Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/485

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portance of continued selection if he would keep his stock up to standard. His motto is: "Breed only from the best." Is not selection an equally important matter in the evolution of the human race? And are we concerning ourselves sufficiently with the question of whether it is being made, and in the right direction?

There are those who claim that if unhampered the "natural" forces will make such selection and will direct evolution along the proper lines. They argue that the very defects of the pauper, the criminal, the mentally defective and otherwise degenerate classes render them relatively "unfit" for survival in the long run, so that they tend of their very nature to become extinct; and they consider as pernicious any attempt upon the part of society to better the condition of these unfortunates—for unfortunate they are, since they are not themselves responsible for having come into the world with a bad inheritance. But if we mean by "natural" forces and "natural selection" the part nature plays uninfluenced by the hand of intelligent man, why should we leave the evolution of mankind to its slow and uncertain action, when we have found it to advantage to do otherwise with our domesticated plants and animals? If the breeder has born in his herd a sickly or abnormal or otherwise undesirable animal, he does not trust to its dying of "natural" means, but his intelligence comes into play and he takes means at once to eliminate it from his breeding stock. It may, in fact, be of great service to him while it lives, as the ox, or its carcass may be of value when it is killed, as a steer; but he is careful that its blood shall not enter into the future generations of his herd. Is it not desirable, and necessary, that we should employ equal intelligence to the development of the human species that we do to our domestic animals? We shall have to utilize special methods of elimination of the undesirable, but the general problem is the same.

What has been said serves to indicate the prime importance of giving thought to the hereditary factor in human betterment rather than trusting to a blind faith in the establishment of an environmental Utopia. The fundamental error in pampering and preserving the defective and the criminal in order that he may produce more of his kind, which shall in turn increase the drag on human progress, has been pointed out so often and so well that more need not be said at this time. It may be well, however, to turn our attention for a moment to certain special social conditions and institutions in their relation to eugenics. We have in this country a number of special problems which are of the utmost importance to our civic development and wellbeing. One of these is the race problem; before this is solved, it will be necessary that much more study and thought shall be given to the genetic aspect of the matter. But an even greater menace, to my mind, is that of indiscriminate immigration—for such restrictions as we have on immigration at the present time are entirely inadequate. It is not