It seems strange that a man best known for creating the quintessential detective, who based his deductions solely on reason, would also be one of the biggest proponents of Spiritualism around the turn of the last century. Equally strange is that a man who based his career of performing illusions and magic tricks was one of the most stringent disbelievers of the same religion. Perhaps strangest of all was the friendship of these two men, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini...
The creator of "Sherlock Holmes" was no bastion of rationality himself
People are complicated.
Two girls, cousins, were having fun with a camera and decided to make photographs of paper cut out fairies. Their pictures ended up in the hands of spiritualist theosophists who took the pictures seriously. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of them.
What amuses me most in the issue of Conan Doyle's fake fairies photograph was how he failed to use a magnifying glass to analyze the photo. Wasn't a magnifying glass one of his characters favorite investigating tools? If he had used a magnifying glass he would have discovered a double image of one of the girl's hands which would indicate a double negative purposely faked to give the fairies wings the illusion of fluttering.
Yes, villabolo, I have seen some of the photographs that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fell for hook, line and sinker.
You're right: it is difficult to imagine how he could have accepted those as legitimate photographs of fairies, and yet he did.
I don't think its completely incongruous to be a rational thinker and still hope that there is more to reality than what is seen. It could even be that a mind so adept at boiling down everything into its rational components yearns even more than average for something greater to appear.
Yes, he was an interesting fellow for sure, though. I think I remember reading that he remained faithful to his ailing wife despite falling in love with another woman.