• 107328  Infos
Image:Eugenics congress logo.png|right|thumb|275px|"Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution": Logo from the Second International Eugenics Conference 1921 depicting it as a tree which unites a variety of different fields
Eugenics is "the study of, or belief in, the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics)""eugenics" Dictionarycom Unabridged (v 11) Random House Inc 21 Mar 2009 < Dictionarycom> As a social movement eugenics reached its height of popularity in the early decades of the 20th century By the end of World War II eugenics had been largely abandonedSee Black cited below though current trends in genetics have raised questions amongst critical academics concerning parallels between pre-war attitudes about eugenics and current "utilitarian" and social darwinistic theories Duster Troy "Backdoor to Eugenics" Routledge 1990 At its pre-war zenith the movement often pursued pseudoscientific notions of racial supremacy and puritySee generally Edwin Black War Against the Weak Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race In addition to being practiced in a number of countries it was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations (Black p 240) Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology Heredity and Eugenics] (Black p 286) the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution (Black p 40) and the Eugenics Record Office (Black p 45) Its political aspects involved successful advocacy for changes of law to pursue eugenic objectives for instance sterilization laws (eg US sterilization laws (Black see Chapter 6 The United States of Sterilization)) Its moral aspects included rejection of the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefining morality purely in terms of genetic fitness(Black p 237) Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure "Nordic" or "Aryan" genetic pool and the eventual elimination of less fit races (see Black Chapter 5 Legitimizing Raceology and Chapter 9 Mongrelization)
Eugenics was practiced around the world and was promoted by governments and influential individuals and institutions Its advocates regarded it as a social philosophy for the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of certain people and traits and the reduction of reproduction of certain people and traitsThe exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined In the definition of it as a "social philosophy"——that is, a philosophy with implications for social order——is not meant to be definitive and is taken from "Development of a Eugenic Philosophy" by Frederick Osborn in American Sociological Review Vol 2, No. 3 (Jun 1937) , pp. 389-397 Today it is widely regarded as a brutal movement which inflicted massive human rights violations on millions of peopleSee for example EMBO Reports European Molecular Biology Organization "In the name of science - the role of biologists in Nazi atrocities: lessons for today's scientists" EMBO Reports Vol 2 No 10 2001 pp 871 et seq which discusses eugenics and its culmination in Nazi atrocities It concludes "It was scientists who interpreted racial differences as the justification to murder ... It is the responsibility of today's scientists to prevent this from happening again" The "interventions" advocated and practised by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families including the poor mentally ill blind"promiscuous" women homosexuals and entire "racial" groups——such as the Roma and Jews——as "degenerate" or "unfit"; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups their sterilization euthanasia and in the extreme case of Nazi Germany their mass exterminationSee for example Edwin Black War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race The practices engaged in by eugenicists involving violations of privacy attacks on reputation violations of the right to life to found a family to discrimination are all today classified as violations of human rights The practice of negative racial aspects of eugenics after World War II, 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 GenocideArticle 2 of the Convention defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national ethnical racial or religious group as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
See Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

The modern field and term were first formulated by Sir Francis Galton in 1883 drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin From its inception eugenics was supported by prominent people including Margaret Sanger Marie Stopes H G. Wells Woodrow Wilson Theodore Roosevelt Emile Zola George Bernard Shaw John Maynard Keynes John Harvey Kellogg Winston Churchill Linus PaulingEverett Mendelsohn PhD Pauling's Eugenics The Eugenic Temptation Harvard Magazine March-April 2000 and Sidney WebbAdolf Hitler who praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf and emulated Eugenic legislation for the sterilization of "defectives" that had been pioneered in the United StatesBlack pp 274-295 G K. Chesterton was an early critic of the philosophy of eugenics expressing this opinion in his book Eugenics and Evils|Eugenics and Other Evils] Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sourcesAllen Garland E., Was Nazi eugenics created in the US? Embo Reports 2004 Three International Conference]s presented a global venue for eugenicists with meetings in 1912 in London and in 1921 and 1932 in New York Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United StatesDeborah Barrett and Charles Kurzman Oct 2004 Globalizing Social Movement : The Case of Eugenics Theory and Society Vol 33, No. 5, pp. 505 Later in the 1920s and 30s the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in a variety of other countries including BelgiumScience New Series Vol 57, No. 1463 (Jan 12, 1923) p. 46 BrazilSales Augusto dos Santos and Laurence Hallewell Jan 2002 Historical Roots of the "Whitening" of Brazil Latin American Perspectives Vol 29, No. 1, : The Hegemonic Process in Political and Cultural Formation pp. 81 CanadaMcLaren Angus 1990 Our Own Master Race: Eugenics in Canada 1885-1945 McClelland and Steward Inc Toronto and Swedeneugenics started to decline in the 1930s a time when Ernst Rüdin used eugenics as a justification for the Racial of Nazi Germany|racial policies] of Nazi Germany and when proponents of eugenics among scientists and thinkers prompted a backlash in the public Nevertheless the second largest known eugenics program created by social democrats in Sweden continued until 1975Since the postwar period both the public and the scientific communities have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses such as enforced racial hygiene human experimentation and the extermination of "undesired" population groups However developments in genetic genomic and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about what exactly constitutes the meaning of eugenics and what its ethical and moral status is in the modern era

Meanings and types of eugenics

The word eugenics derives from the Greek word eu (good or well) and the suffix -genēs (born) and was coined by Sir Francis Galton in 1883 who defined it as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations"cited in Black p 18
Eugenics has from the very beginning meant many different things to many different people Historically the term has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia Much debate has taken place in the past as it does today—as to what exactly counts as eugenicsA discussion of the shifting meanings of the term can be found in Diane Paul Controlling human : 1865 to the present (New Jersey: Humanities Press 1995) ISBN 1-57392-343-5 Some types of eugenics deal only with perceived beneficial and/or detrimental genetic traits These are sometimes called “pseudo-eugenics’ by proponents of strict eugenics
The term eugenics is often used to refer to movements and social policies influential during the early twentieth century In a historical and broader sense eugenics can also be a study of "improving human genetic qualities" It is sometimes broadly applied to describe any human action whose goal is to improve the gene pool Some forms of infanticide in ancient societies present-day reprogenetics preemptive abortions and designer babies have been (sometimes controversially) referred to as eugenic
Because of its normative goals and historical association with scientific racism as well as the development of the science of genetics the western scientific community has mostly disassociated itself from the term "eugenics" although one can find advocates of what is now known as liberal eugenics Despite its ongoing criticism in the United States several regions globally practice different forms of eugenics
Eugenicists advocate specific policies that (if successful) they believe will lead to a perceived improvement of the human gene pool Since defining what improvements are desired or beneficial is perceived by many as a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined objectively (eg by empirical scientific inquiry) eugenics has often been deemed a pseudoscience 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 This aspect of eugenics has historically been tainted with scientific racism
Early eugenicists were mostly concerned with perceived intelligence factors that often correlated strongly with social class Many eugenicists took inspiration from the selective breeding of animals (where purebreds are often strived for) as their analogy for improving human society The mixing of races (or miscegenation) was usually considered as something to be avoided in the name of racial purity At the time this concept appeared to have some scientific support and it remained a contentious issue until the advanced development of genetics led to a scientific consensus that the division of the human species into unequal races is unjustifiable
Eugenics has also been concerned with the elimination of hereditary diseases such as hemophilia and Huntington's disease However there are several problems with labeling certain factors as genetic defects In many cases there is no scientific consensus on what a genetic defect is. It is often argued that this is more a matter of social or individual choice What appears to be a genetic defect in one context or environment may not be so in another This can be the case for genes with a heterozygote advantage such as sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease which in their heterozygote form may offer an advantage against respectively malaria and tuberculosis Although some birth defects are uniformly lethal disabled persons can succeed in life Many of the conditions early eugenicists identified as inheritable (pellagra is one such example) are currently considered to be at least partially if not wholly attributed to environmental conditions Similar concerns have been raised when a prenatal diagnosis of a congenital disorder leads to abortion (see also preimplantation genetic diagnosis)
Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli targeted demographic analyses in vitro fertilization egg transplants and cloningGlad 2008 Negative eugenics is aimed at lowering fertility among the genetically disadvantaged This includes abortions sterilization and other methods of family planningeugenics can be coercive Abortion by "fit" women was illegal in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union during Stalin's reign
During the 20th century many countries enacted various eugenics policies and programs including:genetic screening birth control promoting differential birth rates marriage restrictions segregation (both racial segregation as well as segregation of the mentally ill from the rest of the population) compulsory sterilization forced abortions or forced pregnancies and genocide Most of these policies were later regarded as coercive and/or restrictive and now few jurisdictions implement policies that are explicitly labeled as eugenic or unequivocally eugenic in substance However some private organizations assist people in genetic counseling and reprogenetics may be considered as a form of non-state-enforced liberal eugenics

