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Fails from the crypt

Ectoplasm is a physical substance supposedly created paranormally on the bodies of psychic mediums for spirits to take form in. Since World War II, reports of ectoplasm have declined and science has shown that the substance turned out to be a hoax, made of natural substances such as cheesecloth or fabric.


The term derives from ecto- (from Greek for outside) and plasm (from Greek for a molded thing), or more in other words something molded outside, i.e. something physical being "molded" externally to the body by use of psychic power. Sometimes the synonymous term exteriorization is used instead. Charles Richet (1850-1935) who had coined the term ectoplasm, did not actually believe the substance had anything to do with spirits. Similar to other psychical researchers who studied mediumship in the 19th century such as Camille Flammarion wrote that it was a mysterious force that could emanate from the body of the medium during seances.

The view that ectoplasm was an actual force or fluid was later dropped due to investigations into ectoplasm by scientific sampling. Evidence had shown from samples that ectoplasm was the result of fraud and trickery of the medium made from chewed paper, cloth, egg white or butter muslin. The photographs of ectoplasm show it to closely resemble cheesecloth and natural substances. Ectoplasm as spirits has been refuted by science and thankfully most modern paranormal researchers today accept this, the only modern-day supporters of ectoplasm being genuine are some spiritualists.