Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/747

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THE PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGICAL SCIENCES.

the medical records of former times contain much that is absurd and incredible.

The second proposition is but little better than the first. There is an unfortunate development of brain which makes or marks the constitutional and incurable bigot, to whom bigotry is philosophy. The Italian philosophers who denounced Galileo, and the French physicians who laughed at Harvey, were as unsuspicious of their own mental defects as Dr. Carpenter. Could anything but the blinding impulse of bigotry induce a man of great intelligence, age, and experience, to confound possibility with certainty in this ridiculous manner—to affirm that because certain individuals can be mesmerized in the American manner, wide awake, but passive creatures of the operator's voice, therefore we should consider all men liable to this condition, and treat all testimony that contravenes our opinions of the course of Nature as the testimony of helpless mesmeric subjects? By an exact parity of reasoning we may say certain individuals in every community have committed, or might commit, murder: therefore, whenever we find any one dead, and do not know how he died, we may assume that the men or women who were in his vicinity murdered him.

But suppose Dr. Carpenter should witness a case of levitation, and have the honesty to report what he saw, shall we then hold him to be either a mesmerized dupe or a confederate knave—which would he prefer to be called? Dr. Carpenter may be sincere, but he speaks quite reverentially of the Scriptures, although by his own declarations he must regard their miracles as shams which had never been exposed by a learned expert; and their spiritual phenomena, so analogous to those of the present day, as base impostures.

The third proposition, considered as a work of art, is an ingenious compound of evil, on which his satanic majesty might smile in grim approbation. Dr. Carpenter's language is as follows: "My contention is, that where apparent departures from them [the laws of Nature] take place through human instrumentality, we are justified in assuming in the first instance either fraudulent deception, or unintentional self-deception, or both combined—until the absence of either shall have been proved by every conceivable test that the sagacity of skeptical experts can devise."

As for himself, he affirms that he has "no other theory to support than that of the well-ascertained laws of Nature;" and further, that "it is quite legitimate for the inquirer to enter upon this study with that 'prepossession' in favor of the ascertained and universally-admitted laws of Nature which believers in spiritualism make it a reproach against men of science that they entertain."

If this be a true and honest statement of the case, there is no case in court for discussion: Dr. Carpenter is a philosopher, and the spiritualists are hopeless fools. By what muddled process of thought he could bring himself to make such a statement, we need not inquire.