Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/364

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36o THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

social culture. The law may be stated as follows: Biological fitness is to be estimated not only by the capacity of physical endurance, but by the capacity of reproduction, by the capacity of adaptation to new conditions of social life, and by the power to resist the importation of foreign vices and diseases. (Chatterton- Hill, p. 358.)

Pearson postulates two fundamental biological conditions as to human betterment :

1. That the relative weight of nature and nurture must not a priori be as- sumed but must be scientifically measured; and thus far our experience is that nature dominates nurture, and that inheritance is more vital than environment. Environment may and does modify the bodily characters of the existing genera- tion, but not certainly the germ plasms of the next generation. At most it can provide a selection of which germ plasms among the many provided shall be potential and which shall remain latent.

2. All human characteristics are inherited in a marked and probably equal degree. If these ideas represent the substantial truth, you will see how the whole function of the eugenist is theoretically simplified. He can not hope by nurture and by education to create new germinal types. He can only hope by selective environment to obtain types most conducive to racial welfare and to national progress. The widely prevalent notion that bettered environment and improved education mean a progressive evolution of humanity is found to be without any scientific basis.

Improved conditions of life mean better health for the existing population; greater educational facilities mean greater capacity for finding and using exist- ing ability; they do not connote that the next generation will be either physically or mentally better than its parents. Selection of parentage is the sole effective process known to science by which a race can continuously progress. The rise and fall of nations are in truth summed up in the maintenance or cessation of that process of selection. Where the battle is to the capable and thrifty, where the dull and idle have no chance to propagate their kind, there the nation will progress, even if the land be sterile, the environment unfriendly and educational facilities small.

The growth of the eugenics movement, both in Europe and America, witliin the recent decade is one of the most hopeful signs of the day, and far more eloquent than mere words or theories. Its intrinsic value for education is unmistakable. Herein, as I see the problem, is an open field for social betterment of the highest type, which in itself is of large promise as a basis from wliich it is not too much to anticipate means for augmenting any unit character of intellect as well as body. Just here is the hope for that increment of power, both innate and cultural, ade- quate for recovery of lost arts, and for carrying forward the race to higher achievement in every department of endeavor. If great poets, artists, statesmen and prophets are horn not made, why not set into operative activity the only machinery through which such divine birth- heritages may become realities ?

The problem is not occult. It is so simple that boys and girls may learn it even in the nursery, surely in the school. If a state may charter its special train in an educational propaganda to teach farmers the

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