Some Problems in Eugenics

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STUDENTS of human heredity from the sociological point of view are indebted to the American Eugenics Record Office (Long Island, N.Y.). Its lastissued Bulletin (No. 15) contains the study of a family indicated by the pseudonym of “Dack,” showing markedly a “hereditary lack of emotional control.” The author of the bulletin is Mrs. A. W. Finlay-son, and Prof. C. B. Davenport contributes a preface in which he emphasises the importance of such “eugenics field-work.” Mrs. Finlayson has collected data with regard to 150 descendants of the pair of “Dacks” who emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania in 1815, three generations being passed under review. Forty individuals are not recorded to have shown antisocial traits, but the remainder all failed in self-control, many being dishonest, and tending to alcoholism, or to profligacy, forty-one of these being “obviously a burden to society.” These objectionable features were most pronounced in the case of offspring of a marriage of first cousins; Prof. Davenport's conclusion that violence of temper is a “dominant” character is confirmed, as in this family it was not found to “skip a generation.” Most thoughtful readers of the bulletin will agree with the suggestion at the end of the preface that “unless society steps in and trains the train-able and segregates the uncontrollable, things will go from bad to worse.”

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C., G. Some Problems in Eugenics . Nature 98, 99–100 (1916) doi:10.1038/098099b0

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