Eugenics (/juːˈdʒɛnɪks/; from Greek εὐγενής eugenes 'well-born' from εὖ eu, 'good, well' and γένος genos, 'race, stock, kin') is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population by excluding (through a variety of morally criticized means) certain genetic groups judged to be less desirable and promoting other genetic groups judged to be superior. The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883. The concept predates this coinage, with Plato suggesting applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400 BCE.
Frederick Osborn's 1937 journal article "Development of a Eugenic Philosophy" framed it as a social philosophy—a philosophy with implications for social order. That definition is not universally accepted. 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").
Alternatively, by 2014, 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".
While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom, and then spread to many countries, including the United States, Canada, and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies to improve the quality of their populations' genetic stock. Such programs included both positive measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly "fit" to reproduce, and negative measures, such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed "unfit to reproduce" often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges on different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups.
The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs. In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually began to abandon eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them the United States and Sweden, continued to carry out forced sterilizations.
Since the 1980s and 1990s, with new assisted reproductive technology procedures available, such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989), and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear has emerged about the possible revival of a more potent form of eugenics after decades promoting human rights.
A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether negative or positive policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the genetic selection criteria are determined by whichever group has political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is criticized by many as a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduce. Another criticism is that eugenics policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, thereby resulting in inbreeding depression due to lower genetic variation.
The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class. In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome, a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled. Among the ancient Germanic tribes, people who were cowardly, unwarlike or "stained with abominable vices" were put to death, usually by being drowned in swamps.
The first formal negative eugenics, that is a legal provision against the birth of allegedly inferior human beings, was promulgated in Western European culture by the Christian Council of Agde in 506, which forbade marriage between cousins.
The idea of a modern project of improving the human population through a statistical understanding of heredity used to encourage good breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton and, initially, was closely linked to Darwinism and his theory of natural selection. Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, although Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory. In 1883, one year after Darwin's death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics. With the introduction of genetics, eugenics became associated with genetic determinism, the belief that human character is entirely or in the majority caused by genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism. Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained controversial.
Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources. Organizations were formed to win public support and sway opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, including the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907 and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals. In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.
Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York City. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States. It also took root in France, Germany, and Great Britain. Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Sweden.
In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Record Office. Politically, the movement advocated measures such as sterilization laws. In its moral dimension, eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness. Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure "Nordic race" or "Aryan" genetic pool and the eventual elimination of "unfit" races.
Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward, the English writer G. K. 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. Ward's 1913 article "Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics", Chesterton's 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas' 1916 article "Eugenics" (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address "Consumption: Its Cause and Cure", and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 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. Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of "defectives" would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.
Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations. Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalize voluntary sterilization were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party. The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii. In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: "Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason."
As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals. 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.
The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rüdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925 and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of "defectives" that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. Some common early 20th century eugenics methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as "degenerate" or "unfit", and therefore led to segregation, institutionalization, sterilization, euthanasia, and even mass murder. The Nazi practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.
By the end of World War II, many discriminatory eugenics laws were abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany. H. G. Wells, who had called for "the sterilization of failures" in 1904, stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights, which he believed should be available to all people, was "a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment". After World War II, the practice of "imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group" fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims "the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons". In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, some government mandated sterilizations continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, 2,000 persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized. China maintained its one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations. In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan. During the years 2005 to 2013, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.
Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject. Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics. This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a "new era of eugenics", and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, "where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products". In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. 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.
In October 2015, the United Nations' International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements. 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.
Transhumanism is often associated with eugenics, although most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term "eugenics" (preferring "germinal choice" or "reprogenetics") to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.
The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883, drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin. Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.
The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu ("good" or "well") and the suffix -genēs ("born"), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word "stirpiculture", which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones. Galton defined eugenics as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations".
Historically, the term eugenics has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia. To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that "the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent." Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics continues today.
Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry. The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of "improvement" of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience.
Early eugenists were mostly concerned with factors of perceived intelligence that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.
Eugenics also had a place in medicine. 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.
Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories. Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning. The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of a dystopian society that uses eugenics to decide what people are capable of and their place in the world. 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. Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.
Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means "good genes" and using it as synonym for genocide is an "all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States". According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not "Hitler's twisted Final Solution".
The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan. 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. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate. Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined. Despite Morgan's public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.
The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child. The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.
Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington's disease, are dominant, it could be argued from certain perspectives that the practicality of "eliminating" traits is quite low.
There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (Tay–Sachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan's disease, and Gaucher's disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.
Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect. Andrzej Pękalski, from the University of Wrocław, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects a pleiotropic gene that could possibly be associated with a positive trait. 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.
Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted "improvement" of the gene pool could very likely—as evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations —result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.
Edward M. 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. Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.
While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. 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. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.
However, some genetic diseases cause people to consider some elements of eugenics.
Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement. Many of the ethical concerns regarding eugenics arise from its controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws. Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common. Therefore, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.
With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. 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. Philosophers disagree about the proper framework for reasoning about such actions, which change the very identity and existence of future persons.
A common criticism of eugenics is that "it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical". Some fear future "eugenics wars" as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior. Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.
In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement. He writes that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to "improve" themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome with technology. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.
Some, for example Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family. Comfort suggests that "the eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise." Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that "[e]ugenics doesn't seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn't sufficient to show that they're wrong."
In their book published in 2000, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals' reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements.
Eugenics is the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage.
Tacitus's Germania, read through this kind of filter, became a manual for racial and sexual eugenics
4. The State is not entitled to deprive an individual of his procreative power simply for material (eugenic) purposes. But it is entitled to isolate individuals who are sick and whose progeny would inevitably be seriously tainted.
The goal of enhancing individuals and the human species by engineering the genes related to some characteristics and traits is not to be confused with the barbarous projects of eugenics that planned the simple elimination of human beings considered as ‘imperfect’ on an ideological basis. However, it impinges upon the principle of respect for human dignity in several ways. It weakens the idea that the differences among human beings, regardless of the measure of their endowment, are exactly what the recognition of their equality presupposes and therefore protects. It introduces the risk of new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who cannot afford such enhancement or simply do not want to resort to it. The arguments that have been produced in favour of the so-called liberal eugenics do not trump the indication to apply the limit of medical reasons also in this case.
We argue that prenatal screening (and specifically NIPT) for Down syndrome can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics, in that it effaces, devalues, and possibly prevents the births of people with the condition.
As an applied science, thus, the practice of eugenics referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia. Galton divided the practice of eugenics into two types—positive and negative—both aimed at improving the human race through selective breeding.
Rawls arrives at the difference principle by considering how justice might be drawn from a hypothetical "original position.' A person in the original position operates behind a "veil of ignorance" that prevents her from knowing any information about herself such as social status, physical or mental capabilities, or even her belief system. Only from such a position of universal equality can principles of justice be drawn. In establishing how to distribute social primary goods, for example, "rights and liberties, powers and opportunities, income and wealth" and self-respect, Rawls determines that a person operating from the original position would develop two principles. First, liberties ascribed to each individual should be as extensive as possible without infringing upon the liberties of others. Second, social primary goods should be distributed to the greatest advantage of everyone and by mechanisms that allow equal opportunity to all. ... Genetic engineering should not be permitted merely for the enhancement of physical attractiveness because that would not benefit the least advantaged. Arguably, resources should be concentrated on genetic therapy to address disease and genetic defects. However, such a result is not required under Rawls' theory. Genetic enhancement of those already intellectually gifted, for example, might result in even greater benefit to the least advantaged as a result of the gifted individual's improved productivity. Moreover, Rawls asserts that using genetic engineering to prevent the most serious genetic defects is a matter of intergenerational justice. Such actions are necessary in terms of what the present generation owes to later generations.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) are medical procedures used primarily to address infertility. It includes procedures such as in vitro fertilization. It may include intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), cryopreservation of gametes or embryos, and/or may involve the use of fertility medication. When used to address infertility, it may also be referred to as fertility treatment. ART mainly belongs to the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Some forms of ART are also used with regard to fertile couples for genetic reasons (preimplantation genetic diagnosis). ART may also be used in surrogacy arrangements, although not all surrogacy arrangements involve ART.Compulsory sterilization
Compulsory sterilization, also known as forced or coerced sterilization, programs are government policies which force people to undergo surgical or other sterilization. The reasons governments implement sterilization programs vary in purpose and intent. In the first half of the 20th century, several such programs were instituted in countries around the world, usually as part of eugenics programs intended to prevent the reproduction of members of the population considered to be carriers of defective genetic traits.Other bases for compulsory sterilization have included general population growth management, sex discrimination, "sex-normalizing" surgeries of intersex persons, limiting the spread of HIV, and reducing the population of ethnic groups. The last is counted as an act of genocide under the Statute of Rome. Some countries require transgender people to undergo sterilization before gaining legal recognition of their gender, a practice that Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment cites as a violation of the Yogyakarta Principles.Compulsory sterilization has been proposed as a means of human population planning.Darwin Awards
The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in-cheek honor, originating in Usenet newsgroup discussions around 1985. They recognize individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions.
