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Current Update as of August 13, 2006 

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Mental Radio

Mental Radio

(Originally published 1930
Republished in 2001 by Hampton Roads)

Book Summary by Jed Bendix
Atlantic University

   Upton Sinclair became first aware of the supernatural as a young man when he met a Unitarian minister who claimed to be able to talk to ghost. Several years later, Upton's wife, Mary Craig Kimbrough, persuaded Upton to research the paranormal. As a result, from 1928 to 1930, Upton and Mary did over 300 hundred telepathic experiments.

At the end of their experiments, they collected the data and published the results. Upton and Mary only used success and partial success for examples when writing the book. The Sinclairs intentionally wrote the book leaving out the failures thinking it would be boring reading and people may get the wrong impression that telepathy did not work.

   Within Mental Radio the Sinclairs focus on several areas: First, the experimental method used, 2) Mary’s own method for achieving a receptive telepathic state, 3) other psychic observations, 4) Dr. Walter Prince’s publication of the Upton’s work.

   Interesting, the preface was written by Albert Einstein. Einstein attests to the honesty and integrity of the both Upton and Mary. Indeed Upton who was already famous at the time of writing Mental Radio was taking a risk of negative publicity by publishing it. Upton and Mary’s circle of friends also included, Charlie Chaplin and Jack London.

   How did they conduct their experiments? Mary was always the telepathic receiver. Over the two years, two people acted as senders. For the first set of telepathic trials, Mary’s brother, Robert Irwin. For the majority of the trials, Upton acted as sender.

   Upton and Mary lived in Long Beach California. Robert Irwin, who lived forty miles away in Pasadena for the first telepathic trials, acted as the sender. Mary and Robert set aside a certain time each day to conduct their experiment. Robert would draw a picture of some random object.

At the same time, Mary lay on a couch in her study, induced herself into an altered state and attempted to replicate Robert’s drawing. Sometimes a few days would pass before they could compare notes due to having to travel. One example of a delay took place between July 13 and July 15, 1928.

Upton notes that Robert, while at his home in Pasadena, drew a picture of a fork. Mary correctly identified that Robert had drawn a fork. However, they had to wait two days before they could travel to Pasadena and put their notes side by side.

   Obviously cheating would have been difficult for Mary due to the distance between her and Robert. However, Robert had suffered for years from tuberculosis, consequently his health failed and he died. Upton who up to this point had been an observer of Mary and her brother’s telepathic experiments now found it upon himself to assist her.

   Of the 290 target drawings Upton did with Mary, he drew 252 of the target drawings himself, while he had his secretary draw 38 of the targets. Their conclusions showed that 65 or 23% were successful. The numbers that were partially successful was 155, or 53%. The number of failures was 70, or 24% of the total.

   A typical session would involve Upton retiring to his study room and closing the door. He then would make a random drawing of some object. Mary would be laying on a couch either upstairs or in her study room located some thirty feet away from Upton’s study room.

When Upton was ready to start his drawing he would yell out, “All right.” He then would concentrate on his drawing for five to ten minutes. When Mary had finished her drawing, she would yell out, “All right.” Then they would open their doors with one or the other going to the other’s study room to evaluate the session.

   Sometimes Upton would not be in his study when doing a drawing. On one occasion, he tiptoed to a cupboard in a downstairs room and took from the shelf a red electric light bulb to draw as a target. Amazingly, his wife drew and described a colored round glass with an upside down V covering it.

   Upton drew whatever came to his mind. Sometimes he drew drawings in advance of the session. One time he drew out nine drawings in advance of future sessions. When putting a drawing in an envelope he would wrap the drawing in a sheet of green paper making it invisible. Then he would put the wrapped drawing into a sealed envelope.

   Midway through the telepathic trials, Upton became tired of going through the process of wrapping the targets in green paper and then sealing them in envelopes. Mary for her part also grew tired of having to unseal the envelopes each time.

