Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/680

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
660
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

blurted out the name without any conscious volition on my part, or without thinking anything about the book at all."

4. The writer, being asked who was the author of the pamphlet entitled "Taxation no Tyranny," although knowing well, was unable to answer. Two days afterward, while working at a law brief, suddenly said aloud, "Dr. Johnson wrote 'Taxation no Tyranny.'" We took pains to examine the writing before him and the chain of reasoning engaged in at the time, but could not find the slightest suggestion of the answer. He had apparently forgotten entirely about the question asked him for at least forty-eight hours prior to answering it, and had experienced no trouble or weight of mind in the interval.

5. Mr. B——, of New York city, writes: "Only recently, being asked a lady's name, I found myself only able to recall the surname. I said, 'I will think of the other—wait a moment.' Walking along the street a few minutes later, I heard one small boy say to another, 'You lie like——!' Instantly, I was conscious that something in that phrase bore upon something else that I had been thinking about, but what it was I could not tell. An hour or so later, when occupied in writing, it flashed upon me that the name of the lady that I was searching for was 'Lila,' and instantaneously the relevancy of the phrase overheard in the street came to me; it was the resemblance in sound, 'Lila,' to 'lie like.'"

Under this head the statistical result may be summed up thus: Ninety-five persons answered this particular inquiry. Of these, ninety-one per cent state that they have had similar experiences, three per cent have not. With forty per cent there was often an oppressive feeling of trouble or anxiety experienced just before the solution had come, and not then attributable to anything in particular; but after the answer had come, twenty per cent almost instinctively attributed this oppression to the fatigue of mental effort involved in finding the answer. With sixty per cent no oppression was noted; about thirty per cent noticed that the answers frequently came after comparative rest or sleep, and seventy per cent have not noticed the time of the recovery. Almost every individual says concerning these experiences, "They are of such frequent occurrence that when they happen I pay no special attention to them."

Second. If, while unconscious, it is possible to attain the result that can only come from reckoning—a judgment founded on the comparative relations of a unit—this must be the result of an intellectual activity which exists unknown to the conscious self, and entirely escapes all notice from the moderately keen eye of self-consciousness. Most people can approximately tell what hour of the day it is without consulting a timepiece, and, the less they are in the habit of depending upon such a luxury, the more accurate their computation is likely to be. This computation is founded on a calculation of the comparative value of the time between two known points translated into the arbi-