Category talk:Eugenics

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Eugenics is a pseudoscience[edit]

pseudoscience?[edit]

I have removed the extremely POV category "Pseudoscience". The fact that a particular branch of science has fallen out of popular favor does not make it "pseudoscience". Additionally, eugenics is grounded in empirically verified evolutionary theory; empirical verification is the difference between science and pseudoscience. AndyCapp 12:48, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

To be fair, I will accept categorization of this category under "Controversial topics" to indicate that its status as science or pseudoscience is disputed, but I don't think slapping a "pseudoscience" label on something because public sentiment is against it as particularly NPOV. AndyCapp 12:55, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

No, Darwin wasn't a eugenicist. Evolutionary biology does not support eugenics, although there are elements of truth in it, most of the eugenics advocated in the 1920s and 1930s was pseudoscience. Dunc| 12:57, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Darwin totally supported eugenics. [1] 212.188.180.41 (talk) 13:24, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Then why does it say on the racism page as of April 30 "Darwin openly supported eugenics"? And how do you back up your claim that evolutionary biology doesn't support eugenics? AndyCapp 13:01, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Well spotted. That's probably Answers in Genesis-inspired mudslinging drivel. Darwin tended to avoid controversy, leaving that to Francis Galton and Thomas Huxley. His son Leonard Darwin definitely was however. A good place to start is here. Eugenics was a very complicated social movement and you'd be best reading some books. For example, the idea of eugenics=racism is very American concept, in the UK people were more concerned about class conflict and that the great unwashed masses were breeding like rabbits and spreading their bad genes. With that in mind, many scientist eugenicists such as Karl Pearson and Ronald Fisher thought it best to try to gain evidence for eugenics because at the time evidence was equivocal. But there were others (Davenport) who just took the ball and ran with it, citing all sorts of bigoted political nonsense in support, including evolutionary biology. In the end, a lack of evidence, combined with the horrors of WWII put an end to it, though it did transform itself into large scale population control.
As an example of bad eugenics, eugenicists often claim that inter-racial marriage was bad, because they want pure-breeding, when in fact it is actually a good idea because of hybrid vigour. But they just fitted the biology to their preconceptions. Dunc| 13:16, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

If that's the case, someone ought to fix the racism article, because right now it says "Darwin openly supported eugenics". And if there is no evidence for eugenics, why do Ashkenazi Jews (who have practiced endogamy and eugenics for millenia) have far higher IQs than Gentiles? AndyCapp 13:26, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'll look at the racism article. Darwin's was lukewarm to Galton's early ideas (which were not called Eugenics in Darwin's lifetime) and neither his nor Galton's politics were anything related to 20th century interpretations (Victorian liberals just did not believe in government intervention; their eugenic ideals revolved around changing social mores). And I'd be suspicious of any groups which claim "far higher IQs" than any other -- you'd want to look nice and hard at the data before buying any story about that. Ashkenazi Jews are genetically not different from other Eastern Europeans; they have not practiced "eugenics" for millenia; and endogamy is never a consistent practice even in the most harsh of societies. --Fastfission 15:18, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You might want to take a look at "A people who shall dwell alone: Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy" by Kevin MacDonald. There is a large amount of evidence for the facts that Ashkenazi Jews have maintained endogamy and eugenic practices, and are genetically distinguishable from Gentiles, as well as have higher IQs. By the way, if your statement "Ashkenazi Jews are genetically not different from other Eastern Europeans" is correct, then why does the genetic disease Tay-Sachs afflict Ashkenazi Jews but not Gentiles? AndyCapp 15:25, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Kevin MacDonald is extremely controversial; modern population genetics reflects no hard lines between Ashkenazi Jews and other Eastern Europeans. I'm not going to get into an argument about racial characteristics but the fact is that Tay-Sachs does affect Gentiles, the question is incidence rates. If you'd like a reference to a book about understanding population genetics and making sense of things like "genetically based" diseases I'd be happy to refer you to a few. The "genetically distiguished" line is not correct either; there are probablistic ways to look at relationships between certain allele frequencies but these depend on the geographical distance of populations more than anything else. Ashkenzi Jews are not distinguishable, genetically, from the Gentiles they live near. Even a Tay-Sachs carrier is only probabilistically distinguishable. Again, if you'd like a good reference on human population genetics, I'd be happy to provide one -- these things are not that hard to understand but are even more easily misunderstood. But this is not really the place to argue over this, is it? --Fastfission 16:01, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Besides all of that -- about psuedoscience. There is of course general debate over whether anything should be labeled "pseudoscience" as it is certainly a form of POV -- I believe the general consensus is that the "pseudoscience" category should be read as meaning, "Considered by mainstream scientists to be pseudoscience." In which case, eugenics fits the bill perfectly. If you accept that definition of pseudoscience, then the only question is how to do the category, which has been a discussion at Category talk:Pseudoscience on and off for awhile now. --Fastfission 16:09, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I believe the general consensus is that the "pseudoscience" category should be read as meaning, "Considered by mainstream scientists to be pseudoscience."

