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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/131

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

"confirmation of telepathic phenomena is afforded by many converging experiments," but especially by "the subconscious workings of the mind when these are brought into conscious survey." There is really no meaning in this. How can any "survey" be other than conscious? And what is there in the subconscious workings of the mind adapted to prove that impressions can be made upon the mind otherwise than through the recognized channels of sense? "The patient experimentation of the Society for Psychical Research is probing subliminal processes and learning lessons of alternating personalities and abnormal states." There is no objection in the world to all that; but it would take more than an alternating personality or an abnormal state to enable a mind to gather knowledge from another mind without the intermediation of intelligible signs. A sick man may act in a very singular way, but his sickness does not enable him to transcend the ordinary powers of humanity.

The eminent professor speaks of the cures wrought by suggestion (hypnotism); but seeing that the suggestions are made by intelligible signs, verbal or other, we find no support here for the telepathic hypothesis. We really gather from the professor's remarks that while a great many persons—some of high intelligence and of recognized position in the scientific or philosophical world—have been pottering away atthis matter of telepathy and other phases of spiritualism for a great many years, things are to all intents and purposes just as they were before all these laborious researches began. This is not just the way the professor puts it; his words are: "A formidable range of phenomena must be scientifically sifted before we effectually grasp a faculty so strange, so bewildering, and for ages so inscrutable as the direct action of mind on mind." Sometimes the reason why a thing is inscrutable is because it isn't so; and that, we suspect, is the explanation in the present case. One hypothesis which the professor puts forward is simple to the last degree. It is that the molecular action of the brain, when thoughts are passing through it. is taken up by the ether and communicated to another brain in which it awakens similar thoughts. But the question we ask at once is why this wireless telegraphy between brain and brain is not going on all the time, and why we are all not driven crazy by the everlasting intrusion of other people's thoughts? If this is the process, why should neighboring brains be skipped, and the effect be produced upon one particular brain hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles away?

"It is henceforth open to science," says Sir William Crookes, "to transcend all we now think we know of matter, and to gain glimpses of a profounder scheme of cosmic law." We really do not know when it was not open to science to do this if it could; and we do not see that the telepathists and other denominations of spiritualists have in any appreciable manner improved the situation as regards the probability of the thing being done. They have contributed floods of talk and tons upon tons of printed matter, and have worked thousands of people into variously grewsome conditions of mind; but if any one can point to a single distinct advance in scientific theory due to their peculiar methods, we can only say that we do not know what it is. Professor Crookes has been one of the foremost scientific workers of his day; and we find it hard to believe that he can be under any illusion as to the futility of the