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Statistics from Another Point of View.

Communication

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

(We invite all men in the University to submit communications on subjects of timely interest, but assume no responsibility for sentiments expressed under this head.)

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

As the criticism printed in Saturday's CRIMSON regarding an article in the Boston papers, calling Harvard men great spenders for luxury, fails to take into account the marked differences in habits of living among Harvard men, I deem it timely to point out this obvious fact.

The papers displayed some imposing sums as spent each year for obvious luxuries. The criticism attempts to explain away the suggested significance of the figures by the simple process of division; dividing the total sums spent by the number of men registered and concluding therefrom that the supposed expenditure for luxuries is, after all, but small for each individual, and explaining that the totals were obtained by multiplying the estimated expenditure of certain men by the number of men registered.

This explanation discloses the weakness already suggested. The computers, judging others by themselves, by that method found an imposing total spent for luxuries, but regarded the individual basis as moderate. We must remember, however, that a great many of the Harvard men who make up the total number of registered students are self-supporting, in whole or in part. Most of these, certainly, do not spend ten to twelve dollars per week for board alone. Nor are they apt to spend appreciably, much less liberally, for the luxuries concerning which the discussion has centered. There is the further fact that many of them do not smoke ten-cent cigars at all and a large proportion of them are total abstainers. That such liberal allowance should be made for items not found at all among the expenditures of many seems, therefore, a sad misconception of a fair average. An alleged expenditure of $25 for cigars and cigarettes and $18 for liquors annually, certainly among the self-supporting and temperate, has no basis in fact as an "average figure."

The conclusion must be, therefore, that the original figures, as totals based on averages, are practically worthless, resting simply on the personal habits of the individual computers. What those habits are is, in itself, unimportant, but protest may justly be made against multiplying sums spent on account of such individual habits as a basis for publishing alleged total expenses of Harvard men. The totals obtained would, indeed, be very suggestive, were they supported by facts. What is worse, however, is that they by innuendo attribute to the student body as a whole habits of frivolity, luxury, indolence, and intemperance, for which there is no foundation in fact among the serious-minded, studious, and self-supporting. L. VOLD 3L.

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