That is a circular and therefore invalid definition. The article on pseudoscience has a better definition. AndyCapp 19:27, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It is not a circular definition, it is a sociological definition (one which avoids the impossibility of rigorously definition pseudoscience along ontological terms). It is essentially what the entry as pseudoscience says it is; I know that because I wrote that definition. The definition of "mainstream science" has to do with community, not philosophy. --Fastfission 22:59, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

No, it is a circular and therefore meaningless definition because it relies on a word it is supposed to be definining. And the definition of pseudoscience you yourself say to have written in the article does not apply to eugenics. AndyCapp 23:09, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It does not rely on the word. You are misunderstanding it. It simply says, "pseudoscience means that scientists call it pseudoscience". That is not circular, it simply reduces the term to a label. It certainly does apply to eugenics -- mainstream scientists have called it eugenics, in part because they believe it violates a number of tenets of the scientific method. See, for example, the work by Lewontin, Gould, even Watson. --Fastfission 00:50, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Let's put it this way. If I were to define the word "grfzh" as "Considered by mainstream scientists to be grfzh", would that tell you anything about grfzh? Would you accept that definition? Do you think that is a valid definition? AndyCapp 13:03, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

It would point me to look at how the mainstream scientists define the word. Would I accept it? For an encyclopedia, yes. "Pseudoscience" in a neutral sense means, "that considered to be pseudoscientific by the scientific community." So then one asks, "What does the scientific community consider to be psuedoscience?", which is where one gets the answers about falsifiability and the like. The point is, by adding that extra sociological dimension, you can use it as a category in a neutral encyclopedia -- you are not necessarily taking the scientific community's definition to be a real or uncontested one. The label of "pseudoscience" on an article like eugenics simply means, "the mainstream scientific community considers this to be pseudoscience." It does not attempt to speak as to the actual philosophical definition of "pseudoscience" -- it punts that responsibility off to people making the labels. If you're still having trouble grasping this, let me know. --Fastfission 16:42, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Fastfission, that sounds like one acceptable approach. But, who is the mainstream scientific community? Can I get statistics and results of their votes on this idea of Pseudoscience Or did you make up the definition of Pseudoscience that you give above. Where did you get that defition?
IMHO, after reading the many viewpoints and arguments and agreements on the various Eugenic-related Talk pages, I believe this dispute regarding pseudoscience has been resolved. Eugenics should not be in Category:pseudoscience.--AI 02:32, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Whoever wrote that Darwin was a eugenicist needs to read his work more closely.

RfC[edit]

Coming over from RfC. Regarding use of the term "pseudoscience", I take that to mean a field which claims to be a science, but which does not follow standard scientific practices. Here's a dictionary definition:

A system of theories or assertions about the natural world that claim or appear to be scientific but that, in fact, are not. For example, astronomy is a science, but astrology is generally viewed as a pseudoscience. [2]

While eugenics may have been a true science in its earliest days, it evidently lost its scientific rigor at the same time as its popularity grew, roughly the late 1910s. At that point it became a social movement, or a form of social engineering, rather than a pursuit of understanding. An example of this is that in 1939 the Carnegie Institution of Washington withdrew funding for the Eugenics Record Office due to the lack of a scientific basis for the work there. The Institution's commission determined that the ERO was engaged in propaganda, not research. That part of eugenics which maintained its scientific focus became the field of genetics. -Willmcw 23:50, May 1, 2005 (UTC)

Some people may have postulated pseudoscientic theories on eugenics, but the idea itself is not inherently pseudoscientific. For example, Richard Lynn, who supports eugenics, has backed up his arguments with lots of empirical evidence. AndyCapp 13:05, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Richard Lynn is hardly representative of scientific opinion, and has himself been accused of being pseudoscientific and a "scientific racist" by other prominent members of the scientific community. The idea itself is currently held to be psuedoscientific by the mainstream scientific community, hence it is labeled "pseudoscience". It is in avoiding essentialist arguments over the definition of pseudoscience and whether or not a given form of research fits into it that we've phrased pseudoscience in a sociological way.--Fastfission 16:42, 3 May 2005 (UTC)
Further, Lynn is not a "Eugenicist." He is a researcher in intelligence who favors eugenics. A "eugenicist" is someone who actively seeks to change reproductive patterns in order to improve a race or strain. Those that did so in the past acted in a non-scientific manner, hence the correct label "pseudo-science". -Willmcw 19:07, May 3, 2005 (UTC)

I found this dispute on the RFC page. Eugenics is neither a science nor a pseudoscience. It is simply a method that can be used to improve genetic quality. Some people favor it and others (especially pacifists, socialists, and death penalty opponents) oppose it. --216.112.42.61

other considerations[edit]

I'm going to support removal of the pseudoscience category from eugenics. The reason I support such removal is that there doesn't seem to be any mention of pseudoscience in the article itself. Thus, there is no justification for the categorization. Add material about whether eugenics is pseudoscience to the main article and then resume the debate. --Rikurzhen 20:46, May 3, 2005 (UTC)

