The one-sidedness of apperception frequently contains an error in conception. In most cases, the effective influence is egoism, which inclines men to presuppose their own experiences, views, and principles in others, and to build according to them a system of prepossessions and prejudices to apply to the new case. Especially dangerous are the _*similar_ experiences, for these tend to lead to the firm conviction that the present case can in no sense be different from former ones. If anybody has been at work on such earlier, similar cases, he tends to behave now as then. His behavior at that time sets the standard for the present, and whatever differs from it he calls false, even though the similarity between the two cases is only external and apparent.
It is characteristic of egoism that it causes people to permit themselves to be bribed by being met half-way. The inclination and favor of most men is won by nothing so easily and completely as by real or apparent devotion and interest. If this is done at all cleverly, few can resist it, and the prepossession in their favor is complete. How many are free of prejudice against ugly, deformed, red-haired, stuttering, individuals, and who has no prejudice in favor of handsome, lovable people? Even the most just must make an effort so to meet his neighbor as to be without prejudice for or against him, because of his natural endowment.
Behavior and little pleasantnesses are almost as important. Suppose that a criminalist has worked hard all morning. It is long past the time at which he had, for one reason or another, hoped to
get home, and just as he is putting his hat on his head, along comes a man who wants to lay information concerning some ancient apparent perjury. The man had let it go for years, here he is with it again at just this inconvenient moment. He has come a long distance --he can not be sent away. His case, moreover, seems improbable and the man expresses himself with difficulty. Finally, when the protocol is made, it appears that he has not been properly understood, and moreover, that he has added many irrelevant things--in short, he strains one's patience to the limit. Now, I should like to know the criminalist who would not acquire a vigorous prejudice against this complainant? It would be so natural that nobody would blame one for such a prejudice. At the same time it is proper to require that it shall be only transitive, and that later, when the feeling has calmed, everything shall be handled with scrupulous conscientiousness so as to repair whatever in the first instance might have been harmed.
It is neither necessary nor possible to discuss all the particular forms of prepossession. There is the unconditional necessity of merely making a thoroughly careful search for their presence if any indication whatever, even the remotest, shows its likelihood. Of the extremest limit of possible prejudice, names may serve as examples. It sounds funny to say that a man may be prejudiced for or against an individual by the sound of his name, but it is true. Who will deny that he has been inclined to favor people because they bore a beloved name, and who has not heard remarks like, ``The very name of that fellow makes me sick.'' I remember clearly two cases. In one, Patriz Sevenpounder and Emmerenzia Hinterkofler were accused of swindling, and my first notion was that such honorable names could not possibly belong to people guilty of swindling. The opposite case was one in which a deposition concerning some attack upon him was signed by Arthur Filgr
Our poets know right well the importance for us short-sighted earth-worms of so indifferent a thing as a name, and the best among them are very cautious about the selection and composition of names. Not the smallest part of their effects lies in the successful tone of the
names they use. And it was not unjust to say that Bismark could not possibly have attained his position if he had been called Maier.
Section 94. (d) Imitation and the Crowd.
The character of the instinct of imitation and its influence on the crowd has long been studied in animals, children, and even men, and has been recognized as a fundamental trait of intellect and the prime condition of all education. Later on its influence on crowds was observed, and Napoleon said, ``Les crimes collectifs n'engagent personnes.'' Weber spoke of moral contagion, and it has long been known that suicide is contagious. Baer, in his book on ``Die Gef
The repetition of crimes, once one has been committed in a particular way, is also frequent; among them, the crime of child-murder. If a girl has stifled her child, ten others do so; if a girl has sat down upon it, or has choked it by pressing it close to her breast, etc., there are others to do likewise. Tarde believes that crime is altogether to be explained by the laws of imitation. It is still unknown where imitation and the principles of statistics come into contact, and it is with regard to this contact we find our greatest difficulties. When several persons commit murder in the same way we call it imitation, but when definite forms of disease or wounds have for years not been noticed in hospitals and then suddenly appear in numbers, we call it duplication. Hospital physicians are familiar with this phenomenon and count on the appearance of a second case of any disease if only a first occurs. Frequently such diseases come from the same region and involve the same extraordinary abnormalities, so that nothing can be said about imitation. Now, how can imitation and duplication be distinguished in individual cases? Where are their limits? Where do they touch, where cover each other? Where do the groups form?