Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/144

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To investigate suggestibility in normal individuals, Dr. Sidis conducted over eight thousand experiments. These consisted of letters, figures, or colors displayed for a few seconds and arranged variously so as to demonstrate whether frequency, repetition, coexistence, or last impression influence the greater number in their choice. An exhibition of colored shapes revealed the extent to which strangeness of tint, shape, or position were factors in the decision. Movements and acts were also verbally suggested, and from them all the law of normal suggestibility was deduced; it increases as the suggestion becomes indirect. Examining hysterical, hypnotic, and somnambulistic subjects revealed the law of abnormal suggestibility, which is the reverse of the former. Its strength is in direct suggestion. The conditions under which a suggestion is effective are found to be nearly the same in normal and abnormal instances, fixation of attention, monotony, limitation of movement, inhibition of ideas. These divorce the higher controlling consciousness from the lower reflex consciousness, so that suggestibility is simply "a cleft of mind," a disaggregation of consciousness. By a number of experiments. Dr. Sidis arrives at the conclusion that even in normal subjects the subconscious self possesses a superacute sense-perception. The phenomena of crystal-gazing, shell-hearing, and automatic writing he accepts also as "facts that clearly reveal the presence of this hyper-æsthetic consciousness." Although in several instances the subconscious self is called an ego and endowed with personality, "it must not be regarded as an individual; only as a form of mental life."

According to Dr. Sidis's researches, man may be occasionally social, or even rational, but he is, above all, a suggestible animal. In this characteristic of his nature lies the explanation of the mental epidemics that ravage nations. The crowd swayed by the flattering orator, the mob that lynches defenseless men or sacks Versailles—are exhibitions of the soulless, senseless, secondary self ordinarily dormant. It is shown as well in the uniformity of manner and fashion that is the creed of society, but this manifestation does not excite alarm. The same unreasoning consciousness obtains the mastery in speculative fevers and panics, in revival meetings, witchcraft delusions, and popular crazes of all sorts.

Having unveiled for us this uncanny spirit—"the subconscious self, devoid of all morality"—a clew for its exorcism may be found in a description of the primary self, "which alone possesses true personality, will, and self-control, . . . creates ideals and struggles for them." The outlook, however, for the growth of this better consciousness would be a very gloomy one were it true, as our author states, that "under the crushing pressure of economical, political, and religious regulations there is no possibility for the individual to move, live, and think freely, or determine his own relations in life" This prognosis would deaden all effort; and its faultiness is shown by the fact that, however difficult it may be, a minority do find it possible to live and think freely and to cultivate that personality which is a lasting safeguard against all unreasoning action.

A Manual of Fish Culture[1] has been prepared by the United States Fish Commission under the feeling that a handbook describing its manner of propagating the different fishes was needed, and would be of value to all persons interested in the subject. The material for this book has been furnished by experienced fish culturists connected with the commission, who have treated of the subjects with which they were especially familiar. In order to increase the usefulness of the work to the general reader, a technical description of each important fish is given, together with brief information respecting its geographical distribution, habits, movements, size, growth, food, natural spawning, and other characteristics. While the operations described are essentially those of the National Commission, they are usually the same as those employed by the State commissions and individual fish culturists, while in some instances excellent work is done l)y other methods. Among the fishes coming under review are the salmon, trout, whitefish, shad, basses, and other fresh-water fishes; the cod, mackerel, flatfish, and other salt-water fishes, and lobsters, frogs, oysters, and clams; trans-

  1. A Manual of Fish Culture. Based on the Methods of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, with Chapters on the Cultivation of Oysters and Frogs. Washington: Government Printing Office. Pp. 340, with 35 plates.