Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/227

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IMPROVEMENT OF THE HUMAN BREED.

tempered, others surly and vicious; some are courageous, others timid; some are eager, others sluggish; some have large powers of endurance, others are quickly fatigued; some are muscular and powerful, others are weak; some are intelligent, others stupid; some have tenacious memories of places and persons, others frequently stray and are slow at recognizing. The number and variety of aptitudes, especially in dogs, is truly remarkable; among the most notable being the tendency to herd sheep, to point and to retrieve. So it is with the various natural qualities that go towards the making of civic worth in man. Whether it be in character, disposition, energy, intellect or physical power, we each receive at our birth a definite endowment, allegorized by the parable related in St. Matthew, some receiving many talents, others few; but each person being responsible for the profitable use of that which has been entrusted to him.

Distribution of Qualities in a Nation.

Experience shows that while talents are distributed in endless different degrees, the frequency of those different degrees follows certain statistical laws, of which the best known is the Normal Law of Frequency. This is the result whenever variations are due to the combined action of many small and different causes, whatever may be the causes and whatever the object in which the variations occur, just as twice 2 always makes 4, whatever the objects may be. It therefore holds time with approximate precision for variables of totally different sorts, as, for instance, stature of man, errors made by astronomers in judging minute intervals of time, bullet marks around the bull's-eye in target practice, and differences of marks gained by candidates at competitive examinations. There is no mystery about the fundamental principles of this abstract law; it rests on such simple fundamental conceptions as, that if we toss two pence in the air they will, in the long run, come down one head and one tail twice as often as both heads or both tails. I will assume then, that the talents, so to speak, that go to the formation of civic worth are distributed with rough approximation according to this familiar law. In doing so, I in no way disregard the admirable work of Professor Karl Pearson on the distribution of qualities, for which he was adjudged the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society a few years ago. He has amply proved that we must not blindly trust the Normal Law of Frequency; in fact, that when variations are minutely studied they rarely fall into that perfect symmetry about the mean value which is one of its consequences. Nevertheless, my conscience is clear in using this law in the way I am about to. I say that if certain qualities vary normally, such and such will be the results; that these qualities are of a class that are found, whenever they have been tested, to vary