It is often assumed that mediumship is the primary reason why people become convinced by the claims of spiritualism. This article explores this question by examining the conversion narrative of A R Wallace, the co-founder of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Wallace was a committed naturalist, and was considered by his scientific peers to be more Darwinian than Darwin himself. Although Wallace claims that the primary reason for his conversion was the séance phenomena he witnessed, there were aspects of his thought that made him susceptible to the philosophy of Spiritualism before he had even attended a séance room. This article explores some of these ideas and attempts to give a more rounded view of what caused Wallace to change his worldview, which, as you will see, had a dramatic impact on his ideas concerning human evolution.
I hope this article will help us better understand the complex nature of our belief systems and how our preexisting ideas and interests influence the way we view the world and make us susceptible to certain philosophical claims.
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