I haven't formally studied the philosophy of science, but over the years, while trying to prove reincarnation and reading other paranormal investigators' responses to the skeptics, I've picked up a couple of concepts. One is "falsifiability," or the idea that in order for a theory to be scientifically valid, it must be possible to disprove it. The other is prediction, which is to say, that a valid scientific theory has the potential to predict outcomes. These are really part of the same idea--there has to be some way to test it, such that any observer can clearly see that it was right, or it was wrong.
Occasionally, I run across a situation in which I can make a prediction, based on my current understanding of Mathew Franklin Whittier's work, which could potentially be disproven. I have tried to share these things, here, before I learned the outcome. I'm going to do that again, but I will need to provide a little background. I'll try to be as succinct as possible (partly because I need to make dinner and the evening is getting late).
I identified a travelogue writer, in the Boston "Weekly Museum" of 1849-52, writing under the name of "Quails," as Mathew--despite the fact that historians tell us it was an entertainer named Ossian Dodge. I spent a lot of time, and a lot of pages, just proving this body of work for Mathew, and I won't go over that, here. Then, I discovered that he seemingly picked up the series again in another paper, the Portland "Transcript," in 1856, under the initials "J.O.B." All of this is in my first book. I drew very strong parallels, showed that Mathew himself hinted broadly at his former identity in "J.O.B.," and pointed out several other significant clues and parallels between the two writers.
Recently, I purchased a single edition of the Portland Transcript, which I believed had a particular brief article by Mathew in it. Turns out I had the date wrong by one week. This was easy to do, when my researcher was sending me photographs of pages, and I misunderstood which date a particular photograph was attached to. This was published in April of 1851 (written in March). But this edition had something else unexpected--the third number of a "J.O.B." travelogue! I double-checked "J.O.B.'s" itinerary with "Quail's" written during the same period, March of 1851. Turns out both of them were traveling up the coast of Maine; but it looks as though Mathew simply sliced a piece out of the middle of his travels for "J.O.B.," so that "Quails" talks about the beginning of the trip, and the end.
That's my best guess--because I am convinced, by multiple clues, that these were the same writer. There's a lot at stake, here. It was "J.O.B." who seems to have written a message to his future incarnation--the message being, "I was also 'Quails'." That means that my claimed message, sent from one incarnation in the 19th century, to me in the 21st century, is riding on these being the same author. And there is more. There were other travelogue writers, traveling and writing about their experience in the "Weekly Museum" at the same time as Mathew, which I also suspect of being him, "double-dipping" as it were. And throwing people off his trail, when he was doing secret work for the cause of Abolition. I never came to a firm conclusion about this in my book, because I could never catch him writing as two travelers at the same time. But here, I may possibly have evidence for it.
On the other hand, there is the potential to disprove that "J.O.B." and "Quails" were the same writer. All it would take is for their respective itineraries to flatly contradict each other (assuming Mathew wasn't deliberately fudging). Or, for the writer to express some inclination which I know would be uncharacteristic for him. If "J.O.B." was pro-slavery, for example, or if he disparaged William Lloyd Garrison, or if he was pro-military, or if he was an avid hunter, any of these things would disprove his identity as Mathew.
Since the travelogue entry I discovered is No. 3 of a series, I know there must be two previous entries. There may be some entries afterwards, as well. But "Quails" leaves for Europe by steamship on July 2nd. If "J.O.B." continues traveling in the States after July 2nd, he cannot be Mathew Franklin Whittier. (There is the possibility that Mathew would hand-off a column to a substitute in such situations; but that explanation is pretty weak.)
This naturally makes me a little queasy. I certainly understand how people must feel, when I prove reincarnation, and it threatens their entire world-understanding. I feel that way, on a smaller scale, when I face one of these tense research crossroads.
What I want to do, now, is simply to create this marker. I won't fudge, and I won't remove this entry. Whatever I discover, I'll faithfully report.
But the evidence I already have for "J.O.B." and "Quails" both being Mathew Franklin Whittier is so strong, here's what I expect to find. Their itineraries won't conflict, nor will "J.O.B." express any beliefs which run contrary to Mathew's values. Moreover, there will be some "Mathewsian" elements, or clues pointing to Mathew's identity, and to his writing style. Finally, "J.O.B.'s" series will end before July 2. Those are my predictions. Remember that Mathew is trying to save up all the money he can, for his upcoming European tour, and also to support his estranged wife and their children while he is overseas (he provides a separate house for them in Portland, while he travels in New England as a postal inspecctor). So he could earn twice as much money by writing two different travelogues for two different papers, under two different pseudonyms, even though he is reporting on different portions of the same routes for each.
