The most important large experiment for the testing of head digestion under conditions of strict scientific control was that inaugurated and conducted by Professor Irving Fisher, of Yale University, in America.

Professor Fisher occupies the Chair of Political Economy at Yale, has made extensive researches into the factors that influence the economies or extravagances of living, and is President of the Committee of One Hundred of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Health.

Professor Fisher's interest in my revelations and tests relative to the potency of head digestion came primarily from a personal test which worked wonders for him in establishing a foundation for good health. He was not satisfied with the later Chittenden experiments, because they substituted academic prescription for natural selection in formulating the rules of the inquiry. Like myself, in conducting the original researches, Professor Fisher realised that the practical value of my discoveries was that no one needed a biological chemist to order his meals for him or tell his appetite what his body needed in the way of food elements.

Horace Fletcher in his Master of Arts Robes

Horace Fletcher in his Master of Arts Robes.

The Fisher experiment worked with nine healthy undergraduates who were ambitious to take high scholastic honours, and who had little time for athletics or any form of physical exercise, they being types of the average University undergraduate.

A generous table was supplied them with meat and every variety of food that usually composed college fare. The only instructions were that thorough mastication and especial attention to the enjoyment of the food as recommended by me in my books should be faithfully performed. This course was pursued for half a year, and for the rest of the year, in addition to the careful head treatment and enjoyment, preference was to be given to foods known to be low in nitrogen content; but not to the extent of suppressing any distinct call of appetite for them.

In the first half of the experiment the men held their own on about 40 per cent, less food, computed by cost, and increased their strength-endurance ability by something more than 100 per cent., with the added felicity of feeling unusually fit all of the time, entirely escaping the slack or sick spells they had been accustomed to, and improving greatly in their general studentability, that is: power of concentration, memory, mental comfort, profundity of sleep, etc.

During the second half of the experiment still more improvement was secured owing to the readiness of the body to accommodate itself to the wish by favouring the economies.

I have not a copy of the report at hand. It is included in the publications of Yale University about 1905.

The Author, on his Sixtieth Birthday

The Author, on his Sixtieth Birthday, performing Feats of Agility and Strength which would be remarkable even in a Young Athlete.

Professor Fisher s Experiment 8

While all of the abundance of confirmatory evidence which has accumulated since 1898 is valuable and gratifying, the verdict of the unremitting observation since then is that the problem of nutrition is always a personal one. After fifteen years of devotion to the study of the head-end question, with due attention to the tell-tale excreta and the product expressed in terms of energy and general comfort, I am unable to predict what my body is going to want tomorrow in the way of nutrition supply. I can say with some confidence that if I go on doing as I have been accustomed to doing daily, and no shock of grief or surprise intervenes to upset all calculations, I am likely to find nutritive satisfaction as expressed by appetite among the foods that are commonly agreeable to me.

If I am compelled or impelled to do a great stunt of walking or other unusual exertion, or receive crushing news, all my present predictions may be useless.

The body itself, from the hair on the head to each finger or toe-nail will know what it wants and will have given to the caterer Appetite its requisition covering the need. In the meantime each brain cell and all of the bones have not been neglectful of their sustenance requirements, nor have they been backward in letting Appetite know.

It is fortunate that the common needs of digestion may be supplied from a limited range of food varieties. Milk is all-sufficient always for general supply of the nutritive requisites. In the plebeian potato, which has attained to royal rank as the result of the extensive experiments of Dr. Hindhede, of Denmark, in co-operation with Madsen the Faithful, has been found full nourishment for ten months, at least, when supplemented by butter or margarine to furnish the fuel supply. Even in this surprising revelation no academic prescription was infallible. Potatoes differ in nutritive value as much as 50 per cent. Fresh-cooked and well-cooked ones alone fill the bill of sufficiency, and full head-work in assuring easy digestion was made the first rule of the test. For four months I served as a check test-subject and speak from experience. Nothing is ever accomplished except by a division of labour and on the just division of responsibility depends the success of effort. Nature has given to us the head-end of responsibility.