Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The definition of eugenics is the following. (Taken from dictionary.com.)
–noun ( used with a singular verb )
the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially 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).

For the past week or so we’ve been working on eugenics. It’s interesting to think that people used to be sterilized (neutered) because of a defect that had a possibility of being passed on in a mother or father’s chromosome. I think this is a little bit unnecessary because sometimes certain genes aren’t passed on. There is always a chance that the child won’t receive a gene for brown eyes if the mother’s eyes are dominantly blue and the father’s eyes are brown with a recessive gene for blue eyes.

A little history on eugenics now, yes? Eugenics originates in America after the Civil War. During reconstruction many immigrants were moving in. There was a decline of births in elite families and an incline in poor families. Social Darwinism was on the incline also. It basically says “survival of the fittest” and it was taken from there that the elite were the fittest. It was decided that because much money was spent on the “degenerate” poor, sterilization would be the best option for the survival and betterment of our race. They based a lot of their work on IQ tests and behavior, such as criminal activity, prostitution, and social standing. Richard Dugdale did research on a family of 700 of these degenerates. He thought that the degeneration may have been based on poor environment, but when the degenerate family was mixed with an elite family, the “degenerate” genes were passed on. From there, increased marriage restrictions occurred, and the 8th of the 18 suggestions of dealing with these types of genes was euthanasia. People were sterilized unfairly, people like Carrie Buck, who was put in a home for the “feeble-minded” with her mother, both were accused of being promiscuous and imbeciles. Carrie’s seven month daughter was also labeled feeble-minded, although later grades showed the opposite. Hitler’s eugenics seem much crueler, as he sterilized thousands of Jews and Gypsies, preferring a blond and blue eyed race. But the United States also preformed involuntary sterilizations on criminals in prisons. I can’t determine which could be worse, as they’re both involuntary. But I believe Hitler took his too far. Way too far.

I really don’t agree with eugenics, like Punnett said at the first meeting of international eugenics in 1911, “Except in very few cases, our knowledge of heredity in man at present is far to slight and far too uncertain to base legislation upon.”
They really didn’t know enough about a person’s genetic structure to be allowed to kill or neuter said person. I don’t believe that in any way should it be justified by a few defects that may not even be passed on. A few days ago, I tested my mother and sister with the little strips Mr. Ludwig handed out. They could (much to my glee) taste them. My mom said that it was a decent taste, but I think that may have been the result of her previous gum chewing. I didn’t warn my sister about what I was giving her and got a wonderful reaction from her. I had the same reaction. What does it mean? Would it have meant back in the day that we needed to be sterilized? (Just so you know what I’m talking about, it means “neutered”.) People were sterilized for the silliest reasons. At one point, it was believed that you could have a predisposition to be a criminal if you father was due to a gene that could be passed on. I heard once that you have a predisposition to like broccoli. I guess that makes sense seeing as how half the population hates vegetables. What if we sterilized people who didn’t like broccoli? I suppose it would cut down on the amount of picky children but what if all those people had  gene that made the body more susceptible to cancer cures? What if they could stop radiation? Then it’d be horrible to make sure they didn’t have any children.

Take a look at the eugenics archive to see what I'm talking about :).

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