Extremists either for or against tobacco will derive small aid and comfort from Professor O'Shea's compilation of data on Tobacco and Mental Efficienc*—the most temperate, unbiased and scientific approach to the question yet published. The book is the first of a series of studies projected by the Committee to Study the Tobacco Problem, organized in 1918, a group of 59 physicians, psychologists, physiologists, economists, educators and other leaders interested in the subject. The president is Dr. Alexander Lambert, New York; the treasurer, Prof. Irving Fisher, of Yale. Two of the original members, John Burroughs and Sir William Osier, have died. While the committee contains a number of men widely known for their opposition to tobacco, such as Henry Ford, Hudson Maxim, Dr. Eugene Lyman Fisk, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, it has determined to get at the truth—if it can be obtained— by rigorous experimental methods, and is willing to stand or fall on the results of its investigations.
The book consists of three parts, devoted to data ) derived from: 1) Observation, Introspection and Biography; 2) School and College Records; 3) Psychological Laboratory. In Part I are recorded the habits of prominent men of the past, tending to the conclusion that great achievements have been made perhaps as frequently by smokers as nonsmokers. For instance, among the former: Washington, Gambetta, Bismarck, Mazzini, Kitchener, Hobbes, Spurgeon, Huxley, Keats, Browning, Kingsley, Wordsworth, Lamb, Carlyle, Emerson, Dickens, Tennyson, Meredith, Stevenson, Howells, et cetera ad infinitum, not to mention the well-known excesses of Grant and Mark Twain. On the other hand: Lincoln, Greeley, Wilson, Roosevelt, Wellington, Balzac, Goethe, Tolstoi, Ruskin, Haeckel, Bacon, Whittier, etc. Obviously, tobacco can have had no beneficial effect other than from habit on the great deeds of the world, for the foundations of civilization were laid, and Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Dante, and many more lived and wrought before Raleigh brought the weed to the Old World. This type of evidence has no scientific value, no statistical basis, and is of interest only as a revelation of personalities and of the fact that no dogmatic statement can be predicated of any individual.
Dr. O'Shea sent a questionnaire to 350 contemporary Americans who are recognized as having attained noteworthy distinction in ten fields. From these, 156 serious replies were received, 80 from smokers, 76 from nonsmokers. Again the results were thoroughly inconclusive. The physicians, psychologists and physical scientists might be presumed to be judicially minded, and the majority of their replies are to the effect that they havj discovered no perceptible influence, harmful or beneficial, on the intellectual powers of themselves or others. There are, of course, exceptions. The quotations are anonymous. The outstanding fact of this survey is that every man in the literary group smokes, and the majority of the literary women. Moreover, most of them consider its effects beneficial, and claim that their literary and imaginative powers are stimulated by it. Fifty-five per cent of the congressmen indulge, 60% of school superintendents, still more of university presidents, and 95% of financiers.