« PreviousContinue »
different methods of securing such averages, and I can do no better than to use Dr. Dewey's own words, as taken from the address referred to.
“There is first the ordinary 'index method' introduced by Mr. Newmarch, and continued by the Economist and Mr. Jevons. In this there is no attempt to take account of the varying importance of the commodities where prices are averaged together, but equal consideration is given to all.
“A second method is to give each commodity, where price enters into the averages, a weight proportionate to the quantity of it sold during a fixed period of time.
“In the third method account is taken of the varying importance of the commodities by regarding the part each plays in the exports and imports of a country. This system has been used by Messrs. Giffen and Mulhall. Mr. Giffen's process in detail is to find the average value of the different articles in the exports and imports ; combine these in the proportions of the different articles to the totals of the exports and imports, and then reduce the totals for a series of years to the values they would have been equivalent to had prices remained unchanged."
This simply indicates that no statistician has yet arrived at a method for securing average prices that shall be considered absolutely correct; that is, in other words, the science of average prices has not been reached, because, if it had been, there would be but one method of securing them. There is but one multiplication table; all men agree to it, because every part of it has been demonstrated to be true. The principle of the multiplication table in statistical operations indicates that science triumphs, for no scientific conclusion is reached so long as skilled men, men of experience and of training, differ relative to methods or results.
The teaching of statistical science in our colleges involves three grand divisions :
1. The basis of statistical science, or, as it has been generally termed in college work, the theory of statistics.
2. The practice of statistics, which involves the preparation of inquiries, the collection and examination of the information sought, and the tabulation and presentation of results.
3. The analytical treatment of the results secured.
These three general elements become more important as the science of statistics becomes more developed ; that is, while in conventional statistics, or official statistics if you prefer, meaning those which result from continuous entry of the facts connected with routine transactions, like custom house operations, the registration of births, deaths, and marriages, etc., these three elements may not be apparent. But when considered as regards the collection of information from original sources by special investigation through the census, through our bureaus of statistics of labor and kindred offices, and through the consular service, these three grand elements assume a vast importance, and statistical science demands that men be employed who comprehend thoroughly and clearly all the features of the three elements of the science, for the variety of facts to be collected suggests the variety of features connected with the work.
Last year I had the honor to address the American Social Science Association upon popular instruction in social science, advocating the teaching in the public schools of the elementary principles of social science, comprehending those things which are most essential in the conduct of life, in the preservation of health, and in the securing of good order. The Association discussed the practicability of teaching social science in our higher institutions of learning. The suggestion that the school and the college be utilized for propagating the science was met with but one
objection of any moment. This objection was that in the colleges and schools the whole time is now exhausted in teaching the branches of human knowledge already established as a part of the curricula of such schools ; an excellent objection from a narrow point of view, but a thoroughly inadmissible objection from a point of view which takes in the development of the human race on the best basis, and on a high standard. It was met by the counter-statement that if there is no time in the ordinary college to teach all that the college now teaches, and devote a few hours per week to social science, and all that social science means, so far as teaching is concerned, then drop something else and introduce the social science. But nothing need be dropped in order to teach social science in the colleges and schools of the country. Now, the only objection which I anticipate to the teaching of statistics in our colleges is the same that was made to the proposition to teach social science generally in such institutions, that there is no room for the introduction of instruction in the new science. To my own mind this objection is not only trivial, but of no account whatever in the practical working of institutions of learning. Every well appointed college has its chair of political economy, and this department can be broadened sufficiently to take in statistical science, without impairing efficiency in this or any other department. If this cannot be done, then I would say to the colleges of America that the institutions which soonest grasp the progressive educational work of the day will be the most successful competitors in the race. That college which comprehends that it is essential to fit men for the best administrative duties, not only in government, but in the great business enterprises which demand leaders of as high quality as those essential for a chief magistrate, will receive the patronage, the commendation, and the gratitude of the public. The college or the university which comprehends the demand of the day and institutes new forms of degrees to be conferred upon the men and women specially qualified in special science is in the van. Why should there not be a degree for sanitary science? Why should there not be a degree for social science? Doctor of Philosophy is not enough ; it means nothing in popular estimation. The Doctor of Philosophy must understand various things; must be taught and thoroughly trained in the branches necessary to secure the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, but he may know nothing of other branches of human knowledge, except in the most incidental way, which are so essential to fit him for the best administrative duties. The organization of industry demands the very highest type of mind. I sometimes think that the great industrial chieftains of the world are far superior in their capacity, and in their general comprehensive ability, to the great statesmen, to the great leaders of politics, and the great lights that carry nations through crises even. The men who are the best trained, who have learned the practical work of special sciences, are the ones that are guiding the people, and so the colleges or the universities which grasp these things, introducing the teaching of statistical science along with all the other great features of social science, including the branches which bring knowledge nearest to the community itself, are the colleges which will secure success ; and not only success in a pecuniary point of view, but success in that grander field of the best
work for the race. I urge, therefore, that our American colleges follow the example of European institutions. I would urge upon the government of the United States, and upon the government of the States, the necessity of providing by law for the admission of students that have taken scientific courses in statistics as honorary attachés of, or clerks to be employed in the practical work of, statistical offices. This is easily done without expenditure by the gov
nment, but with the very best economic results.
We take a census in the United States every ten years, but as a rule the men that are brought into the work know nothing of statistics : they should be trained in the very elementary work of census-taking and of statistical science. How much more economical for the government to keep its experienced statisticians busily employed in the interim of censustaking, even if they do no more than study forms, methods, and analyses, connected with the presentation of the facts of the preceding census. Money would be saved, results would be more thoroughly appreciated, and problems would be solved.
Our State and Federal governments should be vitally interested in the elevation of statistical work to scientific proportions ; for the necessary outcome of the application of civil service principles to the conduct of all governmental affairs lies in this, that as the affairs of the people become more and more the subjects of legislative regulation or control, the necessity for the most accurate information relating to such affairs and for the scientific use of such information increases.
The extension of civil service principles must become greater and greater, and the varied demands