Opinion: People with disabilities don’t need eugenics to improve – UI The Daily Iowan

Modern social Darwinism is looking at altering DNA of babies with genetic diseases. This isnt the future we need.

Ally Pronina, Columnist March 9, 2020

We all have value and deserve to be loved for who we are, but society doesnt always recognize that. There are plenty of different bigotries across history, a major one being social Darwinism, also known as eugenics.

Eugenics can be defined as selective breeding of human populations to improve the populations genetic composition. This started as advocacy for sterilizing those seen as less fit, but has since moved on to include gene editing for babies with genetic disorders.

Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and ethologist, says this idea would work to improve human beings.

Just as we breed cows to yield more milk, we could breed humans to run faster or jump higher, Dawkins tweeted.

He went on to say that it would be bad in practice, but the idea that humans need artificial improvement is abhorrent in itself.

Cows humanity does not depend on how much milk they produce. Peoples humanity does not depend on their athletic ability. Our worth does not come from things determined by genetics such as weight, height, and appearance. Our value comes from qualities we have which make us unique and able to change the world.

Being human means imperfection. A world where everyone is the same would be a boring one. If we were all perfect and the same, we might as well just be robots.

Improve is subjective. As someone who cannot jump high or run fast, I disagree changing my genetic makeup so I could improve it. It wouldnt change who I am as a person at all.

Throughout history, there have been individuals who made noteworthy achievements despite and because of qualities eugenicists would want to change their genetic makeup to get rid of.

Harriet Tubman an African American who many in her time would have considered inferior because of her race created the Underground Railroad which saved thousands from slavery. Helen Keller someone who was blind and deaf founded a school for others with disabilities. Susan B. Anthony whose status as a woman would have been enough to be less fit was a leader in the Womens Suffrage Movement.

As a society, we have made progress in accepting diversity. African Americans are not legally enslaved. People with mental disorders are not institutionalized. Women can vote. However, the entertainment of eugenic ideas is still around; thats going backwards in history.

Eugenicists want a perfect race. Again, perfect is a subjective term. Being human means imperfection. A world where everyone is the same would be a boring one. If we were all perfect and the same, we might as well just be robots.

Eugenicists would argue improving genetics would increase quality of life and that is what makes it human. Why change peoples genetic make-up when we can change societal attitudes?

During segregation and slavery, false beliefs about black Americans decreased their value as people. If Rosa Parks used gene editing to change her skin tone, she wouldnt be a hero in the Civil Rights Movement.

Back before the Americans with Disabilities Act was established, it was not peoples disabilities which caused them to not be able to have jobs. It was societys false belief that they were not smart enough to be in the workforce.

During the 1800s, it was not the gender of women which restricted their opportunities. It was societys posturing that they were not as smart as men.

Eugenics had a place in Nazi Germany, not todays America. We have evolved to be more accepting of people and having a more negative view of eugenics. This can be seen from the backlash Dawkins has received- simply for saying something supporting eugenics.

Or, as Anne Frank wrote in her diary, In spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

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Opinion: People with disabilities don't need eugenics to improve - UI The Daily Iowan

The right has perfected making people expendable but a coronavirus recession will take it further than ever – The Independent

The 30bn in the Budget to fight both coronavirus and a new recession has been met with breathless talk of political realignment. After bailing out their banks, western governments responded to the financial crisis of 2008 with a severe and economically illiterate tightening of the public purse-strings.

Today, the direction of travel on the right couldnt appear more different. From Rishi Sunaks Keynesian largesse and promise to make sure that our safety net remains strong enough to fall back on to Trumps plans to spend his way out of the crisis, right-wing governments on both sides of the Atlantic appear to be preparing an expansionary economic response to the coming downturn.

Yet as the virus has spread, so have murmurs on the right of what sounds oddly like enthusiasm,hard to reconcile with this new appearance of humanist welfarism: CNBC News editor Rick Santelli has suggested that the US encourage the disease to quickly spread through the population in order to minimise economic uncertainty; the Telegraphs Jeremy Warner affected manful resignation about a cull of the unproductive elderly; Boris Johnson flirted with taking it on the chin last week, and has been accused of prioritising the views of behaviourists and eugenics-adjacent assorted weirdos over medical expertise in his stance on deferring containment.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The right has changed economic tack, in other words, but this neednt stop them from carrying the selective empathy, social sadism, and the withdrawal of protections that characterised austerity into the new regime of expansionist economic policy.

In our book, Work Want Work: Labour and Desire at the End of Capitalism, we show how governments since the financial crash have not merely cut funding to the welfare system, but have used such measures as a lever to remove inconvenient parts of the population from the official economy and politics altogether. The big spending commitments of the Tory Budget are tantamount to an admission of how poorly Britain has recovered from the last recession, and that austerity was as counterproductive as it was cruel. But the motivations of the right in the period since 2008 were never solely about cutting public spending for its own sake.

Benefits claimants, for example, had been fined for infractions (such as voluntarily leaving a job) since the start of the welfare state. Yet the coalition governments 2012 reforms extended such sanctions to single parents, the long-term sick and the disabled, and increasingly focussed on internal infractions such as claimants administrative errors. The result was an expansion of a caste of people neither in work nor on benefits, who have simply been expelled from the economy altogether.

The routine use of benefit sanctions generally meaning the withdrawal of an individuals entire livelihood is inconsistent with a belief in the liberal states responsibility to ensure a baseline living standard for those within it. Yet this innovation is typical of the rights behaviour since the last financial crisis. The effectively ongoing Windrush scandal and makingShamima Begum stateless are part of the same pattern. On the American right, this logic is now replicated on an international level, as whole countries and regions are spoken of as sacrifice zones, to be abandoned to climate change and pollution.

While Trump and Johnsons response to a new recession are anything but austere, their measures in no way preclude continuing with this logic. The Tory Budgetstopped short of anything that might alter the precarious employment status of those in the gig economy, who are unentitled to statutory sick pay. The promise to speed up Universal Credit payments for those forced onto benefits by coronavirus simply admits that slow payments are already a deliberate disciplining feature of the normal system. Trumps travel ban on Europeans (arbitrarily excluding the UK), meanwhile, is an iteration of that already trialled for Muslim-majority countries, an opportunistic extension of the power of the state to eject aliens from its borders.

'60 per cent' of public need to contract coronavirus for herd immunity to take effect

Both US and UK spending programmes are also environmentally regressive: Johnson has pledged 4,000 miles of new road and no rise in fuel duty, while Trump is pushing for federal aid for oil and gas companies. Instead of seizing the crisis and crash in oil prices to push for a more environmentally sustainable economy, both are using the states new largesse to protect polluters guaranteeing yet more environmental sacrifice zones to come.

We can only cautiously welcome the rights abandonment of its economic hawkishness in response to the coronavirus and hope that it does indeed extend into any coming financial crisis. But we shouldnt make the mistake of thinking the eugenic and sacrificial fantasies some on the right let slip in the face of the pandemic couldnt be reconciled with its new anti-austerity policies.

Mareile Pfannebecker and James Smith are authors of Work want work: Labour and desire at the end of capitalism

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The right has perfected making people expendable but a coronavirus recession will take it further than ever - The Independent

Assistant professor says he’s been fired because he dared to talk about human population variation – Inside Higher Ed

An assistant professor of psychology at Marietta College says his contract isnt being renewed because of what hes said and was alleged to have said about differences between ethnic groups.

Many academics believe that race is mere social construct -- that there is no meaning behind being black, white or anything else, beyond what society assigns to it. Others say that that is mere orthodoxy and that race is real; this group often points to research demonstrating group-based differences in complex traits such as intelligence.

Scientists at the cutting edge of studying race and complex traits, meanwhile, say that these traits are always a mix between genetics and environment. And as of now, these experts add, its impossible to tell in any genuine way just what the mix is, because babies cant be raised exactly the same way over two generations, as such experiments would require.

Bo Winegard falls in the middle camp and believes that purposely not talking about race-based differences is disingenuous and dangerous. The "rich, variegated tapestry of humanity" and its evolution have long interested him and ought to be among the truths that academics pursue, he said in a recent interview. Otherwise, he added, "literal racists" will fill the information void.

I do think theres an informational embargo on human population variation and certainly on race and IQ, he said. People have opinions, and they dont want those to get out publicly.

Whatever you think of Winegards ideas, he said in a recent essay in the conservative academic publication Quillette, you should care that hes effectively being fired for them.

If it can happen to me, then it can happen to any academic who challenges the prevailing views of their discipline, he wrote. You may disagree with everything I believe, say, and write, but it is in everyones interests that you support my freedom to believe, say and write it.

Trouble Begins

Winegard, who is in his second year at Marietta and is scheduled to leave at the end of the academic year, says the trouble started in October. That's when he was invited to address the University of Alabamas Evolution Working Group, which is affiliated with the universitys evolution studies program. Both parties agreed that Winegard would talk about population variation, or, in his words, the hypothesis that human biological differences are at least partially produced by different environments selecting for different physical and psychological traits in their populations over time.

The idea was to link the theory with natural selection, in line with a recent article Winegard co-wrote for Personality and Individual Differences. The article, called "Dodging Darwin: Race, Evolution and the Hereditarian Hypothesis," says, "Like most hereditarians (those who believe it likely that genes contribute to differences in psychological traits among human populations), we do not believe there is decisive evidence about the causes of differences in cognitive ability." Yet the "partial genetic hypothesis is most consistent with the Darwinian research tradition."

One class visit with students went well, Winegard recalled in Quillette. Then he received a number of texts from a campus host expressing concern about Winegards entry on the website RationalWiki. The website, like Wikipedia, is edited by volunteers, but is dedicated to debunking what it sees as junk science. And Winegard, according to RationalWiki, is guilty of writing racist bullshit for the right-wing online magazine Quillette.

Winegard told his hosts that he disagreed with the characterization. He has previously argued, for example, that racism isnt wrong because there arent races; it is wrong because it violates basic human decency and modern moral ideals.

This, of course, contradicts a broad literature asserting that race is a social construct, not a biological one, but it doesnt endorse racism. As Winegard said in the same co-written article, In fact, pinning a message of tolerance to the claim that all humans are essentially the same underneath the skin is dangerous. It suggests that if there were real differences, racism would be justified.

Despite the texts, Winegards main talk at Alabama went on as scheduled, followed by what he described as a rowdy question-and-answer period. Someone yelled that he was a racist, and another accused him of promoting phrenology, a discredited pseudoscience having to do with skull shape.

But Winegard said via telephone that that he never spoke about phrenology or on race and IQ at Alabama. The most controversial thing he said was that psychology may someday, in the aggregate, provide some explanation as to why East Asian societies tend toward collectivism, he added.

One of his slides, however, did say that groups may vary on socially significant traits (on average) such as intelligence, agreeableness, athleticism, cooperativeness [and] criminality.

Alabamas student newspaper published an article on the talk, vaguely linking the subject matter to eugenics, or reproduction to promote certain heritable traits. It also published an apology from the group that hosted him.

Winegard said this week that he never mentioned eugenics, and that he finds things such as forced sterilization morally repugnant. He didn't preclude having mentioned embryo selection once or twice on Twitter, he said, but he's never made a sustained argument.

Back at Marietta, Winegard was summoned to a meeting with his president and provost to discuss the article. While they werent pleased, Winegard wrote in Quillette, they told [him] to be more strategic in my navigation of such a sensitive topic. I agreed that I would try.

