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Popular Attitude Toward These

POPULAR ATTITUDE TOWARD THESE What, now, is the general attitude of people toward all these stories? If they are a part of the religion which a man has inherited, or which for any reason holds his allegiance, he reverently and unhesitatingly accepts them as true. But it is a little curious to note that the ad herent of any particular religion, while accepting his own wonder stories, looks upon all others as strange superstitions. The outsider may not be able to discern that the evidence for any one set of them is any better than that for all the rest; but in spite of this the believer accepts his own, and rejects those of all other re ligions. The ordinary Protestant, for ex ample, has no use for any of the Catholic miracles, ancient or modern; and neither the Protestant nor the Catholic treats with any intellectual respect those of the Mo hammedan or the Hindu. This is one of the attitudes toward stories of this kind which all readers will readily recognise.

On the other hand, there is the position ordinarily taken by the newspaper reporter or the common gossip of the clubs. Ac counts of this sort, whether found in the Roman historian Livy or reported in the common conversation of the day, are flip pantly and superciliously disposed of as"spook"stories, which are contemptu ously set aside as not worth any serious attention. The man who"takes any stock"in them is"a fool." The general

state of mind is well illustrated by the remark made to me some years ago by a world-famous scientist, who, as the result of several years of patient and persistent investigation, had become a believer. He said to me,"I do not talk of these things to everybody. I used to think that any man who had anything to do with them was a fool, and,"he added with an amused smile,"I do not enjoy being thought a fool." He spoke, therefore, only to those whose study and experience had made them at least sympathetic in their feeling.

There is a third attitude toward stories of this sort which it is worth our while to note. There are people, and a good many of them, who in daylight and among their friends join in the laugh and sneer at the possibility of any of these things; but who, when they are alone or in the dark, acknowledge to themselves at least a seri ous question as to whether there may not be something in them. It was Madame de Stael, I think, who said,"No, I do not believe in ghosts; but I am afraid of them, though." If the reader chooses, he may look upon cases of this sort as that of persons who have inherited a strain of unreasonable superstition which they have not yet outgrown. The only point I have in mind is to note this atti tude as a fact.

stories, sort, note and fool