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 In the last chapter we have seen the development of definite methods and very positive successes, but everybody who deals with human beings professionally—the educator, the criminologist, the statesman—feels that he has no certain method for the control of behavior, that there are obscure and incalculable elements, that the same procedure does not secure the same results when applied to different individuals, that the successes are often as unintelligible as the failures, and that such successes as there are depend on common sense, personality, and trial and error rather than on any known system of laws. For example, among the social sciences criminology has a larger amount of concrete material bearing on behavior, more printed and unprinted cases than any of the others. Certainly there is the strongest possible motive for understanding the criminal and reforming him, and preventing crime in general. But a recent appeal to the public by the President of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology for funds to study the effects of criminal procedure indicates how far criminology is from being a science:
... The institute asks that special inquiry be made of the wisdom and success of probation, parole, indeterminate sentence and the entire handling of criminals after conviction; that present acute differences of opinion among equally public-spirited citizens be clarified and sound conclusions 223reached as to the treatment of convicted criminals, neither in the interests of sentimentality nor of vindictive vengeance, but for the better protection of the public and the promotion of law and order. The public may be shocked to know that no one now has facts to answer the above inquiries.[108]
The whole criminal procedure is based on punishment and yet we do not even know that punishment deters from crime. Or rather, we know that it sometimes deters and sometimes stimulates to further crime, but we do not know the conditions under which it acts in the one way or the other.
Similarly the most successful workers with delinquent children report that sometimes their charges reform themselves spontaneously and, so to speak, in spite of the efforts of the institution.
In analyzing the process of our successes among the so-called delinquent girl two types are of special interest—those who “make good” without any special kind of treatment, who get well by themselves, that is to say, those who would have succeeded in any case; and second, those who have succeeded by some accident, some course of the girl’s own that ran counter to our wishes, our routine and our expectation; in short, those who “make good” in spite of us.
The second type, those who unexpectedly make good by their own plan, which is not of our making, is of profound sociological significance. “We possess only that which we set free”, said an old Chinese philosopher. How many of us know girls whom we have not set free, but who have taken the bit in their teeth and run away from us, later to emerge decently clothed, resourceful, industrious, successful and adjusted to life beyond our fondest hopes. Recently I visited some thirty state institutions for the training of delinquent 224girls. Most of the superintendents reported stories of rebellion, escape, followed by the inexplicable “making good.” Many commented on fortunate marriages contracted because the girl strayed in forbidden paths, dancehalls, piers, rinks, cafés and other loafing places of Prince Charming. We are more familiar with this type of fortuitous success in boys than in girls, boys who flee from us to navy, army or wild west. Many a candid probation officer will tell you that she has met with it in girls.[109]
Detective Burns, speaking of the counterfeiter Wilken, says below (document No. 92, p. 236): “I have often wondered whether his talents would have been smothered by convention if he had been kept in the straight and narrow path. The most commonplace man becomes sometimes the most startlingly original crook. The reformed crook, on the other hand, turns to honesty and becomes duller than ditch-water.”
In the paper quoted above as document No. 88, p. 200, Jessie Taft says:
The intimate psychological or psychiatric interpretation, the individual intensive treatment, are fundamental for solving the problems of delinquency. No matter how ideal the social conditions, no matter how farsighted the laws, there will always be compensatory behavior in the lives of individuals, and some of this behavior is bound to be unwholesome and socially undesirable. Instinctive protective reactions on the part of society, even the more enlightened mass treatment in institution, will bring results only by accident.
What we need is a treatment of behavior so scientific that results instead of being accidental will be subject to intention and prediction. Biology studies the life-history 225of individual forms and explains any particular details of their behavior in the light of the life of the organism as a whole from birth to death. Where does a similar case study of human beings belong? Without it there can be no scientific solution of the problems of delinquency.
