Why does the author say the information was "correct" but after that he says "the information was wrong"? Does it means that the information of the letter was wrong but she spelled them out?

What is a good deal more to the purpose is that Mr. Funk sat with Margaret, that he heard the raps "all round the room" without detecting their origin, and that they spelt out to him a name and address which were correct and entirely beyond the knowledge of the medium. The information given was wrong, but, on the other hand, abnormal power was shown by reading the contents of a letter in Mr. Funk's pocket. Such mixed results are as puzzling as the other larger problem discussed in this chapter.

from The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I by Arthur Conan Doyle

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    It seems that the medium managed to correctly indicate the name and address on a letter in Mr Funk's pocket, but that was not the question asked of her, or was the wrong answer to the question. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 13:25
  • I think it is poorly (or at least not completely clearly) written. I think his name and address were correct, but the other information she gave was not
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 13:25
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    @Lambie, we are not discussing a work of fiction here. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 14:08
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    @Lambie it is not a fiction. pay more attention to what you say. we are talking about the events that author recorded them in book.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 14:33
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the motivations of the author can only be explained by the author.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 3:03

2 Answers 2


"The observation was correct, though the inference was wrong."

The source is the same e-book. The medium read what was written whether the written information was incorrect or not.

An example: Someone asks you for Joe's phone number written in a book. You read the number not knowing it is the incorrect phone number for Joe.

  • @G Warner i agree with you. your answer seems true. i had such a thing in my mind before you answer the question.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 13:34
  • Figuring out the meaning of antiquated grammar is certainly a challenge. Especially when the author is prone to run-on sentence structure.
    – user19179
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 13:40
  • Antiquated grammar?
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 14:37
  • Not exactly that @Lambie just old fashioned method of speech. swantower.com/essays/craft/archaic-grammar and thewritelife.com/old-grammar-rules
    – user19179
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 17:57

The word "correct" can convey the idea of "neat and straight", of conformance to some kind of norm or pattern. For example, a world is spelled correctly if it is spelled as given in dictionaries. A window shade must be cut to the correct width. In the 19th century a man's behavior might be called "very correct" if he said and did exactly the things required by the norms of the society in which he moved. Also in the language of the 19th century to say that a man "expressed correct opinions" meant that his opinions were uncontroversial and respectable in society. This statement was often meant to imply that he did not think for himself and that many of his opinions were wrong.

In contrast when we say that something is "wrong" we are invoking concepts of truth, justice, morality, and appropriateness. We are saying that these standards exist whether others acknowledge them or not.

As an example, more than a few 19th century gentlemen expressed the opinion that Africans and their own wives and daughters were not as evolved as European men and hence less intelligent. This idea was "correct" because it was expressed by influential thinkers such as Charles Darwin. But it was contrary to fact and hence wrong even then.

An example of this use of "correct" from the 20th century is the term "politically correct". Originally it was used as a criticism. Calling a statement "politically correct" meant that one felt pressured to agree with it whether one thought it was true or not.

Now let's return to your quote. It sounds like the medium's answer was "correct" because it conformed letter-for-letter to what was written on the letter in the man's pocket, but it was "wrong" because that address was the wrong answer to the question asked.

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