Months later, someone began emailing Winegards department and administration about things hes written and said on Twitter. One tweet, in particular, read, The greatest challenge to affluent societies is dealing openly, honestly, and humanely with biological (genetic) inequality. If we dont meet this challenge, I suspect our countries will be torn apart from the inside like a tree destroyed by parasites.

At a second, consequent meeting with his supervisors, Winegard explained (as he recapped in Quillette) that his tweet was not about groups, but rather about individual genetic differences, and the need to create a humane society for everyone, not just for the cognitive elite and hyper-educated (a theme I discuss often). The simile about parasites was a reference to political conflict and not a reference to some group of humans or another, he also said.

Winegard recalled his bosses expressing disappointment in me and particular dismay about the tweet I had deleted, which they said evoked anti-black and anti-Semitic tropes. He agreed and apologized but said he would continue to pursue potentially controversial research topics.


Termination never came up, even after Winegard published a co-written article on human population variation -- until two weeks ago.

My boss informed me, without any warning, that the college was not renewing my contract, he wrote in Quillette. I dont know if my paper was the proximate cause of my firing, but in the light of the foregoing weeks tumult, it was plausibly the last straw.

Did Winegard see it coming? I had worried vaguely about such an eventuality, but didnt really think it would happen, he wrote. I naively assumed that the norms of academic freedom would prevail. They did not.

Winegard told Inside Higher Ed that hes had strong teaching evaluations and high research productivity since hes been at Marietta. He sees no apparent reason for his effective termination, apart from the controversy surrounding what he has said and, more to the point, is alleged to have said.

In response to his Quillette article, some have argued that one should wait until tenure to pursue certain topics. But Winegard reiterated that he, perhaps navely, took academic freedom seriously. Beyond that, he said, if academics follow "pragmatic" advice about waiting until tenure to discuss controversial issues, it means waiting 10 or more years, through graduate school and the tenure track.

Im perplexed by the response, he said of Mariettas actions. The best response would have been to come out with a bold, affirmative statement for academic freedom, even if the college distanced itself from Winegards views in doing so.

Otherwise, he said, Youre incentivizing this trollish behavior. Trollish here refers to those Winegard says emailed his institution about him anonymously.

Marietta declined comment, saying Winegards case was a private personnel issue.

Relevant, widely followed American Association of University Professors policy says that even professors on probationary appointments should enjoy the same academic freedom as those with tenure, even if they don't have the same due process protections. Winegard said he's unaware of any paths to appeal, but AAUP policy also holds that a faculty committee should evaluate any concerns about non-reappointment related to a possible violation of academic freedom.

Winegard's department chair did not respond to a request for comment. Marietta's Faculty Council chair also did not respond to questions about the case.

Facts and Feelings

Attempts to link cognition to race have for decades happened mostly in academe's fringes. That's because it's either dog-whistle racist junk science or there is a conspiracy of silence surrounding it, depending on what you believe. In 1994, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life was immediately controversial, stirring concerns about lack of peer review and whether it represented mainstream science.

Race-based science debates don't just happen in psychology. In January, for example, Philosophical Psychology faced a boycott for publishing an article in defense of race-based research on intelligence. The gist of that article, written by Nathan Cofnas, a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at the University of Oxford, was that when advances in science reveal genetic variants underlying individual differences in intelligence, we wont be ready for it.

One of the main criticisms of Cofnas's piece was that it speculated that these breakthroughs are close. They are not. So postulating about them is, in a sense, pseudoscience, critics maintain.

Cofnas said at the time that those "who argue that we should wait for the genetics and neuroscience of intelligence to become more advanced before we attempt to study this issue often claim that, in the meantime, we should accept the environmental explanation for the purpose of policy making" and more. But that is a "political, not a scientific, position."

Journalist Angela Saini, author of the 2019 book Superior: The Return of Race Science (which Winegard has reviewed), said that her research demonstrates there is simply "no conspiracy against talking about race and IQ in academia, largely because this matter was settled 70 years ago -- and reinforced by genetics since -- by the universal understanding that race is a social construct."

It's "impossible to say that any differences in attainment we may see between socially defined groups must be biological in origin," Saini added. "Scientists are overwhelmingly in consensus on this."

That a "few academics like to claim otherwise," she said, "in particular, a small number of social scientists on the margins of respectable academia, does nothing to undermine the scientific facts. The facts, Im afraid, dont care about their feelings."

Intelligence researcher Richard Haier, professor emeritus in the pediatric neurology division at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, said that the questions Winegard is working on are controversial and emotional -- and well within the bounds of reasonable debate.

What happened at Marietta is, therefore, an apparent violation of academic freedom, Haier said. I dont know all the details, but I do know that it is very hard to defend academic freedom for issues that are not just controversial but also extremely emotional. And a lot of people in academia are happy to say that they support academic freedom but there are many examples of occurrences that appear to violate academic freedom, and the local academic community has not stood up for academic freedom.

Haier added, The hard thing about science is to go where the data take you. Without tenure and even with tenure, its becoming increasingly difficult to address controversial ideas, where some points of view do not acknowledge the legitimacy of other points of view, and therefore shut down discussion. Thats not how science works.

Lee Jussim, distinguished professor of psychology at Rutgers University and co-author of a recent paper on political bias in social science research, said that the topic of race and IQ "is poison." Further, he said, "I see no reason to believe the methods are capable of answering the question of how much race differences in intelligence are genetic versus environmental versus some combination.

That doesn't mean that Winegard or anyone else should be fired for trying to do so, however, Jussim said. Of course he has a right to pursue the line of inquiry.

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Assistant professor says he's been fired because he dared to talk about human population variation - Inside Higher Ed

Iain Macwhirter: Herd immunity does not mean the Government is trying to kill old people – HeraldScotland

It was hard not to sympathise with Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister's Questions on Thursday. Having accepted the advice of her clinical advisers, and decided not to close schools, universities and large gatherings, she risked being accused of allowing people to die needlessly.

Minutes before she rose in the Scottish Parliament, the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, declared a blanket ban on all meetings of more than 100 people. A measure like that would not just mean schools closing, but the Scottish parliament going into lockdown.

Ms Sturgeon was painfully aware that many of her ardent followers believed Ireland is taking the right policy, and that the First Minister was allowing herself to be dictated to by Boris Johnson, a PM they loathe.

READ MORE:Coronavirus in Scotland: All Scottish schools could close from end of Easter break

The First Minister's discomfort was obvious as she, on the one hand, advised people to stay at home to stop the symptoms spreading, while arguing that school children should continue to be exposed by attending school. It seemed to defy common sense.

If only Scotland could make its own decisions, they moaned on Twitter. But the First Minister had made her own decision. She agreed with her National Clinical Adviser, Jason Leitch, as well as the UK Chief Medical Officer. It was her call.

Politicians, not scientists, made the decision not to close schools. And she was right to do so. Even though she appeared to contradict herself by arguing for the cancellation of events involving more than 500 people.

She justified this in practical terms as being necessary to release police and ambulance staff for coronavirus work. The UK government followed suit later, for the same reasons. This was not a change in infection-control policy. But the wisdom of crowds was taking over.

Sports like football are already self-isolating. Book festivals, conference and concerts are spontaneously shutting up shop. By tomorrow, parents may be ignoring government advice and keeping their children at home.

Another problem for the First Minister, as she tries to keep in step with the other nations and regions of the UK, is that Britain looks out of step with the rest of the world. Not just Ireland but countries like Belgium and Norway have resorted to lockdown.

Politicians like Rory Stewart, the former Tory Development Secretary, took to the airwaves to argue that the government had got it all wrong. We should be shutting down immediately, cancelling sporting events, banning large meetings, keeping people in social isolation.

After all, that's what China has done. Coronavirus has peaked there. So why aren't we doing the same?

Whom to believe? Paranoia is the default condition of social media and all weeks people on Twitter have been claiming in all seriousness - that Boris Johnson is content to see millions of old people and poor people sacrificed on the altar of the economy in order to justify Brexit.

Then there are those who believe that Dom Cummings, the Prime Minister's saturnine adviser, is a eugenicist conducting an evil experiment under the guise of herd immunity. The Brexit culture war has morphed into a coronavirus culture war.

Herd immunity is the doctrine that the epidemic is allowed to spread through the community so that the population acquires antibodies. Eventually, enough people develop immunity through exposure that the disease cannot spread much as children do when they are exposed to diseases in school.

READ MORE:Coronavirus: Scientists claim UK strategy is 'risking lives'

However, this well-respected epidemiological approach implies that some people just might die in the short term in order to save a lot more people dying down the road. It means allowing the virus to run through the community, rather than locking down and minimising the immediate risk of infection.

Herd immunity is central to the Government's coronavirus strategy. According to the epidemiologist, Professor Graham Medley, on Thursday's Newsnight, the only way we can acquire it, given that there is no vaccine yet, is to allow everyone to be infected. He'd like all older, vulnerable people to be sent to Scotland, so that there could be a nice big epidemic in Kent.

He's not serious of course. Like Boris Johnson's remark about taking it on the chin, the Warwick University epidemiologist was trying to explain disease modelling to a lay audience. But you can't use metaphors in the age of Twitter.

Herd immunity has been attacked as social Darwinism survival of the fittest. Social media has become a factor now in epidemics. Herd immunity attracts the kind of venom and abuse that is normally associated with the transgender debate. The free-floating animus that resides on that platform instantly descends on anyone trying to explain what the scientists mean.

How can you sit there and let people die! they screamed.

The simple answer is because it's what the Chief Medical Officer and the National Clinical Adviser say we should do. They argue that if we go into lockdown, and inhibit herd immunity, we risk another wave of the pandemic when the lockdown is lifted or breaks down.

We live in a democratic society, and the kind of draconian restrictions imposed in communist China would not work here, or would not work for long. We can't turn the country into a prison.

Moreover, complete isolation would mean millions losing their jobs, the economy collapsing, social services in disarray. In epidemics, people don't just die from the disease. They can die just as easily from losing their livelihoods.

The last thing the NHS needs is thousands of health workers staying at home to look after children locked out of school. The health service doesn't have the capacity right now for a major epidemic hence all the talk about "flattening the curve". Within a couple of months it may be in much better shape to cope.

Anyway, as the First Minister explained, closing schools doesn't necessarily halt transmission. Children will still associate with others when they are off school often in less clean environments than a well-scrubbed classroom. They will often be looked after by older people the ones most at risk from the collateral effects of coronavirus.

We are a risk-averse society which believes in a risk-free world that doesn't exist and never could. Over the last 30 years, a generation has been brought up to believe that it has a right to be protected from every risk even the risk of being exposed to difficult ideas. Hence the obsession in universities with creating "safe spaces".

This snowflake generation dominates social media and is outraged at the thought that there is something from which they cannot be protected. They believe it must be a government plot, a Brexit ploy; capitalists making a buck out of hardship.

So we end up with people on the one hand condemning Donald Trump for taking drastic measures without understanding the science, and on the other, calling on the government to ignore the advice of its medical experts.

But Boris Johnson is right. The First Minister is right. They are over a barrel. You can't insist that politicians listen to the best medical advice, and then insist that they reject it because it sounds wrong.

The harsh reality is that some people are going to die whatever happens. Politicians can't do miracles; they can only do their best.

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Iain Macwhirter: Herd immunity does not mean the Government is trying to kill old people - HeraldScotland

Full Sixth Circuit Takes Up Ohio Ban on Selective Abortions – Courthouse News Service

CINCINNATI (CN) The en banc Sixth Circuit heard arguments Wednesday over Ohios ban on abortions involving fetuses with Down syndrome, with abortion providers again fighting to prevent the law from taking effect.

