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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/165

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EXACT METHODS IN SOCIOLOGY.

in the left-hand column the names of the several States and Territories. At the top of successive columns, counting from left to right, we may enter words designating the social phenomena to be observed. Then, taking the States and Territories in order, we may enter opposite the name of each a symbol indicating that a majority large or small, or a minority large or small, of the inhabitants of the State or Territory in question manifests the trait or follows the activity, or belongs to the social organization designated at the top of the column. The symbols that I have found most convenient in use are these: For a large majority, a double plus sign thus, ; for a small majority, a single plus sign thus, +; for a large minority, a double plus sign in a circle thus, ; for a small minority, a single plus sign in a circle thus, ⊕.

The great possibilities in this method of giving precision to observations and records of the facts of social psychology and activity become daily more obvious to students who practice it with reasonable care. Almost any desired degree of accuracy can be attained by taking smaller and smaller enumeration units. Thus, if I wish to form and to record my judgment as to whether the people of the United States as a whole manifest a high, a medium, or a low degree of general intelligence, I seem to be raising a question that admits of little better answer than a statement of vague impressions. But let me take a concrete measure of high general intelligence—for example, the general intelligence of a town noted for its large proportion of scientific and professional men, its graded schools, its satisfactory school attendance, and its low percentage of illiteracy. Let me then subdivide the United States into fifty parts—namely, the Commonwealths and Territories—and let me enter in a column opposite the name of each a symbol indicating that, as compared with the general intelligence of the town which I have taken as a standard, a large majority or a small majority, or a large minority or only a small minority, of the people in that Commonwealth are of the high general intelligence; that a large majority or a small majority, or a large minority or only a small minority, are of medium intelligence; and that a large majority or a small majority, or a large minority or a small minority, are of low intelligence. Obviously, when I have completed this process I have subjected my vague general impression that the people of the United States as a whole are of high, medium, or low general intelligence to a certain correction and measure. I count up the entries in my columns. I discover that I have made, let us say, nine entries indicating that a large majority of the people in each of nine States are of high intelligence. I find that I have made, let us say, eighteen entries indicating that in each of eight-