The project became more formalized with the creation of a website in 1993, and followed up by a series of books starting in 2000, authored by Wendy Northcutt. The criterion for the awards states, "In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival."Accidental self-sterilization also qualifies; however, the site notes: "Of necessity, the award is usually bestowed posthumously." The candidate is disqualified, though, if "innocent bystanders", who might have contributed positively to the gene pool, are killed in the process.
The Darwin Awards books state that an attempt is made to disallow known urban legends from the awards, but some older "winners" have been "grandfathered" to keep their awards. The Darwin Awards site does try to verify all submitted stories, but many similar sites, and the vast number of circulating "Darwin awards" emails, are largely fictional.East Baltic race
The East Baltic race is one of the subcategories of the Europid (Caucasian) race into which it was divided by biological anthropologists and scientific racists in the early 20th century. Such racial typologies have been rejected by modern anthropology for several reasons.The term East Baltic race was coined by the anthropologist Rolf Nordenstreng, but was popularised by the race theorist Hans F. K. Günther. This race were living in Finland, Estonia and north-western Russia. It was characterized as "short-headed, broad-faced, with heavy, massive under-jaw, chin not prominent, flat, rather broad, short nose with low bridge; stiff, light (ash-blond) hair; light (grey or whitish blue) eyes, standing out; light skin with a greyish undertone.The American Eugenics Society described East Baltic people as being Mongolized.The Nazi philologist Josef Nadler declared the East Baltic race to be the main source of German Romanticism. Also in the Third Reich the philologist Julius Petersen wrote that Ludwig Tieck's Romanticism might have been promoted by his possible Slavic heritage, referring to the American biographer Edwin H. Zeydel's theory, that Tieck's grandmother was Russian.Eugenic feminism
Eugenic feminism is a term that describes areas of the women's suffrage movement which overlapped with eugenics. Originally coined by the eugenicist Caleb Saleeby, the term has since been applied to summarize views held by some prominent feminists of the United States. Some early suffragettes in Canada, particularly a group known as The Famous Five, also pushed for eugenic policies, chiefly in Alberta and British Columbia. Eugenic feminism began to be articulated in the late 1800s and faded in the 1930s, along with decreasing support for eugenics itself.Eugenics in Japan
Eugenics in Japan has influenced political, public health and social movements in Japan since the late 19th and early 20th century.
Originally brought to Japan through the United States (like Charles Davenport and John Coulter), through Mendelian inheritance by way of German influences, and French Lamarkian eugenic written studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Eugenics as a science was hotly debated at the beginning of the 20th, in Jinsei-Der Mensch, the first eugenics journal in the Empire. As the Japanese sought to close ranks with the West, this practice was adopted wholesale, along with colonialism and its justifications.The concept of pureblood as a criterion for the uniqueness of the Yamato people began circulating around 1880 in Japan, while eugenics in the sense of instrumental and selective procreation, clustered around two positions concerning blood, the pure blood (純血, junketsu) and the mixed blood (混血, konketsu).Popularity of the pure-blood eugenics theory came from a homegrown racial purity or monoculture national belief that has been part of Japanese society since ancient times. The local movement was however less focused on modern scientific ideals and more on the "outside person" vs the "native or inside person" and blood purity.Later legal measures were supported by certain politicians and movements that sought to increase the number of healthy pure Japanese, while simultaneously decreasing the number of people suffering mental retardation, disability, genetic disease and other conditions that led to them being viewed as "inferior" contributions to the Japanese gene pool.Opposition to the eugenics movement persisted amongst several right-wing factions, including members of the Diet of Japan and obstetricians, who perceived eugenics as suggesting that the Japanese people were only animals, not inhabitants of the "country of the kami" (神国, shinkoku) as believed by the Japanese national Shinto tradition. Yoshiichi Sōwa (曽和義弌), author of "Japan's Shinto Revolution", wrote in 1940, "When we look up into the past, the people of our country are descended from the kami. Are they claiming we must sterilize these people?"Eugenics in the United States
Eugenics, the set of beliefs and practices which aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population, played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States prior to its involvement in World War II.Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany, which were largely inspired by the previous American work. Stefan Kühl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.During the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century, eugenics was considered a method of preserving and improving the dominant groups in the population; it is now generally associated with racist and nativist elements, as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe, rather than scientific genetics.Euthenics
Euthenics is the study of the improvement of human functioning and well-being by improvement of living conditions. Affecting the "improvement" through altering external factors such as education and the controllable environment, including the prevention and removal of contagious disease and parasites, environmentalism, education regarding employment, home economics, sanitation, and housing.Rose Field notes of the definition in a May 23, 1926 New York Times article, "the simplest being efficient living". A right to environment.The Flynn effect has been often cited as an example of euthenics. Another example is the steady increase in body size in industrialized countries since the beginning of the 20th century.