A second reason I would offer for opposing the categorization is that eugenics is not inherently pseudoscience. It arguably is/was bad science, or incorrect science, or immoral science, but in theory good eugenics research could be done. It is not in the same class as creationism or parapsychology. --Rikurzhen 20:46, May 3, 2005 (UTC)

I agree with your first point, but not with your second. The very aim of eugenics was confused. Is it to create the best possible human? If so, how do they define "best"? Is it creating a race that is pure from influences of other races? Overall eugenics was much more of a social engineering program than a science, and the goals of that program overwhelmed any effort to conduct scientific research. By the same logic, astrologers could spend more time on research into why the planets affect our behavior, and if they did it would be a real science, therefore it's not fair to call it a pseudo-science. In practice and in theory, eugenics has been a pseudo-science. Cheers, -Willmcw 21:08, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
ahhh... I don't know about that. Tred carefully around the demarcation problem. I would err on the side of caution when throwing around a label like pseudoscience. We know enough about human brains to understand that a link between astronomy and personality is impossible. There doesn't seem to be anything so impossible about eugenics. Cautious analogies to Marxism seem appropriate. --Rikurzhen 22:03, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
If you claim that eugenics is a science rather than a pseudo-science, can you please give us a one-sentence explication of its scientific goals and methods? Thanks, -Willmcw 22:20, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
The study of heredity of normatively valued phenotypes. It's the application of genetics to social policy. I'm not saying it's a clear and distinct science, but neither is it clearly pseudoscience. It seems to fall into the same category as Marxism. There are clear parallels with the "science" of public health. --Rikurzhen 22:33, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
It certainly is not merely the study of anything. The Eugenics Records Laboratory was almost entirely devoted to teaching people about eugenics, not to researching about the topic. And to the extent that it became a social program, it was not impartially interested in how "valued phenotypes" were spread - it actively sought to eradicate certain phenotypes without a full understanding of them, all in the name of "science" and "progress". (I don't know that Marxism ever claimed to be a science, in any case it is a poor analogy. Can you find a closer one?) Furthermore, eugenics is widely considered to be a pseudoscience. For us to reclassify it as a true science would amount to original research. -Willmcw 00:38, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
I have no problem with dedicating as much as the article as you'd like to the discussion of whether or not eugenics is considered psuedoscience, but I would suggest that we apply a principle of appeal to convention for the matter of categorizing -- of the many topics that someone has called pseudoscience, how many are actually categorized as such? [It looks like very few.] Are there any professional organizations that have called eugenics pseudoscience? [I don't know.] Where on a sorted list of all possible pseudoscience topics should eugenics fall? [Not at the top next to astrology and creationism.] Are we singlying out this particular topic with a negative label? [I believe we are.] --Rikurzhen 00:47, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

See List of alternative, speculative and disputed theories. It contains dozens of fields labelled as pseudoscience. We're not picking on one field. -Willmcw 00:55, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

The difference between public health and eugenics is that public health doesn't claim to be a science and never has. Defining what "eugenics" is has always been a difficult thing (even for people like Galton) but nevertheless the general scholarly consensus is that it is considered a "pseudoscience". This is hardly us doing the singling out. --Fastfission 02:40, 4 May 2005 (UTC)


Alternatively we can apply the Google test. Compare "Marxism" and "Eugenics". --Rikurzhen 00:58, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

Google page count Marxism Eugenics
total 1.90E+06 5.68E+05
science 7.00E+05 3.16E+05
 % 37% 56%
pseudoscience 10800 10600
 % 1% 2%

Perhaps I haven't made my position clear. The category system relies on editorial judgments about how articles should be categorized. We cannot be neutral about categorization because it is a binary decision. So I am suggested that we be very careful to minimize bias or the endorsement of controversial POVs into the choice of categories. I'm suggesting that calling eugenics pseudoscience may be a common, but not clearly majority POV, and so it should be suspect. --Rikurzhen 01:23, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

A few problems with your methodology:
1. This is not about "majority POV". This is about mainstream POV. The vast, vast majority of mainstream historical and scientific sources dismiss eugenics as psuedoscience, either directly or by implication.
2. The correlation of the word eugenics with the word "science" means absolutely nothing. Almost every hit on the first page of Googling "eugenics" and "science" shows this to be true, if you look at the content for half a moment. Eugenics is at the crux of debates over science and society. Of course the word "science" comes up on almost every page -- it is not a mention of its methodological status. Furthermore the absence of the term pseudoscience does not imply that the page is arguing against that notion, nor does it imply that the page does not contain a description of eugenics which matches up with the notiong of a pseudoscience. Every mainstream methodological study I have seen of eugenics has concluded it was shoddy science. This is about as meaningful as searching for "evolution" and "theory" and using the results to conclude that the statement "Evolution is just a theory" should be considered the mainstream scientific and historical opinion.
3. I'd urge again a looking at what I meant by a sociological use of the term "pseudoscience". It avoids the entire problem of demarcation.
Calling eugenics a pseudoscience is not a controversial POV. Throwing out the data on "eugenics and "science" from your search, look again at the rest of it. You've got 10,500 webpages which call eugenics a "pseudoscience". That's non-trivial. Unfortunately we have no good way to assess how many pages argue that eugenics was not a pseudoscience; almost every page on eugenics, with the exception of a few fringe pages arguing for it, portray it as methodologically poor "bad science" ("eugenics" "bad science" = 935 hits. "eugenics" "not a pseudoscience" = 5 hits, 3 of which are summaries of the same book). Google unfortunately provides little help in assessing this question and cannot be the source for answers. If you were at all familiar with the discussions of eugenics in the historical, scientific, or ethical literature, I think you'd have a better way of judging this. --Fastfission 02:33, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

