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Flammarion, Camille (February 26, 1842 - June 3, 1925): Renowned Astronomer
Institution / Country:France

Founder and director of the Juvisy Observatory in France, Camille Flammarion is remembered in astronomy for his balloon ascents and for his study of the upper atmosphere, double and multiple stars, and the topography of the planet Mars. Influenced by the research of fellow Frenchman Allan Kardec, Flammarion became interested in psychical research in 1861. He served as president of the Society for Psychical Research in 1923.

Initially very skeptical, Flammarion was eventually won over to a belief in psychic phenomena, including spirit communication, and authored at least four books on psychical matters -- “Mysterious Psychic Forces,” “Before Death,” “At the Moment of Death,” and “After Death.” In “At the Moment of Death,” he wrote:

“There are men of worth among the observers: the names of Immanuel Kant, of Goethe, of Schopenhauer, of William Crookes, of Russel Wallace, of Oliver Lodge, of Edison, of Victor Hugo, of Victorien Sardou, of Lombroso, of William James, and of some others, are not negligible; there are observers of all sorts.

“[However, there are too many] men incapable of being convinced, despite the most evident proofs; worthy men, moreover, from other points of view, learned, agreeable, philanthropic, but whose mental eyes are constructed in such a way that they do not see straight before them. Hunters tell us it is the same with hares. Their eyes have a prism before the retina in place of the normal lens, and this prism distorts the rays by a few degrees, with refractions, which differ according to type. This is not their fault. It is not only that they do not wish to perceive the sun at high noon, but they cannot… Eyes are useless to a blind brain, say an Arabian proverb.

“To have too much intellect is sometimes a hindrance to the simple comprehension of things as they are.

“[In effect], we have against us, in our investigation, three kinds of adversaries, virtually unconquerable: 1) Those who make sport of everything, who are interested in nothing; 2) materialists convinced, on principle, that matter produces everything; 3) human beings confined within a narrow dogma, whatever their religion, sure of their beliefs and satisfied with them. Those with knowledge of truth have always formed a minority, despite the most persevering efforts of free seekers.

“Let us persevere, however. The good seed will, at length, germinate.”

Text and photo of Camille Flammarion courtesy of Michael Tymn, author of The Articulate Dead where Michael examines several of the best mediums of yesteryear and the scientific research surrounding them.