Respectful Insolence

Eugenicist quotes

Here are a few typical eugenicist quotes from early last century:

  • “It is an excellent plan to keep defective people in institutions for here they are not permitted to marry and bear children.”
  • “[Scientists who are working at the task of improving the human race] would like to increase the birth rate of families having good heredity, while those people having poor heredity should not marry at all.”
  • “At the present time there are in the United States more than a million people with serious hereditary defects, and to reduce their numbers by even a few thousand would reduce the amount of discomfort and hardship in the future. Unfortunate births are reduced by segregation also but there are not enough institutions to house nearly all the ones who have unfortunate genes. Institutional care is expensive but as compared to total government expenditure it is small.

    “Sterilization is sometimes employed with the consent of the patient for non-eugenic purposes. An example is a woman who has borne three children by Caesarean section and could not stand another birth. Persons who are on the borderline of normal mentality may be able to marry and care for themselves but would not be good parents. Their children might be normal or might be defective, and at any rate would have poor home discipline. Such persons sometimes are prevailed upon to submit to sterilization, to their own advantage.”

Oh, no! Sounds like the despicable ravings of those evil Darwinists, doesn’t it? After all, as Dr. Egnor and many antievolutionists tell us ad nauseam, Darwin’s theory was to blame for eugenics and Hitler; and eugenics is a necessary and inevitable consequence of the theory of evolution by natural selection. So the above quotes must be from die-hard Darwinists, right?

Not exactly.

Comments

  1. #1 Uncle Dave
    May 16, 2007

    “It’s just natures of way of telling you,
    somethings wrong,
    Somethings wrong…

    Song; Natures Way
    recording artist; Spirit
    sometime in the 1970′s

  2. #2 olvlzl, no ism, no ist
    May 16, 2007

    I’ve been grousing about Egnor since some moron on another Scienceblog tried to pin him on me last weekend. And I hadn’t even brougth the guy up. But the fact that someone who mistook himself for a member of the “reality community” could have made a mistake does highlight that the problems of explaination are bad enough as they are. It’s inescapable that a lot of the talk around evolutionary psychology and cognitive science sounds a lot like eugenics talk. You can’t just pretend that people aren’t going to notice that becuase they have shown you they do.

    You’re not going to get shut of the problem until the scientists themelves explain what the differences are in language that non-scientists can understand. Unless you stoop, you will not only not conquer, the “eugenics” charge will be a burden till the end of time. And that will mean facing the fact that some of the major figures of the past were supportive of eugenics or at least were racists. You’ve got to face up to it because the creationists can read and they will write the story if you don’t.

  3. #3 olvlzl, no ism, no ist
    May 16, 2007

    I’ve been grousing about Egnor since some moron on another Scienceblog tried to pin him on me last weekend. And I hadn’t even brougth the guy up. But the fact that someone who mistook himself for a member of the “reality community” could have made a mistake does highlight that the problems of explaination are bad enough as they are. It’s inescapable that a lot of the talk around evolutionary psychology and cognitive science sounds a lot like eugenics talk. You can’t just pretend that people aren’t going to notice that becuase they have shown you they do.

    You’re not going to get shut of the problem until the scientists themelves explain what the differences are in language that non-scientists can understand. Unless you stoop, you will not only not conquer, the “eugenics” charge will be a burden till the end of time. And that will mean facing the fact that some of the major figures of the past were supportive of eugenics or at least were racists. You’ve got to face up to it because the creationists can read and they will write the story if you don’t.

  4. #4 olvlzl, no ism, no ist
    May 16, 2007

    I’ve been grousing about Egnor since some moron on another Scienceblog tried to pin him on me last weekend. And I hadn’t even brought the guy up. But the fact that someone who mistook himself for a member of the “reality community” could have made that mistake does highlight that the problems of explaination are bad enough as they are without unnecessarily compounding them.

    It’s inescapable that a lot of the talk around evolutionary biology and cognitive science sounds a lot like eugenics talk. You can’t just pretend that people aren’t going to notice the similarities that because they have shown you they do. I don’t know how you are going to get around it but you have to.

    You’re not going to get shut of the problem until the scientists themselves explain what the differences are in language that non-scientists can understand. Unless you stoop, you will not only not conquer, the “eugenics” charge will be a burden till the end of time. And that will mean facing the fact that some of the major figures of the past were supportive of eugenics or at least were racists. You’ve got to face up to it because the creationists can read and they will write the story if you don’t.

  5. #5 Clarissa
    May 17, 2007

    Have you forgotten Margaret Sanger’s “human weeds”.

    You remeber Margaret. The Founder of Planned Parenthool.

    Read all about her in War Against the Weak; http://www.waragainsttheweak.com

  6. #6 sailor
    May 17, 2007

    Yes, no doubt if we keep turning stones we will finding some pretty strange people supported eugenics. After all attitudes change. Go back a bit and there were not too many opposed to slavery, now it is hard to find anyone for it.
    Happily, letting women choose when to get pregnant, rather than forcing them to take a chance every time they had a relationship with a man is a huge improvement – as huge perhaps as our more enlightened attitutudes towards salvery or eugenics. Margaret Sanger fought hard for womens choice at no little cost to herself and did a great job.
    However that is really beside the point. The point of the current post is that the hypocritical and lying Discovery Institute has been trying to say Eugenics equalls Darwin, the vile Dr. Engorance leading the way. Whereas what we are looking at is a bad meme from the past which their very own creation institute was up to their necks in, along with smany cientists and thinkers of the time. It has nothing specifically to do with Darwin.

  7. #7 olvlzl, no ism, no ist
    May 17, 2007

    First, sorry about the multiple comment, Orac, I didn’t notice it till just now.

