SERIOUS STUDY VERY These three positions, then, which I have thus outlined and illustrated, practically exhaust the points of view from which these asserted happenings have been regarded up to the present time. It is, I think, a somewhat strange and startling fact to note that so far in the history of the world, with the exception of a few individuals, no serious attempt has ever been made to study these alleged phe nomena and find out what they may mean, until the date of the organisation of the Society for Psychical Research. Hardly any other class of supposed facts has had such an important bearing on the history of mankind as has this; and yet, as I have said, it never seems to have occurred to the world that they were worthy of serious and patient study. Such things cropping out under every sky, in every nation, woven into every religion, touching the inner life of almost every family, would seem to indicate something in human na ture that is at least of sufficient account to merit investigation. It is not entirely
a pleasant view of human history to sup pose that the world has been crazy until the advent of modern science; and yet this is substantially the attitude which the ordinary physical scientist is apt to take. The reader will seriously accept state ments of Livy in regard to almost any thing else; but the minute he alludes to a matter of this sort, with an incredulous smile it is put one side. The plea I make is that the mere putting it one side is not quite sufficient. If only a few people had had things of this sort to report, then this might seem a satisfactory way of disposing of their statements. But there are too many of them. They are too common, too characteristic of human nature to be lightly dealt with. They seem to imply some characteristic of human nature that is essential and uni versal; and if for nothing else than that human nature be understood, they would seem to be worth looking into.