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.
Read More on This Topic
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 Charles 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. President 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, N.Y., 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, Mo. 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 field-workers 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.
Antieugenics 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 Edward 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 remain 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 also 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.
Read the original post:
- Eugenics - HISTORY - January 6th, 2019
- Eugenics - Wikipedia - January 6th, 2019
- Introduction to Eugenics - Genetics Generation - January 6th, 2019
- Eugenics | Definition of Eugenics by Merriam-Webster - January 6th, 2019
- eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics ... - January 6th, 2019
- Artificial intelligence - Wikipedia - January 3rd, 2019
- Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence - Future of Life ... - January 3rd, 2019
- Online Artificial Intelligence Courses | Microsoft ... - January 3rd, 2019
- What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? - Definition from ... - January 3rd, 2019
- Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring - WSJ - January 3rd, 2019
- What is AI (artificial intelligence)? - Definition from ... - January 3rd, 2019
- Artificial Intelligence - Journal - Elsevier - January 3rd, 2019
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence - Wikipedia - January 3rd, 2019
- Artificial Intelligence: The Pros, Cons, and What to Really Fear - January 3rd, 2019
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) - IMDb - January 3rd, 2019
- Google Wins Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Technology - January 1st, 2019
- Elon Musk Thinks the First Mars Settler Could Be an AI - January 1st, 2019
- Leaked Documents Show How Facebook Controls Speech Across the Globe - January 1st, 2019
- Gov Shutdown Means 95 Percent of NASA Employees Aren’t At Work - January 1st, 2019
- Scientists to Test New Cancer Treatment on Human Patients in 2019 - January 1st, 2019
- Holograms Are Resurrecting Dead Musicians, Raising Legal Questions - January 1st, 2019
- New Theory: The Universe is a Bubble, Inflated by Dark Energy - January 1st, 2019
- Poll: Two Thirds of Americans Support Human Gene Editing to Cure Disease - January 1st, 2019
- Foreign Cyberattack Cripples Major U.S. Newspapers - January 1st, 2019
- Demand for Combustion Engine Cars May Have Peaked in 2018 - January 1st, 2019
- Scientist Who Gene Edited Babies Is Being Held By Mysterious Guards - January 1st, 2019
- Washington May Become the First State to Legalize Human Composting - January 1st, 2019
- NASA Clears “Dream Chaser” Space Cargo Plane For Full-Scale Production - January 1st, 2019
- Rerouting Nerves During Amputation May Reduce Phantom Limb Pain - January 1st, 2019
- Experts: Stop Adding Cancer-Causing Chemicals to our Meats - January 1st, 2019
- Tiny Robots That Repair Pipes Could Eliminate Road Work - January 1st, 2019
- Edible Coating Can Keep Food Fresh Longer and Cut Down on Waste - January 1st, 2019
- Bill Gates: U.S. Leaders Must Embrace Nuclear Energy - January 1st, 2019
- The EU Is Banning Almost All Coal Mining on Jan 1 - January 1st, 2019
- Apollo Astronaut: It Would Be “Stupid” to Send People to Mars - December 29th, 2018
- Elon Musk Tweets Image of SpaceX’s Stainless Steel Starship - December 29th, 2018
- Cacti-Inspired Tech Could Keep You Hydrated After the Apocalypse - December 29th, 2018
- Your Christmas Tree Could Be Recycled Into Paint or Sweeteners - December 29th, 2018
- Space Travel Doesn’t Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives, Says Study - December 29th, 2018
- Elon Musk Pledges Tesla Superchargers For All of Europe Next Year - December 29th, 2018
- China Is Building Its First Huge Battery Storage Facility - December 29th, 2018
- Startup Claims Its Underwear Stay Odor-Free Through Weeks of Wear - December 29th, 2018
- Microorganisms That Eat Seaweed Can Create Biodegradable Plastic - December 29th, 2018
- Australian Autonomous Train Is The “World’s Largest Robot” - December 29th, 2018
- Chinese Scientists Reportedly Lost Track of Gene-Edited Patients - December 29th, 2018
- Netflix’s Bandersnatch Teases the Future of Entertainment - December 29th, 2018
- Musk: Tesla’s Fully Autonomous Capabilities “About to Accelerate” - December 29th, 2018
- An App That Does Your Homework for You Is Now Worth $3 Billion - December 29th, 2018
- Virtual Reality Tumors Could Help Lead to New Cancer Treatments - December 29th, 2018
- New Multi-Sensory Mask Lets You Smell and Feel the Virtual World - December 29th, 2018
- New Fiber Could Be the Foundation for Futuristic Smart Garments - December 29th, 2018
- Eugenics - Wikipedia - December 27th, 2018
- eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics ... - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics - HISTORY - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics - definition of eugenics by The Free Dictionary - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics | Definition of Eugenics by Merriam-Webster - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics | definition of eugenics by Medical dictionary - December 27th, 2018
- Introduction to Eugenics - Genetics Generation - December 27th, 2018
- What is eugenics? pgEd - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenic | Definition of Eugenic by Merriam-Webster - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics | Psychology Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics - Wikipedia - December 23rd, 2018
- eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics ... - December 23rd, 2018
- Maafa 21 - December 23rd, 2018
- Eugenics in the United States Today: Are We on the Same ... - December 23rd, 2018
- Pope Francis Likens Abortion to Nazi Eugenics - WSJ - December 23rd, 2018
- Look at These Incredibly Realistic Faces Generated By A Neural Network - December 16th, 2018
- This Neptune-Sized Exoplanet Is Being Melted Away By Its Star - December 16th, 2018
- Porsche and BMW’s New EV Chargers Are 3x Faster Than Tesla’s - December 16th, 2018
- Biologists Engineered An Assassin Virus to Kill Bacteria on Command - December 16th, 2018
- How a High Tech Headband Can Help Your Meditation Practice - December 16th, 2018
- A Waymo Rider Talked Publicly About the Service — Even Though He Wasn’t Supposed To - December 16th, 2018
- Scammers Sent Hoax Bomb Threats Worldwide Demanding Bitcoin - December 16th, 2018
- Richard Branson: Future of Work Is “Three and Even Four Day Weekends” - December 16th, 2018
- Experts: United States Should Build a Prototype Fusion Power Plant - December 16th, 2018
- MIT Figured out a Way to Shrink Objects to Nanoscale - December 16th, 2018
- For the First Time, a Startup Grew a Steak in a Lab - December 16th, 2018
- McDonald’s Exec: “We’re Keeping Our Eye” on Meatless Burgers - December 16th, 2018
- SpaceX Smashed the Record for Commercial Space Launches This Year - December 16th, 2018