Week 3 Assignment

Week 3 Assignment - traced to genetics but are the product...

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Steve Shaffer 803-408-733 History 3C (1D) 18 October 2007 The Support for Controlling Human Heredity As Diane B. Paul states in Controlling Human Heredity , in the beginning of the twentieth century eugenics had a “powerful and broad appeal” (2). The widespread support of eugenics has often been attributed to racist attitudes exercised by many of the people of that time. It may be true that people with racist attitudes supported eugenics, but there are also other reasons for its wide-spread support; one of them being what was being presented as scientific “fact” during that time. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, genetics was attributed to a whole slew of different characteristics including “good and bad housekeeping, good and bad citizenship, bright and dull minds, … [and] happiness and unhappiness.” (Wiggam 1924, 292). Since that time, science has discovered that a number of these traits and many more cannot be
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Unformatted text preview: traced to genetics but are the product of one’s environment. But at that time, people were convinced that genes controlled these traits and that there was little one could do to interfere with the “predestination” that these genes brought to a person’s life. Faced with this “truth” it was only logical that if we could not control these traits through a person’s upbringing, then we must try to control them through eugenics and “good breeding.” Since then the support of eugenics by the Third Reich and its subsequent fall from power, as well as a better understanding of which traits are genetically controlled and which are a product of one’s environment have led to a push away from eugenics. However, as the association between eugenics and the Third Reich begins Shaffer 2 to wear away, it seems the question “Should we apply eugenics to the traits over which we have control?” will be a very important and contested one....
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This essay was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course HIST 3C taught by Professor Porter during the Spring '07 term at UCLA.

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Week 3 Assignment - traced to genetics but are the product...

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