    Sailor, you hit on exactly the problem,

    Yes, no doubt if we keep turning stones we will finding some pretty strange people supported eugenics. After all attitudes change. Go back a bit and there were not too many opposed to slavery, now it is hard to find anyone for it.

    I had it thrown in my face that Thomas Huxley, who I had written that I enjoyed reading was a pretty foul racist whose writings would have given comfort to the most rabid Confederate slaver of the time. His writings on the subject look really bad in retrospect but at the time he was actually supporting the active campaign to resist abolition. I’ve also recently brought the activites of the Rev. Nathan Lord who used the Bible to talk himself from being an abolitionist into supporting Slavery. He was the president of Dartmouth college at the time, I seem to recall he kept them from giving an honor of some kind to Lincoln.

    Creationists have proven that they will look for whatever is there in both the historical record of scientists and their contemporary writing to dig up dirt and anything they can distort into dirt. Making believe that they are too stupid to be able to find things they can use to their own ends flies in the face of the clearest reality. They’ve got the time and money to do it and to publicize their conclusions. The Dawkinsite style of snark which seems to be the commonest and clearly idiotic means chosen to counter that active effort by creationists, not only is ineffective it is playing right into their hands. Anyone who has a career supporting biological determinism might have a personal motive to deny the reality of that situation but that won’t change it. It’s happening right before your eyes. Unless the situation is explained to the general public you might as well hand the victory to the creationists.

  8. #8 hoary puccoon
    May 17, 2007

    Unless the situation is explained to the general public…. Like, maybe somebody like Steven J. Gould should write book after book after book after…? Yeah, there’s an idea. Or maybe the government should sponsor a web site called, oh, say, Talkorigins? Oh, they did? But it keeps getting hacked? Gee, maybe the reason the evolutionists can’t get their point across is that they keep playing fair, while the creationists are a bunch of weaseling scum. In fact, it seems to me that the whole idea of the ‘elitist’ scientific establishment is a sneaky, creationist distortion. The only mistake I can see the scientists making is thinking better of the creationists than they ought to. They keep thinking that when creationists spout idiotic nonsense they’re sincere but ignorant, whereas creationists are really a bunch of extremely intelligent, totally amoral, bunko artists.
    Hope this answers your concern.

  9. #9 olvlzl, no ism, no ist
    May 17, 2007

    Steven J. Gould is kind of too dead to do that. And, much as I loved him, he only got part way to a popular enough style. He generally had an infintely more sophisticated knowledge of political reality than the successors in his general area, a lot of them his professional rivals.

    Puccoon, you begin by assuming that I was advising scientists to engage with creationists, I wasn’t. It is the majority of people who are uninformed but who can be reasoned with that need to be convinced on the basis of respect and with language they will understand. You think the creationists aren’t doing that to the people they’ve convinced?

    I thought scientists were supposted to learn from their observations. If they enjoy snark more than they enjoy the kind of political success this effort requires then they are doing exactly the right thing. They will be able to yuck it up among themselves and the small number of science groupies that are attracted to those kinds of blogs but they will find their funding cut and their ability to teach science in the public schools severely damaged. So, it’s really a question of what they really want. I am not sorry if that is a choice some of them don’t like, it’s the one they’ve got.

  10. Steven J. Gould is kind of too dead to do that. And, much as I loved him, he only got part way to a popular enough style. He generally had an infintely more sophisticated knowledge of political reality than the successors in his general area, a lot of them his professional rivals.

    Puccoon, you begin by assuming that I was advising scientists to engage with creationists, I wasn’t. It is the majority of people who are uninformed but who can be reasoned with that need to be convinced on the basis of respect and with language they will understand. You think the creationists aren’t doing that to the people they’ve convinced?

    I thought scientists were supposted to learn from their observations. If they enjoy snark more than they enjoy the kind of political success this effort requires then they are doing exactly the right thing. They will be able to yuck it up among themselves and the small number of science groupies that are attracted to those kinds of blogs but they will find their funding cut and their ability to teach science in the public schools severely damaged. So, it’s really a question of what they really want. I am not sorry if that is a choice some of them don’t like, it’s the one they’ve got.

  11. #11 Graculus
    May 18, 2007

    What’s wrong with eugenics?

  12. What’s wrong with eugenics? I propose that you submit your reproductive worthiness to a panel made of scientists drawn from those who have made it their business to study the effects of the past eugenics project as an experiment. After they have ruled and we can see the real life effects, then we can make an evaluation of the results. Run the experiment on a worthless body.

  13. Oh, yes. I just remembered listening to a confrontation between William Shockley and Richard Lewontin, re, Shockley’s Noble Prizewinner stud farm. Lewontin pointed out that a donor pool that old would likely produce degraded genetic material that would produce inferior results. I think he said something about Shockley’s sperm being more worthy of obliteration than fatherhood.

    As I recall Linus Pauling when asked about the stud farm said he perfered the old fashioned method. Which other chemists have confirmed to me was true.

  14. #14 Graculus
    May 19, 2007

    So, olvlzl, you object to people voluntarily seeking genetic counselling to keep their children from have brutally miserable, short lives.

    How compassionate.

  15. Odd, Graculus, I never remember anyone using the word for somehing honestly “voluntary”. Coersive, forced, genocidal, but never “voluntary”. You think that’s what was meant by this thread? I don’t see it.

  16. #16 Graculus
    May 20, 2007

    Odd, Graculus, I never remember anyone using the word for somehing honestly “voluntary”.

    “Eugenics” is a word that is not nailed to a particular method of implementation. In the past it has been associated with coersive programs and negative eugenics, but that doesn’t mean that it is restricted to those programs. The positive eugenics that have been going on for decades is completely ignored because they can’t be eugenics because they aren’t bad. That’s circular and reflexive, but it has nothing to do with eugenics, per se.

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