Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/80

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WE are often told that this is a scientific age, and the statement is undoubtedly true. The world now more than ever before looks to science as a secular if not a spiritual guide. However much their speculations may be questioned and controverted, the scientific book and the scientific man are popularly accepted as authority, at least on matters of physical and historical fact. The veracity of science therefore is, or ought to be, above suspicion. How careful, then, ought the teacher and exponent of science to be that his assertions are true; that his alleged facts are facts; and that even his speculations are free from the appearance of dogmatism! He needs to be especially particular when writing for the general public, for people untrained in science will accept his statements as expert testimony. Errors will thus be sure to mislead his readers, many of whom are without the knowledge that would enable them to discriminate between the true and the false in his assertions.

In The Popular Science Monthly for June, 1881, appeared an article on Glucose and Grape-Sugar, by Prof. H. W. Wiley. In that article the following unfortunate statement was made: "In commercial honey, which is entirely free from bee mediation, the comb is made of paraffin, and filled with pure glucose by appropriate machinery." To say that there was not one word of truth in that extraordinary assertion is the short and proper way to put it, and that is exactly what I undertake to say. There was not a tittle of evidence that any such honey had ever been made up to that time, nor is there a particle of evidence that any such honey has since been made.

Nevertheless, this vile slander on an honest and honorable industry has done incalculable injury to bee-culture in America, if not throughout the world. A lie is said to travel half round the world while the truth is getting ready to start, and this one proved no exception. Though contradicted and refuted over and over again, it still lives and is still going. Newspapers still keep iterating and reiterating Prof. Wiley's slander, but they seldom publish a correction. Thousands of people, common and uncommon, still believe that scientific yarn that comb-honey is manufactured throughout without "bee mediation," and why shouldn't they? The former believe it because the newspapers say so, and the latter because the magazines and encyclopædias say so; for it is a fact that this itinerant fiction has actually found a place in