O'Neill's Electronic Museum

Penn Valley California


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I adhere to my already published statements. Indeed, I might add much thereto. I regret only a certain crudity in those early expositions which, no doubt justly, militated against their acceptance by the scientific world. My own knowledge at that time scarcely extended beyond the fact that certain phenomena new to science had assuredly occurred, and were attested by my own sober senses and, better still, by automatic record. I was like some two-dimensional being who might stand at the singular point of a Riemann's surface, and thus find himself in infinitesimal and inexplicable contact with a plane of existence not his own.

I think I see a little farther now. I have glimpses of something like coherence among the strange elusive phenomena; of something like continuity between those unexplained forces and laws already known. This advance is largely due to the labors of another association, of which I have also this year the honor to be president-the Society for Psychical Research. And were I now introducing for the first time these inquiries to the world of science I should choose a starting point different from that of old. It would be well to begin with telepathy; with the fundamental law, as I believe it to be, that thoughts and images may be transferred from one mind to another without the agency of the recognized organs of sense-that knowledge may enter the human mind without being communicated in any hitherto known or recognized ways.

Although the inquiry has elicited important facts with reference to the mind, it has not yet reached the scientific stage of certainty which would entitle it to be usefully brought before one of our sections. I will therefore confine myself to pointing out the direction in which scientific investigation can legitimately advance. If telepathy takes place we have two physical facts-the physical change in the brain of A, the suggester, and the analogous, physical change in the brain of B, the recipient of the suggestion. Between these two physical events there must exist a train of physical causes. Whenever the connecting sequence of intermediate causes begins to be revealed, the inquiry will then come within the range of one of the sections of the British association. Such a sequence can only occur through an intervening medium. All the phenomena of the universe are presumably in some way continuous, and it is unscientific to call in the aid of mysterious agencies when, with every fresh advance in knowledge, it is shown that ether vibrations have powers and attributes abundantly equal to any demand-even to the transmission of thought. It is supposed by some physiologists that the essential cells of nerves do not actually touch, but are separated by a narrow gap which widens in sleep, while it narrows almost to extinction during mental activity. This condition is so singularly like that of a Branly or Lodge coherer as to suggest a further analogy. The structure of brain and nerves being similar, it is conceivable there may be present masses of such nerve coherers in the brain whose special function it may be to receive impulses brought from without through the connecting sequence of ether waves of appropriate order of magnitude.

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