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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE  MODERN  WORLD
powerful rationalizations, which are then used to justify policies of the
merest self-interest. The enslavement of negroes was justified on the
basis of the scriptural authority for the menial destiny of the sons of
Ham; the brutalities of the Nazi Jew-baitings on that of the racial
superiority of "Aryans." The group bias of the prosperous classes in
early nineteenth-century England appeared in astonishing assertions
about the inherent inferiority of" the poor" ; the same bias is evident
in certain aspects of the eugenics movement to-day.
Another widespread and disastrous form of bias arises from psycho-
logical conflict and tension. Ccnsoriousness in respect of moral
taboos, the desire to sec the infliction of vindictive punishment, the
unconscious reluctance of many parents to see the harsh school discip-
line under which they suffered replaced by humaner methods, the
emotional basis of militarism—all these and many other undesirable
determiners of human conduct are the result of bias arising from
repression or emotional conflict and the: inflicting of lasting distortion
on the psyche.
In these fields, bias is thus an urgent subject for investigation by
social science, and the application IUTC will lie in making its findings
universally known and accepted by the public in general and by
administrators in particular.
But even in scientific circles bias may play a surprisingly large part.
A good example was the resistance of the great majority of medical
men during the early part of the last war to admitting any cause for
breakdown among soldiers save physical shell-shock and malingering.
And the uncritical assumptions, oven among scrupulously careful
persons, that differences in intelligence between social classes were
genetic and not due to nutrition or other social factors, is another.
Again, we have the thesis of anthropologists like LeVy-Bruhl, that
savage mentality is in some way qualitatively different from and
inferior to our own, whereas it is in fact essentially similar, but operat-
ing in different material and social conditions.
No golden rule can be laid down for the avoidance of such pitfalls,
apart from the obvious step of realizing that they exist. Beyond that,
special methods must be worked out in each field.
Voices arc still raised proclaiming that social science is a contra-
diction in terms, that human affairs are not intrinsically amenable to
the scientific method. Those who hold this opinion are, I bdieve,
wrong. They are confusing the methods of natural science with
scientific method in general Social science differs inevitably from
natural science in many important respects, notably in its lesser cap-
acity for isolating problems, and more generally in its lesser degree of