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A DISTINGUISHED English scholar recently began an address before an American audience, "I feel particularly competent to discuss India; for I have written a book about India," and beamed at the applause with which his statement was greeted. May I, amending him, begin, "I feel particularly incompetent to say anything worthwhile about bituminous coal, for I have had a hand in an attempt to do a book about it."
One who has read in the dusty annals of coal, tried to reduce the current situation to the nebulous thing called "fact," examined the divers theories of the plight of the industry, rejected for reasons that seem good and sufficient the accepted interpretations, and only after many months of inquiry has hit upon an explanation that seems to. explain, is far too conscious of the complex reality which is coal, of the strange ways of bituminous, and of the proneness of able and honest students to err, to speak with any degree of confidence. There are inquiries, even in economics, which make students learned. Bituminous coal makes one unlearned; to understand it one must doubt most of what one believes and forget most things that one knows. So I write here as an unlearner; and, if one must champion a cause, it is that of unlearning.
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