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 Definition The general name for a series of ostensibly scientific claims about inheritance among humans, which sought to eliminate traits, such as "imbecility" or criminal behavior, by selective sterilization, regulation of family size, and restrictions on who could marry whom. [d] [e]

Eugenics still exists, it is not a past tense thing. Nancy Sculerati 18:43, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

This article is worded in a very U.S.-centric way, while eugenics laws were passed in Britain, Germany, and Scandinavia as well as the U.S. and Canada. Also, some eugenicists, including Margaret Sanger, encouraged "superior" people to have more children, contrary to the statement in the article That families with more children dispersed and diluted the "moral force" of each offspring. "More children from the fit, less from the unfit-that is the chief issue of birth control," according to Sanger.

As Nancy points out, eugenics is still embodied in government policy, in Singapore and China. Anthony Argyriou 19:40, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

I'd just say, as I would with any CZ entry, that if there is more to be told, go ahead and tell it! I don't think that the article in its current form is all that U.S.-centric -- if there is more to be said about other countries, let's add it (though perhaps nationality per se may not be the best organizing principle, if there's strong evidence for Eugenics as an international phenomenon).
The ideas in the bulleted list are not meant to be a list of common beliefs, just examples of some of the beliefs of different followers of this idea (the idea of more children diluting 'moral force', interestingly enough, was espoused by Thomas Edison!
And again, if eugenicist ideas are still embodied in law (I know some of the U.S. laws were never removed from the books) in some places, let's mention and document that. I'll tweak the tense so as to set the stage for such materials. Russell Potter 20:15, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
Well, I only point it out because I'm going to add stuff about human diseases. You see, Eugenics can be a terrible thing, but on the other hand- for example with inherited diseases like Huntington's chorea or phenyketonuria or Tay sachs disease, the diseases are inherited and are a terrible thing and how you go about preventing it is not clearly a wrong thing to do-to give you an example- i can't think of the name, it's Hebrew, it means "The passing of the generations" in New York among the Hassidic communities where most of the marriages are arranged, or at least discussed between the rabbi and couple and most often a match maker, there is a system of eugenics that I think is rather smart and kind. Since there is a fairly high chance of a couple of Ashkenazi Jews having a baby with that dreadful disease- in which the baby is born normal and then deteriotes neurolgicxaly and dies- and worse than that, if both parents are carriers- and follow the traditions, they may have many children and many such babies, this is how it works. All the young men and women of marriagble age have gene testing to see if they are carriers. The rabbi and only the rabbi gets the results. When the matchmaker goes to the Rabbi and says Boy A and Girl B? The Rabbi may say, it's a match, but if he knows they are both carriers he will say- it's not a match. And the matchmaker keeps looking. Now I myself am not saying that arranged marriages are the best way, or that a Hassidic lifestyle is the best way- but if you have arranged marriages, and if you have a lifestyle and religious traditions that by and large end up with big families, and there are known recessive genes in te population that are horrible if homozygous, then I think that this is a briliant system. But it is eugenics, no matter how you look at it. Yet it is a voluntary and humane way to avoid a tragic death for a child. Now, on the other hand, much of Eugenics in social history wasn't actual eugenics in this sense, it involved genocide and forced sterilization and all sorts of things- but on a misplaced idea that the people involved were going to pass on their genes and somehow destroy humanity. I'm just saying that - although this may still go on, unfortunately, there is also a "real" eugenics (not without its controversies) where people control reprduction according to deleterious genes. Nancy Sculerati 20:22, 1 June 2007 (CDT) P.S look at Eugenics and sterilization another one I had started . Link it?Nancy Sculerati 20:24, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

For example: Authors Scott R. Authors Full Name Scott, Rosamund. Institution School of Law and Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, King's College London, UK. Title Choosing between possible lives: legal and ethical issues in preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Source Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. 26(1):153-78, 2006. Abstract This article critically appraises the current legal scope of the principal applications of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). This relatively new technique, which is available to some parents undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, aims to ensure that a child is not born with a seemingly undesirable genetic condition. The question addressed here is whether there should be serious reasons to test for genetic conditions in embryos in order to be able to select between them. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Genetics Commission have decided that there should be such reasons by broadly aligning the criteria for PGD with those for selective abortion. This stance is critically explored, as are its implications for the possible use of PGD to select either against or for marginal features or for significant traits. The government is currently reviewing the legal scope and regulation of PGD. Publication Type Journal Article.

