A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 
 

 History of eugenics

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1859
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: History of eugenics   Tue 11 Oct 2016, 22:18

I start with the omnipresent wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_eugenics


To start with I was surprized that Sweden was not mentioned in the wiki, a country that I had learned in my previous studies, which had very early acted in negative eugenics, by sterilisation, for the bettering of the race...
"Other countries[edit]
Other countries that adopted some form of eugenics program at one time include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland with programs to sterilize people the government declared to be mentally deficient.[122]"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_sterilisation_in_Sweden
http://www.economist.com/node/155244

As for the special relationship between the UK and the US:
http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2010/12/british-eugenics-disabled
But as I read the wiki about Galton:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Galton
he is not the father of the negative trends later in society that said they were based on the work of Galton.
As far as I can see it Galton was working with the perceptions of that time and with the science available on the moment.
As for his utopic views of social life from the wiki:

"Galton recognised that cultural circumstances influenced the capability of a civilisation's citizens, and their reproductive success. In Hereditary Genius, he envisaged a situation conducive to resilient and enduring civilisation as follows:
Quote :
The best form of civilization in respect to the improvement of the race, would be one in which society was not costly; where incomes were chiefly derived from professional sources, and not much through inheritance; where every lad had a chance of showing his abilities, and, if highly gifted, was enabled to achieve a first-class education and entrance into professional life, by the liberal help of the exhibitions and scholarships which he had gained in his early youth; where marriage was held in as high honour as in ancient Jewish times; where the pride of race was encouraged (of course I do not refer to the nonsensical sentiment of the present day, that goes under that name); where the weak could find a welcome and a refuge in celibate monasteries or sisterhoods, and lastly, where the better sort of emigrants and refugees from other lands were invited and welcomed, and their descendants naturalised. (p. 362)[5]
I made in the time a rather negative picture of Galton in my earlier BBC thread, but see now that it was with what I read about Bradley, and who I was erroneously was taking for Galton.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._H._Bradley
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bradley-moral-political/

And it was also Galton who had already coined the word "eugenics", also started questioning the nature versus nurture debate, which is in my opinion one of the core questions in the debate about eugenics.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_versus_nurture

Further tomorrow nearing midnight on the European peninsula...

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5747
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 08:20

The problem with eugenics whenever it is proposed as a feasible scientific theory is that for all its dressing up in apparently scientific terminology it has always proved impossible for its proponents to prosecute without lapsing into very non-scientific jargon and concepts. Galton might be forgiven on the basis of when he was writing the above, and who he envisaged would be reading it. However Galton was also quite precise and scientific in other disciplines (his contribution to fingerprint analysis was rightly feted for setting the whole process on an acute scientific footing). It was only when promulgating eugenics that he lapsed into rhetoric studded with colloquialisms (every lad), unsupported and vague dismissals (the nonsensical sentiment of the present day), and - crucial within the eugenics debate - unexplained subjective terminology for the very people who would be most targeted by any implemented eugenics policy politically ("weak" in the example above, though he also used the term "imbecile" quite a lot too).

And things have not progressed much in the intervening 150 or so years. From Entine's "good genes" and "bad genes" in defence of eugenics, to Rothman and Thomas's use of "lives considered undesirable" in their criticism of prenatal screening programmes, it is still impossible to discuss eugenics at all without introducing what are fundamentally subjective pejorative and dangerously reductive expressions. This is what identifies eugenics most not as a scientific discourse but as an overtly political one (as if at this point in our history further proof of this should be necessary at all).

We as a society make value judgments concerning one life's worth against another all the time and in many ways. It is often a cruel and dispassionate process that results from this necessity, and there is much that we as humans still require to do in facing up to and understanding the ethical implications of our actions, but dressing these essentially political processes up as "science" and claiming a universal benefit as their goal is egregious in the extreme. Where no benefit has yet been defined, let alone universally agreed, there is none to be had. Pretending an existing consensus on this score has already been achieved is a lie, and lends that lie to every policy pursued in its aim. Genetic manipulation through whatever means is not in itself a "good" or "bad" process, but its application requires an ethical consensus we are still very far from achieving.

As long as we pretend to be talking science when we are actually talking fundamentally political social policy the lie will persist and the language of Galton et al will still typify the debate.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 16:12

This is the kind of thing, writ large, that may eventuate.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-37500189
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1859
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 21:26

Nordmann,

"but dressing these essentially political processes up as "science" and claiming a universal benefit as their goal is egregious in the extreme.

As long as we pretend to be talking science when we are actually talking fundamentally political social policy the lie will persist and the language of Galton et al will still typify the debate."

