Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/484

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executive board, by whatever name it may be called, should be a body of competent, resourceful, and hard-working men. Their main task is to insure good addresses and papers; however little of a speechmaker a man may be, he always talks willingly and acceptably on a subject he has mastered and which is dear to his heart; for papers a selection is usually feasible from manuscripts voluntarily offered, but it is ever found that the one way to have interesting themes treated by the busy people who have a firsthand knowledge of them is by tactful and timely solicitation.

How grievously have audiences, learned and unlearned, suffered from the coarseness of the sieve through which papers are commonly sifted! At the Toronto meeting of the American Association, in 1880, I heard a paper which, admittedly, had been published five years before. It is a case all too frequent that a paper is prolix or trivial, or covers ground thoroughly familiar, or that its writer imagines dilution to be simplification. A very ordinary offense is the technical description or argument which wears its bones outside and spares its victims no jot of anatomical detail. In securing contributions of high value the American Economical Association sets a shining example. Jointly with the International Statistical Institute it will hold sessions in Chicago from September 9th to 16th; all the principal papers were arranged for months ago by the committee in charge. When a writer is in this way given abundant time to prepare his manuscript he can do justice to the public and to himself; he has opportunity to secure publication in an appropriate journal or review, an important point to people who have only their pens to live by. The presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science are chosen two years and the presidents of its sections one year before the delivery of their addresses; with this ample time for elaboration and revision contributions to scientific literature of the highest rank have been secured. At the Boston meeting of 1880, the most interesting ever held by the association. Prof. George F. Barker gave his address on Modern Aspects of the Life Question, a luminous summary of progress in physical, physiological, and psychological science, which, enriched with its numerous references, can still serve the student as a guide post. Prof. S. P. Langley, at Cleveland in 1888, outlined in masterly fashion the history of the doctrine of radiant energy. Two years later, at Indianapolis, Dr. Frank Baker traced The Ascent of Man in an address which is a model scientific statement made plain and clear. While its addresses from the chair have usually been excellent, in providing popular lectures the association has left much to be desired. Here it has a good deal to learn from its British namesake, which well understands how a discourse, by interesting the community visited as well as