Every man knows, and most men would concede, not only that falsity is valueless, but that it is a deception and a snare which when clung to leads inevitably to moral degradation and disaster. They would concede, too, that even the seeming power and influence of a given error is entirely due to the fact that it always parades itself in the guise of genuineness; and this for the reason that it is an offense to its victims when clothed in its own habiliments and known for what it is. The innate moral sense of all free men is so strong that they will ridicule and condemn pretense even when they know that in so doing they condemn not a little in their own life and conduct. The educational system of every civilized country witnesses that its supporters look upon falsity and ignorance as outlaws, and by a universal consent which freely assumes the colossal expense involved, they plan to put it away that all may know the only thing worth knowing or that we can know, viz., the truth.

This recognition by all wholesome-minded folk that the rule of the seeming, of the untrue, is a bar to progress, is irrational and unprofitable, and that to find and prove the truth about everything is the one sensible course to pursue, constitutes that scientific spirit which has always been an emancipator and which forever makes war upon the content of ignorance, the immobility of the prejudiced and the reactionary. Loyalty to this spirit explains the wonderful progress which has been made in the domain of physics, especially during the last century. The significance of the discoveries and inventions of a Bell or Edison to human life is pertinently manifest to every one, and we do well to estimate rightly their contributions to physical freedom and efficiency. More than this, to physical scientists and especially those of philosophical disposition, we are indebted for disclosing the superstition and sophistry of unnumbered beliefs to which our fathers, even of a relatively late day, were in bondage. They have taught men to question the reliability of much evidence and to submit experience to the test of honest and thorough investigation. In this way they have led the thoughtful to rely on their conclusions only after having considered much more than appears upon the surface of things. The scientific spirit has thus come to stand for full and fair inquiry, a logical consideration of all the available facts, that wholesome skepticism which is not easily duped and which is sure that the truth needs no patronage.

December 9, 1911

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