Nancy, I take your points; thanks for the heads-up about Eugenics and sterilization. I don't mean the article to imply that there are never any sound genetic reasons that certain couples ought not have biological children, or ought to be tested and receive genetic counselling; I simply take the term "Eugenics" as a now-obsolete historical word, fuelled by these *false* genetic anxieties, referring to movement from the 1890's through to the 1950's only. If the word is still used in some more accurate way today, feel free to move this entry to History of Eugenics and we can take it from there. I would not want to add anything to this entry about actual genetic diseases and their prevention, because it would lead some readers to assume some sort of link or legitimacy, but would rather see that new material under "Prevention of genetic diseases" or some such Russell Potter 20:48, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Well, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm not sure. I see the occaisional article, for example recently there is a movement to do genetic testing on all embryos in assisted reporduction before implantation, and it is often called eugenics - bit it is also hotly debated as maybe an unethical thing to do. In other words, you may be right that eugenics is not literally genetic counseling but only the social travesty. By the way, I started that other article , Eugenics and sterilization,while reading about contraception and sugical sterilization. I try to make use of good sources when I find them. Thanks for this one Russell. Nancy Sculerati 21:02, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Nancy, many thanks. I have linked up Eugenics and sterilization at a couple of likely places in this current entry. Looking around in social science texts, I do think that the word "eugenics," with its implication of "good genes" (the eu- stem in Greek means "good") has passed from all but historical usage. A google around MedLine and some other sites suggests that "Genetic counselling" might be an appropriate and common term for these kinds of genetic issues today. I appreciate being able to co-ordinate these efforts with you! Russell Potter 08:54, 2 June 2007 (CDT)
Can I note the genetic testing for (thallasemis ?) disorder in the Catholic communities in the Mediterranean (Sardinia? from memory). This testing and marriage counseling occurs despite its conflict with Catholic religious teaching. I note also Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories past association with Eugenics, despite its current position as a center of research excellence. It's pleasing to see a "controversial" article progress in a scholastic and civil way.David Tribe 22:08, 2 June 2007 (CDT)


There is a point that I have to work on in order to make properly in the article. Both phrenology and the Binet IQ tests worked into eugenics. In the case of phrenology, anglosaxon features of a certain type were held to show mental prowress and high moral character,. whereas feautures that were common in other groups, like medditteranean, Eastern european Jews, sub-Saharan Africans, were held to show idiocy, and weak moral character. I thought of this while reading the caption to the top picture about female beauty. The early IQ tests, I have to look up the actual dates but they were used I'm pretty sure starting in about WWI in the USA to screen incoming recruits for the armed services, were culturally based. So, although it was true that if you tested all life-long farm boys in the midwest that the ones who didn't know which team Babe Ruth played for, or whether wheat was better grown in Maine, Iowa, or New Mexico, or whether a tuxedo was worn to dance at a ball or to play ball in, were likely the dimmest of the group, and maybe even likely to be "mentally retarded"on a statistical basis- these same questions didn't distinguish bright fron dull Lithuaneans arriving on Ellis Island- especially if they did not speak English. In this way, average IQ's were recorded in large databases that showed, for example, Italians and Jews to be generally moronic as compared to the native born Americans of English stock. Meanwhile, the Italian and Jews also tended to have those hooked noses and other features that phrenology had "scientifically" associated with negative intellectual and moral traits. Anyway, I'll work on this. Nancy Sculerati 11:16, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

Strongly suggest breaking off last two sections

Hi Nancy,

I wanted to post to express my strong view that the last two sections be split off into other articles -- either their own or another larger entry.

