Horace Secrist

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Horace Secrist (October 9, 1881 – March 5, 1943) was an American statistician and economist, a professor and the director of the Bureau of Economic Research at Northwestern University.

Life and career[edit]

Secrist was born in Farmington, Utah, and received his education at Brigham Young College, Brigham Young University, and the University of Wisconsin,[1][2][3] where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1907[4] and a PhD in 1911 with a dissertation titled "An Economic Analysis of the Constitutional Restrictions Upon Public Indebtedness in the United States".[5][6]

He began his teaching career at Brigham Young University,[4] and later was an instructor at the University of Wisconsin. In 1918 he joined Northwestern University, where he spent most of his career, becoming a professor of economics and statistics and director of the Bureau of Economic Research.[1][7][8] He held various positions for the federal government: as Commissioner on Industrial Relations in 1914, statistician for the Shipping Board in 1918, and supervising statistician of the Railway Labor Board in 1920–1921.[1][3]

In 1918 he became a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[9]

Private life and death[edit]

Secrist married May Alexander in 1904; they had two sons.[1] He died at 61 following an operation in Evanston, Illinois, from the effects of a long-term disability.[1][10]

Publications[edit]

Secrist published thirteen textbooks in statistics and economics.[7] In several of his publications on economics, particularly in The Triumph of Mediocrity in Business (1933), the result of a decade's investigation by Secrist and his assistants of 49 department stores and of businesses in 73 other fields, he argued that over time, competitive forces under free enterprise cause the success of better-run businesses to decline and that of weaker businesses to increase, leading to an inevitable predominance of mediocrity in American business;[11] Secrist recommended governmental protection of the better businesses to offset this effect.[7][8][12][13] Mathematical statistician Harold Hotelling pointed out in a review, and in a subsequent rebuttal of Secrist's response, that this argument constituted a misunderstanding of regression to the mean, which ensured the observed effect given the method of grouping of the observed results that Secrist had used.[7][8][14][15][16][17] Secrist stated in his preface that in addition to exhaustive testing of his results on different areas of business, he had asked 38 American and European statisticians and economists to review them.[14] The book has since been frequently used as a bad example in publications on statistics.[7][8][13][14][15][18][19]

Selected publications[edit]

