Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/745

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When Home was in England, and gentlemen of unimpeachable veracity and superior intelligence saw him lifted from the floor by an entirely invisible power, why would not Dr. Carpenter witness such an occurrence? When Slade was in England, of whom gentlemen of intelligence say that when a pencil was placed between two clean slates fastened together, which were left in full view of spectators in broad daylight lying on the table, messages were written on the inside of the slates, of a highly intelligent and appropriate character, why did Dr. Carpenter, if he possessed the sentiments of honor and love of truth which mankind generally recognize as commendable, refuse to make the simple and brief investigation which would have determined in an hour whether his theories and his stale calumnies had any foundation or not?

The truth is, Dr. Carpenter and men of his character care mainly for their own personal infallibility: they seek only the vindication of their own theories, per fas et nefas, and do not approach an experimental test unless they are permitted to interfere and dictate some method of conducting experiments to hinder or delay their progress. But when a simple experiment is proposed which cannot be intermeddled with, and which is completely and forever decisive, such as the levitation of a table or a man to the ceiling, no one being in contact with the lifted object, or the production of writing upon the interior of two clean slates which the inquirer brings himself, firmly secured together, the pretentious dogmatist is very careful to keep out of reach, no matter how he may be importuned or challenged. He generally fortifies himself with a few contemptuous phrases and a determination to see nothing of the marvelous.

The public that employs and patronizes men of science has a right to expect from them fidelity to truth and vigilance in seeking it—not cunning in evading or skill in calumniating true discoveries, followed by contemptuous neglect when their claims have been demonstrated. Such is the course pursued by some toward all discoveries in which psychic powers are involved. There is a fossilized materialism in many minds, which has become a matter of blind feeling, utterly irrespective of facts or science, against which it is vain either to reason or to offer facts. In the last resort the skeptic declares, "I wouldn't believe it if I saw it myself."

Of this vicious state of feeling, producing an incapacity to reason correctly on certain subjects, we need no better example than Dr. Carpenter himself, as exhibited in this brochure of one hundred and fifty-eight pages, the substance of which may be condensed into four propositions:

1. History exhibits a great deal of folly, superstition, and ignorance, and a great many preposterous narratives of witchcraft and silly miracles, attested by many witnesses: therefore, in the present enlightened age, human testimony is of no value when it affirms any-