Our best efforts to reform the delinquent, or even to control the behavior of the young child in such a way as to secure a balanced, efficient, creative, and happy schematization of life are very imperfect. The juvenile court and the experimental schools do not completely realize the hopes they inspired. The most careful methods may result in failure and the most imperfect methods and even neglect of method may result in, or at least not prevent success. We sometimes see a poor, obscure, and underfed boy assuming a definite life-direction, planning to be something, and pursuing his aim with the certitude of the homing instinct, while a boy with the choicest opportunities of life—money, schools, tutors, and travel—remains a nonentity or becomes demoralized.
Now the example of the physical and biological sciences shows that the human mind has the power to work out schemes which secure an adequate control over the material world and over animal and plant life by a series of observations and experiments which have been sufficiently thorough and detailed to discover series of facts and their causal connections which lead to the establishment of general chemical, physical, mechanical, and biological laws, and the same objective methods will lead to similar results in the field of social theory and practice.
There is, indeed, no sharp line between the common-sense method of the average man in determining facts and causal relations and the method of the scientist. 226When we have found that a certain effect is produced by a certain cause the formulation of this causal dependence has in itself the character of a law; we assume that whenever the cause repeats itself the effect will necessarily follow. The agriculture of the peasant and of the old-fashioned farmer was scientific to the degree that they had observed a causal relation between manure, lime, moisture, seasonal changes, varieties of soils, animal and plant pests, and the success or failure of their crops. But science is superior to common sense in its methods of experimentation, measurement, and comparison, in its isolation and intensive study of problems from mere scientific curiosity, without regard to the practical application of its results. Science is called cold because it is objective, seeking the facts without regard to whether they confirm or destroy existing moral and practical systems.
But science is always eventually constructive. A large number of specialists working in many fields, upon detached and often apparently trivial problems—primroses, potato bugs, mosquitoes, light, sound, electricity, heredity, radium, germs, atoms, etc.—establish a body of facts and relationships the social meaning of which they do not themselves suspect at the time, but which eventually find an application in practical life,—in agriculture, medicine, mechanical invention.
Science accumulates facts and principles which could never be determined by the common sense of the individual or community, and of so great a variety and generality that some of them are constantly passing over into practical life. The old farmer has learned the value of soil analysis, though with reluctance and suspicion, and he has learned to spray his orchards to 227preserve them from pests whose existence he did not suspect. At this moment science is advising him to put a bounty on the head of the turkey buzzard instead of imposing a fine for killing it. His common sense had told him that the vulture was valuable as a scavenger. Now science tells him that it is an ally of the paralysis fly and carries cattle, hog, and other diseases over the country. “Probably more than the income from a million dollars is spent each year in the several marine biological institutions for the study of three lowly forms,—the sea urchin and its progeny, the coral, and the jelly-fish.” An American entomologist has spent many years in measuring the influence of physical environment on potato bugs. He established colonies of these insects in Mexico, moved them from one temperature to another, one degree of humidity to another, one altitude to another, and recorded the changes shown in the offspring. He then moved the new generations back to the old environment and recorded the results,—whether the spots and other acquired characters changed or remained. His object was to determine certain laws of heredity,—whether and under what conditions new species are produced, whether acquired characters are hereditary. To common sense this procedure seems trivial, almost insane. But assuming that a biologist determines a law of heredity, this will presumably have a practical effect in the fields of agriculture, eugenics, crime, and medicine.
These examples show that a science which results in a practical and efficient technic is constituted by treating it as an end in itself, not merely as a means to something else, and giving it time and opportunity to develop along all the lines of investigation possible, 228even if we do not know what will be the eventual applications of one or another of its results. We can then take every one of its results and try where and in what way they can be practically applied. We do not know what the future science will be before it is constituted, and what may be the applications of its discoveries before they are applied.
But, on the other hand, the scientist will naturally be influenced in setting and solving his problems by the appreciation that if discoveries are made in certain fields practical applications will follow. He may know, for example, that if we can discover the scarlet fever germ we can control this disease, and he may work on this problem, or he may suspect that if we knew more of the chemistry of sugar we could control cancer, and may work on that problem.
