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Science in the Magazines

    Abstract

    IN the February number of the Fortnightly, Dr. A. R. Wallace discussed in some detail Mr. Bateson's views on variation in relation to the method of organic evolution. He concludes his attack in the current number, and considers Mr. Francis Galton's views, stated in “Natural Inheritance” and in “Thumb and Finger Marks.” It is held that the methods of organic evolution favoured by Mr. Bateson and Mr. Galton have failed to establish themselves as having any relation to the actual facts of nature. The reason for their failure is stated by Dr. Wallace as follows:—“they have devoted themselves too exclusively to one set of factors, while overlooking others which are both more general and more fundamental. These are—the enormously rapid multiplication of all organisms during more favourable periods, and the consequent weeding out of all but the fittest in what must be on the whole stationary populations. And, acting in combination with this annual destruction of the less fit, is the periodical elimination under recurrent unfavourable conditions, of such a large proportion of each species as to leave only a small iraction—the very elect of the elect—to continue the race. It is only by keeping the tremendous severity of this inevitable and never-ceasing process of selection always present to our minds, and applying it in detail to each suggested new factor in the process of evolution, that we shall be able to determine what part such factors can take in the production of new species. It is because they have not done this, that the two authors, whose works hare been here examined, have so completely failed to make any real advance towards a more complete solution of the problem of the Origin of Species than has been reached by Darwin and his successors.”

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