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Andrew Lang

Oppositions of Science

The Making of Religion: Appendix A (1900)

Published on: Saturday 3 February 2007

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Andrew Lang, ’Oppositions of Science’, The Making of Religion, (Appendix A), Longmans, Green, and C°, London, New York and Bombay, 1900, pp. 307-323.


The most elaborate reply to the arguments for telepathy, based on The Report of the Census of Hallucinations, is that of Herr Parish, in his ’Hallucinations and Illusions.’ [1]

Herr Parish is, at present, opposed to the theory that the Census establishes a telepathic cause in the so-called ’coincidental’ stories, ’put forward,’ as he says, ’with due reserve, and based on an astonishing mass of materials, to some extent critically handled.’

He first demurs to an allowance of twelve hours for the coincidence of hallucination and death; but, if we reflect that twelve hours is little even in a year, coincidences within twelve hours, it may be admitted, donnent à penser, even if we reject the theory that, granted a real telepathic impact, it may need time and quiet for its development into a complete hallucination. We need not linger over the very queer cases from Munich, as these are not in the selected thirty of the Report. Herr Parish then dwells on that hallucination of memory, in which we feel as if everything that is going on had happened before. It may have occurred to most of us to be reminded by some association of ideas during the day, of some dream of the previous night, which we had forgotten. For instance, looking at a brook from a bridge, and thinking of how I would fish it, I remembered that I had dreamed, on the previous night, of casting a fly for practice, on a lawn. Nobody would think of disputing the fact that I really had such a dream, forgot it and remembered it when reminded of it by association of ideas. But if the forgotten dream had been ’fulfilled,’ and been recalled to memory only in the moment of fulfilment, science would deny that I ever had such a dream at all. The alleged dream would be described as an ’hallucination of memory.’ Something occurring, it would be said, I had the not very unusual sensation, ’This has occurred to me before,’ and the sensation would become a false memory that it had occurred—in a dream. This theory will be advanced, I think, not when an ordinary dream is recalled by a waking experience, but only when the dream coincides with and foreruns that experience, which is a thing that dreams have no business to do. Such coincidental dreams are necessarily ’false memories,’ scientifically speaking. Now, how does this theory of false memory bear on coincidental hallucinations?

The insane, it seems, are apt to have the false memory ’This occurred before,’ and then to say that the event was revealed to them in a vision. [2] The insane may be recommended to make a note of the vision, and have it properly attested, before the event. The same remark applies to the ’presentiments’ of the sane. But it does not apply if Jones tells me ’I saw my great aunt last night,’ and if news comes after this remark that Jones’s aunt died, on that night, in Timbuctoo. Yet Herr Parish (p. 282) seems to think that the argument of fallacious memory comes in part, even when an hallucination has been reported to another person before its fulfilment. Of course all depends on the veracity of the narrator and the person to whom he told his tale. To take a case given: [3] Brown, say, travelling with his wife, dreams that a mad dog bit his boy at home on the elbow. He tells his wife. Arriving at home Brown finds that it was so. Herr Parish appears to argue thus:

Brown dreamed nothing at all, but he gets excited when he hears the bad news at home; he thinks, by false memory, that he has a recollection of it, he says to his wife, ’My dear, didn’t I tell you, last night, I had dreamed all this?’ and his equally excited wife replies, ’True, my Brown, you did, and I said it was only one of your dreams.’ And both now believe that the dream occurred. This is very plausible, is it not? only science would not say anything about it if the dream had not been fulfilled—if Brown had remarked, ’Egad, my dear, seeing that horse reminds me that I was dreaming last night of driving in a dog-cart.’ For then Brown was not excited.

None of this exquisite reasoning as to dreams applies to waking hallucinations, reported before the alleged coincidence, unless we accept a collective hallucination of memory in seer or seers, and also in the persons to whom their story was told.

But, it is obvious, memory is apt to become mythopoeic, so far as to exaggerate closeness of coincidence, and to add romantic details. We do not need Herr Parish to tell us that; we meet the circumstance in all narratives from memory, whatever the topic, even in Herr Parish’s own writings.

