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In this paper we discuss the work of the Victorian physicist and radio pioneer Oliver Lodge (1851–1940) in the context of what we call the mediumistic trial of the long 19th century. We are focusing on a short moment in the early 1890s when Lodge’s radio experiments were part of a common expansion into physical and psychical research. By rigorously applying David Bloor's heuristic "principle of symmetry", we demonstrate how Oliver Lodge lived in a world of systems-building and Empire-building that enabled him to categorize human mediums, electromagnetic entities and technical media as parts of an indeterminate but unified field of experimental settings. Though this historical moment was to become a unique tipping point in the initial convergence and later divergence of physical and psychical research, it reveals some general aspects of the mediumistic trial in the long 19th century, namely the existence of a common interface between religious and secularist positions and aspirations.
Schuettpelz, Erhard and Voss, Ehler
"Fragile Balance: Human Mediums and Technical Media in Oliver Lodge's Presidential Address of 1891,"
Vol. 4, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cpo/vol4/iss1/4