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An Aphorism and a Lecture
by [?]

It is not necessary to prove the falsity of the phrenological statement. It is only necessary to show that its truth is not proved, and cannot be, by the common course of argument. The walls of the head are double, with a great air-chamber between them, over the smallest and most closely crowded “organs.” Can you tell how much money there is in a safe, which also has thick double walls, by kneading its knobs with your fingers? So when a man fumbles about my forehead, and talks about the organs of Individuality, Size, etc., I trust him as much as I should if he felt of the outside of my strongbox and told me that there was a five-dollar or a ten-dollar bill under this or that particular rivet. Perhaps there is; only he doesn’t know anything about it. But this is a point that I, the Professor, understand, my friends, or ought to, certainly, better than you do. The next argument you will all appreciate.

I proceed, therefore, to explain the self-adjusting mechanism of Phrenology, which is very similar to that of the pseudosciences. An example will show it most conveniently.

A– is a notorious thief. Messrs. Bumpus and Crane examine him and find a good-sized organ of Acquisitiveness. Positive fact for Phrenology. Casts and drawings of A– are multiplied, and the bump does not lose in the act of copying–I did not say it gained. –What do you look for so? (to the boarders).

Presently B– turns up, a bigger thief than A–. But B– has no bump at all over Acquisitiveness. Negative fact; goes against Phrenology. Not a bit of it. Don’t you see how small Conscientiousness is? That’s the reason B– stole.

And then comes C–, ten times as much a thief as either A– or B–; used to steal before he was weaned, and would pick one of his own pockets and put its contents in another, if he could find no other way of committing petty larceny. Unfortunately C– has a hollow, instead of a bump, over Acquisitiveness. Ah! but just look and see what a bump of Alimentiveness! Did not O– buy nuts and gingerbread, when a boy, with the money he stole? Of course you see why he is a thief, and how his example confirms our noble science.

At last comes along a case which is apparently a settler, for there is a little brain with vast and varied powers–a case like that of Byron, for instance. Then comes out the grand reserve–reason which covers everything and renders it simply impossible ever to corner a phrenologist. “It is not the size alone, but the quality of an organ, which determines its degree of power.”

Oh! oh! I see. The argument may be briefly stated thus by the phrenologist: “Heads I win, tails you lose.” Well, that’s convenient. It must be confessed that Phrenology has a certain resemblance to the pseudosciences. I did not say it was a pseudoscience.

I have often met persons who have been altogether struck up and amazed at the accuracy with which some wandering Professor of Phrenology had read their characters written upon their skulls. Of course, the Professor acquires his information solely through his cranial inspections and manipulations. What are you laughing at? (to the boarders). But let us just suppose, for a moment, that a tolerably cunning fellow, who did not know or care anything about Phrenology, should open a shop and undertake to read off people’s characters at fifty cents or a dollar apiece. Let us see how well he could get along without the “organs.”

I will suppose myself to set up such a shop. I would invest one hundred dollars, more or less, in casts of brains, skulls, charts, and other matters that would make the most show for the money. That would do to begin with. I would then advertise myself as the celebrated Professor Brainey, or whatever name I might choose, and wait for my first customer–a middle-aged man. I look at him, ask him a question or two, so as to hear him talk.