Implementing eugenics

There are three main ways by which the methods of eugenics can be applied One is mandatory eugenics or authoritarian eugenics in which the government mandates a eugenics program Policies and/or legislation is often seen as being coercive and restrictive Another is promotional voluntary eugenics in which eugenics is voluntarily practiced and promoted to the general population but not officially mandated This is a form of non-state enforced eugenics using a liberal or democratic approach which can mostly be seen in the 1900s The third is private eugenics which is practiced voluntarily by individuals and groups but not promoted to the general population

Leading Eugenicists

Charles Davenport a scientist from the United States stands out as history's leading eugenicist He took eugenics from a scientific idea to a worldwide movement implemented in many countriesBlack p 34, describes Davenport as eugenics crusader-in-chief Davenport obtained funding to establish the Biological Experiment Station at Cold Spring Harbor in 1904Black p 40 and the Eugenics Records Office in 1910 which provided the scientific basis for later Eugenic policiesBlack p 47 He was eventually to become the first President of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations (IFEO) in 1925 an organization he was instrumental in buildingBlack p 240 In 1932 Davenport welcomed Ernst Rüdin a prominent Swiss eugenicist and race scientist as his successor in the position of President of the IFEOBlack p 286 Rüdin worked closely with Alfred Ploetz his brother-in-law and co-founder with him of the German Society for the Racial HygieneBlack p 285 Richard Weikart From Darwin to Hitler - Evolutionary Ethics Eugenics and Racism in Germany describes this as the world's first Eugenic organization (Weikart p 15 Other prominent figures in the Eugenics included Harry Laughlin (United States) Irving Fischer (United States) Eugen Fischer (Germany) Madison Grant (United States) and Lucien Howe (United States)See generally Black and index entries


Pre-Galtonian eugenic philosophies

The basic ideals of eugenics can be found from the beginnings of humanity Tribes such as the Fans aboriginal tribes and ancient Prussian tribes all carried out policies reminiscent of eugenicsAllen G. Roper Ancient Eugenics (Oxford: Cliveden Press 1913) text at [1] The philosophy was most famously expounded by Plato who believed human reproduction should be monitored and controlled by the state However Plato understood this form of government control would not be readily accepted and proposed the truth be concealed from the public via a fixed lottery Mates in Plato’s Republic would be chosen by a “marriage number” in which the quality of the individual would be quantitatively analyzed and persons of high numbers would be allowed to procreate with other persons of high numbers In theory this would lead to predictable results and the improvement of the human race However Plato acknowledged the failure of the “marriage number” since “gold soul” persons could still produce “bronze soul” children This might have been one of the earliest attempts to mathematically analyze genetic inheritance which was not perfected until the development of Mendelian genetics and the mapping of the human genome Other ancient civilizations such as Rome AthensFrom Myth to Reason by Richard BuxtonISBN 07534511071999 page 201"But the exposure of deformed babies seems to have been a more widespread practice For Athens the most conclusive allusion is in Plato's Theaetetus" and Sparta practiced infanticide through exposure as a form of phenotypic selection In Sparta newborns were inspected by the city's elders who decided the fate of the infant If the child was deemed incapable of living it was usually exposedMaking Patriots by Walter Berns 2001 page 12, "and whose infants if they chanced to be puny or ill-formed were exposed in a chasm (the Apothetae) and left to die;" in the Apothetae near the Taygetus mountain It was more common for boys than girls to be killed this way in Sparta Channel 4 - History - The SpartansTrials for babies included bathing them in wine and exposing them to the elements To Sparta this would ensure only the strongest survived and procreatedAllen G. Roper Ancient Eugenics (Oxford: Cliveden Press 1913) text at [2] Adolf Hitler considered Sparta to be the first "Völkisch State" and much like Ernst Haeckel before him praised Sparta due to its primitive form of eugenics practice of selective infanticide policy which was applied on deformed children though the Nazis believed the children were killed outright and not exposed
The Twelve Tables of Roman Law established early in the formation of the Roman Republic stated in the fourth table that deformed children must be put to death In addition patriarchs in Roman society were given the right to "discard" infants at their discretion This was often done by drowning undesired newborns in the Tiber River The practice of open infanticide in the ancient world did not subside until the Christianization of the Roman empire

Galton's theory

initially developed the ideas of eugenics using social statistics
Sir Francis Galton systematized these ideas and practices according to new knowledge about the evolution of man and animals provided by the theory of his half-cousin Charles Darwin during the 1860s and 1870s After reading Darwin's Origin of Species Galton built upon Darwin's ideas whereby the mechanisms of natural selection were potentially thwarted by human civilization He reasoned that since many human societies sought to protect the underprivileged and weak those societies were at odds with the natural selection responsible for extinction of the weakest; and only by changing these social policies could society be saved from a "reversion towards mediocrity" a phrase he first coined in statistics and which later changed to the now common "regression towards the mean"See Chapter 3 in Donald A. MacKenzie Statistics in Britain 1865-1930: The social construction of scientific knowledge (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1981)
Galton first sketched out his theory in the 1865 article "Hereditary Talent and Character" then elaborated further in his 1869 book Hereditary GeniusFrancis Galton "Hereditary talent and character" Macmillan's Magazine 12 (1865): 157-166 and 318-327; Francis Galton Hereditary genius: an inquiry into its laws and consequences (London: Macmillan 1869) He began by studying the way in which human intellectual moral and personality traits tended to run in families Galton's basic argument was "genius" and "talent" were hereditary traits in humans (although neither he nor Darwin yet had a working model of this type of heredity) He concluded since one could use artificial selection to exaggerate traits in other animals one could expect similar results when applying such models to humans As he wrote in the introduction to Hereditary Genius:
I propose to show in this book that a man's natural abilities are derived by inheritance under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world Consequently as it is easy notwithstanding those limitations to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running or of doing anything else so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generationsGalton Hereditary Genius  1

