Skip to main content

Full text of "Scientific Papers - Vi"

See other formats

1919]                                 ,  PRESIDENTIAL  ADDRESS                                        653
clues, or at least suggestions for further inquiry. And if the phenomena, or any of them, are really due to supernormal causes, further solid evidence of this will emerge. I feel that I ought to apologize for giving utterance to-what must seem platitudes to the more experienced working members of the
Some of the narratives that I have read suggest the possibility of prophecy. This is very difficult ground. But we live in times which are revolutionary in science as well as in politics. Perhaps some of those who-accept extreme " relativity" views reducing time to merely one of the dimensions of a four-dimensional manifold, may regard the future as differing from the past no more than north differs from south. But here I am nearly out. of my depth, and had better stop.
I fear that my attitude, or want of attitude, will be disappointing to some members of the Society who have out-stripped me on the road to conviction^ but this I cannot help. Scientific men should not rush to conclusions, but. keep their minds open for such time as may be necessary. And what waa at first a policy may become a habit. After forty-five years of hesitation it. may require some personal experience of a compelling kind to break the crust. Some of those who know me "best think that I ought to be more convinced than I am. Perhaps they are right.
However this may be, I have never felt any doubt as to the importance' of the work carried on by the Society over many years, and I speak as one who has examined not a few of the interesting and careful papers that have been published in the Proceedings. Several of the founders of the Society were personal friends, and since they have gone the same spirit has guided us. Our goal is the truth, whatever it may turn out to be, and our efforts to attain it should have the sympathy of all, and I would add especially of scientific men.ies besetting the acceptance of telepathy, biit I fully recognize that a strong case has been made out for it. I hope that more members of the Society will experiment in this direction. It is work that can be done at home, at odd times, and without the help of mediums, professional or other. Some very interesting experiences of this kind have been recorded by a former President, Prof. Gilbert Murray. With perhaps an excess of caution, he abstained from formulating conclusions that must have seemed to most readers to follow from the facts detailed. I trust we may hear still more from him.