Testing the Claims of Mesmerism
The First Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal Ever Conducted
with an introduction by Michael Shermer
In 1991, about the time we were creating and organizing the Skeptics Society and Skeptic magazine, I read an essay by Stephen Jay Gould entitled “The Chain of Reason Versus the Chain of Thumbs,” in Bully for Brontosaurus (1991, W. W. Norton). It is the story of an 18th-century scientific investigation of an extraordinary claim — mesmerism — commissioned by King Louis XVI of France and conducted by such scientific luminaries as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier. The result of that investigation was the Report of the Commissioners Charged by the King to Examine Animal Magnetism, “Printed on the King’s Order Number 4 in Paris From the Royal Printing House” in 1784, just five years before the demise of the ancien régime.
See the link for more: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/10-09-22/