Popular Science Monthly/Volume 80/March 1912/Types of Men

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By Professor S. N. PATTEN


THE study of human types has fallen into disrepute because of the advance of exact science. Accurate measurements have displaced crude observations. In this way, the science of eugenics has been evolved with many earnest advocates who think the victories of physical science may be duplicated in social fields. Between this group and the workers in the various fields of social betterment there is a chasm and much friction. This is partly a matter of temperament, but it is largely due to the different methods of research which the two groups employ. The relation between the social worker and those he would help is personal, and his judgment of them is based on observation. His creed demands a saving of life; hence we find him engaged in the struggle to prolong life and to prevent the elimination the eugenist favors. Social elimination, he would say, is so crude a process that it sweeps off a thousand deserving persons (especially children) to the one really deserving victim of its processes.

The eugenist has an advantage in his acceptance of the doctrine of the non-inheritance of acquired characters. A direct connection is assumed between the visible trait to be favored or eliminated and the characters of the germ cell that are passed on from generation to generation. If the character make the visible trait, rigid selection based on the elimination of traits is the only way of ridding the race of undesirable traits. Improving the condition of individuals would help them, but if traits do not influence characters, such betterments would have no effect on coming generations. The social worker, however, thinks that his efforts to help individuals are of social importance, and hence sympathizes with, and suffers from the downfall of Lamarckianism. The statistical averages of the eugenist also seem to complement the work of biologists by giving an objective measure of innate characters. Biologists can not trace the determinants of the germ cell through the subsequent development of an organism. They are, however, of the opinion that the visible traits shown at maturity are the result of the action of the determinants of the germ cell. To assume that the average development shown at maturity is the index of the germ cell determinants is a natural way of completing this proof.

These facts give to the eugenists the strength they have and make their arguments seem plausible. In a recent article,[1] I have tried to point out the fallacy of their position and to put in more favorable light the opinion that crude elimination does not improve social conditions. I emphasized the contrast between the unit characters of the germ cell and the visible traits observed in men at maturity. If mental and moral traits are predetermined through innate influences, the visible traits of men can not be altered without corresponding changes in the, germ cell. There must also be as many individual determinants in the germ cell as there are observable traits in men at maturity. In contrast to this view, I sought to show that single characters might produce a multitude of visible effects, and that the great mass of social and mental traits could be accounted for without assuming a change in many innate characters.

Most visible traits are modifications in individuals, and not variations in germ cells. Modifications are acquired characters due to the action of the environment, social and physical, which would not appear in children if the environment were radically altered. Chastity, thrift or temperance might readily be transformed into their opposites with no other changes than the environment imposes. These traits reappear for many generations in certain families, and seem to be inborn, but we have only to make a radical change of environment to see them displaced by their opposites. Civilization and culture perpetuate themselves through the permanence of social and economic conditions. Degeneration sets in with any slump of the forces that compel a constant repetition in each generation of the acts and thoughts of their immediate ancestors.

The eugenist concept of biologic development is that of a multitude of individual characters each of which becomes visible in specific external traits. Germ-cell changes are presupposed with each change in the statistical averages obtained by the measurement of individual parts or organs. If this be true, statistical evidence based on the measurements of individual traits is proof of the presence of a corresponding character in the germ cell, and any variation in the one is evidence of a change in the other. The opposing view assumes that the visible traits usually are modifications due to the action of the environment which are not inherited, but must be reimposed by the action of external conditions on succeeding generations. Modifications of this kind do not come singly but in groups. A change of climate or of the food supply is not to be measured by a single change, but by many minor changes that alter all parts of the body. A clear upland climate will give greater vigor. This will result in greater activity through which many structures are altered. These will be followed by changes in habits and customs, creating new traits or changing the relative prominence of old ones. And finally social and political changes occur accompanied by moral and religious modifications. In these ways a complicated network of changes arise that are to be referred to ultimate changes in climate, food, health and activity. These causes create types differing in a thousand ways, physical and social. Types are easy to recognize, but hard to measure. We use many uncertain characteristics to distinguish them, and yet must expect that any one of them will fail if it is put to a definite test.

Some changes, however, are true variations due to the evolution of germ cells. To get at these, different reasoning must be used, but the outcome is the same. As a starting point I shall take a contrast employed by the late Dr. John Eyder, of the University of Pennsylvania. He was fond of asking his students whether the hard parts of the body determined the soft parts or whether the reverse is true, thus making the soft parts determine the hard parts. The ordinary assumption is that bony structures are manifestations of the germ cell determinants. This gives the static measurements on which statistics are based, and from which the ordinary view of heredity is derived. Dr. Eyder's view was the opposite of this. He held that the bony structures were the consequence of the activity of the soft parts and were laid down later. Those parts became solid and unyielding in which the metabolism was defective. The solid ingredients of the blood were deposited there; bony structures thus came into being and seemed a part of heredity, when in reality they were a consequence and not a cause.

