Lady Wonder

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Lady Wonder (1924–1957) was a horse that was purported to have psychic abilities.[1] Over 150 thousand people came to consult the horse at the price of three questions for one dollar. Lady Wonder is said to have helped the Massachusetts police to find the body of a missing boy, to have predicted that Jack Dempsey would defeat Jack Sharkey in 1927 (including two other documented heavyweight bouts), and to have helped discover oil.[2] Lady Wonder's trainer, C.D. Fonda, raised the horse on a bottle. The horse was trained to operate a contraption device consisting of levers that activated alphabet cards.[3]

The psychical researcher J. B. Rhine investigated the horse and concluded that there was evidence for extrasensory perception between human and horse.[2] However, the magician Milbourne Christopher investigated the horse and noticed that the phenomenon was the result of cueing from her trainer, Fonda. He determined that Lady Wonder only answered questions correctly when her trainer was aware of the answer. According to Christopher "Lady was trained to move her head back and forth above the board bearing the letters. When she was over the right lever, a slight movement of Mrs Fonda's stick cued her to lower her head and touch the proper lever."[4]

Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell has written "Mrs. Fonda gave a "slight movement" of her training rod whenever Lady’s head was at the correct letter. That was enough to cue the swaying mare to stop and nudge that lever. Thus, Lady was revealed to be a well-trained animal, not a telepathic one."[3]

Tests done on Lady Wonder beforehand by J. B. Rhine had already ruled out the possibility however of Lady Wonder's trainer giving cues by blindfolding the horse while doing his tests. (Evidence of such is located at the Rhine Research Center which contains the original notes of J. B. Rhine himself. This is also a segment in an episode of the popular show Mysteries at the Museum)

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  1. ^ "Lady Wonder; "Mind Reading" Mare Baffles Scientists". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Richmond Then and Now. 1927-07-18. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Gardner, Dick. (1962). The Impossible. 1962. Ballantine Books. p. 94
  3. ^ a b Nickell, Joe. (2002). "Psychic Pets and Pet Psychics". Csicop.org. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  4. ^ Christopher, Milbourne. (1971). ESP, Seers & Psychics. Crowell. pp. 39-54. ISBN 978-0690268157