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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/152

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148
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

is from the incarnation of mahatmas. The mind healer, the faith healer, the curative theories of 'neminism,' the sale of the patent medicine, the medical marvels of radium, the wonders of the electric belt and the power of animal magnetism are all witnesses of the potency of suggestion in the untrained mind. To the same class of phenomena the witch-hazel rod belongs. Experiment shows that its movements are the involuntary muscular contractions and that these follow simply the preconceived notions of the holder of the rod.

"If, as some one has lately said, all men sought healing from the blessed handkerchief of the lunatic or from contact with old bones or old clothes, if all physicians used 'revealed remedies' for the remedies nature suggests for each disease, if all the supposed 'natural rights' of men were recognized in legislation, the insecurity of such actions would speedily disappear. The long and bloody road of progress through fool-killing would for centuries be traversed again. Without the instruments and methods of precision which belong to science we should find ourselves in the weakness and babyhood which was the heritage of the common man through the middle ages.

"In the degree that 'organized common sense' or science, has been a factor in the lives of men and nations, men and nations have been happy and effective. The ultimate function of science is the regulation of human conduct.

"Not long since one of our sciosophical friends proposed the theory that the chemical elements were each of them forms of 'latent oxygen.' This theory he defended by the argument that the business of science was to propose all sorts of theories. As some apples on a tree will be sound so will some of these theories be true. To make every conceivable guess is the way to hit on the truth. Some such notion as this is common among cultured people of all countries. To accept it is to ignore the whole history of science. No advance in real knowledge has come from guessing, dreaming or speculating. If we want a picture taken we find a man who has a camera and who knows how to use it. If we want the truth on any subject we must find a man who has the instruments or methods of precision and who knows how to use them. There is no other way. As well expect a man without a camera and who knows not how to use it if he had one to take a photograph as to trust to a speculator, guesser or dreamer to find the truth. To work without tools, in the world of objective reality, can yield only illusion and fraud."

At the conclusion of the address, President Marvin expressed the thanks of the Astral Club for the bold and straightforward declaration of materialistic principles. But at the same time he could not refrain from reminding Mr. Grimshaw that he was still very young and that there were many things in heaven and earth and Devachan which are not yet taught in the schools.