Essay PreviewMore ↓
Among the fears of many environmentalists is that of overpopulation. Acutely aware of the finite resources that the planet possesses and the limitations of renewable resources, there are concerns that the planet may soon reach its maximum caring capacity. Since the First Great Transition ten thousand years ago, the planet has experienced an astounding increase in population. Generations later, the planet is beginning to feel the effects of continual population expansion. Over the years, numerous methods have been proposed or adopted to ensure that the Earth will not exhaust its resources. One of the most frightening adapted solutions was the eugenics movement.
As small mobile groups of hunter-gatherers adopted a sedentary lifestyle, they mastered both agriculture and animal domestication. These small settled groups quickly evolved into cities and towns that encompassed the entire globe. Today the estimated population of the world is over 6.2 million people.1 As the population has grown, it has had several deleterious effects on the Earth. These include climate changes, the spread of diseases, declining food production, deforestation, and environment pollution (particularly air pollution). As people have become more conscious of these harmful effects, they have begun to devise strategies to combat this problem. Among the suggested responses include a switch to renewable energy, a call for zero population growth, and adopting sustainable agricultural practices.
The concept of eugenics was not initially intended to prevent overcrowding, however, it would later be used as a form of population control. Eugenics is the idea of improving society by breeding fitter people. Francis Galton was the first person to originate this term and was a major proponent of the concept during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The practice of eugenics was originally performed through the use of selective breeding. Eugenics was a progressive idea, driven by social perceptions. In fact, "many of its most strident advocates were socialist, who saw eugenics as enlightened state planning of reproduction."2 Fearing the degradation of society, the elite desired to prevent further social decay of the world by eliminating individuals who were considered unfit physically, mentally, or socially.
In order to accomplish its goal of producing healthier people, eugenics embraced two goals. First, it attempted to improve certain heritable qualities with the human species through selective breeding. Second, it prevented other "undesirable" qualities from recurring by either restricting reproduction or through direct removal from the gene pool.
How to Cite this Page
"Atrocities Associated with the Eugenics Movement." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Feb 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Introduction Eugenics is defined as “a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed (1).” The principles of eugenics have been used in many different countries for various reasons. In the United States, eugenics reached its peak in the pre-World War II period. It was believed that the most efficient way to deal with social problems, such as mental illness, poverty and crime, was to inhibit reproduction among people with such characteristics.... [tags: Science, Improving Hereditary Traits. Human]
1713 words (4.9 pages)
- The Understanding of Eugenics, and the Move Forward from Past Failures. Eugenics, from the Greek word Eu-genes, which means “well-born or of good stock”, In 1869 was the name given to the work produced by scientist Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911). Sir Francis Galton’s work was based primarily on the theories of biological evolution, first developed by Charles Darwin, and was published in his book “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, 1859”. Charles Darwin theorized that all species of life descended from common ancestors, and that natural selection had a profound effect by using selective breeding to enhance its worth.... [tags: Sir Francis Galton, Bilogical Evolution, Biology]
938 words (2.7 pages)
- In the 1920s, a company in New York started a movement known as “The Eugenics Movement.” The idea of eugenics was eventually picked up by Germany, China, Peru, India and Bangladesh. The movement is still in effect till this day; however, it is not as prevalent as it once was. The beginning of the Eugenics Movement all started at Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The United States coined the term Eugenics from Great Britain in the early 1900s. In the year 1910, a man by the name of Charles B. Davenport founded the Eugenics Records Office (ERO).... [tags: Eugenics, ERO, sterilization]
1539 words (4.4 pages)
- Eugenics is the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally. After the major turn of the century, “eugenics “developed into a world- wide movement. (Vermont University, 2003) It was led by scientist and scholars in several diverse fields, and funded by wealthy philanthropists, also supported by statesmen. Eugenics played a very vital and central role in the political, social, and intellectual history of numerous diverse peoples and nations.... [tags: The Eugenics Movement]
2148 words (6.1 pages)
- Consistently throughout history people have tried to prove that groups with inborn qualities can either vastly improve or degenerate different races over time. This rhetoric has been proven multiple times throughout the course of the last century throughout the United States and Nazi reigned Germany. Supposedly, this rhetoric has been disproven throughout the United States; however, there are proven accounts that the United States government has recently supported this theory of sterilization of minorities by supporting the eugenics movement was not only in Nazi Germany, but also on United States soil.... [tags: Racism, Race, Eugenics, Nazi Germany]
819 words (2.3 pages)
- The eugenics movement originally started in the late 1870s because of the idea that inferior classes, criminals, poverty, feeble-minds, and disease were hereditary and reproducing would create an unfit population in the United States. Forced sterilizations and the introduction of birth control began with the demand to wipe out populations that were constructed as inferior. The early history of the birth control pill was a form of eugenics, and was not only oppressive towards women of color but to women across the United Sates.... [tags: criminals, poverty, women, social class]
2040 words (5.8 pages)
- The eugenics movement was a period of time when it was believe that the genes of your father and mother gave rise to any and all traits, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and moral. Essentially, eugenics established that all of a persons appearance, skill, and potential was rooted in your genes. Frederick Hoffman’s Extinction Thesis proposed that due to genetic inferiority, the African American society would eventually case to exist. He used a the severe disparity in the rates of death and disease between African Americans and whites to support his argument.... [tags: Race, United States, Black people, White American]
702 words (2 pages)
