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"Every man has a ghost," was the beguiling slogan with which a New York firm recently solicited Harvard business in a form letter received by a great number of the undergraduate body. In fact, on closer examination the services offered by this concern turned out to be considerably more than "ghosting," or rewrite work; it developed that the firm undertook to do research in any academic field desired, that a customer had only to wire to the company the nature of the problem confronting him and he would receive by registered mail a few days later a paper of any desired length, in rough draft or "ready to submit" as ordered.
In one respect the firm is to be congratulated. It has realized that there is a place for research in the present economic system; it has seized on this opportunity, acquired reference books, bibliographies and other facilities known to scholars; it has adapted "book learning" to practical use and is prepared to aid men of affairs in dealing with academic problems, at a price. But in placing the names of college students on its mailing list, it has entered territory in which it is not in the least welcome.
A generation ago, colleges taught students facts; today they are trying to teach them how to hunt for facts. The students, presumably eager to learn the technique of study, annually pay millions of dollars to American colleges in an effort to raise themselves above the level of the older generation. The road to learning runs through Widener, not the Brattle Square Post Office. The gentlemen in New York would do well to confine themselves to metropolitan areas. Men at Harvard often wish they did not have so much work to do, but they would be the first to see the absurdity of paying someone else to do it for them.
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