Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. A. Woods.Sociology and Eugenics.247 
than nurture, adds that much to the eugenist’s capital. It is the chief 
object of the present paper to show that the historical records can be utilized, 
and when utilized, the answer practically always is to strengthen our belief 
in the importance of inborn qualities. 
It has been sometimes said that it is impossible to separate heredity 
from environment. It is true that, as far as any one individual is con­ 
cerned, both the inborn or gametic forces and all the other subsequent 
influences are hopelessly intertwined. The black-haired and black-eyed 
negro is as he is—the compound resultant of all forces acting on the pro­ 
duction of pigment. A white man is equally the result of all internal 
causes acting in response to all outward stimuli. But, the pigmentation differ­ 
ences between white and negro, say in the United States to-day, or at any 
one place or time, are obviously a matter of germ plasm. We scarcely 
realize that, without the least doubt, we in this instance at once separate 
the relative value of heredity and environment. Shades of colour may in 
part be produced by differences in exposure to the rays of the sun, but this 
does not complicate the question in the least. The differences are due almost 
entirely to heredity and for practical purposes, this covers the ground. 
It is true, some data do not permit the separation and evaluaton of 
heredity; for instance, if the social class which is favoured by fortune, 
is found to be several inches taller than the dwellers in slums, the 
observed difference may be due to difference in nourishment, or it may not. 
There is no way of telling without further investigation. But if the environ­ 
ment for any reason can be known to be identical, or for practical purposes, 
the same as identical, then the observed differences must be caused by some­ 
thing else. It is always necessary to make these problems problems of 
differences. It is also important to think of the word heredity not as 
signifying a resemblance between parent and offspring, but rather as a term 
covering the gametic or inborn potentialities, all that is present in the single 
fertilized cell. Mendelian investigation has proved that, for certain traits 
and in certain definite ratios, no resemblance whatever is to be expected 
between parent and offspring, yet these offspring show their peculiarities 
no less certainly as an outgrowth of inborn differences. With some such 
definition of heredity as this in mind, we may now proceed to see how far 
the material stored in history, biography, and genealogy lends support to 
the doctrine of gametic causation. 
The labours of the biometricians have placed in the hands of the his­ 
torian a wealth of analyzed data, pedigrees, and correlation coefficients, 
bearing on the inheritance of family traits. These mental and physical 
measurements are not drawn from history. Now, researches historically 
derived can be compared with these and matched side by side; this has 
been done, and one finds substantial agreement. This does not in itself 
prove heredity the cause of the distribution of historical facts, but it does
	        

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