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Your Christmas Tree Could Be Recycled Into Paint or Sweeteners

Pine needles on a green Christmas tree

Prickly Situation

Gifts have been opened, cookies have been eaten, Christmas has come and gone. Still, the last vestige of holiday festivities remains: the slowly decaying Christmas tree husk in your living room.

Even as fake tree sales rise, as many as 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year. After serving as Yuletide decorations, many of these trees will head to landfills.

But now, in a flourish of environmental Christmas magic, researchers from the UK’s University of Sheffield have found a way to break down a component in pine needles called lignocellulose and use it to create paints and sweeteners — a heartening seasonal example of how biotech discoveries can reduce waste at unexpected points on the global supply chain. 

Lignocellulose Jam

Lignocellulose is ugly. No, really. Its chemical structure makes it difficult to use for biomass energy, and it serves little industrial purpose. Sheffield PhD student Cynthia Kartey’s work has focused on examining ways to make use of this material, and now she may be on to something.

Using heat and glycerol Kartey was able to break down the pine needles into two components, one of which was made mostly of materials like glucose, acetic acid and phenol. All three have uses in other industries — glucose is used to make food sweeteners, phenol is used in products like mouthwash, and acetic acid for making adhesives, vinegar, and even paint.

“In the future, the tree that decorated your house over the festive period could be turned into paint to decorate your house once again,” Kartey said in a press release.

Green Again

Recycling and repurposing waste products is almost certain to become an increasingly important aspect of the future economy.

We’re already beginning to see the process in action, from recycling space junk to reusable beer bottles and even bricks made from literal human urine. Soon, perhaps even Christmas trees will keep our future green and fresh-pine scented.

READ MORE: Pine needles from old Christmas trees could be turned into paint and food sweeteners in the future [University of Sheffield]

More on the Future of Recycling: New Powder Captures CO2 Before It Can Hit the Atmosphere

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Your Christmas Tree Could Be Recycled Into Paint or Sweeteners

Space Travel Doesn’t Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives, Says Study

Astronauts and professional athletes have similar mortality rates, according to a new study, which suggests that space travel doesn't cause premature death.

Life Goes On

We’ve long known that traveling in space carries numerous health risks — it exposes astronauts to higher levels of radiation than the rest of us, and they have reported such health problems as partial blindness upon returning to Earth — but we never actually knew if working in space caused astronauts to die prematurely.

“The challenge has always been to understand if astronauts are as healthy as they would be had they been otherwise comparably employed but had never gone to space at all,” mortality researcher Robert Reynolds told Reuters in an interview published on Wednesday. “To do this, we needed to find a group that is comparable on several important factors, but has never been to space.”

Luckily, he found one — but while his comparison of the two groups resulted in good news for today’s astronauts, the same might not hold true for the people we send to space in the future.

Space Ballin’

Astronauts tend to be more physically fit and affluent than the average American, with access to better healthcare. That makes studying astronaut mortality difficult — they’re too different from the average person to draw any sound conclusions. But they aren’t all that different from National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) players, who also tend to be fit, affluent, and treated by top-of-the-line medical professionals.

In a study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Reynolds and his colleagues at Mortality Research & Consulting, Inc. describe how they compared data on men who played for either the NBA or MLB between 1960 and mid-2018 with data on male U.S. astronauts.

This comparison led them to conclude that both athletes and astronauts had a lower risk of premature death than the general U.S. population. Astronauts also died from heart disease at a lower rate than the athletes and of cancer at about the same rate.

“We cannot be sure from the data we have, but we speculate that cardiovascular fitness in particular is the most important factor in astronaut longevity,” Reynolds told Reuters.

Past ? Future

This study fills an important gap in our understanding of the impact of space travel on astronauts, but we still have much to learn. For example, we know space affects female astronauts differently than their male colleagues, so do they also have lower mortality rates than the general population?

We’ve also only been sending people to space for 57 years and fewer than 600 have made the trip. That’s not a lot of data to work with, and the conclusions on astronaut mortality might change as more becomes available.

As Francis Cucinotta, an expert in radiation biology who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters, just because space travel isn’t linked to premature death in today’s astronauts doesn’t mean the same would hold true in the future. Crewed missions to Mars are in the works, for example, and those would expose astronauts to a dose of radiation 50 to 100 times higher than past off-world missions, said Cucinotta.

And radiation is just one factor. There’s also a chance anything from Martian dust to the psychological strain on longterm space travel could impact future astronauts’ mortality, so before we risk taking years off anyone’s life by sending them into space, we’ll need to be sure we conduct as much research as possible here on Earth.

READ MORE: Work in Space Does Not Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives [Reuters]

More on astronaut health: Traveling to Mars Could Cause Life-Threatening Damage to Astronauts’ Guts, Says Study

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Space Travel Doesn’t Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives, Says Study

Elon Musk Pledges Tesla Superchargers For All of Europe Next Year

According to Elon Musk's tweet, Tesla will provide 100 percent supercharger coverage to Europe by the end of 2019. Then it will move to Africa.

Big Promise

Electric car maker Tesla will expand its network of Superchargers to provide service for all of Europe by the end of 2019, CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday.

If the plans come to fruition, the vast expansion will represent not just a coup for Tesla but also for the growing global infrastructure that supports practical transportation by electric car.

Yes. Supercharger coverage will extend to 100% of Europe next year. From Ireland to Kiev, from Norway to Turkey. https://t.co/7FQZgLCTVJ

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 26, 2018

Hit and Miss

Right now there are 1,386 Supercharger stations worldwide, according to a map on Tesla’s website. But there are still large gaps in planned coverage throughout Eastern Europe as well as in Sweden, Finland, and Norway — all of which Musk pledged to cover next year in the tweet.

Musk has a notable habit of tweeting Tesla updates from his personal account, and a spotty record when it comes to promising expansions to Tesla’s Supercharger network. Electrek reported that Musk had similarly promised 18,000 chargers worldwide by the end of 2018, but according to the map there are currently just 11,583 spread over the 1,386 stations.

But with most of the European Supercharger infrastructure already in place, total coverage by 2020 seems like a feasible goal.

Then What?

In another tweet, Musk said Tesla said it would set its sights on Africa in 2020. At the moment, there is not a single Supercharger on the entire continent, according to The Verge.

2020

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 27, 2018

It’s unclear which African or European countries will receive Superchargers first and how they will be distributed. But if Musk is to be taken at his word, Tesla will be working hard to expand electric vehicle use throughout the world very soon.

READ MORE: Elon Musk promises 100 percent Tesla Supercharger coverage in Europe next year [The Verge]

More on Superchargers: Tesla Just Announced the Site of the Largest Supercharger Station in Europe

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Elon Musk Pledges Tesla Superchargers For All of Europe Next Year

China Is Building Its First Huge Battery Storage Facility

The Chinese government just approved plans for a massive energy storage grid that will help the Gansu Province better rely on renewable electricity.

Batteries Not Included

The Chinese government approved the plans for a massive energy storage grid in Gansu Province on Monday, according to a statement by the Gansu Provincial Development & Reform Commission.

The project is scheduled to be completed this coming year according to Bloomberg — a colossal infrastructure investment that underscores China’s growing financial commitment to clean, renewable energy.

Biggest Yet

The proposed energy storage grid, also known as a virtual power plant because it serves as a source of energy even if the batteries store rather than generate it, would be the largest in the country — the first phase of construction is expected to cost 1.2 billion yuan ($174 million.)

As of September, China generated 706 gigawatts of solar and wind electricity, Bloomberg reports. But without infrastructure to support the power being generated, some of it went to waste.

More Flexible

According to the government statement, the virtual power plant would have a capacity of 720 MWh and could store unused electricity for four hours. For comparison, that’s almost two thirds the capacity of Tesla’s proposed “Megapack” energy storage system, which would bring a 1,200 MWh virtual power plant to California.

With a large-scale battery storage facility, people in Gansu will be able to rely on clean energy as needed rather than having to revert to fossil fuels when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing.

READ MORE: China Approves Its 1st Big Power Storage Pilot in Renewable Push [Bloomberg]

More on virtual power plants: Tesla Gets Green Light To Create The World’s Largest Virtual Solar Plant In South Australia

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Startup Claims Its Underwear Stay Odor-Free Through Weeks of Wear

Startup Organic Basics claims its silver-coated underwear remain odor-free after weeks of wear, but several testers disagree.

Under Where?

Want to wear the same pair of underwear for weeks at a time? Go right ahead.

A Danish startup called Organic Basics claims its underwear remain fresh through weeks of wear, eliminating the need for frequent washing. And this could be a boon for the environment — if it’s actually true.

Silver Skivvies

When your sweat meets your clothing, it creates an ideal environment for bacteria. It’s this bacteria that actually produces a foul-smelling odor. Silver is antimicrobial, meaning it kills bacteria and other microorganisms.

By treating their underwear with Polygiene, a product that uses silver chloride to control smells, Organic Basics says it can prevent the growth of 99.9 percent of this bacteria, which it claims prevents the underwear from smelling bad as quickly.

“It works,” CEO Mads Fibiger told Business Insider Nordic in May. “You can wear our underwear much longer before washing.”

Smell Test

Fibiger might claim the coating “works,” but not everyone agrees.

