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Camp Chesterfield

Camp Chesterfield is a center for spiritualism that features readings by mediums for individuals or groups, whether they be day trippers or those desiring an extended stay with the spirits. The camp is located in Chesterfield, Indiana. It was founded in 1886 as a Spiritualist Church and now serves as home to the Indiana Association of Spiritualists.

In 1977, Lamar Keene, who had worked as a medium at Camp Chesterfield and other places, exposed the techniques used to convince patrons that they were communicating with the dead rather than with the living who were making quite a good living pretending they could conjure up the dead. According to Keene, the folks at Camp Chesterfield and other spiritualist havens like Lily Dale, collect information on guests who frequent spiritualist retreats in search of communication with dead loved ones. The information is not only used to deceived the patrons at the place of origin, but is shared by the organizers of the spiritualist retreats.

More than a quarter of a century after Keene exposed the fraud, paranormal investigator Joe Nickell (2002) went undercover at Camp Chesterfield and found that not only did the mediums then working the place have no idea of his deception, they gave him a reading based on the phony information he'd provided.

Camp Chesterfield is a testament to what Lamar Keene called true-believer syndrome.

See also apport, Arthur Ford hoax, automatic writing, channeling, ectoplasm, ghost, Lily Dale, medium, Ouija board, séance, and A Short History of Psi Research by Robert Todd Carroll.

further reading

books and articles

Brandon, Ruth. (1983). The Spiritualists. Knopf.

Houdini, Harry. A Magician Among the Spirits (New York: Harper, 1924).

Houdini, Harry. Miracle Mongers and Their Methods: a Complete Exposé (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1981). * Free online!

Keene, M. Lamar. The Psychic Mafia (Prometheus, 1997).

Nickell, Joe. 2000. Spirit Painting Part I: The Campbell Brothers.

Nickell, Joe. 2002. Undercover among the spirits. Skeptical Inquirer. 26:2 (March/April), 22–25.

Randi, James. An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1995).

Randi, James. Flim-Flam! (Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books,1982).

Rawcliffe, Donovan Hilton. Occult and Supernatural Phenomena(New York: Dover Publications, 1988).

Stein, Gordon. "Spiritualism," in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal edited by Gordon Stein (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996).

Tanner, Amy. Studies in Spiritism (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1994).


Skeptiseum: Spiritualism

Last updated 05-Jan-2016

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