I also agree. I am removing the pseudoscience links from eugenics and eugenicists.--AI 01:55, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Do nothing of the sort. This has not been resolved. --Fastfission 02:33, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
And how do we resolve this?--AI 02:46, 4 May 2005 (UTC)


I would endorse the inculsion of eugenics in the List of alternative, speculative and disputed theories. However, this list spans the range from pseudoscience to fringe science. I don't think there is good evidence presented here or in the article to substantiate the inclusion of eugenics in the pseudoscience category. Please assuage my fears by providing a scholarly citation to demonstrate that philosophers/historians of science consider eugenics to be pseudoscience. While your at it, add that material to the eugenics article. --Rikurzhen 04:08, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

As an example of my concern: the inclusion of recent quotations from scientists (include Nobel prize winners) in the "Eugenics and genetic engineering" section of the article causes me to have doubt about the claim that eugenics is pseudoscience, rather than fringe science. --Rikurzhen 04:16, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
The Nobel Prize winner probably would be William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor. He had zero training as a genetic scientist. Please read his biography before asserting that his involvement keeps eugenics from being a pseudoscience. -Willmcw 07:04, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
No, check the article: molecular biologists John Sulston and James Watson speaking of voluntary eugenics. --Rikurzhen 07:19, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
Right, but are they speaking of eugenics, or are they speaking about birth defects or genetics and some editor has assumed their comments were applicable to eugenics? Watson's longer quote seems to imply a fear of being labelled a eugenicist, which does nothing to clear the pseudoscientific cloud from the field. -Willmcw 08:24, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

Call this the ISI test. I searched ISI for "eugenics" 1134 hits, "eugenics and pseudoscience" 1 hit, and "eugenics and pseudo-science" 1 hit. Those 2 hits have references, but I couldn't find mention of pseudoscience in the referenecs. So I'm skeptical that when people call eugenics "pseudoscience" they aren't just being imprecise with their language. --Rikurzhen 05:55, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

How many hits do you get for pseudoscience alone? While Google is a poorer search engine, +eugenics +pseudoscience brings up over 10,000 hits. Yes, we can find some to add to the article. -Willmcw 07:04, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
Google Scholar adds a new twist, check it out: [3] and then try adding third search terms like "century", "nazi", etc. It looks like references to eugenics as pseudoscience are predominately historical, which may explain the disparity between the modern Nobel laureates and the historians of science. --Rikurzhen 07:48, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for supplying that link. I've picked out a few and posted them below. Modern eugenics is a very touchy subject - forced sterilization of "imbeciles" and other undesirables continued well into the 1960s, and positive eugenic efforts like the Nobel sperm bank (to which Shockley was a notable contributor) have all been controversial. The leading late 20th C. effort was the one child policy in China, which many critics have suggested had a strong eugenic element. Even so, it is hard to discern a rigorous scientific orientation to the truly eugenic activities of the post Nazi era. Cheers, -Willmcw 08:24, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

Resolve this pseudoscience limbo[edit]

Most persons involved in this discussion have stated against having Eugenics listed under Pseudoscience. I am against listing it in pseudoscience even though I personally believe it is worse than pseudoscience. How much more NPOV can I be?--AI 02:46, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

If you think that the Pseudoscience category is always POV the best thing to do would be to nominate it for deletion, CfD. -Willmcw 07:04, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
I just think the issue should be resolved and I was trying to be neutral. I think Pseudoscience is a valid category but if there is dispute over the various "sciences" listed, then that is another discussion.--AI 09:53, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
We should certainly be willing to scrutinize any use of terms like "pseudoscience" or "quackery". However some fields, like eugenics, clearly fall into those categories and should be able to survive a careful look. Thanks for keeping Wikipedia accurate. Cheers, -Willmcw 10:11, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

Nazi's used Eugenics experts[edit]

Hey, if it is a Pseudoscience, then why did Adolf Hitler use Ernst Rudin and the boys?--AI 02:48, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Pardon? Can you explain what you mean please? - Willmcw 07:04, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
There is evidence that it has been considered a valid science, not a pseudoscience. However, we have scientific journalist citations that say Eugenics is a Pseudoscience.--AI 09:50, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
Astrology has also been considered a science; does that make it one? If there is a distinction to be made between the scientific judgment of Claudius Ptolemy and Hitler, I should prefer to trust the astronomer than the street artist.
Hitler also consulted experts on Welteislehre. Is it a science? Septentrionalis 30 June 2005 22:45 (UTC)

Citations[edit]

Citations calling eugenics a pseudoscience[edit]