There is no question that a more rational and adequate control in the field of human behavior is very desirable. And there are no powers of the human mind necessary to the formation of a science in this field which have not already been employed in the development of a science and a corresponding practice in the material world. The chief obstacle to the growth of a science of behavior has been our confidence that we had an adequate system for the control of behavior in the customary and common sense regulation of the wishes of the individual by family, community, and church influences as outlined in Chapter II, if only we applied the system successfully. And the old forms of control based on the assumption of an essential stability of the whole social framework were real so long as this stability was real.
But this stability is no longer a fact. Precisely the marvelous development of the physical and biological 229sciences, as expressed in communication in space and in the industrial system has made the world a different place. The disharmony of the social world is in fact due to the disproportionate rate of advance in the mechanical world. The evolution of the material world, based on science, has been so rapid as to disorganize the social world, based on common sense. If there had been no development of mechanical inventions community life would have remained stable. But even so, the life of the past was nothing we wish to perpetuate.
Another cause of the backwardness of the science of society is our emotional attachment to the old community standards or “norms.” I described in Chapter II how much emotion enters into the formation of everyday habits. It is well known that men have always objected to change of any kind. There was strong condemnation, for example, of the iron plow, invented late in the eighteenth century, on the ground that it was an insult to God and therefore poisoned the ground and caused weeds to grow. The man who first built a water-driven sawmill in England was mobbed; the man who first used an umbrella in Philadelphia was arrested. There was opposition to the telegraph, the telephone, the illumination of city streets by gas, the introduction of stoves and organs in churches, and until recent years it would be difficult to find a single innovation that has not encountered opposition and ridicule.
This emotional prepossession for habitual ways of doing things enters into and controls social investigations, particularly social reforms. The Vice Commission of Chicago, for example, which undertook an investigation of prostitution, was composed of thirty 230representative men, including ministers, physicians, social workers, criminologists, business men and university professors. In the introduction to its report it was at pains to state that it was anxious to make no discoveries and no recommendations which did not conform to standards accepted by society. “[The Commission] has kept constantly in mind that to offer a contribution of any value such an offering must be, first, moral; second, reasonable and practical; third, possible under the constitutional powers of our courts; fourth, that which will square with the public conscience of the American people.” This commission made, in fact, a very valuable report. It even included items of scientific value concerning prostitution which led the federal authorities to exclude the report from the mails (the decision was later reversed) but it had determined beforehand the limitations and character of its investigation and results, and excluded the possibility of a new determination of behavior norms in this field.
A method of investigation which seeks to justify and enforce any given norm of behavior ignores the fact that a social evolution is going on in which not only activities are changing but the norms which regulate the activities are also changing. Traditions and customs, definitions of the situation, morality, and religion are undergoing an evolution, and a society going on the assumption that a certain norm is valid and that whatever does not comply with it is abnormal finds itself helpless when it realizes that this norm has lost social significance and some other norm has appeared in its place. Thus fifty years ago we recognized, roughly speaking, two types of women, the one completely good and the other completely bad,—what we 231now call the old-fashioned girl and the girl who had sinned and been outlawed. At present we have several intermediate types,—the occasional prostitute, the charity girl, the demi-virgin, the equivocal flapper, and in addition girls with new but social behavior norms who have adapted themselves to all kinds of work. And some of this work is surprisingly efficient. Girls of twenty and thereabouts are successfully competing in literature with the veteran writers. But no one of these girls, neither the orderly nor the disorderly, is conforming with the behavior norms of her grandmother. All of them represent the same movement, which is a desire to realize their wishes under the changing social conditions. The movement contains disorganization and reorganization, but it is the same movement in both cases. It is the release of important social energies which could not find expression under the norms of the past. Any general movement away from social standards implies that these standards are no longer adequate.
