The Master said: In language, perspicuity is everything. -- The Analects of Confucius The man who cannot occasionally imagine events and conditions of existence that are contrary to the causal principle as he knows it will never enrich his science by the addition of a new idea. -- Max Planck
Almost all the terms in which the phenomena of psychical research are popularly described and discussed are radically unsatisfactory. Most obviously this is true of the 'mind' terminology affected by Rhine in his popular books. "The thread of continuity," he writes, "is the bold attempt to trace as much as we can see of the outer bounds of the human mind in the universe" ( The Reach of the Mind, Faber 1948, p. 50: the U.S. edition, with different paging, is also found in the U.K.). Accounts of research are spiced with references to the mind; its powers, frontiers, and manifestations; to its unknown, delicate and subtle capacities: and the results are interpreted accordingly as striking hammer blows for "spiritual values" in the battle against "materialism." He deplores "the traditional disinclination to bring science to the aid of our value system" ( Telepathy and Human Personality, S.P.R., 1950, pamphlet, p. 36).
Picturesque expression is no doubt appropriate in popular books: but
Originally published as Chapter IX in Antony Flew A New Approach to Psychical Research ( London: C. A. Watts & Co., 1953). Revised for this publication.