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result of long study and reading, where we have an average man of a
sound mind in a sound body, there environment will be the strongest
factor whether for good or evil--that is, in men in general, who have no
organic defect, such as insanity or idiocy, and allied affections, the
stronger force is environment; but in those having such defect, heredity
is the controlling power, and we may add, the destroying power.
The Eugenic Rule Regarding Heredity.
It is one of the cardinal principles of Eugenics that those with a bad
family history should not become parents. By this it is not meant that
the manifestation of undesirable tendencies, physical, mental, and
moral, on the part of certain individuals of a family necessarily
constitutes a "bad family history." On the contrary, many of the best
families have, from time to time, individuals who manifest undesirable
tendencies, and who are in general out of harmony with the general
family standard. It is an old axiom that "there is a black sheep in
every flock"; and the flock must be measured by its general standard,
and not by its exceptional black sheep.
A "bad family history" is one in which the family has clearly manifested
certain undesirable physical, mental, and moral traits in a marked
degree, and in a sufficient number of instances to establish a standard.
Some families have a "bad family history" for inebriety; others
for epilepsy; others for licentiousness; others for dishonesty--the
history extending over several generations, and including a marked
number of individuals in each generation. Individuals of such a family
should refrain from bearing children; and if children be born to such
the greatest care should be exercised by the parents in the matter of
surrounding the child with the environment least calculated to "draw
out" the undesirable characteristic. The child has a right to be well
born, and to be protected from being brought into the world subjected to
the handicap of a "bad family history." If individuals cannot endow
their children with a good family history, they should refrain from
bearing children--such is the Eugenic advice on the subject.
The same rule applies to the question of "acquired characteristics" of
the parents--especially those acquired characteristics which are
especially active at or just before the time of the contemplated
conception. Though the family history of both husband and wife be ever
so good, it is held that if one or both of the parents have acquired
undesirable and transmissible characteristics, physical, mental, or
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