Thursday, June 12, 2008

Unnatural Selection: Chapter 7

Eugenics! Darwinian theory/hypothesis! It comes together in this chapter, foreseeably to the chagrin of certain proponents of macroevolution. Quotes with my bold comments:
  • "The term eugenics was coined in 1883 by the English mathematician Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. He defined it as the science of improving humanity by enhancing the chances that the 'fittest' would produce more offspring than the 'less fit.' The eugenicists felt a mandate to help human evolution along." Am I only seeing a phantom connection?
  • "To be against eugenics early in this century 'was to be perceived as being against modernity, progress, and science,' writes anthropologist Jonathan Marks. 'The ideas were inaccurate and insensitive - but they were modern science' at the time." If I may remind today's scientists, they still don't know everything. Science will change now too.
  • "[Frederick Osborn's] efforts [to reform eugenics] were doomed by events in Europe. By the late 1940s, after public revelations about Nazi atrocities, the eugenics movement and even the word eugenics had fallen out of favor." But the concept remains.
  • "Scientists stand on the shoulders of their forbears. What is worth marking is the deliberate amnesia as to some unsavory aspects of its history that has pervaded this particular field [of population genetics] until very recently." Never forget. This connects nicely with a quote I found in Remembering the Christian Past by Robert L. Wilken (Eerdmans, 1995, p. 14): "Without memory the language of scholarship is impoverished, barren, and lifeless, a tottering scaffold of secondary creations in which 'words refer only to words.'" [Czeslaw Milosz, The Witness of Poetry, Cambridge, 1983, p. 49].
Is this chapter a cautionary tale, then? What else is it?

3 comments:

Stephen Renico said...

I don't know, Hannah. The longer I live, the more (tongue in cheek) start to believe that all males should have vasectomies at birth, which can be reversed upon reaching age 21, having no criminal convictions, and taking no government benefits.

Hannah J said...

Clever. A pity there's so much sin in the world...we sinners will be trying to eradicate it until the world's end.

Stephen Renico said...

Clever. A pity there's so much sin in the world...we sinners will be trying to eradicate it until the world's end.

We normal people sit around wondering what makes criminals into criminals, while criminals sit up all night finding ways to commit more crimes. We'll never catch up