Galton claimed that the less intelligent were more fertile than the more intelligent of his time Galton did not propose any selection methods; rather he hoped a solution would be found if social mores changed in a way that encouraged people to see the importance of breeding
Galton first used the word eugenic in his 1883 Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development "Galton coined the word "eugenics" in his 1883 book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development a book in which he meant "to touch on various topics more or less connected with that of the cultivation of race or, as we might call it, with 'eugenic' questions" He included a footnote to the word "eugenic" which read:
That is, with questions bearing on what is termed in Greek eugenes namely good in stock hereditary endowed with noble qualities This and the allied words eugeneia etc are equally applicable to men brutes and plants We greatly want a brief word to express the science of improving stock which is by no means confined to questions of judicious mating but which especially in the case of man takes cognizance of all influences that tend in however remote a degree to give to the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable than they otherwise would have had The word eugenics would sufficiently express the idea; it is at least a neater word and a more generalized one than viticulture which I once ventured to useFrancis Galton Inquiries into human faculty and its development (London Macmillan 1883)  17, fn1

In 1904 he clarified his definition of eugenics as "the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage"Francis Galton "Eugenics: Its definition scope and aims" The American Journal of Sociology 10:1 (July 1904)
Galton's formulation of eugenics was based on a strong statistical approach influenced heavily by Adolphe Quetelet's "social physics" Unlike Quetelet however Galton did not exalt the "average man" but decried him as mediocre Galton and his statistical heir Karl Pearson developed what was called the biometrical approach to eugenics which developed new and complex statistical models (later exported to wholly different fields) to describe the heredity of traits However with the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's hereditary laws two separate camps of eugenics advocates emerged One was made up of statisticians the other of biologists Statisticians thought the biologists had exceptionally crude mathematical models while biologists thought the statisticians knew little about biologySee Chapters 2 and 6 in MacKenzie Statistics in Britain
Eugenics eventually referred to human selective reproduction with an intent to create children with desirable traits generally through the approach of influencing differential birth rates These policies were mostly divided into two categories: positive eugenics the increased reproduction of those seen to have advantageous hereditary traits; and negative eugenics the discouragement of reproduction by those with hereditary traits perceived as poor Negative eugenic policies in the past have ranged from attempts at segregation to sterilization and even genocide Positive eugenic policies have typically taken the form of awards or bonuses for "fit" parents who have another child Relatively innocuous practices like marriage counseling had early links with eugenic ideology
Eugenics is superficially related to what would later be known as Social Darwinism While both claimed intelligence was hereditary eugenics asserted new policies were needed to actively change the status quo towards a more "eugenic" state while the Social Darwinists argued society itself would naturally "check" the problem of "dysgenics" if no welfare policies were in place (for example the poor might reproduce more but would have higher mortality rates)Donald MacKenzie "Eugenics in Britain" Social Studies of Science 6(3) (1975): 503


for their compulsory T-4 Program|"euthanasia" program]: "This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60000 Reichsmark during his lifetime Fellow German that is your money too" countries with or considering introducing compulsory sterilization legislation
Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler was infamous for eugenics programs which attempted to maintain a "pure" German race through a series of programs that ran under the banner of racial hygiene Among other activities the Nazis performed extensive experimentation on live human beings to test their genetic theories ranging from simple measurement of physical characteristics to the experiments carried out by Josef Mengele for Otmar von Verschuer on twins in the concentration camps During the 1930s and 1940s the Nazi regime forcibly sterilized hundreds of thousands of people whom they viewed as mentally and physically unfit an estimated 400000 between 1934 and 1937 The scale of the Nazi program prompted one American eugenics advocate to seek an expansion of their program with one complaining that "the Germans are beating us at our own game"Quoted in Selgelid Michael J. 2000 Neugenics? Monash Bioethics Review 19 (4):9-33 The Nazis went further however killing tens of thousands of the institutionalized disabled through compulsory "euthanasia" programs such as Aktion T4The Nazi eugenics policies are discussed in a number of sources A few of the more definitive ones are Robert Proctor Racial : Medicine under the Nazis (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press 1988) and Dieter Kuntz ed Deadly : creating the master race (Washington DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 2004) ( online exhibit) On the development of the racial hygiene movement before National Socialism see Paul Weindling Health race and German politics between national unification and Nazism 1870-1945 (New : Cambridge University Press 1989)
They also implemented a number of positive eugenics policies giving awards to Aryan women who had large numbers of children and encouraged a service in which "racially pure" single women could deliver illegitimate children Allegations that such women were also impregnated by SS officers in the Lebensborn were not proven at the Nuremberg trials but new evidence (and the testimony of Lebensborn children) has established more details about Lebensborn practices 'Himmler was my godfather' Also "racially valuable" children from occupied countries were forcibly removed from their parents and adopted by German people Many of their concerns for eugenics and racial hygiene were also explicitly present in their systematic killing of millions of "undesirable" people including Jews Poles Gypsies Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals during the Holocaust (much of the killing equipment and methods employed in the death camps were first developed in the euthanasia program) The scope and coercion involved in the German eugenics programs along with a strong use of the rhetoric of eugenics and so-called "racial science" throughout the regime created an indelible cultural association between eugenics and the Third Reich in the postwar yearsSee Proctor Racial hygiene and Kuntz ed Deadly medicine
Two scholars John Glad and Seymour W. Itzkoff of Smith College have questioned the relation between eugenics and the Holocaust They argue that contrary to popular beliefs Hitler did not regard the Jews as intellectually inferior and did not send them to the concentration camps on these grounds They argue that Hitler had different reasons for his genocidal policies toward the Jews TOQ-Richard Lynn-Black BR-Vol 4 No 1 Seymour W. Itzkoff writes that the Holocaust was "a vast dysgenic program to rid Europe of highly intelligent challengers to the existing Christian domination by a numerically and politically minuscule minority" Therefore according to Itzkoff "the Holocaust was the very antithesis of eugenic practice" However this proposition is not supported by most researchers Hitler did regard Jews as being intelligent but also considered them inferior in all other ways - morally spiritually artistically and physically In his view their intelligence enabled them to thrive but only by undermining and perverting the civilisation of other races The extensive Nazi propaganda comparing Jews to plagues of rats demonstrates that the Holocaust was indeed a eugenics program in its conception

