Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/777

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SHALL WE ADOPT THE METRIC SYSTEM?

cunning, or wisdom, but can be made the possession of any sober and well-trained mind that has a sufficient endowment of the scientific sense to recognize and submit to the inevitableness of law in all mental as in all physical phenomena, and to subordinate, even in scientific research, all feeling and emotion to intellect and reason.

 

The relation of this subject to delusions is also of much interest, both psychological and practical; during the present century especially the prevailing follies of civilization have received an unusual and unprecedented dignity and strength from the non-expert experiments of scientific men with living human beings. It is a part of the inconsistency of ignorance, and one of the effects of long breathing the atmosphere of superstition, that the apostles of the demonstrably false, while they uniformly dread and oppose the advance of their natural enemy, organized knowledge, yet pray for and welcome all mistakes of scientific men, either in experiment or philosophy, as so much addition to their capital; the weapons with which delusionists of every name prefer to fight their battles are forged in scientific armories; trace any one of the rank and overrunning superstitions of our day to its utmost radicle, and it will surely lead to sources where we are wont to look for light and truth—to some great discovery which our chemists, our naturalists, our astronomers, of fair and noble fame, have evolved, or are believed to have evolved, out of experiments that they have made, or tried to make, with living human beings; to the laboratory of some physiologist even, who forgets that the chief fact in human life is the involuntary life; to some logician and philosopher, who has yet to learn that the habit of trusting the senses, though endorsed and inculcated in all the universities of the world, is the source of half the ignorance and not a little of the suffering of mankind.

 

SHALL WE ADOPT THE METRIC SYSTEM?

DURING the second session of the Forty-fifth Congress, a great amount of evidence bearing on the question whether or not it would be wise to introduce the metric system into the United States was brought forward. This evidence is given in reports, etc., from the heads of the various executive departments, and the most important bureaus of the Government, and it is likely to remain buried in the vast mass of fugitive public documents known only by the "printer's number."

The editor has been at some pains to collect the scattered pieces and reports, and to put them into a continuous if not a connected form, with the object of making them available for reference in future. This it seems amply worth while to do for various reasons; chiefly because