Eminent evolutionist James Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize for co-discovering the structure of DNA, is sparking controversy in Great Britain for suggesting that blacks are inferior to whites due to evolution. But there is nothing particularly extraordinary about Watson’s views. As I document in chapter 7 of my forthcoming book Darwin Day in America, there is a long history of evolutionists using Darwinism to justify racism—including Darwin himself. Watson is past director and current Chancellor of the prestigious biological research lab at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Ironically, that lab has deep connections to Darwinian racism of years gone by. Early in the twentieth century it was the headquarters for one of the most virulent American eugenics groups, the Read More ›
Modern Darwinists like Richard Dawkins notwithstanding, there is nothing new in the effort to offer completely materialistic explanations of human beings and human culture. For more than two millennia various thinkers have been trying to reduce human beings to mere meat in motion. Many of these thinkers figure prominently in my new book Darwin Day in America, and over the next several weeks, I will be describing some of them here. I start today with Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, and self-proclaimed “evolution evangelist.”
Bill Dembski has posted an excellent riposte to John Derbyshire’s recent comments at the AEI conference on Darwinism and conservatism in which George Gilder and I participated. Eventually I plan to write my own reflections about some of Derbyshire’s comments, but in the meantime Dembski hits the nail on the head.
Was eugenics a misapplication of Darwin’s theory to society? I must respectfully disagree with part of neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s recent post at ENV, which seemed to suggest that it was. Egnor correctly pointed out that eugenics is based on artificial selection, whereas Darwin’s theory is premised on natural selection. But that fact doesn’t get at why eugenics was in reality a reasonable deduction from Darwin’s theory and is properly described as “Darwinian.” As I point out in Darwin’s Conservatives: The Misguided Quest, Darwin believed that human progress was ultimately based on the struggle for survival, and he further maintained that civilized societies were courting disaster by continually counteracting the law of natural selection through vaccinations, welfare programs, and the like. Read More ›
In recent years, a number of states have apologized for their role in promoting the Social Darwinist crusade known as “eugenics” through forced sterilization laws. In “It’s never too late to say you’re sorry,” writer Knute Berger of the internet newspaper Crosscut is calling on Washington state to apologize for its forced sterilization law, noting that Washington was the second state to adopt such a law. He’s right. Washington state—and other states—should apologize for their role in promoting eugenics. This is a sad and disturbing chapter in American history, and citizens need to know about it (although the new Kansas State Board of Education seems to think otherwise).