The Unfit

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The Unfit

I find myself continually fascinated with the history of the first 50 years (or so) of the twentieth century.  I can’t put my finger on exactly why, and honestly it doesn’t matter, but for all the innovation and invention, there were also some very dark ideas afoot.  Ideas like eugenics, which is really just a fancy word for “playing God.”  With frightening results by the way.  64,000 human beings were sterilized in this country because they were “unfit.”  Thanks science!


Logo for 1921 Eugenics Congress

By 1910, there was a large and dynamic network of scientists, reformers and professionals engaged in national eugenics projects and actively promoting eugenic legislation. The American Breeder’s Association was the first eugenic body in the U.S., established in 1906 under the direction of biologist Charles B. Davenport. The ABA was formed specifically to “investigate and report on heredity in the human race, and emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood.” Membership included Alexander Graham Bell, Stanford president David Starr Jordan and Luther Burbank.

[[via wikipedia]

Obviously, the Nazi’s took eugenics to a level far more horrifying than the United States, but to learn about how far the idea went here is very disturbing.  That wiki article is an interesting one, and I’m still reading it.  We may have to revisit this topic…

July 14th, 2010|Categories: History|Tags: , |3 Comments


  1. Skinner July 14, 2010 at 11:37 PM - Reply

    Not to make light of a serious subject, but arguably my dog is the product of eugenics, and all it got him was a case of hip dysplasia.

    • Jim July 22, 2010 at 8:05 PM - Reply

      One of my sisters dogs was just diagnosed with hip dysplasia…looks like eugenics is a bit of a failure with the pooches.

      Barry, I was hoping that post was inspired by an Onion article…but no. I get the impression that early eugenics had more to do with social class than beauty, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the opposite were true now.

  2. bmj2k July 22, 2010 at 12:55 PM - Reply

    You might be interested inthis post I found on someone else’s blog:

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