A successful method of study will be wide and objective enough to include both the individual and the norms as an evolving process, and such a study must be made from case to case, comparatively and without prejudice or indignation. Every new movement in society implies some disorder, some random, exploratory movements preliminary to a different type of organization answering to new conditions. Individualism is a stage of transition between two types of social organization. No part of the life of the individual should be studied as dissociated from the whole of his life, the abnormal as separated from the normal, and abnormal groups should be studied in comparison with the remaining groups which we call normal. 232There is no break in continuity between the normal and the abnormal in actual life that would permit the selection of any exact bodies of corresponding materials, and the nature of the normal and the abnormal can be understood only with the help of comparison. When we have sufficiently determined causal relations we shall probably find that there is no individual energy, no unrest, no type of wish, which cannot be sublimated and made socially useful. From this standpoint the problem is not the right of society to protect itself from the disorderly and anti-social person, but the right of the disorderly and anti-social person to be made orderly and socially valuable.
But while we have prepossessions which have stood in the way of an objective study of behavior there is no doubt that the main difficulty at present is the lack of a concrete method of approach. This method will have to be developed in detail in the course of many particular investigations, as has been the case in the physical sciences, but the approach to the problem of behavior lies in the study of the wishes of the individual and of the conditions under which society, in view of its power to give recognition, response, security, and new experience, can limit and develop these wishes in socially desirable ways.
Correlated with the wishes of the individual are the values of society. These are objects directly desired or means by which desired objects are reached,—immediate values or instrumental values. Thus a coin, a foodstuff, a machine, a poem, a school, a scientific principle, a trade secret, a dress, a stick of rouge, a medal for bravery, the good will of others, are values which the individual wishes or uses in realizing his wishes. Money is the most generalized value; it 233is convertible into many values which may be used in turn in pursuing the wishes. A value is thus any object, real or imaginary, which has a meaning and which may be the object of an activity. The sum total of the values of a society is its culture. Any value may provoke in the individual a variety of tendencies to action which we may call mental attitudes. Thus money as a value may provoke one or another of the attitudes: work for it, save it, borrow it, beg it, steal it, counterfeit it, get it by gambling or blackmail. The attitude is thus the counterpart of the social value; activity, in whatever form, is the bond between them.
The problem of society is to produce the right attitudes in its members, so that the activity will take a socially desirable form. In Chapter II we saw that society is more or less successful to the degree that it makes its definitions of situations valid. If the members of a certain group react in an identical way to certain values, it is because they have been socially trained to react thus, because the traditional rules of behavior predominant in the given group impose upon every member certain ways of defining and solving the practical situations which he meets in his life.
It is, of course, precisely in this connection that the struggle between the individual and his society arises. Society is indispensable to the individual because it possesses at a given moment an accumulation of values, of plans and materials which the child could never accumulate alone. For example, a boy can now construct a wireless plant or build an engine, but he could never in his life accumulate the materials, devise the principles alone. These are the results of the experience of the entire past of a cultural society. But the 234individual is also indispensable to society because by his activity and ingenuity he creates all the material values, the whole fund of civilization. The conflict arises from the fact that the individual introduces other definitions of the situation and assumes other attitudes toward values than the conventionalized ones and consequently tends to change plans of action and introduce disorder, to derange the existing norms. A new plan may be merely destructive of values and organization, as when a counterfeiter imitates a bank note or a girl destroys her value and that of her family by prostituting herself, or it may be temporarily disorganizing but eventually organizing, as when an inventor displaces the hand-loom by the power-loom or the biologist introduces a theory of evolution which contradicts the theory of special creation. Society desires stability and the individual desires new experience and introduces change. But eventually all new values, all the new cultural elements of a society are the result of the changes introduced by the individual.
