• We have updated the guidelines regarding posting political content: please see the stickied thread on Website Issues.

Modern Eugenics


Justified & Ancient
Aug 21, 2001
This morning at about 8:30 (18.2.02) heard a disturbing report, with no comment as to it's nature, on radio 4.

Apparently there's a group of 'distinguished' scientists who are pushing for funding for mmore research into genes that 'cause' anti-social behaviour and IQ. Unbelievably this calm, r4 news item didn't balk to include scientists talking about African's having 'naturally' lower IQs and tendencies towards violence.

Good GOD! are we living in the victorian era again? Or the Nazi/McArthy period? Or in some new wellsian nightmare - I can't decide. Love if someone had a recording of this mornings news items - have unsuccessfuly searched the r4 webiste.

Apparently the point of this research is to find 'treatment' fo anti-social behaviour and to help raise IQ levels. Seeing as we cannot understand the basics of genetics with any confidence yet it seems unbelievable that some 'serious' scientists would start making such wild claims. Low IQ and violent tendencies amongst African Americans has long been shown to be the product of racism, poverty and poor education, and nothing to do with natural inclinations. It reminded me far too much of the excuses used by the British in their suppresions in India and the 1950s sterilisation program amongst poor blacks in the South.

What possible benefit can there be even if they do find 'sociopathic' genes? What if these same genes are the ones that allow genius to flair, or appreciation of music or other abilities - most theories about the brain suggest that apart from basic funtions like motor, organ regulation and the general structure for language and memory, most mental function is from a combination of nurture, diet and environment. How can we breed out something which is only influnced by genetic programming.

One of the scientists called this 'new science' Genetic Behaviourism - that there are genes which govern our predisposition to certain patterns of behaviour. I wonder what gene made him turn into a Nazi?

Must say that article unsettled me greatly - did anyone else catch it?
i dind see it but i find it very odd... a distantly remebered Victorian eugenics servey put Indians, Chineses and Africans as more inately inteligent than Europeans!....... this was used as a basis for guarding against other races........ seems scientists find what they set out to find...
Stop being so politically correct and at least consider the possibility can be there.
yes u are right i sopose... but u should examine the messanger carfully when considering the message....... Remeber the "gay" gene?..financed by a Gay american milionaire?..
Gay gene, I don't think I know which one you refer to. And look at the journals, then you should be able to find out if it is real.
Terrifying and silly.

Everybody knows it's the shape of a person's head that maps their intellect and personality.
This is just blatant"social engineering"championed by those who"only want to make life better".Such thinking is the result of the usually overwhelming human tendency to reduce the complex to oversimplification.I despise anyattempt to suppress individuality,there are enough pressures in everyday life that attempt this without some kind of"scientific"effort to further turn as many people as possible into sheep.

As for the reasons for any supposed inferiority in American blacks, I agree past racism and poverty contribute very much.Another often glossed over reason,at least in the U.S.,mostly for reasons of political correctness,is the tendency in American popular black culture to equate education and self-improvement with"Uncle Tom-ism"or"trying to be white".This problem is really common in America as a whole and is not confined to blacks,but for a variety of reasons it tends to be exacerbated in certain groups,not just black people.
This does indeed sound frightening. And my apprehension has nothing to do with political correctness. I've always believed "it's the cracked head that lets in the light" (I've had to believe it, having a "cracked head" myself :) ).
I wouldn't be surprised if most antisocial behavior is caused by poverty and nutritional deficiencies causing brain damage in utero. An outlandish idea some may say, but it's just my opinion.

Dot23, you should listen to Terry Wogan, I never hear anything like that on his show.
Hmm I'm tempted to wonder who would want the world full of people with exactly the same IQ as everyone else.

I think they just get over excited every time they find a gene which does something. They kick up a storm everytime and the public always kicks back. I think it's just the boffins proving they can still thump their chests occasionally.
Not if it isn't good for the news.

That is one of the bad things about this board. It seems many have their idea of science form watching mainstream media. They never give a good picture of it.
X - I don't think it's PC that drives my fears, it's the thought that it could be true which worries me! If one could discover genes which make people anti-social what would be the consequence in 20 years time? The treatment of ethnic 'minorities' in the US was higlighted to me in a recent book (fictional I admit) about a latino woman's struggle with the mental healthcare system. If doctor's could 'breed out' anti-social behaviour, who's to say they wouldn't go a step further and and remove violent tendanices altogether, and to what effect? It could also be used as proof that harsher measrues need to be used against blacks etc. It could be used to develope methods which make people dormant and unreactive - preventing demonstrations etc.