Thanks to user:Rikurzhen we get these scholarly, mainstream references calling eugenics a "pseudoscience":

  • In the name of the pseudoscience of eugenics, Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime exterminated millions of Jews, Gypsies, mental patients, and disabled people between ... Science
  • The results demonstrate that eugenics was not an isolated movement whose significance is confined to the histories of genetics and pseudoscience, but was ... American Journal of Public Health
  • From those [American and German] eugenic programs, eugenics is generally regarded as a pseudoscience in modern world. Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics
  • It becomes apparent that the drafters of this legislation are just now discovering the pseudoscience of eugenics. Canadian Medical Association Journal
  • Eugenics was in any case a grotesque misuse of science (and promulgation of pseudoscience), but it was easily adapted by the Nazis,... International Review of Psychiatry,
  • Eugenics was a political movement fueled by pseudoscience and an imperfect uderstanding of the principles of Mendelian genetics. Public Understanding of Science
  • This foray into "social physics" was controversial, and led to a number of unsavoury developments in pseudoscience such as the eugenics movement,... Astronomy and Geophysics

Citations calling eugenics a science[edit]

Here are some instances in which eugenics has been called a science in mainstream sources:

  • The University of Virginia was home to supporters of the science of eugenics. - University of Virginia [4]
    • For a time, the doctrine of eugenics exerted considerable influence on American society. Based largely on political and social prejudices, the pseudo-science was taught at schools and universities. - same site, next section Septentrionalis
  • The science of improving stock, whether human or animal - Definition from Webster's dictionary [5]


  • Sir Francis Galton , who introduced the term eugenics, is usually regarded as the founder of the modern science of eugenics - Columbia Encyclopedia [6]
    • What is the date this paragraph was written, and therefore the date of "modern"? The next sentence is: Modern eugenics is directed chiefly toward the discouragement of propagation among the unfit (negative eugenics) and encouragement of propagation among those who are healthy, intelligent, and of high moral character (positive eugenics)', which sounds very 30's to my ear. Septentrionalis
      • It says "Copyright 2005" on the bottom on the page and it is using sources as recent as 2001, so it must be at least that recent. Dsh34 1 July 2005 19:03 (UTC)
  • Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), Founder of the science of 'eugenics' - National Portrait Gallery [7]
    • Last sentence of entry: Eugenics, as he called it, enjoyed wide currency around 1900 but was discredited after the rise and fall of Nazism. Septentrionalis
      • Okay, but was does this have to do with the fact that the entry calls it a "science"? Dsh34 1 July 2005 19:03 (UTC)

At least two of these, and perhaps all four, are making the historical statement that eugenics was called a science during Galton's lifetime (as it was up until the 1930's). Septentrionalis 1 July 2005 15:44 (UTC)

Fist of all, we can't infer the phrase "during Galton's lifetime" if it is directly stated. Second, even if two sources do imply that, that leaves two other sources that don't. Third, you admit that at times eugenics was a science. Therefore we cannot label the article in the "pseudoscience" category. Dsh34 1 July 2005 19:03 (UTC)

Here are some more sources calling it a science:

  • a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed - Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc. [8]
  • The scientific study of artificial selection towards a particular set of desired characteristics. - CancerWEB's On-line Medical Dictionary [9]
  • From the Afterward, by Dr. Richard Dawkins, The Herald, Glasgow, (2006). "But if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?" [10]
  • The Eugenics Impulse and The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine Yale University Press. (2012) by Nathaniel C. Comfort "The eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, to live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence and a better adjustment to the conditions of society. It arises whenever the humanitarian desire for happiness and social betterment combines with an emphasis on heredity as the essence of human nature. It is the aim of control, the denial of fatalism, the rejection of chance. The dream of engineering ourselves, of reducing suffering now and forever. The question is not one of whether there ought to be such an impulse, whether it should be called eugenics, or even whether biomedicine ought to focus so much on genetics. These things just are. And besides, the health benefits, the intellectual thrill, and the profits of genetic biomedicine are too great for us to do otherwise. Resistance would be ill-advised and futile." [11]/]
  • Eugenics and the Ethics of Selective Reproduction, Stephen Wilkinson and Eve Garrard, published by Keele University (2013). "Eugenics is the attempt to improve the human gene pool. People can agree on that definition, even if they disagree considerably about what counts as eugenics." "Eugenics doesn’t seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn’t sufficient to show that they’re wrong." [12]
  • Eugenics Definition "Applied science or the biosocial movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population. Usually refers to human populations." [13] Unified Medical Language System (Psychological Index Terms). National Library of Medicine. 3 December 2013. Publiceditz (talk) 20:36, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

NPOV Tag- more issues?[edit]

Are there any other outstanding POV isues about this category? If not then we should remove the POV tag. Cheers, -Willmcw 07:03, May 7, 2005 (UTC)

