Eugenics Essay Questions

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Alfred Ploetz founded the Archives of Race-Theory and Social Biology in 1904 and the German Society of Racial Hygiene in 1905.

The German term Rassenhygiene or race hygiene was broader than the word eugenics; it included all attempts at improving hereditary qualities as well as measures directed at population increase (III, Weiss 1987).

The Encyclopedia of Bioethics "Eugenics" entry notes that the term has had different meanings in different eras: "a science that investigates methods to ameliorate the genetic composition of the human race, a program to foster such betterment; a social movement; and in its perverted form, a pseudo-scientific retreat for bigots and racists" (V, Ludmerer 1978, p. Kevles, with a stronger emphasis on its degeneration, says that by 1935 "eugenics had become `hopelessly perverted' into a pseudoscientific facade for `advocates of race and class prejudice, defenders of vested interests of church and state, Fascists, Hitlerites, and reactionaries generally'" (I, Kevles 1985, p. Phrases such as "survival of the fittest" and "struggle for existence" came into use at the end of the 19th century when eugenics societies were created throughout the world to popularize genetic science.

`Positive eugenics' tried to encourage the population perceived as the "best and brightest" to have more offspring (V, Ludmerer, 1978, p. In the United States, after World War I, new ideas like the importance of environmental influences and the more complex concept of multi-gene effects in inheritance had slowed scientific justification for eugenics, but this knowledge did not slow pressure for legislation, judicial action, or immigration controls. In Germany interest in eugenics flourished after the turn of the century when Dr.

Once the theory of an armchair population biologist, eugenics too quickly transmogrified into a racist and harmful evidence base for ridding nations of those the dominant society did not like or feared.

The problem, of course, was that the evidence base was false and poorly constructed.a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable.” In a 1904 issue of the American Journal of Sociology, Galton defined eugenics more succinctly 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.” Galton also coined the phrase “nature versus nurture.” Sir Francis’s social theories on who was eugenically worthy spread like wildfire among white intellectuals in almost every developed Western nation.For example, in July of 1912, one year after Galton’s death, the threat of inferior races polluting the Western body politic was discussed at the first International Congress of Eugenics in London.Some African American intellectuals, too, supported the theory, arguing we should focus on the “talented tenth” of every race.One of the dirtiest realities of the American eugenics movement is that, with relatively few prominent exceptions, it is difficult to find a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant man (or woman) of means who did not endorse such theories.One of the biggest fans of the American eugenics movement was Adolf Hitler, the chancellor of Nazi Germany.When the world discovered the role eugenics played in Hitler’s campaign to cleanse the Third Reich of its “unfit,” it drummed a final nail into the eugenics movement coffin.Galton, the younger, first cousin of Charles Darwin (who played an outsized role in influencing Sir Francis’s education and intellectual life), was born on this day in 1822.We come today not to praise Francis Galton but to bury him along with his faulty and dangerous pseudoscience of eugenics.Between the late 1890s and the late 1930s, “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants” on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean were obsessed with the future of their country’s gene pool and how different immigrants might taint it.Supporting these fears was a theoretical framework called eugenics, first proposed in 1883 by Sir Frances Galton, the British polymath and naturalist, and a pioneer in many other fields such as meteorology, psychology and anthropometrics.


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