Willcox, according to Cornell.edu

Ithaca, N.Y. — In 1910, Cornell professor Walter F. Willcox made a bold prediction based on a “mathematical conclusion.”


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As reported at the time in the Los Angeles Herald, and recently recirculated on Reddit:

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In case you’re having trouble making out the wording above, the story notes: “The only hope of securing babies in the United States after 2020, according to Prof. Wilcox’s calculation, is in possible importation from France.”

Before you start snickering, however, it bears mentioning that Willcox was an accomplished polymath who held the presidency of the American Statistical Association and of the American Economic Association.

(The correct spelling of his name appears to be with two “ls,” despite the L.A. Herald’s story.)

Cornell’s website also notes that Willcox was known as the “Father of American Demography,” was co-Director of the 1900 U.S. census and was appointed as a lecturer in Cornell’s Philosophy Department before becoming an economics professor.

Willcox, according to Cornell.edu
Walter F. Willcox, according to Cornell.edu

Willcox also started the first statistics course at Cornell in 1892, according to his Wikipedia page. We’re optimistic the field has made progress since then.

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.