United States

In the USA eugenic supporters included Theodore Roosevelt pre-1960's Democratic Party the National Academy of Sciences the American Medical Association and the National Research Council Research was funded by distinguished philanthropies and carried out at prestigious universities It was taught in college and high school classroomsMargaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood of America to urge the legalization of contraception for the lower classes In its time eugenics was touted by some as scientific and progressive the natural application of knowledge about breeding to the arena of human life Before the realization of death camps in World War II the idea that eugenics would lead to genocide was not taken seriously by the average American
Eugenics was supported by Woodrow Wilson and in 1907 helped to make Indiana the first of more than thirty states to adopt legislation aimed at compulsory sterilization of certainindividualsIndiana Supreme Court Legal History Lecture Series"Three Generations of Imbeciles are Enough:"Reflections on 100 Years of Eugenics in Indiana at [3] Although the law was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921Williams v. Smith 131 NE 2 (Ind) 1921 text at [4] the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a Virginia law allowing for the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions in 1927 Citing Buck v. Bell 274 US 200 205 (1927)
Beginning with Connecticut in 1896 many states enacted marriage laws with eugenic criteria prohibiting anyone who was "epileptic imbecile or feeble-minded" from marrying In 1898 Charles B. Davenport a prominent American biologist began as director of a biological research station based in Cold Spring Harbor where he experimented with evolution in plants and animals In 1904 Davenport received funds from the Carnegie Institution to found the Station for Experimental Evolution The Eugenics Record Office opened in 1910 while Davenport and Harry H. Laughlin began to promote eugenicsThe history of eugenics in the United States is discussed at length in Mark Haller Eugenics: Hereditarian attitudes in American thought (New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press 1963) and Daniel Kevles In the name of : Genetics and the uses of human heredity (New : Knopf 1985) the latter being the standard survey work on the subject
One of the earliest modern advocates of eugenics (before it was labeled as such) was Alexander Graham Bell In 1881 Bell investigated the rate of deafness on Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts From this he concluded that deafness was hereditary in nature and through noting that congenitally deaf parents were more likely to produce deaf children tentatively suggested that couples where both were deaf should not marry in his lecture Memoir upon the formation of a deaf variety of the human race presented to the National Academy of Sciences on 13 November 1883 However it was his hobby of livestock breeding which led to his appointment to biologist David Starr Jordan's Committee on Eugenics under the auspices of the American Breeders Association The committee unequivocally extended the principle to man
During the 20th century researchers became interested in the idea that mental illness could run in families and conducted a number of studies to document the heritability of such illnesses as schizophrenia bipolar disorder and depression Their findings were used by the eugenics movement as proof for its cause State laws were written in the late 1800s and early 1900s to prohibit marriage and force sterilization of the mentally ill in order to prevent the "passing on" of mental illness to the next generation These laws were upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1927 and were not abolished until the mid-20th century All in all 60000 Americans were sterilizedIn years to come the ERO collected a mass of family pedigrees and concluded that those who were unfit came from economically and socially poor backgrounds Eugenicists such as Davenport the psychologist Henry H. Goddard and the conservationist Madison Grant (all well respected in their time) began to lobby for various solutions to the problem of the "unfit" (Davenport favored immigration restriction and sterilization as primary methods; Goddard favored segregation in his The Kallikak Family; Grant favored all of the above and more even entertaining the idea of extermination)See Kevles In the name of eugenics Though their methodology and research methods are now understood as highly flawed at the time this was seen as legitimate scientific researchSee Pg. 23 " 'Human Progress’ through Eugenics" from Psychology of Mental Fossils toward an Archeo-psychology by Douglas Keith Candland at [5] It did however have scientific detractors (notably Thomas Hunt Morgan one of the few Mendelians to explicitly criticize eugenics) though most of these focused more on what they considered the crude methodology of eugenicists and the characterization of almost every human characteristic as being hereditary rather than the idea of eugenics itselfHamilton Cravens The triumph of : American scientists and the heredity-environment controversy 1900-1941 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 1978): 179
Some states sterilized "imbeciles" for much of the 20th century The US Supreme Court ruled in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case that the state of Virginia could sterilize those it thought unfit The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963 when over 64000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United StatesPaul Lombardo "Eugenic Sterilization Laws" essay in the Eugenics Archive available online at http://wwweugenicsarchiveorg/html/eugenics/essay8texthtml A favorable report on the results of sterilization in California the state with the most sterilizations by far was published in book form by the biologist Paul Popenoe and was widely cited by the Nazi government as evidence that wide-reaching sterilization programs were feasible and humane When Nazi administrators went on trial for war crimes in Nuremberg after World War II they justified the mass sterilizations (over 450000 in less than a decade) by citing the United States as their inspirationThe connections between US and Nazi eugenicists is discussed in Edwin Black " Eugenics and the Nazis -- the California connection" San Francisco Chronicle (9 November 2003) as well as Black's War Against the Weak (New : Four Wars Eight Windows 2003) Stefan Kühl's work The Nazi connection: Eugenics American racism and German National Socialism (New : Oxford University Press 1994) is considered the standard scholarly work on the subject American eugenicists inspired and supported Hitler's racial purification laws and failed to understand the connection between those policies and the eventual genocide of the Holocaust
chart from The Kallikak Family meant to show how one illicit tryst could lead to an entire generation of imbeciles
The idea of "genius" and "talent" is also considered by William Graham Sumner a founder of the American Sociological Society (now called the American Sociological Association) He maintained that if the government did not meddle with the social policy of laissez-faire a class of genius would rise to the top of the system of social stratification followed by a class of talent Most of the rest of society would fit into the class of mediocrity Those who were considered to be defective (mentally retarded handicapped etc) had a negative effect on social progress by draining off necessary resources They should be left on their own to sink or swim But those in the class of delinquent (criminals deviants etc) should be eliminated from society ("Folkways" 1907)
However methods of eugenics were applied to reformulate more restrictive definitions of white racial purity in existing state laws banning interracial marriage: the so-called anti-miscegenation laws The most famous example of the influence of eugenics and its emphasis on strict racial segregation on such "anti-miscegenation" legislation was Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924 The US Supreme Court overturned this law in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia and declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional
With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 eugenicists for the first time played an important role in the Congressional debate as expert advisers on the threat of "inferior stock" from eastern and southern Europe This reduced the number of immigrants from abroad to 15 percent from previous years to control the number of "unfit" individuals entering the country While eugenicists did support the act the most important backers were union leaders like Samuel GompersSteve Sailer "Free To Choose? Insemination Immigration And Eugenics" http://wwwvdarecom/sailer/050705_immigrationhtm The new act inspired by the eugenic belief in the racial superiority of "old stock" white Americans as members of the "Nordic race" (a form of white supremacy) strengthened the position of existing laws prohibiting race- mixingPaul Lombardo "Eugenics Laws Restricting Immigration" essay in the Eugenics Archive available online at http://wwweugenicsarchiveorg/html/eugenics/essay9texthtml Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the US and were used to justify many anti-miscegenation lawsPaul Lombardo "Eugenic Laws Against Race-Mixing" essay in the Eugenics Archive available online at http://wwweugenicsarchiveorg/html/eugenics/essay7texthtml
demonstrated in an exhibit from a 1921 eugenics conference
Stephen Jay Gould asserted that restrictions on immigration passed in the United States during the 1920s (and overhauled in 1965 with the Immigration and Nationality Act) were motivated by the goals of eugenics During the early 20th century the United States and Canada began to receive far higher numbers of Southern and Eastern European immigrants Influential eugenicists like Lothrop Stoddard and Harry Laughlin (who was appointed as an expert witness for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in 1920) presented arguments they would pollute the national gene pool if their numbers went unrestricted It has been argued that this stirred both Canada and the United States into passing laws creating a hierarchy of nationalities rating them from the most desirable Anglo-Saxon and Nordic peoples to the Chinese and Japanese immigrants who were almost completely banned from entering the countrySee Lombardo "Eugenics Laws Restricting Immigration"; and Stephen Jay Gould The mismeasure of man (New : Norton 1981) However several people in particular Franz Samelson Mark Snyderman and Richard Herrnstein have argued based on their examination of the records of the congressional debates over immigration policy Congress gave virtually no consideration to these factors According to these authors the restrictions were motivated primarily by a desire to maintain the country's cultural integrity against a heavy influx of foreignersRichard Herrnstein and Charles Murray The Bell Curve (Free Press 1994): 5; and Mark Syderman Richard Herrnstein "Intelligence tests and the Immigration Act of 1924" American Psychologist 38 (1983): 986-995
Oregon repealed its forced sterilization law in 1983 with the last known forced sterilization having been done in 1978 [6]
The Negro Project theory] is an alleged eugenics program The project according to proponents of the theory was originated by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and supposedly aims to reduce or eliminate the black population through use of abortion


