Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/237

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DISCIPLINARY VALUE OF GEOGRAPHY

the speaker may conduct them, and to accept his results without question. It is less satisfactory when the hearers are the equals or the seniors of the speaker, so that they may properly assume a critical attitude, and reasonably desire to form their own estimate as to the validity of the conclusion announced; for in this case they must wish to know, not at the end, but at the outset, the conclusion up to which the speaker leads the inductive procession of facts, in order that they may at once consider the bearing of each fact on the conclusion when the fact is mentioned. It is indeed difficult for hearers to assume a critical attitude during a purely inductive presentation, because it is not the individual facts as they are presented, but the conclusion which is reached at the end, that is to be criticized. Hence if criticism is desired, it is advisable to modify the inductive method at least so far as to announce the conclusion in its most simple form at the beginning, even if it is repeated in fuller form at the end.

It will often happen that a study may cover so wide a field or that a journey may bring to light so varied an assortment of facts, that an inductive presentation of all of them would be distracting, by reason of leading along many diverse lines. It is then advisable, in view of the necessity of compressing the labor of weeks or months into an hour of speaking, as well as in view of the importance of concentrating the attention upon the moderate number of points that an audience can fairly apprehend, to allow no more than light or brief mention to many topics, if indeed most of them are not wholly omitted, and to select for inductive presentation only such part of the whole story as lends itself to orderly arrangement, culminating in as novel and as interesting a climax as possible. Clear marching order of successive items is indeed particularly desirable in inductive presentation. It is furthermore highly important that, while the speaker is marshalling his facts in systematic order, his conclusion should not become so plain that his audience perceives it before he announces it; for nothing is less effective than for a speaker finally to state as a novelty a conclusion which his hearers have reached before him. If there is any danger of so untoward a result, the speaker will do well to introduce his conclusion at some midway point, so as to be sure that his hearers shall not anticipate him in arriving at it.

An advantage sometimes claimed for inductive presentation is that it is safe; but this quality, particularly in somewhat complex problems, is more apparent than real. Presentation truly has everything to do with the clearness with which the results of an investigation may be apprehended, but it has nothing to do with the safety of the results; their safety is altogether dependent on the critical thoroughness with which the investigation that led to them was carried on. Moreover, as was shown in the first part of this discussion, it is never the case that a conclusion, in which the unseen events of the past are largely involved.