Essays in Eugenics

Francis Galton
Eugenics Education Society, London: 1909


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The power by which Eugenic reform must chiefly be effected, is that of Popular Opinion, which is amply strong enough for that purpose whenever it shall be, roused. Public Opinion has done as much as this on many past occasions and in various countries, of which much evidence is given in the Essay on Restrictions in Marriage. It is now ordering our acts more intimately than we are apt to suspect, because the dictates of Public Opinion become so thoroughly assimilated that they seem to be original and individual to those who are guided by them. By comparing the current ideas at widely different epochs and under widely different civilizations we are able to ascertain what part of our convictions is really innate and permanent, and what part has been acquired and is transient.

It is above all things needful for the successful progress of Eugenics that its advocates should move discreetly and claim no more efficacy on its behalf than the future will confirm ; otherwise a re-action will be invited. A great deal of investigation is still needed to shew the limit of practical Eugenics, yet enough has been already determined to justify large efforts to instruct the public in an authoritative way, as to the results hitherto obtained by sound reasoning, applied to the undoubted facts of social experience.

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