Jumping At Conclusions
A short time ago Harvard University refused a $60,000 gift that had been left by Dr. J. Ewing Mears for the study of eugenics-the science of improvement of the human race. Dr. Mears was especially interested in the treatment of defectives and criminal classes. Newspaper experts about the country took it upon themselves to question the wisdom of Harvard's actions. The editorial writers in every section of the United States could see no good reason for refusing the generous offer.
Arthur Brisbane commented on the univesity's refusal as follows: "Eugenics at present is more guesswork than science. Ninety per cent of the alumni will approve the action of the Harvard trusiees. If in John Harvard's day somebody had offered a legacy to develop the possibility of getting power out of boiling water, or harnessing lightning, they would have rejected it with general approval. Fifty years ago if anyone had offered Harvard $1,000,000 for the study of flying he would have been told, 'You must not make this great unversity ridiculous.' Eugenics in days to come will be the greatest, most important of all sciences."
Everything that Brisbane said is true but still there are many people in this country who believe that Harvard had a good reason for rejecting the offer. They felt that there was something behind the refusal. And these prophets were correct, for now the truth of the whole incident is made public. It seems that Dr. Mears had added one condition to his offer. The stipulation was that the money should be used at all times for instruction in accordance with his own teachings. Harvard did not care to have its hands tied for years to come, and so rightly turned down the endowment. In a few years, Dr. Mears theories may become obsolete, but, had Harvard accepted the money. it would have been necessary to have carried along under the old system.
A large amount of support is received by American universities from endowments, and therefore to turn down a $600,000 offer often means cutting into the very life-blood of the university, but Harvard refused the money on a good principle and one well worth following by other educational institutions in the country. Today Dr. Mears's system of teaching eugenics is probably one of the best. but tomorrow it may be one of the worst. Harvard did not want to take the chance. The stanford Daily