Darwinism

A high school biology textbook in use in 1917 said this: …

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Read it and try to guess which one:

Promise you won’t cheat by Googling this quote. Or if you do, fine, but don’t post an answer that makes it sound like you had figured out the origin using brain power or historical knowledge or such. I’ll find you out eventually, because you won’t be anywhere near that smart later, when Google can’t help you:

Improvement of Man. – If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of future generations of men and women on th earth might not be improved by applying to them the laws of selection.

Eugenics. – When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, that dread white plague which is still responsible for almost one seventh of all deaths, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science is of being well born is called eugenics.

As an old woman who lived my life in the latter, not the former, half of the twentieth century, I must say this sounds plenty weird, and it has about as much to do with science as evolutionary psychology does = not at all.

There isn’t a science of being well born. Your parents either got rocks or they don’t. Nice if they do. Apart from that, absolutely nothing beats just being alive, plain and simple. So go live your life and be happy!

Later tonight, I will put up the answer to the question: What book is this quotation from?

(Okay, here we are: Yes, it was indeed Hunter’s Civic Biology, the text at the centre of the Scopes Trial. Never mind Inherit the Wind.” How about “NOT to Inherit the Racism and Class Prejudice?” ) Good advice as we head into the Year of Ridiculous Darwin Worship.)

12 Replies to “A high school biology textbook in use in 1917 said this: …

  1. 1

    A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems by George William Hunter, first published in 1914. It was the high school biology textbook used in Tennessee in 1925, which resulted in the trial of John T. Scopes on the charge that he had violated the Butler Act, which made it illegal for “…public school teachers to deny the literal Biblical account of man’s origin and to teach in its place the evolution of man from lower orders of animals.” Parenthetically, the Butler Act did not explicitly prohibit the teaching evolutionary theory in general, only in teaching the origin of humans from “lower animals”.

    Your point?

  2. 2
    tribune7 says:

    Denyse & Allen, thank you. I never realized what the book actually said.

    Here’s something to ponder: If the Dover Area School Board were to adopt A Civic Biology as a textbook, would Judge Jones let them?

  3. 3

    P.S. The reason I knew the answer to this question is because there is a copy of Hunter’s Civic Biology in Will Provine’s huge evolution library and reprint collection here at Cornell (one of the largest in the world).

    As an interesting historical sidelight, biology was not taught as a unified science at Cornell or most other colleges or universities until the late 1950s. Prior to that time a freshman could take botany or zoology, but not introductory biology.

    That changed in 1959, when William T. Keeton began teaching introductory biology using the system now used at virtually all colleges and universities worldwide. He began with an outline of the scientific method and Darwin’s theory of evolution, and then moved on to biochemistry, physiology and anatomy, genetics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, ethology, and ended with ecology and systematics.

    I took Keeton’s introductory biology course at Cornell in 1969-70 and later became his lecture teaching assistant in graduate school in the fall of 1976. Like virtually everyone who knew him, I was struck by Dr. Keeton’s extraordinary breadth of knowledge of biology, his talent as a teacher, and his gentleness as a human being. His textbook, which was based on the theory of evolution (functioning as an organizing theme in virtually every chapter) became the largest selling biology textbook of all time up to that point.

    Dr. Keeton himself was a devout Lutheran and member of the Oak Avenue Lutheran church here in Ithaca. Along with Will Provine, I revere him as one of Cornell’s finest teachers and an extraordinary human being. Both of them have prizes endowed in their honor, which are awarded to undergraduate students in biology and evolution: the Keeton Prize for the top student in introductory biology, and the Tallman Prize in Honor of William Provine for the best research paper submitted for his evolution course.

    Next week the teaching assistants in evolution and I will get together to chose this year’s Tallman Prize winner. As another interesting historical sidelight, the first Tallman Prize was awarded to Brian Kaviar, who submitted a paper on the history of the teaching of eugenics at Cornell (it was required of all students in the College of Agriculture until after World War II). Anyone interested in a pdf of this award-winning paper can email me at adm6ATSIGNcornellDOTedu and request a copy.

  4. 4

    tribune7:

    It would be unthinkable that any school board in the United States would allow a book like Hunter’s Civic Biology to be taught today, except as an historical curiosity. Like most textbooks of it’s time, it was classist, racist, and intensely mysogynist, not to mention focused for the most part on eugenics, rather than the science of biology as we know it today. Indeed, that’s what “civic biology” meant: eugenics, not the science of biology at all.

  5. 5

    By the way, Will Provine largely shares Denyse’s opinion of evolutionary psychology. This leads to no end of merriment, as that is my preferred field of research and teaching. We argue about it quite vigorously, and remain close friends all the while.

    Happy New Year!