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to Planned Parenthood and Preterm-Cleveland in March 2018, just over a month after then-Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 214 into law.

The bill criminalizes performing an abortion if the person performing the abortion knows that one reason, in whole or part, for the womans decision to terminate her pregnancy is a fetal indication of Down syndrome.

Ohio appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit, and the case was initially argued in in front of a three-judge panel that upheld the injunction last October.

The state requested and was granted another set of arguments in front of the entire Cincinnati-based appeals court, at which point numerous state governments, as well as medical and civil rights organizations, filed amicus briefs with the court.

Attorney Ben Flowers argued on behalf of Ohio and told the court Wednesday the law was passed to prohibit Down syndrome selective abortions and prevent abortion providers from straying into practices that some might consider eugenics.

Flowers said the law sends a message that these abortions are so heinous and so inhumane that doctors can go to jail and lose their licenses.

The states attorney repeatedly told the judges his opponents failed to provide any evidence the law will place an undue burden on women seeking abortions, and said its practical effect is unknown because it has yet to be implemented.

U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Moore, an appointee of Bill Clinton, asked about the bills subjective knowledge requirement, and asked if it was a run-around to allow doctors to perform the abortions so long as the woman does not talk about the reasoning behind her decision.

Flowers answered that if a woman does not tell her doctor a diagnosis of Down syndrome is part of her reasoning, the doctor would not be in violation of the law.

Attorney Jessie Hill argued on behalf of Preterm-Cleveland and was grilled by several judges throughout her remarks about whether the law places an undue burden on women or simply regulates the doctors who perform the abortions.

Hill cited the 1992 Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and said it held that states are unable to pass any law that restricts the availability of a pre-viability abortion.

The attorney called Ohios law an absolute ban.

It doesnt regulate the woman at all directly, U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge said, adding later that, Its not a ban.

Kethledge, an appointee of George W. Bush, joined several of his colleagues in voicing their opinion that the law regulates only doctors, and not the women seeking abortions.

U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, another George W. Bush appointee, sided with Kethledge, and noted it was not a terrible idea to pass legislation that limits a doctors ability to perform selective abortions, whether they are based on a medical diagnosis, race, or any other consideration.

Hill criticized the judges for their assumptions about the reasons women choose to have abortions, and said to paint [these women] with the broad brush of eugenics is wrong.

Kethledge conceded the use of the term was not applicable to all women affected by the law, but added that the restriction strikes a balance between two extremes.

Arguments were extended to 25 minutes per side to allow for an appearance by Justice Department attorney Alexander Maugeri, who argued on behalf of the federal government, an amicus party that supports Ohios position.

Maugeri said the government believes the Ohio law expresses the view that Down syndrome lives have value, and allows the state to prevent women from being pressured into abortions by portions of the medical community.

While several members of the court seem poised to overturn the lower courts injunction, the majority of the 14 judges remained silent throughout proceedings.

Hill spoke to reporters after the hearing and stressed that women who make the decision to obtain an abortion do so after serious thought.

Women are moral decision-makers, the attorney remarked, after saying the issues involved are complex.

Ohios attorney, Flowers, could not be reached for comment.

No timetable has been set for the courts decision.

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Full Sixth Circuit Takes Up Ohio Ban on Selective Abortions - Courthouse News Service

Will This Years Census Be the Last? – The New Yorker

Count all people, including babies, the U.S.Census Bureau instructs Americans on the questionnaire that will be mailed to every household by April 1, 2020, April Fools Day, which also happens to be National Census Day (and has been since 1930). You can answer the door; you can answer by mail; for the first time, you can answer online.

People have been counting people for thousands of years. Count everyone, beginning with babies who have teeth, decreed census-takers in China in the first millennium B.C.E., under the Zhou dynasty. Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls, God commands Moses in the Book of Numbers, describing a census, taken around 1500 B.C.E., that counted only men twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israelthat is, potential conscripts.

Ancient rulers took censuses to measure and gather their strength: to muster armies and levy taxes. Who got counted depended on the purpose of the census. In the United States, which counts the whole number of persons in each state, the chief purpose of the census is to apportion representation in Congress. In 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross sought to add a question to the 2020 U.S. census that would have read, Is this person a citizen of the United States? Ross is a banker who specialized in bankruptcy before joining the Trump Administration; earlier, he had handled cases involving the insolvency of Donald Trumps casinos. The Census Bureau objected to the question Ross proposed. Eighteen states, the District of Columbia, fifteen cities and counties, the United Conference of Mayors, and a coalition of non-governmental organizations filed a lawsuit, alleging that the question violated the Constitution.

Last year, United States District Court Judge Jesse Furman, in an opinion for the Southern District, found Rosss attempt to add the citizenship question to be not only unlawful, and quite possibly unconstitutional, but also, given the way Ross went about trying to get it added to the census, an abuse of power. Furman wrote, To conclude otherwise and let Secretary Rosss decision stand would undermine the propositioncentral to the rule of lawthat ours is a government of laws, and not of men. There is, therefore, no citizenship question on the 2020 census.

All this, though, may be by the bye, because the census, like most other institutions of democratic government, is under threat. Google and Facebook, after all, know a lot more about you, and about the population of the United States, or any other state, than does the U.S.Census Bureau or any national census agency. This year may be the last time that a census is taken door by door, form by form, or even click by click.

Until ten thousand years ago, only about ten million men, women, and children lived on the entire planet, and any given person had only ever met a few dozen. (One theory holds that this is why some very old languages have no word for numbers.) No one could count any sizable group of people until human populations began to cluster together and to fall under the authority of powerful governments. Taking a census required administrative skills, coercive force, and fiscal resources, which is why the first reliable censuses were taken by Chinese emperors and Roman emperors, as the economist Andrew Whitby explains in The Sum of the People: How the Census Has Shaped Nations, from the Ancient World to the Modern Age.

Censuses abound in the Bible, including one ordered by the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus and overseen by Quirinius, the Roman governor of Syria. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed, according to the Gospel of Luke. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. Everyone was supposed to register in the place of his or her birth. That, supposedly, was why Joseph made the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. (Quirinius census of Judea actually took place years later, but its a good story.)

The first modern censusone that counted everyone, not just men of fighting age or taxpayers, and noted all their names and agesdates to 1703, and was taken in Iceland, where astonishingly accurate census-takers counted 50,366 people. (They missed only one farm.) The modern census is a function of the modern state, and also of the scientific revolution. Modern demography began with the study of births and deaths recorded in parish registers and bills of mortality. The Englishman John Graunt, extrapolating from these records in the mid-seventeenth century, worked out the population of London, thereby founding the field that his contemporary William Petty called political arithmetic. Another way to do this is to take a census. In 1753, Parliament considered a bill for taking and registering an annual Account of the total number of people in order to ascertain the collective strength of the nation. This measure was almost single-handedly defeated by the parliamentarian William Thornton of York, who asked, Can it be pretended, that by the knowledge of our number, or our wealth, either can be increased? He argued that a census would reveal to Englands enemies the very information England sought to conceal: the size and distribution of its population. Also, it violated liberty. If any officer, by whatever authority, should demand of me an account of the number and circumstance of my family, I would refuse it, he announced.

Two years later, in Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin published Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind. Franklin had every reason to want to count the people in Britains North American colonies. He calculated that they numbered about a million, roughly the population of Scotland, which had forty-five members in the House of Commons and sixteen peers in the House of Lords. How many had the Americans? None.

To make this matter of representation mathematical, enumeration of the people, every ten years, is mandated by the U.S.Constitution. There would be no more than one member of Congress for every thirty thousand people. The Constitution also mandates that any direct tax levied on the states must be proportional to population. The federal government hardly ever levies taxes directly, though. Instead, its more likely to provide money and services to the states, and these, too, are almost always allocated in proportion to population. So the accuracy of the census has huge implications. Wilbur Rosss proposed citizenship question, which was expected to reduce the response rate in congressional districts with large numbers of immigrants, would have reduced the size of the congressional delegations from those districts, and choked off services to them.

Under the terms of the Constitution, everyone in the United States was to be counted, except Indians not taxed (a phrase that both excluded Native peoples from U.S. citizenship and served as a de-facto acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Native nations). Every person would be counted, and there were three kinds: free persons; persons bound to service for a term of years; and all other persons, the last a sorry euphemism for enslaved people, who were to be counted as three-fifths of a free person. It was a compromise between Northern delegates (who didnt want to count them at all, to thwart the South from gaining additional seats in Congress) and Southern delegates (who wanted to count them, for the sake of those seats)a compromise, that is, between zero and one.

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Will This Years Census Be the Last? - The New Yorker

Eugenics – HISTORY


Eugenics is the practice or advocacyof improving the human species by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits. It aims to reduce human suffering by breeding out disease, disabilities and so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population. Early supporters of eugenics believed people inherited mental illness, criminal tendencies and even poverty, and that these conditions could be bred out of the gene pool.

Historically, eugenics encouraged people of so-called healthy, superior stock to reproduce and discouraged reproduction of the mentally challenged or anyone who fell outside the social norm. Eugenics was popular in America during much of the first half of the twentieth century, yet it earned its negative association mainly from Adolf Hitlers obsessive attempts to create a superior Aryan race.

Modern eugenics, more often called human genetic engineering, has come a long wayscientifically and ethicallyand offers hope for treating many devastating genetic illnesses. Even so, it remains controversial.

Eugenics literally means good creation. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato may have been the first person to promote the idea, although the term eugenics didnt come on the scene until British scholar Sir Francis Galton coined it in 1883 in his book, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

In one of Platos best-known literary works, The Republic, he wrote about creating a superior society by procreating high-class people together and discouraging coupling between the lower classes. He also suggested a variety of mating rules to help create an optimal society.

For instance, men should only have relations with a woman when arranged by their ruler, and incestuous relationships between parents and children were forbidden but not between brother and sister. While Platos ideas may be considered a form of ancient eugenics, he received little credit from Galton.

In the late 19th century, Galtonwhose cousin was Charles Darwinhoped to better humankind through the propagation of the British elite. His plan never really took hold in his own country, but in America it was more widely embraced.

Eugenics made its first official appearance in American history through marriage laws. In 1896, Connecticut made it illegal for people with epilepsy or who were feeble-minded to marry. In 1903, the American Breeders Association was created to study eugenics.

John Harvey Kellogg, of Kellogg cereal fame, organized the Race Betterment Foundation in 1911 and established a pedigree registry. The foundation hosted national conferences on eugenics in 1914, 1915 and 1928.

As the concept of eugenics took hold, prominent citizens, scientists and socialists championed the cause and established the Eugenics Record Office. The office tracked families and their genetic traits, claiming most people considered unfit were immigrants, minorities or poor.

The Eugenics Record Office also maintained there was clear evidence that supposed negative family traits were caused by bad genes, not racism, economics or the social views of the time.

Eugenics in America took a dark turn in the early 20th century, led by California. From 1909 to 1979, around 20,000 sterilizations occurred in California state mental institutions under the guise of protecting society from the offspring of people with mental illness.

Many sterilizations were forced and performed on minorities. Thirty-three states would eventually allow involuntary sterilization in whomever lawmakers deemed unworthy to procreate.

In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forced sterilization of the handicapped does not violate the U.S. Constitution. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, three generations of imbeciles are enough. In 1942, the ruling was overturned, but not before thousands of people underwent the procedure.

In the 1930s, the governor of Puerto Rico, Menendez Ramos, implemented sterilization programs for Puerto Rican women. Ramos claimed the action was needed to battle rampant poverty and economic strife; however, it may have also been a way to prevent the so-called superior Aryan gene pool from becoming tainted with Latino blood.

