Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. A. Woods. Sociology and Eugenics.253 
■covering the history of fourteen countries of Europe; 366 reigns or regencies 
are included, and not over seven per cent, can be cited as exceptions. In 
ninty-three per cent, of the cases a single personality is the cause of, not the 
conditions, but the changes in the conditions from one period to another. 
The rise and decline of Spain and Portugal, Sweden and Turkey, the cumu­ 
lative but spasmodic growth of France, the early, slow, but finally ac­ 
celerating growth of Prussia and Russia, the evanescent importance of the 
Dutch, the retarded development of Scotland, the comparative negativeness 
of Austria, the unexpanded state of Denmark, these are all parallelled in 
the personalities of the leaders. And, furthermore, there is, running through 
the coarser evidence, finer evidence, which makes it impossible to believe that 
the conditions caused the differences in the rulers, or that these men 
were moulded by circumstances. The changes are too sudden for that. 
There is not more than a minor tendency for the conditions in one reign 
to influence the next. With the exception of Great Britain (and that since 
Elizabeth’s time only), we may say in a general way, everything depended 
on the presence or absence of strong leaders—men of genius, themselves the 
product of combinations within the gametes. 
But heredity is not everything, and I will give two illustrations which 
show the possibilities of separating out environment. Professor E. C. 
Pickering and myself have recently been measuring the scientific activity 
in the history of the world, and especially in the natural and exact sciences, 
by studying the elections to Academies and the inclusion of names in the 
standard English, French, and German encyclopedias. It appears that the 
increase in the total number of men engaged in science in Germany during 
the nineteenth century surpasses the expectations of heredity, and therefore, 
must be due to something else—something we must call environment. Also, 
I have unpublished material showing that the proportionate number of 
women, as compared to men, whose eminence makes them noteworthy, has 
increased measurably in the United States from the first settlement of the 
country to the present day. 
I believe that the science of historiometry will prove that heredity is 
everywhere the chief force in determining the fates of nations. Heredity 
makes the backbone of history and the body of history, but changes in 
the environment may alter the complexion somewhat. All these questions 
can be measured and weighed if we make the problems into problems of 
differences. The mine of historical information is almost unworked. It is 
high time that the human record, so ancient in its beginnings, should be used 
to contribute to that most modern of sciences the improvement of the human breed.
	        

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