Eugenics Essay Research Paper Eugenicsis the science

Eugenics Essay, Research Paper


is the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn

qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage?1. The word eugenics was

derived from a Greek root meaning ?good in birth? or ?noble heredity?.? Darwin?s Origin

of the Species initiated eugenics in Europe and spiked Sir Francis Galton?s

interest.? Galton was first credited

with developing the theory of eugenics in the nineteenth century although Karl

Pearson assisted the theory.? Galton?s

idea of eugenics evolved from the science of the Victorian period, and used the

science of mathematics and statistics.?

The science of genetics and heredity were relatively new to the people

of the 19th century as the science of heredity was in its infancy.? Galton turned to mathematics, instead of

biology, to support his theories.? Much

of Galton?s mathematical calculations and assumptions are now proven to be

wrong, but he did what he could with the knowledge of the time.? The eugenics movement in Britain was

post-Darwinian in conception and derived from the best science of the time. There is a

variety of books written on eugenics.?

Some sources, mainly on the internet, dismiss eugenics as a racist

attempt to control society.? There are

few books written objectively and with the purpose of showing both sides or

eugenics such as Daniel Kevles In the

Name of Eugenics.? Members of the

eugenics society have put out books on sciences that helped to develop

eugenics, for example, Genetics and

Eugenics by W.E. Castle.?

Governments supporting eugenics also put out books and pamphlets that

explain the pros and cons of eugenics.?

There are various extremes on to which side the authors are on which

allows a wide variety of information and views.? ??????????? Francis

Galton was born on February 16th 1822 and died on January 17th

1911.? Sir Francis Galton actually

coined the word eugenics in 1883.2? The purpose of eugenics for

Galton was for ?the more suitable races or strains of blood to have a better

chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable.?3? There were two methods of achieving this.? One was positive eugenics and the other,

negative eugenics.? Positive eugenics

was the more human friendly method but was the harder type to implement.? Negative eugenics was the easier working

type but infringed on human rights.? In positive

eugenics, the procreation of the fit and able is encouraged.? This could be accomplished a variety of

ways.? One such way is by personal

choice.? A fit and able person chooses

to marry and procreate with another fit and able person.? Another way involves the government giving

money for people of ability to produce offspring.? This has already been done during times of war to increase the

country?s population except that any family was encouraged, not just people of

ability.? Positive eugenics is much

harder to do because it relies on personal choice; however, it does not

infringe on a human being?s rights.Negative eugenics

is much easier to initiate.? The idea of

negative eugenics involves the prevention of procreation by the unfit.? This is also done in many ways.? The unfit could be segregated from the

population.? By placing them in asylums

or special care centres.? In this

method, they would not be able to reproduce due to a lack of a partner.? Another technique that is used is

sterilisation.? The government could

sterilise the people deemed to be unfit, thereby preventing them from having

children.? The social repercussions of

negative eugenics are severe.? The right

to produce offspring is a very sacred right and careful consideration must be

taken.The initial

foundation of eugenics was that like

produces like.4? This was taken from the experiments of

Gregor Mendel in 1866 where he first developed Mendel?s Law.? Mendel performed experiments on many

different species of plants.? He found

that the offspring of the parent plants contained many of the same

characteristics.? One example was that

of a plant with high resistance to disease.?

Most of the progeny of this plant would have this same resistance.? Mendel then concluded that like produces like.? He stated that farmers of both crops and

animals could improve their crop and stock by selecting plants and animals with

desired characteristics and breed them to produce hybrids with these characteristics.? This was good news for farmers; they could

now produce crops with higher yields and more beneficial stock.? Galton could also use Mendel?s Law to found

eugenics.Galton wanted to

apply this technique to humans.? He

published his first eugenical ideas in Macmillan

Magazine in 1865.? In this article

he was inquiring into the origins of natural ability.? To Galton, natural ability involved ?those qualifications of

intellect and disposition which? lead to reputation.?5? To determine the origin of natural ability, he looked back two

centuries at a variety of jurists, statesmen, military commanders, scientists,

poets, painters, and musicians.? He

discovered that many of these men had blood relations to each other.? This inforced the ideas of like producing like.? From his analytical evidence, he determined

that families of reputation had a much greater chance of producing offspring

with natural ability.? He stated in his

book Hereditary Genius that men of

genius would still have natural ability and would be able to perform well in

society even if they had social disadvantages.?