According to a 1976 Government Accountability Office investigation, between 25 and 50 percent of Native Americans were sterilized between 1970 and 1976. Its thought some sterilizations happened without consent during other surgical procedures such as an appendectomy.

In some cases, health care for living children was denied unless their mothers agreed to sterilization.

As horrific as forced sterilization in America was, nothing compared to Adolf Hitlers eugenic experiments leading up to and during World War II. And Hitler didnt come up with the concept of a superior Aryan race all on his own. In fact, he referred to American eugenics in his 1934 book, Mein Kampf.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler declares non-Aryan races such as Jews and gypsies as inferior. He believed Germans should do everything possible, including genocide, to make sure their gene pool stayed pure. And in 1933, the Nazis created the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring which resulted in thousands of forced sterilizations.

By 1940, Hitlers master-race mania took a terrible turn as Germans with mental or physical disabilities were euthanized by gas or lethal injection. Even the blind and deaf werent safe, and hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

During World War II, concentration camp prisoners endured horrific medical tests under the guise of helping Hitler create the perfect race. Josef Mengele, an SS doctor at Auschwitz, oversaw many experiments on both adult and child twins.

He used chemical eyedrops to try and create blue eyes, injected prisoners with devastating diseases and performed surgery without anesthesia. Many of his patients died or suffered permanent disability, and his gruesome experiments earned him the nickname, Angel of Death.

In all, its estimated eleven million people died during the Holocaust, most of them because they didnt fit Hitlers definition of a superior race.

Thanks to the unspeakable atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis, eugenics lost momentum in after World War II, although forced sterilizations still happened. But as medical technology advanced, a new form of eugenics came on the scene.

Modern eugenics, better known as human genetic engineering, changes or removes genes to prevent disease, cure disease or improve your body in some significant way. The potential health benefits of human gene therapy are staggering since many devastating or life-threatening illnesses could be cured.

But modern genetic engineering also comes with a potential cost. As technology advances, people could routinely weed-out what they consider undesirable traits in their offspring. Genetic testing already allows parents to identify some diseases in their child in utero which may cause them to terminate the pregnancy.

This is controversial since what exactly constitutes negative traits is open to interpretation, and many people feel that all humans have the right to be born regardless of disease, or that the laws of nature shouldnt be tampered with.

Much of Americas historical eugenics efforts such as forced sterilizations have gone unpunished, although some states offered reparations to victims or their survivors. For the most part, though, its a largely unknown stain on Americas history. And no amount of money can ever repair the devastation of Hitlers eugenics programs.

As scientists embark on a new eugenics frontier, past failings can serve as a warning to approach modern genetic research with care and compassion.

American Breeders Association. University of Missouri.Charles Davenport and the Eugenics Record Office. University of Missouri.Forced Sterilization of Native Americans: Late Twentieth Century Physician Cooperation with National Eugenic Policies. The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.Greek Theories on Eugenics. Journal of Medical Ethics.Josef Mengele. Holocaust Encyclopedia.Latina Women: Forced Sterilization. University of Michigan.Modern Eugenics: Building a Better Person? Helix.Nazi Medical Experiments. Holocaust Encyclopedia.Plato. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States. PBS.


Eugenics - HISTORY

Introduction to Eugenics – Genetics Generation

Introduction to Eugenics

Eugenics is a movement that is aimed at improving the genetic composition of the human race. Historically, eugenicists advocated selective breeding to achieve these goals. Today we have technologies that make it possible to more directly alter the genetic composition of an individual. However, people differ in their views on how to best (and ethically) use this technology.

History of Eugenics

Logo of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1883, Sir Francis Galton, a respected British scholar and cousin of Charles Darwin,first used the term eugenics, meaning well-born. Galton believed that the human race could help direct its future by selectively breeding individuals who have desired traits. This idea was based on Galtons study of upper class Britain. Following these studies, Galton concluded that an elite position in society was due to a good genetic makeup. While Galtons plans to improve the human race through selective breeding never came to fruition in Britain, they eventually took sinister turns in other countries.

The eugenics movement began in the U.S. in the late 19th century. However, unlike in Britain, eugenicists in the U.S. focused on efforts to stop the transmission of negative or undesirable traits from generation to generation. In response to these ideas, some US leaders, private citizens, and corporations started funding eugenical studies. This lead to the 1911 establishment of The Eugenics Records Office (ERO) in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The ERO spent time tracking family histories and concluded that people deemed to be unfit more often came from families that were poor, low in social standing, immigrant, and/or minority. Further, ERO researchers demonstrated that the undesirable traits in these families, such as pauperism, were due to genetics, and not lack of resources.

Committees were convened to offer solutions to the problem of the growing number of undesirables in the U.S. population. Stricter immigration rules were enacted, but the most ominous resolution was a plan to sterilize unfit individuals to prevent them from passing on their negative traits. During the 20th century, a total of 33 states had sterilization programs in place. While at first sterilization efforts targeted mentally ill people exclusively, later the traits deemed serious enough to warrant sterilization included alcoholism, criminality chronic poverty, blindness, deafness, feeble-mindedness, and promiscuity. It was also not uncommon for African American women to be sterilized during other medical procedures without consent. Most people subjected to these sterilizations had no choice, and because the program was run by the government, they had little chance of escaping the procedure. It is thought that around 65,000 Americans were sterilized during this time period.

The eugenics movement in the U.S. slowly lost favor over time and was waning by the start of World War II. When the horrors of Nazi Germany became apparent, as well as Hitlers use of eugenic principles to justify the atrocities, eugenics lost all credibility as a field of study or even an ideal that should be pursued.

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Introduction to Eugenics - Genetics Generation

Boris Johnson cares more about the economy than he does about human lives – The Canary

On Thursday 12 March, PM Boris Johnson made a statement about the governments planned response to the coronavirus outbreak. He said there were no plans as yet to close schools or advise against large public gatherings. The response, pretty much, seems to be to let the virus do its thing even if it means that lives will be lost.

Some have praised Johnson for following expert advice despite him openly saying many more families are going to lose loved ones. However, to anyone whos watched Shrek, Johnson might sound eerily similar to the infamous Lord Farquaad when he proclaims, Some of you may die, but its a sacrifice I am willing to make. The thought that Johnson can actually be compared to a cartoon villain would be laughable if we werent living through a pandemic.

While it sounds credible that the government response is based on expert opinion, theres more that we need to consider. Not least that there are many experts in any given field and therefore many expert opinions. Whats surprising is that Johnson is listening to his own advisors while ignoring successful responses in other countries, most notably South Korea. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of medical journal The Lancet, has described this as a major error:

The UK governmentMatt Hancock and Boris Johnsonclaim they are following the science. But that is not true. The evidence is clear. We need urgent implementation of social distancing and closure policies. The government is playing roulette with the public. This is a major error.

Financial Times journalist Tom Hancock has described the governments approach of building herd immunity as an unprecedented experiment. And then theres the fact that its possible catching the virus doesnt build immunity to it. Hancock went on to describe the scale of casualties a herd immunity approach could cause:

Moreover, the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter:

#COVID19 is a controllable pandemic. Countries that decide to give up on fundamental public health measures (like case finding and contact tracing) may end up with a larger problem, and a heavier burden on the health system that requires more severe measures to control.

This advice, combined with the South Korea example, would suggest that making testing more accessible and reducing contact through public gatherings is the obvious solution. So why are Johnson and his government doing the opposite? The answer might be more sinister than anyone wants to admit.

On 29 February, a Times article discussing the emergency response to the virus casually described how:

Ministers and officials are considering the trade-off betweenallowing an acute outbreak, from which the economy would rebound more quickly, and trying to save more lives by imposing restrictions on mass gatherings and transport.

Of course, restricting large gatherings and travel is going to slow down economic activity. People not leaving their homes to work, shop or socialise will impact service and retail industries. And the longer these measures last, the greater the impact. However, Chinas response of extensive testing, self-isolation and social distancing has effectively controlled the spread of the disease. And reducing the spread of the disease means reducing potential deaths.

But in order to protect economic interests, rather than attempting to reduce the number of cases and potential deaths, the governments plan is to stagger them over a longer period of time.

Johnson appeared on ITVs This Morning last week saying we could allow the virus to move through the population and take it on the chin. This line might be less indicative of a survival of the fittest attitude if Number 10 hadnt, just weeks before, refused to deny Johnsons belief in eugenics. And this is combined with the many issues Johnson didnt address in his speech chronic underfunding, understaffing, and a lack of bed spaces which will no doubt impact the NHSs ability to respond effectively. Plus the black hole in social care that already shows this governments disregard for elderly people. Suddenly Johnsons commitment to reduce the human cost of this epidemic starts to look increasingly questionable.

He claims that the government will be providing money and other forms of support to help people through this crisis. But given the Tories general aversion towards public spending, and Johnsons many lies in the past, his commitment to acting in the public interest during this pandemic remains doubtful.

Featured image via YouTube/Guardian News


Boris Johnson cares more about the economy than he does about human lives - The Canary

The World Changed Its Approach to Health After the 1918 Flu. Will It After The COVID-19 Outbreak? – TIME

As the world grapples with a global health emergency that is COVID-19, many are drawing parallels with a pandemic of another infectious disease influenza that took the world by storm just over 100 years ago. We should hope against hope that this one isnt as bad, but the 1918 flu had momentous long-term consequences not least for the way countries deliver healthcare. Could COVID-19 do the same?

The 1918 flu pandemic claimed at least 50 million lives, or 2.5 per cent of the global population, according to current estimates. It washed over the world in three waves. A relatively mild wave in the early months of 1918 was followed by a far more lethal second wave that erupted in late August. That receded towards the end of the year, only to be reprised in the early months of 1919 by a third and final wave that was intermediate in severity between the other two. The vast majority of the deaths occurred in the 13 weeks between mid-September and mid-December 1918. It was a veritable tidal wave of death the worst since the Black Death of the 14th-century and possibly in all of human history.

Flu and COVID-19 are different diseases, but they have certain things in common. They are both respiratory diseases, spread on the breath and hands as well as, to some extent, via surfaces. Both are caused by viruses, and both are highly contagious. COVID-19 kills a considerably higher proportion of those it infects, than seasonal flu, but its not yet clear how it measures up, in terms of lethality, to pandemic flu the kind that caused the 1918 disaster. Both are what are known as crowd diseases, spreading most easily when people are packed together at high densities in favelas, for example, or trenches. This is one reason historians agree that the 1918 pandemic hastened the end of the First World War, since both sides lost so many troops to the disease in the final months of the conflict a silver lining, of sorts.

Crowd diseases exacerbate human inequities. Though everyone is susceptible, more or less, those who live in crowded and sub-standard accommodation are more susceptible than most. Malnutrition, overwork and underlying conditions can compromise a persons immune deficiencies. If, on top of everything else, they dont have access to good-quality healthcare, they become even more susceptible. Today as in 1918, these disadvantages often coincide, meaning that the poor, the working classes and those living in less developed countries tend to suffer worst in an epidemic. To illustrate that, an estimated 18 million Indians died during the 1918 flu the highest death toll of any country, in absolute numbers, and the equivalent of the worldwide death toll of the First World War.

