POSSIBLE for someone to have tunneled in
from below and thrust the cup and saucer up into the
place where they were discovered. Apparently Babula
later confided to Emma Coulomb that this was exactly
what he had done. In the experts' opinion, the
phenomenon could not be accepted as scientifically
perfect and, somewhat indelicately, they
challenged her to repeat it under test conditions.
Helena, who had worked hard to stage the tableau,
could not keep herself from exploding. Henry vividly
remembered that 'she seemed to take leave of her
senses and poured out upon the two unfortunate
skeptics the thunder of her wrath. And so our pleasant
party ended in an angry tempest.' " Caps added
Well, Steve, what do you think of Meade's
Now a few more questions to ponder:
Is Meade actually explaining the incident [at step 4]
or is Meade simply speculating [at step 2]? See 4 Step
Is Meade simply using the "unpacking" method I've
As Ray Hyman wrote: "it is ALWAYS possible to
'imagine' SOME scenario in which cheating no matter
how implausible, COULD HAVE occurred." Caps added.
This is a step 2 technique.
Is Meade simply using the "possibility/plausibility"
method of argument? See
for an example.
Has Meade followed the Barzun and Graffe dictum?
"The rule of 'Give Evidence' is not be be violated. .
. .No matter how possible or plausible the author's
conjecture it cannot be accepted as truth if he has
only his hunch [which is not evidence] to support it.
Truth rests not on possibility or plausibility but on
probability. Probability means the balance of chances
that, GIVEN SUCH AND SUCH EVIDENCE, the event it
records happened in a certain way; or, in other cases,
that a supposed event did not in fact take place."
Daniel H. Caldwell
"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things
at their right value; and unless a judge compares
notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a
H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.
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