Cornhill Magazine,  9 (1864), 97–109.

Money and Money's Worth

[J Fitzjames Stephen]




Science Communication, Popularization, Environmentalism, Fear, Political Economy, Medical Practitioners, Status, Health, Commerce, Natural Law, Mechanics, Theory, Practice

    Observes that as 'a general rule, the great bulk of the community regard the threats of scientific men with considerable equanimity. We are not much troubled at hearing of the approaching exhaustion of beds of coal, or of the fearful consequences which may be expected to follow if we neglect to restore to the soil the phosphates which we have taken from it'. Only a 'scientific doctrine' that is 'put so clearly, and rests upon facts of which the evidence is so readily accessible to unscientific persons [...] breaks through our equanimity, and raises a real feeling of uneasiness'. (97) The unfounded but extremely widespread fear provoked by political economists that the discovery of gold in North America and Australia would drastically reduce the value of the British economy shows the 'extreme difficulty of applying scientific theories to an actually existing state of facts' as well as the 'fundamental unsoundness of the common contrast between theory and practice' (109). Remarks that the 'unfailing' axiom that 'nobody gets anything for nothing [...] occupies exactly the same place in regard to laying out money as the maxim that you cannot cheat nature holds in mechanics' (108). Also notes that the interests of physicians are 'more affected by the general state of the nation' than most other occupations. After all, it is 'the rich patient who sends for the doctor, and though prosperity is usually healthy, it is much more watchful over its health, and much better able to pay for fortifications of it, than poverty. Dives has not so many sores as Lazarus, but he is an infinitely better customer to the physician' (103).

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