Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/796

This page has been validated.

moot point in science. Thus we read,[1] "It is demonstrated that the Ice age was prolonged and complex." Perhaps it was so. We express no opinion. But the distinguished glacialist who wrote it is well aware that not a few among his brother-geologists—men of experience, ability, and reputation perhaps equal to his own—totally disagree with him here, and believe that the evidence does not warrant so great an extension of the era. No doubt the question is settled in the mind of the writer and to his entire satisfaction, but he is guilty of misleading the public by thus baldly stating the proposition. Thus printed, it implies either that no one differs from him, or that those who do so differ are unworthy of mention or consideration. Logically, it is begging the question, for the whole controversy hinges on this point. It is more than this, it is committing the very error which he has charged on Prof. Wright. He says,[2] "Instead of pointing out clearly and fairly differences of opinion on vital points, Prof. Wright turns aside," etc. We can not find in the volume any assertion that the Ice age was a unit, though this is the view entertained by its author. On the contrary, fourteen pages are filled with the arguments on both sides, enabling a reader to form his own opinion. It is fair to expect the critic to shun the fault which he condemns. Yet here he has himself committed it.

Again, our distinguished critic boldly asserts,[3] "No geological expert of unquestioned competence has ever yet, so far as we can learn, found a single implement or stone flaked by man in a glacial formation in America which was clearly deposited contemporaneously with it." Possibly so. We here express no opinion on this or on any other moot point. But we may ask, By what right does he set himself up as a judge of the competence of all other workers who think that they have found such stones? Who, in his opinion, are experts? Where shall such men be found, and by what touchstone shall they be tried? Is official connection the grand sine qua non? The outsider is almost driven to this conclusion by the tone of the criticism. Are there no other men as competent as he who are of a different opinion? Is the mature judgment of long-standing workers who have earned by time and labor a right to speak to be waived aside in favor of the opinion of some single expert? And who shall testify to this expert's expertness? It would be ungenerous to assume that a little band of scientists seriously desire to extol themselves and each other by attempting to "sit down" on every one outside. Yet let us assure them that this is the conclusion to which their language leads. The air of dogmatic assumption and superiority that per-

  1. Dial, Chicago, November 16, 1892, p. 306.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., p. 304.