This view has not won general acceptance. There is, however, enough truth in it to make certain that these are dynamic characters, which must be measured not in terms of structure, but in bodily activity and its effects. An illustration of this is the contrast between anabolism and katabolism, as is also the increased plasticity manifested in the prolongation of childhood. Plastic brain cells do not result in a single mental trait, but in a change in the whole range of mental activity. The races of slow maturity differ from those rapidly maturing in many traits, and yet they may all be the result of a single variation involving the increased plasticity of brain cells. Among the psychic characters fear is an example of this kind. Cowardice, deceit, falsehood, humility and other traits are clearly the outcome of one fundamental variation. The supplanting of fear by courage would transform a whole civilization, and modify its best known characteristics. Dynamic variations are thus like environmental modifications. Groups of traits change or appear together, due to one primary cause, innate or external. Types are thus formed that differ in a thousand ways and yet are readily referred back to a few ultimate causes.

If types are formed in this way, single visible traits can not be altered unless a change is made in other traits that are due to the same cause. The changes from upland to lowland, from cold to hot climate, from damp to dry regions, or from meager to abundant food modifies many external traits at the same time. Paces of men are formed by each external change which continues long enough to compel an adjustment to it. Each single visible trait does not have an independent cause. If liquor drinking is correlated with greater physical vigor in men, an elimination of drinkers is also an elimination of vigor, and would result in race deterioration. Social causes are simpler and deeper seated than are social effects. A study of the types of men and of the relation between the various groups of visible traits must therefore precede attempts to modify races by the elimination of single traits.

Prominent differences in men arise from the contrasting effects of upland and lowland climates. An upland race, if in a dry region, has a purer and more bracing atmosphere, and hence does not need so much lung power. It must develop greater vigor and endurance, partly because of the cold and partly because of the game it chases and the cattle it herds. Its food is drier, harder and more condensed; hence a better development of the jaw and its muscles results; along with this come smaller stomachs, better digestion and fresher blood. A tall, narrow-chested man comes into being, who is in marked contrast with the short broad man of the lowland regions. These typical differences are accompanied by minor traits, not always found in all of a given race, but often enough to indicate that they have the same general causes. Long heads and round heads represent dynamic changes, even if we can not trace them back to given climatic origins. Some races and persons have a marked development of the lower face with prominent jaws and strong facial muscles. These people like hard foods, enjoy chewing their food, and, if possible, keep something in their mouth, gum or tobacco or the like, to exercise their jaws. Baseball players are noted examples of this habit; it indicates a surplus of energy and strong muscular development. It is equally plain that those with a weak lower jaw and muscles take readily to soft sweet foods, that they suck or gulp down rather than chew. This means a better muscular development of the throat. A snake, for example, sucks down its food, while a tiger chews his. In men the sweets and the meats are causes that bring out this difference between the chewers and suckers. Another like contrast is between the mouth breathers and the nose breathers. We speak of breathing as a habit, and yet different habits would not tend to be formed if muscular differences did not exist. Each activity is the outlet of energy, which tends to express itself through bodily mechanisms. The strong grows at the expense of the weak; each difference in bodily powers tends to develop a type.

These contrasted traits are valuable, not so much for the definiteness of their manifestation as for the general conclusion their study warrants. The two types of men differ somewhat in their dynamic characters, but more in the environmental modifications which climate, food and occupation have created. The upland types are tall, bony, narrow-chested with well developed lower faces. They breathe through the nose and eat hard foods. The lowland types are short, thick set, live on soft foods, and use large quantities of coarse or liquid foods. They have a poorly developed lower face, and breathe through the mouth. The lowland races are doubtless the older type and represent the primitive characteristics of men. At some point an isolation occurred, possibly with the pushing up of the great plateau of Central Asia and the formation of dry desert uplands. An oasis or an isolated upland valley would combine, both in food and climate, the elements on which the formation of the more vigorous type depended. Later comes the renewal contact with the lowland races and the descent of the northern nomad to the fertile lowlands as a conqueror. From this union come the mixed races that occupy the medium altitudes. The upland races can not go too far down south without facing extinction, while the lowland races have been unsuccessful in facing the rigor of dry, cold uplands.

I shall call the pure uplander the long-faced type, the pure lowlander the round-faced type, and the mixture of the two, the oval-faced type. I use this contrast not because it is the only one that might be selected, but because it permits of a threefold division more readily then the others. An additional reason is that the round-faced and the longfaced women are now popular contrasts. The frontispieces of magazines give us the round-faced girl as the approved type of female beauty, while the suffragette, the old maid, the intellectual woman and the freak are pictured with long faces and protruding jaws. The difference, however, is not merely in the skull and the bony structures of the face. Even more marked is the contrast between the placid plumpness of the round face and the nervous make-up of the long face. Like differences are observed in man, and they give a ready means by which the two types can be distinguished.

