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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE MODERN WORLD
different environments. Since the social environment is now by Far
the most important part of the environment of man; and since the
social environment differs from one nation to another, one period to
another, one class to another, and its differences are outside the
control of the eugenist, he must not neglect it. Its uncontrolled
variables bring the eugenist face to face with the principle of multiple
causation, at work here as in all the social sciences.
The study of the environment is necessary for the eugenist on a
number of counts. First, because, he cannot equalize it experiment-
ally, he must learn to discount its effects if he is not to mistake their
pinchbeck glitter (as he would be apt to think it) for the true gold of
genetic influence. If, for instance, the observed lower stature of the
so-called lower classes should prove to be due to an inadequate diet,
it is eugenically of no significance. Secondly, because by the limited
control of social conditions which is open to us already, it is often
possible to alter the effect of a genetic factor. Inherited eye-defects,
once a grave handicap in almost every walk of life, are now, in most
cases, thanks to the progress of the science of optics and the art of
spectacle-making, no more than a minor inconvenience.
Thirdly, the environment itself exercises a selective influence. This
fundamental truth, long axiomatic in evolutionary biology, has not
been properly recognized in human biology so far as the social en-
vironment is concerned, A young pioneer civilization, for instance,
will both initially attract and later encourage different types from those
attracted and encouraged by a civilization that is old and settled.
Fourthly, in planning a eugenic programme, the eugenist must take
account of the social system in which he hopes or expects his improved
race to live. Cattle-breeders will set about their work quite differ-
ently according to whether they are building up a stock for use in a
rich pasture country where winter feed is provided, or one for an
undeveloped and semi-arid land, like parts of Africa. Similarly the
eugenist must adopt different aims according as to whether he en-
visages a world of nationalism and war or one of peace and cultural
progress. This is already patent in the crude eugenic efforts of to-day
—in the encouragement of high fecundity in Fascist Italy and Nazi
Germany, together with the persecution of so-called "non-Aryans"
and the glorification of the Nordics in the latter.
Finally, there is the question of bias. It is probably inevitable that
most men who come fresh to a problem in social science, however
scientifically-minded they may be by nature and training, will have,
some bias due to their own social environment. This bias in social
outlook which besets the pioneers in the social sciences is comparable
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