Changing Man

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Science  27 Jan 1967:
Vol. 155, Issue 3761, pp. 409-415
DOI: 10.1126/science.155.3761.409


The human condition is changing both culturally and biologically. Although the cultural evolution overshadows the biological, the two are connected by feedback relationships; culture has a biological foundation. Natural selection continues to operate in modern mankind, but its action ought to be supplemented by artificial selection. The problems of the management of human evolution are, however, as much sociological as they are biological. The success of any eugenical program depends on the creation of favorable conditions for human development and self-actualization. In particular, the urgency of the problem of uncontrolled overpopulation exceeds at present that of genetic improvement. Contrary to the alarmist views of some biologists, the evolutionary perspectives for the human species may be regarded as favorable, although, of course, subject to improvement. Man should be the maker of his history, including his evolutionary history. The trend toward increasing social mobility and equality of opportunity may have desirable genetic effects because of the positive assortative mating which it encourages. It makes possible the realization of many hitherto concealed genetically conditioned talents and aptitudes. Rapid progress of both molecular and organismic, Cartesian and Darwinian, biology gives hope of development of new and powerful methods of genetic engineering, control of gene action, betterment of the environment, and improved understanding of the evolutionary processes in the living world, including man.