If now we examine the plans of action carried out by children and men with reference to social values, whether they are good or mischievous, we find that the general intellectual pattern of the plan, the quality of ingenuity, is pretty much the same in any case. When, for example, children have escapades, run away, lie, steal, plot, etc., they are following some plan, pursuing some end, solving some problem as a result of their own definition of the situation. The naughtiness consists in doing something which is not allowed, or in ways which are not allowed. The intellectual pattern is the same whether they are solving a problem in arithmetic, catching a fish, building a dog house, 235or planning some deviltry. And the psychological pattern followed is the same as that involved in the desire for new experience which I illustrated in Pasteur’s pursuit of a problem, document No. 6, p. 10. From the standpoint of interest the nature of the problem and the means of its pursuit and solution make no difference. The latter are moral questions.
The celebrated Himmelsbriefe (correspondence with heaven) may be taken as an example of an immoral scheme which is intellectually beyond reproach. These letters are a pathetic and comic expression of the ingenuity, artistic imagination, business enterprise and desire for recognition of a young peasant girl. It will be seen that this “correspondence” has a remarkable resemblance to the pages of Anatole France; it lacks only the irony and the elaboration.
91. C?lestine Wurm, aged 13, was sick, bedridden, afflicted with boils and oppressed by the feeling that she was a burden to her parents. A neighboring family named Korn had lost a daughter named Ursula. C?lestine represented that she had had a letter from the dead daughter, who was then in purgatory and needed money to get out. A sum was provided, 1,000 marks, and committed to C?lestine for transmission. A letter was then received from Ursula describing paradise, the joy of the saints, and how Mary, mother of Jesus, was overjoyed with an oven Ursula had bought for her. In later letters it appeared that Ursula was desirous of improving her status among the saints and she requested money to buy a fine bed, some golden buckets, kitchen utensils, etc., which were for sale dirt cheap. Mary herself wrote a letter of appreciation to the parents of Ursula informing them that they had been in danger of losing two valuable cows through the machinations of the devil, but that out of gratitude to Ursula and themselves, she had sent twenty angels to guard them. Jesus also sent a letter, signing 236himself, “Your Son of God, Jesus Christus.” First and last C?lestine collected 8,000 marks on her enterprise.[110]
In more mature minds the socially unregulated scheme may be admirably elaborated and executed, corresponding in ingenuity with the most complete business or scientific plan and yet remain dangerously immoral because its application is in a form not sanctioned by society. In the following astonishing case we have an anti-social pursuit of a problem executed with all the ardor and resources of a Pasteur. I call the case astonishing because working under such handicaps, clandestinely, stealing the values of society, this boy yet knew how to use these values, the materials accumulated by society—the paper mill, the library, the printing office—so much better than we have been able to use them in an organized system of education. Pasteur’s scheme, and his later schemes of the same pattern, were socially organizing because they contributed to the development of medicine, agriculture, grape culture, etc., while Wilken’s scheme was socially disorganizing and personally demoralizing.
92. Henry Russell Wilken is the only man who has ever successfully counterfeited the fabrics on which we print our paper money. He did that so well that the people who make it for the Government accepted it as genuine. Now that I’m out of the Government service I can grin at what happened at that paper mill. He was a clever boy and a nice one. You’d like him.
There have been counterfeiters and counterfeiters. Some were almost brilliant. Others were plain dubs—clumsy lowbrows, who were clowns at work that required delicate artistry. But here you have a boy who had never seen an engraver at work, who knew no more about the engraving 237and printing industry than he did about paper making and chemistry. I assure you his knowledge of these industries, prior, of course, to launching upon his great enterprise, amounted to nothing at all. In fact, he told me, and I verified it, that he had never been in an engraving or printing plant in his life before he decided to compete with the United States Mint....
One morning in February, 1910, he came across a small item in a Boston newspaper wherein it was stated that a milkman out in Dorchester had found a packet of one dollar bills. The milkman took them to a bank. The bank informed the milkman that the bills were counterfeit, and very obvious counterfeits at that.
