In All Things . . . Religious
" Bunter," said Lord Peter, . . ."do you know why I am doubtful about the success of those rat experiments?"
"Meaning Mr. Hartman's, my Lord?"
"Yes, Dr. Hartman has a theory. In any investigation, my Bunter, it is most damnably dangerous to have a theory."
"I have heard you say so, my Lord."
"Confound you--you know it as well as I do! What is wrong with the doctor's theories, Bunter?"
"You wish me to reply, my Lord, that he only sees the facts which fit in with the theory."1
This detective dialogue is apposite here as we open the first chapter on a work which involves careful scientific study. It is of supreme importance to bear in mind that it is a compulsory prerequisite of successful scientific investigation to keep a clear, open mind. This is, however, one of those injunctions which, in consequence of the vagaries of the human mind, have often been taken as counsels of perfection. Especially is it important in our field of investigation to avoid the pitfalls of prejudice and preconceived notions; for, in the words of William Temple, "Where conditions are prescribed beforehand, honest study is impossible."2
A Yoruba folktale tells of an enchanted garden where small gourds grew in profusion. On entering the garden, one heard the clamour of several of the gourds inviting one in the most winning, persistent, almost compulsive way, "Pluck me! Pluck me! Pluck me!" There were, however, others which were perfectly calm and remarkably silent. He who was wise and would be successful in life must ignore the alluring invitations of the clamorous ones; for in them were contained all that baffled, all that embarrassed, all that stung, all that caused suffering.____________________