Darwinism

Are formerly tone-deaf people finally getting the picture about Darwinian eugenics?

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In the first half of the 20th century, the U.S. 60,000 sterilized Americans, to which California contributed a very robust 20,000. One of the more haunting features of an excellent new cable documentary coming out this summer, What Hath Darwin Wrought?, is the setting where many of its interviews with scholars were conducted: the grounds of the old Stockton State Hospital in Stockton, California.

[Yes, that same California in which, today, stars boast proudly of out of wedlock pregnancies. … Not that I make it my business; I do not pay taxes there, and they do make lots of money, so I assume that deadbeat dads can be brought to justice.]

A leading center for coerced sterilization in that dark era, the hospital today looks quite picturesque as the backdrop to conversations with my Discovery Institute colleagues, political scientist John West and historian Richard Weikart (who teaches at the Cal State University campus of which the state hospital building is now a part). Along with philosopher and mathematician David Berlinski, another Discovery fellow, they do a remarkably lucid and informative job of sketching a side of 20th-century history — the malign cultural and moral influence of Darwinian evolutionary thinking — that tends to get overlooked.

A huge scandal. All worth reading.

The sad part is, all most people actually want is an acknowledgement of what happened. If many people never had children due to a failed ideology, well, those people have now died and they are dead. Best let the dead rest in peace.

But the living want an acknowledgement of the Darwinist eugenics scandal. It really happened, and we want an admission. Darwin’s followers were wrong. They thought they knew who should live and who should die.

Oh so, you Darwinists are God now? When did He vacate his throne and a bunch of tax-funded profs take it over?

A hundred years ago, my great grandfather brought out his family from County Cork, Ireland, and he had an axe and rope with him. Having been informed of the exact location of his land, he roped everyone together and hewed his way through the bush.

Gosh, if a eugenicist could have got hold of all of them, … [- 30 -]

Maybe the mosquitoes drove the eugenicists off?

9 Replies to “Are formerly tone-deaf people finally getting the picture about Darwinian eugenics?

  1. 1
    ellazimm says:

    I don’t think anyone would disagree that scientific notions can be misapplied and perverted. But I’m always uncomfortable with implying that it’s wrong to propose scientific theories in case someone might twist them in inhuman ways.

    Some of this kind of discussion has already happen regarding the development of atomic weapons when the physicists involved were asked: is it right that you should have pursued this knowledge.

    Well, I think that if we all agree that following the evidence wherever it leads is right then we can’t later go back and say . . . uh . . . that theory or model MIGHT have given some people an excuse to act hideously and therefore should not have been developed.

    I’m a big fan of reality. Even if some whack-jobs perpetrate deplorable acts using scientific theories as a justification I still do not want to limit the pursuit of reality. And that means throwing out ideas that may or may not stand the test of time and consensus. Criticise those who twist the theory, fair enough. But I don’t think it’s fair to chastise Darwin or materialists who are sincerely trying to interpret the world for the ways some dopes usurp their ideas.

  2. 2
    O'Leary says:

    Ellazimm, I do not get your point.

    Eugenics was not science; it was nonsense. Nonsense firmly founded in Darwin’s own beliefs. Remember, Darwin was a guy who thought that black people were closer to gorillas than white people.

    Darwin has always been protected by professional Darwinists from the normal social consequences of such antisocial beliefs.

    I am not letting the matter go because it cannot be let go until the belief is formally renounced.

    I am not interested in what “whackjobs” or “dopes” think (who is?).

    The use of such terms is just how Darwinists like yourself avoid facing up to the issue.

    The reality is that Darwin’s racism is an open running sore, and will remain so until it is properly addressed by ceasing Darwin worship and saying that the Great Man was wrong on that point.

    Are you prepared to do that?

    Be warned: New books, documentaries are coming out about what Darwinism created in this area.

    Better just acknowledge it now, and not bother me with irrelevancies about “the ways some dopes usurp their ideas”.

    If I were to propose a warning sticker for any textbook that addresses Darwinism, the sticker would be about racism, not about the general lack of important evidence for his ideas, which is the main reason so few people believe them after all the dollars spent to convince them.

    That is another open, running sore, but not nearly as serious a one.

    I am quite sure that the typical African American student would thank me.

    So would Caribbean origin Canadian students.

  3. 3
    ellazimm says:

    Allen MacNeil has addressed your point MANY times in various UD threads and there are more responses on another thread you just started.

    I don’t understand why you keep trying to flog this dead horse. Clearly you’re not happy with all the responses you’ve gotten in the past . . . unless you expect to hear something different this time around why keep bringing it up?

