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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/337

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DESTRUCTIVE TENDENCIES OF MODERN LIFE

hero. Nor was the case exceptional, for looking back on the history of our great Indian dependency, one can not fail to be struck with the high average ability of the few who survived to attain leading positions. . . . But the rank and file, who could not or would not learn, died off like rotten sheep." So it is to-day in all parts of the globe and nowhere more plainly true than in the United States that only an exceptional man, almost a genius, learns to modify his habits and his life to his environment and to triumph over his surroundings, his appetites and the absurd dictates of fashion. All the world over the genius carves out his proper régime for himself, the average man, ignorantly complaisant, indulges his appetites like the rest of his kind, dies like a rotten sheep and leaves his life-work unfinished.

The foregoing remarks have been confined mainly to diet because that is now the most pressing question before the people of this country and because, as said above, it is a matter upon which the utmost diversity of opinion exists. An observation of 10,000 people for ten years may be necessary to settle the question of the average standard diet for the average man at the different stages of life. If, however, it should take ten times as long and cost an amount equal to the national debt, it would be money and time well expended if the question should be settled thereby. In collating vital statistics, while the time of the death of any one man can not with certainty be predicted, the deaths of ten thousand individuals can be fixed with the nicest accuracy. Nothing can be asserted in regard to the individual, but in regard to the multitude the success of the statistical method is surprising. So in the matter of the health records of one man little can be assumed from a study of his habits; if, however, we could ascertain the life habits of 10,000 men, there is no question but that we could establish certain important truths in regard to them beyond all controversy. And it is equally certain that this is the only method by which some of these truths can be established. There is to-day absolutely nothing known about the etiology of cancer. This dreadful and constantly increasing disease has been studied in every way; in the individual, at the bedside, in the laboratory, in the post-mortem room, by inoculation into animals, etc., etc., and nothing conclusive has been discovered in regard to its causation. Had the lifehabits of 10,000 people suffering with cancer been studied as to their diet, their occupation and surroundings, their use of alcohol, tobacco, etc., as well as the questions of heredity, of physical development and of the precedence of other diseased conditions in the same subject, there can be no doubt that important and probably convincing light, would have been shed upon the whole question. Studied in individuals, the cause of this scourge of the race has escaped every effort to locate it; had it been studied collectively, with a large enough number of observa-