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THE NEW TESTAMENT OF SCIENCE

I-Vetoing All and Sundry Eugenical Measures

WALTER B. PITKIN

ELOVED Subjects! I have carefully studied the eighteen eugenical bills which your Parliament has just passed and submitted to me for my approval. Among these measures I note with special anguish the one which authorizes the construction of 182 lethal chambers in our leading cities for the painless extermination of misfits. I am also grieved to observe the bill which would close all hospitals, poorhouses, and jails, thus forcing the inmates to shift for themselves. The bill which creates an immense eugenical farm where citizens are to be bred upward and onward ab ovo impresses me most unfavorably. It moves me to veto all these measures as violating common sense and the decencies of mankind. The Secret Service of the Throne has long been watching the activities of the Biological Bloc, whose members have foisted these extraordinary bills upon your Parliament. We are not at all pleased with either their methods or their proposals. And the time has come to expose both.

In his effort to win me over to the radical program of improving the germ-plasm of the human race, one of the leaders of the Biological Bloc has resorted to bald flattery. He has said to me, "You control life on a vaster scale than any other human

being." He has whispered in my ear, "What you say or think about life is the most important thing in the world." And he has even had the magnificent audacity to add, "You are in a very real sense the arbiter of the destiny of the human race."

Now, beloved subjects, the gentleman forgets that your Parliament long ago installed in my court an official psychologist to de-bunk the court. He does not understand that his flattery missed fire, thanks to the fact that my ego has long since been deflated. While my official title is that of Benevolent Despot, the name belies my powers.

Long ago statesmen were dangerously powerful. To-day their power is vastly more restricted. The world is too full of mighty organizations, commercial, financial, social, and religious, not to mention the scientific and technical leagues. Superior men devote themselves mostly to these. They leave the government to less competent or less aggressive citizens. For they believe that government should be little more than a central switchboard where all the mighty currents of life can be controlled by any small boy with sense enough to throw the switches in and out, according to command. The small boy must not meddle with

these switches. If he does, he blows out all the fuses of civilization. He takes orders from those who deliver the power and from those who need

it.

We rulers are not the arbiters of the destiny of the human race, as the Biological Bloc says. We become such only when we tamper with the switches in the political power-house, while the real arbiters of destiny aren't around to watch us. Any small boy can become the arbiter of the destiny of New York City by touching a match to its buildings on a windy night. And he can achieve that high distinction in no surer way. Here we see one psychic influence which has so often tempted rulers to plunge their peoples into crazy crusades and bloody wars. Such men, being inferior, crave power. Being placed in high positions, they hear flatterers daily assuring them of their might and their wisdom. In time they weary of the dull round of court ritual, receiving foreign ambassadors, signing documents, smoothing quarrels between court favorites, and heading parades on state holidays. So they blow up.

In a little while, beloved subjects, I shall endeavor to show that in these matters eugenical neither I nor any other despot could carry out the program set forth by the Biological Bloc. We could not do it, even though you were to place at our disposal all the wealth of the state and all its armed forces. So it would not help at all, even if I were to sign these bills. For the moment, let us waive this argument. Let us look first of all to the errors on which the Biological Bloc has founded its campaign of germ-plasm reform.

The Biological Bloc frightened you with its cry that "mankind is going backward." Thus they spoke:

"The civilized races of the world are biologically plunging downward; civilization as you administer it is self-destructive; civilization always destroys the man that builds it . . . the brain of man is not growing; man as a breed of organic beings is not advancing; microbic diseases are, in all probability, lessening, but man's incapacity to resist them is apparently increasing.

"The army tests have shown that there are roughly forty-five million people in this country who have

no sense.

Their mental powers will never be greater than those of twelve-year-old children . . . Twenty-five millions more have a little sense .. that of thirteen or fourteen-year-old children. . .

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Beloved subjects! The genuine biologists assure the Throne that all this is arrant nonsense. Where is the evidence that the civilized races are plunging downward? There is only one way to prove such an assertion. You would have to compare the intelligence, the emotional stability, and the dexterities of races in times past with races now living. Perhaps by measuring a few hundred thousand individuals who lived in the days of Pericles, and a few more hundred thousands who lived in the days of Roosevelt, you might be able to approximate the rate of advance or retrogression among the Western peoples. But who has measured the intelligence quotients of Athens and Sparta?

Nobody has! And nobody can make even a wild guess about it. The political records of ancient

Greece reveal nothing on the subject. Nor do any of the famous authors. What Plato has to say about the mob of Athens has no more bearing on the level of racial intelligence, health, initiative, or dexterity than the remarks of any high-school teacher to-day about Washington's Valley Forge army would have on the American intelligence of that day. Prior to the late nineteenth century nobody was in a position to observe and to collect statistics about great masses of men. And we now know just enough about such observations and statistics to realize how treacherous they are, even in the hands of a highly trained anthropologist or psychologist.

How many Greeks were there out of every hundred thousand whose general intelligence was as high as that of the upper quartile of New Yorkers? Merely to ask the question is to expose its futility. But if you are sufficiently egocentric to revel in exalting your ancestry or your cultural background, you can pick a phrase out of Plato, a line from Aristotle, and a paragraph from some unknown commentator of the fourth century A.D., and, by juggling these cunningly, make them say that the Greeks were superior to all men now living. By the same method, you may tear off a corner of a newspaper sheet and demonstrate from the words on it that the entire world on the date of issue was precisely 43.354 per cent more moral and 6.07 per cent less sentimental than it had been a century earlier.

The Biological Bloc are mostly literati in the best Chinese fashion. They put their trust in favored fragments of literature, in poems, in folk

lore, in the inscriptions on crumbling monuments. They believe in a Golden Age long since vanished, when giants were. Great were the CroMagnons! Mighty the Nordics! God-like the Greek! Would that we were their equals! Woe, they sing, and woe! The world is going to pot, stewing in its own juice!