We must admit that the public, in ghostly, as in all narratives on all topics, is given to ’fanciful addenda.’ Therefore, as Herr Parish justly remarks, we should ’maintain a very sceptical attitude to all accounts’ of veridical hallucinations. ’Not that we should dismiss them as old wives’ fables—an all too common method—or even doubt the narrator’s good faith.’ We should treat them like tales of big fish that get away; sometimes there is good corroborative evidence that they really were big fish, sometimes not. We shall return to these false memories.

Was there a coincidence at all in the Society’s cases printed in the Census? Herr Parish thinks three of the selected twenty-six cases very dubious. In one case is a possible margin of four days, another (wrongly numbered by the way) does not occur at all among the twenty-six. In the third, Herr Parish is wrong in his statement. [4] This is a lovely example of the sceptical slipshod, and, accompanied by the miscitation of the second case, shows that inexactitude is not all on the side of the seers. However the case is not very good, the two percipients fancying that the date of the event was less remote than it really was. Unluckily Herr Parish only criticises these three cases, how accurately we have remarked. He had no room for more.

Herr Parish next censures the probable selection of good cases by collectors, on which the editors of the Census have already made observations, as they have also made large allowances for this cause of error. He then offers the astonishing statement that, ’in the view of the English authors, a view which is, of course, assumed in all calculations of the kind, an hallucination persists equally long in the memory and is equally readily recalled in reply to a question, whether the experience made but a slight impression on the percipient, or affected him deeply, as would be the case, for instance, if the hallucination had been found to coincide with the death of a near relative or friend.’ [5] This assertion of Herr Parish’s is so erroneous that the Report expressly says ’as years recede into the distance,’ the proportion of the hallucinations that are remembered in them to those which are forgotten, or at least ignored, ’is very large.’ Again, ’Hallucinations of the most impressive class will not only be better remembered than others, but will, we may reasonably suppose, be more often mentioned by the percipients to their friends.’ [6]

Yet Herr Parish avers that, in all calculations, it is assumed that hallucinations are equally readily recalled whether impressive or not! Once more, the Report says (p. 246), ’It is not the case’ that
coincidental (and impressive) hallucinations are as easily subject to oblivion as non-coincidental, and non-impressive ones. The editors therefore multiply the non-coincidental cases by four, arguing that no coincidental cases (hits) are forgotten, while three out of four non-coincidentals (misses) are forgotten, or may be supposed likely to be forgotten. Immediately after declaring that the English authors suppose all hallucinations to be equally well remembered (which is the precise reverse of what they do say), Herr Parish admits that the authors multiply the misses by four, ’influenced by other considerations’ (p. 289). By what other considerations? They give their reason (that very reason which they decline to entertain, says Herr Parish), namely, that misses are four times as likely to be forgotten as hits. ’To go into the reason for adopting this plan would lead us too far,’ he writes. Why, it is the very reason which, he says, does not find favour with the English authors!

How curiously remote from being ’coincidental’ with plain facts, or ’veridical’ at all, is this scientific criticism! Herr Parish says that a ’view’ (which does not exist) is ’of course assumed in all calculations;’ and, on the very same page, he says that it is not assumed! ’The witnesses of the report—influenced, it is true, by other considerations’ (which is not the case), ’have sought to turn the point of this objection by multiplying the whole number of (non-coincidental) cases by four.’ Then the ’view’ is not ’assumed in all calculations,’ as Herr Parish has just asserted.

What led Herr Parish, an honourable and clearheaded critic, into this maze of incorrect and contradictory assertions? It is interesting to try to trace the causes of such non-veridical illusions, to find the points de repère of these literary hallucinations. One may suggest that when Herr Parish ’recast the chapters’ of his German edition, as he says in his preface to the English version, he accidentally left in a passage based on an earlier paper by Mr. Gurney, [7] not observing that it was no longer accurate or appropriate.

