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Before the Third Reich: America’s Darwinist Eugenics Crusade

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Photo: Carrie Buck (at left) with Emma Buck in 1924, by Arthur Estabrook, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

On a classic episode of ID the Future, John West, managing director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, explains the Darwinian basis for getting rid of the “unfit.” One way this manifested itself in the 20th century was the eugenics movement’s disturbing push for compulsory sterilization, right here in the United States. One of the most famous such instances was Carrie Buck (to the left in the picture above), sterilized as “feeble minded” despite going on to live a normal productive life. Her case went to the Supreme Court, where the court, in a 1927 opinion written by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., ruled against Buck. She was sterilized five months later. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

Listen in to learn about prominent scientists who supported these efforts, and the disturbing facts about how far they advanced toward making their ideas a reality. You’ll also learn about some of the religious leaders, Catholic and evangelical, who opposed them. To dig deeper, get West’s book Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science. And to explore the connection between Darwinism and Hitler’s racist ideas and goals, see the new book from historian Richard Weikart, Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism.