Talk:Phineas Quimby

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In its current form this article reads like a eulogy. -- The Anome 22:17, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, it is a long sight from being encyclopedic. Maikel 21:09, 23 February 2007 (UTC)


At the moment, the text states:

Two of his patents were signed by President Andrew Jackson. (Boston University).

No available Quimby patent mentions Jackson in any way; and Jackson's signature does not appear anywhere on any of the patents. Therefore, I have removed the sentence.

Unless someone can provide precise photographic evidence of Jackson's signature on the two (otherwise unidentified patents) — and I am certain that no such evidence exists — the sentence must not be replaced, as it is factually incorrect. Lindsay658 07:33, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

User:Hrafn has demanded references for the following information:
(1) US patent no.5650X, (held jointly with Job White: White & Quimby), dated 12 September 1829, for a "Circular Sawing Machine" (a later patent, lodged by Job White, US patent no.16157, dated 2 December 1856, for a "Method of Applying Steam to and of Cutting Scarfs from Wood" refers to this earlier patent);
(2) US patent no.9679X, (held by P. Quimby), dated 23 May 1836, for a "Permutation Lock";
(3) US patent no.7197, (held by P.P. Quimby), dated 19 March 1850, for a "Steering Apparatus… a new and useful machine for Steering Ships and Steamboats".
(4) Another patent was issued to Quimby on 3 June 1829 for a "Chain Saw for Timber" (according to Clark (1982, p.104)).
The first thing you need to understand is that, when I searched the records of the US patent Office on-line on 21 September 2007, I discovered the records of three different patents.
I was able to download the diagrams (in pdf form) for 5650X; however, its "specifications" were not available to those responsible for the scanning at the time the records were scanned (there is a note that the missing pages will be immediately scanned once they are found).
I was able to download both the diagrams (with a rubber stamp on it saying "no printed specification available") and the (handwritten) "specifications" (in pdf form) for 9679X; and, as well, both the diagrams and "printed specifications" for 7197.
At the same time, I also made a sequential search through the available patent numbers (there were many gaps) from X5475 to X5497 inclusive — from 30 April 1829 to 11 June 1829 — and found no record of anything like the "Chain Saw for Timber" that Clarke mentions.
Further, given that all of the records available on-line from this era are a consequence of a rather rushed process of scanning with an optical character reading device, there are an enormous number of errors in every level of the records; and I do recall that in certain of the cases QUIMBY was mis-spelt, and I also recall that the STEERING APPARATUS in "Steering Apparatus" came out as something quite different (I have a feeling, for example that the STEER part came out as STEEK).
Anyway, at the time, I sent off a note to them, informing them that their on-line records did not match the data that actually did not match the content of the documents -- and, as a consequence, were unlikely to be found by anyone who was searching for the docu,ents based on "correct" information.
Lastly, as of this moment, I have been unable to gain any access to anything at either the US patent office or at Google Patents for either 5650X or 9679X, or for "Quimby", or for any of the relevant key-words such as "Maine" lock", etc. I very strongly suspect that, right now, these records have been withdrawn, and are being revised by the Patents office. I could not raise any images for 7197 at the patent office site for 7197, so I went to [1], see top of page 2 of the "specifications" for the reference to Quimby's prior work.
I can assure you that the three patents certainly do exist (as I have the pdfs before me as I write this); and the fact that the existence of the fourth 1829 patent can not be verified electronically, on-line must be considered to be far more likely due to the inadequacies of the system (at its current state of development) dealing with early handwritten documents, than it can be considered to disporove any such claim. Here, given that in some cases thatere are more than 20 numbers missing from the numerical sequence of 1829 patent records that are available at the moment, it is most emphatically true the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". Lindsay658 (talk) 22:05, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
I would remind you of WP:V: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth." I object to having a lengthy footnote on these patents that does nothing to actually verify their existence. This entire article is appallingly referenced, with Quimby's own works & a couple of museum "collections" dumped into the references section to give the appearance (but not the reality) of verifiability. I'm not intending deleting the patent material immediately, but will soon start pruning the article generally down to what is verifiable. HrafnTalkStalk 05:18, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
I have been able to find an avenue for you to see the actual patent documents, and have included them in the footnotes. I hope that has satisfied you. I agree with your comments about the rest of the article. Somewhere I have a reference referring to him as a clock-maker (which would tally with his interest in mechanical devices such as those in the patents). Once I come across it, I will include it. Lindsay658 (talk) 19:10, 5 April 2008 (UTC)


