Page:The Scientific Monthly vol. 3.djvu/560

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SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION S5S

broad qaestions of policy^ active investigators have arisen to notice in those localities where opportunities are most abimdanty new oppor- tunities have been created for them and thus, if this centripetal process is to continue unmodified by some centrifugal policy of distribution, the facilities for research will tend to become in ever-increasing degree confined to a comparatively small number of centers of population.

It is, of course, having regard only to the effects and achievements of investigation, totally immaterial where it may be conducted, but from other points of view the present centripetal tendency of investi- gation is a serious handicap to the accelerated development of this function of society which is imperatively demanded by the rapidly in- creasing complexity of our social and material environment. In the first place the congregation of investigators in a single center leads, through constant personal interchange of views, to a certain uniformity of thought which, not infrequently, becomes indistinguishable from prejudice. The scientist who has travelled can not fail to have observed that his colleagues in Berlin, for example, all share a certain number of views regarding the field in which they labor; his colleagues in London will have a somewhat different group of opinions in the fore- groimd of their thoughts, while those in New York will esteem yet a third group of phenomena or hypotheses as of prime immediate im- portance. This is inevitable, because no investigator, no matter how virile and creative his intellect, can form an opinion from personal, unprejudiced experience on every phase of his chosen subject and he therefore in such matters provisionally absorbs any plausible opinion which lies nearest to hand. His acceptance of such opinions is pro- visional and subject to revision in the light of fact, it is true, but prior to or failing such revision it must play its proportionate part in deter- mining his mode of investigation in other fields. Obviously a centrifu- gal distribution of investigation would reduce this tendency towards gelation of hypotheses to a minimum and produce among investigators as a whole that catholicity of outlook and variety of attack which is the condition of success ui the interpretation of the myriad manifestations of the complexity of our environment.

But the present centripetal tendency is fraught with yet more se- rious consequences, for centralization of investigation implies centrali- zation of the opportunities for investigation. At the present date in New York, London, Paris or Berlin the young man who has capability for original investigation has every opportunity of acquiring facilities for his work and for gaining inspiration from the example of investi- gations proceeding to a successful issue in his own vicinity and under his own observation. He sees in actual operation the methods of work adopted by masters of his subject, and example and opportunity alike combine to make the path easy to his chosen career. But what shall

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