THEOSOPHY, Vol. 32, No. 3, January, 1944 (Pages 126-128; Size: 10K)
SCIENCE NEWS AND NOTES
SOME "RESEARCH" INTO RESEARCHERS
THE myth of scientific impartiality never was healthy for the human race at any time.
Today, with the scientific world enmeshed in moral paradoxes as the result of universal war, and losing prestige apace among humanitarians, karma is moving fast to pull down the false appearance of infallibility which scientific practices have maintained so long among the uninformed and unthinking. We have little need to add to the trend, but certain revelations about the scientific "happy family" which appear under the name of Professor Edwin C. Miller in Science for April 9, 1943, are too tempting to pass unnoticed.
Prof. Miller writes:Forty years ago the work on the composition and action of enzymes dominated the field of plant physiology. We fully believed that the riddle of the universe would be solved when the nature of their composition and action was discovered . . . but the ultimate cause of these problems has never been explained to the satisfaction of the student of plant physiology. . . .A curious light on the lack of direction and the mental instability prevailing among the rank and file of investigators, is cast by the following paragraph:
The investigator may be prone to consider his particular problem one of the most fundamental of those confronting mankind today. The solution, however, of each of these problems is yet far distant.From the viewpoint of many of us, scientific investigators have never completely solved any problem and it is doubtful if they ever will. . . . Many times, however, they leave the problem upon which they are working to enter what appears to them to be more remunerative fields. . . . Whenever a scientific research worker discovers an outstanding fact, literally hundreds of workers shift . . . to that field. . . . We asked a colleague to explain such behavior. . . . He replied almost instantly, "The vast majority of scientists do not think for themselves and the discovery of a new fact . . . stimulates them to greater activity. The only way they can show their ability is to follow in the footsteps of the fellow who has demonstrated the ability to think." . . . Most of us will agree that investigational work goes in fads or cycles just as certain styles dominate . . . wearing apparel. . . .Now this behavior is what is observed in sheep, or cattle, or geese; it is perhaps what is to be expected of untrained, uneducated masses of people. But why should people who act like that be accorded respect as "scientists"? If such men do turn up a new fact -- which usually means an unexpected and hence not immediately classifiable fact -- how likely are they to know it when they see it?
Prof. Miller describes a "good research worker," possibly as he usually is, but hardly, we think, as he should be:A good research worker, with but few exceptions, must be patient, a plodder and an individualist with a one-track mind. . . . He must consider that the problem on which he is working . . . is the all-important one and that all others are more or less subsidiary to this one. Thus many scientific investigators could well be classed . . . as narrow folks who know little and care less about general affairs. That is perhaps the chief cause for their being irritable and prone to call a fellow worker names because he has obtained results that may differ from theirs under what appear to be similar conditions.And is it this sour and narrow lot that is the future hope of mankind? We beg to differ. Some truly appalling instances are described.We often recall the experience of a former colleague who went to Europe . . . for advanced study. . . . When he arrived abroad he talked with those various professors relative to taking their lectures and all said they would be delighted to have him. Towards the end of his rounds . . . he happened innocently and inadvertently to mention that he was also going to take the lectures of Professor X. Instantly the scientist to whom he was talking changed his cordial attitude and bluntly said, "If you listen to the lectures of that man, I will have nothing whatsoever to do with you." . . . Practically all American scientists would agree that such an attitude was most damnable. Yet in this country we have attained a similar attitude in many of our institutions of higher learning.Not a reassuring picture. Actually it proves that academic training and aptitude have nothing necessarily to do with character or true wisdom. There is not a scientist of any worth in the world who does not deplore war and the spirit of war. But here in practice, scientists yield to few in their perpetuation of the human qualities which find mass expression in war.
A graduate student of higher learning who goes to some institution . . . soon belongs or is told bluntly that he belongs to such and such a clique. He soon learns that he cannot even talk in the hallways to the leader of any other clique or even any of the followers of this man because if he does so, even in the most perfunctory manner, he is immediately marked by a member or the leader of an opposing clique as belonging to the group that opposes them. . . .
Recently one of our students who had finished his undergraduate work at this institution went to a neighboring university to see about taking graduate work. . . . He found, to his consternation, that the botany and the chemistry departments of the institution were at sword's points because each felt that certain members of the other department were transgressing on their sacred domain. This graduate student came back to our institution a sadder and wiser man. He had not realized until that time that such bitter rivalries exist within educational institutions.
It may be reassuring to reflect that there is another "Institution" of another kind of "Higher Learning," in which the self-directed stamping out of all such qualities is the prerequisite to mere entry. Of the method pursued by the occult researchers H.P.B. wrote:. . . the uninitiated are empiricists; the occultists, scientists. This will be obvious when it is borne in mind that, for thousands of years, hundreds of initiates have been exploring the unseen world. That the result of their explorations have been recorded and collected, and the discrepancies eliminated by fresh verifications. That the facts ascertained have been generalized and the laws governing them deduced therefrom, and the correctness of these deductions verified by experiment. Occultism is, therefore, in every sense of the word an exact science, while the teachings of the very ablest untrained seer who has worked single-handed can only be empiric.
* * *What we rely on are the generalized results of the experiences during a vast period of time of a large body of trained Psychists, who have ever made the attainment of truth, in matters spiritual, the foremost object of their desire, and the promotion (though in secret) of the welfare of mankind, their primary duty.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE MYSTERY BEHIND LAW
Of what avail an analytical attitude of mind, if, in our communing with Nature, we take up at random its varied physical aspects, and ignore the breath of Life, the Energy of Spirit, that permeates it, the creative Will that forms it, the laws that either restrict or sanction it?
I long to know the mystery behind the laws of attraction and the laws of mind, that which causes each and every particle of matter in the Universe to draw to itself other particles or atoms, and according to their united strength or weakness, either to govern or to obey.
On The Lookout (October, 1931)