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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/160

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

penditure of money the data could be obtained. Lombroso and Laschi, in their work, Le Crime politique et les Révolutions, have made a beginning toward the collection of statistics of insurrections and revolutions. More exact, at present, are our statistics of the rational working of the minds of large numbers of men in communication and co-operation. These we have in the familiar form of election returns, which show us the decisions that communities make on questions of public policy and administration. This information could be increased by the application of statistical analyses to the vast body of statute law and judicial decisions. A beginning of such work has been made in the valuable Bulletin of State Legislation, published by the New York State Library.

In the third division of descriptive sociology—that, namely, which treats of social organization—the application of statistical method is proceeding with great rapidity. We have not only statistics (yearly improving in quality) of marriage and divorce, of the organization of all governmental departments, military and civil, of chartered corporations, of religious and educational societies, but also of the thousands of associations formed for the promotion of special interests, recreation, scientific research, art and literature, and philanthropy. Every year the statistical information on these matters, included in such compilations as The World Almanac, becomes not only more extensive but more precise.

Yet more abundant are the statistical accumulations pertaining to that fourth and last division of descriptive sociology which treats of the social welfare—of the functioning of society, of the ends for which it exists. We have statistics of prosperity, of the accumulation and distribution of wealth, of the expansion and contraction of credit, and of business failures. We have statistics of longevity. We ascertain improving sanitary conditions by changes in the death rate. We learn by statistical methods of the increase or decrease of accident and death due to public disorder or maladministration. We ascertain through educational statistics the decrease of illiteracy and superstition. And by the same means we ascertain the dimensions of pauperism and of crime. Not only so, but, by a certain refinement of statistical method, applied by competent men like Sir Francis Galton, we ascertain the increase or decrease and the distribution of the higher manifestations of intellectual ability and moral character.

Thus the whole field of descriptive sociology is being more and more exhaustively studied by statistical methods that are yearly improving in precision. So far, then, as may be judged from the development of its methods, no science at the present time is making surer and better progress than sociology, and none is offering