Eugenics in America Research Papers
Eugenics research papers that focus on the practice in America illustrate that America has a rich history of trying to implement eugenics. Today a more prevalent form of eugenics is work with genetic research, which can be discussed in a custom research paper from Paper Masters.
Eugenics is a discredited movement that sought to enhance the human population through selective breeding. Eugenics was most notoriously carried out by the Nazis, but had a substantial tradition in the United States in the first decades of the 20th century.
Eugenics traces its origins to the work of Sir Francis Galton in the 1880s, who believed that social hierarchy was the result of superior genetics. Various corporate entities in the United States, including the Carnegie and Rockefeller Institutions provided funding for various American eugenics movements. Most notable was corn flakes inventor John Harvey Kellogg’s Race Betterment Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, which he founded in 1906.
Eugenics was a popular theme in the Progressive Era. Birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, for example, believed that people who could potentially pass on mental disease or physical defects should be prevented from having children, although she rejected euthanasia, unlike other proponents of eugenics. Many states even passed sterilization laws, applied to individuals with low IQ or mental handicaps.
The American Eugenics movement found numerous supporters in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and included the use of forced sterilizations. With the revelation of the extent of Nazi atrocities, eugenics fell out of favor and is seen as a form of racism.
Eugenics Research Today
Eugenics research today is based on the positive promise of the Human Genome Project. Of course, the scientific offering of the Human Genome Project are light years ahead of the essentially primitive ideas, and sterilization programs, of the social Darwinists. One must ask whether the promise of the Human Genome Project, and the potential of actually improving the quality of the very DNA that determines the make up of mankind, ought to be rejected because of the wrong-minded mistakes of the past.
Ridley writes that it was not the fact of what the early eugenicists were doing that was wrong, but rather the way that did it that was a travesty. There is nothing wrong with sterilization, he writes. The problem was the politics of the situation – that people were forced to be sterilized against their will.
The promise of the Human Genome Project is that people would know, specifically, their own genetic make-up and therefore, as parents, would be able to “predict the statistical probability of a specific genetic disorder being passed on to their children as a result of their biological union.” There are two types of genetic manipulation.
- Somatic therapy involves intervention in cells not involved with reproduction, so that changes made in those cells change that individual, but not his or her offspring.
- Germ-line therapy involves changes made in the egg or sperm. These changes will be passed on to future generations.