After this odd passage, Herr Parish argues that a ’veridical’ hallucination is regarded by the English authors as ’coincidental,’ even when external circumstances have made that very hallucination a probable occurrence by producing ’tension of the corresponding nerve element groups.’ That is to say, a person is in a condition—a nervous condition— likely, a priori, to beget an hallucination. An hallucination is begotten, quite naturally; and so, if it happens to coincide with an event, the coincidence should not count—it is purely fortuitous. [8]

Here is an example. A lady, facing an old sideboard, saw a friend, with no coat on, and in a waistcoat with a back of shiny material. Within an hour she was taken to where her friend lay dying, without a coat, and in a waistcoat with a shiny back. [9] Here is the scientific explanation of Herr Parish: ’The shimmer of a reflecting surface [the sideboard?] formed the occasion for the hallucinatory emergence of a subconsciously perceived shiny black waistcoat [quotation incorrect, of course], and an individual subconsciously associated with that impression. [10] I ask any lady whether she, consciously or subconsciously, associates the men she knows with the backs of their waistcoats. Herr Parish’s would be a brilliantly satisfactory explanation if it were only true to the printed words that lay under his eyes when he wrote. There was no ’shiny black waistcoat’ in the case, but a waistcoat with a shiny back. Gentlemen, and especially old gentlemen who go about in bath-chairs (like the man in this story), don’t habitually take off their coats and show the backs of their waistcoats to ladies of nineteen in England. And, if Herr Parish had cared to read his case, he would have found it expressly stated that the lady ’had never seen the man without his coat’ (and so could not associate him with an impression of a shiny back to his waistcoat) till after the hallucination, when she saw him coatless on his death-bed. In this instance Herr Parish had an hallucinatory memory, all wrong, of the page under his eyes. The case is got rid of, then, by aid of the ’fanciful addenda,’ to which Herr Parish justly objects. He first gives the facts incorrectly, and then explains an occurrence which, as reported by him, did not occur, and was not asserted to occur.

I confess that, if Herr Parish’s version were as correct as it is essentially inaccurate, his explanation would leave me doubtful. For the circumstances were that the old gentleman of the story lunched daily with the young lady’s mother. Suppose that she was familiar (which she was not) with the shiny back of his waistcoat, still, she saw him daily, and daily, too, was in the way of seeing the (hypothetically) shiny surface of the sideboard. That being the case, she had, every day, the materials, subjective and objective, of the hallucination. Yet it only occurred once, and then it precisely coincided with the death agony of the old gentleman, and with his coatless condition. Why only that once? C’est là le miracle! ’How much for this little veskit?’ as the man asked David Copperfield.

Herr Parish next invents a cause for an hallucination, which, I myself think, ought not to have been reckoned, because the percipient had been sitting up with the sick man. This he would class as a ’suspicious’ case. But, even granting him his own way of handling the statistics, he would still have far too large a proportion of coincidences for the laws of chance to allow, if we are to go by these statistics at all.

His next argument practically is that hallucinations are always only a kind of dreams. [11] He proves this by the large number of coincidental hallucinations which occurred in sleepy circumstances. One man went to bed early, and woke up early; another was ’roused from sleep;’ two ladies were sitting up in bed, giving their babies nourishment; a man was reading a newspaper on a sofa; a lady was lying awake at seven in the morning; and there are eight other English cases of people ’awake’ in bed during an hallucination. Now, in Dr. Parish’s opinion, we must argue that they were not awake, or not much; so the hallucinations were mere dreams. Dreams are so numerous that coincidences in dreams can be got rid of as pure flukes. People may say, to be sure, ’I am used to dreams, and don’t regard them; this was something solitary in my experience.’ But we must not mind what people say.

