Patience appeared on the scene just when spiritualism, enjoying its last great American revival, collided with the age of science, and a brigade of investigators, including magician Harry Houdini, prowled the nation to expose bogus mediums. Since most mediums were women—the spiritualist movement accorded women social status they rarely attained elsewhere—this crusade turned into an epic battle of the sexes: supposed hard-nosed men of science against swooning female seers.
The Patience Worth case remains one of the most tantalizing literary mysteries of the last century, a window onto a vanished era when magic seemed to exist because so many people believed in it. In the decades since Pearl Curran’s death, in 1937, no one has explained how she produced Patience’s writing. Combing through the voluminous archives, however, a modern sensibility starts to see clues and patterns that may not have been apparent at a time when science was just starting to explore the far reaches of the human mind."
Dear Dr. Rhine,
I have heard so much about your experiments in telepathy that I rejoiced to get an authoritative account, and especially to know that a University Professor of Psychology was taking up the subject. And now I find that you were aware of my own work in the same direction, although it was carried on in a back-stairs manner and had no University status At the same time I was personally convinced of the reality of what you have rechristened E.S.P.
I desire no more evidence; only now the subject is on the way to becoming respectable, treated in a handsome volume, published by Henry Holt, & vouched for by several Professor as a branch of Psychology.