Incidentally, I'm not sure that an anonymous article in a century-old newspaper is sufficiently reliable, or easily enough accessible to be verifiable, to act as a source for accusations of plagiarism against Mary Baker Eddy. There appears to be considerable more recent, more thorough and more scholarly work on the subject cited in Mary Baker Eddy. Shouldn't we be relying on that (or similar) instead? HrafnTalkStalk 05:00, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

The particular point of the article in question is that:
(1) The article is only "anonymous" because, according to the custom of the time, it was placed within the newspaper without a byline. Reading through the article it certainly appears to have been constructed by what we would now term (in 2008) a "team of investigative journalists".
(2) The article also contains a series of photographs showing exactly how, where, and in what fashion the theft (in this case, it can not even be called "plagiarism") took place.
(3) The article itself is of great historical importance because it brought to public notice a whole series of issues that were, previously, known only to "insiders".
(4) The publication of the article also gave a lot of social support to those criticizing the manner in which Eddy went about her business. Although I don't have a reference for you off the top of my head, I do recall that Mark Twain used the 1904 article as a strong support for his attacks on Eddy.
Thus, if you have something else that speaks more or less to the same subject, it is important to include that as well -- however, if for no other reason than on important historical grounds, the reference to the 1904 article must be retained. Lindsay658 (talk) 05:17, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
I've done some further scratching around. There seem to have been numerous plagiarism charges levelled against Edyy, and at least some of them have been since refuted. The source that I've most commonly seen cited is Historical Consensus and Christian Science: The Career of a Manuscript Controversy by Thomas C. Johnsen. Unfortunately it is only available online by registered users here. It gives at least some mention of Quimby (as I was able to establish via Google Scholar), but I'm not sure how much. The Mary Baker Eddy article cites Mary Baker Eddy by Gillian Gill as having:

...uncovered fairly convincing evidence that Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, from whom critics have long-claimed Eddy stole all her ideas, could not possibly have been the "author" of the his so-called "Quimby Manuscripts" as Horatio Dressor, the son of two of Quimby's students, claimed. Gill wrote that Quimby's actual manuscripts, in his own almost illegible handwriting, indicated that for all intents and purposes Quimby was functionally illiterate and could not write a single cogent English paragraph let alone the alleged Manuscripts. She also uncovered materials that demonstrated that Dresser intentionally left out all manuscripts that would have demonstrated the independence of Eddy's ideas from Quimby's.

Having not had an opportunity to read Johnsen, Gill or the 1904 NYT article, I cannot comment on their relative merits, or how they fit together. I would however be highly skeptical of sourcing the article solely on the 1904 article without attempting to address this later and more detailed scholarship on the issue. HrafnTalkStalk 10:18, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Mesmerist and Magnetist[edit]

This section does not discuss Quimby's involvement in "magnetism" at all. Would love it if it did though! Low Sea (talk) 03:49, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

More importantly, it does not cite any sources whatsoever -- which is highly problematical. HrafnTalkStalk 18:02, 21 December 2008 (UTC)


"Philosopher, magnetizer, mesmerist, healer, and scientist" Says the intro... what was the science branch and what academic degree did he hold? If any? ... said: Rursus (bork²) 15:46, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

"Inventor" would I suspect be a more apt description. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 16:22, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, maybe. I'll keep my eyes open about that "philosopher" claim too. Anyone counting his/her toes and speculating in the form of passing clouds may call him/her-self a "philosopher", but real philosophers are able to discuss other philosophers, from Plato to Kant, and correcty describe the statements of those two. I'm below that level, so if I'm a "philosopher" then it is with double blips and a "so called". Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:39, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Influence on Word of Faith[edit]

Allegedly Word of Faith got it's theology from Quimby, f.ex. acc2 here. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:49, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

He also influenced Christian Science, see this source: The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. IRWolfie- (talk) 19:01, 21 September 2012 (UTC)