Take Beethoven for example, his mother was very ill when she was

pregnant with him and his family was poor, but he still came to be recognised.? This stemmed from the Victorian middle-class

view that you can do anything you want as long as you work hard enough.6? Once again European thoughts were spawning eugenics.? Galton and now many others believed that

natural ability was inherited.The theories of

Galton and Darwin were supplemental, yet on the other hand, were topics of

conflict.? Francis Galton and Charles

Darwin were actually cousins.? Through

Galton?s mother they were related; they shared the same grandfather, Erasmus

Darwin.? Upon reading Charles Darwin?s Origin of the Species, Galton?s interest

was sparked.? Galton had struggled with

religion because of his Quaker heritage and the fact that his father had

converted to the Anglican Church.? After

reading Origin of the Species, Galton

complemented his cousin by saying, ?your book drove away the constraint of my

old superstition, as if it had been a nightmare.?7? Most likely when he mentioned his old superstition, he probably

meant religious beliefs.? The old church

belief that man was falling from grace, was to Galton, disproved in the

book.? What he derived from the book was

that man was rising rapidly from a low state.?

What Galton hoped to achieve in eugenics was to accelerate this process.? Galton had replaced his parents? religious

beliefs with the science of eugenics.? Theories of these

two men were complemented with the idea of natural selection.? Eugenics could be seen as a form of

artificial selection, but it is not.? In

nature, it is ?survival of the fittest?, that meant the most well equipped

organisms survive.8? In society, charity organisations have been

set up to support the unfit.? By doing

this, natural selection does not occur.?

With eugenics, the fit people will procreate and the unfit will not,

thus allowing natural selection to occur.?

Darwin and Galton also opposed each other with the argument of nature

vs. nurture.? Galton supported the

argument for nature.? Nature can be

defined as heredity and the way things are before environmental

interaction.? Some theories concerning

inheritance that came about during Galton?s time were Weismann?s germ plasm

theory, Lamarck?s theory, and Darwin?s pangenesis.? Lamarck?s theory first said the effects of the environment were

cumulative.? Next, need determined an

adaptation and use and disuse of organs determined how efficient it was.? Finally, he said that all variations are

inherited.9? Darwin was on the side of nurture.? Nurture is what happened after birth, the

adaptations that occurred.? Darwin

argued that it was the environment that influenced traits.? Galton set out to find what really

determined the attributes of a species.Galton wanted to

understand how natural ability was transferred.? One hypothesis that had been circulating was the theory of

pangenesis.10? This was one of Darwin?s hypotheses.? It stated that each cell of the body gives

off extremely small particles called gemmules.?

These gemmules floated freely throughout the body and ended up

collecting near the reproductive cells of the body.? Thus when reproduction occurred, the gemmules would be transferred

along with the traits.? This hypothesis

could be applicable both to plants and animals.? It could also explain the processes of sexual and asexual

reproduction, and the regeneration of lost limbs.? Galton decided to test this hypothesis.? He did this by using rabbits as his sample and using the process

of blood transfusion, another field of science in which he contributed.? The two breeds of rabbits he used were the

silver-grey and the common lop-eared rabbit.?

He transfused the blood of the lop-eared rabbits to the blood of a

silver-grey; he replaced nearly half of the silver-grey?s blood.? When he mated the silver-greys together,

they did not produce mongrel rabbits, but normal silver-greys.11? He concluded that traits were not transferred by gemmules but by

something else.? In 1883, the year of

Darwin?s death, a man by the name of August Weismann developed a new theory on

heredity with the idea of the germ plasm.?

