Atlantic Monthly

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There existed among the members certain vast and inscrutable undercurrents of prejudice; as, for instance, those relating to the rights of towns, or the public school system, or the law of settlement, or perhaps only questions of roads and navigable streams, or of the breadth of wheels or the close time of fishing points which could never be comprehended by academic minds or even city-bred minds, and which yet might at any moment create a current formidable to encounter and usually impossible to resist. Every good debater in the House and every one of its recognized legal authorities might be on one side and yet the smallest contest with one of these latent prejudices would land them in a minority.2

These attitudes are hardly less uncompromising than those mentioned for savages in the chapter on habit systems. They differ not in the perserverative tendency but in the direction of attention and the relation of the patterns to the specific cultures. The rapidity of modern change arises from the fact that, owing to the many rival definitions of the situation, no exposure to an influence is constant, and change itself becomes a feature of the habit system.

There is thus always an immediate resistance to any change whatever in the habit system, but after a period of inductance, which may cover years, any new value tends to be appropriated.

Before leaving the subject of diffusion it seems desirable to examine two theories claiming that all or many of the important cultural traits had an origin at a remote point of time and were carried by migrations in pre-Columbian days to America and throughout the world, either from Egypt or from Asia through Polynesia.

These theories have no standing among American anthropologists but, like the claim of Nordic supremacy and the Freudian system of psychoanalysis, they have provoked extensive discussion, and like these theories they have the merit of defining a situation in terms of error and thus stimulating more scientific investigation.

2Higginson, T.W., n/an/an/an/a"On the Outskirts of Public Life," , 81: 192.

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Chicago: Atlantic Monthly in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024,

MLA: . Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 81, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , Atlantic Monthly. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from