Such are the principles of evidence that are taught in our colleges and schools. It is no marvel that most of human philosophy is one vast petitio principii. Men reason that if a large number of witnesses agree in their testimony, if there is no possibility of deception (thus begging the very question of questions), then such and such inferences must follow. On this treacherous quicksand of uncertainty and positive untruth—average human testimony—the world has built, and continues to build, its lofty temples of philosophy, of faith, of history, and of general literature; no wonder that they so quickly crumble and fall, and that the pathway of humanity is marked by their ruins! Even Germany, which in philosophy and science does the original thinking for all nations, has not yet attempted to reduce human testimony to a science; and nowhere is the need for such study more frequently and seriously impressed than in recent German controversial literature.
In many experiments with large numbers of human beings in one room, and operated on simultaneously by some performance that powerfully excites the emotions of wonder, of awe, of reverence, and of expectation, I have proved that a subjective state can be induced in many, if not the majority or all of them, wherein they concurrently see and experience what has no existence; and, after the performance is over, they frequently and permanently persist in their delusions, although they are opposed to the general experience of mankind and all the deductions of science. Why, indeed, should they not do so? They are taught to believe their eyes; they have seen with their eyes such and such phenomena; they are logically compelled to accept the testimony of their senses, even though they do not wish it to be true. I have made these experiments, not only with the aid of profoundly imposing pretensions, as of raising ghosts and the like, but with quite simple methods and appliances, such as professing to magnetize the room by the battery, or to throw a pretended magnetic fluid on the body, or to rub away pain or disease. Not only are the symptoms of disease frequently and simultaneously relieved in a number of persons in these experiments, but trance, with many of its physical and psychical symptoms, such as convulsive movements, sighing respiration, quickened pulse, with hallucinations of sight, of hearing, and other senses. These results, which are of the highest scientific and practical interest, and in various directions, are in the power of any cerebro-physiologist to obtain who has sufficient experience in making experiments with living human beings. A powerful and imposing physique, positiveness and impressiveness of manner, and a reputation as a performer with those on whom they experiment, are aids to these experiments, but are not essential to them.