Thursday, April 10, 2008

Expelled the Movie and the History of the Eugenics Movement

There has been much spilled ink (or bits) over the connection between Darwinian theory and eugenics and Nazi ideology. Perhaps this will encourage people to do some serious reading and study of the intellectual history of the eugenics movement. I have not read the whole book, but Jonah Goldberg explores this in a chapter of Liberal Fascism, which was recently No. 1 on the NY Times hardcover nonfiction list.

A recent review of that book notes this:
Turning to what he calls liberal racism, Mr. Goldberg offers readers his finest chapter. It is a devastating picture of how liberals adopted eugenics — a basic part of Nazi doctrine — which was not, as some liberal intellectuals have argued, an outgrowth of conservative thought. Fans of Margaret Sanger, perhaps the single most important feminist hero of the 20th century, will never be able to think of her in the same way. Mr. Goldberg dissects her hidden views of eugenics. A socialist and birth-control martyr, she favored banning reproduction of the "unfit" and regulation of everyone else's reproduction. She wrote, "More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief issue of birth control." She opposed the birth of "ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens." Her words reveal her motive in advocacy of birth control. She sought to remove "inferior" people from being born to poor people, whose mothers by definition were "unfit." Sanger's partisans in Planned Parenthood, the group that stemmed from her work, will be shocked to learn that her publication endorsed the Nazi eugenics program, and that Sanger herself "proudly gave a speech to a KKK rally." That was not surprising, since she clearly viewed blacks as inferior. Hence her "Negro Project," in which she sought to urge blacks to adopt birth control.

It is ironic that Sanger is the "founder" of the so-called "pro-choice" movement. As you can imagine, there are a lot of people who do not want this aspect of American history to be widely known. It is amazing how many people are so quick to leap into denial of this history, without even lifting a finger to read any of the original sources.

For a sordid quote from Margaret Sanger, read here.

Other relevant posts are here and here and here and here and here.


At April 10, 2008 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PZ Myers and company would do well to swing by the Minnesota Museum of Science in St. Paul some time before May 4. There is an exhibit there, on loan from the National Holocaust Museum, entitled: “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.” It gives the history (complete with documents, photographs, and commentary) of the eugenics movement in Germany. It details the support which German scientists gave the Nazi Party because of their mutual focus on “racial hygiene” and on utilizing the latest scientific technology to create a “master race” of Aryans.


I was really surprised when the ADL issued a condemnation of “Darwin’s Deadly Legacy” (produced by Coral Ridge Ministry in 2006), which also made these connections. I had returned from seeing “Deadly Medicine” a few months earlier when it was housed in Washington, D.C., and the Holocaust Museum itself was making these connections!

At April 12, 2008 4:53 AM, Blogger Sean said...

I always find it curious how people use Nazis, eugenic, etc, as an argument against Dawinian evolution.

It's like saying "Atoms bombs are bad, ergo 20th century physics is wrong."

At April 12, 2008 7:28 PM, Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

The Station for Experimental Evolution merged with the Eugenics Record Office in 1920 to form the Carnegie Institution's Dept. of Genetics. LOL

Nazi anti-semitism targeted the fit as well as the unfit and so was not a true eugenics program.

Sean said,
>>>>>> I always find it curious how people use Nazis, eugenic, etc, as an argument against Dawinian evolution. <<<<<<

And I always find it curious how people use religion, incredulity, etc. as arguments against criticisms of Darwinian evolution.

At April 12, 2008 10:49 PM, Anonymous John said...

Sean wrote:
I always find it curious how people use Nazis, eugenic, etc, as an argument against Dawinian evolution.

It's like saying "Atoms bombs are bad, ergo 20th century physics is wrong."

Ah, the old "even if Darwinism leads to bad things, that doesn't mean Darwinism is false" argument.

Darwinism is false AND it leads to bad things. It is not false BECAUSE it leads to bad things. The leading to bad things elevates Darwinism from a silly lie to a dangerous lie.

Let me leave you with the quote that is probably the germ from which the little argument you repeated from evo sites sprang:

"This preservation is bound up with the rigid law of necessity and the right to victory of the best and stronger in this world.

Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.

Even if this were hard - that is how it is!" [emphasis mine]

See? Same argument about survival of the fittest, from a slightly different source.

At April 12, 2008 11:06 PM, Anonymous John said...

Your next move, Sean, is to the "it's unfair to judge Darwinism by madmen who misunderstood it" argument. At least that's the next bullet point on my evolutionist debate cribsheet here.

My scripted response was supposed to be "you could say the same about Christianity", but that's lazy of me and it's a form of tu quoque anyway.

Instead, I'll state that even Dawkins understands that Darwinism is corrosive to human society, even while denying the most glaring example of such corrosion.

Even Darwin himself knew full well the implications of his theory and seemed to revel in his conclusion that the Caucasian would soon annihilate what he called the "savage races" of mankind, which he considered less-evolved subspecies rather than of full members of Homo sapiens.

The theorist himself told us that his theory would lead to bad things. Who are we to tell the theorist that he's wrong about his own theory?

At April 13, 2008 8:19 AM, Anonymous lawrence said...


Way to formulate a top-notch, custom-made, luxury-model straw man. John has pretty well exposed your silly mischaracterization of the relevance. I will add one thing.

Eugenics was widely accepted by the scientific establishment as "good science" and a logical extension of Darwinian theory in the early 1900's. The Nazi's used that to justify their actions. Now eugenics is widely considered "pseudo-science."

Scientists like Richard Dawkins are still making (different) pseudo-scientific extensions of Darwinism and calling it "good science." Does that not make this history relevant?

Why do educated people know so little about the eugenics movement?

Sean, why is it so hard for educated people like you to see the relevance of this history?

At April 13, 2008 5:25 PM, Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

The Darwin-to-Hitler stuff is payback for all that bible-to-ID bullshit.

At April 14, 2008 1:34 PM, Blogger Larry Fafarman said...


The theory of co-evolution is being censored on the blog of the so-called Florida Citizens for Science! Help is badly needed.

At April 15, 2008 1:44 AM, Blogger Sean said...

So you're saying if Evolution theory didn't happen, then the atrocities that came out of the eugenics movement wouldn't have happened?

At April 15, 2008 3:47 PM, Anonymous John said...

Sean wrote:
"So you're saying if Evolution theory didn't happen, then the atrocities that came out of the eugenics movement wouldn't have happened?"

My personal opinion is no, they wouldn't have happened because there would have been no eugenics movement. The eugenics movement is a direct result of Darwinian theory, started by Darwin's cousin, encouraged and fully backed by Darwin's descendants. It made its way to America from Britain as a coherent socio-scientific philosophy. There's no debating its pedigree.

There were racist and ethnic superiority movements that preceded Darwin, of course, but they languished because they lacked solid justification. Late 19th/ early 20th century eugenics had no such problem; it wore the mantle of strong science and bore the scepter of political support. And as we all know, anytime politicians tamper with a worldview, it's bound to turn out badly, whether that worldview is Christianity, Islam, Darwinism, Communism, Objectivism, or Tiddly-Winks.

At April 16, 2008 2:27 AM, Blogger Sean said...

You predicted it, but I'll still go through the motions. I'll leave it to Richard, though, because he's slightly more eloquent than me:

The alleged association between Darwinism and Nazism is harped on [in Expelled] for what seems like hours, and it is quite simply an outrage. We are supposed to believe that Hitler was influenced by Darwin. Hitler was ignorant and bonkers enough for his hideous mind to have imbibed some sort of garbled misunderstanding of Darwin (along with his very ungarbled understanding of the anti-semitism of Martin Luther, and of his own never-renounced Roman Catholic religion) but it is hardly Darwin's fault if he did. My own view, frequently expressed (for example in the The Selfish Gene and especially in the title chapter of A Devil's Chaplain) is that there are two reasons why we need to take Darwinian natural selection seriously. Firstly, it is the most important element in the explanation for our own existence and that of all life. Secondly, natural selection is a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian). It is one of the classic philosophical fallacies to derive an 'ought' from an 'is'. Stein (or whoever wrote his script for him) is implying that Hitler committed that fallacy with respect to Darwinism. If we look at more recent history, the closest representatives you'll find to Darwinian politics are uncompassionate conservatives like Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, or Ben Stein's own hero, Richard Nixon. Maybe all these people, along with the Social Darwinists from Herbert Spencer to John D Rockefeller, committed the is/ought fallacy and justified their unpleasant social views by invoking garbled Darwinism. Anyone who thinks that has any bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of Darwin's theory of evolution is either an unreasoning fool or a cynical manipulator of unreasoning fools. I will not speculate as to which category includes Ben Stein and Mark Mathis.

