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In the programme of the University of Brussels, for 1878 and 1879, an announcement for a course of political economy and statistics twice each week, by Professor A. Orts, was made.
Something is being done in Italy, but how much I am not at present able to learn.
These courses, it will be seen, are devised for special training in the practical statistics of the countries named.
A great deal of effort has been expended in Europe through statistical congresses since 1853 to secure uniform inquiries in census-taking, and it is to be regretted that the Congresses have not accomplished the results sought. It was unfortunate that the attention of the statisticians of the world, as brought together in the congresses, was given to the form of inquiry to the exclusion of the form of presentation. In tracing the discussions and deliberations of these congresses, the absence of the intelligent treatment of the presentation of facts, even when drawn out by uniform inquiries, becomes apparent. The art of the statistician in his administrative work found but little encouragement in the long discussions on forms of inquiry, and less was accomplished by these congresses, which are not now held, than has been accomplished through training in the universities of Europe. The great statistical societies abroad have done much in stimulating statistical science, and out of these societies there has now been organized the International Statistical Institute, the first session of which was held in Rome during last month; much is to be hoped from the labors of this Institute, for the men who compose it bring both training and experience to the great task of unifying statistical inquiries and presentations, so far as leading generic facts are concerned, for the great countries comprehended under the broad term, - the civilized world.” For this great array of work, the outlines of which I have briefly and imperfectly given as carried on in Europe, America has no parallel.
Our colleges are beginning to feel that they have some duty to perforın, in the work of fitting men for the field of administration, and specifically in statistical science. Dr. Ely is doing something at Johns Hopkins, giving some time, in one of his courses on political economy, to the subject of statistics, explaining its theory, tracing the history of the art or science, and describing the literature of the subject. He attempts, in brief, to point out the vast importance of statistics to the student of social science and to put his student in such a position that he can practically continue his study. Johns Hopkins, as soon as circumstances will admit, will probably secure teachers of statistics and administration, in addition to its present corps of instructors.
Dr. Davis R. Dewey, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is also devoting some time, in connection with his other work, to statistical science. He has two courses :
First, A course of statistics and graphic methods of illustrating statistics, in which attention is chiefly given to the uses of official statistics of the United States. Students are directed to the limitations there are in this respect, what compilations have been and are made, and to the possible reconciliation of discrepancies which appear in official reports. This course is taken in connection with a course in United States finance, and the student is trained to find and use the statistics which will illustrate the points taken up, and to present them graphically.
Second, An advanced course is given in statistics of sociology, in which social, moral, and physiological statistics are considered, in short, all those facts of life which admit of mathematical determination to express the "average man." Some of Dr. Dewey's actual problems may serve to illustrate the practical work of his course. Samples of the problems which he gives to his students are as follows:
Are the Indians increasing or decreasing in numbers ?
Criticise by illustrations the statement that the value of the products of manufacture of the United States in 1850 was $5,369,325,442.
What margin of error would you allow, if called upon to test the accuracy of the returns of population under one year of age in the Federal census returns ?
Can you devise a method to determine from the census reports on population, Table XXI., which is the healthier state, Massachusetts or Connecticut?
Is it true that Massachusetts has more crime per capita than Alabama or Georgia ? Can you offer any explanation or facts modifying such a statistical conclusion ? Do the census reports afford information as to the increase or decrease in crime?
Perhaps the most systematic teaching of the science of statistics in America is given at Columbia College, under the direction of Professor Richmond M. Smith. He has lectured on the subject of statistical science in the Columbia College School of Political Science since the year 1882. His course is an advanced one for the students of the second or third year of that school. In the first year of the work there were but three students of statistical science; at present there are about twenty-five. Professor Smith gives them lectures two hours per week through the greater part of the year.
The theoretical lectures cover a brief history of statistics ; a consideration of statistical methods; of the connection of statistical science with political and social science; of the attempt to establish social laws from statistical induction; the doctrine of probabilities, etc., this part of the course being based on German and French writers, principally Mayr, Engel, Wagner, Knapp, Oettingen, Quetelet, Block, and others. The practical part of the Columbia course covers the ordinary topics of statistical investigation, and the statistics are taken, as far as possible, from official publications. These latter lectures are of course comments on the tables and diagrams themselves. Wall tables are used to a certain extent, but experience has found it more convenient to lithograph the tables and diagrams, giving a copy to each student, which he can place in his notebook, and thus save the labor of copying.
From a circular of information from the Columbia College School of Political Science I find the following, relating to the teaching of statistical science:
Statistical science : methods and results. This course is intended to furnish a basis for a social science by supplementing the historical, legal, and economic knowledge already gained, by such a knowledge of social phenomena as can be gained only by statistical observation. Under the head of statistics of population are considered : race and ethnological distinctions, nationality, density, city and country, sex, age, occupation, religion, education, births, deaths, marriages, mortality tables, emigration, etc. Under economic statistics : land, production of food, raw material, labor, wages, capital, means of transportation, shipping, prices, etc. Under the head of moral statistics are considered : statistics of suicide, vice, crime of all kinds, causes of crime, condition of criminals, repression of crime, penalties and effect of penalties, etc. Finally is considered the method of statistical observations, the value of the results obtained, the doctrine of free will, and the possibility of discovering social laws.”
There may be other instances of the teaching of statistical science in American colleges, but those given are all that have come to my knowledge. At
Harvard, Dr. Bushnell Hart is teaching the art of graphically presenting statistics, while at Yale and other institutions the theory and importance of statistics are incidentally impressed upon the students in political economy. It will be seen, therefore, that if there is any necessity for such a course as has been cited, the necessity is being met only in slight degree.
Is there such a necessity ? Speaking from experience I answer emphatically, Yes. There has not been a single day in the fourteen years that I have devoted to practical statistics that I have not felt the need, not only in myself, but in the offices where my work has been carried on, of statistical training; training not only in the sense of school training, but in the sense of that training which has come to our American statisticians only through experience. My great regret on this occasion is that I can address you with the statistical bureau only as my alma mater, but perhaps the lack I have seen and felt of a different alma mater may give force to my suggestions.
The problems which the statistician must solve, if they are solved at all, are pressing upon the world. Many chapters of political economy must be rewritten, for the study of political economy is now brought under the historical and comparative method, and statistical science constitutes the greatest auxiliary of such a method. There is so much that is false that creeps into the popular mind, which can be rectified only through the most trustworthy statistical knowledge, that the removal of apprehension alone by it creates a necessity sufficient to command the attention of college authorities. The great questions
. of the day, the labor question, temperance, tariff reform, all great topics, demand the auxiliary aid of