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September 12, 1903


JAMA. 1903;XLI(11):661. doi:10.1001/jama.1903.02490300017004

At the late actuarial congress in New York City, the subject of improved longevity was discussed and certain views expressed that have caused some sensational newspaper comments. It was declared by one speaker, according to the press reports, that the increase of average longevity was associated with a general degradation of the race. The increase of vitality was not in the strong, the results of sanitary reforms and of medical advances in the management of disease were only a diminution of mortality of the weakly and consequently a reduction of the general average of vigor and physical well-being in the mass. In other words, it is an interference with the process of natural selection by which the races of animals, man included, advance from the lower to the higher grades of physical perfection and being. This is not a newly discovered truth; it has long since been pointed out that

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