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In 1918, the explanation for these inequities was different. Eugenics was then a mainstream view, and privileged elites looked down on workers and the poor as inferior categories of human being, who lacked the drive to achieve a better standard of living. If they sickened and died from typhus, cholera and other crowd diseases, the reasons were inherent to them, rather than to be found in their often abysmal living conditions. In the context of an epidemic, public health generally referred to a suite of measures designed to protect those elites from the contaminating influence of the diseased underclasses. When bubonic plague broke out in India in 1896, for example, the British colonial authorities instigated a brutal public health campaign that involved disinfecting, fumigating and sometimes burning indigenous Indian homes to the ground. Initially, at least, they refused to believe that the disease was spread by rat fleas. If they had, they would have realized that a better strategy might have been to inspect imported merchandise rather than people, and to de-rat buildings rather than disinfect them.

Healthcare was much more fragmented then, too. In industrialized countries, most doctors either worked for themselves or were funded by charities or religious institutions, and many people had no access to them at all. Virus was a relatively new concept in 1918, and when the flu arrived medics were almost helpless. They had no reliable diagnostic test, no effective vaccine, no antiviral drugs and no antibiotics which might have treated the bacterial complications of the flu that killed most of its victims, in the form of pneumonia. Public health measures especially social distancing measures such as quarantine that were employing again today could be effective, but they were often implemented too late, because flu was not a reportable disease in 1918. This meant that doctors werent obliged to report cases to the authorities, which in turn meant that those authorities failed to see the pandemic coming.

The lesson that health authorities took away from the 1918 catastrophe was that it was no longer reasonable to blame individuals for catching an infectious disease, nor to treat them in isolation. The 1920s saw many governments embracing the concept of socialized medicine healthcare for all, free at the point of delivery. Russia was the first country to put in place a centralized public healthcare system, which it funded via a state-run insurance scheme, but Germany, France and the UK eventually followed suit. The U.S. took a different route, preferring employer-based insurance schemes which began to proliferate from the 1930s on but all of these nations took steps to consolidate healthcare, and to expand access to it, in the post-flu years.

Many countries also created or revamped health ministries in the 1920s. This was a direct result of the pandemic, during which public health leaders had been either left out of cabinet meetings entirely, or reduced to pleading for funds and powers from other departments. Countries also recognized the need to coordinate public health at the international level, since clearly, contagious diseases didnt respect borders. 1919 saw the opening, in Vienna, Austria, of an international bureau for fighting epidemics a forerunner, along with the health branch of the short-lived League of Nations, of todays World Health Organization (WHO).

A hundred years on from the 1918 flu, the WHO is offering a global response to a global threat. But the WHO is underfunded by its member nations, many of which have ignored its recommendations including the one not to close borders. COVID-19 has arrived at a time when European nations are debating whether their healthcare systems, now creaking under the strain of larger, aging populations, are still fit for purpose, and when the US is debating just how universal its system really is.

Depending on how bad this new pandemic gets, it may force a rethink in both regions. In the U.S., for example, we have already seen heated discussion of the costs and availability of COVID-19 testing, which could help revive the proposals to make healthcare more affordable, that President Obama put forward in his 2010 healthcare reform plan. In Europe, meanwhile, the outbreak could re-ignite a long-running debate over whether people should pay to use national health services (other than indirectly, through taxes or insurance schemes) for example through a monthly membership fee. Whether current outbreak generates real change remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: we are being reminded that pandemics are a social problem, not an individual one.

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The World Changed Its Approach to Health After the 1918 Flu. Will It After The COVID-19 Outbreak? - TIME

The Morality Of Eugenics – New University

World renowned biologist Richard Dawkins tweeted on Feb. 16 that eugenics could be implemented for humans on a practical level, if one disregarded the moral and ideological controversies that surround the idea.

Its one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political and moral grounds. Its quite another to conclude that it wouldnt work in practice. Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs and roses. Why on earth wouldnt it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology, Dawkins said.

As expected, his tweet drew attention and criticism surrounding his definition of a working model of eugenics. Many argue that it is impossible for it to work when the idea of more desirable traits is embedded in morality itself; what makes one trait more desirable than another?

One user tweeted in response, Eugenics doesnt work with humans because of the moral dimension, a dimension which is largely missing when we breed dogs, horses, roses, etc. You cant separate morality from human eugenics.

Several other people cited the negative consequences that selective breeding has had on species such as dogs and horses. M.D. Eugene Gu said, We turned magnificent wolves into pure breed dogs with severe genetic defects causing joint and heart problems and cancer Eugenics does not create superior species We weaken the gene pool selecting for traits desirable for us but not for the subject.

These claims are not wrong. It is true that we have selectively bred many dogs into genetic disorders and disabilities simply for the aesthetics and other superficial human reasons. Even turkeys have been selectively bred so much that they are unable to reproduce on their own. The ethics of eugenics are more lenient when applied to species under us in the food and evolutionary chain. But its different when its within our own species.

CRISPR Technology is a gene editing technology that has been under fire for many years in the media, with many people concerned over the moral dilemmas it poses with choosing the genes we want to have or get rid of. As a result, the idea of a designer baby was cultivated; people would use CRISPR to choose their unborn babys hair color, eye color and possibly even influencing their height and weight. There are larger social problems that arise from this possibility, over privacy rights and class rights would a technology such as CRISPR enable a dystopian society where the rich are genetically advanced, and the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves?

In this instance, it is clear why eugenics for humans wouldnt be desirable. But that does not take away from the fact that it could morally work. CRISPR has been used to improve genetic defects, treat and prevent the spread of diseases and even improve crops. There are many benefits to having a technology that allows us to edit the genomes of living organisms and its being done.

What teeters on the edge of immorality and the argument that eugenics would not work for humans, is human nature. It is easy to say simply that eugenics practically works. But that is not practical in itself. Believing that humans will use eugenics to only cure genetic defects and disorders is an unrealistic position to take on. Humans will always have to consult the ethics of a practice if it is to be practical.

Alana Tse is an Opinion Staff Writer. She can be reached at alanat3@uci.edu.


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The Morality Of Eugenics - New University

Eugenics and Scientific Racism – Slugger O’Toole

In early January 2020, Dominic Cummings, the Prime Ministers chief Special Adviser, wrote a blog piece in which he advertised for advisers to work in No 10. One of the groupings was for weirdos and misfits. Andrew Sabisky was appointed. The media trawled through Sabiskys own blog for his thoughts, finding that hed said, for example:

There are excellent reasons to think the very real racial differences in intelligence are significantly even mostly genetic in origin

One way to get around the problems of unplanned pregnancies creating a permanent underclass would be to legally enforce universal uptake of long-term contraception at the onset of puberty.

Eugenics are about selecting for good things. Intelligence is largely inherited and it correlates with better incomes; physical health, income, lower mental illness. There is no downside to having IQ except short-sightedness.

The first of these three comments is an example of scientific racism, the second is an example of eugenics. The first comment is factually incorrect. Human eugenics is wholly discredited, both morally and scientifically. The third comment misunderstands what IQ is. Shortly after these and other, similar, comments became public knowledge, Sabisky resigned. What are the origins of such thinking?

Differences in skin pigmentation and facial structure have been obvious for millennia. The earliest form of racism seems to be anti-semitism. Jews have been stigmatised and persecuted from ancient times, even before Christianity when Jews could be held responsible for the death of Jesus. They lent money at interest, then called usury, when Christians were forbidden to do this, and were said to indulge in practices that sound more like black magic. The Jews were expelled from England in 1290, not returning until Cromwells time. They were expelled from Spain in 1492 when many found refuge in the tolerant Moslem Ottoman Empire.

More generally, the scientific study of race began during the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason. This was also the time of European colonisation and empire building, when the whites became more aware of other races. These classifiers were Western Europeans. The various human races were described in relation to skin colour, physiognomy (the science of judging peoples character from their facial appearance), and type of hair with an admixture of ignorance and prejudice. Linnaeus thought there were five types, Africans, Americans, Asians, Europeans and monsters. Johann Blumenbach described five races:

De Gobineau believed in three races, black, white and yellow. Blacks, he thought, were the strongest but incapable of intelligent thought; the yellows were physically and mentally mediocre, while whites (of course) were the best because they were capable of intelligent thought, could create beauty, and were the most beautiful. Overall, though, there was no settled agreement about the number of races. (Human facial beauty has subsequently been studied; most people prefer faces that are symmetrical. Faces with proportions in the Golden Ratio are considered beautiful. Early thinkers used Greek statues as a comparator; such statues are often the personification of beauty. And originally they were painted in bright colours to make them wear-resistant; they werent white.)

These classifications and other similar ones still find echoes today. I need hardly say that there is no biological, that is genetic, basis for such classifications, or for the attributes attached to them. The differences we can observe between different populations are a result of different cultures and environments. Race is a social construct.

Charles Darwin publishedOn the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selectionin 1859. His cousin, Francis Dalton, was intrigued and became convinced that all human characteristics and particularly intelligence were the result of inheritance.Thus, the ruling classes were the elite because of their genetic inheritance, and not because of wealth and privilege. Likewise, insanity and mental degeneracy were a result of genetic determinism. He collected data by measuring physical characteristics (anthropometrics), and mental abilities (psychometrics). He also made major developments in statistics, as did his successor Karl Pearson; it is for this that they are remembered today rather than their racism.

Convinced by such arguments, in the early 20thcentury, mental degenerates were rounded up in the UK, and kept in asylums. Programmes of forced, involuntary sterilisation were introduced in Sweden and in the US. In Germany, Nazi ideology encouraged extramarital breeding from racially pure and healthy parents to raise the birth rate of Aryans, a wholly specious race. Further, those whom the Nazis viewed as degenerate peoples, Jews, homosexuals, the Roma and others were not only segregated and sterilised, but murdered in what is now known as the Holocaust. Eugenics was (mostly) abandoned after World War II; eugenicists rebranded themselves as geneticists.

Its clear that artificial breeding works in plants, producing standardised, disease-resistant but heavy cropping varieties. In animals, selective breeding produces pedigree animals, ones that conform to what experts expect. But this comes at a cost; such animals are produced by inbreeding, and these animals are prone to hereditary defects. Inbreeding in humans is also associated with congenital diseases such as haemophilia.

Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, experimented with peas, and from this formulated his ideas of dominant and recessive genes. Although he published in the middle of the 19th century, his ideas werent widespread for half a century. Less well known is that he didnt use just any peas; he inbred peas, producing seven strains that bred pure for various characteristics; and it was from these that he experimented; his results would otherwise have been lost in the noise. No humans are purebred we are all mongrels.

Mongrels? A generation is conventionally taken to be 25 to 30 years, and the number of our ancestors doubles every generation. On this basis about 1000 years ago we have one trillion ancestors; this is clearly impossible, as the best estimate is that around 107 billion is the total number of people who have ever lived. Thegenetic isopoint is when the entire population are the ancestors of todays population. For Europe this was around 1400CE; for the world population, it was around 3400BCE. Every one of us is descended from all the global population then. There are genetic similarities within populations; but there are no sharp boundaries between populations, rather a gradual merging or blending of the two. And there are greater genetic differences within populations than between populations. Racial purity is an impossible fantasy. Sorry, Gaels and Planters; you arent pure and neither would you want to be because of recessive genetic disease.

Intelligence combines reason, problem-solving, abstract thought, learning capacity and the understanding of ideas. The first rigorous attempts at measuring and quantifying intelligence were by Binet just over a century ago, and was calculated by dividing the mental age by the chronological age, and multiplying by 100. This produced an intelligence quotient or IQ; the average for a population was 100. About two-thirds of people (one standard deviation) are in the range 85 115, and 95% (two standard deviations) lie between 70 and 130. Todays tests (attempt to) measure reason, mental processing speed, spatial awareness and knowledge.