A reporter for New York magazine claimed she noticed a “less-than-fresh scent” on just the second day wearing Organic Basics’s women’s briefs, noting that she “didn’t feel comfortable pushing [her] luck with a third day of testing.” Her male colleague also tossed his Organic Basics boxer briefs in the laundry hamper after just 48 hours.

Even if the underwear did maintain the desired level of freshness, though, people might not be able get over the mental hurdle of wearing the same undergarments for weeks at a time — just this week, Elle reporter R. Eric Thomas wrote that reading about the undies made him want to “bleach [his] eyes.”

Futuristic Fashion

Organic Basics isn’t just trying to help people avoid laundry day, though. “The traditional way of buying, wearing, washing, and throwing away overpriced underwear is…extremely harmful to the environment,” Fibiger told Business Insider.

And he’s right. Washing and drying clothing requires water and energy, so the more often you clean your underwear, the greater the garment’s impact on the environment.

Still, the environmental benefits of wearing the same pair of underwear for weeks at a time might not be enough to get even the most environmentally conscious among us to wear Organic Basics’s underwear if they don’t actually smell fine on day three and beyond.

READ MORE: A Danish Startup Invented Underwear You Can Wear for Weeks Without Washing [Business Insider Nordic]

More on sustainable fashion: These Clothes Grow With Your Child and Are a Step Towards Sustainable Fashion

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Startup Claims Its Underwear Stay Odor-Free Through Weeks of Wear

Musk: Tesla’s Fully Autonomous Capabilities “About to Accelerate”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk pledged this week that the electric car maker is about to kick its fully autonomous self-driving vehicle ambitions up a notch.

“About to Accelerate”

Tesla appears ready to kick its vehicles’ fully autonomous capabilities up a notch.

In an email to employees this week, obtained by Inverse, CEO Elon Musk pledged that Tesla’s fully autonomous driving system was “about to accelerate significantly.”

Musk hasn’t always delivered on his ambitious public promises, but the email signals that he is positioning himself against the autonomous car hype trough — pushing for a future in which self-driving cars are a key aspect of transportation and not a glorified cruise control for luxury models.

Hype Trough

Just a few years ago, a growing number of experimental autonomous cars on public roads gave the impression that the arrival of safe and reliable self-driving vehicles was only a matter of time.

But a growing sense of the remaining engineering challenges — not to mention the March 2018 death of a pedestrian run down by a self-driving Uber vehicle — have chipped away at that confidence.

The evidence that self-driving vehicle manufacturers aren’t always upfront with the public hasn’t helped either. An excoriating October New Yorker investigation into the early years of the Google self-driving research project that eventually became Waymo found that the company had performed reckless road tests early in its work — and hadn’t always reported accidents.

Road Ahead

Musk’s promise to accelerate fully autonomous research, along with a call for more internal Tesla testers for the program, run precisely counter to that narrative. That’s not surprising: the eccentric Musk is known for imagining futures that are still years away — and using his wealth and influence to attempt to steer history toward or away from them.

Maybe the real question is political, rather than technological: Whether the relentless will of one person enough to pull an entire industry onto a different track.

READ MORE: Elon Musk Calls for More Testers Ahead of Tesla Full Self-Driving Launch [Inverse]

More on Tesla: Elon Musk Pledges Tesla Superchargers For All of Europe Next Year

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Musk: Tesla’s Fully Autonomous Capabilities “About to Accelerate”

An App That Does Your Homework for You Is Now Worth $3 Billion

Homework Machine

Extracurricular education is big business in China.

One futuristic example: Yuanfudao, an online tutoring platform that includes an app that uses artificial intelligence to give students answers to their homework after they snap a photo of it.

Yuanfudao claims it now has 200 million users, and that interest from parents and students has translated into major interest from investors. If it lives up the hype, it could represent a new path forward for educational technology — not just in China but for students across the globe.

Fully Invested

On Tuesday, Yuanfudao announced another $300 million in funding, bringing its valuation to more than $3 billion. Chinese social networking and gaming giant Tencent led the round, with an international squad of investment firms including Warburg Pincus and IDG Capital also joining in.

Yuanfudao told TechCrunch it plans to use these funds for AI research and development, and to improve the user experience of its homework app.

Practice Makes Perfect

While being able to snap a photo of your homework and instantly get answers to problems sounds like a lazy student’s dream come true, the homework app actually isn’t Yuanfudao’s main moneymaker — the company told TechCrunch most of its revenue comes from selling live courses.

Rather than using the app to get out of doing their homework in the first place, it’s more likely that Chinese students use the app to check that their homework answers are correct. After all, the ultimate goal of paying for Yuanfudao is to improve exam scores, so skipping out on doing the homework that prepares a student for those exams would be counterintuitive.

Chinese parents probably wouldn’t be too happy about that use of the app, either. All told, they spend an average of $17,400 every year on extracurricular tutoring for their children — and based on Yuanfudao’s latest round of funding, investors are as willing to pump money into tutoring companies as Chinese parents are.

READ MORE:  Tencent-Backed Homework App Jumps to $3B Valuation After Raising $300M [TechCrunch]

More on Chinese education: Not Paying Attention in Class? China’s “Smart Eye” Will Snitch on You

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An App That Does Your Homework for You Is Now Worth $3 Billion

Virtual Reality Tumors Could Help Lead to New Cancer Treatments

A new virtual reality simulation built by Cambridge University scientists gives a high-resolution detail view into the cells of a breast cancer tumor.

Oculus Oncologists

Doctors have a new weapon in the fight against cancer: detailed maps of the cells in a tumor that can be explored and analyzed in a virtual reality simulation that its creators say provides researchers with an intuitive new way to examine complex medical data that could lead to unexpected breakthroughs.

Built by doctors at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK), the new virtual lab takes detailed scans of breast cancer tissues and turns them into detailed simulations that doctors around the world can explore, the BBC reports.

The simulation lets doctors analyze every single cell of a tumor, something they’ve never been able to do before. And because that data is stored in a simulation rather than microscope slides, doctors around the world can explore and study the cancer without having to prepare their own samples.

“Understanding how cancer cells interact with each other and with healthy tissue is critical if we are going to develop new therapies,” CRUK Chief Scientist Karen Vousden told the BBC. “Looking at tumors using this new system is so much more dynamic than the static 2D versions we are used to.”

Dive in Headfirst

The Cambridge scientists and peers from around the world who helped develop the virtual lab won two separate 20 million pound grants ($25.3 million each) to build up their project from Cancer Research UK last year.

Now they have a functional simulation built up from highly-detailed scans of a cubic millimeter-sized sample of breast cancer tissue. In that sample, each of the roughly 100,000 cells was marked to highlight its molecular and genetic characteristics.

Enhance! Enhance!

With that information, the resulting VR map highlights which cells are cancerous which have certain genetic variations, and how developed the tumor was at the time of the biopsy. All of this is information that was laborious to obtain from samples that were easily contaminated.

Moving the analysis to VR makes tumor research much more user friendly and lets doctors analyze cells in greater detail than ever before.

Not only does that let scientists literally immerse themselves in their work as they look for new cancer treatments, but it can also open the door to more collaborative diagnosis and patient care among teams that are spread around the world.

These simulations don’t guarantee that doctors will find new ways to treat or prevent breast cancer, but at least it makes the search much easier.

READ MORE: ‘Virtual tumour’ new way to see cancer [BBC]

More on virtual reality: VR TREATMENT, EVEN WITHOUT A THERAPIST, HELPS PEOPLE OVERCOME FEAR OF HEIGHTS

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Virtual Reality Tumors Could Help Lead to New Cancer Treatments

New Fiber Could Be the Foundation for Futuristic Smart Garments

Chinese engineers just figured out how to manufacture a self-assembling silver nanowire that can be woven into high-tech clothing.

Smart Garments

Designers of smart garments have a vision: that we’ll come to use electronics woven into the clothes we wear not just as dazzling new ways to express ourselves, like the light-up prom dress that went viral in 2017, but as extensions of our digital lives that could collect biometric data or even grant wearers superhuman senses.

The problem is that today’s old-fashioned textiles are already the result of thousands of years of innovation, and versions that incorporate wearable computing tech need to be just as hardy. Smart garments will have to be resilient in the face of everything from wash-and-fold to sweaty workouts, not to mention as long-lasting as a trusty t-shirt.

One key challenge has always been creating conductive wires that can carry current between components in a smart garment without breaking down over time as it flexes, twists, and gets wet. Now, Chinese scientists say they’ve invented a new type of self-assembling silver nanowire, inspired by the capillaries in your cardiovascular system, that could be the most practical attempt yet.

Wirehead

The new research, published Thursday in the journal Nano by researchers at the Chinese Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, describes silver-based wiring that’s cheap to make and could lead to more comfortable and durable smart textiles than ever before.

Here’s how it works. The engineers behind this silver fiber found a way to manufacture tiny wires without much of the headache that normally comes with nanotech assembly. Instead of painstakingly crafting the tiny wires that transport electricity throughout their fabric, the scientists concocted a silver-based solution that automatically soaks into tube-like fibers, drawing into the tube like blood into a capillary.

As the solution evaporates, it leaves behind flexible, durable, and highly-conductive silver nanowires, according to the research. Compared to traditional copper wires, they can withstand much more abuse without breaking. That could mean a future with smart clothes that survive everyday wear and tear — or maybe, if we’re lucky, invisibility cloaks or the water-harvesting suit from “Dune.”