  • An Introduction to Statistical Methods – 1917,[20][21][22][23][24][25] revised ed. 1925[26][27]
  • Statistics in Business: Their Analysis, Charting and Use. McGraw-Hill. 1920. [28][29]
  • Readings and Problems in Statistical Methods – 1920[30][31]
  • Costs, Merchandising Practices, Advertising and Sales in the Retail Distribution of Clothing – 1921, with The National Association of Retail Clothiers[32][33]
  • Expenses, Profits and Losses in Retail Meat Stores: How Much and Why – 1924[34]
  • The Widening Retail Market and Consumers' Buying Habits – 1926[35][36][37]
  • Margins, Expenses and Profits in Retail Hardware Stores – 1928, with J. A. Folse[38]
  • Banking Standards under the Federal Reserve System – 1928[39][40]
  • Banking Ratios: A Study of the Operating Results of Member Banks with Special Reference to the Twelfth Federal Reserve District and to California – 1930, with Keith Powlison[41][42]
  • The Triumph of Mediocrity in Business – 1933[7][8][12][16]
  • National Bank Failures and Non-Failures: An Autopsy and Diagnosis – 1938[43][44][45][46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Horace Secrist Dies, Aged 61", Ogden Standard-Examiner, March 6, 1943, p. 6.
  2. ^ "Utah-Born U. S. Economist Gained Renown In Filling Federal Posts", Salt Lake Tribune, March 6, 1943, p. 17.
  3. ^ a b "Another Native Son Closes a Brilliant Career", Salt Lake Tribune, March 8, 1943, p. 5.
  4. ^ a b Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, Volume 9, 1907, pp. 58, 229.
  5. ^ Horace Secrist, "An Economic Analysis of the Constitutional Restrictions upon Public Indebtedness in the United States", PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1911, Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin 637, Economics and Political Science Series 6.1, April 1914, pp. 1–132, electronic reproduction Getzville, New York: Hein, OCLC 982085927.
  6. ^ "Review: An Economic Analysis of the Constitutional Restrictions upon Public Indebtedness in the United States by Horace Secrist", Journal of Political Economy 24.5 (May 1916), pp. 511–12.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Gary Smith, What the Luck? The Surprising Role of Chance in Our Everyday Lives, New York: Overlook-Mayer, 2016, ISBN 978-1-4683-1375-8, pp. 173–81.
  8. ^ a b c d e Scott Highhouse, "Horace Secrist’s (1933) Theory of Organizational Mediocrity: A Cautionary Tale", Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, retrieved August 17, 2017.
  9. ^ ASA Fellows list, accessed 2017-08-21
  10. ^ F. S. Deibler, "Horace Secrist, 1881–1943", Journal of the American Statistical Association 38.223 (September 1943) 365–66, doi:10.1080/01621459.1943.10501821, also online at Taylor & Francis.
  11. ^ "Mediocrity Brands Business Life Of Nation, Economist Finds—Too Many in Trade, All Held To Average, He Asserts", Cincinnati Enquirer, July 3, 1933, p. 6: "So long as competition is free, neither superiority nor inferiority will tend to persist. Rather mediocrity tends to become the rule." "Complete freedom to enter trade, and continuation of competition, mean the perpetuation of mediocrity."
  12. ^ a b P. D. Converse, "Mediocrity in Retailing", Journal of Marketing 23.4 (April 1959) 419–20.
  13. ^ a b Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, New York: Penguin, 2014, ISBN 9780143127536, pp. 295–98.
  14. ^ a b c Stephen M. Stigler, Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods, 1999, repr. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University, 2002, ISBN 9780674009790, pp. 162–70.
  15. ^ a b Stigler, "Regression Towards the Mean, Historically Considered", Statistical Methods in Medical Research 6 (1997) 103–14, repr. SAGE Directions in Educational Psychology Volumes 1–5, ed. Neil J Salkind, London: SAGE, ISBN 978-0-85702-178-6, Volume 5, pp. 147–48.
  16. ^ a b Harold Hotelling, "Review: The Triumph of Mediocrity in Business by Horace Secrist", Journal of the American Statistical Association 28.184 (December 1933) 463–65.
  17. ^ "Open Letters", Journal of the American Statistical Association 29.186 (June 1934) 196–99.
  18. ^ Alex Reinhart, Statistics Done Wrong: The Woefully Complete Guide, San Francisco: No Starch-O'Reilly, 2015, ISBN 9781593276201, p. 68.
  19. ^ Stigler, The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom, Cambridge,. Massachusetts: Harvard University, 2016, ISBN 9780674088917, pp. 139–40.
  20. ^ H. L. Rietz, "Review: An Introduction to Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", The American Mathematical Monthly 25.4 (April 1918) 167–68.
  21. ^ E. C. S., "Reviews: Statistics and Its Methods: Statistics by William B. Bailey and John Cummings; An Introduction to Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 81.3 (May 1918) 521–22.
