revised: July 14, 2002


The Power of the Mind


Ken Raines



...thought is conducted by an electronic vibratory method. Dr. Abrams was the first to demonstrate that theory through a mechanical instrument. It also explains the hitherto mysteries of so-called mental telepathy, mind reading, and woman's intuition, of which Pastor Russell spoke upon several occasions.

The Gol den Age, February 25, 1925, p. 332.





In 1925, The Golden Age magazine published the article, "The Power of the Mind" by Dr. A. P. Pottle, D.O., Ph.C.[1] This was the first mention of the E.R.A. in Watchtower Society literature to my knowledge. In the article, Dr. Pottle said that Dr. Albert Abrams had demonstrated that the mind operates by electronic vibrations. He said these mental "vibrations" could be picked up by others over large distances. This explained why people could pick up the thoughts of others (mind reading) or transmit thoughts to others (telepathy).

Dr. Pottle also alluded to Abrams' and apparently his own experiments with telepathy and mind reading based on the ERA theory. He said:

It is now demonstrated that chemicals are too slow in action to permit rapid calculation, and this is proof that thought is conducted by an electronic vibratory method.

Dr. Abrams was the first to demonstrate that theory through a mechanical instrument. It also explains the hitherto mysteries of so-called mental telepathy, mind reading, and woman's intuition, of which Pastor Russell spoke upon several occasions.

People of strong mental intellect may attune their mind with the vibrations of another and sense that other's thought. This is frequently called a "co-incident", and can be tested by looking at one person intently for a few minutes; and that person will sense that vibration being played upon him. Others can merely think of another person and not see him, and he will sense the vibratory reaction. [2]

The "electronic reactions" of Dr. Albert Abrams was used by Dr. Pottle to explain mental telepathy and "woman's intuition"! He said Dr. Abrams "demonstrated" the fact that thoughts are transmitted by electronic vibrations that can be picked up or sensed by others over large distances. After making the statements quoted above, Dr. Pottle gave the following warning about experimenting with telepathy and mind-reading due to demonic and Satanic activity:

It is dangerous to carry these experiments to completion, however, due to the wily darts of the evil one and to the tremendous influence of the hypnotic and spiritistic cults. The two should be kept entirely separate; for they are entirely distinct. But due to our finite minds, it is most difficult to distinguish between them, and therefore it is advisable not to experiment with such a master mind as Satan. [3]

Does this mean that it is o.k. to experiment with mind-reading and telepathy with E.R.A. techniques because this is "entirely distinct" and separate from the "hypnotic and spiritistic cults"? What did he mean when he said these experiments should not be carried out to completion? And how can one distinguish between a friend's thoughts transmitted into one's mind through telepathy and the "wily darts of the evil one"? If in JW theology a demon can impersonate one's dead relative or friend at a seance, why not a living friend or relative through what one thinks is telepathy?


Mental Radio demonism

This reminds me of a piece C. J. Woodworth printed in The Golden Age later in 1925 titled "Every Human Being a Radio." He began by saying:

WE ARE in receipt of clippings entitled, "Is Mental Radio a Possibility?" and "Portraits from the Void", which record the experiences of several persons in receiving, with and without apparatus, pictures and messages which they are wholly unable to explain. [4]

These supposedly came from Radio transmissions. Woodworth printed the letter that accompanied the clippings sent in. This was from an individual who had such experiences. He said these reminded him of similar run-ins he had with demons projecting thoughts into his mind. However, he explained his recent experiences were the result of Radio transmissions that he somehow picked up mentally after becoming "sensitive" to this from his experiences with demons! He said:

"I have no doubt, of course, that the phenomena listed therein [the clippings] are in large measure demonistic, but I am also confident that not all of them are. In fact, this clipping has explained several mysteries to me.... human beings throughout the universe will be able to converse with each other at will, instantly, and without instruments of any sort... every human being is an embryo radio apparatus....

"When quite a distance from the radio set, and at times when the said set was entirely disconnected and non-operating, I have heard, beyond all possiblity of doubt, the familiar wireless code of the radio,.... I was positive the code was flashing into my ear from the outside just as clearly as when I was receiving at the radio set. At such times I had decidedly uncomfortable memories of former days of unwelcone communication from those unseen intelligences who, thank God, will soon be no more. But, after reading this clipping, I am positive I was really hearing code without apparatus of any kind, simply because, with an 'inner ear' formerly super-sensitive to ethereal sounds, I had been made receptive, so to speak, by long connection with the earphones of our radio set. At least, this seems the only reasonable theory.

"If this material is used, I would of course prefer that my name be not mentioned in conection with former susceptibility to angelic voices, as that chapter is mercifully a closed one..."

Woodworth himself had similar battles with unwelcome voices and thoughts being transmitted into his mind by evil spirits. He considered himself demon possessed at one time. He believed many other Bible Students would have similar battles with demons as well. Rutherford five years later claimed that he was a little more than just "susceptible" to angelic voices, he claimed angels were transmitting information and Biblical interpretations for his books into his mind inaudibly. How many JWs were susceptible to this sort of thing? The writer said every human was a radio and thoughts could be transmitted across the universe instantly by telepathy. Dr. Pottle in his Golden Age article said this was "demonstrated" by Dr. Abrams' E.R.A. experiments.