My reasons are these:

1) I think it invites trouble when we have an entry that mingles genuine science or medicine with pseudoscience or discredited views. The word "eugenics" may indeed be used in a few recent medical articles, but its principal connotation, and the reason this entry is important, is as the name of a movement which dangerously distorted genetics and medicine to feed into false notions of heritability, prejudicial attitudes toward the poor, and xenophobia. Eugenics should be treated here as an historical phenomenon, and I think its logical workgroup home(s) would be in Sociology, History, or Anthropology.

2) I would like to see the "Genetic Counselling" article as a separate entity, or perhaps a subsection within "Genetic diseases" or "Genetics." Its natural home would be in Health Sciences, I think. It's vital to distinguish between legitimate genetic issues and eugenics. Furthermore, there are issues related to genetic counselling, such as elective abortion and disability rights, which are clearly controversial in some respects -- should controversy erupt, the expertise of people with meducal and health science backgrounds will be much needed.

3) That phrenology was at times associated with Eugenics is an interesting fact should be mentioned here (and in the entry for Phrenology), and cross-referenced, but the substance of this connection seems to me too slight to have a whole subsection. Or, if we really want a full subsection, let's have one on Anthropometry in general, including all kinds of measurements from cranial capacity on down, many of which were indeed used by eugenicists to define the ideal body, as well as the undesireable body, the criminal body, etc.

4) IQ testing, and the concept of intelligence generally, should have its own entry, I feel. There are many new theories of human intelligence, new critiques of intelligence testing, etc., that need full and expert discussion. Of course it should be mentioned here, but with a reference or link, I think.

5) In tandem with these recommendations, I now think it might be clearer if this whole entry were moved to Eugenics movement. This new title would give the entry a very clear sense of historical demarcation -- from the 1890's through the 1940's --and makes it clear that what it's talking about is an historical phenomenon, not an ongoing or still-credible viewpoint. We could even have a cross reference along the lines of "For issues relating to eugenics after 1950, see Genetic diseases and Genetic testing and counselling"

Of course, all the above should be cross-referenced -- and I would like to bring aboard much of "Eugenics and sterilization" as well.

Russell Potter 18:32, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

p.s. a search on MEDLINE that I just did seems to show that references to eugenics are almost all either historical ('the eugenics period," "National Socialism and Eugenics") or critical (e.g., fears that new genetic screening will raise ethical concerns and evoke the "ghost" of eugenics). One entry used the term "neo-eugenics." -- see "The future of neo-eugenics. Now that many people approve the elimination of certain genetically defective fetuses, is society closer to screening all fetuses for all known mutations?" by Leroi, Armand Marie, EMBO reports, 2006 Dec, 7(12):1184-7. Genetic counselling is a also common phrase in all the articles in the search. I think the evidence suggests that "eugenics' refers, the great bulk of the times it is used, refers to a specific historical period and school of thought. Russell Potter 18:52, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

I agree. and that's why I started that last section. You see, in 1947 an American geneticist Sheldon Reed coined the term genetic counseling - that differes from Eugenics in that it is educationb based on science and specific family history that leaves the choice of what to do to the prople, on the other hand, the "new eugenics" comes in in various ways- I'll explain a tiny bit here and then will start article Genetic counseling.Nancy Sculerati 21:24, 3 June 2007


While on a search for documentation of my Sardinian comment (see above) I came across chromosome 21 in matt ridley's Genome. The chapter is on Eugenics and it mentions John Carey's The intellectuals and the masses (faber and faber 1992) as an eye-opener. This book would redress US bias in content about eugenics. David Tribe 06:16, 4 June 2007 (CDT)