Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/277

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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

  1. The Popular Science Monthly, October, 1911.