And there, on that morning in February, 1910, the criminal career of Henry Wilken was launched. As he told us afterward, he gave the matter much thought. Here he was earning $25 or $30 a week. There was a girl he liked and who liked him. There were certain relations who looked upon him as something of a castoff, a misfit, a ne’er-do-well, a drifter. And there were clubs that rich young men belonged to—rich young men who were not particularly top-heavy with brains, but who had money, and lots of it. There was but one thing for him to do—make money....
The boy was ambitious for success, for wealth, for position, for luxury. At that particular moment Boston was being pestered by a youth who lacked everything but several million dollars, and the city knew him as “The Millionaire Kid.” Wilken had scraped acquaintance with the Kid and the sight of the latter’s spending orgies merely added fuel to the fierce desire for wealth.
I have told you that Wilken knew nothing about chemistry, paper-making, engraving, printing, dyeing, and photography—all of them necessary arts of the counterfeiter. I assure you he knew absolutely nothing about any one of those things. But he did the thing that must commend itself to all successful men.
He stuck to his advertising job by day and spent his 238nights in the public libraries. He read every available technical volume treating on engraving. Then he went out and bought the tools of the engraver. Next he practiced until he became an engraver quite as clever as any man in the Government service. That’s likely to stagger you. There are folks who will not believe that. But here we have the records and the confession. In a moment I shall tell you facts that will indicate just how clever he really was....
He read chemistry and paper making until he was something of a magazine of information on the subject. He limited his chemistry to that part of the science that has to do with paper making. He read volumes on dyeing and struck up an acquaintance with a well-known printer in Boston. This printer did the better grade of work and was so amused by Wilken’s enthusiastic desire for knowledge on the subject that he permitted the young man to browse about his plant of nights watching the various processes.
I merely mention all this detail to show you how, when Wilken set out to make his first counterfeit bill, he had mastered every phase of the complex industry. And all this studying took time, although not so much time as you would think. Certainly it was not more than a year. At any rate, he devoted himself for twelve months to the study of how to make a one-dollar bill.
There is just one firm making bank note paper for the Government. That firm turns out this paper in one factory. Government inspectors are there to check up the product and there is never any surplus. The mints [Bureau of Engraving and Printing] consume it as it is turned out; or, rather, it is turned out as the mints need it.
This mill is located in Dalton, Mass. The firm takes a certain amount of pride in it. Visitors are quite welcome, and there are guides to take callers through the plant. In one batch of visitors to this plant came Wilken.
He was about 26 years old at the time. I am ready to believe that he could see more in a given time from a given point than any man I ever knew. He had two exceedingly 239sharp eyes and a retentive memory. He told me that he could read faster than most men he knew and collect more in his fast reading than the majority of his acquaintances could by attentive study. I don’t think he was boasting. His was a remarkable mind.... It seems as though he had been built by nature for the job. I have often wondered whether his talents would have been smothered by convention had he been kept in the straight and narrow path. The most commonplace man becomes sometimes the most startlingly original crook. The reformed crook, on the other hand, turns to honesty and becomes duller than ditch-water.
Wilken went to that paper mill in Dalton three times. On each occasion he went as a visitor, of course, and spent inside the mills only the comparatively few minutes it takes the visitor to be ushered from process to process and room to room. If you have ever been conducted through an industrial plant you will realize how little you actually see of processes....
Wilken left the paper mill convinced that he was quite ready to start business. He moved to New York City and set up a studio at 250 West 125th Street. To make everything appear regular he got a job with an advertising firm. He drew pictures of soap and suspenders, and so on, and did rather good work arranging display type for posters. That required only a small part of his time....
First he made the necessary paper. Just how well he worked will be apparent in a few minutes. Then he set about utilizing his book-learned etching and engraving. Little by little he added to his equipment. He never used a camera. In this fact alone he stands conspicuous among counterfeiters. So far as I know, he was the only counterfeiter of any ability at all who did not first photograph the bank note he was about to counterfeit and work from that.... [Then he made one-dollar bills.] I must say to begin with that not all the W............
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