Rudi Schneider was a spiritualist and psychic medium. Born in Austria on July 27, 1908, he was the son of Josef Schneider and brother to Willi Schneider. Initially beginning his psychic activities at age 11 with his older brother Willi, Rudi Schneider would go on to be extensively studied by the Journal of the American Society of Psychical Research. His successful career was due in large part to a spirit that he and Willi called “Olga”, who the brothers believed to be the spirit of Eliza Eosanna Gilbert.
Rudi began his foray into the field of psychical activities in 1923, with his first demonstration taking place in Vienna at the Institut fur Radiumforschung der Academic der Wissenschaffen. After roughly a year of demonstrations at the institute, two physicists by the names Stefan Meyer and Karl Przibran accused Schneider of attempting to evade the parameters of their study into his legitimacy. These accusations dealt a blow to Rudi's credibility, and he was not allowed to demonstrate his psychic abilities at the institute as a result.
To further assault Schneider's credibility, an American journalist named Warren Vinton determined that Schneider's psychic movement of objects was “fraudulently produced” by other members of the family hiding in the room. Similar to Stefan Meyer and Karl Przibran, Warren Vinton's accusations proved to undermine the supernatural abilities of Rudi Schneider. In 1927, Mr. Vinton's findings and accusations were published in the April edition of Psyche, while also claiming the support of Malcolm Bird, another researcher who was present during Schneider's demonstration for Vinton.
A year later in 1928, parapsychologist Walter Franklin Prince noted that no paranormal phenomena was observed during a series of demonstrations by Schneider. Mr. Prince wrote that “… despite my studied and unremitting complaisance, no phenomena have occurred when I had any part in the control, save curtain movement which were capable of the simplest explanation.”
The near constant invalidation of Rudi Schneider's psychic abilities only drove his desire to be recognized as a psychic medium, and in 1929 he arrived at The National Laboratory of Psychical Research in London to prove his abilities. These tests were the beginning of the end for Mr. Schneider, who was about to have his claims dissected under a microscope with the utmost scrutiny.
Having agreed to take part in several experiments conducted by Harry Price, Mr. Schneider hoped to show the world that his claims were not baseless. Mr. Price, an investigator and debunker of the paranormal, connected Schneider to a series of switches that would alert all onlookers if he moved any of his extremities in a significant manner. In addition to pressure sensitive switches, Schneider was also physically restrained for some of the experiments. Designed to test his own claims that he was able to levitate objects, the inconclusive tests helped give some credence to Mr. Schneider.
To Mr. Price's surprise, he noted several unexplained phenomena during the tests. Objects stirring around the room and the manifestation of inexplicable shapes and shadows lead Price to initially claim that there was no discernible conclusion to be made. The credibility he believed he had gained would be sort lived, however, as Harry Price was a tenacious and dedicated debunker determined to prove that Rudi Schneider was not a psychic, but instead a man looking to wow and dazzle audiences using parlor tricks.
Three years after his arrival in London, Rudi's public image would once again be smeared by claims of fraudulent evasion of the experimental control parameters. A photograph taken on April 28th, 1932 by Harry Price show what appeared to be Schneider moving a handkerchief after inexplicably freeing his hand from the restraints.
The resulting conclusion to the scientists at the laboratory was that Rudi Schneider was not in fact a man with any superhuman abilities, although many members of the parapsychology community disputed the legitimacy of the photograph in question. As a result, Harry Price wrote that he would have to revise the control parameters in the future to account for any unexplained removal of restraining devices.
The backlash of Price's public accusations of fraud against Rudi were well received by other members of the scientific community, who wrote that they had also noticed Mr. Schneiders evasion of control mechanics during his seances and demonstrations. Harry Price was congratulated for his thorough debunking of Mr. Schneider's abilities, despite claims that he had doctored the original photo to discredit Schneider.
Members from the Society of Psychical Research community, including Anita Gregory, claimed that the photo was illegitimately forged in an effort to publicly shame Mr. Schneider. Many onlookers at the time the photograph was taken, however, disputed Gregory's claims and stated that there was no significant evidence to prove that the photo had been doctored.
Perhaps most importantly was the input of John L. Randall, a prominent member of the Society of Psychical Research, who did an in depth review of the Price and Schneider case. His conclusion was that any movement made by Schneider during the photography and testing session was not accidental, but instead that he had been moving with “fraudulent intent.”
One event in particular that critic Harry Price drew attention to took place in 1930, while Schneider was working with a French paranormal investigator by the name Dr. Eugene Osty. At the Institut Metapyschique, Dr. Osty set up a camera with an infrared trigger to detect any movement and capture an image. During their tests, Dr. Osty claimed that the device was triggered multiple times, yet no pictures showed any evidence of Schneider's arms were present to prove illegitimacy.
Osty concluded that the tests were evident of telekinetic movement, and noted that “ectoplasm” was setting off the infrared trigger. Mr. Price noticed that one of the photographs showed Rudi Schneider had an arm free, even though the tests were supposed to be controlled. The overall conclusion of the Institut Metapsychique tests was that Dr. Eugene Osty's methods could not be viewed as scientifically sound.
During the final years of his career, Rudy Schneider worked with the Society for Psychical Research in a last ditch effort to prove his legitimacy. It was recorded that over the course of 55 demonstrations not one single paranormal or uncommon event occurred. A wide array of tools were present during the various sittings, including another infrared array to measure for any movement or supernatural disturbance.
Ultimately, with an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to the contrary, head researchers Oliver Gatty and Theodore Besterman concluded that there was “no good evidence that Rudi Schneider possesses supernormal powers”.
With such an enormous cavalcade of naysayers and so many claims of fraud, Rudi Schneider is thoroughly believed to have had no special abilities or psychic powers. With his initial attempts to demonstrate his abilities widely believed to have been fraudulent and dedicated researchers such as Harry Price working so diligently to discredit him, Rudi Schneider eventually decided to give up his claims of ‘mediumship' and spent the remainder of his life as an auto mechanic.
After his retiring, no further tests were conducted and no sittings or demonstrations took place. Rudi Schneider, after the conclusive testing between 1933 and 1934 by the Society for Psychical Research, eventually disappeared with no record of his activities for the remainder of his life.