- Introduction According to Merriam-Webster.com, eugenics is defined as “the theory dealing with the production or treatment of a fine, healthy race.” Despite this seemingly innocent representation, eugenics is an extremely controversial science. Some even debate whether or not it is worthy of the label of science, or if it’s just a form of intellectual racism. Nevertheless, eugenics was greatly embraced and was behind a scientific and social revolution during the late 19th century through the Second World War.... [tags: A Historical Analysis of Eugenics]
3924 words (11.2 pages)
- Eugenics, the word that got its bad reputation years ago through an event that changed history: the Holocaust. First dubbed by Francis Galton in the 1880’s, the word Eugenics stemmed from the words “good” and “generation.” (Eugenics-Meanings) Eugenics means the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population. This improvement is done through 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).... [tags: Genetic Engineering]
1552 words (4.4 pages)
- The roots of eugenics can be traced back to Britain in the early 1880’s when Sir Francis Galton generated the term from the Greek word for “well-born”. He defined eugenics as the science of improving stock, whether human or animal. According to the American Eugenics Movement, today’s study of eugenics has many similarities to studies done in the early 20th century. Back then, “Eugenics was, quite literally, an effort to breed better human beings – by encouraging the reproduction of people with "good" genes and discouraging those with "bad" genes.” (www.eugenicsarchive.org) According to Merriam-Webster, the modern day definition of eugenics is, a science that deals with t... [tags: essays research papers]
1049 words (3 pages)
During the early conception of eugenics, intelligence became the primary determinate for categorizing fit and unfit people. Appeals by scientists and socialists highlighted the need to preserve the human intellect. These individuals encouraged intelligent people to procreate and also suggested the removal of unintelligent people. Shortly after these pleas, "imbeciles" (the mentally disabled), were encouraged to avoid procreating. Believing that this was not enough, scientist began to forcibly sterilize these individuals. Others even advocated the practice of killing, supposedly in a relatively painless manner, the insane and mentally disabled.
With the invention of the I.Q. (intelligence quotient) test, scientists were given another means to identify individuals of lower mental capacity. These tests were administered to virtually every category of people from criminals to army recruits. Unfortunately, these intelligence tests were proven to show no "concrete, invariant entity called intelligence that could be unambiguously measured."3 Although the intelligence tests have since been determined to be unfounded, testing for something that cannot be quantified, the original results demonstrated certain biases underlying the examinations.
For instance, the interpretations of the exams findings were mainly divided along racial lines. African Americans were almost universally regarded as possessing lower intelligences when compared to those of European descendent. These findings were regularly reexamined and supported. These results provided ample evidence for scientists to begin suggesting that African Americans refrain from procreating. Other scientists began mass sterilizations of all African Americans. Otto Klineberg was able to counter the false conclusions that racial differences suggested diminished mental ability. After examining the types of questions asked on the I.Q. exams, he determined that some of the questions pertaining to environmental influences did not even affect intelligence. Furthermore, he provided evidence that northern African Americans scored much higher than southern African Americans, suggesting that it was an invalid assumption to claim that all African Americans were unintelligent. Although many of Klineberg supporters would not go as far to say "that there were absolutely no biologically determined mental differences between races, virtually all held that no such differences had been scientifically demonstrated."4
Eugenics was used to endorse other questionable practices. In some instances, sterilization and government-sanctioned executions were used to remove the supposedly heritable attribute of criminality from the gene pool. After further research, it was finally "concluded that there was no evidence for the heritability of criminality."5 These findings suggested that the approaches to eugenics should be reevaluated. Unfortunately, despite the increasing evidence to suggest that the application of eugenics was flawed, scientists continued to practice these methods.
The eugenics movement was finally laid to rest after World War II. The reports of the horrors committed by Nazi Germany were a deathblow to the eugenics movement. Nazi Germany's objectives of creating a superior Aryan race were an extension of eugenic ideals. Their methods of sterilization and murder were fundamentally the same as those practiced in the United States only applied on a previously un-attempted scale. Though their particular detest for the Jewish community is well documented in the atrocities of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany did not exclusively focus upon Jews as they would cull any group they deemed as unfit. Nazi executions of these groups along with the mentally disabled would create disfavor with the current eugenics policies of the United States. Nazi Germany's actions caused a reevaluation and a serious shift on the thought of how eugenics should be performed.
By the time eugenics returned to the mainstream, scientists had realized that advancements in biotechnology also necessitated the formation of more intricate ethical codes in order to identify acceptable uses of genetic research. It is currently employed to prevent congenital diseases as opposed to behavioral phenotypes. Looking to the future, new question arise regarding gene screening and gene therapy. As Jeremy Rifkin has implied, will we soon witness the rise of commercial eugenics to produce healthy babies and what, if any, are the ethical implications of tampering with the genes of unborn children?6
History has shown that technological advancements may and often are exploited for questionable uses. This exploitation is not always represented in the form of weapons. The eugenics movement is an example of one such innovation. Even though it was not developed for the purpose of fighting population pressure, it sill managed to serve population control efforts. Although some have argued that the Earth will never experience overpopulation or reach its caring capacity, I am not that optimistic. However, I encourage all to remain cautious regarding solutions to overcrowding, lest we revisit the atrocities that were associated with the early eugenics movement.
1 U.S. Census Bureau
2. Ridley, Matt. "The New Eugenics: Better than the Old." National Review Jul 31, 2000; 52.14 p. 34
3. Kevles, Daniel J. In the Name of Eugenics Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1985 p. 129.
4. Kevles. p. 138.
5. Kevles. p. 144.
6. Tech Nation, Americans and Technology. Number 98014, 1997.