Two Critiques of Flammarion’s Book
While the book received wide attention, I will confine this section to two criticisms.
Psychical researcher Frank Podmore (18561910), in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, pointed out that Flammarion would not have received many letters saying no to his question, something affecting his generalizations about issues such as the low number of non-death coincidence cases (Podmore, 1900).
Furthermore, Podmore argued that Flammarion should not insist so much that he was using the scientific method because he basically offered arguments in which he could “give no reasonable grounds for the faith that is in him” (p. 432).
Psychologist Joseph Jastrow (18661944) was even more critical than Podmore. Writing in Science, Jastrow stated that the work showed a “lack of critical judgement in the estimation of evidence, and of an appreciation of the nature of the logical conditions which the study of these problems presents” (Jastrow, 1900, p. 946).
Jastrow, J. (1900). [Review of The Unknown]. Science, 11 (n.s.), 945947.
Podmore, F. (1900) [Review of L’inconnu et les problèmes psychiques]. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 15, 422432.