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September 26, 1908


JAMA. 1908;LI(13):1086. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02540130042009

President Darwin's1 inaugural address at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, September 2, with its avowed adherence to the anti-Weismann doctrine of the inheritance of acquired characters, must have come as a shock to many of his hearers to whom this view had been only an exploded scientific heresy. It is evidence, however, that it will not down, and Darwin's adherence to it will be welcomed by a respectable quota of biologists, medical men and pathologists. If the study of plants has led Darwin to the belief in an inherited organic memory of the cells as an explanation of heredity and development, the idea ought, it would seem, to fit still better in the animal kingdom, where we are accustomed to expect psychic activities such as memory, even in their most rudimentary form, more than in plants. According to this mnemic hypothesis of Semon,

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