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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/109

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DEFINITION OF SOME MODERN SCIENCES.

belongs to the historical or comparative method of study. The German historian, Schlosser, said that history is statistics ever advancing, and statistics is stationary history. Looking beneath the words of Schlosser, one must conclude that he meant that the constant accumulation of statistical data from period to period or from epoch to epoch—that is, statistics ever in motion—creates history, history being made up of the ever-advancing events of life which are shown through statistical methods, but that statistics of one epoch constitutes the permanent history thereof.

So the statistician, in the truest historical and comparative sense, writes history, but he writes it in the most crystallized form which can be adopted. He uses symbols, but with them he unlocks the facts of his own period so that they may be made plain to all students coming after him. He tells the story of our present state in such a way that when the age we live in becomes the past that story shall be found to exist in true and just proportions. The word 'statistics,' illustrating fixed and settled conditions, indicates the soundness of the German writer's thought and the true spirit in which the statistician should work.

The use of the statistical method in a scientific way is practically modern. In ancient times there were counts of the people, but no scientific use of the results that would warrant the application of the name statistics. These 'counts' were largely to ascertain military strength and divisions of geographical sections. David, you will remember, undertook to number the people. This effort on his part caused him a great deal of difficulty, and, so far as the history of the world is concerned, every man since David's time who has undertaken to number the people has met more or less opposition and had more or less trouble. All through history we read of counts or, as we say now, enumerations, but they were crude in the extreme and cannot be considered as statistical efforts.

Under our modern systems there are three kinds of statistics—I mean by 'kinds' methods which involve different systems to secure results. These are, first, statistics secured by the continuous record of official acts, as, for instance, the returns from the custom houses; those returns relating to imports and exports, immigration and other affairs are the results of a continuous record of events and are reported to a central office, tabulated and classified. School statistics, the returns of births, deaths and marriages—these come under this classification. They belong more clearly to the domain of bookkeeping, although statistical genius is essential in the classification and analysis of the entries.

The second class of statistics are those secured by actual enumeration, like census statistics, where aggregates are essential to the in-