Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/427

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413
EDITOR'S TABLE

breathing from the first page to the last the spirit of personal insult, and so far tried to set the key for the criticisms of other "fellow-workers." If the director had gone on and made this statement, which would have been quite relevant to the subject and purpose of his article, we think he would have felt it incumbent on him to express some opinion as to the expediency and propriety of his coadjutor's method of vindicating scientitic orthodoxy as established at Washington. There is a manifest lesson to be learned from the incident. The Geological Survey is a body with wide ramifications, and whether it has already done so or not, it is in danger, from the very nature of its organization, of becoming a kind of scientific hierarchy, and, as such, of exercising an influence unfavorable rather than favorable to the increase of scientific knowledge. We learn from the director that when Prof. Wright proposed to publish his first book. The Ice Age in North America, Prof. Chamberlin, under whose direction he had worked as an assistant in the Survey, "demurred." It is really hard to see why Prof. Chamberlin should have taken upon himself to demur. Prof. Wright was not seeking to compromise any one but himself, and it was known that his work, of whatever character it might prove to be, would be fully open to criticism. If some scientific gentlemen could get it into their heads that science is not a personal matter, but a simple question of the establishment of general truths, and that every man is free to labor toward that end by the aid of such lights as he possesses, subject to correction by those whose lights are stronger and clearer, things would go more smoothly than they do in the scientific world, and the laity would not so often have to exclaim (with sarcasm), "See how these men of science love one another!" The services of Prof. Wright were dispensed with from the Survey—so the director tells us—because he failed to distinguis "overplacement" from original glacial deposit. We are not in a position to judge of the adequacy of the reason; but admitting that it was a sound one, might we suggest to the director that the writing of so discreditable an article as that which proceeded from the pen of Mr. W J McGee might perhaps be at least as serious a reason for removal from the Survey as even the non-recognition now and then of "overplacement"? As our readers are aware, the general soundness of Prof. Wright's observations was defended in a carefully written article by Prof. E. W. Claypole, which appeared in the April number of this magazine. It is not our part to enter into the controversy, but we can not help remarking upon the magisterial manner in which the Director of the Survey dismisses Prof. Claypole's article as being "based upon error in every paragraph." Let nus hope that, if such is the case, some one will come forward and prove it otherwise than with a lofty wave of the hand.

 

 

A BACKWARD MOVEMENT.

We have often had occasion to notice the valiant struggles of our contemporary, The Nation, in the cause of rational journalism, and we earnestly trust it may not grow weary in well-doing, however potent the opposing forces may appear to be. We particularly wish it success—some measure of success, for there is no use in wishing too much—in its crusade against the fashion lately introduced by many of the daily papers of disfiguring their columns with woodcuts, far less for purposes of illustration in the true sense than as mere distractions for idle readers (save the mark!), who can not bear the stress of a score of lines of unbroken print. These cuts, the Nation says, with a measure of truth, are a natural sequence of the very childish editorial and news matter which many papers have for years past been serving up to the public. As our con-