Déjà vu

Like so many other smart textile projects that have popped up over the past few years, this research is still at the proof-of-concept stage. For all of the progress scientists have made, very few attempts to integrate that tech into clothing have taken off.

But the consistency with which researchers, makers, and hackers — not to mention sci-fi writers — have imagined smart garments over the decades suggests a genuine demand for the concept that we could see within a lifetime. At least, that is, if it can survive 40 minutes in a clothes dryer.

READ MORE: Silver nanowires promises more comfortable smart textiles [World Scientific]

More on smart textiles: A NEW BATTERY CAN BE STITCHED INTO CLOTHES TO POWER WEARABLES

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Cacti-Inspired Tech Could Keep You Hydrated After the Apocalypse

water collection

Good Nature

If the world ever devolves into a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, you’ll probably need to watch out for dust storms and violent bikers gangs. But you might not have to worry about finding enough water.

That’s because a team of researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) has been studying how some of the desert’s most efficient water collectors manage to quite literally pull water from midair — and what they learned could help ensure we all have enough clean drinking water, before or after the breakdown of social order.

Beneath the Surface

In a study published Monday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, researchers from OSU describe how cacti, desert grass, and desert beetles collect water from the fog that falls over the desert at night. The researchers then used 3D printers to create surfaces that mimicked the natural ones of those three desert dwellers.

They covered some of the surfaces in grooves similar to those that help a desert grass channel water toward its roots. Other surfaces bore cones designed to mimic the water-collecting spines of the cactus.

The researchers also tested out different materials, including ones that were heterogeneous — a mix of water-collecting and water-repelling spots —  like the surface of a beetle’s back, which plays a major role in its water collection.

Then they tested the various surfaces by placing them in a room with a humidifier. The result: they determined that the best surface for water collection would incorporate a heterogeneous material and multiple grooved cones, each inclined at a 45-degree angle.

Water Everywhere

The researchers believe a large-scale structure based on their findings could one day gather water from fog or condensation that people in dry environments could then drink.

“Water supply is a critically important issue, especially for people of the most arid parts of the world,” researcher Bharat Bhushan said in a press release. “By using bio-inspired technologies, we can help address the challenge of providing clean water to people around the globe, in as efficient a way as possible.”

Let’s just hope they manage to scale-up their tech well before any sort of apocalypse.

READ MORE: Collecting Clean Water From Air, Inspired by Desert Life [The Ohio State University]

More on a post-apocalyptic world: How to Survive a World-Ending Scenario, According to Science

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Cacti-Inspired Tech Could Keep You Hydrated After the Apocalypse

Australian Autonomous Train Is The “World’s Largest Robot”

A mining corporation says an autonomous rail system it's been developing in Australia is fully operational, making it the

Robot Train

Mining corporation Rio Tinto says that an autonomous rail system called AutoHaul that it’s been developing in the remote Pilbara region of Australia for several years is now entirely operational — an accomplishment the company says makes the system the “world’s largest robot.”

“It’s been a challenging journey to automate a rail network of this size and scale in a remote location like the Pilbara,” Rio Tinto’s managing director Ivan Vella told the Sidney Morning Herald, “but early results indicate significant potential to improve productivity, providing increased system flexibility and reducing bottlenecks.”

One Track Minded

The ore-hauling train is just one part of an ambitious automation project involving robotics and driverless vehicles that Rio Tinto wants to use to automate its mining operations. The company conducted its first test of the train without a human on board earlier this year, and it now claims that the system has completed more than a million kilometers (620,000 miles) of autonomous travel.

In response to concerns from labor unions, Rio Tinto promised that the autonomous rail system will not eliminate any existing jobs in the coming year — though it’s difficult to imagine the project won’t cut into human jobs in the long term.

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Chinese Scientists Reportedly Lost Track of Gene-Edited Patients

gene-editing

The Case of the Missing Patients

China is finally looking into its scientists’ human gene-editing trials — but some patients are already out of view.

According a newly published Wall Street Journal story, Chinese scientists using CRISPR technology provided by the startup Anhui Kedgene Biotechnology have lost touch with at least some of the late-stage cancer patients whose DNA they altered.

That means no one knows for sure how the editing may have affected the patients in the longer term — and according to experts, that lack of follow-up could affect CRISPR research far beyond China’s borders.

Keeping Tabs

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration recommends that researchers follow up with patients involved in gene therapy trials for 15 years. No such recommendation exists in China, however, and Chinese CRISPR researchers’ lack of extended follow-up could prove disastrous as the nascent technology finds its footing.

Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of CRISPR, told The WSJ that gene-editing trials “hinge upon rigorous trial design and follow-ups.” Jennifer Doudna, another CRISPR inventor, said it’s “vital” that researchers conduct long-term monitoring of gene-edited patients.

“Since we do not fully understand the human genome and are still developing knowledge of CRISPR-Cas technology, we need to monitor the intended and unintended consequences over the lifespan of patients,” Doudna told The WSJ.

Closer Look

The Chinese government has thus far remained fairly hands-off with regards to CRISPR research — it hasn’t even tasked any one federal body with overseeing its gene-editing trials — but that could be changing.

On Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported that China is asking hospitals and universities to submit thorough reports on all human gene-editing trials conducted since 2013.

This closer look at human gene editing is likely due to the international backlash the nation faced in the wake of Chinese researcher He Jiankui announcing he’d modified the genes of human embryos. Those embryos were then implanted into a woman, who gave birth to twin girls.

While it might be too late to find out what sort of long-term effect CRISPR may have had on the missing patients from that cancer trial, China’s newfound interest in what’s happening within the walls of its labs could at least ensure that current and future trials don’t make the same mistakes — and hopefully, it’ll prevent any other researchers from following in He’s reckless footsteps.

READ MORE: Chinese Gene-Editing Experiment Loses Track of Patients, Alarming Technology’s Inventors [The Wall Street Journal]

More on human gene editing: Chinese Scientists Claim to Have Gene-Edited Human Babies For the First Time

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Chinese Scientists Reportedly Lost Track of Gene-Edited Patients

Netflix’s Bandersnatch Teases the Future of Entertainment

Bandersnatch

CYOA Grows Up

The choose-your-own-adventure story format is no longer just for books. It’s also no longer only for kids.

In October, an anonymous source told Bloomberg that Netflix planned to release an interactive episode of its dystopian sci-fi series “Black Mirror.” Rather than pushing play and sitting back to watch a linear story unfold before their eyes, viewers would need to make choices at various points throughout the episode, sending the plot in a new direction with each decision.

At 3:01 a.m. ET on Friday, Netflix confirmed that report with the release of the “Black Mirror” episode Bandersnatch — and the overwhelmingly positive response to the episode looks like a sign that adult viewers are ready to embrace interactive storytelling.

Choose Wisely

The general — and spoiler-free — plot of Bandersnatch is this: Young computer coder Stefan, portrayed by “Dunkirk” actor Fionn Whitehead, is hired to help create a computer game inspired by a choose-your-own-adventure novel.

How that experience plays out, however, depends on the viewer’s decisions, which they input using their TV remote, game controller, smartphone, or tablet. Netflix execs claimed during a November media event, as reported by The New York Times, that Bandersnatch has “five main endings with multiple variants of each.”

The interactive format works on pretty much any device you’d use to watch Netflix, including most TVs, game consoles, web browsers, smartphones, and tablets. The primary platforms that don’t support it are Chromecast and Apple TV, according to Netflix.

Striking Gold

This isn’t Netflix’s first foray into interactivity. In June 2017, the platform released “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale,” an interactive short animated film for children.

However, this is Netflix’s first test of the format with adult viewers, and though Bandersnatch hasn’t even been out for 12 hours yet at the time of writing, it’s already receiving an overwhelmingly positive response — it quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, and a reviewer for The Guardian even went so far as to call it a “meta masterpiece.”

According to The Independent, Netflix is already asking producers to submit proposals for other interactive content in a variety of genres. Given the breathless response to Bandersnatch, it’s hard to imagine that Netflix won’t green light at least a few.

Equally hard to imagine is other platforms not attempting to replicate the platform’s success themselves. So with the release of just one creepy episode of “Black Mirror,” Netflix may have ushered in an entirely new era in entertainment.

READ MORE: ‘Black Mirror’ Gives Power to the People [The New York Times]

More on Netflix: Netflix Plans to Try out “Interactive” Shows

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Netflix’s Bandersnatch Teases the Future of Entertainment

Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis and Injuries – Regenexx

Regenexx uses your body’s natural healing ability to repair damage to bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments non-surgically. Our proprietary, research-driven techniquesallow us to concentrate your cells and to place them inthe precise area of your injury to promote healing and to achieve optimal outcomes.

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Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis and Injuries – Regenexx

Is Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis Safe and Effective?

People considering stem cell treatment for arthritis want to know Is it safe? and Is it effective?

Most stem cell therapy using adult stem cells is considered safe because the stem cells are collected from the patient, minimizing the risk of an unwanted reaction. The most common side effects are temporary swelling and pain.3

While most stem cell therapy for arthritis is considered safe, it does carry the same risks as any other medical procedure, such as a small risk of infection. Risk may be increased if:

See What Are Stem Cells?