In the early part of the Shōwa era Japanese governments executed a eugenic policy to limit the birth of children with "inferior" traits as well as aiming to protect the life and health of mothers"The National Eugenic Law" The 107th law that Japanese Government promulgated in 1940 (国民優生法) 第一条 本法ハ悪質ナル遺伝性疾患ノ素質ヲ有スル者ノ増加ヲ防遏スルト共ニ健全ナル素質ヲ有スル者ノ増加ヲ図リ以テ国民素質ノ向上ヲ期スルコトヲ目的トス Kimura Jurisprudence in Genetics http://wwwbioethicsjp/licht_geneticshtml
The Race Eugenic Protection Law was submitted from 1934 to 1938 to the Diet After four amendments this draft was promulgated as the National Eugenic Law in 1940 by the Konoe government "The Eugenic Protection Law" (国民優生法)The 107th law that Japanese Government promulgated in 1940 (国民優生法) 第二条 本法ニ於テ優生手術ト称スルハ生殖ヲ不能ナラシムル手術又ハ処置ニシテ命令ヲ以テ定ムルモノヲ謂フ , http://wwwresotemonacjp/~yamamoto/be/BE_law_04htm According to the Eugenic Protection Law (1948) sterilization could be enforced on criminals "with genetic predisposition to commit crime" patients with genetic diseases such as total color-blindness hemophilia albinism and ichthyosis and mental affections such as schizophrenia manic-depressiveness and epilepsy SOSHIREN / 資料・法律−優生保護法 Mental illnesses were added in 1952
The Leprosy Prevention laws of 1907 1931 and 1953 the last one only repealed in 1996 permitted the segregation of patients in sanitarium where forced abortions and sterilization were common even if the laws did not refer to it, and authorized punishmement of patients "disturbing peace" as most Japanese leprologists believed that the body constitution vulnerable to the disease was inheritableMichio Miyasaka A Historical and Ethical Analysis of Leprosy Control Policy in Japan [7] There were a few Japanese leprologists such as Noburo Ogasawara who argued against the "isolation-sterilization policy" but he was denounced as a traitor to the nation at 15th conference of the Japanese Association of Leprology in 1941Michio Miyasaka [8]
Center staff also attempted to discourage marriage between Japanese women and Korean men who had been recruited from the peninsula as laborers following its annexation by Japan in 1910 In 1942 a survey report argued that "the Korean laborers brought to Japan where they have established permanent residency are of the lower classes and therefore of inferior constitutionBy fathering children with Japanese women these men could lower the caliber of the Yamato minzoku"Jennifer Robertson Blood Talks [9]
One of the last eugenic measure of the Shōwa regime was taken by the Higashikuni government On 19 August 1945 the Home Ministry ordered local government offices to establish a prostitution service for allied soldiers to preserve the "purity" of the "Japanese race" The official declaration stated that : "Through the sacrifice of thousands of "Okichis" of the Shōwa era we shall construct a dike to hold back the mad frenzy of the occupation troops and cultivate and preserve the purity of our race long into the future"Herbert Bix Hirohito and the making of modern Japan 2001 p. 538 citing Kinkabara Samon and Takemae Eiji Showashi : kokumin non naka no haran to gekido no hanseiki-zohoban 1989 p244


Eugenics was one of many ideas and programs debated in the 1920s and 1930s in China as a means of improving society and raising China's stature in the world The principal Chinese proponent of eugenics was the prominent sociologist Pan Guangdan and a significant number of intellectuals entered into the debate including Gao Xisheng biologist Zhou Jianren sociologist Chen Da and Chen Jianshan and many others
Chen Da is notable for the link he provides to the family planning policy and One Child Policy enacted in China after the establishment of the People's Republic of China


In Canada the eugenics movement took place early in the 20th century particularly in Alberta and was quite popular The Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta was enacted in 1928 focusing the movement on the sterilization of mentally deficient individuals as determined by the Alberta Board] The campaign to enforce this action was backed by groups such as the United Farm Women's Group including key member Emily MurphySterlization Act has Much Backing Edmonton Journal (9 March 1928) 7
Individuals were assessed using IQ tests like the Stanford-Binet This posed a problem to new immigrants arriving in Canada as many had not mastered the English language and often their scores denoted them as having impaired intellectual functioning As a result many of those sterilized under the Sexual Sterilization Act were immigrants who were unfairly categorizedThe Sterilization of Leilani Muir (film) Produced by the North West Center National Film Board of Canada 1996 Montreal Canada
The popularity of the eugenics movement peaked during the Depression Individuals sought an explanation for the financial problems of the nation and the notion of defective breeding became a scapegoat; citizens blamed individuals considered to be subhuman The end of the Canadian eugenics movement was brought about when the Sexual Sterilization Act was repealed in 1972


The policy of removing Aboriginal children from their parents emerged from an opinion based on Eugenics theory in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Australia that the 'full-blood' tribal Aborigine would be unable to sustain itself and was doomed to inevitable extinction as at the time huge numbers of aborigines were in fact dying out from diseases caught from European settlersRussell McGregor Imagined Destinies Aboriginal Australians and the Doomed Race Theory 1880-1939 : MUP 1997 An ideology at the time held that mankind could be divided into a civilizational hierarchy This notion supposed that Northern Europeans were superior in civilization and that Aborigines were inferior According to this view the increasing numbers of mixed-descent children in Australia labeled as 'half-castes' (or alternatively 'crossbreeds' 'quadroons' and 'octoroons')In the first half of the twentieth century this led to policies and legislation that resulted in the removal of children from their tribe Aborigines Act of 1905The stated aim was to culturally assimilate mixed-descent people into contemporary Australian society In all states and territories legislation was passed in the early years of the twentieth century which gave Aboriginal protectors guardianship rights over Aborigines up to the age of sixteen or twenty-one Policemen or other agents of the state (such as Aboriginal Protection Officers) were given the power to locate and transfer babies and children of mixed descent from their communities into institutions In these Australian states and territories half-caste institutions (both government or missionary) were established in the early decades of the twentieth-century for the reception of these separated children Stolen Generation by Tim Richardson Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission - Bringing them Home - The Report The 2002 movie Rabbit-Proof Fence portrays this system and the harrowing consequences of attempting to overcome it
In 1915 AO Neville was appointed the second Western Australia State Chief Protector of Aborigines During the next quarter-century he presided over the now notorious 'Assimilation' policy of removing mixed-race Aboriginal children from their parents This policy in turn created the Stolen Generations and set in motion a grieving process that has become known as the concept of trans-generational grief and would affect many generations to come In 1936 Neville became the Commissioner for Native Affairs a post he held until his retirement in 1940
Neville believed that biological absorption was the key to 'uplifting the Native race' Speaking before the Moseley Royal Commission which investigated the administration of Aboriginals in 1934 he defended the policies of forced settlement removing children from parents surveillance discipline and punishment arguing that "they have to be protected against themselves whether they like it or not They cannot remain as they are The sore spot requires the application of the surgeon's knife for the good of the patient and probably against the patients will"
In his twilight years Neville continued to actively promote his policy Towards the end of his career Neville published Australia's Coloured Minority a text outlining his plan for the biological absorption of aboriginal people into white Australia


