Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/454

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ments of science in our day, their most important indication to us is that there is indefinite room for improvement and advancement. While we have witnessed the establishment of the two widest generalizations of science, the doctrine of energy and the doctrine of evolution, we have also witnessed the accumulation of an appalling aggregate of unrelated facts. The proper interpretation of these must lead to simplification and unification, and thence on to additional generalizations. An almost inevitable result of the rapid developments of the past three decades especially is that much that goes by the name of science is quite unscientific. The elementary teaching and the popular exposition of science have fallen, unluckily, into the keeping largely of those who can not rise above the level of a purely literary view of phenomena. Many of the bare facts of science are so far stranger than fiction that the general public has become somewhat over-credulous, and untrained minds fall an easy prey to the tricks of the magazine romancer or to the schemes of the perpetual motion promoter. Along with the growth of real science there has gone on also a growth of pseudo-science. It is so much easier to accept sensational than to interpret sound scientific literature, so much easier to acquire the form than it is to possess the substance of thought that the deluded enthusiast and the designing charlatan are not infrequently mistaken by the expectant public for true men of science. There is, therefore, plenty of work before us; and while our principal business is the direct advancement of science, an important, though less agreeable duty, at times, is the elimination of error and the exposure of fraud."

 

The meeting of the Association in New York was of more than usual importance. Not only did the nine sections of the Association hold their daily sessions, but there were also fifteen special scientific societies meeting simultaneously at Columbia University. Men of science came together from all parts of the country to present the results of the year's research, to gain profit and pleasure from association with other workers, and to return to their homes with increased knowledge and renewed interest. It is obviously impossible to give here an account of the hundreds of scientific papers presented, or even to report upon the general proceedings of the Association. Two of the more important actions may, however, be mentioned. It was decided to send 'Science,' our weekly journal of general science, to all members of the Association without charge, and a section devoted to physiology and experimental medicine was established. It was thought that the receipt of a journal such as 'Science' would increase the membership of the Association and lead to a greater interest in its work, as even those who are unable to attend the meetings will hereafter have a definite return for membership. The Association will be greatly strengthened by giving recognition to the great group of sciences—physiology, experimental psychology, anatomy, embryology, histology, morphology, pathology, bacteriology and their applications—which have developed with such remarkable activity within the past few years.

 

It is not possible to report on the scientific work of the meeting in part owing to its magnitude—the papers would fill the volumes of this journal for several years to come. It is also true that each paper taken singly is likely to be of interest only to the special student. Specialization in science is absolutely necessary for its advance, but the terminology required for exactness and economy makes the work in each department scarcely intelligible to those not immediately concerned, while the great detail necessary in careful research seems almost trivial until we realize that it is upon such special work that the general principles and the applications of science depend. We all