Some research suggests stem cell therapy engaging in these kinds of practices may elevate the risk of tumors.4

As with most regenerative medicine treatments, research is ongoing, and FDA regulations are relatively new and subject to change.

Article continues below

Whether or not stem cells therapy is effective in treating osteoarthritis is a controversial subject among medical professionals, and research in the area is ongoing.

See Osteoarthritis Treatment

How researchers think stem cell therapy worksResearchers theorize5 that when applied to an arthritic joint, stem cells might:

See Osteoarthritis Symptoms and Signs

It may be none, one, two, or all three processes at are work.

Proponents vs criticsLike many relatively new treatments, stem cell therapy has proponents and critics.

Critics emphasize that there have been no large-scale, prospective, double-blind research studiesthe kind of clinical studies that medical professionals consider the gold standardto support stem cell therapy for arthritis.

Factors that affect stem cell therapy researchAnother challenge associated with current stem cell research is that there is no standard stem cell therapy for arthritis treatment. So the stem cell therapy in one study is not necessarily the same as the stem cell therapy in another study.

Differences can include:

These differences are further complicated by more unknowns. For example, how many stem cells are needed for a particular treatment? And how do we determine if a patients own stem cells are competent enough to aid in healing?

Many physicians combine the use of stem cells with platelet rich plasma, or PRP.

See Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy for Arthritis

PRP is derived from a sample of the patients blood. In the body, platelets secrete substances called growth factors and other proteins that regulate cell division, stimulate tissue regeneration, and promote healing. Like stem cell therapy, PRP therapy is sometimes used alone with the hopes of healing an arthritic joint.

See PRP Injection Preparation and Composition

Physicians who use PRP and stem cells together think that the PRP can help maximize the healing effects of stem cells.7,8 Research in this area is ongoing.

See Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection Procedure

Stem cell therapy can vary depending on the doctor performing it. People considering stem cell therapy for an arthritic knee or other joint are advised to ask their doctors questions, including:

Both doctors and patients can benefit from having a frank conversation and setting reasonable expectations.

See Arthritis Treatment Specialists

Complete Listing of References

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Is Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis Safe and Effective?

Eugenics – Wikipedia

Eugenics (; from Greek eugenes ‘well-born’ from eu, ‘good, well’ and genos, ‘race, stock, kin’)[2][3] is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population.[4][5] The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883. The concept predates this coinage, with Plato suggesting applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400BCE.

Frederick Osborn’s 1937 journal article “Development of a Eugenic Philosophy”[6] framed it as a social philosophythat is, a philosophy with implications for social order. That definition is not universally accepted. Osborn advocated for higher rates of sexual reproduction among people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics).

Alternatively, gene selection rather than “people selection” has recently been made possible through advances in genome editing,[7] leading to what is sometimes called new eugenics, also known as neo-eugenics, consumer eugenics, or liberal eugenics.

While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom[8] and spread to many countries including the United States, Canada[9] and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies with the intent to improve the quality of their populations’ genetic stock. Such programs included both “positive” measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly “fit” to reproduce, and “negative” measures such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed unfit to reproduce often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges of different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups. The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs.[10] In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually began to abandon eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them the United States and Sweden, continued to carry out forced sterilizations.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, when new assisted reproductive technology procedures became available such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989), and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear has emerged about a possible revival of eugenics.

A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether “negative” or “positive” policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in inbreeding depression due to lower genetic variation.

Seneca the Younger

The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[12] In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome, a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled.[13] Among the ancient Germanic tribes, people who were cowardly, unwarlike or “stained with abominable vices” were put to death, usually by being drowned in swamps.[14][15]

The first formal negative eugenics, that is a legal provision against the birth of allegedly inferior human beings, was promulgated in Western European culture by the Christian Council of Agde in 506, which forbade marriage between cousins.[16]

This idea was also promoted by William Goodell (18291894) who advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[17][18]

The idea of a modern project of improving the human population through a statistical understanding of heredity used to encourage good breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton and, initially, was closely linked to Darwinism and his theory of natural selection.[20] Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, although Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory.[21] In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[22] With the introduction of genetics, eugenics became associated with genetic determinism, the belief that human character is entirely or in the majority caused by genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism.[20] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained controversial.

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources.[24] Organizations were formed to win public support and sway opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, including the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907 and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[25] In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.[25]

Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York City. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[26] It also took root in France, Germany, and Great Britain.[27] Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries including Belgium,[28] Brazil,[29] Canada,[30] Japan and Sweden.

In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Record Office. Politically, the movement advocated measures such as sterilization laws. In its moral dimension, eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness. Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure “Nordic race” or “Aryan” genetic pool and the eventual elimination of “unfit” races.

Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward,[39] the English writer G. K. Chesterton, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, who argued that advocates of eugenics greatly over-estimate the influence of biology,[40] and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Ward’s 1913 article “Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics”, Chesterton’s 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas’ 1916 article “Eugenics” (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address “Consumption: Its Cause and Cure”,[41] and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes. Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben.[42] Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of “defectives” would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.[43]

Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations.[44] Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalize voluntary sterilization were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party.[45] The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii.[25] In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.”[46]

As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals. Many countries enacted[47] various eugenics policies, including: genetic screenings, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and sequestering the mentally ill), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, ultimately culminating in genocide.

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925 and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. Some common early 20th century eugenics methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as “degenerate” or “unfit”, and therefore led to segregation, institutionalization, sterilization, euthanasia, and even mass murder. The Nazi practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.

By the end of World War II, many discriminatory eugenics laws were abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany.[50] H. G. Wells, who had called for “the sterilization of failures” in 1904,[51] stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights, which he believed should be available to all people, was “a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment”.[52] After World War II, the practice of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group” fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[53] The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims “the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons”.[54] In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, some government mandated sterilizations continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, 2,000 persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized.[55] China maintained its one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations.[56][57][58] In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan.[59] During the years 2005 to 2013, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.[60]

Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject.Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.[61] This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a “new era of eugenics”, and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, “where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products”.[62] In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction.[63]

Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Singapore, started promoting eugenics as early as 1983.[64][65]

In October 2015, the United Nations’ International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements. However, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want, or cannot afford, the technology.[66]

Transhumanism is often associated with eugenics, although most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term “eugenics” (preferring “germinal choice” or “reprogenetics”)[67] to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.

Prenatal screening can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.[68]

The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883,[69] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin.[70][71] Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (“good” or “well”) and the suffix -gens (“born”), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word “stirpiculture”, which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones.[73] Galton defined eugenics as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations”.[74]

Historically, the term eugenics has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia.[75] To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that “the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent.”[76] Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics continues today.[77]

Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry.[78] The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of “improvement” of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience.[79][80][81]

Early eugenists were mostly concerned with factors of perceived intelligence that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.[21]

Eugenics also had a place in medicine. In his lecture “Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics”, Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.[82]

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories.[75] Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning.[83] The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of a dystopian society that uses eugenics to decided what people are capable of and their place in the world. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally “undesirable”. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.[83] Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.[84]

Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States”. According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution”.[85]

According to Richard Lynn, eugenics may be divided into two main categories based on the ways in which the methods of eugenics can be applied.[86]

The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan. He demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with white eyes from a family with red eyes. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate. Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined.[123] Despite Morgan’s public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.[124][125]

The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child.[126] The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.[126]

Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, it could be argued[by whom?] from certain perspectives that the practicality of “eliminating” traits is quite low.[citation needed]

There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (TaySachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease, and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[127]

Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect.[128] Andrzej Pkalski, from the University of Wrocaw, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects a pleiotropic gene that could possibly be associated with a positive trait. Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together.[129]

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted “improvement” of the gene pool could very likelyas evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.[130]

Edward M. Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes.[131] Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.[131]

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.

However, some genetic diseases cause people to consider some elements of eugenics.

Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement.[132] Many of the ethical concerns regarding eugenics arise from its controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws.[133] Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.[134] Therefore, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.[135]

With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion. The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion.[136] Philosophers disagree about the proper framework for reasoning about such actions, which change the very identity and existence of future persons.[137]

A common criticism of eugenics is that “it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical”.[138] Some fear future “eugenics wars” as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.[139] Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.[140][141]

In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement. He writes that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to “improve” themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome with technology. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.[142]

Some, for example Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family.[143] Comfort suggests that “the eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise.”[144] Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that “[e]ugenics doesn’t seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn’t sufficient to show that they’re wrong.”[145]

In their book published in 2000, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals’ reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements.[146]

Original position, a hypothetical situation developed by American philosopher John Rawls, has been used as an argument for negative eugenics.[147][148]

Notes

Bibliography

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Eugenics – Wikipedia

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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics, the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans. The term eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and natural scientist Francis Galton, who, influenced by Charles Darwins theory of natural selection, advocated a system that would allow the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable. Social Darwinism, the popular theory in the late 19th century that life for humans in society was ruled by survival of the fittest, helped advance eugenics into serious scientific study in the early 1900s. By World War I many scientific authorities and political leaders supported eugenics. However, it ultimately failed as a science in the 1930s and 40s, when the assumptions of eugenicists became heavily criticized and the Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of entire races.