Rest at his blog

At April 16, 2008 9:07 AM, Anonymous John said...

Sean wrote:
You predicted it, but I'll still go through the motions. I'll leave it to Richard

Well, you and Richard are nothing if not predictable, like all materialistic determinists. I don't blame you, really, it's not your fault. That would be like blaming a car for breaking down. You and he are slaves to your genes and I would expect nothing less.

[Long quote from Dawkins bloviating about ties between Darwinism and Nazism in his disgust for the Expelled movie.]

I don't know what Dick is all upset about. Why shouldn't we use good science like Darwinism as a basis for society? If we strip all of the religious gobbledegook out of society like King Richard the Weaselhearted wants to do, what's left? Why, science of course! So why shouldn't good science like Darwinism be used to structure society?

To say that we need to use some other philosophy besides Darwinism as a basis for our society would do two horrible things:

1. It would imply that we are not animals. How can we be anything other than animals? Is this not what science tells us via Darwin? I've seen many Darwinians delight in telling putrid religious types that they are nothing but monkeys; surely they haven't stooped to lying?

2. It would relegate science in general and Darwinism in particular to a backseat and tell us plainly that science is not the pinnacle of human knowledge - for if it was, it would also be utilized as a framework for society.

We simply can't have either one of these things happening, so Dawkins is obviously wrong or dishonest here.

People like Dawkins also seem to forget a couple of things when talking about Nazism. Hitler may have been a madman and he may have been mistaken about the minutiae of Darwinism, but he didn't personally do any killing. He somehow convinced practically an entire nation to do the killing. And how do you convince an entire nation which had the highest scientific literacy in the world at the time that killing hundreds of thousands of its own citizens and then killing millions of others is the correct thing to do? Through science, of course!

Doctors Alfred Hoche, Karl Brandt, and Josef Mengele - were these not men of science who eschewed stuffy, traditional, and ultimately silly religion?

Besides, who's to say that the Nazis did anything wrong? Dawkins? Why would Dawkins deny that we are essentially animals, and that animals have the perfect right given to them by Nature to dominate lesser, weaker animals? Methinks he is like a weasel.

Nature clearly shows us might makes right. Who are you to say otherwise? Are you somehow above Nature? No, you are merely a stupid little primate on a little blue dot in a vast, cold universe, and your existence is not even an eyeblink in cosmic terms. You will be gone soon and everything you've ever done, said, or thought will be gone with it, along with the rest of mankind some millenia afterwards. What some other slightly more powerful primate does to you is of no consequence. There is no right, no wrong, no good, no evil, no pain, no pleasure... there is nothing, and it shall ever be thus.

At April 17, 2008 5:46 AM, Blogger Sean said...

John, my dear dude, you're doing exactly what Dick is telling you not to: reading Darwinian theory and mistaking "how we came to be" with "how we should live". Try again.

At April 17, 2008 9:18 AM, Anonymous John said...

Sean wrote:
John, my dear dude, you're doing exactly what Dick is telling you not to: reading Darwinian theory and mistaking "how we came to be" with "how we should live". Try again.

Try again? Sure. Maybe you'll understand if I shorten it for you.

You and Dawkins dishonestly talk about how we should live, like there is some intangible "ought". "Ought", for true materialistic determinists, is like an invisible sky wizard - you can't see it, hear it, feel it, or quantify it in any way, so therefore it does not exist.

Given this, what is wrong with how the Nazis chose to live?