Yet I fear we must mind what they say. At least, we must remember that sleeping dreams are, of all things, most easily forgotten; while a full-bodied hallucination, when we, at least, believe ourselves awake, seems to us on a perfectly different plane of impressiveness, and (experto crede) is really very difficult to forget. Herr Parish cannot be allowed, therefore, to use the regular eighteenth-century argument— ’All dreams!’ For the two sorts of dreams, in sleep and in apparent wakefulness, seem, to the subject, to differ in kind. And they really do differ in kind. It is the essence of the every night dream that we are unconscious of our actual surroundings and conscious of a fantastic environment. It is the essence of wideawakeness to be conscious of our actual surroundings. In the ordinary dream, nothing actual competes with its visions. When we are conscious of our surroundings, everything actual does compete with any hallucination. Therefore, an hallucination which, when we are conscious of our material environment, does compete with it in reality, is different in kind from an ordinary dream. Science gains nothing by arbitrarily declaring that two experiences so radically different are identical. Anybody would see this if he were not arguing under a dominant idea.

Herr Parish next contends that people who see pictures in crystal balls, and so on, are not so wide awake as to be in their normal consciousness. There is ’dissociation’ (practically drowsiness), even if only a little. Herr Moll also speaks of crystal-gazing pictures as ’hypnotic phenomena.’ [12] Possibly neither of these learned men has ever seen a person attempt crystal-gazing. Herr Parish never asserts any such personal experience as the basis of his opinion about the non-normal state of the gazer. He reaches this conclusion from an anecdote reported, as a not unfamiliar phenomenon, by a friend of Miss X. But the phenomenon occurred when Miss X. was not crystal-gazing at all! She was looking out of a window in a brown study. This is a noble example of logic. Some one says that Miss X. was not in her normal consciousness on a certain occasion when she was not crystal-gazing, and that this condition is familiar to the observer. Therefore, argues Herr Parish, nobody is in his normal consciousness when he is crystal-gazing.

In vain may ’so good an observer as Miss X. think herself fully awake’ (as she does think herself) when crystal-gazing, because once, when she happened to have ’her eyes fixed on the window,’ her expression was ’associated’ by a friend ’with something uncanny,’ and she afterwards spoke ’in a dreamy, far-away tone’ (p. 297). Miss X., though extremely ’wide awake,’ may have looked dreamily at a window, and may have seen mountains and marvels. But the point is that she was not voluntarily gazing at a crystal for amusement or experiment—perhaps trying to see how a microscope affected the pictures—or to divert a friend.

I appeal to the shades of Aristotle and Bacon against scientific logic in the hands of Herr Parish. Here is his syllogism:

A. is occasionally dreamy when not crystal-gazing.
A. is human.

Therefore every human being, when crystal-gazing, is more or less asleep.

He infers a general affirmative from a single affirmative which happens not to be to the point. It is exactly as if Herr Parish argued:

Mrs. B. spends hours in shopping.
Mrs. B. is human.
Therefore every human being is always late for dinner.

Miss X., I think, uplifted her voice in some review, and maintained that, when crystal-gazing, she was quite in her normal state, dans son assiette.

Yet Herr Parish would probably say to any crystal-gazer who argued thus, ’Oh, no; pardon me, you were not wholly awake—you were a-dream. I know better than you.’ But, as he has not seen crystal-gazers, while I have, many scores of times, I prefer my own opinion. And so, as this assertion about the percipient’s being ’dissociated,’ or asleep, or not awake, is certainly untrue of all crystal-gazers in my considerable experience, I cannot accept it on the authority of Herr Parish, who makes no claim to any personal experience at all.

As to crystal-gazing, when the gazer is talking, laughing, chatting, making experiments in turning the ball, changing the light, using prisms and magnifying-glasses, dropping matches into the water-jug, and so on, how can we possibly say that ’it is impossible to distinguish between waking hallucinations and those of sleep’ (p. 300)? If so, it is impossible to distinguish between sleeping and waking altogether. We are all like the dormouse! Herr Parish is reasoning here a priori, without any personal knowledge of the facts; and, above all, he is under the ’dominant idea’ of his own theory—that of dissociation.