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biological determinism: The eugenics movement

One of the most prominent movements to apply genetics to understanding social and personality traits was the eugenics movement, which originated in the late 19th century. Eugenics was coined in 1883 by British explorer and naturalist Francis Galton, who was influenced by the

Although eugenics as understood today dates from the late 19th century, efforts to select matings in order to secure offspring with desirable traits date from ancient times. Platos Republic (c. 378 bce) depicts a society where efforts are undertaken to improve human beings through selective breeding. Later, Italian philosopher and poet Tommaso Campanella, in City of the Sun (1623), described a utopian community in which only the socially elite are allowed to procreate. Galton, in Hereditary Genius (1869), proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. In 1865 the basic laws of heredity were discovered by the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel. His experiments with peas demonstrated that each physical trait was the result of a combination of two units (now known as genes) and could be passed from one generation to another. However, his work was largely ignored until its rediscovery in 1900. This fundamental knowledge of heredity provided eugenicistsincluding Galton, who influenced his cousin Charles Darwinwith scientific evidence to support the improvement of humans through selective breeding.

The advancement of eugenics was concurrent with an increasing appreciation of Darwins account for change or evolution within societywhat contemporaries referred to as social Darwinism. Darwin had concluded his explanations of evolution by arguing that the greatest step humans could make in their own history would occur when they realized that they were not completely guided by instinct. Rather, humans, through selective reproduction, had the ability to control their own future evolution. A language pertaining to reproduction and eugenics developed, leading to terms such as positive eugenics, defined as promoting the proliferation of good stock, and negative eugenics, defined as prohibiting marriage and breeding between defective stock. For eugenicists, nature was far more contributory than nurture in shaping humanity.

During the early 1900s eugenics became a serious scientific study pursued by both biologists and social scientists. They sought to determine the extent to which human characteristics of social importance were inherited. Among their greatest concerns were the predictability of intelligence and certain deviant behaviours. Eugenics, however, was not confined to scientific laboratories and academic institutions. It began to pervade cultural thought around the globe, including the Scandinavian countries, most other European countries, North America, Latin America, Japan, China, and Russia. In the United States the eugenics movement began during the Progressive Era and remained active through 1940. It gained considerable support from leading scientific authorities such as zoologist Charles B. Davenport, plant geneticist Edward M. East, and geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate Hermann J. Muller. Political leaders in favour of eugenics included U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall Harlan. Internationally, there were many individuals whose work supported eugenic aims, including British scientists J.B.S. Haldane and Julian Huxley and Russian scientists Nikolay K. Koltsov and Yury A. Filipchenko.

Galton had endowed a research fellowship in eugenics in 1904 and, in his will, provided funds for a chair of eugenics at University College, London. The fellowship and later the chair were occupied by Karl Pearson, a brilliant mathematician who helped to create the science of biometry, the statistical aspects of biology. Pearson was a controversial figure who believed that environment had little to do with the development of mental or emotional qualities. He felt that the high birth rate of the poor was a threat to civilization and that the higher races must supplant the lower. His views gave countenance to those who believed in racial and class superiority. Thus, Pearson shares the blame for the discredit later brought on eugenics.

In the United States, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was opened at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York, in 1910 with financial support from the legacy of railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman. Whereas ERO efforts were officially overseen by Charles B. Davenport, director of the Station for Experimental Study of Evolution (one of the biology research stations at Cold Spring Harbor), ERO activities were directly superintended by Harry H. Laughlin, a professor from Kirksville, Missouri. The ERO was organized around a series of missions. These missions included serving as the national repository and clearinghouse for eugenics information, compiling an index of traits in American families, training fieldworkers to gather data throughout the United States, supporting investigations into the inheritance patterns of particular human traits and diseases, advising on the eugenic fitness of proposed marriages, and communicating all eugenic findings through a series of publications. To accomplish these goals, further funding was secured from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the Battle Creek Race Betterment Foundation, and the Human Betterment Foundation.

Prior to the founding of the ERO, eugenics work in the United States was overseen by a standing committee of the American Breeders Association (eugenics section established in 1906), chaired by ichthyologist and Stanford University president David Starr Jordan. Research from around the globe was featured at three international congresses, held in 1912, 1921, and 1932. In addition, eugenics education was monitored in Britain by the English Eugenics Society (founded by Galton in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society) and in the United States by the American Eugenics Society.

Following World War I, the United States gained status as a world power. A concomitant fear arose that if the healthy stock of the American people became diluted with socially undesirable traits, the countrys political and economic strength would begin to crumble. The maintenance of world peace by fostering democracy, capitalism, and, at times, eugenics-based schemes was central to the activities of the Internationalists, a group of prominent American leaders in business, education, publishing, and government. One core member of this group, the New York lawyer Madison Grant, aroused considerable pro-eugenic interest through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race (1916). Beginning in 1920, a series of congressional hearings was held to identify problems that immigrants were causing the United States. As the countrys eugenics expert, Harry Laughlin provided tabulations showing that certain immigrants, particularly those from Italy, Greece, and Eastern Europe, were significantly overrepresented in American prisons and institutions for the feebleminded. Further data were construed to suggest that these groups were contributing too many genetically and socially inferior people. Laughlins classification of these individuals included the feebleminded, the insane, the criminalistic, the epileptic, the inebriate, the diseasedincluding those with tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilisthe blind, the deaf, the deformed, the dependent, chronic recipients of charity, paupers, and neer-do-wells. Racial overtones also pervaded much of the British and American eugenics literature. In 1923 Laughlin was sent by the U.S. secretary of labour as an immigration agent to Europe to investigate the chief emigrant-exporting nations. Laughlin sought to determine the feasibility of a plan whereby every prospective immigrant would be interviewed before embarking to the United States. He provided testimony before Congress that ultimately led to a new immigration law in 1924 that severely restricted the annual immigration of individuals from countries previously claimed to have contributed excessively to the dilution of American good stock.

Immigration control was but one method to control eugenically the reproductive stock of a country. Laughlin appeared at the centre of other U.S. efforts to provide eugenicists greater reproductive control over the nation. He approached state legislators with a model law to control the reproduction of institutionalized populations. By 1920, two years before the publication of Laughlins influential Eugenical Sterilization in the United States (1922), 3,200 individuals across the country were reported to have been involuntarily sterilized. That number tripled by 1929, and by 1938 more than 30,000 people were claimed to have met this fate. More than half of the states adopted Laughlins law, with California, Virginia, and Michigan leading the sterilization campaign. Laughlins efforts secured staunch judicial support in 1927. In the precedent-setting case of Buck v. Bell, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., upheld the Virginia statute and claimed, It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

During the 1930s eugenics gained considerable popular support across the United States. Hygiene courses in public schools and eugenics courses in colleges spread eugenic-minded values to many. A eugenics exhibit titled Pedigree-Study in Man was featured at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 193334. Consistent with the fairs Century of Progress theme, stations were organized around efforts to show how favourable traits in the human population could best be perpetuated. Contrasts were drawn between the emulative presidential Roosevelt family and the degenerate Ishmael family (one of several pseudonymous family names used, the rationale for which was not given). By studying the passage of ancestral traits, fairgoers were urged to adopt the progressive view that responsible individuals should pursue marriage ever mindful of eugenics principles. Booths were set up at county and state fairs promoting fitter families contests, and medals were awarded to eugenically sound families. Drawing again upon long-standing eugenic practices in agriculture, popular eugenic advertisements claimed it was about time that humans received the same attention in the breeding of better babies that had been given to livestock and crops for centuries.

Anti-eugenics sentiment began to appear after 1910 and intensified during the 1930s. Most commonly it was based on religious grounds. For example, the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii condemned reproductive sterilization, though it did not specifically prohibit positive eugenic attempts to amplify the inheritance of beneficial traits. Many Protestant writings sought to reconcile age-old Christian warnings about the heritable sins of the father to pro-eugenic ideals. Indeed, most of the religion-based popular writings of the period supported positive means of improving the physical and moral makeup of humanity.

In the early 1930s Nazi Germany adopted American measures to identify and selectively reduce the presence of those deemed to be socially inferior through involuntary sterilization. A rhetoric of positive eugenics in the building of a master race pervaded Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene) movements. When Germany extended its practices far beyond sterilization in efforts to eliminate the Jewish and other non-Aryan populations, the United States became increasingly concerned over its own support of eugenics. Many scientists, physicians, and political leaders began to denounce the work of the ERO publicly. After considerable reflection, the Carnegie Institution formally closed the ERO at the end of 1939.

During the aftermath of World War II, eugenics became stigmatized such that many individuals who had once hailed it as a science now spoke disparagingly of it as a failed pseudoscience. Eugenics was dropped from organization and publication names. In 1954 Britains Annals of Eugenics was renamed Annals of Human Genetics. In 1972 the American Eugenics Society adopted the less-offensive name Society for the Study of Social Biology. Its publication, once popularly known as the Eugenics Quarterly, had already been renamed Social Biology in 1969.

U.S. Senate hearings in 1973, chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy, revealed that thousands of U.S. citizens had been sterilized under federally supported programs. The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed guidelines encouraging each state to repeal their respective sterilization laws. Other countries, most notably China, continue to support eugenics-directed programs openly in order to ensure the genetic makeup of their future.