The issue doesn't seem resolved. The problem is that eugenics isn't a pseudo science because it has been applied succesfully in practice. The incidence of thalassemia exists on both sides of the island of Cyprus. Since an eugenic program's implementation in the 1970s, it has reduced the ratio of children born with the hereditary blood disease from 1 out of every 158 births to almost zero.
So labeling it a pseudoscience cannot be a neutral viewpoint, because it cleary ignores facts, heridity, evolution, and common sense to blatantly favor mainstream ethics. Af far as I can see it would make as much sense to label marxism a pseudo science. --Scandum 18:05, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
It's funny that you'll quote text that I wrote as an attempt to revivify a dead debate. There is considerable question whether the Cypriot program is "eugenics", and the fact that some forms of single-mutation genetic screenings are possible does not mean that "eugenics" -- the goal of improving the human race by breeding more intelligent people -- as a whole is not pseudoscientific.
Anyway, before adding your further comments, please read the discussion up above. It's clear you haven't because you're not addressing any of the conclusions come to. --Fastfission 18:09, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Eugenics certainly doesn't stand for "giving the less intelligent money to raise a lot of less intelligent children". I'd call it pseudoscientific to claim that heridity is non existant, or that improving the human species doesn't require science.
I've read the previous posts, and you keep bluntly repeating your baseless arguements till your opponents give up. You state that mainstream scientists find eugenics a pseudo science, this is untrue. Most scientists will tell you that it's either against the constitution, law, commonly accepted ethical values, or their religion. Heriditary laws are sound, and far from a pseudo science, so the same goes for philosophies directly based on heriditary laws. --Scandum 18:29, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
I barely participated in the above discussion, and was not part of the final decision. You haven't really demonstrated you've actually read them. If you are honestly interested in producing a decent encyclopedia, please put in a little more effort. If you are not, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Social philosophies based on the ideas of heredity are no more guaranteed to be accurate than social philosophies based on the ideas of chemistry. Take a look at the "citations" above for mainstream scientific publications which list eugenics as a pseudoscience. Nobody is claiming heredity is non-existant. Please take the time to actually acquaint yourself with what the discussion has been about rather than just creating straw men. --Fastfission 18:46, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
There is little doubt regarding eugenic's accuracy. A bunch of quotes about people calling eugenics pseudoscientific isn't much of an arguement, especially when most of them are done in a historical reference. When practicing eugenics there is certainly a scientific method to be followed for selection criteria, this method can be pseudoscientific, but says little about eugenics itself.
I suggest you focus less on what I'm acquainted with, and more on your arguements. --Scandum 19:11, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Haha, so you go from "you don't cite anything" to "forget citing things" when it doesn't suit you! Very amusing. No programs today call themselves "eugenics" -- it is, in the realm of mainstream discussion and policy -- a historical program. It is clear you haven't done any research into what the mainstream debates are over this. If you want to participate, please put a little effort in rather than just repeating your same old tired line. There are a lot of people on here who are interested in creating a worthwhile encyclopedia, and people who have solitary goals of pushing a certain POV are not welcome here. One look at your contributions makes it clear which side you sit in. --Fastfission 19:27, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
You indeed have no arguments, it's even hard to tell you're actually replying to my last message. I don't think it's your job to determine who is welcome and who is not, making such statements hopefully alerts other people that you are a problem user. Creating a good neutral article on eugenics doesn't seem to be your interest. --Scandum 07:50, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
Getting into a flame war with, and then personally attacking one of our best editors isn't going to get you very far, is it? Dunc| 12:59, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

Scandum, Eugenics is a pseudoscience. Please look at these citations--AI 09:04, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

I did. Half of them seem out of context, nor does it show quotations labeling eugenics a science.
I searched on google, and "eugenics is a science" occurs 4 times more often than "eugenics is a pseudo-science". I think you also agree it's a taboo subject, which makes it exceptionally difficult as a neutral subject, and these citations are one sided proof.
On a broader search for "eugenics is a" it becomes obvious that classification is difficult.
Another way to go about this is to look at it from a category matching perspective. The category "applied genetics" seems exceptionally fitting. (Human) Evolution gets quite close as well. Utopian movements seem fitting as well from various perspectives. All in all there are enough fitting categories to make me wonder why eugenics needs to be classified in a disputable category.
I don't think using one sided "scientific" citations is the way to deal with this dispute. Another problem is that nowhere in the article there is a mention that disproves eugenics to be a working concept. If small people are prevented from reproducing the population will get taller, no matter how rediculous a particular or historical implementations, it works.
Astrology on the other hand, a well known pseudo-science, has never been proven to work in practice as far as I know.
Using http://www.google.com/search?q=define:Eugenics there is only one source labeling eugenics as a pseudo-science because of Galton's interest in racial differences. All other sources have ranging definitions from philosophy to science.
--Scandum 15:25, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

The impression I got while doing google/literature searches (see above) is that some claim that eugenics was a psudeoscience. I don't recall claims that it is a pseudoscience. How you translate the past/present tense into a binary category system is not obvious to me. --Rikurzhen 18:58, May 29, 2005 (UTC)