Herr Parish next crushes telepathy by an argument which—like one of the reasons why the bells were not rung for Queen Elizabeth, namely, that there were no bells to ring—might have come first, and alone. We are told (in italics—very impressive to the popular mind): ’No matter how great the number of coincidences, they afford not even the shadow of a proof for telepathy’ (p. 301). What, not even if all hallucinations, or ninety-nine per cent., coincided with the death of the person seen? In heaven’s name, why not? Why, because the ’weightiest’ cause of all has been omitted from our calculations, namely, our good old friend, the association of ideas (p. 302). Our side cannot prove the absence (italics) of the association of ideas. Certainly we cannot; but ideas in endless millions are being associated all day long. A hundred thousand different, unnoticed associations may bring Jones to my mind, or Brown. But I don’t therefore see Brown, or Jones, who is not there. Still less do I see Dr. Parish, or Nebuchadnezzar, or a monkey, or a salmon, or a golf ball, or Arthur’s Seat (all of which may be brought to my mind by association of ideas), when they are not present.

Suppose, then, that once in my life I see the absent Jones, who dies in that hour (or within twelve hours). I am puzzled. Why did Association choose that day, of all days in my life, for her solitary freak? And, if this choice of freaks by Association occurs among other people, say two hundred times more often than chance allows, the freak begins to suggest that it may have a cause.

Not even the circumstance cited by Herr Parish, that a drowsy tailor, ’sewing on in a dream,’ poor fellow, saw a client in his shop while the client was dying, solves the problem. The tailor is not said even once to have seen a customer who was not dying; yet he writes, ’I was accustomed to work all night frequently.’ The tailor thinks he was asleep, because he had been making irregular stitches, and perhaps he was. But, out of all his vigils and all his customers, association only formed one hallucination, and that was of a dying client whom he supposed to be perfectly well. Why on earth is association so fond of dying people—granting the statistics, which are ’another story’? The explanation explains nothing. Herr Parish only moves the difficulty back a step, and, as we cannot live without association of ideas, they are taken for granted by our side. Association of ideas does not cause hallucinations, as Mrs. Sidgwick remarks, though it may determine their contents.

The difficult theme of coincidental collective hallucinations, as when two or more people at once have, or profess to have, the same false perception of a person who is really absent and dying, is next disposed of by Herr Parish. The same points de repère, the same sound, or flicker of light, or arrangement of shadow, may beget the same or a similar false perception in two or more people at once. Thus two girls, in different rooms, are looking out on different parts of the hall in their house. ’Both heard, at the same time, an [objective?] noise’ (p. 313). Then, says Herr Parish, ’the one sister saw her father cross the hall after entering; the other saw the dog (the usual companion of his walks) run past her door.’ Father and dog had not left the dining-room. Herr Parish decides that the same point de repère (the apparent noise of a key in the lock of the front door) ’acted by way of suggestion on both sisters,’ producing, however, different hallucinations, ’in virtue of the difference of the connected associations.’ One girl associated the sound with her honoured sire, the other with his faithful hound; so one saw a dog, and the other saw an elderly gentleman. Now, first, if so, this should always be occurring, for we all have different associations of ideas. Thus, we are in a haunted house; there is a noise of a rattling window; I associate it with a burglar, Brown with a milkman, Miss Jones with a lady in green, Miss Smith with a knight in armour. That collection of phantasms should then be simultaneously on view, like the dog and old gentleman; all our reports should vary. But this does not occur. Most unluckily for Herr Parish, he illustrates his theory by telling a story which happens not to be correctly reported. At first I thought that a fallacy of memory, or an optical delusion, had betrayed him again, as in his legend of the waistcoat. But I am now inclined to believe that what really occurred was this: Herr Parish brought out his book in German, before the Report of the Census of Hallucinations was published. In his German edition he probably quoted a story which precisely suited his theory of the origin of collective hallucinations. This anecdote he had found in Prof. Sidgwick’s Presidential Address of July 1890. [13] As stated by Prof. Sidgwick, the case just fitted Herr Parish, who refers to it on p. 190, and again on p. 314. He gives no reference, but his version reads like a traditional variant of Prof. Sidgwick’s. Now Prof. Sidgwick’s version was erroneous, as is proved by the elaborate account of the case in the Report of the Census, which Herr Parish had before him, but neglected when he prepared his English edition. The story was wrong, alas! in the very point where, for Herr Parish’s purpose, it ought to have been right. The hallucination is believed not to have been collective, yet Herr Parish uses it to explain collective hallucinations. Doubtless he overlooked the accurate version in the Report. [14]