Despite the dropping of the term eugenics, eugenic ideas remained prevalent in many issues surrounding human reproduction. Medical genetics, a post-World War II medical specialty, encompasses a wide range of health concerns, from genetic screening and counseling to fetal gene manipulation and the treatment of adults suffering from hereditary disorders. Because certain diseases (e.g., hemophilia and Tay-Sachs disease) are now known to be genetically transmitted, many couples choose to undergo genetic screening, in which they learn the chances that their offspring have of being affected by some combination of their hereditary backgrounds. Couples at risk of passing on genetic defects may opt to remain childless or to adopt children. Furthermore, it is now possible to diagnose certain genetic defects in the unborn. Many couples choose to terminate a pregnancy that involves a genetically disabled offspring. These developments have reinforced the eugenic aim of identifying and eliminating undesirable genetic material.

Counterbalancing this trend, however, has been medical progress that enables victims of many genetic diseases to live fairly normal lives. Direct manipulation of harmful genes is also being studied. If perfected, it could obviate eugenic arguments for restricting reproduction among those who carry harmful genes. Such conflicting innovations have complicated the controversy surrounding what many call the new eugenics. Moreover, suggestions for expanding eugenics programs, which range from the creation of sperm banks for the genetically superior to the potential cloning of human beings, have met with vigorous resistance from the public, which often views such programs as unwarranted interference with nature or as opportunities for abuse by authoritarian regimes.

Applications of the Human Genome Project are often referred to as Brave New World genetics or the new eugenics, in part because they have helped to dramatically increase knowledge of human genetics. In addition, 21st-century technologies such as gene editing, which can potentially be used to treat disease or to alter traits, have further renewed concerns. However, the ethical, legal, and social implications of such tools are monitored much more closely than were early 20th-century eugenics programs. Applications generally are more focused on the reduction of genetic diseases than on improving intelligence.

Still, with or without the use of the term, many eugenics-related concerns are reemerging as a new group of individuals decide how to regulate the application of genetics science and technology. This gene-directed activity, in attempting to improve upon nature, may not be that distant from what Galton implied in 1909 when he described eugenics as the study of agencies, under social control, which may improve or impair future generations.

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eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics …

Eugenics in the United States Today: Are We on the Same …

Creating an Elite Class of Super Humans

by John P. ThomasHealth Impact News

This is the first part of a two part series exploring the relationship between the controversial eugenics movement of the past and modern genetics. Eugenics was dedicated to cleansing and purifying humanity from inferior members with the hope of solving various social problems related to poverty, disability, and illness. To accomplish this, it sought to create a superior race of people and to use forced sterilization and extermination to eliminate future generations of defective human beings. Darwins theory of evolution was used to justify the practice of eugenics. Later, when eugenics fell from favor, modern genetics began to grow up from the ashes of the former movement.

When Adolf Hitler applied Darwins theory of evolution and the principles of eugenics to the goals of the German state, the result was the murder of eleven million men, women and children. These lives were sacrificed in the name of eugenics. Eugenicists were seeking to improve the conditions of life for humanity by creating a superior race of people.

The eugenics movement had a very dark side, which led to social control, loss of reproductive freedom, and the loss of life. Should we be concerned that modern genetic science might have a dark side as well? Will the fruit of genetic research be misused by ill-intentioned people to gain control over others as happened with eugenics in the past? Has modern genetics completely severed itself from its roots? Or, might it become the tool that will be used to try to create a master class of genetically superior human beings in America?

What are the deceptions and dangers of the modern genetics movement? Does true health and true happiness lie in the human genome? Are we really bound to the set of genes that we received from our parents, or can we overcome what we were given? What are the factors that activate or deactivate certain genes, and how can we control the expression of our genetic make-up to promote our health and the health of our children? What are the motivations of certain groups who want us to believe that genes control every aspect of our lives that we have no other options than to suffer while genetic scientists look for genetic cures for all that ails us? Are we really more than our genes or is our genetic code all there is?

These questions and many more will be examined in these articles. Lets begin by learning about the development of eugenics.

The word Eugenics means good genes. Eugenicists believe that principles of Darwins theory regarding the survival of the fittest can be used to support the elimination of weak and undesirable people from society. They believe that human beings are inherently no different than animals, and therefore we can and should be bred like animals. A farmer does not allow deficient cows in his herd to reproduce, and in the same way, eugenicists believe that certain people in our society should control human reproduction.

Simply put, eugenics consists of rational methods for putting evolution on the fast track, so that only the best people will reproduce and become superior beings. It is also the fast track for helping inferior families and inferior groups of people to stop their reproduction and to quickly die out.

Eugenicists believe that natural attraction, affection, and love between men and women should not be the basis upon which procreation should be based. Rather, scientists and the medical system should provide scientific and common sense control over the individuals who should be allowed to mate with one another. People with the best traits should be encouraged to reproduce, and those with defective traits should be prevented from producing children by various methods such as sterilization, segregation, and, if necessary, death.

A steady stream of information has been distributed in every corner of society for over 150 years telling us that defective germplasm, or bad genes, lead to problems of child development, illness, low achievement, alcoholism, and even poverty. We are also told that good genes must be present in order for people to live healthy, prosperous, and happy lives.

The general teaching is that our personal genetic code is the master blueprint that determines nearly everything about us. It determines our intellectual gifts, our artistic gifts, our physical structure, and establishes the parameters through which we will develop certain illnesses and ultimately die. We have been taught that this blueprint is written in stone, and if couples produce children, then their combined genetic material will create a new, unchangeable blueprint for their children. We are also told that the real cure for diseases will come from genetic repairs that are just beyond the horizon of modern science.

Scientists are using techniques of genetic engineering to modify plants and animals (GMOs). We are told that human modification is just around the corner. We are promised that the next step in medicine will be a personal one, where our illnesses will be treated with drugs that have been specifically formulated to match the requirements of our genetics. However, until that time comes, we must continue to rely on existing pharmaceutical drugs.

In short, we are being told that in some cases, there isnt much hope for healing until modern genetics brings us the cure for all that ails us. Thus, some of us and some of our children are doomed to a life of illness and suffering unless we are willing to consider other options.

The Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem, by Matteo di Giovanni, 1487. Source.

Some people now believe that if parents decide that they wish to have the life of their child brought to an end before age five, because of disability, illness, inconvenience of the parents, or for any other reason, then the parents should have the right to abort the child. So, if you dont like the color of his hair, the color of her eyes, the developmental delays that you are observing, the illnesses that are making life difficult, or the behaviors that you cannot control, then you should have the right to have your child aborted (legally killed) up to age 5 or 6. [1, 2, 3]

Historically, killing a child after it is born was called infanticide. This is now being given a new name post-birth abortion or after-birth abortion.

Central to this way of thinking is the belief that children are only potential human beings until they reach the age of self-awareness, which is believed to happen around age five. Proponents of post-birth abortion see children as disposable until the child becomes aware of its existence as a person and can begin to develop goals and ambitions for life.

It is believed that prior to age 5, children live in a pre-aware state, and have an animal-like existence, which is just like a chimpanzee, a dog, a chicken, or a pig. Thus, killing a young child because of bad genetic composition is no different than killing a sick dog or a mature pig that is ready to be processed into sausage.

Those who believe in post-birth abortion are challenging American society to reconsider how we value human life. They are observing the fact that we already permit babies in the womb to be killed, we encourage the termination of the lives of animals when they are seriously ill, and most of us approve of slaughtering animals to supply food. Based on this, they ask, Why do we extend special privileges to young children who have the same level of consciousness as animals or babies in the womb? Why do we preserve the lives of defective people who are draining society of its resources?

These groups extend their argument to the elderly as well. If a person with some form of dementia such as Alzheimers is no longer aware of his or her own existence as a human being, can no longer understand his or her medical condition, and is so frail and feebleminded that he or she can no longer contribute anything to society, then they would tell us that the termination of that persons life is no different than euthanizing an animal or aborting a baby in the womb.

The idea that people in authority should have the legal right to terminate the lives of other people in certain circumstances to benefit the greater good of society is not new. These thoughts have a long history, which was part of the original eugenics movement that began in 1859. The human extermination program that was implemented by Adolf Hitler before and during World War II was a prime example of eugenics. He was trying to purify the human race by killing all those who he determined would have an inferior contribution to the human germplasm if they were to reproduce. He and other leaders of the Third Reich believed that only superior human beings should be allowed to reproduce, and the inferior should be eliminated.

The proposal that we legalize the killing of defective children is just the reappearance of old style eugenics with a slightly new twist.

Eugenicists believe that everything about us is determined by genetic composition. Who we are and how we behave is determined almost entirely by our germplasm our personal genetic code.

If we have bad genes, then there is nothing that can be done about the situation. If our genes are seriously defective, then eugenicists would say that sterilization or termination of life is the best solution to the problem. Both of these options would help preserve future generations from inheriting defective germplasm from defective parents.

Eugenicists seek to create a class of people who possess superior attributes such as intelligence, physical strength, and physical appearance. They also seek to discourage reproduction by inferior people.

When techniques of discouragement fail to reduce the birth of new defectives, then forced sterilization of undesirables is pursued under the authority of the state. When sterilization is not practical, then termination of life is used to decrease the surplus population of defectives.

