Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/483

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467
PHYSIOLOGY OF MIND-READING.

feats have been done in the way of finding distant out-of-door localities by muscle-readers, but in these cases there has usually been an implied understanding that the search was to be made out-of-doors; muscle readers have thus taken their subject up and down stairs or from one room or hall into another, and out-of-doors until the house or locality was reached.[1]

Another way in which deception may by practised is for the subject to select some object or locality on the person of the muscle-reader. This object may be a watch, or a pocket-book, or a pencil-case, or any limited region of his clothing, as a button, a cravat, or wristband. If such a selection be made, and the method of physical connection above described be used, the experiment will be a failure, provided the muscle-reader does not know or suspect that an object on his own person is to be chosen. Similarly, if the subject selects a locality on his own person, as one of the fingers or finger-nails of the hand that connects with the muscle-reader. When such tests are used, there is not, so to speak, any leverage for the tension of the arm toward the locality on which the mind is concentrated, and the muscle-reader either gets no clew, or else one that misleads him.

3. When a subject, who has good control over his mental and muscular movements, keeps the arm connected with the operator perfectly stiff, even though his mind be well concentrated on the hidden object, the operator cannot find either the direction or the locality. This is a test which those who have the requisite physical qualifications can sometimes fulfill without difficulty.

Here I may remark that the requirement to concentrate the mind on the locality and direction sought for all the time the search is being made is one that few, if any, can perfectly fulfill. Any number of distracting thoughts will go through the best-trained mind of one who, in company with a blindfolded operator, is being led furiously up and down aisles, halls, streets, and stairways, fearful each moment of stumbling or striking his head, and followed, it may be, by astonished and eager investigators. And yet these mental distractions do not seem to interfere with the success of the experiment unless the arm is kept studiously rigid, in which case nothing is found save by pure chance. The best subjects would appear to be those who have moderate power of mental concentration and slight control over their muscular movements. Credulous, wonder-loving subjects are sometimes partially entranced through the emotions of reverence and expectation; with subjects in this state, operators are quite sure to succeed.

  1. In Danielsonville, Connecticut, Brown, after an evening's exhibition in which his failures had been greater than usual (the intelligent committee having the matter in charge being prepared by previous discussion of the theory of unconscious muscular motion), took a subject, and led him from the hotel in the darkness through the streets, to some rather out-of-the-way building on which the subject had fixed his mind. A somewhat similar exploit is recorded of Corey, a performer in Detroit.