The facts, as there reported, were not what he narrates, but as follows:

Miss C.E. was in the breakfast-room, about 6:30 P.M., in January 1883, and supposed her father to be taking a walk with his dog. She heard noises, which may have had any other cause, but which she took to be the sounds of a key in the door lock, a stick tapping the tiles of the hall, and the patter of the dog’s feet on the tiles. She then saw the dog pass the door. Miss C.E. next entered the hall, where she found nobody; but in the pantry she met her sisters—Miss E., Miss H.G.E.—and a working-woman. Miss E. and the working-woman had been in the hall, and there had heard the sound, which they, like Miss C.E., took for that of a key in the lock. They were breaking a little household rule in the hall, so they ’ran straightway into the pantry, meeting Miss H.G.E. on the way.’ Miss C.E. and Miss E. and the working-woman all heard the noise as of a key in the lock, but nobody is said to have ’seen the father cross the hall’ (as Herr Parish asserts). ’Miss H.G.E. was of opinion that Miss E. (now dead) saw nothing, and Miss C.E. was inclined to agree with her.’ Miss E. and the work-woman (now dead) were ’emphatic as to the father having entered the house;’ but this the two only inferred from hearing the noise, after which they fled to the pantry. Now, granting that some other noise was mistaken for that of the key in the lock, we have here, not (as Herr Parish declares) a collective yet discrepant hallucination—the discrepancy being caused ’by the difference of connected associations’—but a solitary hallucination. Herr Parish, however, inadvertently converts a solitary into a collective hallucination, and then uses the example to explain collective hallucinations in general. He asserts that Miss E. ’saw her father cross the hall.’ Miss E.’s sisters think that she saw no such matter. Now, suppose that Mr. E. had died at the moment, and that the case was claimed on our part as a ’collective coincidental hallucination,’ How righteously Herr Parish might exclaim that all the evidence was against its being collective! The sound in the lock, heard by three persons, would be, and probably was, another noise misinterpreted. And, in any case, there is no evidence for its having produced two hallucinations; the evidence is in exactly the opposite direction.

Here, then, Herr Parish, with the printed story under his eyes, once more illustrates want of attention. In one way his errors improve his case. ’If I, a grave man of science, go on telling distorted legends out of my own head, while the facts are plain in print before me,’ Herr Parish may reason, ’how much more are the popular tales about coincidental hallucinations likely to be distorted?’ It is really a very strong argument, but not exactly the argument which Herr Parish conceives himself to be presenting. [15]

This unlucky inexactitude is chronic, as we have shown, in Herr Parish’s work, and is probably to be explained by inattention to facts, by ’expectation’ of suitable facts, and by ’anxiety’ to prove a theory. He explains the similar or identical reports of witnesses to a collective hallucination by ’the case with which such appearances adapt themselves in recollection’ (p. 313), especially, of course, after lapse of time. And then he unconsciously illustrates his case by the case with which printed facts under his very eyes adapt themselves, quite erroneously, to his own memory and personal bias as he copies them on to his paper.

Finally he argues that even if collective hallucinations are also ’with comparative frequency’ coincidental, that is to be explained thus: ’The rarity and the degree of interest compelled by it’ (by such an hallucination) ’will naturally tend to connect itself with some other prominent event; and, conversely, the occurrence of such an event as the death or mortal danger of a friend is most calculated to produce memory illusions of this kind.’

