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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/34

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

easily overlooked. Among them is often found that highly prized but imperfectly defined individual known as the "genius" for whose existence we are always thankful, even though his interpretation is difficult and laborious.

Concerning those who, although able, are unwilling to take the trouble to write for their readers or speak for their hearers, a somewhat more extended comment may be desirable. It is always difficult to make a just analysis of motives, but there can be little doubt that some of these are influenced by a desire to imitate the rare genius whose intellectual advances are so rapid and so powerful as to forbid all efforts to secure a clear and simple presentation of results. The king is lame and the courtier must limp. With others there is a strange and unwholesome prejudice against making science intelligible, for fear that science may become popular. It is forgotten that clear and accurate thinking is generally accompanied by the power of clear, concise, and accurate expression, and that as a matter of fact the two are almost inseparable. The apparent success before the people of the dilettante and the charlatan has resulted, in the case of many good and able men, in a positive aversion to popular approval. It should never be forgotten that the judgment and taste of the public in matters relating to science are just as susceptible of cultivation as in music and the fine arts, and that scientific men owe it to themselves to see that opportunity for this culture is not withheld. A just appreciation by the people of real merit in art has resulted in the production of great painters, sculptors, musicians, and composers, and there is every reason to believe that the best interests of science would be fostered by similar treatment. Even the great masters in science, then, can well afford to do what is in their power to popularize their work and that of their colleagues, so that through closer relations with a more appreciative public their opportunities may be enlarged and their numbers increased.

Another error into which the man of science is liable to fall is that of assuming superior wisdom as regards subjects outside of his own specialty. It may seem a little hard to accuse him of this, but nevertheless it is a mistake into which he is easily and often unconsciously led. That this is the day of specialization and specialists every student of science learns at the very threshold of his career; but that one man can be expected to be good authority on not more than one or two subjects is not so generally understood by the public. It thus frequently happens that the man of science is consulted on all matters of a scientific nature, and he is induced to give opinions on subjects only remotely, if at all, related to that branch of science in which he is justly recognized as an authority. Although going well for a time, these opinions