Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/488

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be considered that the excitement and eclat of the occasion contribute not a little to the success of the operator; the subjects grow enthusiastic—are partly entranced, it may be—become partners in the cause of the performer—and unconsciously aid him far more than they would do in a similar entertainment that was purely private. In a private entertainment of muscle-reading at which I was present, one of the subjects, while standing still, with his hands on the operator, actually took a step forward toward the locality on which his mind was concentrated, thus illustrating in a visible manner the process by which muscle-reading is made possible.

The subject under discussion, it will be observed, is to be studied both inductively and deductively. The general claim of mind or thought reading is disproved not by any such experiments as are here detailed, no matter how accurate or numerous they may be, but by reasoning deductively from the broad principle of physiology, that no human being has or can have any qualities different in kind from those that belong to the race in general. The advantage which one human being has over another—not excepting the greatest geniuses and the greatest monsters—is, and must be, of degree only. Mind-reading, in the usual meaning of the term, is a faculty that in any degree does not belong—indeed, it is never claimed that it belongs—to the human race; it cannot, therefore, belong to any individual. For one person to read the thoughts of another would be as much a violation or apparent violation of the laws of Nature as the demonstration of perpetual motion, the turning of iron into gold, or the rising of the sun in the west. Experiments such as here recorded, if made for the purpose of ascertaining whether certain persons have the power of reading thoughts, would be more than unnecessary; they would be exceedingly unscientific. Reasoning deductively also from the known laws of the involuntary life, the power to read muscles, in the method here described, is not only possible and probable, but inevitable. Everybody is a muscle-reader, although all are not capable of attaining the highest degrees of skill in the art.[1]

The one fact, the only fact brought out by these experiments that could not be predicted from known laws of physiology, is the exceeding refinement to which muscle-reading can be carried, the minuteness of the localities that are found, and the rapidity with which, oftentimes, the results are obtained. This fact is of permanent value to science, a new and positive addition to the physiology of the involuntary life, and of vast suggestion in relation to the general subject of the interactions of mind and body in health and in disease.

An incidental fact impressed on my mind during these researches

  1. Every horse that is good for anything is a muscle-reader; he reads the mind of his driver through the pressure on the bit, and by detecting tension and relaxation knows when to go ahead, when to stop, and when and which way to turn, though not a word of command is uttered.