Full text: Problems in eugenics

18oSection III.A. Loria. 
some efforts have been made to classify scholars according to the results 
gained in their examinations, and Galton has worked on this plan, observing 
the distinctions of the graduates of the University of Cambridge. But 
this method is very fallible and uncertain, because often those first in the 
schools appear perfect imbeciles in life. Some men can be judged from 
their works—but these are always a small minority, and, besides, this method 
of judging is very difficult and uncertain, because it varies with the inclina­ 
tions and tastes of the judge. And it must be noted that not all men, 
and these often the best, do not leave behind them literary and scientific 
productions. Hence, there are many men who, though endowed with a most 
choice intellect, do not leave any visible trace behind them. 
In view of these formidable difficulties, the idea naturally arises 
of inferring the physical and mental aptitudes of individuals from 
their social or economic position, or from their income, which is easily esti­ 
mated by methods accessible to all. And so many propose to assume that 
the economic élite may be regarded as the index and product of the 
psycho-physical élite. If we take a very numerous mass of men and 
arrange them according to their income, we find ourselves, it is affirmed, in 
face of a very positive classification which will be able to serve as a safe and 
easy guide in our task of Eugenics. 
Assuming, in fact, that the position of individuals in this classification 
is an index of their position in the hierarchy of aptitudes, we should seek 
to promote marriages in the most elevated classes and to prevent, as far as 
possible, marriages of the inferior classes. It is important to note that this 
policy coincides in substance with that advised by Malthus, who wished that 
individuals of the superior classes should marry, and that those of the 
inferior classes should not marry. He, indeed, advised this course in order 
to prevent the excess of population over the means of subsistence, while the 
Eugenists recommend it in order to prevent the propagation of degenerates. 
But the result is substantially the same. 
But all these proposals arise from the idea that there is a very strict 
analogy between the economic élite and the psycho-physical élite, and that 
the former can be correctly inferred and substituted for the other. Now, 
that is precisely what I deny. The economic élite is not at all the product 
of the possession of superior qualities, but is simply the result of the blind 
straggle of the incomes, which brings to the top those who originally possess 
a larger income through reasons which may be absolutely independent of the 
possession of superior capacity. This is a thesis which I have fully 
developed in my “ Economic Sythesis ” (Paris, Giard, and Brière, 1911) by 
a series of proofs which it is not possible to sum up here. I shall confine 
myself to briefly summing up the point of my thought. Let us suppose, 
by a hypothesis far removed from the facts, that all individuals are endowed 
with equal psycho-physical aptitudes, but that, at the beginning of the 
period of observation, they are divided into groups furnished with a different

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