Therefore, they abandoned sealing the drawings in envelopes. Upton and Mary believed the “acceptance of the evidence rests upon our good faith.” For the most part, Mary was going through all the protracted labor to prove to herself that telepathic communication did indeed exist.

At this point in the trials, Upton would make six or eight drawings on a pad paper and placed them face down on Mary’s table. He would them cover his drawings by placing a sheet of paper over them. Mary lying next to the table with her eyes closed would reach over to the table and randomly pick a drawing.

She would then slide the drawing face down onto her solar plexus. At this point Mary would relax and concentrate on the target. Afterwards, she would either verbally give a description of the target drawing to Upton who was sitting near her or make a drawing of what she had visualized in her mind’s eye.

Upon completion of this Mary would then turn over the target drawing and do a comparison against her drawing.

   Mary learned from a psychic named Jan how to achieve a receptive state of telepathy and how to distinguish between true psychic impressions versus normal everyday thoughts. Years earlier, Jan had traveled to India to learn the secrets of concentration and hypnotism. It took some time before Jan warmed up to the idea of teaching Mary his secret art.

   Jan taught Mary how to concentrate and relax both at the same time. Mary’s description of how to concentrate is to “put the attention on one object, or one uncomplicated thought, such as joy, or peace, and holding it there steadily. It isn’t thinking; it is inhibiting thought, except for one thought, one object in thought.”

   For Mary to enter this deep state of concentration it was necessary too completely relax. To enter this deep relaxation an individual has to first:

   “Give yourself a suggestion to the effect that you will relax your mind and your body, making the body insensitive and the mind a blank , and reserving the power to break the concentration in a short time. By making the body insensitive, I mean simply to relax completely your mental hold of, or awareness of, all bodily sensation.

After giving yourself this suggestion a few times, you proceed to relax both body and mind. Relax all mental interest in everything in the environment; inhibit all thoughts which try to wander into consciousness from the subconsciousness, or from wherever else thoughts come.” (p. 105)

   Moreover, Mary says, “the way to relax is to let go. Let go of every tense muscle, every tense spot, in the body. This deep relaxation is important for if the body is tense it affects the thoughts in the mind. Likewise, if the mind is full of thoughts it will tense the body.”

   Mary gives an excellent description of how to produce within the mind's eye a telepathic vision. First, there must be a target for the individual to concentrate on. It is essential to keep the target hidden from view and for the contents to be unknown. In addition, at the end of the session, the participant will have some way to verify his results against that of the actual target.

   For the second step, turn off the lights and get into a relaxed state of mind as mentioned before. With your eyes closed, “again make your mind a complete blank and hold it blank. Do not think of anything. Thoughts will come. Inhibit them. Refuse to think. Do this for several moments.”

   Third, give a gentle order from the mind to tell the unconscious mind to visualize or describe to you what the target is. Give this suggestion with as little exertion as possible. One must give this suggestion as “clearly and positively, that is with concentration on it. Repeat, as if talking directly to another self: ‘I want to see what is the target.’” (p. 107)

   Fourth, this step can be described as “seeing” what is there. Mary’s description is as follows: “relax into blankness again and hold blankness a few moments, then try gently, without straining, to see whatever forms may appear on the void into which you look with closed eyes. Do not try to conjure up something to see; just wait expectantly and let something come.” (p. 107)

   Mary states her, “experience is that fragments or forms appear first. For example, a curved line, or a straight one, or two lines of a triangle. But sometimes the complete object appears; swiftly, lightly, dimly-drawn, as on a moving picture film. These mental visions appear and disappear with lighting rapidity, never standing still unless quickly fixed by a deliberate effort of consciousness.” (p. 107)

   These visions are more like, light drawn sketches and rarely with heavy lines. Many times these visions are so dim the viewer only gets only a notion of how they look before they vanish.

   Fifth, is to hold the mind blank again and gently ask again if the previous image is the correct one, if so let it reappear. Do this several times if the first vision comes back repeatedly then accept it as the correct one.

