It will soon be time to turn to holiday-oriented posts, but if you’re like me you’ve been seeing the decorations and hearing the music for some time now already. Given that, at least in name, Christmas is a religious holiday it fits naturally into this blog. So does the supernatural in itself. This year I have read most—there’s one book unavailable—of the book-length work of/about Ed and Lorraine Warren. The latest, some five years after Ed died, was Conversations with Ed and Lorrain Warren by T. Sealyham. My copy, which came used from a library, has all the marks of self-publication. It really needed an editor to go over it. The transcribed radio interviews with Tony Spera, the Warrens’ son-in-law, the accounts told are familiar to those who know the Warrens’ other work, with a few new ones thrown in.
What is immediately striking here, apart from the factual errors (the Isle of Skye is not in the North Sea and Loch Ness is not between Edinburgh and Jedburgh) is the strong desire for credibility. Personal anecdotes are offered as proof. Even on the radio claims are made to having photographs (which can’t be seen in that medium) that aren’t shown because of various restrictions. There’s no doubt that Ed and Lorraine were completely sincere in that they believed in the reality of the phenomena they studied. They have to be credited with taking seriously what mainstream science simply cannot study. I often found myself wondering why there can’t be any middle ground here. The truth only appears when all the hands are face-up on the table.
Volumes like this, that preserve misstatements of a clearly aging Ed, do not help the cause of credibility. Yes, people get forgetful with age. Yes, people sometimes misspeak. Credulity, however, doesn’t lead to credibility. Many times Tony, after receiving an intriguing answer to a question, would immediately switch the subject instead of following up with a probing request for more detail. The interview becomes a pastiche of friends remembering old times and claiming this is the truth because they all agree that it is. Perhaps my negative response comes from the fact that truth itself is under attack by the United States government even as I write. The world has lost the ability to judge objective evidence and come out with a reasoned assessment. Are there ghosts? Perhaps so, but to get to the truth of the matter will require more than the insistence that we believe “because I told you so.”