In the second case, the excitement caused by the death of a friend is likely, it seems, to make two or more sane people say, and believe, that they saw him somewhere else, when he was really dying. The only evidence for this fact is that such illusions occasionally occur, not collectively, in some lunatic asylums. ’It is not, however, a form of mnemonic error often observed among the insane.’ ’Kraepelin gives two cases.’ ’The process occurs sporadically in certain sane people, under certain exciting conditions.’ No examples are given! What is rare as an individual folly among lunatics, is supposed by Herr Parish to explain the theoretically ’false memory’ whereby sane people persuade themselves that they had an hallucination, and persuade others that they were told of it, when no such thing occurred.

To return to our old example. Jones tells me that he has just seen his aunt, whom he knows to be in Timbuctoo. News comes that the lady died when Jones beheld her in his smoking-room. ’Oh, nonsense,’ Herr Parish would argue, ’you, Jones, saw nothing of the kind, nor did you tell Mr. Lang, who, I am sorry to find, agrees with you. What happened was this: When the awful news came to-day of your aunt’s death, you were naturally, and even creditably, excited, especially as the poor lady was killed by being pegged down on an ant-heap. This excitement, rather praiseworthy than otherwise, made you believe you had seen your aunt, and believe you had told Mr. Lang. He also is a most excitable person, though I admit he never saw your dear aunt in his life. He, therefore (by virtue of his excitement), now believes you told him about seeing your unhappy kinswoman. This kind of false memory is very common. Two cases are recorded by Kraepelin, among the insane. Surely you quite understand my reasoning?’

I quite understand it, but I don’t see how it comes to seem good logic to Herr Parish.

The other theory is funnier still. Jones never had an hallucination before. ’The rarity and the degree of interest compelled by it’ made Jones ’connect it with some other prominent event,’ say, the death of his aunt, which, really, occurred, say, nine months afterwards. But this is a mere case of evidence, which it is the affair of the S.P.R. to criticise.

Herr Parish is in the happy position called in American speculative circles ’a straddle.’ If a man has an hallucination when alone, he was in circumstances conducive to the sleeping state. So the hallucination is probably a dream. But, if the seer was in company, who all had the same hallucination, then they all had the same points de repère, and the same adaptive memories. So Herr Parish kills with both barrels.

If anything extraneous could encourage a belief in coincidental and veridical hallucinations, it would be these ’Oppositions of Science.’ If a learned and fair opponent can find no better proofs than logic and (unconscious) perversions of facts like the logic and the statements of Herr Parish, the case for telepathic hallucinations may seem strong indeed. But we must grant him the existence of the adaptive and mythopoeic powers of memory, which he asserts, and also illustrates. I grant, too, that a census of 17,000 inquiries may only have ’skimmed the cream off’ (p. 87). Another dip of the net, bringing up 17,000 fresh answers, might alter the whole aspect of the case, one way or the other. Moreover, we cannot get scientific evidence in this way of inquiry. If the public were interested in the question, and understood its nature, and if everybody who had an hallucination at once recorded it in black and white, duly attested on oath before a magistrate, by persons to whom he reported, before the coincidence was known, and if all such records, coincidental or not, were kept in the British Museum for fifty years, then an examination of them might teach us something. But all this is quite impossible. We may form a belief, on this point of veridical hallucinations, for ourselves, but beyond that it is impossible to advance. Still, Science might read her brief!


[1Walter Scott.

[2Parish, p. 278.

[3Ibid. pp. 282, 283.

[4P. 287, Mr. Sims, Proceedings, x. 230.

[5Parish pp. 288, 289.

[6Report, p. 68.

[7P. 274, note 1.

[8Parish, p. 290.

[9Report, p. 297.

[10Parish, p. 290.

[11Pp. 291, 292.

[12Moll, Hypnotism, p. 1.

[13Proceedings, vol. vi. p. 433.

[14Parish, p. 313.

[15Compare Report, pp. 181-83, with Parish, pp. 190 and 313, 314.

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