John’s account is thorough and accurate onthe application of Darwinian principles to the “improvement of humankind.” Most Darwinists today would like to forget this, but as John shows, eugenics wasn’t an aberration of those principles but a natural and logical outgrowth of ideas presented in Darwin’s Descent of Man. It was mainstream science. It is not hard to find leading faculty in the early 20th century praising eugenics as “cutting edge” medical science. This dark chapter must not be forgotten. As John has frequently said, “ideas have consequences.”
From David Klinghoffer:
Eugenics was the scientific “consensus,” the mainstream science, of its day. It was wreathed in academic prestige, with proponents at the best research universities. Its chief opponents were clergy and other religious activists, then as now dismissed by sophisticated opinion as naïve or worse. Only the chastening lesson of the Holocaust, itself an exercise in eugenics-inspired mass murder, finally discredited the idea in the eyes of most respectable people.
Dr. West draws several conclusions. One is that the scientific “consensus” can be dead wrong, and dangerously so. Another is that open debate, rather than passively accepting whatever is claimed in the name of science, is a crucial defense for truth and against injustice. A third is the necessity of resisting the lure of scientism, the mistaken belief that scientists at any given moment know best in all matters.
West is also the author of Darwin Day in America, a look at the many ways that Darwinism has shaped our culture that most of us are barely aware of.
See also: John West has updated Darwin Day in America (read free excerpt!)