Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/771

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749
THE STABILITY OF TRUTH.

economies or provided by new and increased taxes? And if the latter policy is favored, its advocates will do well to remember, that any taxes that tend to obstruct the export of the surplus products of the country will not long be tolerated.[1]

 

THE STABILITY OF TRUTH.[2]
By DAVID STARR JORDAN,

PRESIDENT OF LELAND STANFORD JUNIOR UNIVERSITY.

[Concluded.]

THE primal motive of science is to regulate the conduct of life. This is in a sense its ultimate end, for it is the first and the last function of the senses and the intellect. If science has any message to man, it is expressed in these words of Huxley: "There can be no alleviation of the sufferings of mankind except in absolute veracity of thought and action and a resolute facing of the world as it is, with all the garment of make-believe thrown off."

"Still, men and nations reap as they have strewn." The history of human thought is filled with the rise of philosophic doctrines, laws, and generalizations not drawn from human experience and not sanctioned by science. The attempt to use these ideas as a basis of human action has been one of the most fruitful sources of human misery. It is true that wrong information may sometimes become the basis of right action, as falsehood may secure obedience to a natural law which might otherwise be violated. But in the long run men and nations pay dearly for every illusion they cherish. For every sick man healed at Denver or Lourdes, ten well men will be made sick. Faith cures and patent medicines feed on the same victims. For every Schlatter who is worshiped as a saint, some equally harmless lunatic will be burned as a witch.

And now a word as to the positive side of scientific belief.

  1. Touching the question of national revenue and its present yearly deficiency, the following opinion, expressed by the late Secretary of the Treasury, in his annual report on the finances of the country for 1896, has an important bearing on this problem, and ought not to fail of popular consideration: "Hereafter," he says, "it will not be possible to sacrifice revenue to protection without seriously embarrassing the fiscal affairs of the Government by depriving it of an income sufficient to defray its necessary expenditures. If the usual proportion of this income is hereafter to be derived from taxes on imported goods, the protective theory must be abandoned as the basis of our legislation upon the subject, and a well-considered and consistent revenue system must be substituted in its place; and, in my opinion, this can be done without material injury to any trade or industry now existing in this country,"
  2. President's address, California Science Association meeting, Oakland, December, 1895.