In the application of current biologic theories to the human race, we must face the fact that there are two points or centers of elimination. As the race moves down or into hot countries, the upland type or the mixed type in which it is dominant is eliminated, while an upward movement, or one into cold dry regions tends to weed out the lowland type and the elements that it has given to mixed breeds. Changes in food and drink create a like and, at the present time, a more prominent tendency in these directions. Diseases also contribute their share towards this double elimination. Some, like tuberculosis, work against the upland type, while the fevers and alcohol weed out the lowlanders. The action of this double elimination can be shown by using the Mendelian law of crosses. When parents of mixed breeds unite, the children are one fourth pure of each pure type and one half of the mixed type. If none of the pure types survived, the next generation, being children of the mixed type, would again be one fourth of each of the pure types and one half of the mixed type. In each generation the pure breeds might be eliminated, and yet one fourth of the children of mixed parentage would be representatives of each pure type. Elimination could not wipe out a type under these conditions. The unit characters on which elimination acts are plainly in the pure races, which are constantly eliminated, but constantly reappear in the descendents of the mixed types.

That this is not mere theory, but an actual condition, is shown by the way elimination is now working among the civilized races. The long-faced woman is narrow hipped and large boned. Child-bearing to her is difficult and many, therefore, do not marry. Men dislike the long-faced woman and seldom marry her unless forced by economic necessity. The result is that an elimination works against long-faced women. They become the old maids and business women, or, if married, are the source of the much-discussed race suicide. The long-faced woman disappears in these ways in each generation, to reappear in the next as the pure element in the mixed or oval-faced marriages. We can, thus, have a perpetual succession of long-faced women, even if they have no children. The round-faced woman, on the other hand, is broad-hipped and makes flesh rather than bone. Men prefer her to her long-faced sister. She gets married early and bears many children. The tendency, therefore, is to perpetuate the short, thick-set women of the type that men admire.

Among men, however, the opposite tendency prevails. The tall, nervous, long-faced man has more mental vigor and moral control. The round-faced man lacks initiative, is governed by tradition, and readily accepts the subordination, exploitation and poverty that come with defeat. He suffers more from epidemic diseases and is a ready victim of dissipation. In civilized countries his lack of earning power forces him into the slums of cities, or into the less favored occupations in the country. In these ways, he is forced into places and positions where the death rate is high. Against him, an elimination is working that cuts him off in each generation almost as fully as elimination works against the long-faced women. We thus have effective processes that weed out the round-faced man and the long-faced woman. This means that the productive unions are between the long-faced and oval-faced men on the one hand, and the oval-faced and round-faced women on the other. So long as the long-faced man is more productive, and the round-faced woman more fertile, the marriage of the two will create the mixed race found in northern countries. It is only in southern regions that the pure round-faced type prevails in both men and women.

Elimination thus leads not to extermination of existing types, but to their perpetuation. If conscious elimination is to be put in operation, it must be made to act on men and women alike. This is extremely difficult, as we admire traits in women we despise in men, and we keep them in existence by this means. We do not, for example, like a deceitful man, but men condone or admire deceit in women. The round-faced woman reproduces her lower morality in the next generation, and elements of it get into men even if, as a masculine trait, we try to suppress it. If drunkenness eliminated all the round-faced men it would not make the race immune. Alcohol does not, to any extent, eliminate women, and the round-faced type married to long-faced men would continue to breed round-faced men. We could thus have one fourth of the men of each generation die from alcohol, and still have no immunity arise to protect the race.

In contrast to this, a disease like tuberculosis mainly affects the long-faced type. Instead of letting elimination operate against them, it would seem more fitting to put them in upland regions and dry climates where they would not suffer from this disease. Better housing, food, clothing, recreation or amusements may guard against an inherited defect and give a useful life to those who, a generation ago, would have been exterminated by disease. The humanitarian and philanthropist may have been wrong in their remedies, but every discovery in science or medicine proves the soundness of their general view and puts them into a position to be of aid to the uplift of mankind. We can not, as yet, spare either the long-faced or the round-faced types. While this is true, elimination that acts on types and not on single traits must be a bungling means of social progress hurting more than it helps. When men are relocated, eat what they should and live as hygiene demands, our social traits can be reconstructed to meet the demands of a higher civilization. Disease, poverty, vice and inequality can be eliminated. Why leave the tried paths of progress for methods that might work among tigers and wolves, but which humanity has outgrown?

The gist of my argument may be put in a single question. Are we to eliminate men because of the lack of single traits, or should social elimination be the weeding out of bad types? Let me illustrate by a bit of personal experience. I recently went to an oculist, who found that I could read letters so distant that he had to use an opera glass to find that I was right. On the other hand, I had bad muscular adjustment. I combined the best eyesight with the worst muscular adjustment that in each case his practise had yielded. I would, therefore, ask, am I to be eliminated because of bad muscular adjustment, or perpetuated because of my good eyesight? Is, also, Carlyle to be eliminated because he suffers from "eye strain," or to be preserved because of his literary expression? Is John Stuart Mill to be eliminated because of tubercular tendencies, or encouraged because of his logical powers? My answer to these questions is that single defects should be remedied by action on the individual even if this remedy, say eye-glasses, must be applied to succeeding generations. It is only where we have a combination of many inherited characters in one family or group, thus forming an undesirable type, that elimination becomes a necessity. Every innate character is good; it becomes bad only in undesirable combinations or unfavorable situation

  1. The Popular Science Monthly, October, 1911.