Sure this is worst case scenario, but I worry that the ethical dimension is being overlooked. Scientists seem to have the habit of doing things mount everest style - because it's there.

I'm not at all anti-science, or completely ignorant of scientific method, and you can't say I get all my science knowledge from the media as I don't have a tv! I think science needs to a) become more involved with ethical debate and b) be less in the thrall of big business. I know the latter is difficult as it's very expensive, but there need to be checks and balances from impartial bodies (such as a philosopher, sociological council) to prevent abuses.
Where I am from we have an Ethical Council for that. Sadly it is filled with a lot of priests, which really don't have much grasp of either science or ethics I imagine.

The rest of the points I'll get back to after lunch.
A for the good old days of francis bacon et al - when science was a search for understanding of the world of god, and ethics part of comprehending christ's message etc. We wouldn't be in this mess now if it wasn't for the inquisition...
Worries about the use of genetics

Everything that follows has origin in "The Doctrine of DNA: Biology as Ideology" by R.C. Lewontin, Penguin, London, 1993

This book is an excellent skeptical view of science and specifically genetics as it stood at the time of writing. It is full of examination of various claims made for genetics, as well as an examination of how science is constructed. There's a lot worth quoting in contibution to this debate.

Firstly consider this:

"A simple and dramatic theory that explains everything makes good pres, good radio, good TV and bestselling books. Anyone with academic authority, a helfway decent writing style, and a simple and powerful idea has eay entry to the public conciousness. On the other hand, if one's message is tht things are complicated, uncertain, and messy, that no simple rule or force wil explain the past and predict the future ofhuman existance, there are fewer ways to get the message across." pvii

Quite simply, the genetics message makes the individual money and makes it easy to understand theory for mass comsumption.

"Scientists do not begin life as scientists... but as social beings immersed in a family, a state, a productive structure, and they view nature through a lense that as ben moulded by their social experience... [Science is] a human productive activity that takes time and money and so is guided by and directed by those forces in the world that have contol over money and time... People earn their living by science, and as a consequence, the dominant social and economic forces in society determine to a large extent what science does and howit does it."p3

Far from being seperate and independent, science is as imbedded in social and economic relationships as anything else is.

Lewontin explains that science and scientists, dependent as they are on money for survival, are more likely to endorse a view of the world that is in support of the statu quo, rather than against it, as it is to that 'higher stratum' of society that they are appealing to for funding. This relationship is cultivated by those with power because science, as with other social institutions, serves a purpose of legitimation of a certain world view. Science is now, I suppose, the ultimate authority in many people's eye.

Sociobiology, which is what we are talking about, hides a very conservative message within scientific language.

"It is an evoluntionary and a genetic theory that uses the entire theoretical apparatus of modern evolutionary biology, including a great deal of astruse mathematics, which is then translated for the inexpert reader in coffee-table books with beguiling pictures and in magazine articles ad newspaper accounts. Sociobiology is the latest and most mystified attempt to convince people that human life is pretty much what it has to be and perhaps even ought to be.

"The sociobiological theory of human nature is built in three steps. The first is a description of what human nature is like. one looks around at human beings and tries to build a fairly complete description of the features that are said to be common to all human being in all societies inall places at all times. The second step is to claim that those characteristics that appear to be universal in humans are, in fact coded in our genes, that is, in our DNA. There are genes for religiosity, genes for entrepreneurship, genes for whatever characteristics are said to be built into the human psyche and human social organisation. The theory... goes on to the third step, the claim that natural selection, through the differential survival and reproducyion of different kinds of organisms, has led inevitably to the particular genetic characteristics of individual human beings, characteristics that are responsible for the form of society. This claim strengthens the argument of legitimacy because it goes beyond mere description to assert that the human nature described is inevitable, given the universal law of the struggle for existance and the survival of the fittest. In this sene, the sociobiological theory of human nature puts on a mantle of universitality and of utter fixity. After all, if 3 billion year of evolution have made us what we are, do we really think that a hundred days of revolution wil change us?" p89,90

So we see that this arguement is the perfect manner of justification for the continuence of the present order of things. When you think of it the arguement is reducable to being able to say"things are the way they are because thats the way they are, people are the way they are because that's the way people are". To be able to say there is a gene for sociopathic behaviour doesn't really change anything. It lets you look at a person who you are suspicious of as being a sociopath, then lets you confirm your suspicion. So?

This thread of science has always seemed to me to stand as the perfect way in which those in power can abdicate any responsibility for change, allowing them to maintain that as things are coded into people's genes, all they can do is deal with the results, rather than attack the cause.

