The American Eugenics Movement and Genetics Gone Wrong

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The American Eugenics Movement and Genetics Gone Wrong

A look at when genetic research and ideas go wrong and the actions of the American Eugenics Movement using genetics to try to breed a superior people

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University of Missouri
Anthro 2050 - Introduction to Biological Anthropology With Laboratory
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Anthro2050 1st Edition Lecture 10 Outline of Last Lecture I. Examples of Mendelian Genetics at Work Outline of Current Lecture II. The American Eugenics Movement Current Lecture When Genetic Research and Ideas go Terribly Wrong When Mendel's work was rediscovered in the early 1900's, some American scientists used his methods and ideas to try to breed superior human beings to make Americans genetically superior and to try to solve some social problems in America. While the idea seems like it would be very controversial and mad scientist like, it was actually very supported by various scientific communities and the population at large. Using Mendelian ideas and family pedigrees, they believed that they could track superior genes and inferior genes through a family line. Superior genes tended to be thought of as people with high intelligence, high morals, and generally of North Western European descent. Whereas people with inferior genes were thought to be the poor, mentally and physically disabled, drunkards and people with lose morals, feeble minded folk and people with low intelligence, and usually people who were not of North Western European descent. People with believed superior genes were encouraged to have many children, whereas people with believed inferior genes were encouraged not to breed and many areas in the country passed sterilization laws, marriage laws, and immigration restrictions, to keep people with inferior genetics from breeding and 'polluting' the superior genetic population. These ideas were very strict on women, and if there was ever a 'flaw' in a family's genetics, it was blamed on the women. At local fairs, the American Eugenics Society would hold contests called 'Better Babies, Fitter Families' and would judge the genetic quality of a family. Remnants of this practice can be still seen with 'beautiful baby' contests at fairs, in news papers, and even online. These notes represent a detailed interpretation of the professor’s lecture. GradeBuddy is best used as a supplement to your own notes, not as a substitute.

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