Sunday, March 22, 2009


Selection Against Darwin

A thought:
The surge of enthusiasm for eugenics came at a time when the majority of biologists had turned their backs on Darwinism. Even when natural selection began to attract more attention in the 1930s, there was no direct link to eugenics. If R. A. Fisher supported eugenics, the co-founder of population genetics, J. B. S. Haldane, wrote openly against the movement from a socialist perspective. In America, the most effective scientific support for eugenics came from early Mendelians such as C. B. Davenport. ... [A]t this point the Mendelians were hostile to Darwinism and did not believe that natural selection played any role in the evolution of new characters. The popularity of eugenics must thus be accounted for in terms of broader social factors. It was certainly not the result of Darwinism promoting the idea of artificial selection of the human population.

- Peter J. Bowler, The Non-Darwinian Revolution

Nice. People have been pointing out that the supposed connection between eugenics and Darwin is unlikely, because the growth of eugenics occurred during the "eclipse of darwinism" (as well as the logical disconnect between natural selection and goal-directed human intervention). So it's nice to see this explicitly stated by a historian.

I'll have to save this quotation in my files for the next time this comes up.

Tom S.
It's at page 169 of the Johns Hopkins Paperbacks edition of 1992, to complete the citation.

The elipsis is this:

... As noted in chapter 5 above ...
...and of course will still carry out eugenics today through IVF and pre-birth testing, and arguably contraception is eugenics by another name.

Fortunately the compulsion has mostly been stopped.
So I got the book out of a local library and read a couple of chapters. The book is loaded with information for rebuttal of the claims about eugenics, Social Darwinism, etc. Thanks.

Is there any indication at all that anyone has engaged in any of the practices that you mention because of their acceptance of the reality of evolution, common descent, natural selection, speciation, random variation, or the natural origins of the bacterial flagellum?

Tom S.
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