How odd that such literati, worshiping a fictitious Past, should claim to be the high priests of the Future!

They tell us that "civilization always destroys the man that builds it." Has this ever been proved? No. Can it be? No. It is not even a plausible hypothesis.

In all the archives you cannot find a single record of cultural collapse. What is a cultural collapse anyhow? When was a civilization ever destroyed?

Well, we may admit perhaps that several minor Eastern civilizations were destroyed when Jenghis Khan rounded up his shaggy Mongol hordes and, sweeping westward through long dusty years, slew and slew. We may concede that a crude Persian culture disappeared as the million murderers piled bleeding heads into red pyramids in all the mountain villages of the land.

We may likewise grant that the culture of the Incas came to an end when the low Spaniards' gangs poured suddenly through the peaceful passes of the Andes and slaughtered right and left. tered right and left. And we may agree that some unknown cultures of early India vanished before the swift onset of strong white slayers from the Himalayan foot-hills.

But hold! Were these civilizations destroying the very men who

built them? Hardly! The who made that Persian civilization, such as it was, had died long before the Mongols roved into their homeland. And it was surely the Mongols who slew those Persians' descendants; it was nothing in Persian civilization. Likewise with the Incas. And with the early Hindus. So at least we can prove that some civilizations are not destroyed by the men who built them. And that gives the lie to the claim of the Biological Bloc. They are probably thinking, though, of the old Mediterranean civilizations. So let us see what we can see there. What exterminated the old Egyptian civilization? Nobody knows. Possibly a diminishing rainfall over a period of centuries; there is some reason for believing that. Possibly competition with the maritime peoples to the north; there is a shadow of reason for defending that view. Possibly the slow infiltration of Hellenic business adventurers, engineers, traders, and politicians; some of the newer revelations hint at this, but only hint. To say that the old Egyptian stock was exterminated by the customs, rites, laws, or institutions which they themselves devised is to utter balderdash. You might just as well say that the lamented William McKinley died from an acute attack of high tariff, or that the former kaiser lost his kingly job because he used too many umlauts in his speeches.

men the Athenians were overwhelmed by malarial mosquitoes from the unoiled marshes. Other facts point to the view that they lost out simply because Macedon was so much bigger, stronger, and richer. God is on the side of the heavier artillery, as the recent World War proved again. The football elevens from our leading theological seminaries seldom beat Yale or Harvard.

Would the Biological Bloc have us believe that malaria and mosquitoes were an integral part of Greek civilization? Was the failure of Pericles to drape mosquito-netting around the beds of the Best Minds part of his political philosophy? If so, then all the things we do not know and cannot do are integral parts of our own culture. And this would suggest that all civilizations are virtually alike, for the infinitely greater part of each is unavoidable ignorance and universal incapacity. Why rate one above another then?

Did the culture of Athens wipe out the men who created it? I have asked the Historians' Union for a report on this. They assure me that the question is altogether unanswerable but probably nonsense. There is a shred of evidence to indicate that

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Away with such sophistries! Let us turn to the Bloc's next assertion: "The brain of man is not growing.' They say this is disastrous. But I cannot agree.

Beloved subjects! You now have brains much bigger and better than you can use. The Psychologists' Union reports that many of your moral panics and political worries are probably caused by your having brains too big for the business of living. They testify that your brains insist upon working overtime and upon subjects which lie far beyond your day's work and pleasure. Let us consider the details.

In the cortex of the average man's brain, which is the business center of

his personality, there are about nine billion nerve-cells. A considerable number, nine billion! In the entire nervous system there are about twelve billion cells; and we may roughly state that each brain-cell is connected, directly or indirectly, with every other one.

"The inconceivable intricacy of the structural connections within the brain is generally underestimated even by neurologists," says C. Judson Herrick, one of our most brilliant neurologists himself. And he describes this greatest of all networks by comparison with the world of atoms. In a cubic centimeter of water the number of atoms is about 1024. In the solar system, it is about IO 56. In the entire visible universe it is about 1066. But this last number, beloved subjects, is very small when set over against that of the possible and probable cross-connections among the nine billion brain-cells. Herrick gives us another picture of this transcendental quantity.

"If a million cortical nerve cells were connected with one another in groups of only two neurons each in all possible combinations, the number of different patterns thus provided would be expressed by 102,783,000 This, of course, is not the actual

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And this, mind you, in the brain of an average citizen!

Beloved subjects, let us see how the capacity of this machine measures up for your own needs and wishes in the routine of daily life. To make our reasoning ultra-conservative, let us suppose that most acts of thinking touch off, in swift succession, some 10,000 combinations of nerve-cells. The secretary of the Neurologists' Union assures me this is preposterously high as an estimate of the average. So let it stand, by way of keeping us within the bounds of probability. Now suppose that you have to deal with one new situation every five or ten seconds during your waking hours. How few of us ever find cause to scintillate as fast as that! And for how brief a period do we so scintillate! Suppose though that we all kept on reacting at the rate of one mental flash every ten seconds for sixteen hours out of every twenty-four. Suppose we held this terrific pace for seventy years. And suppose each reaction differed in some respect from all others. How close would we come to using all the potentialities of our brains?

Well, beloved subjects, the brain of any one of you would react 5760 times daily. It would react 2,102,400 times in a year. In seventy years, including seventeen leap-years, it would react 147,265,920 times. Very well! As each reaction touches off, by assumption, some 10,000 neural combinations, the brain will bring into service during your entire lifetime, about 1,472,659,200,000 distinct cell patterns.

This means that each of you, beloved subjects, could continue to see, hear, smell, feel, taste, imagine,

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