Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/508

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

incompetence on my part, for the proof in all cases rests not on my observation, but on impartial time records or such matters of fact as the escape or nonescape, the climbing or not-climbing of the animals. I may add that in a life among these animals of six months for from four to eight hours a day I never saw any acts which even seemed to show reasoning powers, and did see numerous acts unmentioned here which pointed clearly to their absence.

All that is left for the fond owner of a supposedly rational animal to say is that though the average animal, the typical dog or cat, is by these experiments shown to be devoid of reasoning power, yet his dog or her cat is far above the average level, and is therefore to be judged by itself. He may claim that just because my average animals failed to infer, we have no right to deny inference to all, particularly to his. Is it not fair to ask such a one to repeat my experiments with his supposedly superior animal? Until he does and systematically tries to find out how its mind works and what it is capable of, has he any right to bear witness? It may also be said that of the number of people who witnessed the performances of my animals after they had fully learned a lot of these acts, but had not seen the method of acquisition, all unanimously wondered at their wonderful intellectual powers. "How do you teach them?" "Where did you get such bright animals?" "I always thought animals could think," and such like were common expressions of my visitors. The fact was that the dogs and cats were picked up in the street at random, and that no one of them had thought out one jot or tittle of the things he had learned to do. The specious appearance of reasoning in a completely formed habit does not involve the presence or assistance of reasoning in the formation of the habit.

Here, at the close of this account, I may signify my willingness to reply, so far as is possible, to any letters from readers of the Popular Science Monthly who may care to ask questions about any feature of animal intelligence.

 


 
In a discussion of the question "How Education fails," Dr. J. T. Searey, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, speaks of the tendency of too much education as being to make the pupil too machine-cut. "The successful, the progressive, the aggressive men, families, and races are not the manufactured ones, but the self-made ones." In the conditions and complexities of human society, the accumulating data of knowledge change so rapidly that educators can not anticipate the future in the elements and curricula of prescribed education. The advancing man, who is able to keep up in his day and generation, shows his excellence in his ability to readjust to his changing environment. The schools can not give this faculty, but rather have a tendency to weaken it; yet on it, more than anything else, rests the success of the man and the race. "Too much ought not to be demanded of the schools, nor ought they to assume too much to themselves."