Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/752

This page has been validated.

enter as a serious possibility into the minds of such as guide their beliefs by reason. Again, their "spiritualistic" explanations are simply violent assumptions, varying with the caprice and ingenuity of every medium, and evidently manufactured for the purpose. Even if such explanations were consistent, they would be possible only in that extreme sense in which any bizarre notion or fantastic hypothesis is possible. Practically, they are impossible, because contradictory to the fundamental tenets of science and experience; because they are opposed to that marvelous network of mutually corroborating laws and observations upon which the logic of civilization is founded. Those whose feelings are not appealed to by the doctrines of spiritualism will never be attracted to it by its logic.

A system that aims to instruct men with regard to beliefs appealing most earnestly and deeply to the human heart, appears in the light of scientific investigation as an empty, tottering framework, held together by the grossest frauds, covered over with the most vulgar sham, and embellished with the meanest kind of deception. Let each one leave as small or as large a margin for the possibility of a genuine spiritualism as to him seems fit, but let him realize in all its immensity the gross scandal to which this system has given and is giving rise. Let him understand that under the shelter of spiritualism men and women in all our large cities are daily and hourly preying upon the credulity of simple-minded folk, and obtaining money by means for which the law provides the jail. Let him know that there is now abundant evidence to make the term "medium" synonymous with "impostor." When these facts are clearly and universally recognized, we may hope to ascertain whether there is a true but small foundation-stone hidden beneath this rubbish-heap, or whether, like its equally pretentious predecessors, it leaves the mystery as unsolved as it found it.


According to Prof. Judd, an important change has taken place in scientific opinion concerning the climatical relations of fauna and flora, and the distribution of biological regions. It has been tacitly assumed that all marine organisms coming from regions bordering the equator must have lived under tropical conditions; but deep-sea research has shown that all conditions of temperature and of light prevail at their several depths in tropical as well as other seas; and that many forms which, because they came from equatorial regions, we have hitherto regarded as tropical, we now know to live in icy-cold water as well as in almost utter darkness. The large size and abundant development of cephalopods, crustaceans, and fish, we now know to be no evidence of the presence of warmth or life, and Sir Joseph Hooker has shown the fallacy of similar reasoning when applied to plant-life.