   Sixth, is to recall this dim vague image and record it before forgetting it. If not recorded immediately the mind will not only forget this vague image but also start to guess what it thinks the target maybe. Do not omit the smallest detail. During this step, analyzing or guessing as to what the target may be is a mistake. Rather, one should leave as is the image in the mind’s eye.

   The following is a partial list that Mary made regarding what one may encounter or observe when practicing her form of telepathy.

   Sometimes when the eyes are first closed, what one just viewed from the surrounding environment will play out in the mind’s eye.

   Many times images will appear in fragments.

   The percentage of successful hits falls sharply, after working three or more targets in a given day.

   The image in the mind’s eye from the previous target may carry over when working a new target.

   Periodically, Mary would use her psychic powers to observe what friends and family members may be doing or to find out where they are. On one occasion Mary by clairvoyance followed the movements of her mentor Jan, as he traveled around the city of Long Beach, California.

She then wrote 20 pages of notes on his movements around town. Mary described his visits to a barbershop, flower shop, tailor shop and a typist. She also noted his hesitation on whether to go or not to go into the flower shop.

Additionally, whether he should wait for a copy of the typing to be finished or leave before its completion. Moreover, Mary comments on the lighting, type of furniture, color and decorations of the places Jan visited.

   When performing a telepathic trial with her brother Robert, Mary demonstrates her ability for obtaining a clear image of a distant person and place.

   “I saw Bob sitting at a dining room table, a dish or some small object in front of him. I try to see the object on the table, I see white something at last. I can’t decide what it is so I concentrate on seeing his drawing on a green paper. I think he has made his drawing.

I try hard to see what he has drawn. I try to see a paper with a drawing on it, and see a straight chair. Am not sure of second drawing. It does not seem to be on his paper. It may be his bed foot. I distinctly see a chair like the first one on his paper.”

   For the trial, Robert drew a chair Mary drew two chairs.

   Another promising area of telepathy that showed surprising results was in the area of diagnosing illness. On July 1, 1928, Mary was attempting to receive a telepathic drawing from her brother Robert; however, the image she kept receiving was that of a black spot of blood.

Moreover, the spot was growing in size. There was also an accompaniment of feeling intensely depressed. Mary believed her brother was ill from tuberculosis and had a hemorrhage. Three days latter Mary was able to drive to her brother’s home some forty miles away.

Once there she discovered that indeed Robert was depressed. However, he had not had a hemorrhage but rather a hemorrhoid. Mary’s comments were as follows: “All this dark like a stain. I feel it is blood; that Robert is ill more than usual. Not long after this Robert died.

   In 1932, Dr. Walter Franklin Prince of the Boston Society for Psychic Research published a positive report of the Sinclair’s work. Dr. Prince’s research showed a similar percentage of successful targets hits, partial success, and failures. Prince also makes the assertion that Upton and Mary had even better examples to publish than the ones they did choose to publish.

   One of Dr. Prince’s objectives in his research was to figure the odds of making a successful hit of a target. He had to look beyond the normal odds or percentages to obtain one that was more scientific. He realized that Upton and Robert drew whatever came into their mind for a target.

Examples, of target drawings include, a man with a mustache, a camel, a volcano, a rocket, a harp, water faucet and the list goes on. This means the target pool from which they were selecting from could contain thousands of objects. Based on this he came to a figure of about one chance in 16 million.

   To help further his research, Dr. Prince enlisted the help of ten women to help in gathering test data to compare Mary’s telepathic abilities against that of guessing. The women had no prior knowledge as to the drawings of the target set. Dr. Prince used thirteen drawings, which Upton had drawn as targets on February 15, 1929.

Next, he had the ten women attempted to guess what the target drawing was. He ran two trials of 130, for a total of 260. His research showed there were no successful hits. Furthermore, there were only 3 partial hits, 12 suggestive hits, 13 slightly suggestive hits, and 232 failures.

   In conclusion, Upton and Mary’s work demonstrates how well thought-out independent research can contribute to the knowledge of humanity. Mary’s persistence and attention to details can only lead one to believe not only in her integrity but also in her love and devotion to understanding human consciousness.

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