Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/242

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228
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tury answer the question regarding the utility of vaccination. Whether those of the coming century will answer that regarding the utility of inoculation as a preventive not only of cholera, but of other infectious or contagious diseases, remains to be decided.

 

FALLACIES OF MODERN ECONOMISTS.[1]
By ARTHUR KITSON.

IN matters scientific as well as religious a conflict of opinion among professors is apt to produce skepticism among scholars. Nothing tends to discredit the teachings of a system more than want of harmony among its exponents. For such discordance is an acknowledgment of doubt and uncertainty, of failure to discover the truth. Before any branch of human inquiry can properly be dignified with the name of science, there must be some sort of general recognition of at least the fundamental principles upon which it is built—some general agreement as to what laws govern the phenomena with which it deals.

Not until conflicting theories and opinions have been settled and a uniform classification arrived at, can we be said to have entered the realm of exact science. Scientific exactness is, in fact, marked by the absence of intelligent criticism. Like religion, science has had and still has its battle-grounds, where scientist wars on scientist. Such disputes, however, are usually confined to mere speculations, undemonstrable theories, or undeveloped fields of inquiry. When once the speculation ripens into a demonstrable truth, all contention ceases. For the aim of science is the discovery of truth. Of modern sciences, none stands more discredited by the average reader than the so-called science of economics. The cause of this becomes apparent when we consider the contradictory nature of the theories taught by modern economists, the utterly discordant answers given to social problems, and the extreme divergence of the paths proposed for reaching social happiness. For instance, we are informed by one economist that the cause of all or nearly all the crime and misery surrounding us is due to the system of private ownership in land; another attributes it to the profit system, another to industrial warfare engendered by competition, another to privileges granted by governments to specially favored classes and individuals, another to the drink traffic, and so on. And the remedies prescribed are equally varied. One school directs us to nationalize


  1. Abstract of a lecture delivered before Friendship Liberal League, Philadelphia, June 10, 1892.