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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

EUGENICS AND SOCIETY
illegitimately used the word science in their title in order to exploit the
prestige attaching to it in this scientific age.
Personally, I do not think that this criticism is justified. All young
sciences are attacked by their elders on the ground of irregularity in
their canons of scientific behaviour: but they cannot expect to estab-
lish rigorous canons until they are no longer young, any more than an
untried adolescent can be expected to possess the assurance and prac-
tical skill of a man in the prime of life. In addition, young sciences
are not merely young like young human beings owing to the accident
of the date of their birth. The date of their birth is no accident: they
are young because they are more complex and more difficult. Physics
is an older science than biology because in physics it is easier to isolate
phenomena and to discover simple but fundamental laws. The social
sciences are younger than the natural sciences because of the appalling
complexity of variables which make up their subject-matter.
This, however, is not all. The social sciences in certain respects
differ radically from the natural sciences; they cannot expect to
achieve success by applying the same simple methods as served their
elder sisters, but must work out new methods of their own. In the
natural sciences, we isolate phenomena in order to analyse them. If
possible we isolate them in the form of a controlled experiment, as in
physics or genetics; if this cannot be achieved, we isolate them in
thought, make deductions, and test our conclusions by empirical
observations, as in astronomy or straiigraphical geology. By refine*
ments of technique, we can eliminate for practical purposes all irre-
levant variables; the geneticist wanting to understand some new type
which has appeared in his cultures can eliminate, say, the variable of
environment, then the variable of single-gene mutations, then the
variable of addition or subtraction of whole chromosomes, and finally
pin responsibility for the phenomenon on, for example, the inversion
of a particular chromosome-section,
But the social scientist cannot do this sort of thing: he can at the
best find a correlation between several variables. In terms of causa-
tion, the natural scientist can sometimes find a single definite cause
for a phenomenon; the social scientist must always be content with
several partial causes. He has to work out a system based on the idea
of multiple causation. The attractive simplicity of simple and single
causation is for him a false simplicity: he needs a different intellectual
techinque. Anyone who asserts that so-and-so is the cause of a social
phenomenon is bound to be wrong: it can at best be a cause. Let us
as eugenists therefore beware of making such assertions as that the
celibacy of the clergy was the cause of the decadence of Spain, or that