You cannot answer me with "that's a horrible question, every decent person should know that's bad, blah blah blah" because there is no absolute reference point for what is bad, good, evil, wrong, etc. Only weaklings would believe in such reference points, simply because they wish to avoid domination and possible extinction at the hands of those more fit to survive.

Do you deny that Nature is the only true reference point we have? If so, why not use it for your silly little "ought"?

At April 18, 2008 8:14 AM, Blogger Sean said...

What a bleak, narrow world you live in there, John. Luckily Dick and I don't think that way.

At April 18, 2008 9:11 AM, Anonymous John said...

Luckily Dick and I don't think that way.

It can't be helped that you and Dick to the Dawk are delusional, inconsistent, and reluctant to cast off the vestiges of slave morality.

Besides, it's not my world, it's the world that is logically extrapolated from the wishes proclaimed by Dicky D., P. Zizzle Myers, Pimp Daddy Dennett, and the O.G. himself Chuck D. - featuring samples from Freaky Freddy Nietzsche and M.C. Sade to give it that extra zesty kick, of course.

It's too bad you're too dull, weak, and naïve to live in the world your idols will create. Maybe your best chance at survival would be some symbiotic remora-like role, possibly tongue-polishing the boots of the Übermenschen.

At April 18, 2008 9:21 AM, Anonymous John said...

I also noticed, Sean, that I answered your question and you didn't answer mine. I'll repeat it to compensate for your diminished capacity:

What is wrong with how the Nazis chose to live?

At April 18, 2008 1:08 PM, Blogger Marcel said...

I seldom, if ever, comment to agree with someone. What's the point? However, I can't help myself here. John, I'm actually going to re-read your comments several times. This is how one should argue. Bravo!

At April 18, 2008 1:25 PM, Anonymous John said...

Thank you, Marcel, you're too kind.

I've learned through many online discussions, debates, and outright flamewars that frontal assaults almost never work. You do much more damage by outflanking your opponent.

At April 18, 2008 3:28 PM, Anonymous lawrence said...


The first link at the bottom of this post is to a post about why the Darwin-Eugenics-Nazi connection is important. You may want to read that, unless you want to hold on to your straw man. You can also search "why it matters" on this blog to see another post on this topic.

In the first post at the first link I note:

[Update: I wanted to add a clarification so there can be no confusion: the way people used evolution to promote eugenics tells us nothing about whether evolutionary theory is true or not.]

At April 19, 2008 3:05 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Yeah, Marcel, you should checkout when John is really devastating. Or being a dick.

At April 19, 2008 4:49 AM, Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

There is a big difference between saying that the Darwin-to-Hitler connection has nothing to do with the scientific merits of Darwinism and saying that there was no Darwin-to-Hitler connection at all. A lot of Darwinists are saying the latter.

Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League virtually admitted that there is a Darwin-to-Hitler connection when he said that Hitler did not "need" Darwin. That is essentially saying, "I can't show that there is no Darwin-to-Hitler connection so I am going to claim that Hitler did not 'need' Darwin."

"O, reason not the need!" -- King Lear

At April 19, 2008 8:22 AM, Blogger Sean said...

You're absolutely right, Lawrence, that careful teaching of evolution is necessary; if nothing else than to ensure people don't derive an 'ought' from an 'is'.

This is also an impression that can be derived from the early 20C eugenics movement. There were scientists conducting bad science, but also social commentators, politicians and other more influential social figures who had a skewed vision of what they thought should be derived from evolution theory. If only they had the education we had.

At April 19, 2008 4:49 PM, Blogger Nicholas said...

Wow! Of course this argument is used against Darwinian evolution. It is merely an extension of humanism/naturalism. A continuous, stubborn search for a non-supernatural source of life is the driving force of Neo-Darwinism. The Eugenics movement highlights the true motives of this drive to animalize "inferior" people.

At April 20, 2008 6:11 AM, Blogger Marcel said...

What you don't understand, Sean, is that John is complimenting you in a way. He thinks you can be educated. I simply dismiss you - you're an idiot, and you'll remain one. No point in wasting time.


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