In Sweden the "Sterilization Act of 1934" provided for the voluntary sterilization of some mental patients The law was passed while the Swedish Social Democratic Party was in power though it was also supported by all other political parties in Parliament at the time as well as the Lutheran Church and much of the medical professionLena Lennerhed Lena Sterilisation on Eugenic Grounds in Europe in the 1930s: News in 1997 but Why? Reproductive Health Matters Vol 5, No. 10, The International Women's Health Movement (Nov 1997) pp. 156 From about 1934 to until 1975 Sweden sterilized more than 62000 people with Herman Lundborg in the lead of the project Rastänkandet i Sverige Sweden sterilized more people than any other European state except Nazi Germanyother year
Sweden's large-scale eugenics program targeted the deviant and the mentally ill Most sterilizations were voluntary (though voluntary does not necessarily mean free from persuasion or exhortation) but nine per cent of the sterilized were more or less forced to do so As was the case in other programs ethnicity and race were believed to be connected to mental and physical health Still a comprehensive critical investigation appointed by the government showed there is no evidence the Swedish sterilization programme targeted ethnic minorities Steriliseringsfrågan i Sverige 1935 - 1975 SOU 2000:20 in Swedish with an English summary
There is proof that the program targeted women The goal of the program was to decrease deviant offspring If one member of a family was considered deviant the whole family became the target of an investigation It was perceived to be easier to persuade a woman to be sterilized than it was to persuade a man For this reason women were more often sterilized than men despite the fact that the medical procedure involved in the sterilization was simpler to carry out on a man
Even as far as 1996 social democrats rejected paying compensation to victims which was criticized by some former members of the partyEven in Sweden By Allan Richard Pred In 1999 the Swedish government began paying compensation to the victims and their families but only 21000 USD and only to those who had "not consented" and who applied for the compensation Social Democrats implemented measures to forcibly sterilise 62000 people World Socialist Web Site


movement in Britain In Britain eugenics never received significant state funding but it was supported by many prominent figures of different political persuasions before World War I, including Liberal economists William Beveridge and John Maynard Keynes Fabian socialists such as Irish author George Bernard Shaw H G. Wells and Sidney Webb and Conservatives such as Arthur Balfour and the future Prime Minister Winston Churchill Furthermore its emphasis was more upon class rather than race Indeed Galton expressed these views during a lecture in 1901 in which he placed the British society into groups These groupings are shown in the figure and indicate the proportion of society falling into each group and their perceived genetic worth Galton suggested that negative eugenics (ie an attempt to prevent them from bearing offspring) should be applied only to those in the lowest social group (the "Undesirables") while positive eugenics applied to the higher classes However he appreciated the worth of the higher working classes to society and industry
Sterilisation programmes were never legalised although some were carried out in private upon the mentally ill by clinicians who were in favour of a more widespread eugenics planfact been carried out to prevent masturbation in mentally ill patients since the 1820s long before the eugenics movement) Indeed those in support of eugenics shifted their lobbying of Parliament from enforced to voluntary sterilization in the hope of achieving more legal recognitionKing and Hansen 1999 BJPolS 29, 77–107 [10]
The popularity of eugenics in Britain was reflected by the fact that only two universities established courses in this field (University College London and Liverpool University) and the position of a professorship in eugenics was never created at either The Galton Institute affiliated to UCL was headed by Galton's protégé Karl Pearson

Other countries

Almost all non-Catholic Western nations adopted some eugenic legislations In July 1933 Germany passed a law allowing for the involuntary sterilization of "hereditary and incurable drunkards sexual criminals lunatics and those suffering from an incurable disease which would be passed on to their offspring""Sterilisation of the unfit - Nazi legislation" The Guardian (26 July 1933) Available online at [11] Two provinces in Canada carried out thousands of compulsory sterilizations and these lasted into the 1970s Many First Nations (native Canadians) were targeted as well as immigrants from Eastern Europe as the program identified racial and ethnic minorities to be genetically inferior Besides the large-scale program in the United States other nations included Australia Norway France Finland Denmark Estonia Iceland and Switzerland with programs to sterilize people the government declared to be mentally deficient Singapore practiced a limited form of eugenics that involved discouraging marriage between university graduates and the rest through segregation in matchmaking agencies in the hope that the former would produce better children although this point is contestableThere are a number of works discussing eugenics in various countries around the world For the history of eugenics in Scandinavia see Gunnar Broberg and Nils Roll-Hansen eds Eugenics And the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Demark Sweden Norway and Findland (Michigan State University Press 2005) Another international approach is Mark B. Adams ed The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany France Brazil and Russia (New : Oxford University Press 1990) Most notably its government introduced the "Graduate Mother Scheme" in the early 1980s to entice graduate women with incentives to get married which was eventually scrapped due to public criticism and the implications it had on meritocracySee Diane K. Mauzy Robert Stephen Milne Singapore politics under the People's Action Party (Routledge 2002)

Marginalization after World War II

eugenics became increasingly unpopular within academic science Many organizations and journals that had their origins in the eugenics movement began to distance themselves from the philosophy such as when Eugenics Quarterly became Social Biology in 1969
After the experience of Nazi Germany many ideas about "racial hygiene" and "unfit" members of society were publicly renounced by politicians and members of the scientific community The Nuremberg Trials against former Nazi leaders revealed to the world many of the regime's genocidal practices and resulted in formalized policies of medical ethics and the 1950 UNESCO statement on race Many scientific societies released their own similar "race statements" over the years and the Universal Declaration of Rights] developed in response to abuses during the Second World War was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and affirmed "Men and women of full age without any limitation due to race nationality or religion have the right to marry and to found a family" In continuation the 1978 UNESCO declaration on race and racial prejudice states that the fundamental equality of all human beings is the ideal toward which ethics and science should converge
In reaction to Nazi abuses eugenics became almost universally reviled in many of the nations where it had once been popular (however some eugenics programs including sterilization continued quietly for decades) Many pre-war eugenicists engaged in what they later labeled "crypto-eugenics" purposefully taking their eugenic beliefs "underground" and becoming respected anthropologists biologists and geneticists in the postwar world (including Robert Yerkes in the US and Otmar von Verschuer in Germany) Californian eugenicist Paul Popenoe founded marriage counseling during the 1950s a career change which grew from his eugenic interests in promoting "healthy marriages" between "fit" couplesA discussion of the general changes in views towards genetics and race after World War II is: Elazar Barkan The retreat of scientific : changing concepts of race in Britain and the United States between the world wars (New : Cambridge University Press 1992)
The American League] an opponent of abortion charges that eugenics was merely "re-packaged" after the war and promoted anew in the guise of the population-control and environmentalism movements They claim for example that Planned Parenthood was funded and cultivated by the Eugenics Society for these reasons Julian Huxley the first Director-General of UNESCO and a founder of the World Fund] was also a Eugenics Society president and a strong supporter of eugenicsAmerican Bioethics Advisory Commission "Eugenics" ABAC website
[12]ven though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable --Julian HuxleyUNESCO: Its Purpose and its Philosophy (Washington DC 1947) cited in Liagin Excessive : Power Politics and Population Control at 85 (Washington DC: Information Project for Africa 1996)

High school and college textbooks from the 1920s through the '40s often had chapters touting the scientific progress to be had from applying eugenic principles to the population Many early scientific journals devoted to heredity in general were run by eugenicists and featured eugenics articles alongside studies of heredity in nonhuman organisms After eugenics fell out of scientific favor most references to eugenics were removed from textbooks and subsequent editions of relevant journals Even the names of some journals changed to reflect new attitudes For example Eugenics Quarterly became Social Biology in 1969 (the journal still exists today though it looks little like its predecessor) Notable members of the American Society] (1922–94) during the second half of the 20th century included Joseph Fletcher originator of Situational ethics; Dr. Clarence Gamble of the Procter & Gamble fortune; and Garrett Hardin a population control advocate and author of the essay The of the Commons]
In the United States the eugenics movement had largely lost most popular and political support by the end of the 1930s while forced sterilizations mostly ended in the 1960s with the last performed in 1981See Broberg and Nil-Hansen ed Eugenics And the Welfare State and Alexandra Stern Eugenic nation: faults and frontiers of better breeding in modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press 2005) Many US states continued to prohibit biracial marriages with "anti-miscegenation laws" such as Virginia's The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 until they were over-ruled by the Supreme Court in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia Essay 7: Marriage Laws The Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 which was designed to limit the immigration of "dysgenic" Italians and eastern European Jews was repealed and replaced by the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965 Essay 9: Immigration Restriction
However some prominent academics continued to support eugenics after the war In 1963 the Ciba Foundation convened a conference in London under the title “Man and His Future” at which three distinguished biologists and Nobel laureates (Hermann Muller Joshua Lederberg and Francis Crick) all spoke strongly in favor of eugenicsJohn Glad: "Future Human : Eugenics in the Twenty-First Century" Hermitage Publishers
A few nations notably Sweden and the Canadian province of Alberta maintained large-scale eugenics programs including forced sterilization of mentally handicapped individuals as well as other practices until the 1970s

