We have now reached about half-way through this book, and I now wish to discuss a subject which some day will puzzle our descendants, namely the apathy of official science to all matters concerning psychic phenomena. Since the discovery in the 17th century that the Universe is governed by natural law, and not by the gods, science has become ever more materialistic in its outlook, to reach its climax in our own time when the British Broadcasting Corporation broadcast in 1950 a series of scientific talks which made man out to be a highly specialised robot, his thoughts and memory being no more than electrical impulses.
This pitiful attempt to turn man into a machine, to which no Spiritualist was allowed to reply, and to which the Church was silent because of ignorance, had doubtless a depressing effect on the majority of listeners, who knew as little about man's psychic makeup as did the professors of anthropology and biology who gave these talks. This state of ignorance comes from science ignoring the basis on which it rests, namely observation and experience of all things in nature, and being turned aside from the search for truth by prejudice. Unfortunately the discovery of natural law, and the dethronement of the rule of the gods, ushered in the Materialistic Age, and the Universe has come to be looked upon as only a machine, and life as like a flame which is extinguished at death.
Materialism has an answer for everything. Nothing exists apart from physical matter which is all and in all, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Physical matter is the Universe, and nothing exists beyond what our senses can perceive. Ernest Haeckel, in the 19th century, pursued the task begun by Darwin, and propounded his conclusion that the whole cosmos could be expressed in one word: "Monism", and that man himself is no more than a material unit.
Consequently it is a delusion to believe that the soul in man is a separate entity which dwells for a time in the mortal frame, leaving it, and living on after death.
With this background we may not be astonished that the professors of Glasgow University, made famous throughout Europe in the 18th century by the brilliance of Professor Adam Smith, forgot the basis of observation and experience on which science rests, and maintained, without examination, their attitude that everything to do with psychic phenomena is unworthy of investigation. For fifty years they ignored the phenomena of the Sloan Circle which took place within a mile of their imposing edifice.
Consequently, only one professor was interested enough to attend a lecture I gave in the lecture-room of the Glasgow Philosophical Society in 1923, my subject being the phenomena that occurred at Sloan's séances. Only one became a member of the Glasgow Society for Psychical Research when I founded the society in 1923.
Moreover, when Sir William Barrett, F.R.S., a founder of the London Society for Psychical Research, came to Glasgow that year, at the request of the Glasgow Society for Psychical Research, to address a large audience in the St. Andrew's Hall, at which I presided, the University life of Glasgow was conspicuous by its absence, though all its leaders were invited.
The faculties of our other Universities have been likewise blameworthy, and my book, On the Edge of the Etheric, which has circulated amongst them, has been ignored. No chair of Psychic Science has come into being in any British University, and the British scientific journals, devoted to the different branches of science, seldom, if ever, mention the subject, it being taboo and not a matter for scientific discussion. Thousands of books, some by well known men, have been published on the subject over the past hundred years, millions of different séances have been held throughout the world, at which supernormal phenomena have occurred, and yet official science still maintains its indifference to a subject which upsets its materialistic conception of the Universe.
That once-enlightened body of opinion, the Society for Psychical Research, when founded in 1882, had an enthusiastic leadership, and its official publication contained a great quantity of first-class matter, the result of careful research. Unfortunately, its founders were not followed by men of the same calibre, and, when I became a member, some time about 1920, its Council had become static, the consequence being that the Society lost one of its greatest opportunities to further enlighten its members.
Mr. Sloan, early in 1925, came to London on a visit, and Sir William Barrett and I arranged a number of séances at which our friends attended. Sir William was highly pleased with what took place, and I made the proposal to him, to put before the Society for Psychical Research, that I would pay all Sloan's expenses in London if he would stay on and give the Society a series of sittings. Sloan agreed to do so, and Sir William went to the next Council meeting and put forward my offer.
Much to his disappointment the Council turned it down with neither an explanation nor an expression of thanks, and, when he told me of its decision not to investigate Sloan's mediumship, he was not only disappointed but angry. That ended the matter and nothing was ever done. My reaction was to resign my membership of the Society, and, since then, I have looked on, during these intervening years, with regret that its leaders have shown such a lack of enterprise, confining themselves too much to only one narrow branch of research, and are so far removed from the true scientific outlook which animated its founders.
What Spiritualism stands for will not come to the people by the enterprise of our Universities. Spiritualism some day will become generally accepted as true, not because of what official science discovers, but because the people, by their séances, and by their reading, are educating themselves in one of the world's greatest discoveries, namely, that we have found our dead, have talked to them and found them to be very much alive and like ourselves. Mediumship, and those who write books about it, are educating a wondering incredulous public, and Spiritualists are carrying their discovery throughout the world, far and wide, amongst their fellow men and women.
They only have adopted the true scientific attitude, to observe, to inquire and to investigate, without preconceived notions as to what should or should not be. They have laid down a firm foundation of scientific facts, but future historians, if they keep to what is true, will give no credit to official science. Instead, its obstructionist negative attitude towards this all embracing subject will be universally condemned.
The scientists' excuse is that Spiritualists are dealing with phenomena which cannot be repeated at will, that what they—the scientists—are interested in is something which they can prove does happen at any time of the day or night. That attitude is stupid as, to be truly scientific, we must take things as Nature gives them to us and adapt our experiments accordingly. What happened at the Sloan Circle, and has happened elsewhere on many occasions, can, however, be repeated. For fifty years Glasgow University could have had one or more representatives taking a verbatim record of what occurred at the Sloan Circle and making a careful check on everything said or done. They could have filled a hundred volumes as large as this book with their reports, and given to the world much scientific knowledge which the etheric scientists, including the doctors, would have been only too glad to give them.
That is what I advised our scientists to do thirty years ago, particularly the psychologists, the biologists and the anthropologists of Glasgow University, because they had one of the world's greatest Direct Voice mediums on their doorstep. It could all have been done free and for nothing, because Sloan never wished to earn money from his wonderful gift. They would have discovered ectoplasm, something that really exists but is unknown to official science which is as ignorant about this amazing stuff as a new-born baby. They could have taken hundreds of photographs of ectoplasm by infra-red light, and seen it billowing out of Sloan's mouth, and from his other orifices, like a squirming snake. They could have analysed it, besides doing many other things which would occur to intelligent people, but they did nothing and remained encamped on Gilmorehill, wilfully ignorant of the wonderful events which were taking place in a certain house in the valley below them.