Extract From Address Before The British
Association For the Advancement Of Science, 18981
Regarding Psychic Research
By Sir William Crookes
The articles in the General Appendix of the Smithsonian
Report are intended as a rule to set forth accounts of
known and admitted scientific facts and not of
speculations. The following two articles, forming portions
of addresses to the British Association for the
Advancement of Science and to the Society for Psychical
Research, delivered in each case by their president, Prof.
William Crookes, contain, however, speculations so weighty
and ingeniously illustrated that an exception is here made
in their favor, but it is to be repeated that they are not
presented as demonstrated fact.
S. P. LANGLEY, Secretary.
SIR WILLIAM CROOKES ON PSYCHICAL RESEARCH.
I. EXTRACT FROM ADDRESS BEFORE THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION
FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE, 1898.1
No incident in my scientific career is more widely known
than the part I took many years ago in certain psychic
researches. Thirty years have passed since I published an
account of experiments tending to show that outside our
scientific knowledge there exists a Force exercised by
intelligence differing from the ordinary intelligence
common to mortals. This fact in my life is, of course,
well understood by those who honored me with the
invitation to become your president. Perhaps among my
audience some may feel curious as to whether I shall speak
out or be silent. I elect to speak, although briefly.
To enter at length on a still debatable subject would be
unduly to insist on a topic which-as Wallace, Lodge, and
Barrett have already shown- though not unfitted for
discussion at these meetings, does not yet enlist the
interest of the majority of my scientific brethren. To
ignore the subject would be an act of cowardice-an act of
cowardice I feel no temptation to commit. To stop short in
any research that bids fair to widen the gates of
knowledge, to recoil from fear of difficulty or adverse
criticism, is to bring reproach on science. There is
nothing for the investigator to do but to go straight on;
"to explore up and down, inch by inch, with the taper his
reason; "to follow the light wherever it may lead, even
should it at times resemble a will-o'-the-wisp. I have
nothing to retract.
1From a report of the British
Association for the Advancement of Science, 1898. Bristol