Scopes trial Biology textbook
Posted: 19 July 2007 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Here’s an interesting look into history:

  Evolution of Man.—Undoubtedly there once lived upon the earth races of men who were much lower in their mental organization than the present inhabitants. If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals. He was a nomad, wandering from place to place, feeding upon whatever living things he could kill with his hands. Gradually he must have learned to use weapons, and thus kill his prey, first using rough stone implements for this purpose. As man became more civilized, implements of bronze and of iron were used. About this time the subjugation and domestication of animals began to take place. Man then began to cultivate the fields, and to have a fixed place of abode other than a cave. The beginnings of civilization were long ago, but even to-day the earth is not entirely civilized.

  The Races of Man.—At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America. ...

  Improvement of Man.—If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of the future generations of men and women on the earth might not be improved by applying to them the laws of selection. This improvement of the future race has a number of factors in which we as individuals may play a part. These are personal hygiene, selection of healthy mates, and the betterment of the environment.

  Eugenics.—When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics.

  Parasitism and its Cost to Society.—Hundreds of families such as those described above exist today, spreading disease, immorality, and crime to all parts of this country. The cost to society of such families is very severe. Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites.

  The Remedy.—If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with some success in this country.


Those are excerpts form George William Hunter’s A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems (1914). It is the biology textbook embraced by early 20th century Darwinists and the one that John Scopes used that resulted in his arrest. The ACLU and Clarence Darrow defended the use of this book in the Scopes trial.

“Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe” resulting in WWII.

[ Edited: 19 July 2007 10:57 PM by moretap ]
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Posted: 20 July 2007 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Much of this is a sad example of neo-Darwinist racism, which was in vogue in the early part of the 20th century. However, Scopes wasn’t prosecuted for the racism—I expect that both sides in that debate would have agreed to the racist passages quoted here. He was prosecuted for teaching Darwinian evolution as opposed to creationist fables in his science class.

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

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Posted: 08 August 2007 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Eugenics was actually practiced and advocated in the US.  Compulsory sterilization went on in the U.S. until the 1970’s, but to a lesser extent, and more quietly, because it was associated with Nazism.  Tens of thousands of people were sterilized against their will in order to “purify the race” by eliminating the reproductive capability of the “feeble”, the insane, the poor, single mothers, criminals, and other “parasites”.  I think it is more likely that inmates of asylums were sterilized in order to prevent illicit pregnancies, because people in asylums should not have had the opportunity to reproduce.  For criminals, the poor, and single mothers is was probably just a means of grotesquely sexual physical punishment - the practice of sterilizing criminals became coerced instead of compulsory in the US when the Supreme Court said that under the equal protection clause white collar criminals would have to be sterilized.

The Nazi program of mass sterilizations was based on the work of two American eugenicists.  Germany sterilized more people than any other country (about 400,000), but per capita I think Sweden sterilized more people than any other “civilized” country (about 60,000).

People today associate eugenics with right-wing, racist, fascist ideology - the truth is that it was born of and thrived in positivism and progressivism.

The United States did not go to war against Germany to end German racism.  In fact, American propaganda in WWII was often grossly racist, and plenty of Americans saw the war with Japan as a war between races.  We could discuss the reasons the US went to war endlessly, but opposition to German racism was not high on the list.

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Posted: 09 August 2007 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Interesting historically. What conclusions, if any, are to be drawn from them? Certainly this does nothing to diminish the science we have today.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 10 August 2007 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Eugenics was never really based in science.  It used a justification that only appeared scientific in order to advance a socio-political agenda.

The lesson to be learned is that not all that people claim to be “science” is actually scientific.

There were plenty of critics at the time - and not only of eugenics, but of other spurious positivist/progressive schemes that lacked humanity.  I don’t think there has ever been a time when at least some small minority of people had enough common sense to identify nonsense when they saw it.  Their problem has always been convincing people in general, or at least political authorities, to prevent the harm that it causes.

The science of today is not a problem insofar as it is properly pursued.  The people who pose as scientists, or who make claims based on junk science (homeopathy), or faulty science (Prozac), or plain lies (Kevin Trudeau), are a problem, because of a general inability to tell the difference between the junk and the good stuff, having never had any experience with scientific practice and thinking or critical thinking.  I don’t think that is a failing of science education itself, which is generally quite good - only it is not all that extensive, and most students can avoid it entirely if they (or their parents, or communities) wish.  Also, let’s not forget that scientists are just human beings, who have interests, who have moral failings, who have intellectual biases, and so on, and will produce some quantity of junk and lies.

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