Scandum, can you please show us the citations that you are referring to? Who says that eugenics is is science? Thanks, -Willmcw 02:31, May 30, 2005 (UTC)
http://www.genecrc.org/site/glos/glosadv.htm
the science that deals with the improvement of hereditary qualities of a race or breed (eg. by selective human breeding)
Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary
EUGENICS: the science that deals with the improvement of races and breeds, especially the human race, through the control of hereditary factors.
http://cancerweb.ncl.ac.uk/cgi-bin/omd?query=eugenics&action=Search+OMD
The scientific study of artificial selection towards a particular set of desired characteristics
http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=eugenics&x=0&y=0
a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/eugenics?view=uk
the science of using controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics in a population.
Another list is here: http://www.google.com/search?q=define:Eugenics
Most sources label eugenics neither a science or pseudo-science, but as a study/movement/etc. Finding a couple of sources that state something shouldn't be the only justification to make a statement, it should be logical as well, and most sources don't follow wikipedia's rules of neutrality.
For example, the way you guys reached a conclusion earlier was pseudo-scientific ;)
Anyways, it seems most dictionaries list eugenics as either a study or a science. Most sensible would be to clearly list it as a social philosophy since so far that seems something everyone can live with. --Scandum 10:35, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

There are more than a "couple" of references to eugenics as a pseudoscience. Thanks for finding some sources that call it a "science." Our article has said that is has been called both, so our bases are covered. It purported to be more than a social philosphy, so that alone would not be adequate. Cheers, -Willmcw 00:11, May 31, 2005 (UTC)

You must be aware that eugenics is a practice that has been proven to work, and hence cannot be a pseudo science. You basicly say we have a couple of random citizations that happen to match our viewpoints, so we're going to push our viewpoints because we have the bigger numbers. --Scandum 08:03, 31 May 2005 (UTC)
Please provide "citizations" that eugenics works, with proper statistics, etc. Even if it was a science, it wouldn't necessarily work. Basicly, The citizations (many of which do not mention pseudoscience explicitly because it is assumed implicitly) show that the the consensus among historians of science is that it was pseudoscience. It's not an appeal to majority, it's more of an appeal to authority. That it was pseudoscience is also backed up by hard facts that only the most ignorant could ignore. Or are you just trolling now? Dunc| 08:37, 31 May 2005 (UTC)
Proven to work? Well, I suppose the astrology of 1000 years ago has been proven to work too. As with eugenics the parts that "works" have forked in a different direction: astronomy and genetics. One of the hallmarks of eugenics, past and present, has been its lack of scientific rigor, which is why it merits the designation of pseudoscience. In the United States the most prominent proponent of eugenics was the Eugenics Record Office, funded by the prestigious Carnegie Institution of Washington. After twenty years of funding the Institute sent a blue-ribbon panel to investigate, which concluded that the office was engaged in advocacy to the exclusion of analysis. It cut off funding in 1940, and the office folded. That was the end of mainstream eugenics in the U.S. Later revelations of Nazi misdeeds were just more nails in the coffin. The narrow point of genetic screening to avoid recessive (dysgenic) traits is an important discovery of researchers in genetic diseaeses, mostly separate from eugencists. But the more general desire for an "improved" human race (or strain) that early and modern eugenicists seek has been vaguely-defined and not proven to be successful. See William Shockley. The conventional view, which we're bound to give the most prominent position to, is that eugenics is a "deprecated science" (in the modern lingo). There is a contemporary movement, led by visionaries like user:Paul Vogel, which seeks to resurrect eugenics. As user:Duncharris has implied, this conversation may not be intended to benefit the encyclopedia project. Thanks for contributing to Wikipedia. -Willmcw 09:01, May 31, 2005 (UTC)
See the reference to the eugenics program on Cyprus on the eugenics article. What Willmcw tries to do is to refer to racist or inhuman practices to discredit eugenics, and label modern programs that use ethicaly and scientificaly valid methods something else.
Eugenics has always been about dealing with recessive genetic traits from the very beginning, Darwin pointed out the inevitable genetic decline of mankind.
Aknowledge you previously decided eugenics was pseudo because of citations, next when I show clearer and more neutral citations you immediately start to twist things around with vague arguements. Dictionaries are generally considered to be neutral sources. Scandum 10:20, 31 May 2005 (UTC)
The Thalassaemia control effort in Cyprus and elsewhere is not definitively "eugenic." The group leading the effort, Thalassaemia International Federation, doesn't mention the word "eugenics" on their website. Even scholars studying the project do not embrace the word wholeheartedly.[14] The doctors and scientists who have worked on the problem do not call themselves "eugenicists." Regarding the definition, dictionaries are not definitive when it comes to scientific terms. But here's one for you anyway:
eugenics (yooh-jen-iks): The idea that one can improve the human race by careful selection of those who mate and produce offspring. Eugenics was a popular theory in the early twentieth century but is no longer taken seriously, primarily because of the horrors of the eugenic efforts of the Nazi regime in Germany.[15]
"No longer taken seriously". That sums it up. Cheers, -Willmcw 20:03, May 31, 2005 (UTC)
You're grasping on to every little bit of "support" for your claims now Willmcw. You are avoiding to look at this subject from a neutral viewpoint or being reasonable. Eugenic movements have always primarily been concerned with preventing the degeneration of the human race, fishing up random quotes doesn't change that fact.
Not being taken serious doesn't make it a pseudo science, otherwise astrology shouldn't be a pseudo science because millions of people take it very seriously.
The main difference is that the Thalassaemia programs are voluntary. This however doesn't make it any less eugenic. The doctors provide the means and information for it to happen. The only reason scientists don't wish to label it as "eugenics" is due to negative associations. Can you give a decent argument for your case using logic instead of random quotes?
--Scandum 10:55, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)


