Friday, September 10, 2010

let's explore your mind, shall we?

tely 54-06-19 explore the mind

From the hobby page of the weekend edition of The Telegram comes this doozy of a syndicated column. At first glance it seems like silly fluff from the 1950s, but digging deeper reveals darker impulses at work.

A profile of Dr. Albert Edward Wiggam D.Sc.(1871-1957) in the May 1937 issue of The Rotarian noted that he was "in the vanguard of those who interpret science" and that "his contribution to popular education is beyond reckoning...why read fiction when you can read Wiggam?" On first glance, it's tempting to change one letter in Dr. Wiggam's name and imagine some distant relationship to the Wiggum family from The Simpsons (poor l'il Ralphie would fail question no. 1 miserably).

Have you ever made a list of those with whom you'd prefer to go hiking or exchange presents under a Christmas tree? Would a modern version ask who you prefer going to the gym with or exchanging songs on your iPods with? Or would Wiggam ask a cruel teenager for activities to vote on?

The references in question no. 2 to preserving species through marriage into "naturally long-lived stocks" hint at the good doctor's deep belief in the wonders of eugenics. He once wrote that "eugenics is simply evolution taken out of the hands of brute nature." Quickly scanning some of his views published in newspapers and old books that have found their way onto the internet, one finds a man whose views on "race progess" might have found a happy home in Nazi Germany...and who yet presented his thoughts to millions of readers in North America, sometimes light-heartedly.

Kinda scary when you think about it.

Question no. 3? One imagines some readers oblivious to their treatment of their children didn't like the answer.

Source: The Telegram, June 19, 1954 - JB

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