Astonishing Legends

Hosted ByScott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess

The world is more mysterious than most people are comfortable imagining. We cross paths with the mystical from time to time and may not even notice it. If we do, we quickly return to our usually mundane daily existence. But what if we not only acknowledged the unknown, we investigated it and spoke with those in the know? That’s what co-hosts Scott & Forrest, and their producer Tess Pfeifle do at Astonishing Legends. Over 85 million downloads and hundreds of thousands of listeners have shown that exploring and embracing the wonders of our world can be not only enlightening but exciting. Welcome to Astonishing Legends!

The Watseka Wonder – Part 2

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Now that we’ve covered the story essentials of the strange case of Mary Lurancy Vennum, known as “The Watseka Wonder,” it’s time to take a look at the possible causes and mechanics of this apparent miracle. Suppose Lurancy’s possession was merely the imaginative prank of an attention-seeking impressionable teenager. How then did she know intimate, inscrutable details of her possessor Mary Roff and that of her family, when Mary had died over ten years before she was born and the Roff family were vague acquaintances? It’s perhaps possible that this naive fourteen-year-old had mastered the manipulation techniques employed by experienced Mentalists and charlatan psychic mediums to fool desperate parents, but how likely is that? In Part Two of our series, we consider the investigation of a noted psychical researcher at the time, Dr. Richard Hodgson, who interviewed witnesses and studied case notes about thirteen years after the significant events in light of contemporary hypotheses. In a historical line between 1877 and 1908, we then look at the analysis of a psychology journalist, H. Addington Bruce, through the lens of his evolved understanding of that field 30 years later. In the greater context surrounding this case are the history of psychical research and a brief overview of some of the prominent figures involved in the Spiritist movement. We then round out the series with a more modern-day interpretation and our own conclusions. Even saddled with an antiquated title like The Watseka Wonder and recognizing the significant advancements in the field of abnormal psychology, this case remains wonderous indeed.

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