Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/169

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159
EXACT METHODS IN SOCIOLOGY.

formed may be necessary. It might be erroneous to say that there had been no great increase of interest in prize fighting if it were discovered that the increase had occurred in two or three Commonwealths only, but that in them it had been phenomenal. The method itself, however, reveals the necessity for correction in such eases and measures the error; for, obviously, a phenomenal increase or decrease in any one enumeration unit would be disclosed by a dropping of the intermediate symbols between and . That is to say, small minorities would become majorities, or great majorities would become small minorities, within an interval during which lesser changes were occurring elsewhere.

Thus, by taking a little trouble, the historian can apply one constant measure to his judgments of increase and decrease, as he reviews social changes. He must subdivide his community into enumeration units, and against each unit, at each convenient date, he must enter a record of his judgment that the trait, activity, interest, or relation under investigation can be predicated of a large or of only a small majority, of a large or of only a small minority, of the individuals composing the enumeration unit. He must then count up the changes from minority to greater minority or to majority, or from majority to minority. Conscientiously following this method, the historian; nay often make comparisons of great precision, when otherwise his comparisons, made without reference to a common measure, would be little more than suppositions.

Following such methods as these, the writers of descriptive and historical monographs can increase our approximately exact sociological knowledge. Constructing and filling out such tables as have been described, they can bring to light serious gaps in our numerical statistics, and they can thereby suggest and stimulate new statistical inquiries. Thus co-operating, the descriptive writers, the historians, and the statisticians can in time perfect our descriptive sociology, and, co-operating with those students who are completing the analysis of fundamental concepts, they can gradually give precision to our formulations of sociological law.

 


 
Bishop Creighton, of London, has characterized the present English idea of education as embodying the supposition that "all the child had to do was to sit still like a pitcher under a pump while an expert hand poured in the proper amount of material for it to hold." His own view was that the only education anybody really obtained was that which he gave himself. "The idea prevailing at the beginning of the century was that men should read a good book, master its contents, and pursue for themselves the lines of thought it suggested, and talk it over and make its ideas the subject of discussion among themselves. No system could surely be better."