Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/476

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

a new revelation to physiologists as well as to the scientific world in general.

The method of mind-reading introduced by Brown, which is but one of many methods that have been or may be used, is as follows:

The operator, usually blindfolded, firmly applies the back of the hand of the subject to be operated on against his own forehead, and with his other hand presses lightly upon the palm and fingers of the subject's hand. In this position he can detect, if sufficiently expert, the slightest movement, impulse, tremor, tension, or relaxation, in the arm of the subject. He then requests the subject to concentrate his mind on some locality in the room, or on some hidden object, or on some one of the letters of the alphabet suspended along the wall. The operator, blindfolded, marches sometimes very rapidly with the subject up and down the room or rooms, up and down stairways, or out-of-doors through the streets, and, when he comes near the locality on which the subject is concentrating his mind, a slight impulse or movement is communicated to his hand by the hand of the subject. This impulse is both involuntary and unconscious on the part of the subject. He is not aware, and is unwilling, at first, to believe, that he gives any such impulse; and yet it is sufficient to indicate to the expert and practised operator that he has arrived near the hidden object, and then, by a close study and careful trials in different directions, upward, downward, and at various points of the compass, he ascertains precisely the locality, and is, in many cases, as confident as though he had received verbal communication from the subject. Even though the article on which the subject concentrates his mind be very small, it can quite frequently be picked out from a large number, provided the subject be a good one, and the operator sufficiently skillful. The article is sometimes found at once, with scarcely any searching, the operator going to it directly, without hesitation, and with a celerity and precision that, at first sight, and until the physiological explanation is understood, justly astonish even the most thoughtful and skeptical.[1] These experiments, it should be added, are performed in public or private, and on subjects of unquestioned integrity, in the presence of experts, and under a combination of circumstances and conditions for the elimination of sources of error that make it necessary to rule out at once the possibility of collusion.

The alternative is, therefore, between the actual transfer of thought from subject to operator, as has been claimed, and the theory of unconscious muscular motion and relaxation on the part of the subject, the truth of which I have demonstrated by numerous experiments.

One of the gentlemen with whom I have experimented, Judge Blydenberg, who began to test his powers directly after I first called

  1. In New Haven I saw Brown, before a large audience, march off rapidly through the aisle and find at once the person on whom the subject was concentrating his mind, although there was the privilege of selecting any one out of a thousand or more present.