  22. ^ Edmund E. Day, "Review: An Introduction to Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", The American Economic Review 8.2 (June 1918) 401–04.
  23. ^ G. U. Yule, "Review: An Introduction to Statistical Methods: A Textbook for College Students, a Manual for Statisticians and Business Executives by Horace Secrist", The Economic Journal 28.110 (June 1918) 218–20.
  24. ^ J. H. P., "Review: An Introduction to Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", Publications of the American Statistical Association 16.122 (June 1918) 113–14.
  25. ^ F. H. Knight, "Review: An Introduction to Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", Journal of Political Economy 26.10 (December 1918) 986–87.
  26. ^ A. L. Bowley, "Review: An Introduction to Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", The Economic Journal 36.141 (March 1926) 115–16.
  27. ^ F. B., "Review: An Introduction to Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist; Elements of Statistics by Arthur L. Bowley", Economica 18 (November 1926) 373–74.
  28. ^ R. L. White, "Review: Statistics in Business.—Their Analysis, Charting and Use by Horace Secrist", Quarterly Publications of the American Statistical Association 17.130 (June 1920) 215.
  29. ^ J. Anderson Fitzgerald, "Review: Statistics in Business by Horace Secrist", Journal of Political Economy 29.3 (March 1921) 255–56.
  30. ^ William O. Weyforth, "Review: Readings and Problems in Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", Quarterly Publications of the American Statistical Association 17.133 (March 1921) 668–70.
  31. ^ G. U. Y., "Review: Readings and Problems in Statistical Methods by Horace Secrist", Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 84.2 (March 1921) 279–80.
  32. ^ Herbert W. Hess, "Review: Costs, Merchandising Practices, Advertising and Sales in the Retail Distribution of Clothing, 6 Vol by Horace Secrist, The National Association of Retail Clothiers", The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 103, Industrial Relations and the Churches (September 1922) 147–48.
  33. ^ A. Les. B., "Review: Costs, Merchandising Practices, Advertising and Sales in the Retail Distribution of Clothing by North Western University School of Commerce", Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 86.1 (January 1923) 76–78.
  34. ^ A. L. Bowley, "Review: Expenses, Profits and Losses in Retail Meat Stores: How Much and Why by Horace Secrist", The Economic Journal 35. No. 137 (March 1925) 138–40.
  35. ^ Norman J. Silberling, "Review: The Widening Retail Market by Horace Secrist", The American Economic Review 17.2 (June 1927) 314–16.
  36. ^ J. G. Smith, "Review: The Widening Retail Market and Consumers' Buying Habits by Horace Secrist", The Economic Journal 37.148 (December 1927) 639–41.
  37. ^ Isador Lubin, "Review: The Widening Retail Market and Consumers' Buying Habits", Journal of the American Statistical Association 22.160 (December 1927) 544–45.
  38. ^ Kemper Simpson, "Review: Margins, Expenses and Profits in Retail Hardware Stores by Horace Secrist and J. A. Folse", Journal of Political Economy 38.1 (February 1930) 119–20.
  39. ^ Henry W. Macrosty, "Review: Banking Standards under the Federal Reserve System", The Economic Journal 39.154 (June 1929) 272–74.
  40. ^ E. C. Rhodes, "Review: Banking Standards under the Federal Reserve System by Horace Secrist", The Economic Journal 42.165 (March 1932) 86–89.
  41. ^ John M. Chapman, "Review: Banking Ratios: A Study of the Operating Results of Member Banks with Special Reference to the Twelfth Federal Reserve District and to California by Horace Secrist, Keith Powlison", The American Economic Review 21.1 (March 1931) 156–58.
  42. ^ Ivan Wright, "Review: Banking Ratios by Horace Secrist", The Journal of Business of the University of Chicago 4.2 (April 1931) 212–13.
  43. ^ Lucile Bagwell, "Review: National Bank Failures and Non-Failures by Horace Secrist", The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 202, Appraising the Social Security Program (March 1939) 225–26.
  44. ^ Ralph R. Pickett, "Review: National Bank Failures and Non-Failures by Horace Secrist", The Journal of Business of the University of Chicago 12.2 (April 1939) 213–15.
  45. ^ C. Daniel Bremer, "Review: National Bank Failures and Non-Failures; An Autopsy and Diagnosis by Horace Secrist", Journal of the American Statistical Association 34.208 (December 1939) 770–71.
  46. ^ James Holladay, "Review: National Bank Failures and Non-Failures by Horace Secrist", Southern Economic Journal 6.4 (April 1940) 526–27.

External Links[edit]