Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/844

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822

POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

claim to existence as a science than astronomy would if we found some astronomers insisting that the sun went around the earth and others contending that the earth went around the sun."[1]

After all, the question whether sociology deserves to be called a science or not is one of merely academic interest. It has received far more attention than it really deserves. Nor will any amount of discussion upon this point help to make sociology a science. "It is safe to say," remarks the critic from whom we have just quoted, "that no great scientific work was ever done by a man who was fretting over the question whether he was a scientist or not. The work is the thing and not what it is called. On the other hand, no name can. dignify a work which is petty and futile."

It is not by talking about it, but by working over it, that a body of knowledge is developed into a science. And sociologists would do well to heed the advice of Tarde, the French writer: "Instead of discoursing upon the merits of this infant—sociology—which men have had the art to baptize before its birth, let us succeed, if possible, in bringing it forth."[2]

A FEATHERED PARASITE.
By LEANDER S. KEYSER.

NOTHING could more clearly prove that a common law runs through the whole domain of Nature than the fact that in every division of her realm there seems to be a class of parasites. In the vegetable world, as is well known, there are various plants that depend wholly upon other plants for the supply of their vital forces. And in the human sphere there are parasites in a very real and literal sense—men and women who rely upon the toil and thrift of others to sustain them in worthless idleness.

In view of the almost universal character of this law it would be strange if these peculiar forms of dependence did not appear in the avian community. We do find such developments in that department of creation. Across the waters there is one bird which has won an unenviable reputation as a parasite, and that is the European cuckoo, which relies almost wholly on the efforts of its more thrifty neighbors to hatch and rear its young, and thereby perpetuate the species. Strangely enough, our American cuckoos are not given to such slovenly habits, but build their own nests and faith-


  1. The Nation, vol. Ix, p. 351. Review of Small and Vincent's Introduction to the Study of Society.
  2. Quoted by Vincent in American Journal of Sociology, January, 1896, p. 487.