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Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Future of Eugenics. Eugenics, although based on the science of genetics, is not itself a science, for it must above all concern itself with social values, with the question:  Whither mankind? Perhaps general agreement could be had that freedom from gross physical or mental defects and the possession of sound health, high intelligence, general adaptability, and nobility of spirit are the major goals toward which eugenics should aim; perhaps even that diversity of nature is better than uniformity of type. But how far ought selective reproduction to interfere with human freedoms?   Genetically, as in other respects, "there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us" that it is hard to assess if the worth of the manifested hereditary characteristics are the product of environment, particularly for those qualities that are eugenics' major concern: sound health, high intelligence, and the like.   The Jukes and Kallikaks were horrible examples of degenerate humanity, but what might they have been in a better world? Were their alcoholism, their crime, and their vice inescapable products of their genes?  It seems very doubtful.   Only the experiment of putting them from earliest infancy into an optimum environment--not forgetting that it need not be the same for everyone--than to modify gene frequencies by wise selection.   Once mankind has produced an approximation of that optimum environment, the eugenics task will be much simpler.   In fact, the natural selection exerted by such an environment may make eugenics quite unnecessary.                                   -H. Bentley Glass

The Future of Eugenics.

Eugenics, although based on the science of genetics, is not itself a science, for it must above all concern itself with social values, with the question:  Whither mankind?

Perhaps general agreement could be had that freedom from gross physical or mental defects and the possession of sound health, high intelligence, general adaptability, and nobility of spirit are the major goals toward which eugenics should aim; perhaps even that diversity of nature is better than uniformity of type.

But how far ought selective reproduction to interfere with human freedoms?  

Genetically, as in other respects, "there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us" that it is hard to assess if the worth of the manifested hereditary characteristics are the product of environment, particularly for those qualities that are eugenics' major concern: sound health, high intelligence, and the like.  

The Jukes and Kallikaks were horrible examples of degenerate humanity, but what might they have been in a better world?

Were their alcoholism, their crime, and their vice inescapable products of their genes?  It seems very doubtful.  

Only the experiment of putting them from earliest infancy into an optimum environment--not forgetting that it need not be the same for everyone--than to modify gene frequencies by wise selection.  

Once mankind has produced an approximation of that optimum environment, the eugenics task will be much simpler.  

In fact, the natural selection exerted by such an environment may make eugenics quite unnecessary.

                                  -H. Bentley Glass

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