Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/313

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Monthly into two journals is in the natural course of evolution, each journal being able to adapt itself to its environment more advantageously than is possible for a single journal. Each can perform an important service for the diffusion and advancement of science.



In a democracy, journals and a newspaper press fit to educate people of all sorts to an interest in science and to an appreciation of its measureless value for national and human welfare are matters of the utmost importance. Under an aristocratic régime, science, like arts and letters, must be cultivated and patronized from above. In Germany the imperial government has directed and subsidized its schools, universities and research institutions and has aided commercial enterprises based on applied science. In England men of wealth have devoted themselves to scientific research, as they have served without payment as county magistrates and members of parliament. In both countries and in France titles and social position have been used as rewards.

Scientific research can not be undertaken as a profession. In the existing organization of society any service to an individual or to a group of individuals is paid for by them, but service to society is usually not paid for at all. If newspaper publishers, ammunition makers or army officers succeed in causing war they profit; if they advocate and maintain peace they suffer. If lawyers reduce legal complexities and delays, or if physicians decrease the causes of disease, they sacrifice their material interests. If a surgeon performs an operation for cancer he may be paid a thousand dollars for an hour's work; if he discovers an improved technique he may profit somewhat, but scarcely more than other surgeons and far less than the patients; if he should discover a cure for cancer he would receive no money reward; on the contrary, he and other surgeons would in so far lose their means of supporting their families.

So scientific research, of greater value than any other service to society, is not paid for directly. It has been mainly carried forward in this country by men employed to teach in colleges and universities who, as amateurs, give part of their time to it. In recent years the national government, endowed institutions and industrial establishments have undertaken to advance research on a business basis and the gain has been very great-But in order to maintain and increase the work under democratic control people must be taught to value it, and for this purpose the proper treatment of science in magazines and newspapers is more important than any other agency.

The problem is very difficult. One does not expect a high school, a university or a museum to be self-supporting. Even secondary schools for the children of the rich are endowed. If the American Museum of Natural History charged an entrance fee it would be an empty place; the fees for a year would not support the institution for a month. On the other hand, the side shows of a circus may be profitable. Science is so commonly ill-treated in popular magazines and newspapers that the very words "popular science" need to be redeemed. The sensational newspapers, the side shows of the circus and the "movies" supply what people will pay for. It is no discredit to our democracy that these are what they want; on the contrary, it represents a great advance when a hundred million people care for such things. We may be satisfied if progress is made by education and an improved environment in a hundred years if a slightly better germ-plasm is established in a thousand years.

The corporation of D. Appleton and Company were losing ten thousand dollars a year on The Popular Science Monthly when they decided that they were not justified in continuing it. It was worth that much and far more to