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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/480

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

vancies, and it must be constantly remembered that the obscure phenomena of psychology, and, indeed, the phenomena of more thoroughly established and intrinsically more definite sciences, cannot be expected to pass the test of detailed and concrete combinations of circumstances. In other classes of knowledge the temptation to demand such explicit explanations of observations and experiences is not so strong because of the absence of an equally strong personal interest; but that clearly does not affect the logical status of the problem. The reply to this argument I can readily anticipate; and I confess that my admiration of Hamlet is somewhat dulled by reason of that ill-advised remark to Horatio about there being more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies. The occultist always seizes upon that citation to refute the scientist. He prints it as his motto on his books and journals, and regards it as a slow poison that will in time effect the destruction of the rabble of scientists and reveal the truth of his own Psycho-Harmonic Science or Heliocentric Astrology. It is one thing to be open-minded and to realize the incompleteness of scientific knowledge and to appreciate how often what was ignored by one generation has become the science of the next; and it is a very different thing to be impressed with coincidences and dreams and premonitions, and to regard them as giving the keynote to the conceptions of nature and reality, and to look upon science as a misdirected effort. Such differences of attitude depend frequently upon a difference of temperament as well as upon intellectual discernment; the man or the woman who flies to the things not dreamt of in our philosophy quite commonly does not understand the things which our philosophy very creditably accounts for. The two types of mind are different, and (I am again citing Professor James) "the scientific-academic mind and the feminine-mystical mind shy from each other's facts just as they fly from each other's temper and spirit."

Certain special influences combine with these fundamental differences of attitude to favor the spread of belief in the occult; and of these the character of the beliefs as of the believers furnish some evidence. At various stages of the discussion I have referred to the deceptive nature of the argument by analogy; to the dominating sympathy with a conclusion and the resulting assimilation and overestimation of apparent evidence in its favor; to the frequent failure to understand that the formation of valid opinion and the interpretation of evidence in any field of inquiry require somewhat of expert training and special aptitude, obviously so in technical matters, but only moderately less so in matters misleadingly regarded as general; to bias and superstition, to the weakness that bends easily to the influences of contagion, to unfortunate educational limitations and perversions and, not the least, to a defective grounding in the nature of scientific fact and proof. The