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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/32

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

conditions, cultured and uncultured, educated and uneducated, but in average intelligence, we are proud to say, superior to the people of any other nation in the world. Out of these it is not easy to sift by definition the small minority properly known as men of science. Only a rough approximation may be reached by an examination of the membership of scientific societies.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science includes in its membership about two thousand persons. It is well known, however, that many of these are not actually engaged in scientific pursuits, either professionally or otherwise; indeed, it is one of the important functions of the society to gather into its fold as many of this class as possible. The fellowship of the Association is limited however, by its constitution, to such members as are professionally engaged in science, or have by their labors aided in advancing science. They number about seven hundred, but in this case it is equally well known that the list falls far short of including all Americans who by their labors in science are justly entitled to a place in any roll of scientific men. On the whole, it would not, perhaps, be a gross exaggeration to say that not more than one in fifty thousand of our population could be properly placed upon the list, even with a liberal interpretation of terms.

In this estimate it is not intended, of course, to include that large class of active workers whose energies are devoted to the advancement of applied science. Although their methods are often the result of scientific training, and while the solution of their problems requires much knowledge of science, the real advancement of science at their hands is rather incidental than otherwise. In certain particulars they may be likened to the class known as "middle-men" in commercial transactions, the connecting link between producer and consumer. It is in no way to their discredit that they usually excel both of these in vigilance and circumspection and in their quick perception of utility. By them the discoveries of science are prepared for and placed upon the market, and it is difficult to overestimate their usefulness in this capacity. It is true that the lion's share of the profit in the transaction is generally theirs, and that they are often negligent in the matter of giving the philosopher the credit to which he is entitled, but for the latter, at least, it is believed that the philosopher is himself often responsible.

If this statement of the relative numbers of the scientific and the non-scientific is reasonably correct, the scientific man may at least congratulate himself on wielding an influence in affairs vastly greater than the census, alone, would justify; and this fact encourages the belief that, if there is anything "out of joint" in his relations with the general public, the remedy is in his own hands.