Euthenics is not normally interpreted to have anything to do with changing the composition of the human gene pool by definition, although everything that affects society has some effect on who reproduces and who does not.Gattaca
Gattaca is a 1997 American science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, with Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin appearing in supporting roles. The film presents a biopunk vision of a future society driven by eugenics where potential children are conceived through genetic selection to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents. The film centers on Vincent Freeman, played by Hawke, who was conceived outside the eugenics program and struggles to overcome genetic discrimination to realize his dream of going into space.
The film draws on concerns over reproductive technologies which facilitate eugenics, and the possible consequences of such technological developments for society. It also explores the idea of destiny and the ways in which it can and does govern lives. Characters in Gattaca continually battle both with society and with themselves to find their place in the world and who they are destined to be according to their genes.
The film's title is based on the letters G, A, T, and C, which stand for guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four nucleobases of DNA. It was a 1997 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
The film flopped at the box office, but it received generally positive reviews and has since gained a cult following.Genetics in fiction
Aspects of genetics including mutation, hybridisation, cloning, genetic engineering, and eugenics have appeared in fiction since the 19th century.
Genetics is a young science, having started in 1900 with the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's study on the inheritance of traits in pea plants. During the 20th century it developed to create new sciences and technologies including molecular biology, DNA sequencing, cloning, and genetic engineering. The ethical implications were brought into focus with the eugenics movement.
Since then, many science fiction novels and films have used aspects of genetics as plot devices, often taking one of two routes: a genetic accident with disastrous consequences; or, the feasibility and desirability of a planned genetic alteration. The treatment of science in these stories has been uneven and often unrealistic. The film Gattaca did attempt to portray science accurately but was criticised by scientists.Heredity in Relation to Eugenics
Heredity in Relation to Eugenics is a book by American eugenicist Charles Benedict Davenport, published in 1911. It argued that many human traits were genetically inherited, and that it would therefore be possible to selectively breed people for desirable traits to improve the human race. It was printed and published with money and support of the Carnegie Institution. The book was widely used as a text for medical schools in the United States and abroad.In its time, the book was a success and became one of the most influential books in the early-20th century eugenics movement in the United States. By the 1940's, however, the science in the book had become to generally be regarded as seriously flawed, and the book was blamed by some for contributing to widespread eugenic sterilization programs in the United States and to the racist policies of Nazi Germany.Master race
The master race (German: Herrenrasse, also referred to as Herrenvolk "master people") is a concept in Nazi ideology in which the putative Nordic or Aryan races, predominant among Germans and other northern European peoples, are deemed the highest in racial hierarchy. Members of this alleged master race were referred to as Herrenmenschen ("master humans").
The Nazi official Alfred Rosenberg believed that the Nordic race was descended from Proto-Aryans, who he believed had prehistorically dwelt on the North German Plain and who had ultimately originated from the lost continent of Atlantis. The Nazis declared that the Nordics (now referred to as the Germanic peoples), or Aryans as they sometimes called them, were superior to all other races. The Nazis believed they were entitled to expand territorially. This concept is known as Nordicism. The actual policy that was implemented by the Nazis resulted in the Aryan certificate, the one official document that was required by the law for all citizens of the Reich was the "Lesser Aryan certificate" (Kleiner Ariernachweis), which could be obtained through an Ahnenpass, which required the owner to trace her or his lineage through baptism, birth certificates or certified proof thereof that all grandparents were of "Aryan descent".