IQ scores for populations have been found to be rising at about 3 points per decade; this is known as the Flynn effect. For example, the average IQ in Ireland was 85 in 1970 by comparison to the UK where it was 100; in Ireland today it is 100. This is far too short a time scale for a genetic effect. The generally accepted explanation relates to the environment including better nutrition and health, an increased standard of living and general socio-economic development. Does this accurately describe the changes in Ireland in the past half-century? Has Ireland gone from a poor, impoverished, even backward country to one which is wealthy, well educated and which has a vibrant economy?

While its difficult to assess accurately, todays best estimate is that genes account for 40% to 60% of a persons intelligence, with the environment, including nurture, accounting for the rest; crudely, about half nature and half nurture. Its clear that genetics does not account for all or even the great majority of intelligence. The short-sightedness associated with intelligence may be genetic, but its known that close study, such as reading, has a very significant effect. I was told that myopia is common in Jewish boys but not girls; only boys study the Talmud in exquisite detail.

Scientific racism is a pseudoscientific attempt to show that certain races, that is white races, are genetically superior to others. It uses comparisons of IQ in this venture. It does seem correct that peoples in sub-Saharan Africa have IQs 20 points less than those in the UK (taken as 100). Its also true that they are developing rather than developed countries. However, the highest IQ scores, again by comparison with the UK, are in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China, where scores are in the range 105 108. There is a culture of study and learning in these countries. Characteristically, researchers in this field such as Richard Lynn, previously a Professor of Psychology at the Ulster University, are described as controversial.

Its surely clear that eugenics and scientific racism are thoroughly discredited, both morally and scientifically. The comments Mr Sabisky made are simply wrong in every detail; it is concerning that there does seem to be a recrudescence of such ideas today, and alarming to think that these ideas might be at the heart of government. Neither Dominic Cummings nor the Prime Ministers spokesman have distanced themselves from these comments.

Angela Saini and Adam Pearson presented a two-part documentary calledEugenics: Sciences Greatest Scandalon BBCTV last year. It is not available on iPlayer at present.

Angela Sainis bookSuperior: the Return of Race Science(2019) and Adam RutherfordsHow to Argue with a Racist(2020) are up to date accounts, and well worth reading.

There is a list of further reading here.

My thanks to SeaanUiNeill, Dr Madeleine Morris and Professor Sen Danaher for their comments.

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Eugenics and Scientific Racism - Slugger O'Toole

The history of time capsules has a dark side linked to eugenics. But their future is brighter – ABC News

Updated March 01, 2020 09:30:40

There's more to time capsules than fond childhood memories of burying hand-written notes.

University of Iowa history expert Nick Yablon has traced the origins of time capsules back to the late 1870s, and uncovered a murky history.

He says they were used in the early promotion of eugenics the idea of improving the human race through "scientific breeding".

In his observations of the early 1900s, he says, the link to eugenics "comes up in almost every time capsule I found".

The conception of the modern time capsule seemed innocent enough.

The term was first officially coined by George E Pendray, a PR consultant for Westinghouse Electric Company, to describe the company's exhibit for the New York World's Fair in 1939.

"He was going to call it the 'time bomb'," Dr Yablon tells ABC RN's Late Night Live.

"But in 1939 that probably wouldn't have gone down too well."

The Westinghouse capsule is bequeathed to Earth's inhabitants in 6939AD, so it will be a long time before anyone knows what's inside.

But a plaque on the capsule lists some of its contents: 22,000 pages of microfilm, 15 minutes of newsreel, an alarm clock, bifocals and believe it or not carrots.

Like the Westinghouse effort, time capsules were often created by people of influence, who had the money and means to construct and commission them.

Many seemed to be more about commemorating an individuals' own achievements than sending a meaningful message to the future.

And museums were just a little bit miffed about them.

"The time capsule was definitely a kind of riposte to the museum," Dr Yablon says.

"Museums were seen as inadequate memorialisations of the present. They tended to be full of relics of other civilisations or they were collections that were massed haphazardly without any sense of how they illuminated the present.

"So the time capsule would be a narrower selection for future audiences or future historians to view."

According to Dr Yablon, one of the first people to create a time vessel was Chicago photographer Charles Mosher, an early advocate of eugenics.

Mosher created a "Memorial Safe" time vessel for the American Centennial Exposition in 1876, celebrating 100 years since the country's signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In his book Remembrance of Things Present, Dr Yablon writes that Mosher appears to have had "fears about the contamination of Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock".

To memorialise that stock, Mosher filled a safe with some 10,000 portraits of notable Chicagoans and their wives, as well as literature on "progenerate" schools and colleges.

Mosher invoked eugenics pseudoscience in "vaguely expressed hopes that the 'healthy' could be encouraged to reproduce ... and the 'unfit' discouraged", Dr Yablon says.

He writes that Mosher "gave physical form to his racial visions, rendering his eugenicist utopia concrete through the vessel".

Time capsules attracted others like Mosher, who included eugenicist pamphlets in their vessels.

Dr Yablon says there's a more altruistic element to the tradition of time capsules that could be embraced as we face the global challenge of climate change.

At the turn of the 20th century, Louis Ehrich, a Jewish American from Colorado Springs, created a time capsule intended for today's citizens of his city.

According to Dr Yablon, Ehrich was concerned about environmental degradation and other developments in America, such as class conflict.

"He used the time capsule there to kind of create and instil a sense of duty to future generations," he says.

As students across the world protest for climate change action, Dr Yablon believes time capsules could help create a sense of responsibility to future generations and negotiate a way forward.

"We need more than just a philosophy or a ... legal theory of the rights of future generations," he says.

"We actually need to create a sense of emotional connection. Time capsules are a very powerful way of creating that."

Simply by existing, time capsules acknowledge future generations because what's the point of creating a time capsule, if it won't have an audience?

In that way, they connect the future with the present.

"The time capsule expanded our idea of how we communicated through time," Dr Yablon says.

Take Scottish artist Katie Paterson's Future Library, a time capsule reimagined.

Paterson's large-scale art project began in 2014, when a thousand spruce trees were planted in a forest just outside of Oslo.

The trees will be allowed to grow for a hundred years before they are cut down and turned into paper, which will be used to print 100 previously unseen manuscripts, by authors such as Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Karl Ove Knausgrd.

Dr Yablon says it's a project that is about more than just the books.

"It's that idea of exercising stewardship over the forest that will create the wood for the paper that will print these books," he says.

"The book is the lure, but the real message is the need to... cultivate those forests and preserve them, and preserve the larger environment."

And in so doing, maybe time capsules can counter their darker past, by helping to create a brighter future.


First posted March 01, 2020 07:00:00


The history of time capsules has a dark side linked to eugenics. But their future is brighter - ABC News

Prejudice against Downs Syndrome is a form of eugenics Brian Wilson – The Scotsman

NewsUK NewsThe law actively discriminates against unborn children with Downs Syndrome and other non-fatal disabilities, but a campaign aims to change that, writes Brian Wilson.

Saturday, 29th February 2020, 7:40 am

Those of us with a family interest in Downs Syndrome tend to notice positive stories about people with the condition.

The past few days have provided a good crop. Theres the girl in Boston who loves baking and, when nobody would give her a job, opened her own little bakery with help from her mother and sister.

The Boston Golden Goose Market placed a regular order. Publicity led to more business and they are now employing people with and without disabilities.

Then theres Arras in northern France where a young woman is about to become the countrys first local councillor with Downs Syndrome. The mayor said: She will be a councillor like no other but she will be a councillor in her own right.

Or how about the enterprising parents of little Odhran McLafferty in Easter Ross who have signed him up with a model agency. Odhran will also feature in a campaign called Nothing Down aiming to change pereceptions of Downs Syndrome.

These stories point to an important truth. The term Downs Syndrome covers a wide abilities range and as many personalities as there are individuals. Just like the rest of us.

Our own son, now aged 27, is not a baker, a prospective councillor or a model. Hes just a nice, gentle guy who enhances the lives of those he comes in contact with and costs the state very little.

So why is society so determined to get rid of all these people; to eliminate them en bloc? Why in some supposedly advanced, liberal European countries are they now on the point of succeeding?

These questions are brought into focus by the campaign supported by the actress Sally Phillips, herself a Downs parent, to amend the 1967 Abortion Act in order to equalise the treatment of all unborn children with non-fatal disabilities.

By far the biggest category of terminations beyond 24 weeks involve cases in which testing has taken place for Downs Syndrome. That is the product of a relentless campaign to persuade parents that the birth of a Downs child is a disaster which should, at all costs, be avoided.

Most astounding hypocrisy

For as long as our son has been alive, we have squirmed to read glowing reports of more accurate tests which identify Downs pregnancies for one purpose only. Nobody can question the campaigns success in the UK, more than 90 per cent of Downs births are pre-empted (along, inadvertently, with many non-Downs births).

Another Downs parent, happy with his lot, is the journalist Dominic Lawson. He made a valid point this week about justified outrage over a brief appearance in Downing Street of a bonkers special adviser with a record of eugenicist ravings.

Dominic wrote: Hidden in plain sight is the most astounding hypocrisy. Eugenics is practiced in this country, funded by the taxpayer... I am referring to the law governing the termination of pregnancy and the fact it actively discriminates against those unborn children who are likely to have subnormal IQs or physical disabilities.

If there is enough truth in that observation to give pause for thought in the UK, then consider what is happening in Scandinavia. Denmark and Iceland have official policies of eliminating Downs kids. At the last count, they are 98 and 100 per cent successful, respectively.

But why stop at Downs Syndrome? Are there not other troublesome conditions which might cost the state money and cause upset to perfect families? Once this form of eugenics is accepted and packaged as an undisputed advance for medical science, it is difficult to draw a line.

There is of course an alternative. It is to offer balanced information rather than eugenic prejudice to prospective parents. It is to create a climate of support and quality provision to help families adjust. It is to welcome diversity as an asset rather than a curse.

And if you disagree with any of that, just remember the baker, the councillor, the child model... Lumping a category of people together in order to get rid of them all is not a healthy trait in any society.

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Prejudice against Downs Syndrome is a form of eugenics Brian Wilson - The Scotsman

S. Craig Zahler and the Art of the Podcast – Filmmaker Magazine

We have a solution to Hollywoods development hell which I am pleased to share with everyone. This was how Dallas Sonnier, or at least his marketing department, announced the introduction of the original audiostate, the neologism Cinestate (Sonniers Dallas-based indie production company) coined to avoid the dread word podcast. Through marrying the grandiosity of Hollywood films with the intimacy of audio, the audiostate is meant transform that most beloved of objects, the unproduced screenplay, into multi-platform pitchable content. Since Sonniers 2017 statement, only one audiostate has been produced: the same years The Narrow Caves, a story of eldritch horror, eugenics and explicit fucking adapted by S. Craig Zahler from his own screenplay.

Zahlers recent career is deeply intertwined with Cinestate. As detailed by Scott Tobias, Sonnier made a personal bet on Zahlers first film Bone Tomahawk (2015), financing it partially through the mortgaging of his house. Tomahawk, which saw a motley band of Western stock characters plodding across a desert to rescue a couple of 19th Century normies from some metal AF subhuman cave dwellers, proved to be of enough interest, to both critics and gorehounds, to fund the creation of Cinestate, which Tobias aptly describes as a renegade outfit between the coasts. Since then, Cinestate has produced four other films, only one without a script by Zahler.