Modern eugenics genetic engineering and ethical re-evaluation

Beginning in the 1980s the history and concept of eugenics were widely discussed as knowledge about genetics advanced significantly Endeavors such as the Human Genome Project made the effective modification of the human species seem possible again (as did Darwin's initial theory of evolution in the 1860s along with the rediscovery of Mendel's laws in the early 20th century) The difference at the beginning of the 21st century was the guarded attitude towards eugenics which had become a watchword to be feared rather than embraced

Suggestions and ideas

A few scientific researchers such as psychologist Richard Lynn psychologist Raymond Cattell and scientist Gregory Stock have openly called for eugenic policies using modern technology but they represent a minority opinion in current scientific and cultural circlesSee ie Richard Lynn Eugenics: A Reassessment (Human Evolution Behavior and Intelligence) (Praeger Publishers 2001) One attempted implementation of a form of eugenics was a "genius sperm bank" (1980–99) created by Robert Klark Graham from which nearly 230 children were conceived (the best known donors were Nobel Prize winners William Shockley and JDWatson) In the US and Europe though these attempts have frequently been criticized as in the same spirit of classist and racist forms of eugenics of the 1930s Because of its association with compulsory sterilization and the racial ideals of the Nazi Party the word eugenics is rarely used by the advocates of such programs
Eugenicists have argued that immigration from countries with low national IQ is undesirable According to Raymond Cattell "when a country is opening its doors to immigration from diverse countries it is like a farmer who buys his seeds from different sources by the sack with sacks of different average quality of contents"Cattell R. B. (1987) Beyondism: Religion from science New : Praeger p. 187


A similar screening policy (including prenatal screening and abortion) intended to reduce the incidence of thalassemia exists in both jurisdictions on the island of Cyprus Since the program's implementation in the 1970s it has reduced the ratio of children born with the hereditary blood disease from 1 out of every 158 births to almost zero Tests for the gene are compulsory for both partners prior to church wedding

United States

There are some states that require a blood test prior to marriage Marriage Laws in the US - Blood Tests While these tests are typically restricted to the detection of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis (which was the most common STD at the time these laws were enacted) some partners will voluntarily test for other diseases and genetic incompatibilities
Harris polls in 1986 and 1992 recorded majority public support for limited forms of germ-line intervention especially to prevent "children inheriting usually fatal genetic disease" The Eugenic Temptation (March-April 2000)
In 1971 lobbying by the US organization The International Association for Voluntary Sterilization (AVS) led politicians and officials at the Office for Equal Opportunity to pay for voluntary sterilization of low income Americans for birth-control purposes AVS also focused on the International community and its lobbying led to a US foreign policy and funding from the US Agency for International Development to encourage Third World/Developing World countries to utilise abortion and sterilization in order to control their population growth For further information see EngenderHealth


Dor Yeshorim a program which seeks to reduce the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease Cystic Fibrosis Canavan disease Fanconi anemia Familial Dysautonomia Glycogen storage disease Bloom's Syndrome Gaucher Disease Niemann-Pick Disease and Mucolipidosis IV among certain Jewish communities is another screening program which has drawn comparisons with liberal eugenicshttp://wwwshidduchiminfo/medicalhtml In Israel at the expense of the state the general public is advised to carry out genetic tests to diagnose these diseases early in the pregnancy If a fetus is diagnosed with one of these diseases among which Tay-Sachs is the most commonly known the pregnancy may be terminated subject to consent Most other Ashkenazi Jewish communities also run screening programs because of the higher incidence of genetic diseases In some Jewish communities the ancient custom of matchmaking (shidduch) is still practiced and in order to attempt to prevent the tragedy of infant death which always results from being homozygous for Tay-Sachs associations such as the strongly observant Dor Yeshorim (which was founded by a rabbi who lost four children to Tay-Sachs with the purpose of preventing others from suffering the same tragedy) test young couples to check whether they carry a risk of passing on fatal conditions If both the young man and woman are Tay-Sachs carriers it is common for the match to be broken off Judaism like numerous other religions discourages abortion unless there is a risk to the woman in which case her needs take precedence The effort is not aimed at eradicating the hereditary traits but rather at the occurrence of homozygosity The actual impact of this program on allele frequencies is unknown but little impact would be expected because the program does not impose genetic selection Instead it encourages disassortative mating

Ethical re-assessment

Modern inquiries into the potential use of genetic engineering have led to an increased invocation of the history of eugenics in discussions of bioethics most often as a cautionary tale Some ethicists suggest that even non-coercive eugenics programs would be inherently unethical though this view has been challenged by such thinkers as Nicholas AgarFor example Nicholas Agar Liberal : In Defence of Human Enhancement (Blackwell 2004) Jacob M. Appel has even argued that eugenics should be mandatory under certain circumstances http://wwwopposingviewscom/articles/opinion-mandatory-genetic-testing-isn-t-eugenics-it-s-smart-science
In modern bioethics literature the history of eugenics presents many moral and ethical questions Commentators have suggested the new eugenics will come from reproductive technologies that will allow parents to create "designer babies" (what the biologist Lee M. Silver prominently called "reprogenetics") It has been argued that this non-coercive form of biological improvement will be predominantly motivated by individual competitiveness and the desire to create the best opportunities for children rather than an urge to improve the species as a whole which characterized the early 20th-century forms of eugenics Because of this non-coercive nature lack of involvement by the state and a difference in goals some commentators have questioned whether such activities are eugenics or something else altogether But critics note that Francis Galton did not advocate coercion when he defined the principles of eugenics In other words eugenics does not mean coercion It is, according to Galton who originated the term the proper label for bioengineering of better human beings
Daniel Kevles argues that eugenics and the conservation of natural resources are similar propositions Both can be practiced foolishly so as to abuse individual rights but both can be practiced wisely
Some disability activists argue that although their impairments may cause them pain or discomfort what really disables them as members of society is a sociocultural system that does not recognize their right to genuinely equal treatment They express skepticism that any form of eugenics could be to the benefit of the disabled considering their treatment by historical eugenic campaigns
James D. Watson the first director of the Human Genome Project initiated the Ethical Legal and Social Implications Program (ELSI) which has funded a number of studies into the implications of human genetic engineering (along with a prominent website on the history of eugenics) because:
In putting ethics so soon into the genome agenda I was responding to my own personal fear that all too soon critics of the Genome Project would point out that I was a representative of the Cold Spring Laboratory] that once housed the controversial Eugenics Record Office My not forming a genome ethics program quickly might be falsely used as evidence that I was a closet eugenicist having as my real long-term purpose the unambiguous identification of genes that lead to social and occupational stratification as well as genes justifying racial discriminationJames D. Watson A passion for DNA   Genes genomes and society (Cold Spring Harbor NY  Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press 2000)  202

