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Born: August 24, 1961
London, England, UK
Dr. Alan Robert George Owen
Born: July 4, 1919
Birthplace: Bristol, England, UK
Death: January 18, 2003, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Dr. A.R.G. Owen and the eight participants of the research group began conducting the Philip Experiment in 1972. In the movie, Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) conducts his experiments in 1974. George Owen's wife, Iris, who was the leader of the group involved in the Philip Experiment, wrote the 1976 book Conjuring Up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokinesis, which chronicled the experiment and its findings in detail. Fellow participant Sue Sparrow was her coauthor.
The real group operated under the auspices of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research and was made up of eight people, three men and five women. The group's members did not inspire any of the movie's characters and only one was a student. None of the members were trained mediums. The group included the lead participant, Iris Owen (a former nurse and A.R.G. Owen's wife), Margaret Sparrow (the former chairman of MENSA in Canada, the organization for individuals with high IQs), Andy H. (housewife), Lorne H. (industrial designer, husband of Andy H.), Al P. (heating engineer), Dorothy O'D. (housewife and bookkeeper), Bernice M. (accountant), and Sidney K. (sociology student). Dr. A.R.G. Owen and Joel Whitton (a psychologist) came to meetings as observers. -Conjuring Up Philip
In researching The Quiet Ones true story, we discovered that the purpose of the real experiment was to prove that the supernatural is a manifestation of what already exists in the mind. Proving such a hypothesis true doesn't necessarily mean that ghosts aren't real. It just means that they are created by us, instead of coming from somewhere else. For example, if you grew up fearing that an evil old woman lurks under your bed and will grab your ankles when you step onto the floor, you imagining the woman in detail could be enough to manifest her into an actual demonic spirit. Basically, thinking of a ghost and providing it an identity might be enough to conjure it into existence.
Taking that theory even further, the researchers behind the Philip Experiment gave the character they were imagining a full life, including a name, a nationality, a past and a personality. During their séances, they tried to converse with Philip, their once fictional character. They believed that giving Philip such realistic traits and attempting to communicate with him would help to conjure up an actual ghost.
No. Dr. A.R.G. Owen, a former professor of genetics at Cambridge, never had a son who died in an asylum from self-inflicted wounds. Dr. Owen did have a son, Robin E. Owen (born May 21, 1955), who observed and assisted the Philip Experiment as the recorder and photographer.
Unlike the professor in the movie, Dr. Owen was trying to help the researchers prove that it's possible for a group of focused participants to create an apparition. In the movie, Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) plays a more central role and is trying to prove that poltergeists aren't real. He believes they exist solely in the mind of a seemingly possessed subject and are expressed through the negative telekinetic energy projected by the subject. Of course, Coupland eventually discovers he's wrong.
Yes. However, the real séances were much tamer. The eight-person group met once a week. Unlike The Quiet Ones movie, there were no smoking dolls and demonic symbols (or sigils) were not branded into the skin of the participants. In order to communicate with Philip, the group would ask him a question and he would rap on the underside of the card table, one rap for "yes," two for "no." Professor Coupland uses this method to communicate with Evey in the movie. In real life, If someone in the group forgot and posed a question that required a more elaborate answer than yes or no, Philip would produce scratching noises. At his most violent, the table would supposedly move on its own, rotate on two or three legs, or turn on its side, yet the hands of the participants remained on the table when it happened. -Ghost Stories of Ontario
No. Not only didn't the true story behind The Quiet Ones movie involve a girl, it also never involved a devil-worshiping cult, which is part of the girl's past in the movie's story.
No. Dr. A.R.G. Owen did have the group hold séance-like meetings, but he did not engage in the more extreme experiments conducted on Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) in The Quiet Ones movie. The only thing that could have been considered unorthodox at the time was the premise of the Philip Experiment itself; the idea that an apparition could be created from the minds of the séance participants.
"It was essential to their purpose that Philip be a totally fictitious character," says Dr. A.R.G. Owen. "Not merely a figment of the imagination but clearly and obviously so, with a biography full of historical errors." -Conjuring Up Philip
No. The spirit of Philip, real or not, never branded members of the team with a demonic symbol, nor did he ever cause their bodies to levitate, slam into doors, etc. The apparition Philip also never caused bathwater to boil, a doll to start burning, a girl to catch on fire or a demonic spirit to spiral out of a possessed girl's mouth (the real Philip never possessed anyone). And as you probably guessed, the alleged ghost Philip never killed people.
No. The vintage looking photos shown during the end credits of The Quiet Ones movie are not the real people who inspired the movie's story. The photos, which are fake, are intended to represent real people, but they are actually just actors. As you've probably realized by now, the movie is almost entirely fiction.
Yes, like in The Quiet Ones movie, the true story confirms that the séances were often filmed. Watch footage from several Philip Experiment séances. Dr. Owen's son, Robin E. Owen, often took the photos and did the filming.
If by work, we mean, did the spirit of Philip ever actually materialize? Then, no, the Philip Experiment did not work. However, the Owen group believed that the experiment let them achieve far more than they'ed ever imagined possible.
Yes. The Philip Experiment has been replicated several times. The most notable of these efforts is the Skippy Experiment, sometimes called the "Sydney Experiment," conducted in Sydney, Australia in the 2000s. The researchers devised the story of a 14-year-old girl named Skippy Cartman. She was impregnated by her Catholic schoolteacher, who later murdered her so the church wouldn't find out. After the initial table used by the researchers didn't produce any results, they found success sitting around a light, three-legged card table. They reported similar knocking and scratching sounds heard during the Philip Experiment. They also said that the table moved and spun around on one leg. However, they never managed to capture any audio or visual evidence.
Watch real Philip Experiment footage and witness the table-tilting phenomena for yourself. Is a spirit to blame or are the group's members perpetuating a hoax? Also view a dramatized documentary that chronicles the details and findings of the Philip Experiment.
WATCHThe Philip Experiment Footage
Watch actual footage of the Philip
Experiment conducted during the early
1970s. Hear the supposed raps coming from
the card table around which the
séances were held and watch it turn
on its side, albeit while the participants
hands are still on it. Iris Owen, Dr.
A.R.G. Owen's wife and a fellow
participant in the séances, is also
WATCHThe Philip Experiment Documentary
Watch a relatively short Philip Experiment
documentary that chronicles the experiment
and discusses its premise. Former
participants and experts in the field are
interviewed. Most of the video features a
dramatized recreation of the experiment,
with little footage of the actual
participants, though we do get a brief
look at Dr. Alan Robert George Owen, the
group's scientific adviser.
WATCHThe Quiet Ones Trailer
Watch The Quiet Ones movie
trailer for the 2014 horror film starring
Jared Harris (Lincoln), Sam
Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching
Fire) and Olivia Cooke (Bates
Motel). The movie, which is based on
a real experiment conducted in Toronto in
the early 1970s, tells the story of a
professor (Jared Harris) and a group of
Oxford University students who attempt to
create a poltergeist by utilizing the
negative energy that surrounds a teenage
girl (Olivia Cooke).