Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/278

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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