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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/519

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AMERICAN ZOÖLOGISTS AND EVOLUTION.

suggestions of Dr. Brooks, lead one to consider how far the influence of selection has had to do with the character of great communities, as to their intelligence or ignorance. When we see nations of the same great race-stock, one showing a high percentage of illiterates, a high death-rate, degradation and ignorance, while just across the borders another nation, apparently no better off so far as physical environments are concerned, with percentage of illiterates and death-rate low, intelligent and cleanly, we are led to inquire if here a strict scientific scrutiny with careful historical investigation will not reveal the cause of these conditions. Can it be proved beyond question that the illiteracy and degradation of Italy and Spain, up to within recent years at least, is the result of centuries of church oppression and the Inquisition, destroying at once or driving out of the land all independent thinkers, and at the same time forcing her priests to lead celibate lives and inducing others of cultivated and gentle minds to lead cloister lives? Is it also a fact, as Alphonse de Candolle asserts, that by far the greater number of distinguished scientists have come from Protestant pastors? He gives a significant list of eminent men whose fathers were Protestant pastors, saying that, had they been priests of another religion, leading celibate lives, these men would not have been born.

It is considered an intrusion into matters which do not concern science when such inquiries are made, but the scientist has very deeply at heart the intellectual and moral welfare of the community. If the cause of degradation and ignorance, of poverty, of contagious disease, or of any of the miseries which make a nation wretched, can be pointed out by scientific methods, then it is the stern duty of Science to step in and at least show the reasons, even if the remedy is not at once forthcoming. The men who would be reformers and agitators, and who by their earnestness and devotion get the attention of multitudes, are unfit for their work if they show their ignorance, as most of them do, of the doctrines of natural selection and derivation.

Dr. C. S. Minot[1] read a paper before the Cincinnati meeting of this Association, suggesting a rather startling proposition as to whether man is the highest animal, which led Dr. W. N. Lockington[2] to reply in a very able article entitled "Man's Place in Nature."

The great problem of food-supply has led to legislative enactments for the purposes of regulating the trapping and netting of game and fish. State and Government grants have been made for fish commissions; but, unless the public are clearly educated in the rudiments of zoölogical science and the principles of natural selection, appropriations will come tardily and in limited amounts. Dr. W. K. Brooks,[3] in his report to the State of Maryland as one of the oyster commissioners, after showing the absurd way in which the problem of oyster-protection has

  1. "Proceedings of the American Associated Antiquarian Society," vol. xxx, p. 240.
  2. "American Naturalist," vol. xvii, p. 1003.
  3. "Report of the Oyster Commissioners of Maryland," 1884, p. 31.