The Slavs (along with Gypsies and Jews) were defined as being racially inferior and non-Aryan Untermenschen, and were thus considered to be a danger to the "Aryan" or Germanic master race. According to the Nazi secret Hunger Plan and Generalplan Ost, the Slavic population was to be removed from Central Europe through expulsion, enslavement, starvation, and extermination, except for a small percentage who were deemed to be non-Slavic descendants of Germanic settlers, and thus suitable for Germanisation.Nazi eugenics
Nazi eugenics (German: Nationalsozialistische Rassenhygiene, "National Socialist racial hygiene") were Nazi Germany's racially based social policies that placed the biological improvement of the Aryan race or Germanic "Übermenschen" master race through eugenics at the center of Nazi ideology. In Germany, eugenics were mostly known under the synonymous term racial hygiene. Following the Second World War, both terms effectively vanished and were replaced by Humangenetik (human genetics).
Eugenics research in Germany before and during the Nazi period was similar to that in the United States (particularly California), by which it had been partly inspired. However, its prominence rose sharply under Adolf Hitler's leadership when wealthy Nazi supporters started heavily investing in it. The programs were subsequently shaped to complement Nazi racial policies.Those humans targeted for destruction under Nazi eugenics policies were largely living in private and state-operated institutions, identified as "life unworthy of life" (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including prisoners, "degenerates", dissidents, people with congenital cognitive and physical disabilities (including people who were "feeble-minded", epileptic, schizophrenic, manic-depressive, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, deaf, blind) (German: erbkranken), homosexual, idle, insane, and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while up to 300,000 were killed under Action T4, a euthanasia program. In June 1935, Hitler and his cabinet made a list of seven new decrees, number 5 was to speed up the investigations of sterilization.Punnett square
The Punnett square is a square diagram that is used to predict the genotypes of a particular cross or breeding experiment. It is named after Reginald C. Punnett, who devised the approach. The diagram is used by biologists to determine the probability of an offspring having a particular genotype. The Punnett square is a tabular summary of possible combinations of maternal alleles with paternal alleles. These tables can be used to examine the genotypical outcome probabilities of the offspring of a single trait (allele), or when crossing multiple traits from the parents. The Punnett Square is a visual representation of Mendelian inheritance. It is important to understand the terms "heterozygous", "homozygous", "double heterozygote" (or homozygote), "dominant allele" and "recessive allele" when using the Punnett square method. For multiple traits, using the "forked-line method" is typically much easier than the Punnett square. Phenotypes may be predicted with at least better-than-chance accuracy using a Punnett square, but the phenotype that may appear in the presence of a given genotype can in some instances be influenced by many other factors, as when polygenic inheritance and/or epigenetics are at work.Racial hygiene
The term racial hygiene was used to describe an approach to eugenics in the early twentieth century, which found its most extensive implementation in Nazi Germany (Nazi eugenics). It was marked by efforts to avoid miscegenation, analogous to an animal breeder seeking purebred animals. This was often motivated by belief in a racial hierarchy and the related fear that lower races would "contaminate" a higher one. As with most eugenicists at the time, racial hygienists believed that lack of eugenics would lead to rapid social degeneration, the decline of civilisation by the spread of inferior characteristics.Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a private foundation based at 420 Fifth Avenue, New York City. It was established by the six-generation Rockefeller family. The Foundation was started by Standard Oil owner John D. Rockefeller ("Senior"), along with his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. ("Junior"), and Senior's principal oil and gas business and philanthropic advisor, Frederick Taylor Gates, in New York State on May 14, 1913, when its charter was formally accepted by the New York State Legislature. Its stated mission is "promoting the well-being of humanity throughout the world."Supersoldier
The supersoldier (or super soldier) is a concept soldier, often fictional, capable of operating beyond normal human limits or abilities.The Passing of the Great Race
The Passing of the Great Race: Or, The Racial Basis of European History is a 1916 book by American eugenicist, lawyer, and amateur anthropologist Madison Grant. Though influential, the book was largely ignored when it first appeared; it went through several revisions and editions, but was never a best seller. Grant expounds a theory of Nordic superiority and argues for a strong eugenics program.
Grant's proposal to create a strong eugenics program for the Nordic population to survive was repudiated by Americans in the 1930s and Europeans after 1945. It is considered one of the main works in the 20th century tradition of scientific racism.Timeline of Star Trek
Below is an abridged timeline of events established in the group of television shows and feature films set in the Star Trek universe. Many dates are estimates as the various shows and films are not consistent in their use of dates. More exhaustive timelines are available in both Star Trek reference works and on various fan websites.