It stated that there are two groups of cells, the soma (or body) and

germ cells.? Germ cells are

undifferentiated cells that are transformed into reproductive cells.? Weismann reasoned that acquired characters

in the soma would not affect the germ cells, therefore acquired characteristics

could not be transferred.12? Galton was no longer interested

in the biology of heredity.To prove his

theories Galton decided to turn his attention concerning heredity, toward

mathematics, more specifically statistics.?

The amalgamation of biology and statistics is called biometrics.? During the mid 19th century

statistics in Britain were gathered using a census, but no attempt at analysis

was made.? Analysing the information is

exactly what Galton had planned on doing.?

From his background in meteorology, he used a different approach to

statistics called Gaussian distribution.?

At the time this was known as the law of error.? Carl Friedrich Gauss developed this form of

statistics by the analysis of errors in measurement of true physical

quantities.? When Gaussian distribution

is displayed on a graph, a bell curve is formed.? The peak of the curve is termed the mean.? The mean was the true physical

quantity.? Galton?s interest lay in the

deviations from the mean.13? Originally the distribution

was used to determine right and wrong values, but Galton used it to measure

variations in the population.?

Variations could be in height, weight, or intelligence.? In 1860, Galton tried to use the law of

error to estimate the number of geniuses and in his words, ?men of exceptional

stupidity?.? Galton found a method to dissect

statistical data, but he had no data.? First he tried to

gather information on plants in 1876.?

He decided to use the sweet pea for a variety of reasons.? First of all sweet peas had differentiating

characters that he could measure, easy artificial pollination, protection from

foreign pollination, and they are natural to the area of northern Europe.14? He sent an unknown number of packets to friends in various parts

of Europe with instructions on what to do.?

They were to return the plants after they had flowered.? When he received the sweet peas, he found

that the weights of the daughter seeds of the plants were evenly distributed in

a Gaussian fashion.? Because of this, he

determined that heredity could be treated mathematically using units of deviation.? A unit of deviation is the distance along

the horizontal axis, or baseline, of the bell curve where a vertical line would

divide the area to one side of the bell?s centre into two equal parts.? He calculated the ratios of units of

deviation between the weight of daughter and parent seeds, and found that the

ratios were about the same.? This added

to another feature from the data, that each daughter seed?s weight reverted to

the mean of the population.? From this

Galton concluded that characteristics of offspring not only came from the

parents, but from the many ancestors.?

Galton termed the tendency of the offspring to revert toward the mean

the coefficient of reversion.? He had used the new science of statistics to

scientifically backup eugenics.In 1884, Galton

published The Record of Family Faculties

in which he offered rewards of up to 500£ for extremely detailed sets

of family information.15? In the same year, he established the

Anthropometric Laboratory, which was used to collect data on families, so that

he could use the information to confirm his mathematics.? He used his newfound knowledge of plant

heredity and applied it to human beings.?

When he received the information from the families, he began to analyse

the information.? He decided he would

focus on the height of parents and children.?

He developed a new measure of the average between the parents and the

children called the midparent.? He used

the midparent and the other results, to make a graph that he could

analyse.? After he had graphed the

statistics, he had a series of concentric ellipses.? To discover what this meant he had to use analytical geometry and

laws of probability.? Galton, not truly

a mathematician, called on the help of an actual mathematician, J.D. Hamilton

Dickson.? With the assistance of

Dickson, Galton determined that the coefficient of reversion was not linked

with inheritance.? Galton therefore

decided to rename the coefficient of reversion to the coefficient of regression

and continued his search for the key to connect heredity with statistics.? Galton then

looked at Alphonse Bertillon?s system of identification of criminals.16? Bertillon too had gather data on human beings and Galton was

looking to compare his results.?

Scientists in Bertillon?s field were called criminal

anthropologists.? Bertillon was not the

only person looking at the characteristics of criminals.? One other person was the Italian, Cesare

Lombroso.? Lombroso had found that

criminals were mostly products of heredity.?