"The nonsense propagated by ideologues of biological determinism that the lower classes are biologically inferior to the upper classes, that all the good things in European culture come from Nordic groups, is precisely nonsense. It is meant to legitimate the structure of inequality in our society by putting a biological gloss on them and by propagating the continual confusion between what may be influenced by genes and what may be changd by social and environmental alterations.

"The vulgar error that confuses heritability and fixity has been, over the years, the most powerful single weapon that biological idealogues have had in legitimating a society of inequality. Since as biologists they must know better, one is entitled to at least a suspicion that the beneficiaries of a system of inequality are not to be regarded as objective experts."p37
thanks mark - I wish I had the diligence to do that sort of well expressed research! I hereby award you the coverted Dot23 Standing Ovation (anyone that cries 'plagiarism' will be exposed in 'the lancet'! - you know who you are)

In response this is exactly what my thoughts are - it is big business - the majority white - who whether out of racism, fear or ignorance support 'science' like this in the hope that it'll keep the masses quiet - that give science a bad name.

As I posted earlier I don't know of any neurobiologist who's worth their salt saying that mental processes are entirely predetermined by genetics, nor any sociologist who would claim that behavioural patterns are set (the idea of 'primitive' tribes who've kept the same behavioural patterns for millenia is as outdated as the Opium Den) - tribal behaviour is governed by changes in environment, outside influence, disease, the actions of individuals etc just as much as our society is - the speed of change is slower because communication between groups is often more difficult and sporadic.

What is sociobiology trying to prove - that we shouldn't bother to improve society, or ourselves as individuals because the future is sealed in our genes. What a depressing thought. Seems to be heavily influenced by certain branches of christian thought that all our actions are preordained by god (also prevalent in Islam - the phrase 'if god will's it' or inshallah is common across the middle east, turkey and north africa). This extreme fatalism makes people dangerously complacent - perhaps this is what the goal of this 'research' really is.
Okay, I think I've calmed down enough to post without ranting too much...

Here's a couple of links to BMJ articles on eugenics, "social behaviourism" and the like...



To be fair to both sides of the debate, I'll also post this link


Leaving aside the issue of forced steralization of people with "undesirable" characteristics (and who decides what's desirable), IMHO, the main problem with eugenics is that is simply does not work! There is no evidence that innate intelligence or behaviour is related to skin colour, poverty etc - environment and education are at least as important as genes.

As for screening for genetic diseases (and aborting the 'abnormal' foetices) - would society have been better off if Steven Hawking had never been born? Or David Nivan? Or me for that matter (not that I'm putting myself in the same league... ;)

Sorry, that did turn into a bit of a rant ;)

On a lighter note, my friend is expecting her first baby and recently had a ultrasound scan and other tests. She was assured that the baby appeared healthy and was asked if she wanted to know the sex... she declined but her hubby couldn't resist asking. I suspect that painting the nursery pink may have given the game away :)

Just got through watching the classic Star Trek episode Space Seed, the one where Eugenics Wars survivor Khan tries to take over the Enterprise, and thought I'd see what people who believed in it thought they could accomplish. And lo and behold, there are actually still pro-Eugenics stites out there...:

Future Generations is about humanitarian eugenics. Humanitarian eugenics strives to leave a genuine legacy of love to future generations: good health, high intelligence, and noble character. We advocate measures to improve the innate quality of humankind which are entirely voluntary. Please be forewarned that most ideas expressed on this website are "politically incorrect." We aspire to total honesty, believing that it is the only policy for people with integrity, and furthermore, that in the long run, honesty is far-and-away the most compassionate policy. If we ever hope to solve the problems which face our species, it's imperative that we first look at them objectively, and assess the scientific evidence without bias. If the truth about genetics and behavior, about eugenics, or about race, is considered "taboo," and falsehoods are the only socially acceptable opinions, then this is truly a sad state of affairs, but we won't let it deter us.

And the Wikipedia page:


But it seems like Eugenics were just an excuse to use science as a reason to enact raceism and classism as social policy... so I assume the current followers are of the crank/idiot fringe.
Mr. R.I.N.G. said:
But it seems like Eugenics were just an excuse to use science as a reason to enact raceism and classism as social policy... so I assume the current followers are of the crank/idiot fringe.

I suppose it depends. It certianly got some bad press but aspects of it were certainly of widespread interest before WWII - there was even a Journal of Eugenics.

As the Wikipedia page says it grows out of the idea of selective breeding and later got mixed in with racial purity although one idea in selective breeding is mixing breeds to try and get the best qualities of both strains and as we know too much inbreeding can weaken a strain.

You can often hear brands of eugenics-lite with people idly speculating that less well educated people tend to have more children which would somehow weaken the strain. Or similar off the cuff ideas and suggestions.