Eugenics historian Edwin Black carefully described the development of the Eugenics movement from the period of time beginning with the work of Charles Darwin in 1859 to our present time. He described the goals of eugenicists and their influence over social policy. His 566 page book records the history of the eugenics movement and shows how eugenics was transformed into modern genetics. The book is filled with quotations in which eugenicists explain their theories and their beliefs in their own words. Here is a taste of what he reported in his book, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and Americas Campaign to Create a Master Race. Mr. Black stated:

On May 2 and May 3, 1911, in Palmer, Massachusetts, the research committees of the ABAs [American Breeders Association] eugenic section adopted a resolution creating a special new committee. Resolved: that the chair appoint a committee commissioned to study and report on the best practical means for cutting off the defective germ-plasm of the American population.

Ten groups were eventually identified [by the American Breeders Association] as socially unfit and targeted for elimination. First, the feebleminded; second, the pauper class; third, the inebriate class or alcoholics; fourth, criminals of all descriptions including petty criminals and those jailed for nonpayment of fines; fifth, epileptics; sixth, the insane; seventh, the constitutionally weak class; eighth, those predisposed to specific diseases; ninth, the deformed; tenth, those with defective sense organs, that is, the deaf, blind and mute. In this last category, there was no indication of how severe the defect need be to qualify; no distinction was made between blurry vision or bad hearing and outright blindness or deafness.

Not content to [only] eliminate those deemed unfit by virtue of some malady, transgression, disadvantage or adverse circumstance, the ABA committee targeted their extended families as well. Even if those relatives seemed perfectly normal and were not institutionalized, the breeders considered them equally unfit because they supposedly carried the defective germ-plasm that might crop up in a future generation. The committee carefully weighed the relative value of sterilizing all persons with defective germ-plasm, or just sterilizing only degenerates. The group agreed that defective and potential parents of defectives not in institutions were also unacceptable [to society]. [4]

The notion that certain elite groups should be in charge of cleansing society of defective persons was popular in the United States during the first 45 years of the 20th century. It was only after the full extent of the eugenics program in Nazi Germany was brought to light that eugenicists in the United States began to take a less public position.

When Charles Darwins book The Origin of Species was published in 1859, it provided the perfect theory for those who believed in human breeding. Darwins cousin, Sir Francis Galton of England, applied The Origin of Species to his concerns about the degenerate state of society. Francis Galton believed social problems were caused by defects in human germplasm (genes). He believed that if defective people could be prevented from conceiving and giving birth to children, then problems such as poverty, mental illness, mental retardation, and alcoholism would die out.

Australian researcher and writer Roger Sandall described how Francis Galtons life was transformed by the theory of Darwinian evolution. Roger Sandall wrote:

Coming at a critical stage of both his scientific career and his domestic life, Darwins book shattered Galtons religious beliefs and turned him towards biological research. He always had what he called a hereditary bent of mind, and from 1859 he proceeded to investigate, he said later, matters clustered round the central topics of Heredity and the possible improvement of the Human Race. [5]

I will summarize a few additional points drawn from Roger Sandalls discussion of Francis Galton and the early eugenics movement. These points are not just the old and moldy views of a long dead eugenicist, but are beliefs that continue to influence the thinking of many people today.

Francis Galton taught his followers that only the genetically perfect should be allowed to reproduce. In his 1873 essay Hereditary Improvement he insists that those of feeble constitution must embrace celibacy lest they should bring beings into existence whose race is predoomed to destruction by the laws of nature.

Galton believed that certain races were superior, and the reproduction of inferior races should be tightly controlled so that only the few best specimens of that race would be allowed to become parents, and only a few of their descendants should be allowed to live.

Galton recommended that his country (England) should be scoured for the names and addresses of gifted people who would be urged to intermarry. This intellectual aristocracy would receive special benefits. Defectives would receive nothing at all. Endowments would be used to maintain a privileged class living in healthy circumstances, which would enable it to multiply in comfort.

Galton declared that the gifted class should treat lower classes with all kindness, so long as they maintained celibacy. But if these lower classes continued to procreate children who are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior, then it is easy to believe the time may come when such persons would be considered to be enemies of the state. As such, he believed that they would forfeit all their claims to kindness from the superior class.

Roger Sandall summarized Galtons effect on society and its moral underpinnings. Sandall stated:

When Galton wrote, late in life, that the effect of Darwinism was to demolish a multitude of dogmatic barriers by a single stroke, and to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities whose positive and unauthenticated statements were contradicted by modern science, a radical antinomian spirit was unleashed; and when he declared that eugenics must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion, adding that it has indeed strong claims to become an orthodox religious tenet of the future, a kind of displaced religious zeal was put at the service of political compulsion: allied to German nationalism, it is unsurprising that it led, step by step, to policies of racial exclusion and finally annihilation. [6]

Proponents of eugenics believe that a pure bloodline should be created that contains only the best traits of humanity. They believe that techniques of good breeding should be used to create a race of super humans who are made in the image of the eugenicists. These super humans will all be highly intelligent, strong, healthy, beautiful, talented, prosperous, motivated, and capable of submitting their will to the will and greater good of society.

Physical appearance is also seen as being important. People will need to have a certain skin color, hair color, eye color, and meet high standards for mental acuity and emotional stability. They also must possess ideal physical strength and physical form (either male or female) in order to have the right to reproduce.

People with a personal or family history of poverty, chronic illness, addiction, disabilities, lack of motivation, minimal intellectual achievement, and non-conformist thinking would be unwelcome in this new society, and would not be allowed to reproduce.

Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade in Virginia. Image source.

Very few people use the word eugenics today when speaking in public, because it is on the list of politically incorrect words. Despite the positive rhetoric of eugenics, it was a highly racist endeavor, which sought to elevate one race above all others. This will be discussed in detail at a later point in this article.

Even though people no longer openly use the word eugenics, the insidious principles of eugenics can still be observed all around us in 21st century America. Eugenics is insidious, because it destroys life, denies reproductive freedom, destroys the functioning of the family structure, and targets certain classes and races of people for destruction. It does all this while seeking to establish a master race which is intended to dominate the world.

The plans of eugenicists closely follow the principles Darwins theory of evolution, which tells us that the strongest and fittest should overcome and replace the weak and inferior. Eugenicists have determined that they are the fittest and most able people for managing society and it is their responsibility as the superior beings to actively purge the weak and inferior from society. They believed that defective people need to be prevented from reproducing so that the number of defectives in the world will dwindle and fade away, while they, the fittest group of people, are allowed to survive and flourish.

American Inventor and Eugenicist Alexander Graham Bell. Image source.

Historically, the goals of the eugenics movement were to eliminate poverty, disability, numerous chronic illnesses, and human suffering. These lofty goals were designed to provide the greatest amount of happiness to society. On the surface, this sounds good to most people. These goals led many prominent Americans to support the eugenics agenda.

People such as Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw, author H. G. Wells, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, among many others, were very involved in promoting eugenics. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was one of the most zealous participants in the American Eugenics Movement. [7]

College professors were prominent among both the officers and members of various eugenics societies which sprang up in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. In virtually every college and university, professors were inspired by the new creed of eugenics, and most of the major colleges had credit courses on eugenics. These classes were typically well attended and their content was generally accepted as part of proven science. [8]

Eugenicists believed that the primary determinant of mankinds behavioral nature was genetic, and various environmental reforms designed to improve living conditions, for example, were largely useless. Further, the eugenics movement believed that those who were at the bottom of the social ladder in society, such as the Black race, were in this position not because of social injustice or discrimination, but as a result of their own inferiority. [9]

Carrie Buck sits with her mother, Emma Buck, on the grounds of the Virginia State Colony of Epileptics and Feeble-Minded in Madison Heights, near Lynchburg. This photograph was taken in November 1924 by Arthur H. Estabrook, a eugenics researcher who interviewed the two women before testifying in a legal case that resulted in the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck. Source.

In the early 1900s, eugenicists began to use persuasion to gain voluntary cooperation with their new way of thinking about human reproduction. In the United States, the strategy of persuasion was eventually replaced by a strategy of coercion and compulsion.

In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the State of Virginias sterilization plan in Buck Versus Bell, which affirmed that it had the right to sterilize mentally deficient residents to prevent them from producing more of their kind. This decision opened the door to forced sterilization in many U.S. states.

At that time, eugenicists believed that human character and behavior was almost completely determined by the germplasm. In contemporary language, we would say everything is determined by ones genes. Eugenicists believed that every negative trait they observed in a person could be passed on to their descendants. For example, a person living in poverty is poor because of his genes, and unless sterilization is pursued, that person will create children who are destined for poverty. They admitted that sometimes defective germplasm might not be seen in every child conceived by defectives, but if it was present in one generation, then it will be permanently present in all succeeding generations, and will eventually reappear.

In the Buck vs. Bell decision of May 2, 1927, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Virginia statute that provided for the sterilization of people considered to be genetically unfit. The Courts decision, delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., included the infamous phrase Three generations of imbeciles are enough. Upholding Virginias sterilization statute provided the green light for similar laws in 30 states, under which an estimated 65,000 Americans were sterilized without their own consent or that of a family member. [10]

A broken and twisted mound of emaciated corpses lay strewn in one of three open burial pits at the liberation of Belsen on 15 April 1945. British troops were faced with over 10 000 dead inmates who required immediate burial to halt the spread of typhus and other diseases. Belsen, one of many Nazi concentration camps of the German Third Reich, was used as an instrument of genocide against Jews and those of other nationalities and categories. Image source.

