Abstract Could the explosion of genetic research in recent decades affect our conceptions of race? In Backdoor to Eugenics, Duster argues that reports of specific racial differences in genetic bases of disease, in part because they are presented as objective facts whose social implications are not readily apparent, may heighten public belief in more pervasive racial differences. We tested this hypothesis with a multi-method study. A content analysis showed that news articles discussing racial differences in genetic bases of disease increased significantly between and and were significantly less likely than non—health-related articles about race and genetics to discuss social implications. A survey experiment conducted with a nationally representative sample of adults found that a news-story vignette reporting a specific racial difference in genetic risk for heart attacks the Backdoor Vignette produced significantly greater belief in essential racial differences than did a vignette portraying race as a social construction or a no-vignette condition.
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History[ edit ] We put down mad dogs; we kill the wild, untamed ox; we use the knife on sick sheep to stop their infecting the flock; we destroy abnormal offspring at birth; children, too, if they are born weak or deformed, we drown. Yet this is not the work of anger, but of reason — to separate the sound from the worthless. In the early years of ancient Rome , a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, although Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory.
Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals. Though influential, the book was largely ignored when it first appeared, and it went through several revisions and editions. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early s in the United States. Osborn advocated for higher rates of sexual reproduction among people with desired traits "positive eugenics" or reduced rates of sexual reproduction or sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits "negative eugenics".
Chesterton , an opponent of eugenics, in , by photographer Ernest Herbert Mills In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations.
Winston Churchill supported the British Eugenics Society and was an honorary vice president for the organization. Churchill believed that eugenics could solve "race deterioration" and reduce crime and poverty.
Chesterton , the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas , who argued that advocates of eugenics greatly over-estimate the influence of biology,  and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his address "Consumption: Its Cause and Cure",  and criticism of eugenists and Neo- Malthusians in his book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes.
Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben. Haldane and R. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of "defectives" would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits. Many countries enacted  various eugenics policies, including: genetic screenings, birth control , promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions , segregation both racial segregation and sequestering the mentally ill , compulsory sterilization , forced abortions or forced pregnancies , ultimately culminating in genocide.
By , gene selection rather than "people selection" was made possible through advances in genome editing ,  leading to what is sometimes called new eugenics , also known as "neo-eugenics", "consumer eugenics", or "liberal eugenics". Nazism and the decline of eugenics[ edit ] Schloss Hartheim , a former euthanasia center A Lebensborn birth house in Nazi Germany. Created with the intention of raising the birth rate of " Aryan " children from the extramarital relations of "racially pure and healthy" parents.
Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of "defectives" that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from to , 2, persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized. Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster , claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.
He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction. However, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want, or cannot afford, the technology.
Prenatal screening can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.
The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. Haldane wrote that "the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent.
Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience. In his lecture "Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics", Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.
Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally "undesirable". This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning. He demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster with white eyes from a family with red eyes,  demonstrating that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance.
Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together. Further, a culturally-accepted "improvement" of the gene pool may result in extinction, due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors that may not be anticipated in advance.
This has been evidenced in numerous instances, in isolated island populations. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to such a scenario because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.
Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual.
Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion.
The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion. Many organizations and journals that had their origins in the eugenics movement began to distance themselves from the philosophy, as when Eugenics Quarterly became Social Biology in Some have described potential "eugenics wars" as the worst-case outcome of eugenics.
This scenario would mean the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization.
The Genomic Revolution and Beliefs about Essential Racial Differences: A Backdoor to Eugenics?
History[ edit ] We put down mad dogs; we kill the wild, untamed ox; we use the knife on sick sheep to stop their infecting the flock; we destroy abnormal offspring at birth; children, too, if they are born weak or deformed, we drown. Yet this is not the work of anger, but of reason — to separate the sound from the worthless. In the early years of ancient Rome , a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, although Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals.
'Backdoor' eugenics: Are IVF and gene therapy an asset for humanity, or an ethical threat?
While Gould focuses on more on the historical manifestations of eugenics, such as Social Darwinism theories, phrenology, misuse of IQ tests etc. Duster focuses more on contemporary issues of eugenics. Primarily, he focuses on genetics and how ideas of hereditary behavior influenced contemporary science and society. Contrary to popular belief the elements of the idea of hereditary behavior can be found all the way back to the 15th century probably even earlier.
Although this is not outright eugenics-style elimination of a segment of the population, this could result in a hushed, "backdoor" form of eugenics in which parents are able to choose whether to bear a child with a disability. Whether a choice about disability status should be made based on any grounds is debated between supporters of the biomedical perspective and supporters of neurodiversity. Supporters of the biomedical perspective believe that citizens have the responsibility to improve the health and welfare of their societies. Embryo selection has been proposed as a way to improve the health of society.
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