by Mara Rockliff
illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
Age range: 6 years old and up
When in 1776 Benjamin Franklin visited Paris, he found the city absolutely berserk about Dr. Mesmer, who claimed to have discovered a powerful force. He also claimed to be able to use this force to make people "feel" things that weren't there, or taste water like vinegar or strawberries, etc. Some people was sure they have been cured by Dr. Mesmer's force.
Ben Franklin volunteered to be mesmerized too, but nothing happened to him. That's when he hypothesized about the force being in the patients' mind, and not in Dr. Mesmer's hand. He used the scientific method to test his idea, and asked Dr. Mesmer to apply his "force" to blinded patients. Needless to say that nothing happened. The test supported his hypothesis. Dr. Mesmer's force didn't exist.
The book explains in an engaging and clear way not only this story about Ben Franklin and Dr. Mesmer, but also what being mesmerized is, and how we still use this principle in placebos. This story includes history, science and the illustrations are amazing. Strongly recommended!