The belief that the state had the right to control human reproduction was taken to the extreme in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Third Reich of Germany extinguished the lives of 6 million Jews, and 5 million other people who were deemed undesirable. Undesirables included Jews (from all levels of society), and people from various other groups. The other groups included outspoken Christians and their pastors who would not submit to Nazi ideology. Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally ill persons, people with low mental functioning, and people who were deaf, blind, crippled, and epileptics were all targeted for extermination. The list of inferiors included all people of Polish ethnicity, people in interracial marriages, and people with dark/African skin color. [11]

For the sake of expediency, extermination of defectives and inferior people was the final solution chosen by Hitler. Forced sterilization of eleven million people was not practical, and it would not remove the influence of such people from society. Extermination, however, would immediately stop reproduction of these people and also would allow their personal resources to be confiscated for the German war effort.

Of course, eugenic programs of the past and genetic programs of the present do not begin with mass scale slaughter of unwanted people as happened in Germany. They are marketed as benevolent programs that are designed to help people be happy and prosperous. They subtly condition people to believe that the Statehas a right to control every aspect of their reproduction for the sake of personal happiness.

This belief is then gradually expanded to show that the government has a similar right to control human reproduction for the sake of creating a happy and prosperous society. It progresses from voluntary programs to involuntary programs from cooperation to mandatory compliance. The techniques of the eugenics movement involve sterilization and death. The objective of preventing reproduction by undesirables was achieved by all means possible.

Each step in the implementation of an eugenics program desensitizes people to the value of human life. It leads people to accept the idea that some people are inferior and others are superior, because of their genetic makeup. It teaches people to give honor to certain people and to submit to a small group of super people who are considered to be the model race. It teaches people to accept sterilization and the killing of the minority to support the needs and goals of the majority. The proposed killing of children up to the age of 5 years old, for example, is an outgrowth of eugenic thinking, because in that mindset there is no hope for the defective children, and the best thing we can do for everyone is to simply eliminate them before they begin to drain society of its precious resources.

First the weakest and most helpless are targeted by eugenicists, and then certain undesirable people, who have bad genes, are marked for destruction. This type of population reduction is called systematic depopulation. Depopulation is also called genocide, which is the killing of large groups of people who share a common trait such as ethnic background or religious affiliation.

Eugenicists also will seek to destroy the family structure in order to accomplish their goals. The value and functioning of the family unit consisting of a husband/father, wife/mother and numerous children will be attacked on every front.

This is necessary to break the emotional bonds that tie family members together, and replace it with zealous allegiance to the state. Commitment to the power of the state must be stronger than love and commitment to family members so that defectives in the family can be sterilized or removed without a struggle.

The End Referring to the end of Catholic influence in the US. Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty 1926. Image Source.

There must also be a breaking of affection and commitment to God. Eugenics is incompatible with true religion. Eugenics and the power of the state must rule over people and not the God of the Bible.

Eugenicists understand that one can only serve one master, and their master must be the god and religion of Darwinian Evolution. The moral absolutes of conservative biblical Christianity stand in direct opposition to Darwins theory of evolution and the full implementation of eugenic techniques.

The belief that life is a gift from God, and should be cherished and preserved, is incompatible with the outworking of eugenics, which seeks to put life under the authority of a superior class of people and under the authority of the state.

Specifically, these are some of the methods that have been used to implement eugenics programs over the past hundred years. Please note how they start with encouragement and voluntary participation, and end up with involuntary means to control and reduce the population.

1. Convince superior human beings to produce more children. The fruit of this strategy would result in a rapid increase in the number of superior people and strengthen the superior bloodline. In Nazi Germany, breeding centers were established to produce large numbers of superior blond blue-eyed children. Most of these children were conceived outside of marriage and fathered by Nazi officers. [12]

2. Encourage inferior human beings to have fewer children, or discourage them from having children altogether. This would shrink undesirable bloodlines and weaken the possible influence on the superior bloodline.

3. Prevent people with certain inferior qualities from marrying superior people. This means to forbid inter-racial marriage, marriage between disabled and non-disabled people, and marriage of superior people with those of undesirable ethnic, religious, or economic position, because they would weaken the bloodline of the superior group.

4. Physically isolate severely deficient people from the greater society by institutionalizing them in the name of providing compassionate care or simply put them into containment camps. This will prevent them from marrying and reproducing.

5. Impose forced sterilization on feebleminded people, criminals, and on other incurable defectives such as alcoholics and paupers, so they cannot pass on their undesirable flaws to another generation.

6. Give people a low cost or no cost opportunity to use contraceptives and/or to choose pre-birth abortion to prevent the birth of disabled children and to prevent babies from being born into poverty.

7. Terminate the lives of defective children and defective elderly adults who are not able to contribute to the greater good of society, or who threaten the economic status of those who have been declared the superior race. Use genetic screening for babies in the womb and abort those who have defective genes.

8. Implement programs that will weaken the reproductive capacity of the population. Vaccines, pesticides, GMO food, highly processed food, antibiotics and other drugs, etc. all are known to have a negative influence on fertility. [13] (Those who are aware of these influences can avoid exposure and protect their fertility.)

9. Implement economic programs that will decrease the buying power of low-income persons, which will place increasing financial pressure on low-income working families, so that they will choose to limit the number of children they produce. [14]

10. Contain or exterminate anyone who resists the use of eugenics and who would threaten the development of the superior human bloodline.

War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg. Adolf Hitlers personal physician, 43-year old Karl Brandt. Brandt was also Reich Commissar for Health and Sanitation, and was indicted by the U.S. prosecution with 22 other Nazi doctors. Brandt was found guilty of participating in and consenting to using concentration camp inmates as guinea pigs in horrible medical experiments, supposedly for the benefit of the armed forces. He was sentenced to death by hanging. Image Source.

This question is the key to understanding eugenics. It is also the key for uncovering the deceptions and lies that are used to justify eugenics as a socially advanced way of managing society.

Adolf Hitler and his colleagues decided that it was the Nordic or Aryan bloodlines that were superior to all other bloodlines on the Earth. Thus, Adolf Hitler and others like him were to become the superior bloodline. Those with similar physical characteristics/appearance, emotional functioning, and mental capacities, and those who possessed certain ideological convictions were to become archetypes of humanity. They were to be raised up above all other people and others were to be brought into subjection to them.

Hitler found that the most efficient method of preventing reproduction and discontinuing the negative influence on the Aryan bloodline was to terminate the lives of undesirables. These were the people who threatened the racial superiority of the leaders of the German Third Reich and threatened their economic prosperity and social happiness. Eugenicists always seek to protect their own race, their own ethnic group, their own religion (which is now called Social Darwinism), and their own economic prosperity regardless of the country where they live.

In the view of the German leaders of the Third Reich, even inferiors in their own Aryan race needed to be purged from the bloodline. They saw the Darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest in the context of the German war effort. War was a positive force for bloodline purification, not only because it eliminated the weaker races which they were attacking, but also because it weeded out the weaker members of their own Aryan race. Hitler was convinced that the strongest people would survive. Nazi Germany, partly for this reason, openly glorified war because it was an important means of eliminating the less fit of the highest race, a step necessary to upgrade the Aryan race. [16]

U.S. Battleships in Pearl Harbor bombed by Japanese Aircraft. Image source.

While Hitlers eugenic program was in full force, a similar program was underway in Japan. The Japanese were actively involved in building up and maintaining a pure Japanese bloodline. They were influenced by American eugenicists and used many of the same techniques that were being used by Hitler. They were trying to keep the Japanese bloodline pure for the same reasons other eugenicists named. [17]

The eugenics programs of Germany and Japan shared several similarities. Both believed that there was a superior race (bloodline) and that bloodline must be preserved to strengthen the power of the state and to preserve the prosperity of society.

Of course, the Germans and the Japanese differed on the matter of which race was to be superior. They both believed that their respective race deserved, and was destined, to dominate the world. They were in agreement that active steps must be taken by government to purify the population, and to prevent superior pure-blooded people from intermarrying with inferior people groups. However, they obviously were in disagreement about which bloodline was superior. Should it be Oriental/Japanese blood or Caucasian/German blood?

The massive extermination of human life by the Third Reich of Germany cast a dark shadow over eugenics, and people tried to distance themselves from the word eugenics. However, the movement did not die with the death of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Neither did the eugenics movement die when the word eugenics became unfashionable.

There were several decades of transition during which the language of eugenics was transformed into the new language of human genetics.

After the horrors of Hitlers eugenics program were brought to light, eugenicists realized that they needed to change their tactics. In 1947 the remnant board of directors of the American Eugenics Society (AES) unanimously agreed, The time was not right for aggressive eugenic propaganda. Instead, the AES continued quietly soliciting financial grants from such organizations as the Dodge Foundation, the Rockefeller-funded Population Council, and the Draper Fund for the purpose of proliferating genetics as a legitimate study of human heredity. [18]

In 1959, the leaders of the American Eugenics Society understood that reestablishing eugenics was an uphill battle. A draft address written by the president of the American Eugenics Society, Frederick Osborn, confirmed this when he prepared to speak to his Board of Directors. He outlined the future of eugenics, which included an ambitious campaign of behind-the-scenes genetic counseling, birth control, and university-based medical genetic programs. At the same time, President Osborn conceded that the movements history was too scurrilous to gain public support. [19]

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Eugenics in the United States Today: Are We on the Same …


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