Ever been to a dog show? *Eugenic's today*

  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    LOL,  Don’t know if many of you know,  but the nasty parts of WWII come from a branch of science called Eugenics.

    Eugenics is the study/science of genetics and heredity.

    Now, Eugenics, has all kinds of legitimate arguments, and is/was a legitimate science.  For example, go to a dog or horse show, and the winner of the show, will brag about the heredity of the animal, the history, and the purity of it’s race (Genetics).

    Am I the only one who finds it amusing, that when you confront the SAME people, with old German theories regarding Eugenics, that they are horrified, and scoff at any notion that it could concievably relate to human genetics.

    This dish is best served after you hear these “dog owners” bragging about how they gassed or gave away a bunch of their animals for not being “good enough” or “mixed race”.  And how the only use selective breeding processes.

    The question is then,  learning from WWII, is the science of Eugenics WRONG/BAD Science?  Or is the science legitimate, but leads to VERY slippery slopes…  What are your thoughts and experiences?  And lessons learned from your WWII readings…

  • To address a minor point, Genetics is the study of heredity. Eugenics is the study of how genetics can be applied to improve the gene pool of a species(artificial selection).

    As for the major question:
    In my opinion, Science is amoral. It simply describes things as they are; it does not advocate what should be. Thus, the science tells us that it is possible to produce “superior” humans by getting rid of “inferior” ones(quotes to show that the terms are subjective). Science does not advocate whether or not this should be done(although ScienTISTS can). It depends on how Science is applied. It can be used to put a man on the moon or to develop poisons that kill millions. I believe that any science that has evidential backing is legitimate. However, one would use his/her morals and ethics to determine how it should be applied. For example, Science says that stem cells have the potential to cure many diseases, but also that embryos have to be sacrificed for that purpose. It is up to the individual’s judgement if that cost is worth it or not.

  • some irony: israel is busy with eugenics (seems they behave as nazi’s did in more than 1 way, strange, for those who should know better)

    Is it good or bad?
    I suppose it can be used good as wel as bad. The border will be set by the ethic standards of the moment, i think.

    For me personally, i think the border is crossed when you purposely “make” a damaged or failed creature. When it’s no more about improving… that’s my initial reaction, it’s not a simple matter.

    As for cats and dogs, i find the obsession with race purity weird (inbreeding isn’t healthy, a bstrd dog is logically the healthiest kind)

    What you said about breeders is also quite apalling (gassing etc, playing Mengele, is pretty disgusting). Eugenics/breeding is 1 thing, disposing of those who aren’t pure enough (and bragging about it), is something else.

    Interesting topic, though.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10


    The question is then,  learning from WWII, is the science of Eugenics WRONG/BAD Science?  Or is the science legitimate, but leads to VERY slippery slopes…  What are your thoughts and experiences?  And lessons learned from your WWII readings…

    The slippery slope issue you mention is a major part of the problem.  Some of the early theorists of eugenics had ideas which seemed harmless enough, though they were a bit bizarre from today’s perspective – for instance the goal of encouraging members of the (presumably superior) upper classes to have more children so that they wouldn’t be outnumbered by members of the (presumably inferior) lower classes.  Eugenics soon became entangled, however, with other late-nineteeth century concepts like Social Darwinism (the application of Darwin’s biological concept of survival of the fittest to ethnic groups and societies and countries) and geopolitics (the study of the relationship between political power and the control of global territory).  The result was a toxic brew that was seized upon by various ideological movements (notably Nazism) to “justify” things like genocide and wars of conquest.

  • A major problem with Eugenics - how do you define with certainty what is superior?  Is a Bloodhound superior to a Doberman?  How about a Husky vs. a Chiuaua?  The Nazis believed themselves to be a superior race, but today we know through genetic mapping there is virtually no difference between the human “races”.

    Also, even if there were a clear superiority, science cannot answer the correct course of action regarding all the mongrels.  Should the bloodhounds all be killed because they are not as superior Dobermans?  Even though a bloodhound can do things a doberman cannot?

