Full text: papers communicated to the first International Eugenics Congress held at the University of London, July 24th to 30th, 1912

24Section III. 
Section III. 
Sociology and Eugenics. 
THE PSYCHO-PHYSICAL ELITE AND THE ECONOMIC ELITE. 
(Abstract.) 
By Professor Achille Loria, 
University of Turin. 
Artificial selection could be perfectly applied to the human species, in 
which case marriages would be arranged between persons better endowed, 
physically and mentally, and the worse endowed would be excluded from 
marriage. But this selection encounters the gravest practical difficulties ; 
because, if it is relatively easy to estimate the physical qualities of man, 
nothing on the other hand is harder than to estimate his mental qualities. A 
dynamometer of intelligence does not exist, and Gal ton’s method of ob­ 
serving the points of merit of University graduates is very insufficient and 
fallible. In face of these difficulties there naturally arises the idea of inferring 
the psycho-physical aptitudes of individuals from their social and economic 
position, or from their income, which is easily measured. In accord with 
this idea, it would be a question of acting so that marriages would be effected 
exclusively and predominantly amongst individuals provided with superior 
incomes, and to prevent, as far as possible, marriages between persons of 
inferior incomes, or of no income at all. 
But all this would be plausible if there should be a real analogy between 
the economic élite, and the psycho-physical élite, or if the former were 
really a product of the latter. Now, this is precisely what I deny. The 
economic elite is not in the least the product of the possession of superior 
qualities, but is simply the result of a blind struggle between incomes, which 
carries to the top those who, at the start, possess a larger income through 
causes which may be absolutely independent of the possession of superior 
endowments. (See my Sintesi economica—Paris, Giard et Briard, 1911.) 
Hence, nothing makes it impossible that the wealthier people should be pre­ 
cisely the worst endowed, physically and mentally, and this as a matter of 
fact happens in innumerable cases. 
Besides, we have an indirect proof of this in the very results of selective 
processes as, until now, they are practised. And, in fact, conjugal selection
        

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