    As you say, Eugenics was not science and has been refuted. No one can say for sure but Darwin’s documented hatred of slavery would probably have made him appalled at the eugenics movement. I wonder if Martin Luther would have been appalled at the way the Nazis persecuted the Jews?

    There was a time when ‘good’ Catholics persecuted and killed ‘bad’ Catholics in Europe. The Waldensian Crusade was a scary and sad moment in the history of mankind and in the history of the Catholic Church. Should we question your current beliefs because some of your fellow believers got it wrong?

  4. 4
    O'Leary says:

    Ellazimm, I do not hope to explain anything to you, so I write only for the public here:

    – That Darwin hated slavery is irrelevant. Lots of racists did. Slavery undermines a society by enabling a man to legally father children he need not recognize. But today, we call those guys “deadbeat dads”. Who says there has been no progress over the centuries?

    – What other people may have done wrong and – in many cases, have apologized for – is irrelevant to what we are discussing here.

    What I want is a clear acknowledgement and apology to the victims, from the academic Darwinist community, of the harm done by Darwinist eugenics.

    When I hear of such an acknowledgement and apology to the victims, I will gladly publicize it.

    Allen MacNeil is doubtless a fine person, but that fact is not solving the problem.

    The problem is lack of formal acknowledgement and apology. I sure do not need to hear any more exculpations or be tempted down rabbit trails.

  5. 5
    ellazimm says:

    Anthony Flew did not think Darwin was a racist:

    From Wikipedia:

    Darwin’s theory of evolution was a matter of explanation. He thought it “absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another” and saw evolution as having no goal, but soon after the Origin was published in 1859, critics derided his description of a struggle for existence as a Malthusian justification for the English industrial capitalism of the time. The term Darwinism was used for the evolutionary ideas of others, including Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” as free-market progress, and Ernst Haeckel’s racist ideas of human development. Darwin did not share the racism common at that time: a point examined by the philosopher Antony Flew, who is at pains to distance Darwin’s attitudes from those later attributed to him. Darwin was strongly against slavery, against “ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species”, and against ill-treatment of native people.

    Darwin’s views on social and political issues reflected his time and social position. He thought men’s eminence over women was the outcome of sexual selection, a view disputed by Antoinette Brown Blackwell in The Sexes Throughout Nature. He valued European civilisation and saw colonisation as spreading its benefits, with the sad but inevitable effect of extermination of savage peoples who did not become civilised. Darwin’s theories presented this as natural, and were cited to promote policies which went against his humanitarian principles. Writers used natural selection to argue for various, often contradictory, ideologies such as laissez-faire dog-eat dog capitalism, racism, warfare, colonialism and imperialism. However, Darwin’s holistic view of nature included “dependence of one being on another”, thus pacifists, socialists, liberal social reformers and anarchists such as Prince Peter Kropotkin stressed the value of co-operation over struggle within a species. Darwin himself insisted that social policy should not simply be guided by concepts of struggle and selection in nature.

  6. 6
    Peepul says:

    That eugenics picked up momentum from Darwin’s theory of evolution is credible – I haven’t read the evidence but I’m prepared to believe it’s possible.

    But the truth-status of evolution as an explanation for the diversity of life is not affected in the least by this one way other other.

    Just because an idea has bad consequences doesn’t make it untrue.

  7. 7
    Ilion says:

    Sometimes, I wonder how my mother escaped being one of those 60,000. For, she was a cripple, and Indiana was at the time a very “progressive” state … and, they were already using her as a human guinea-pig.

  8. 8
    ellazimm says:

    Ilion:

    Perhaps your mom was just lucky. It was a horrible implementation of ideology that I wish the human race was beyond. But, sadly, I’m not sure we are. Humans seem to find lots of reasons to marginalise those who they think are inferior.

    We all agree that it was wrong. And while there is a justifiable academic interest in examining the genesis of the behaviour I feel reassured in my belief that slowly and surely we are moving past things like that. At least I hope we are breaking down some of the justifications. We may always have to live with irrational and impersonal competition. Like Darwin and Dawkins I separate analysis of development from what is right and just and proper. No matter how it’s bestowed,all humans deserve to have certain rights respected.

  9. 9
    tgpeeler says:

    ellazimm – “No matter how it’s bestowed,all humans deserve to have certain rights respected.”

    Um, er, why is that, again, exactly? I must have missed that part. The part of darwinism that gave human beings special status on the planet. Presumably you have read “The Descent of Man”??

    Concerning the main point of this thread:

    From the introduction: “Yet a contextual understanding of Darwin’s process of creation shows how issues of race, gender and class were integral to his thought – indeed, one cannot explain the origins and development of the “Descent of Man” without them.

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