We shall see.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. 4/11/18 a.m.
I found four installments of "J.O.B." in my own archival volume for the Portland "Transcript," year 1851/52 (they go from April to April of the following year). So far, it appears that Mathew, as a traveling postal inspector, made two trips in March. The earlier trip, up the coast of Maine, he recorded for the "Transcript," writing as "J.O.B."; while he wrote about the latter trip, in the second part of March, as "Quails" in the Boston "Weekly Museum," having a brief stopover at his home base on Boston, in-between. There is a clue in the opening to his first "Quails" entry--he writes to the editor:
"Dear Putnam:--As we have during the past week traveled over a section of country of which we gave a description while on our way east, this letter will, as a matter of convenience and interest, have less of a geographical and more of a personal character."
My hunch is that this is a ruse, and that the reason he doesn't want to describe his recent trip, as "Quails," is that he has already done so for the Portland "Transcript," as "J.O.B." (There are many examples of Mathew resorting to a slight-of-hand like this, in-character, to remain anonymous.)
The rub will be when I visit the Portland Public Library's "Portland Room" later today, and get into the microfilm for the 1852/53 volume. If "J.O.B." continues reporting, in such a way that his itinerary conflicts with "Quails'" reported itinerary in the latter portion of March, we will have a discrepancy. On the other hand, if "J.O.B.'s" series concludes before "Quails'" next reported travels begin, we will have a consistent picture, supporting my theory that they are, in fact, the same writer.
Remember that all of this, as I've suggested before, may be of interest only to a handful of literary historians. But if I am correct, it means that Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote a message to his future incarnation (i.e., myself), telling me that "Quails" and "J.O.B." were the same person, in 1856. This, so far as I know, would be the only such message, successfully sent and received from one incarnation to another, ever recorded. As indicated, there is a secondary significance here--if I have "caught" Mathew double-dipping, then I can make a stronger case that he was doing so with one or two other traveling personas within the Boston "Weekly Museum," as well. These might suggest--where their itineraries finally diverge--that he set up a decoy persona, with its conflicting itinerary, to prevent being tracked down while he was working undercover as an Abolitionist agent for William Lloyd Garrison. I have speculated that the real reason he wrote these travelogues was to apprise Garrison's other operatives of his contacts, via a method which would be cheaper, quicker, and safer than using the mails. In "Quails," one sees over and over that he meets with fellow-Abolitionists, and yet their sympathies in this regard are never mentioned in the column.
I have keyed in two of the four "J.O.B." travelogue installments from 1851 which I have in-house, and am starting on the third. There is nothing to contra-indicate Mathew Franklin Whittier's authorship--and many points of similarity in style, which strongly suggest him as the author. I am pretty sure that when I go into the Portland Public Library later today, I will either find that the series ends with the four installments I already have, or that there is, perhaps, one more--none of which conflict, by date or place, with "Quails." In short, I have discovered Mathew writing two different travelogues, for two different papers, under two different names, at the same time. I'll report my final conclusions after I get back from the library.
For now, look at this opening to the March 29, 1851 installment. This is pure Mathew, the sensitive nature mystic. I could show you parallel passages written by "Quails." Note also how he briefly slips into Irish dialect. You will also find references similar to the "stars dancing on the waves" in his beloved first wife, Abby's, poetry. Mathew often brings Abby into his work, by way of tribute, one way or another:
It was night when we reached the ferry, and lustily did we call "a boat! heigho! a boat!" but the echo died away in the darkness.--"Ho! boatman! a b-o-a-t!" "Aha!" said a son of the "Emerald Isle," "and will ye be afther havin' the large boat for a horse?" "We are not a horse, dear man, so bring the small boat." Now the dripping oars: a dark figure: then we launch away on the deep, where the angel of night spreads her dark wings in mysterious silence, and the least sound thrills the soul with strange music, unheard, unknown before. There are musical chords in the human soul: they vibrate best in the still waters, when the stars are out dancing on the waves. But a grating sound broke the spell that ravished the soul. We had landed on the opposite shore, across old Frenchman's Bay, and were hurrying to a pleasant stranger's house at "Master Ingalls," in the little village of
This village is beautifully located on the east side of Frenchman's Bay, commanding a fine view of the water on the south, as it widens to the ocean, and some of the mountains of Mount Desert.
Audio opening this page: "The Inspector,"
by Wally Badarou, from the album, "Echoes"