Previous to Tomahawk, Zahler had twenty-odd screenplays in various stages of Zenos Entertainment Complex Paradox, save for the Belgian Asylum Blackout (2011.) As the above Sonnier quote suggests, this is not an entirely unusual career for a screenwriter, although most professionals agree that said career type used to be more lucrative. Zahlers writing, however, is what certain producers might call tonally complex, and Zahler himself unenthusiastic to the notes process. As Zahler says of his films, Some people can get bored. And thats fine. But thats not what studios want to hear. Cinestate, however, has seen fit to leave Zahler, as writer and director, a relatively free hand, which has led to three films which are, to again quote Tobias, as challenging in their unusual longueurs as they are in their shocks.

The corrupt cop drama Dragged Across Concrete (2018) features a now semi-infamous scene in which Vince Vaughn does nothing but eat an egg salad sandwich for one minute and thirteen seconds. In Tomahawk, Richard Jenkins launches a digressive explanation about saloon musician economics. Zahler has stated the intent of such passages is to draw the audience into his characters world more fully, so that when the horror hits (and it always does), it smacks flesh harder. However, these films deliberation, duration, and pace, which isnt leisurely but instead has the rhythm of a lengthy march across enemy territory, differentiate Zahlers work tonally and formally from pulp forebears such as John Carpenter, Charles Willeford, and Don Siegel. As a director, Zahler is many things, but derivative only of himself.

Though Zahler asserts that his prose is clearly the prose of a novelist, his fiction is less successful. In a medium where the creator cannot control duration, only suggest it, pacing comes with voice. Zahlers voice marries laconic hard-boiled to the flourishing gothic, which often results in prose purpled like a much loved bruise. An early suicide in Mean Business on North Garrison Street (2014) is described thusly: W. Robert Fellburn swallowed the steel cylinder, thumbed the safety, and squeezed the trigger until his shame covered the ceiling in gray and red clumps. In A Congregation of Jackals (2010), a character speaks [i]n a quiet voice that begat a coiled serpent of smoke. Zahler the novelist also has a number of unfortunate tics, including race-baiting, gross-out spectacle and referencing characters by their descriptors. In Jackals, the bartender becomes the rapidly-aging drink slinger; later a rancher and his wife are referred to as bipedal intruders. In Mean Business, the protagonist introduces himself as Jules Bettinger, just before the authorial voice refers to him as the man from Arizona, two sentences after designating him the detective. Refusing to use pronouns is not a style, even if youre an Oulipian.

Despite their relative obscurity (Mean Business being the only title to have a mainstream publisher, Thomas Dunne), many of Zahlers novels have been optioned for film. Though none have yet made it to production, it makes sense to attempt the same outcome with a Zahler podcast. Adapting existing IP into pitch material, or reverse-engineering the process, is a strategy currently much in vogue. You prove the content has an audience, then you leverage it into a more lucrative medium. Podcasts seem to be the ideal form, as theyre (relatively) cheap, have a (seemingly) large potential market and have (limited) success making the long trudge towards television. However, narrative-fiction podcasts have a unique challenge. The vast majority of the living residents of overdeveloped nations have never experienced a time when narrative was not primarily consumed via the medium of the screen. Even those who read analogue books still take in their narrative visually. The eye of the podcast-listener is, thus, constantly restless, searching for content but finding only bare life.

This is why most successful podcasts are this historical periods talk radio, best experienced as background chatter, the ideologies of their hosts seeping into your unconscious. (As podcast-host Caroline Busta recently said of podcasts on the podcast New Models, as youre listening, youre not thinking as hard about exactly whats being said.) Vernacular rhythm, catch-phrases, vocal fry: these are the content that the podcast-listener comes to desire. Narrative-nonfiction podcasts (and Im thinking specifically of Serial and its spawn) often deal with this issue by returning to the same foundational scenes with new, previously-withheld facts or from divergent POVs, so that the listener who is browsing Instagram or doing kettle-bell reps will get multiple chances to be reminded of the narrative.

Many narrative-fiction podcasts mimic the tone, rhythm, and formal constraints of the narrative-nonfiction. BBCs H.P.-Lovecraft-is-now-public-domain series The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (2018) and The Whisper in the Darkness (2019) revel in this artifice, posing as narrative-nonfiction. The prehistory of the podcast includes, of course, Orson Welles oft-referenced War of the Worlds false flag/radio broadcast, so its not like theres no precedent for such formal fuckery. However, the continued built-in excuses for why the narrative in question has to be experienced solely through audio begins to feel like a pathological need on part of the creators to explain, if not apologize. The answer cant be, The meeting with Netflix didnt go so well.

This has led to audience exhaustion, which the more successful narrative-fiction podcasts tend to side-step. The Horror of Dolores Roach (2018) adapts a one-person show into a monologue with background noise and inserted dialogue. Monologue with extras is also the format episode-of-the-week The Magnus Archives (begun 2016) uses as a base. Homecoming (2016-2017) threw money at the problem, using a large celebrity cast, contextless conversation, and location recording to keep the frame TV wide. (Homecoming, of course, now is a TV show.)

Zahler, unsurprisingly, feels no need to apologize or explain. The Narrow Cavesform can be best described as elevated table reading. Wyatt Russell and Lili Simmons head up the small cast, doing good work (neither can, I think, be blamed for the excessive, embarrassing sex scenes, one of which involves stick-fucking), and national treasure Vincent DOnofrio is hellbent on out-deranging the material. Zahlers own sub-Carpenter score differentiates the soundtrack from the usual Casio noodling, while The Narrator (Will Patton) reads chunks of Action. If that sounds a bit dry, remember that this is Zahler.

The prose tics reappear immediately. Protagonists Walter (Russell) and Ruby (Simmons) are referred to as the lanky youth and the pale woman respectively, while Walters buddy Jason is referred to as, uh, the Asian fellow. However, the referents do extra work in this format, helping listeners keep in mind physical characteristics and becoming touchstones in the narration. Zahlers baroque sentences are chewier for their relative scarcity. Standouts include, Beer cans gleam like oblong stars along the weedy front lawn, and Several hungry partygoers pick at nachos which look like the remains of an exposed animal; others contend for the fried chicken, potato chips, and pretzels nearby. Later, the Narrator christens a certain class of subhuman Crawler without further description. This forces the listener to do the work of creating the salient attributes of the Crawler, aided only by squelching foley work. The whiplash between what is (over)described and what is left to the imagination proves productive, especially in comparison to the genre offerings of the film industrys mainstream, wherein everything must be backstoried, categorized and explained.

To his immense credit, Zahler is uninterested in world-building. Invented in the cloistered yet drafty halls of SF fandom, world-building managed to survive being staked through the heart by M. John Harrison to be recuperated into a beloved entertainment industry standard. Instead, The Narrow Caves presents its protagonist (I lied, its just Walter, not really Ruby at all) with a not-really-intractable problem: what if the reason why you are so violently drawn to your lover is because of the brutal logic of genetic programming? And what if visiting her ancestral homestead and creepy dad leads to the two of you being dragged underground by members of a subhuman race who have interbred with humanity? And what if you yourself are in fact the eventual product of such ancient, unspeakable mating? Zahler isnt interested in detailing an underground civilization and its intersection with human history, but rather with Walters refusal to succumb to his own eldritch genetic engineering. Zahlers heroes, corrupted as they often are (Walters not that bad compared to most of them, although hes a pseudo-intellectual whiney little manipulative dick), consistently find themselves faced with the necessity of cutting through the obscuring mists of amorality and seeing the eternal battle of good and evil. This evil is, in The Narrow Caves, an inescapable fact hidden in our blood, not accidental.

Arguing about whether S. Craig Zahlers work is racist or merely racist-adjacent has become fashionable in circles which must be described, unfortunately, as film twitter. (My favorite of these pieces is by K. Austin Collins.) I made my own determination when I read the authorial voice of Mean Business compare a characters height to that of a Chinese woman. The Narrow Caves ancient race that mated with human beings appears to besurviving across time, space and content platformsTomahawks aforementioned race of cave-dwellers who enjoy splitting people apart with rocks. Tomahawk clearly delineates these cave-dwellers from local indigenous peoples. This is a rather obvious attempt to dodge the consequences of deploying the racist trope of riding-out-to-save-white-folks-from-the-savages. There are symmetries here with Lovecrafts short story The Horror at Red Hook (1925), a centerpiece in the history of cosmic horror and often regarded as one of Lovecrafts most racist works. However, Red Hook has a far more complex internal dialogue with immigration than its reputation would suggest. Its protagonist is an immigrant himself, Irish (which at the time was a category still in the process of being subsumed into White), while its villain, or at least the human who acts as vortical point for unspeakable, squamish evil, is of a long-standing Dutch family. The carriers of the inhuman cult which the latter delves into are a very unusual colony of unclassified slant-eyed folk who used the Arabic alphabet but were eloquently repudiated by the great mass of Syrians in and around Atlantic Avenue.This is the Zahler two-step from Tomahawk, a century beforehand: the real subhumans are the ones I made up from out of nowhere. Not that Lovecraft was performing wokeness, he was metaphorically aligning evil with brown people pretty explicitly, and theres a lot of free-floating hate for generalized duskyforeigners later in the text.

Zahler, of course, isnt Lovecraft. Hes not the inventor of an elaborate pulp cosmos which metaphorizes positivism in the form of incoming species annihilation due to his despair over the decline of the white race; hes a nostalgic neo-pulp multi-platform content creator whose defense of his films obvious racism is that they dont even consistently line up withthemselves. This, dear reader, is what we like to refer to as horseshit. Just come out and have The Narrator say it, bro.

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S. Craig Zahler and the Art of the Podcast - Filmmaker Magazine

Dumbarton MP critical of Boris Johnson as he tells of brother who died from cerebral palsy – The Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter

Dumbarton and the Vales MP has paid tribute to his late brother Graham while criticising the Prime Minister over the views of one of his advisors.

Martin Docherty-Hughes questioned Boris Johnson on why Andrew Sabinsky was employed despite discriminatory comments on eugenics which is the science of controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.

The local MP shared how his late brother Graham died aged 15 from cerebral palsy. He was unable to walk, talk or feed himself, but Mr Docherty-Hughes told his colleagues in the Commons how he brought love and joy to all who knew him.

He asked the Prime Minister: To advise the house on behalf of every disabled person on this island, why Andrew Sabinsky was put at the heart of his government and was not removed from his position immediately, when his abhorrent views became apparent?

The former Downing Street adviser resigned one day after being appointed, when it was revealed he believed forced long-term contraception would rid the country of its permanent underclass, or as early eugenicists termed it, the residuum.

In response, Mr Johnson said: I certainly dont share those views and neither does anyone else in this government. And that individual no longer works for this government.

Mr Docherty-Hughes told the Reporter: The majority of my constituents who value the contribution of people with disabilities will be appalled that the Prime Minister has once again failed to unequivocally condemn such discriminatory views.

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Dumbarton MP critical of Boris Johnson as he tells of brother who died from cerebral palsy - The Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter

Fakebook and the Big Data manipulators – Pressenza International Press Agency

When Facebook announced that it would not remove political advertising with inaccurate content (aka lies) very few people seemed to be surprised, or bothered.When it was reported that interference by Cambridge Analytica, may be with some help from Canadian AggregateIQwas most likely responsible for the success of Brexit, being used by Vote.leave, it created some interest but not enough to question the results of the referendum.

