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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/336

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with little effort, and convert barren deserts into gardens, and thus the entire globe could be transformed and made a fitter abode for mankind."

The golden age figures largely in Mr. Tesla's article; he offers us all that is entrancing and wonderful. He is generous. We ask for the bread of definite facts of science and intelligible evidence, but he gives us the amethyst and topaz and diamonds of an ambient medium doing all our work and the atmosphere transporting all our motive power and the tyrant gravity held powerless by a screen, and Mr. Tesla correcting Lord Kelvin's errors. Still amethyst and topaz and diamonds are only stones. They may dazzle the magazine reader, but they do not nourish the student of science.

The editorial department of the Century Magazine perhaps felt that these jewels were a bit too bright. We read there that "much that must seem speculative to the layman can take its proper place only in the purview of the scientist." Some conservative scientists will feel like growling, "And much that must seem bosh to the man of science can take its proper place only in the purview of the editorial departments of popular magazines." Leaving aside the present case, it is a fact that the same care which is exercised by editors to secure in their contributions excellence of style and syntax, a proper moral tone and freedom from advertisement of business ventures, is not exercised to secure accuracy in statements of fact or decent credibility in matters of theory. The editors apparently impute to their readers a desire to be entertained at all costs. They descend to a footing with the Sunday newspaper instead of trying to rise to the level of such scientific literature as Huxley or Tyndall gave us. They evidently often do not know science from rubbish and apparently seldom make any effort to find out the difference. They should at least submit their scientific literature to competent men for criticism and revision.

The general public is helpless before any supposedly scientific statement. It may judge vaguely by the standing of the paper or magazine or book containing it, by the name of the writer or by the general tone in which the article is written. But it cannot judge definitely by comparison with relevant facts or by critically examining the logic of the deductions, for the general public lacks both knowledge of the relevant facts and training in logical criticism. That a man should invent a microscope which will enable one to see objects a million times as small as can be seen with the naked eye seems no more questionable to the general public than that a man should cause unfertilized eggs to develop. Yet the first would be impossible while the second has been possible, probable, and still more lately proved. Guidance in scientific matters should be welcome if only for the protection thus given against fraudulent medicines, bogus inventions and nonsensical enterprises.