  6. 6
    jerry says:

    Allen,

    I actually believe that ID would accept a lot of evolutionary psychology if it were possible since it may be just that many tendencies are based on certain gene or gene combinations affecting behavior. That does not seem too controversial. We are all aware of the side effects of drugs affecting behavior and many of these drugs are similar to proteins produced or not produced in the body. Also certain traits could be the result of human activity such as those who engaged in trade and commerce might have greater intelligence and over time a trading population may have an higher average intelligence then a hunter gather population or a farming population.

    However, to ascribe to all human kind certain traits due to evolutionary processes appears to be a stretch since the time for the necessary genes to be selected for and then to permeate the population seems beyond the time available for this to happen. Also there is the fact that homo sapiens dispersed all over the eastern hemisphere and Australia a long time ago and if the trait is universal then it would have had to happen before the dispersal. There is also the problem of just what affects certain social or psychological behavior and can these elements be selected for in any direct way.

    As I said I will accept that certain gene combinations or other genomic elements could affect behavior but it hard to imagine how any particular combination could drive behavior that then dominate selection in the time necessary. I am certainly not an expert but there seems to be too many issues and the area is ripe for just told stories.

    What ever happened to your Teaching Company course?

  7. 7
    GilDodgen says:

    Allen,

    From a google search:

    …evolutionary psychology is the scientific study of human behavior…

    Evolutionary psychology has nothing to do with the “scientific study” of anything. It’s just speculation without the exposition of critical underlying details that are subject to analytical scrutiny (e.g., the random genetic/informational transformations that produced the evolutionary psychological effects in question, with reasonable estimates as to whether or not the probabilistic resources are up to the task).

  8. 8
    O'Leary says:

    Evolutionary psychology has never been anything other than the chroniclers of pop culture parading around in the lab coats of science.

    Once someone informs me that men like women with big bazooms because half-men knew that their half-women were fertile if their big bazooms didn’t hang down – or that secretaries like to gossip because chimpanzees like to gossip – or, whatever the latest “info” supposedly is – really, we are not in the realm of science. And it is ridiculous to pretend that all this rubbish has anything to do with science.

    This is the piffle that fills the back pages of newspapers and the slow slots of radio and TV.

    Curiously, despite its general silliness, the piffle may play a role in bringing down the House of Darwin – all the more so because Darwinists do not seem capable of just disowning it outright.

    That suggests to me that they don’t have any actual science – even in those areas that might conceivably BE science.

  9. 9
    Joseph says:

    I wonder if “Dr. Keeton’s extraordinary breadth of knowledge of biology” has given him any insights that would link the genetic differences observed with the physiological and anatomical differences observed- for example between two allegedly related populations such as chimps and humans?

    Or how about vision systems? We are assured they “evolved” many times.

    Does Dr. K have any knowledge that would demonstrate such a thing is even possible?

    Wet electricity- our bodies need it. Without it we wouldn’t exist.

    Does DR K have any testable knowledge as to how that could have “evolved” via undirected processes?

  10. 10

    My dear friend and mentor, William T. Keeton, died in 1983 at the age of 47. He had rheumatic fever as a child, which caused severe damage to his heart valves and sino-atrial node. When I was a freshman in 1970, he had to leave class for emergency surgery to have his mitral valve replaced and an artificial pacemaker implanted. In later years, one of his most popular lectures was on his medical condition, during which he would put his microphone up to his chest to amplify the clicking sound of the artificial valve.

    At the end of the spring term in 1983 he was hosting a party for his graduate students and other faculty members at his house when he suddenly sat down on the floor, called for his wife and children, and then passed out. He died in their midst before members of the the local fire department/rescue squad (of which I was then a member) arrived. His memorial service was held in Sage Chapel at Cornell, and was attended by one of the largest crowds ever assembled in that venue.

    He used to tell me and his other graduate students that he viewed every day he was alive since his surgery in 1970 as a gift. So do I, as I have recently gone through a similar experience.

    As for the questions posted by Joseph, he can find the answers to them in any copy of Keeton’s textbook, which I’m sure can be found at any large university library. It has, of course, gone out of print in the two decades since his tragic and untimely death.

  11. 11
    Dr. Time says:

    There was a young woman who said she was old.Mr.50 disagreed,so the story is told.Reading and writing and sharing her mind,This old soul in a young lady was ever so kind.The gold and the silver,are these her rocks?Alive,plain and simple,came from one of her talks.I am just plain,I am one of you.I will teach you what I can,if you want me to.So says she that mysterious old.

  12. 12
    Dr. Time says:

    The $64 million = Does a stew need to be well flavored and simmered slowly with lots of variety as the spice of life?Yes? Confused and tried later helpfully,best.

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