UKs Channel 4 TV conducted an undercover investigation during which Cambridge Analytica described in no uncertain terms they had the capacity to manipulate elections and they had done so in various countries around the world:

Revealed: Trumps election consultants filmed saying they use bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians

An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News reveals how Cambridge Analytica secretly campaigns in elections across the world. Bosses were filmed talking about using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs and sex workers

In the meetings, the executives boasted that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) had worked in more than two hundred elections across the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India and Argentina.

The company is at the centre of a scandal over its role in the harvesting of more than 50 million Facebook profiles.

The companies and the people who carry out the studies of the Big Data being collected from our credit cards, supermarkets shopping habits, health records (which will inform US health care companies which bits of the NHS they should buy when the UK begins to negotiate the post Brexit deals) cookies, Facebook likes, etc, use sophisticated maths to elicit patterns to then use these for targeted advertising. Of any type, general consumerism, politics, whatever.

These number crunchers, algorithms wizards, work as hired guns for companies and politicians. If in the 80s and 90s political parties gave their campaigns to advertising agencies, in the new millennium the invisible hand of the Big Data manipulators will quietly tell us what to think and how to vote on a text message or WhatsApp, or targeted Facebook content.

After helping the most right wing faction of the Conservative Party win the Brexit referendum and the elections Dominic Cummings, one of these Big Data guys, is now sitting in the UKs government headquarters advising the Prime Minister on how to run the country. Are all these people right wing? Probably not but as hired guns they are likely to work for those who have the money, e.g., the most well off. He has expressed a desire to hire misfits and weirdos in order to shake up the civil service. So they brought in one whose racist views and support for eugenics forced him to resign after a big media scandal.

The poisonous spread of the alt-right ideology speaks of a system of massive subtle manipulation we cannot see unless we begin to pay attention to the drip drip of information (propaganda) that reaches us constantly on our most personal (which we believe private) objects (screens). Is there any chance to control how our data is used to manipulate us? Going back to paying all in cash? Hospitals getting rid of computers and writing all in paper records? Probably not. But we can remain vigilant about who are the spads, the special advisers in the political system and the proliferation of Cambridge Analytica-like companies, proposing firm international regulations to their political activities.

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Fakebook and the Big Data manipulators - Pressenza International Press Agency

Resignation of UK Government Adviser Sparks Controversy Over Link Between Race and IQ – The National Interest Online

An outrageous, racist and outdated belief in the innate intellectual inferiority of black people periodically re-enters public debate, usually masquerading as a bold initiative at the forefront of science; challenging convention and thinking the unthinkable.

A 27-year-old called Andrew Sabisky provides the latest example. In a matter of days, this Downing Street aide joined, then quit, the UK governments policy machine after a series of controversial past comments came to light. It is easy to misunderstand the significance of this. Sabiskys view that black people are genetically pre-determined to be less intelligent than whites was widely attacked in the media and politics. Yet the evidence suggests that his thinking about the nature of intelligence may not be entirely out of step with those in power in the UK.

Like Sabisky, they may claim that a focus on past statements and actions is unfair: tweeting about his departure Sabisky blamed selective quoting and media hysteria about my old stuff online. But the record is all we have on these matters.

At a press briefing shortly before Sabiskys departure, the prime ministers deputy spokesman refused more than 30 times to state Boris Johnsons views on eugenics and the supposed intellectual inferiority of black people. The press secretary repeatedly stated that the PMs views are well publicised and well documented.

I have been researching racism in education for more than 30 years and, at regular intervals, this means revisiting the question of supposed racial differences in intelligence a topic that refuses to die despite the wealth of evidence against it. Viewed from this perspective, there are some key takeaways from the Sabisky affair.

Much of the press coverage presented him as a maverick outsider; someone fitting Dominic Cummings search for misfits and weirdos to advance government thinking. But Sabiskys appointment highlights a view that is in line with earlier statements on intelligence by the prime minister and his chief advisor.

What sets Sabisky apart from some people in government is not his belief in intelligence as a fixed and measurable trait, but the way he expressed it. In 2013, for example, Boris Johnson sang the praises of the free market economy and the competition that it fosters when he said:

That violent economic centrifuge is operating on human beings who are already very far from equal in raw ability, if not spiritual worth. Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2% have an IQ above 130. The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top.

There is, of course, no mention of supposed race differences in intelligence here; but there is a clear belief in IQ tests as a useful measure of innate ability. What the prime minster failed to mention (or understand?) is that IQ tests are periodically re-calibrated so that 100 always falls at the overall average, despite the fact that average performance has risen over time. There will always be a percentage of our species below 85 because that is the way the test is designed and maintained. The significance of any IQ score is always open to debate.

A few years ago I wrote a paper challenging many of the myths that surround IQ. I included analysis of Dominic Cummings 237-page essay, Some Thoughts on Education and Political Priorities. At the time, Cummings was special advisor to the then education secretary, Michael Gove.

His essay attacks policymakers failure to embrace what he calls the relevant science concerning evolutionary influences on intelligence. Those familiar with the debates will know that evolution is frequently invoked as a causal explanation for current race inequalities, for example, in the work of J Philippe Rushton, whose evolutionary theory of race and intelligence places Negroids at the lesser end of the spectrum.

I think most would read Cummings essay as inferring that evolution and genes shape IQ but he never offers an explicit position on the controversial issue of race and intelligence. A section entitled Genes, class and social mobility ends with a lengthy quotation from an MIT professor who speculates that, in the future, people might discover alleles [types of genes] for certain aspects of cognitive function and those alleles might vary between different ethnic groups:

Then for the first time there could be a racism which is based not on some kind of virulent ideology, not based on some kind of kooky versions of genetics.

Unfortunately, Cummings offers no commentary whatsoever on the ideas contained in this quoted text.

I have called this strategy racial inexplicitness a careful avoidance of clarity about race and education amid a long and winding discussion that prompts the reader to join the dots without ever stating clearly where he thinks the dots lead us.

Reviewing Cummings sources and influences is instructive. One of his heroes is the American psychologist Professor Robert Plomin. Plomin has made headlines in recent years for his increasingly exaggerated claims about the genetics of intelligence, including most recently, that DNA is a fortune teller giving us the power to predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses from birth. Cummings invited Plomin to visit the education department to explain the science of IQ and genetics to officials and ministers.

Plomin, like Cummings, is currently vague about his views on race and intelligence. But in the 1990s he supported the claims made famous in the book The Bell Curve, which stated that class and race inequities in society mostly reflect genetics. He was one of 52 people who signed a 1994 Wall Street Journal article that claimed mainstream science shows that intelligence tests are not culturally biased against American blacks or other native-born, English-speaking peoples. The article also stated that:

The bell curve for whites is centred roughly around IQ 100; the bell curve for American blacks roughly around 85; and those for different subgroups of hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks.

These statements blithely ignore years of critique that has documented the misunderstandings and racist misuses of IQ tests. They are also remarkably similar to the racist blog post that came back to haunt Andrew Sabisky.

Asked, in 2015, whether he now regretted signing the Wall Street Journal statement, Professor Plomin replied, Well I regret it to the extent its a distraction to my research. But I think the basic facts are there erm, about heritability of intelligence.

It would be nice to think that Cummings and Plomin now reject such spurious views, but they have not explicitly stated their current position. If these documented views do reflect their current thinking then it would be the case that deeply racist and regressive beliefs about the nature of intelligence and education lie at the heart of the British government.

These views are bad news for many groups in society, especially those deemed less gifted. And its not so unlikely that we could see them entering policy. Despite the negative press coverage generated by Sabiskys beliefs, such dogma could conceivably be translated into a superficially acceptable policy brief. One way would be for education reforms to claim to apply scientific methods to identify the brightest and best and single them out for special attention. This would be presented as a meritocratic exercise, intended to fast-track clever children regardless of their social background.

The methods would include cognitive assessments (often a code for IQ tests) and the talk would be of social mobility and colour-blindness, whereby the approach treats everyone as an individual. No one in authority would worry about the fact that such assessments seem to always place a disproportionate number of black kids in the less-able bracket. Thats how institutional racism works.

David Gillborn, Professor of Critical Race Studies, University of Birmingham

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Reuters.

See the article here:

Resignation of UK Government Adviser Sparks Controversy Over Link Between Race and IQ - The National Interest Online

A new view of eugenics shows its ties to the slavery era – Daily Northwestern


Professor Rana Hogarth gives a talk on her new research in the Hagstrum Room of University Hall on Monday. Her lecture argued that the eugenics movement was motivated by the views of the slavery era.

Jason Beeferman/The Daily Northwestern

Professor Rana Hogarth gives a talk on her new research in the Hagstrum Room of University Hall on Monday. Her lecture argued that the eugenics movement was motivated by the views of the slavery era.

Jason Beeferman/The Daily Northwestern

Jason Beeferman/The Daily Northwestern

Professor Rana Hogarth gives a talk on her new research in the Hagstrum Room of University Hall on Monday. Her lecture argued that the eugenics movement was motivated by the views of the slavery era.

University of Illinois Prof. Rana Hogarth discussed her new research into eugenicist movements in University Hall on Monday. Her talk argued that contrary to common views of American history eugenics is actually a continuation of the views of the slavery era, rather than a seperate movement.

Through her talk, Hogarth presented the idea that eugenics was used to affirm prexisting beliefs that originated in the slavery era.

Eugenic-era race crossing studies owed a lot of their creation to old ideas about race mixing from the era of slavery, Hogarth said. Most people think of eugenics as this forward, new genetic science, which it is, but they were actually taking old ideas and repackaging them with new science.

Hogarths research specifically focused on two early 20th century studies of Charles Davenport, a leader of the eugenics movement in the United States. The two studies examined mixed-race populations in the Caribbean.

The lecture, titled, Legacies of Slavery in the Era of Eugenics: Charles B. Davenports Race-Crossing Studies, was part of the Klopsteg Lecture Series, which aims to present popular understandings of science for the general public.

Hogarth discussed multiple aspects of Davenports experiments, including his reluctance to acknowledge the role of white men in the existence of people identifying as mixed-race in the first place. Davenport, for example, would describe his subjects as fair skinned babies from dark mothers, without ever mentioning the role of a white father.

Davenport attempted to craft a narrative that played into white perceptions about black female sexuality, that only suddenly subtly implicated white men, Hogarth said.

Ken Alder is the founding director of the Science in Human Culture program, which hosts the lecture series. Alder said the talk itself was fabulous.

This particular aspect of (eugenics) was a sort of scientific justification for something that Americans already wanted to do, Alder said.

Raina Bhagat is a first year PhD student in comparative literary studies who attended the lecture. Bhagat said she was especially intrigued by Hogarts discussion of how eugenicists sought to use hair as an indication of ancestry.

It felt like a very contemporary link of this research that centered at the beginning of the 20th century, to here in the 21st century (with) the idea that hair comes in different shapes and sizes, Bhagat said.

Bhagat was referring to a discovery Hogarth made while digging through the archives of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.

After asking for all the materials relating to Davenport, she found a tiny manila envelope listed under the category of Family Histories. When Hogarth opened the envelope, to her surprise, human samples of hair fell out.

Though the hair was unexpected, it was definitely fascinating, Hogarth said.

When I went to the archives, I was like, this is really gross, but this is totally going into my research, Hogarth said.

To Hogarth, the human hair samples were more than an unusual find.

To me, seeing something like a human article, a part of somebodys body in this archive tells me that this is about reading peoples bodies, Hogarth said. This is about science, what science can tell us about somebodys potential or about someones ancestry by literally studying something as minute your hair. That to me is very telling.

Email: jasonbeeferman2023@u.northwestern.edu

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A new view of eugenics shows its ties to the slavery era - Daily Northwestern