2 SEPTEMBER 1972, Page 22

The supernatural

Sir: Mr Blish (August 19) is perfectly entitled to disbelieve in all the evidence of poltergeists and to assume there is not such a thing as telepathy or water divining though it would naturally help his argument if he could explain either instead of ignoring both.

But what one questions is the right of any serious commentator on so complicated a theme to write what happens to be the very contrary of some obvious facts.

So when the credulous inquire whether 3,000 years of human belief can possibly be wrong, Mr Blish is perfectly justified in saying, "Indeed it can." But that does not take us any farther since the inquirer is as likely to deduce that Mr Blish is wrong and not the three millennia of popular belief; perhaps on the face of it a trifle more so. When he proceeds to confront his readers with the barefaced assertion that the ancient magic practices of Egypt and contemporary extra sensory perception are two irreconcilables one cannot treat him seriously in the face of all the evidence collected, even in an elementary textbook like Andrew Lang's Cock Lane and Common Sense; that the really astonishing coincidence is the identical form of the magic, if not of the ancient Egyptians, at any rate of the Neo-platonists in the Roman Empire with that not only of the nineteenth century spiritualists but of the Dyaks in Sarawak tothis very day (cf. Burckhart, Zeitalter Constantin der Grossen, Phaedon Press, Vienna, 1936). As to astrology, a subject on which he castigates a writer for saying that "It works" by inquiring simply, "What works?" The answer is: Astrology. Hitler thought so and he was unhappily no fool. So if Mr Blish will refer to the first edition of Trevor-Roper's Last Days of Hitler, published 1946, he will find that when he read the long-range horoscopes, a trifle late, inside the Berlin bunker they foretold Germany would go through a bad time in 1946 from which she'd make a most amazing recovery in 1948; the year as it turned out of Dr Erhardt's Economic Wonder. There is, to be fair, a margin of error as that was only true about two thirds (the Western part) of Germany. But it is distinctly narrower than a comparable long range weather forecast of the BBC which does not disprove meteorology.

If I might now recite my own experience with the occult: I was in April 1956 waylaid by a Sikh fortune-teller outside the Adelphi Hotel in Singapore. He told me, among other things, and they were all correct, that I would be leaving the Far East that September (in fact my contract terminated at the end of May) and would have one more job. This seemed exceedingly unlikely as not only was I fiftyseven but I had never had any regular job except the one in Singapore having been previously a barrister and free lance journalist my whole working life. In fact I was detained in Singapore to give evidence at the next Supreme Court sitting which was on July 1; and when I should have sailed in August, monsoons held up my ship at Hong Kong till the middle of September. In 1966 I got my second full time job. I have kept it ever since. I now claim I have given Mr Blish not one but two "white crows" in evidence, and will await his scraping off of all the whitewash. Only the explanation 'sheer coincidence' just will not wash with me. As a natural sceptic I find it easier to belieye in the supernatural. George Edinger 4 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn. London WC I