Of course his would go to nature or nurture and I think people would be better off worrying about inequality and poverty than any small notional gains that might accrued from breeding some kind of strain of ubermensch.
ohoh.....the site has a lot of reference to IQ scores....

very bad sign.....

will keep reading till i find something based on theories which haven't been completely discredited...
Conscientiousness, traditionally known as "good character," consists of honesty, a strong work ethic, and concern for others. Since IQ is positively correlated to a number of desirable traits (such as altruism, anti-authoritarian attitudes, and middle-class values of hard work, thrift, and sacrifice), when IQ declines, so do these traits. People with low IQ's are far more likely to become criminals, so the fact that our genetic potential for intelligence is declining means our genetic potential for crime is increasing. Moreover, some evidence suggests that despite lengthy sojourns in jail, criminals still manage to procreate at a faster rate than the rest of us. Professor Lynn's research on London criminals found they had nearly twice as many offspring as non-criminals, and those figures are almost certainly underestimates. In demographic studies of fertility, the entire category of underclass males is frequently omitted because reliable data on their offspring simply can't be obtained--their sexual behavior is often promiscuous, and their relationships transient. Since twin studies and adoption studies have established that there is a substantial genetic component to criminality, the higher fertility of criminals significantly increases the genetic potential for criminality in the population.

oh dear.
Voodoo psychology, voodoo criminology, voodoo sociology and voodoo economics.

That site purely riles me.
Emperor said:
I suppose it depends. It certianly got some bad press but aspects of it were certainly of widespread interest before WWII - there was even a Journal of Eugenics.

Yes, and organisations like the Fabian Society (which still exists today) were advocates of eugenics.
Can't remember who wrote this but; Eugenics has become a dirty word, but in fact eugenics is practiced by individuals when they decide to have abortions for such reasons as the baby having down's syndrome etc - the difference between this and what most of the world advocated (not just the nazis) is this: eugenics when practiced by the individual represents choice; however, when forced by the state it represents oppression.
Leaferne said:

Especially when 98.7% of statistics are made up on the spot.

Here´s a little gem from our eugenisist friends.

Lynn and Vanhanen also run and plot regression analyses of national product versus national IQ. IQ explains part of the differences in national product, but only part. The natural question is what explains the part of national income that is not explained by the level of national intelligence: the residuals. Presumably, it is some factor specific to one or more countries. A few of the largest positive residuals can be explained for 1998. Equatorial Guinea has such a low measured IQ that the regression equation predicts a negative national product. Since this is impossible, it has a large positive residual.

There can´t be anything wrong with the equation then, can there?
It would be interesting to see the whole article. Regression analyses and residuals should only be referred to as correlational - the debate about IQ and race is primarily an American invention (nb. most scientists don't believe in 'race' anyway) - and though most psychologists would worry about ecological validity and, naturally, reliability of tests, often research is poorly reported and so findings are misinterpreted.
And don't forget those exponents of 'prometheism' who promote so-called neo-eugenics.


We Define neo-eugenics as conscious evolution (these words are interchangeable). Purposefully directed evolution via voluntary positive neo-eugenics (including voluntary selective breeding), cloning, genetic engineering and ultimately any and all transhuman technologies. Neo-Eugenics means harnessing all science, technology and knowledge available now or in the future, guiding it with spirituality, ethical considerations and higher consciousness, ultimately towards achieving total and unlimited self transformation. The term Neo-Eugenics embodies the sciences and philosophies involved in Biotechnology, Extropy and Transhumanism all merged in a philosophy of spiritual Conscious Evolution.

Sounds like Nazis who have learned to do 'third way' speak :cry:
Victims Of 1929-1974 N.C. Eugenics Program Urged To Contact N.C. DHHS - USA
14 Dec 2008

People who believe they or a member of their family may have been sterilized through the N.C. Eugenics Program between 1929 and 1974 are urged to call the North Carolina CARE-LINE at 1-800-662-7030 (TTY for the hearing impaired: 1-877-452-2514).

More than 7,600 North Carolinians were sterilized, many of them involuntarily, during the 45 years the program was active. The program ended in 1974, and the law that allowed for involuntary sterilization was repealed by the General Assembly in 2003.

A government committee is currently reviewing the program and its lasting effects, and is developing recommendations for action by the state legislature in the 2009 legislative session.

The people who call in to the CARE-LINE will be asked to provide their names and other important information that can help researchers search through old records to determine if the person was indeed sterilized under that state program.

Every person who is found to be a survivor of that program will be notified about how to get a copy of those records.

North Carolina Dept. of Health http://www.dhhs.state.nc.us/