Uptain Sinclair, a supporter of the E.R.A. in the early 1920s, wrote a book titled Mental Radio in 1930. [5] It recorded experiments in mind reading and telepathy he and his wife had conducted. He believed the human mind was a radio of sorts that transmitted and received "vibrations" that could be picked up by others over large distances. [6] His last words promoting the E.R.A. were in the 1926 edition of his book, The Book of Life. If he were still a believer in Abrams electronic "vibrations" in 1930, I'm sure he would have mentioned Abrams' views and psychic experiments to 'prove' his case like Pottle did.

What is interesting about this is The Golden Age, while still supporting the E.R.A. in the 1930s claimed that Uptain Sinclair, in dabbling in telepathy and mind reading ["mental radio"] was involved in "demonism"! They said:

Sinclair Mixing Up in Demonism
UPTON SINCLAIR has written a book, Mental Radio, narrating the experiments of himself and his wife in telepathy. He says, in one place, "The subconscience answers questions, and its answers are always false.... the deep mind, answers questions too, and these answers come, not quietly, but as if by inspiration...." We merely add that the demons are teasing Mr. Sinclair.

If Sinclair was "mixing up in demonism" by experimenting with telepathy and mind reading, what about Dr. Albert Abrams and JWs such as Pottle? How is one supposed to keep it separate from "spiritistic cults" according to Pottle?


Abrams' psychic E.R.A. experiments

Many E.R.A. practitioners did experiment with psychic phenomena using E.R.A. methods, including Dr. Abrams himself. Dr. Pottle's article reveals the JWs were aware of this, yet they promoted the E.R.A. anyway. According to Edward Russell in his book Report on Radionics, Abrams demomstrated that the "electronic reactions" were actually psychic in origin (Abrams himself didn't come to this conclusion). He mentioned several of Abrams' experiments and comments recorded in his New Concepts in Diagnosis and Treatment book that to him indicated the psychic nature of the E.R.A. Here are some of the comments and claims made by Abrams that Russell noted:





This was the sort of thing Dr. Pottle was apparently referring to when he said that Abrams demonstrated that thought is transmitted by an electronic vibratory method and these "vibrations" could be picked up by others over large distances.

Abrams' New Concepts book was quoted approvingly by Golden Age authors into the 1930s. [9]


C. T. Russell and telepathy

Why did JWs promote Dr. Abrams and his methods? Why were JWs such as Pottle at this time liable to experiment with telepathy themselves? As was usually the case, the Watchtower Society's founder, C.T. Russell, laid the foundation. He said that the "powers of the mind" included telepathy. This was the source, apparently, of the title to Dr. Pottle's article.

Russell said:

As to just how the prayers of one may benefit another we may not know. We have not sufficient information to philosophize on it very deeply. We might surmise certain mental influences proceeding from one to another, just as we know electrical influences to proceed from one station to another thousands of miles away. The powers of the mind are something not comprehended. We can influence ourselves, and, to a certain extent, influence another. One mind can influence another without a word, by some telepathic power. [10]

How did Russell know this for certain? Did he experience or experiment with this himself or was he speaking of the experiences of others?


ERA and Palmistry, Phrenology, Physiognomy,...

"The Power of the Mind" article by Pottle also explained and promoted such things as Palmistry (Chiromancy or Chirognomy), Phrenology and Psysiognomy with the ERA. He stated:

It also explains why the character of men can be described in terms of facial features, known as Physiognomy, or cranial characteristics with the scientific term of Phrenology, or even by the fingernails or by the palm, or by the spine, or by the feet. There are books published on each of these arts separately; and if we were only sufficiently intelligent we undoubtedly could determine what a person thinks or does chiefly, his qualifications, etc., merely from a piece of his skin, a hair, or a drop of blood.

Abrams scientifically demonstrated this fact in many details, although experiments are as yet in their infancy. The body throughout tells our story of life; the vibrations show what we are, and do not lie. [11]

I can't imagine the Awake! magazine today endorsing these things with something like the E.R.A.! Here they promoted and explained such things as Chiropractic (Pottle's profession), Phrenology, Physiognomy, Palmistry, "Zone therapy" like ideas and other quack, and pseudoscience beliefs.

Jehovah's Witnesses continued to promote the E.R.A. into the 1940s at least. These comments by Dr. Pottle were literally just the beginning...





1. The Golden Age, February 25, 1925, pp. 332-4.

2. Ibid., pp. 332-3.

3. Ibid., p. 332.

4. The Golden Age, July 1, 1925, p. 631.

5. Upton Sinclair, Mental Radio (New York: Albert & Charles Boni), 1930.

6. Ibid., p. 213.

7. The Golden Age, January 20, 1932, p. 249.

8. Edward Russell, Report on Radionics, pp. 32, 33.

9. The Golden Age, February 18, 1931, p. 338.

10. Watch Tower Reprints, p. 5204.

11. The Golden Age, February 25, 1925, p. 333.







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copyright 2002, Ken Raines