    Herein lies their moral hazards the Nazis made -  first they made life and death decisions based upon faulty and unproven science.  And more importantly, they assumed morality to be  based solely upon expediency.

  • @Gargantua:

    The question is then,  learning from WWII, is the science of Eugenics WRONG/BAD Science?  Or is the science legitimate, but leads to VERY slippery slopes…  What are your thoughts and experiences?  And lessons learned from your WWII readings…

    You’ve raised an interesting topic for discussion. Prior to WWII, the promotion of eugenic programs was considered legitimate and relatively mainstream. Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University, was a proponent of eugenics, as were a number of other leading Americans. Before I go any further, I should clarify that by “eugenics” I am not referring to comparisons between different races; but rather to the desire to see the best people within each given race have the most kids. Exactly which traits are most important is, of course, subjective and open to debate.

    The arguments made in favor of eugenics were simple and straightforward: we owed it to future generations to give them the best possible inherited traits we reasonably could. As you hinted at in your post, inherited differences are roughly as important for humans as they are for dogs. If we care about dogs’ inherited traits (as shown through dog breeding) it was felt that we should care about the inherited traits of humans even more.

    However, viewpoints changed during and after WWII. This was not because of any new scientific evidence that had been brought to light. On the contrary, the subsequent discovery of genes, and studies which show their importance, have made the scientific underpinnings of eugenics stronger than ever. Science has conclusively shown that differences between people are strongly driven by genetic differences, and are not (as is sometimes falsely claimed) merely the result of differences in environment.

    Viewpoints about eugenics changed not because of new scientific evidence, but rather because of the wartime and postwar anti-Nazi propaganda effort. The Nazis believed in many things: hard work, a strong military, self-sacrifice for one’s nation, the preservation of their own race, eugenics, anti-Semitism, etc. After the war, some of those beliefs became socially unacceptable, while others remained mainstream. Eugenics happened to fall into the former category.

    Possibly that’s because of opposition to the concept from the Nazis’ enemies. Karl Marx believed that differences between people were due wholly to the environment; and that belief found its way into the communist movement. Under Stalin, Soviet scientists who believed in Mendelian inheritance (the mainstream scientific view) were persecuted, and were either shot or sent to gulags. At least to a certain extent, the communist “environment-only” belief has permeated into Western cultures, especially when the subject of discussion is humans. However, there is no scientific support for that communist belief.

    As for the large numbers of people who died under Nazi occupation: most of those deaths were the result of the Anglo-American food blockade of Germany, and of the resulting starvation. Occupied Poland is a good case in point. Like most places within 2000 km of Berlin, Poland was a food deficit nation. Early in the German occupation, food was sent from Germany to Poland to help avert outright starvation. However, Hitler’s attempt to get Britain to sign a peace treaty failed, and the war dragged on. Germany’s food reserves ran dangerously low; causing it to have to reevaluate its food policy. To avoid starvation in Germany itself, residents of German-occupied territories would receive less food in the future than they had in the past. Polish Jews were especially hard-hit by these changes: the plan had been to reduce their caloric consumption to zero; which would have meant three million fewer mouths to feed. The next-lowest priority was unskilled Polish workers not directly engaged in helping the war effort. It was expected that millions of people in this category would starve. They avoided starvation, at least for a time, only because the harvest was surprisingly good. Ukrainians received higher priority; and skilled Polish workers had higher priority still. At the top were the Germans occupying Poland: their food rations were almost normal.

    If the U.S. was hit by similar famine conditions, I would expect that American citizens would receive a higher ration priority than would the residents of (for example) U.S.-occupied Iraq or Afghanistan. I would also expect those with large amounts of money or good political connections would receive far more food than those who lacked these things. American distribution of scare food resources would likely be about as unequal as the Germans’ had been; except that the inequalities would be based on citizenship and economic status; rather than on ethnicity and contribution to the war effort. More generally, it would be very rare for a nation experiencing famine conditions to distribute food equally to everyone. The fact that Germany used a different basis for that unequal distribution than the U.S. would have does not mean that eugenics is either an intrinsically evil perspective, or that it represents some sort of slippery slope.

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