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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/651

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635
A NOTE ON "THOUGHT-READING."

hints by pressure, alteration of speed, and otherwise, to the guided one, who is, as a rule, only too ready to quickly interpret them. The same explanation would apply to cases where the person who is "willed" to find something hidden during his or her absence is in no contact with any of the "willing" party, but who often succeeds in discovering the desired object by studying the unconscious indications given by the faces of the expectant circle. All this is, in fact, nearly admitted by the writers we quote, though their denial of Mr. Stuart Cumberland's own explanation of his performances in this line is perhaps as unwarrantable as the "further inquiry" that they suggest.

The remarks in this paper will, therefore, be confined to the alleged results obtained where there was no actual contact. It will be at once admitted with the writers of the article that common sense demands that every known mode of explanation of facts should be exhausted before the possibility of an unknown mode is considered. This is an all-important admission, obvious as it seems to be. It is required by the method of common sense, which is no less the method of science; all true explanation consisting in a procedure from the known to the unknown.

In the next place, it is equally obvious that in all scientific inquiries the good faith of individuals concerned should form no part of the data on which the conclusion is to rest. A person merits credence in proportion as the facts he alleges can be demonstrated or reproduced, and to the jealous care he shows in avoiding fallacy. But we can never, as our authors say, call on Science to put deception out of court by a belief in any one's integrity. Half of the evidence which has propped up the spiritualistic craze is based on the results obtained through mediums of "unblemished character" in private families, whose virtuous reputation has been largely sustained by the fact that they did not take money for their trouble; no regard being paid to innumerable other motives and tendencies to deception.

This being admitted, the cases before us in the paper alluded to can be easily dealt with. They differ in no way from the ordinary platform performances of the little "clairvoyantes" who from time to time have amused us both in the name of Second-Sight and in that of the humbler and honester one of Conjuring. It is well known that a very simple code of signals will suffice to produce results much more startling than those we are discussing. The first word or letter, for 'instance, of the question asked of the "sensitive" medium may denote the category to which the object fixed upon belongs. The second and third, and so on, serve to specialize it further, and by a series of questions and remarks it is easy to understand that any amount of information may be conveyed. When the clairvoyante is not blindfolded, other means of communication, of course, are possible, and in any case auditory signs other than words could be