You are completely right.
I started to read the in the begining neutral book from Richard Weikart, but while reading I got gradually suspicious to such a degree that I first did research about the author...
The book:
goo.gl/4XnTaj
The dead of humanity: and the case for life
And the author:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Weikart
From the wiki:
Weikart is best known for his 2004 book From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany.[20][21] The Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement, "provided crucial funding" for the book's research.[22] The academic community has been widely critical of the book.[4][23] Regarding the thesis of Weikart's book, University of Chicago historian Robert Richards concluded that "Hitler was not a Darwinian" and "calls this all a desperate tactic to undermine evolution."[24] Richards expressed an opinion that, "There's not the slightest shred of evidence that Hitler read Darwin," and "Some of the biggest influences on Hitler's anti-Semitism were opposed to evolution, such as British writer Houston Stewart Chamberlain, whose racial theory became incorporated into Nazi doctrine."[24]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design_movement

The grandson said (involved in cancer research (doctorat)) last saturday that the Chinese didn't let lead them with all the ethical western concerns as for instance in the case of stem cells.  About the eugenic theme he said that the Chinese do a lot of research about the genetics of the human genome, for instance a study of some thousands genomes (there is money overthere) from "intellectual" humans to discern where the genetics of "intelligence" lay...
Yesterday I read an article from an American (from the US) that warned against the Chinese, every decade they would upgrade the average intelligence by a 15 %, so outranging the Americans Wink

Yes all political it is, but the sad thing is that many people believe al this stuff and become adherents of as for instance the Creationists and "the intelligent design" movement, not to speak from other more esoteric matter...

Stop here and will answer further to my central theme in a new message.

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1859
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 22:16

Nordmann,

as for the historical debate and even the contemporous debate about eugenics both in the positive and negative sense...
Where I see the flaws in the political debate is the fact that in a human society statistical there is a Bell curve, but as you read the nature versus nurture debate:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_versus_nurture
there will always a difference between the lower classes, who have no access to the same opportunities of the environment as the upper class, and although they have the same Bell curve qua intelligence from their heritage, they will not perform the same because of their lack of education and yes perhaps of good food too...it is therefore essential again in my opinion to provide a good education to the whole community and a fair environment so that every individual can nearly start from the same premises only altered by his genetical inheritance. And as I see it the nowadays Western civilisation tries to do that in a certain way? And for instance the question of Feminism...if there to a community is added the intellectual power of half the society on an equal basis, there is more chance that there out of this double quantity, there comes more chances of a higher degree of educated people and with the same average of intelligence there is a greater output of economic and intelligent life?
That's for the positive effect of the environment.
About positive eugenics I am more reticent. In my opinion it is up to the individual to chose their partner, they can seek for heriditary negative traits, as for instance in my case heriditary polycystic kidneys, but again it is up to the individual, what he makes from his offspring. We have seen in the past that when the state interferes, there were always derailments. Not to say that there can not be a kind of NHS, who can advise in heriditary questions. All in my humble opinion...and yes my opinion can also be considered as politics...

For the negative eugenics tomorrow...

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5747
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 22:34

Darwinist and Darwinian are terms which only make sense when applied to a scientific proposition which also assumes gradual modification of species through hereditary means, that which Darwin himself called natural selection (and never once called "survival of the fittest"). Any proposition therefore must, to merit this description, by default preclude artificial engineering of this natural process to achieve a "desired" result.

Once an author misuses the term (and few writing about eugenics fail to do so on the first page of their attempt) then you can be sure that what you are about to read - should you be bothered continuing - is further unwarranted and normally unexplained presentation of what is essentially an ethical and social topic couched in pseudo-scientific jargon. There are only two motives that I know of why anyone would do this - because they unwittingly and ignorantly conflate social policy with natural law, or because they intentionally wish to convey an impression that the policies in question conform to some extension of natural law which they hope therefore makes them more palatable and less prone to ethical query.

Eugenics, like phrenology, or even homeopathy for that matter, is simply one subject of many which bears that hallmark of misapplied language in order to disguise a quite obvious agenda behind its promulgation. The hidden agenda can be commercial, political, or both. But whether the subject has been discredited as science or not they all share that common level of deceit in their presentation. A geneticist may pursue a scientifically verifiable root to human intelligence, to use your Chinese example, but at best can only advance scientific knowledge to the next testable level of hypothesis, and an honest geneticist familiar with what science means knows that at any point a complete hypothesis can be thrown out the moment in the future it fails such a test based on other data learnt in the meantime. This is not a solid basis for any social policy, at least not one instigated for any "scientific" reason. That would be the action of a political mind, not a scientific one, whether the resultant policy is feasible or not.

