Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/85

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their remedying, because every amateur (if not every professional) attempt hitherto made had only ended in failure, disappointment, and loss of money.—The Builder.




Lecture Second.

YESTERDAY we proceeded far enough in our study of Kircher's experiment, relative to the imagination of the hen, to establish the fact of the usefulness of the string and chalk-line as necessary parts of the procedure. Indeed, the stretching out of the neck and the depression of the head are the only circumstances left which make any decided impression on us. And, so far as we can see, the gentle extension of certain parts of the brain and spinal cord which is produced, appears to be the cause of the remarkable effect which ensues. Nevertheless, we must not be too hasty in forming our conclusions; we must not, as the unlearned do, remain standing at an "event viewed unequally."[1] For, however apparently useless the string and chalk-line may be, it is yet possible that they are not entirely without influence; and, on the other hand, the extension of the neck and depression of the head are by no means established as necessary circumstances to the perfection of the result. So, to-day, as already announced, we will resume and complete our investigations, and, at the close, I will endeavor to show what relation the whole subject has to natural science, to "spiritualism," etc.

And I must request you to dismiss from your minds the hypothesis that the extension of the neck and depression of the head have any especial significance, for I have been entirely unable to produce in pigeons the hypnotic effect which so readily ensues in hens, although I proceeded in as nearly as possible a similar manner. On the contrary, repeated experiments have shown that the unavoidable pressure exerted upon the animal, as it is held, is of primary importance, and that the apparently insignificant chalk-line is undoubtedly of some moment. It is frequently the case that a hen, which, for a minute, has been in a motionless state, caused by simply extending the neck and depressing the head, awakes and flies away, but, on being caught again immediately, can be placed once more in that condition of lethargy, if we place the animal in a squatting position, and overcome with

  1. By this phrase Prof. Czermak (pronounced Tshermak) means those cases of observation in which the eyes and ears perform correctly, but the perception is at fault. The reporter tells the truth, but what he reports never actually took place. An event viewed unequally is one that has not been thoroughly tested.