He found that most criminals resembled, in his opinion, savages or

animals.? He termed this atavism.17? Some traits he observed were primitive brains, an odd cephalic

index, long arms, prehensile feet, scanty beards with a hairy body, large

incisors, flattened noses, furtive eyes, and angular skulls.? He also proposed that different types of

criminals looked different such as thieves who had small restless eyes, thick

eyebrows,? crooked noses, thin beard,

and a narrow receding forehead.? When

Galton was asked to look at pictures of criminals, he and many other scientists

disagreed.? Reasons for the disagreement

include that descriptions of criminals? eyes could not truly be measured, and

that many of these characteristics were greatly overlapped in the general

population.? Although Galton did say

?fairly distinct types of criminals breeding true to their kind have become

established.?? The main purpose of

Galton studying criminal anthropology was to use his method of manipulating

data to see if it worked on another sample.?

He discovered that when the data was plotted in the same way he had

previously used, it formed the same concentric ellipses from the sets of family

data.? From this he found the

coefficient of correlation.? This

measured the degree of one variable depending on another.? What this meant was that one variable alone

did not determine another characteristic.?

Not only was Galton using the science of the time to create eugenics, he

was pioneering discovery into new areas of statistics. ??????????? For all his

brilliance, Galton had come to a halt in developing a working theory of

eugenics.? His coefficient of regression

stated the degree to which an offspring would regress to the previous

generation.? This went completely

against evolution, which is not what Galton wanted.? If the bell curve of the parents was the same as the bell curve

of the children, then how did anything ever change in civilisation.? Each generation would have the same number

of variations as the last one so no evolution would occur.? With all his analysis of heredity, Galton

could only conclude, that with eugenics very little could be changed.? Eugenics had to develop at the same rate of

the science.? Luckily for Galton, Karl

Pearson came to the aid of eugenics.? ??????????? Karl

Pearson was a much more established mathematician than Galton was.? Pearson focused on the eugenic point of

regression.? Galton?s law of ancestral

heredity stated that each generation would regress to the mean of the ancestral

population.? Pearson said that the

regression depended on the immediate ancestors, in other words, the

parents.? If this is true, then eugenics

could truly work in the way they wanted it to.?

Eugenics could point evolution in the direction it wanted to.? Pearson did have some mathematical backing

with his new theory.? He supported his

theory with detailed statistical analysis.?

He also reworked Galton?s theory so it predicted a population would

breed for the desired characteristic.?

He presented to Galton, his paper on the revision of his theory in 1898.18? Pearson continued to work on Galton?s theories and rework

them.? Eugenics now had an actual

scientific background made with the new scientific field known as biometrics.??????????? Eugenics

had Darwinian origins and evolved with the science of the time.? Darwin?s Origin

of the Species was the starting point for Galton.? Galton was influenced by the theories of Darwin and this fired

the science of eugenics.? The theories

of both Galton and Darwin were complementary.?

One of these theories is natural selection, which states that the most

fit live to procreate thereby ensuring enhanced selection.? Darwin also hypothesised on how traits were

transferred and he called it pangenesis. Gregor Mendel put forth another theory

that showed the inheritance of traits. Eugenics was evolving with new areas of

science.? One new area of science called

biometrics was created to deal with eugenics. The use of Gaussian distribution

and the bell curve was essential to analysing the collected data.? The discovery of the coefficient of

reversion was another example of using the best science of the time.? Galton did prove that intelligence was

inherited even if in a crude fashion.?

He developed new scientific methods of looking at statistics.? Eugenics has many failings though.? First Galton and others believed nature to

have complete dominance over nurture.?

They also believed that certain characteristics were controlled by one

hereditary factor only.? Now we know

that such factors are controlled by more than one characteristic.? The scientists of the 19th century

did not know what we know now.? The aims

of the scientists were in the right place but their science and methods were

just too crude to truly work.


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