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BOOK REVIEWS The Future ofHuman Heredity, an Introduction to Eugenics in Modern Society. By Frederick Osborn. New York: Weybright TaUey, 1968. Pp. 133. $5.95. This book brings together, in highly readable form, die audior's Uberai and searching views on the role ofeugenics in modern society. Hehas strivenfor many years to regain a responsible position for eugenics, so crudely destroyed by the overzealousness ofits early advocates and by the prostitution ofits objectives by Hitler and nazism. The traditional confrontation between heredity and environment is avoided in the view that man is the evolutionary product ofaU his environmental experiences. Heredity and environment are inextricably combined both in the development ofthe individual and ofthe species. Osborn documents the transition from the old form ofnatural selection through deadis to the new era ofindividual selection operating more dirough matrimonial choices and differing family sizes. He strongly discounts the possible genetic effect ofdifferential fertility between major groups, emphasizing die greater importance of the distribution of births among different kinds ofindividuals within each group. This leads him to the view that we areprobably not experiencing great genetic change in the United States. He does much to lay at rest the fears ofthe impact ofdifferential fortuity , partly because ofdifferences widiin groups as weU as between groups, partly because deaths continue to remove the most serious genetic defects, and finaUy because present trends in die United States are tending to reduce many ofthe differentials. A vital point is that die relaxation ofselection, which otherwise might result in more overt genetic defects, is being balanced by pan-myxia, in which former broad isolates are being dissolved by out-marriage. As a result the population is absorbing a large, diough unknown, number ofdeleterious r├ęcessives which are notyet overt because ofthe reduced statisticalchances ofpersons marrying who have thesame deleterious r├ęcessives. He points out that we must, in the long run, face the impact ofthis growing mutational load, which may have been increased by man-made radiation. Like Matsunaga in Japan, he finds present demographic trends favorable to at least temporary genetic improvement rather dian deterioration. He is especiaUy hopeful ofdie potential effects ofassortativemating inahighlymobilesociety. Assortativemating brings together mates ofsimilar talents with increased chances ofreproducing and strengdiening these talents among their children. He also feels that social trends favor "unconscious" selection ofpersons most favorably disposed toward voluntary child rearing and who are therefore presumably superior for this function. 125 But "when eugenics becomes self-conscious it tends to lose its virtue" (p. 86). Also "eugenic goals are most likely to be attained under a name other than eugenics" (p. 104). The book proceeds from a briefreview ofhistorical selection and survival to a consideration ofsurvival offamily Unes in a modern industrial state such as this country. The discussion ofmodern differentials in fertility is followed by an analysis ofdie genetic significance ofindividual as opposed to group differentials and a review ofthe evidence regarding die effects of relaxed selection on genetic defects and abnormaUties. FinaUy, die audior reviews eugenic poUcies and proposals and concludes widi an optimistic view of the future ofhuman heredity. The contribution of the book is aptly described by its subtitle "An Introduction to Eugenics in Modern Society." It is an unusual combination ofscientific findings presented in readable form, widi a sense ofsocial and human compassion not commonly associated with writings in this field. Dudley Kirk Food Research Institute Stanford University Stanford, California 94305 The Country Doctor and the Specialist. By Fred Lyman Adair, M.D. Box 65, Maitland, Florida 32751: Adair Award Fund, 1968. Pp. 215. Ten-dollar or more contribution to the Adair Award Fund. The Country Doctor andthe Specialist, an autobiography by Fred Lyman Adair, contrasts his own Ufe as a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology widi that ofhis father who was thetypical family doctor ofa generation before. Dr. Fred Adair was the first physician in Minneapolis to limit his practice to obstetrics and gynecology, and throughout his fortyfive years ofactive practice and teaching in Minneapolis and Chicago he exerted a strong influence, not only locaUy on patients and students, but nationally on the development of the specialty as a whole. Not evident from the book was his great concern over the welfare ofdie child before...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 125-126
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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