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[′dräp ‚in]
(computer science)
The accidental appearance of an unwanted bit, digit, or character on a magnetic recording surface or during reading from or writing to a magnetic storage device.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Sometimes a spirit unknown to any of the sitters in attendance will “appear” at a séance. Usually the medium’s spirit guide will ensure that this does not happen, but occasionally a “drop-in” does appear. Occasionally, if the medium is engaged in direct voice (the spirit is speaking through the medium), a drop-in will speak in a foreign language. Guiley states that in rare cases, “The appearance of a drop-in is accompanied by physical phenomena such as table tilting, rappings, mysterious lights, apports, scents, and strange whistles, whisperings and breathing.”

Uncontrolled séances such as talking board sessions or automatic writing are prone to entertain drop-ins. Frequently these are spirits who want to make contact with those they have left behind on the physical plane, and are hoping to make use of the sitters to arrange a connection with those particular people. Others are simply lonely spirits wanting to speak with anyone, or to achieve something in particular. An example of the latter was Patience Worth, who originally contacted Pearl Curran by way of an Ouija® board and used Curran as a means of producing vast amounts if literature; novels and poetry.

One of the positive aspects of drop-ins is that they invariably show proof that the medium is not receiving intelligence by way of extrasensory perception from the sitters. Usually information provided by drop-ins is totally unknown to anyone present and has to be verified by careful research. In 1971, Nottingham University Professor of Psychology Alan Gauld worked with information received from a drop-in via both a talking board and automatic writing. After careful research, Gauld found that in ten cases out of thirty-seven, the information given by the drop-in about identity and former life was correct. The information included exact names, addresses, and occupations.


Gauld, Alan: Proceedings, #55—A Series of Drop-In Communicators. London: Society for Psychical Research, July 1971
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen: The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Facts On File, 1992
Holroyd, Stuart: The Supernatural: Psychic Voyages. London: Aldus, 1976
Stevenson, Ian and John Beloff: Proceedings, No. 427-447—An Analysis of Some Suspect Drop-In Communicators. London: Society for Psychical Research, September 1980
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