On Wikipedia, logic equals original research. Please do not use logic to decide something. What we do here is to summarize, in an NPOV manner, verifiable sources. Thanks, -Willmcw 00:53, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)
You mean, find a random source that happens to support your viewpoint, next push it through. That's what you guys have been doing so far. Fact is that the majority of the sources don't even back up your viewpoints. Not only do you push your own views, you reject other viewpoints and any attempt to reach consesus which goes against wiki guidelines. --Scandum 09:38, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
ScanDum, stop arguing. Eugnics is "also" a Pseudoscience.
In the name of the pseudoscience of eugenics, Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime exterminated millions of Jews, Gypsies, mental patients, and disabled people between ... Science
This is not a randomly chosen reference as you claim.--AI 04:50, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It is when you enter a search in google and accept these citations just to prove your point. I asume you guys wouldn't accept neo-nazi pages as a means of sorting differences either. On the other hand there seems enough support for this classification.
--Scandum 14:14, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Scientific references show it has been called a science and a pseudoscience. What kind of scientific method is that?--AI 14:20, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Eugenics isn't really a science, but applied science. That's probably what the confusion is about. Besides, it's important for scientists to be political correct. --Scandum 19:09, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I agree and I do appreciate your opinion. And here is my opinion:
  • "The credibility and reputation of eugenics was destroyed by Nazi Germany and scientists should just come up with a new name and develop scientific theories and discard the unworkable and unpopular theories of "modern" eugenics."
However, Wikipedia is not a discussion forum. (See the Wikipedia policy: What Wikipedia is not). Lets get back to the issue of the dispute:
References show that Eugenics has been labeled both a science and a pseudoscience. The Encyclopedia should document this controversy in the Eugenics article. This is only the categorization page.
I am requesting that we move further discussion regarding this controversy to Talk:Eugenics.
--AI 22:49, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Sure, I'm losing interest fast though because certain people aren't willing to reach consensus. It's ironic to see editing nazis in topics like these. --Scandum 15:02, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Removing pseudoscience[edit]

I thought I'd put a note here as well as Talk:Eugenics. I'm removing the pseudoscience tag, because it's simply inaccurate to label eugenics, as a whole as "pseudoscience", and indeed is somewhat besides the point. The main controversy over eugenics is whether it, in any of its proposed forms, is ethical; all sides in that controversy, at least in the modern debate, agree that there is nothing inherently scientifically unsound (or "pseudoscientific") about eugenics, but disagree over whether it is ethically justified. Indeed, the opponents of eugenics find the scientifically-rigorous proponents of eugenics to be among the most dangerous/frightening. --Delirium June 30, 2005 22:04 (UTC)

In case anyone is interested in a reference that covers some of the debate, Philip Kitcher's The Lives to Come has a reasonably good background on the subject. Kitcher proposes some sort of theory of "voluntary eugenics" that I'm skeptical about (I don't generally support any form of eugenics), but his background material in the first portion of the book is spot-on. --Delirium June 30, 2005 22:09 (UTC)
May I suggest having the discussion in one place or another? It's the same issue in both places. -Willmcw June 30, 2005 22:17 (UTC)
Sure. There's more discussion at Talk:Eugenics, so I replied there. --Delirium June 30, 2005 22:28 (UTC)


Response to GoodCop[edit]

Your last edit summary states (John Quiggan, persistent POV vandalism committed by an organized group is a serious offense). I have a few observations:

1. You've misspelt my name.

2. WP:Vandalism has a very specific meaning which does not include allegedly POV edits

3. WP:Assume good faith I've never communicated with anyone about this category, and AFAIK I've never communicated with User:Will Beback about anything, though I've seen lots of his edits . I found this category because I was trying to clean up the social science category.

I'm also confused by this accusation of being in an organized group devoted to POV vandalism. It doens't seem like a helpful comment. -Will Beback 08:22, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Settling for a revert war without trying to reach consensus is a bad thing. Same goes for taking the WP:BU WP:REAU WP:CRA WP:CY route.
Regarding the dispute about theory vs ideology, perhaps the Political Philosophy category is a middle ground?
Regarding the Social Science category dispute, in case of an unresolved dispute it's best to show both POVs. So if the POV that eugenics is a pseudoscience is displayed the opposing POV that eugenics is a social science should be shown as well. I personally don't consider eugenics a science so I'd settle for both being removed as well. --Zero g 12:51, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Eugenics was created and conducted as a science for its first half century of existence. -Will Beback 23:38, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Thomas John Gerrard[edit]

There's no link to the English Thomas John Gerrard. He wrote abut eugenics.Agre22 (talk) 20:09, 9 January 2010 (UTC)agre22