Distinguished geneticists including Nobel Prize-winners John Sulston ("I don't think one ought to bring a clearly disabled child into the world")Quoted in Brendan Bourne "Scientist warns disabled over having children" The Sunday Times (Britain) (13 October 2004) Available online at http://wwwtimesonlinecouk/article/02087-133778100html and Watson ("Once you have a way in which you can improve our children no one can stop it")Quoted in Mark Henderson "Let's cure stupidity says DNA pioneer" The Times (28 February 2003) Available online at http://wwwtimesonlinecouk/printFriendly/01-2-59368700html support genetic screening Which ideas should be described as "eugenic" are still controversial in both public and scholarly spheres Some observers such as Philip Kitcher have described the use of genetic screening by parents as making possible a form of "voluntary" eugenicsPhilip Kitcher The Lives to Come (Penguin 1997) Review available online at http://wwwwellcomeacuk/en/genome/geneticsandsociety/hg16f009html
Some modern subcultures advocate different forms of eugenics assisted by human cloning and human genetic engineering sometimes even as part of a new religious movement (see Raëlism Cosmotheism or Prometheism) These groups also talk of "neo-eugenics" "conscious evolution" or "genetic freedom"
Behavioral traits often identified as potential targets for modification through human genetic engineering include intelligence depression schizophrenia alcoholism sexual behavior (and orientation) and criminality


Diseases vs. traits

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 there is at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable Eugenic manipulations that reduce the propensity for criminality and violence for example might result in the population being enslaved by an outside aggressor it can no longer defend itself against On the other hand genetic diseases like hemochromatosis can increase susceptibility to illness cause physical deformities and other dysfunctions Eugenic measures against many of these diseases are already being undertaken in societies around the world while measures against traits that affect more subtle poorly understood traits such as criminality are relegated to the realm of speculation and science fiction The effects of diseases are essentially wholly negative and societies everywhere seek to reduce their impact by various means some of which are eugenic in all but name The other traits that are discussed have positive as well as negative effects and are not generally targeted at present anywhere


A common criticism of eugenics is that it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical (Lynn 2001) A hypothetical scenario posits that if one racial minority group is on average less intelligent than the racial majority group then it is more likely that the racial minority group will be submitted to a eugenics program rather than the least intelligent members of the whole population
H L. Kaye wrote of "the obvious truth that eugenics has been discredited by Hitler's crimes" (Kaye 1989) R. L. Hayman argued "the eugenics movement is an anachronism its political implications exposed by the Holocaust" (Hayman 1990)
Steven Pinker has stated that it is "a conventional wisdom among left-leaning academics that genes imply genocide" He has responded to this "conventional wisdom" by comparing the history of Marxism which had the opposite position on genes to that of Nazism:
But the 20th century suffered "two" ideologies that led to genocides The other one Marxism had no use for race didn't believe in genes and denied that human nature was a meaningful concept Clearly it's not an emphasis on genes or evolution that is dangerous It's the desire to remake humanity by coercive means (eugenics or social engineering) and the belief that humanity advances through a struggle in which superior groups (race or classes) triumph over inferior ones

Richard Lynn broadens his criticism of eugenics by arguing that any social philosophy is capable of ethical misuse Though Christian principles have aided in the abolition of slavery and the establishment of welfare programs he notes that the Christian church has also burned many dissidents at the stake and allowed for the killing of large numbers of innocent people by Crusaders Lynn argues the appropriate response is to condemn these killings but believes Christianity does not "inevitably [13] to the extermination of those who do not accept its doctrines" (Lynn 2001)

Genetic diversity

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity in which case a culturally accepted improvement of the gene pool could very likely as evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations (eg the Dodo Raphus cucullatus of Mauritius) 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 (Galton 2001 48)
Proponents of eugenics argue that in any one generation any realistic program would 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 Proponents of eugenics argue that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for nowEdward M. Miller: "Eugenics: Economics for the Long Run" 1997
The possible elimination of the autism genotype is a significant political issue in the autism movement] which claims autism is a form of neurodiversity Many advocates of Down's Syndrome rights also consider Down's Syndrome (Trisomy-21) a form of neurodiversity

Heterozygous recessive traits

In some instances efforts to eradicate certain single-gene mutations would be nearly impossible In the event the condition in question was a heterozygous recessive trait the problem is that by eliminating the visible unwanted trait there are still many carriers for the genes without or with fewer phenotypic effects due to that gene With genetic testing it may be possible to detect all of the heterozygous recessive traits but only at great cost with the current technology Under normal circumstances it is only possible to eliminate a dominant allele from the gene pool 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 the practical value for "eliminating" traits is quite low
However 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 (Tay-Sachs Cystic Fibrosis Canavan's disease and Goucher's disease) has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening Title: Fatal Gift: Jewish Intelligence and Western Civilization

See also



Histories of eugenics (academic accounts)
  • Elof Axel Carlson The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea (Cold Spring Harbor New : Cold Spring Harbor Press 2001) ISBN 0-87969-587-0
  • Daniel Kevles In the name of : Genetics and the uses of human heredity (New : Knopf 1985)
  • Dieter Kuntz ed Deadly : creating the master race (Washington DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 2004) online exhibit
  • Ruth C. Engs The Eugenics Movement: An Encyclopedia (Westport CT: Greenwood Publishing Group 2005) ISBN 0-313-32791-2
  • John Glad Future Human : Eugenics in the Twenty-First Century (Hermitage Publishers 2008) ISBN 1-55779-154-6[14]

Histories of hereditarian thought
  • Elazar Barkan The retreat of scientific : changing concepts of race in Britain and the United States between the world wars (New : Cambridge University Press 1992)
  • Stephen Jay Gould The mismeasure of man (New : Norton 1981)
  • Ewen & Ewen Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality (New York Seven Stories Press 2006)
Criticisms of eugenics historical and modern
  • Edwin Black War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race (Four Walls Eight Windows 2003) [15] ISBN 1-56858-258-7
  • Dinesh D'Souza The End of Racism (Free Press 1995) ISBN 0-02-908102-5
  • Galton David Eugenics: The Future of Human Life in the 21st Century (Abacus 2002) ISBN 0-349-11377-7
  • Robert L. Hayman Presumptions of : Law politics and the mentally retarded parent Harvard Law Review 1990 103 1202-71 (p. 1209)
  • Joseph J. (2004) . The Gene : Genetic Research in Psychiatry and Psychology Under the MicroscopeNew : Algora (2003 United Kingdom Edition by PCCS Books)
  • Joseph J. (2005) The 1942 “Euthanasia” Debate in the American Journal of Psychiatry History of Psychiatry 16 171-179
  • Joseph J. (2006) Missing : Psychiatry Heredity and the Fruitless Search for GenesNew : Algora
  • H L. Kaye The social meaning of modern biology 1987 New Haven CT Yale University Press (p. 46)
  • Tom Shakespeare "Back to the Future? New Genetics and Disabled People" Critical Social Policy 46:22-35 (1995)
  • Wahlsten D. (1997) Leilani Muir versus the Philosopher : eugenics on trial in Alberta Genetica 99: 185-198
  • Tom Shakespeare Genetic Politics: from Eugenics to Genome with Anne Kerr (New Clarion Press 2002)
  • Nancy Ordover American : Race Queer Anatomy and the Science of Nationalism (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press 2003) ISBN 0-8166-3559-5
  • Gina Maranto "Quest for Perfection: The Drive to Breed Better Human Beings" Diane Publishing Co. (June 1996) ISBN 0-7881-9431-3
  • Andrea Smith Conquest: Sexual Violence and the American Indian Genocide (Cambridge MA: South End Press 2005)

External links

Historical resources