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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/285

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

top of her house distrusting the testimony of her eyes that it was a long way to the ground; she would not eat food which her sense of taste told her was unfit to eat; nor remain on a railroad track when her hearing told her that a train was coming. It is absurdly illogical to trust the senses in such cases, and to refuse to trust them in the precisely parallel cases when they testify to a headache, or the inflammation of a joint, or the presence of a malignant tumor. Our senses are occasionally deceived by close resemblances, but with these exceptions the experience of every day of our lives embraces a countless host of instances in which we find it safe to trust our senses. All the observations which furnish the material of science are made by the senses, and any doctrine which denies the trustworthiness of the senses certainly is not science, whatever else it may be. "Christian science" makes itself ridiculous by strutting about in the borrowed plumage of a system whose data and method it affects to despise. The application of the name of science to this vague metaphysical doctrine is utterly unwarranted. In trade, art, politics, religion, and every other field in which wealth or fame can be achieved, spurious articles are being palmed off continually under the name of something else which enjoys a well earned repute. Especially has there been of late years an eagerness to tack the name of science on to all sorts of schemes and theories which have no particle of right to the designation, in order that they may share its glory and gain the aid of its prestige.

Mr. Bailey claims that "Christian science" has been vindicated by numerous successes in healing disease. Many persons with various complaints have been subjected to "Christian science" treatment and have ceased to complain. From this he infers not only that the treatment cured them, but also that all these grotesque notions about "the impressions of spirit" and the falsity of the senses must be true. As was shown by the contributor to our April number, it is not necessary to accept the "Christian science" theory in order to explain the process of mental healing. When there is any real effect, it is due to the stimulating influence exerted upon the patient's mind, and it makes no difference whether the stimulus is truth or error, if the patient only is stirred up by it. The alleged results of "Christian science," and the number of its believers, have been paralleled by many delusions which have had their day and then disappeared. Mesmer was a greater prophet in his time than Mrs. Eddy. Mesmerism had its host of cured patients, many of them very worthy persons, who gave enthusiastic testimonials to its efficiency and truth. Spiritualistic healers have paraded their alleged cures, and have argued for their doctrine as persistently as the "Christian scientists," but they have never gained any scientific standing. Every other absurd quackery that bids for the dollars and homage of the ignorant multitude has the same sort of indorsements, but time and science deal mercilessly with all alike. Witchcraft and diabolic agency have been wide-spread and eminently reputable doctrines, but they have ignominiously fallen beneath the attacks of scientific investigators. The reader will find in a note to Dr. White's article in our present issue some of the leading authorities which have combated these myth-making and wonder-mongering agencies. A comparison of one of these books with "Science and Health" will show the difference between a scientific and a visionary treatment of a subject. Mrs. Eddy's book, as shown in the extracts which Mr. Bailey gives, is an incomprehensible, because meaningless, mass of rant and rubbish, consisting of capricious inferences from scanty facts, of far-fetched analogies, of hysterical appeals to sentiment, and fanciful twisting of language. The fact that such a baseless speculation as