Eugenics has the rare distinction now of having been utilised as a basis of several such policies instigated based on its supposed scientific "findings", and I cannot think of an instance where such departures have not resulted in either the policy having been discredited as the scientific research continued, or the scientific "findings" having been even more discredited when new data became available. In no instance did the policy ever achieve even its own stated aims. And whether you classify different applications of eugenics theory as "negative" or "positive" does not apparently matter - the outcome is never quite the one presumed by the instigator. A true "Darwinist" in fact would understand why this is so - there is no such thing as a "successful" evolutionary stage, only a workable one in the circumstances that apply at that time, and these are subject to many random influences which we know about and over which we have no control, not to mention the potentially even greater number of influences which we do not yet understand or even know about.

As I said before, we are so far off a consensus anyway even regarding what such an aim might look like, let alone regarding our definitions of "intelligent, "pure", "desirable" or any other words used when formulating these aims, that I am inclined to the view that anyone who pretends otherwise, or implies that our understanding of genetics is sufficient to engineer our global society, is either incredibly stupid or incredibly politically motivated, almost always to a point indistinguishable from evil when their actions are diligently analysed, alas all too often in hindsight.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 22:53

Shame phrenology doesn't work. I think I could make a right good living as a retrophrenologist.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5747
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 23:02

It worked for Johann Spurzheim. He took his ex-partner Gall's textbooks on the subject, published them as his own, and became a very wealthy man lecturing on the subject throughout England and France, as well as his native Germany (dodging Gall who had threatened to kill him). When he died of typhoid in Boston early in what he had hoped to be a long and even more lucrative American tour it proceeded to make even more money for the showman who then took his brain on tour in a glass jar.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5747
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Thu 13 Oct 2016, 08:56

Paul, you may be interested in researching anything written by Edward G. Conklin in later life. Conklin was an American eugenicist who initially bought into the pseudo-science hook, line, and sinker but who, as time went on, realised that very little being proposed by fellow leading lights in the field who were labelled "extreme eugenicists" (such as Davenport and Popenoe) could ever really conform to scientific verification criteria, let alone actually be tested. Conklin therefore became seen as a "moderate", and what one might call the friendly face of eugenics in the USA, being invited to advise government policy bodies and the like, and publishing numerous widely circulated articles and books.

Proof, if proof is needed, of just how political all this stuff is and not really scientific at all can be found in Conklin's rhetoric as time went on (and remember this is a man who throughout his life was totally committed to the idea that he was pursuing a scientific discipline, and of whom such was also generally believed at the time too). He decided that a logical conclusion of "extreme" eugenics was a society of virtual clones, and in response became a eugenic champion of preserving "American individualism", something that he actually believed could be genetically ensured and even enhanced. It was Conklin who helped popularise that trite but politically potent expression "the American Dream" which he frequently used in the sense of a goal to which a genetically "healthy" individual could then aspire.

But Conklin's real contribution was in his role as whistle blower on the whole racket. Having once been an insider in the extreme eugenics faction, and unable himself to distinguish between where scientific plausibility ends and political conjecture begins (though all too willing to point this out in others), he inadvertently set out a body of work which, for anyone reading it now with a critical gaze, readily exposes the self-deceit and public deceit which is intrinsic in any attempted promulgation of eugenics as a basis for social policy.

Conklin died in 1952 a very much respected zoologist, biologist, and even eugenicist. As recently as 1995 the American Society for Developmental Biology (not as eugenic as it sounds but a reputable body encouraging excellence in research) set up the Edwin Grant Conklin Medal to reward special endeavours in biological research. I would challenge you however to read even his more benign and neutral biology/zoology texts and not discern a strong political agenda underlying almost everything within them, and often not a very benign or neutral one at all. In fact one wonders had his advocated policies ever been adopted at any point or in any of the forms he promoted over the years just how many of the medal's recipients would even have been around to receive one.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1859
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: History of eugenics   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 21:57

Nordmann,

thank you very much for this new exposure of what you tend to demonstrate. I have to admit that Temperance is right as she admires your style of writing and its content.

As for eugenics, I promised to elaborate next on negative eugenetics as opposed to positive ones in my former message...
I think it was you, who said, in one of your messages, that in essence there is no difference between positive and negative eugenics, that they are all eugenics tout court...
Therefore my comments on the negative eugenics will be the same as for the positive ones:

"About positive eugenics I am more reticent. In my opinion it is up to the individuals and their partner to chose, they can seek for heriditary negative traits, as for instance in my case heriditary polycystic kidneys, but again it is up to the individual, what he makes from his offspring. We have seen in the past that when the state interferes, there were always derailments. Not to say that there can not be a kind of NHS, who can advise in heriditary questions. All in my humble opinion...and yes my opinion can also be considered as politics...
For the negative eugenics tomorrow..."

To end, I think that we have commented the whole picture...if someone has further thoughts about it, that he/she may come up with them...

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
 

History of eugenics

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of people ... :: Civilisation and Community-