About

This site is the result of countless hours of research that went into the writing of a doctoral dissertation on eugenics and Darwinism.  Most of that research could not be used in the dissertation itself, but was nonetheless very useful in understanding eugenics in the past and present.  This research is slowly being added to the site, as the author has time.  Likewise, as time becomes available to produce essays and other pieces of analysis, it shall be posted here, as well.  The focus of the site, however, is to allow the eugenicists to speak for themselves, in their own words, and on their own terms.  Indeed, attempting to put their beliefs into your own words almost always has the effect of making them much more palatable; only by seeing them ‘in the wild’ does one really see how horrific their worldview really is.  Worse is the discovery that many of these comments can be found in the mouths of moderns, who have no idea that they are treading ground already tilled by people they think they find abhorrent.

Works presently being written by the author:

Darwin’s Flinch
Anatomy of A Eugenicist

Anthony Horvath, PhD

For Further Reading:

This site aims to produce mostly primary source material, but there are a number of books that may serve as good introductions to the topic and provide, for some, the necessary context in which to understand the primary sources provided on this site.

One of the most cited books on Eugenics is Daniel Kevles’ In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity.  The book has many strengths and draws good conclusions, but doesn’t make it clear enough that eugenics was a creature of the ‘left,’ at least as much, if not more, as of the ‘right.’

That particular point is made very clear in Thomas Leonard’s Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era  Leonard’s book is particularly instructive when it comes to making it clear that eugenics goes far, far, beyond ‘breeding superior humans.’  Eugenicists considered everything, from economics to education, as potentially useful eugenics tools.  See also the Jaffe Memo for illustration of this.

A very good examination of eugenics and other ideologies associated with it at the time (anti-immigration, anti-miscegenation, etc), as seen through the prism of just one eugenicist, is Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant by Jonathan Peter Spiro.

Eugenics is nearly always associated with the ‘right wing’ in large part because the Nazis–otherwise known as the National Socialists–were the ones who gave it a bad name, and the Nazis are considered ‘right wing.’  The rise of eugenics in Germany is best detailed in From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany by Richard Weikart.  That Darwin(ism) had anything to do with eugenics will be a shock to many people, for whom this is the first they’ve heard of it.

But Eugenics was an American thing as much as it was a German thing.  Indeed, German eugenicists got many of their best ideas (eg, ‘segregation camps’) and their science from Americans.  Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race exposes America’s eugenics roots very well.

3 comments

2 pings

    • C on May 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm
    • Reply

    Question.

    Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is famous for anti-abortion, marriage counseling, parenting, etc…

    Little known is Dobson’s 10-year directorship of American Institute of Family Relations, under the direct guidance of Paul Popenoe (author applied eugenics, architect of the california mass 50k sterilization program, etc…)

    Paul Popenoe wrote the forward/front cover endorsement to the first printing of Dobson’s “Dare to Discipline”, so they were still on favorable terms when Dobson made the transition to non-profit foundation, now famous for the anti-gay/anti-abortion stance.

    My question… How would you rectify this seeming contradiction of interests? Is it a positive/negative eugenics thing? Is this just an aftershock of the culture wars, or could there be something more here?

    I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

    -Chris

    • M.G on February 8, 2018 at 8:37 pm
    • Reply

    Like Chris, I’ve also been exploring Dr. James Dobson’s collaboration with Paul Popenoe. David Popenoe, Paul’s son wrote his father’s colleagues (he specifically mentions Dobson) shared his father’s ideology and were his protege. After observing Dobson’s silence regarding the topics of race and immigration over this past year I am inclined to believe his Focus on the Family is very much in keeping with his Eugenicist mentor, Paul Popenoe.

  1. I didn’t really expect that the ‘about’ page was going to be a clearing house on Dobson/Popenoe.

    If I recall correctly, I emailed Chris directly with a response.

    Your characterization, M.G., appears to be pretty loaded. Reading into someone’s ‘silence’ strikes me as a logically fraught exercise which usually suggests more about the one doing the reading rather than the one being read. Why not suppose that Dobson’s silence on Chinese designs for Tibet mark him as a closet Chinese communist? In a more sinister development, Dobson has said nothing about the ham sandwich I had this afternoon; probably because he is a vegetarian activist.

    Surely, ‘silence’ is an opening wide enough to drive nearly anything through.

    The nuance here that needs to be taken into account relates to timing. Just as a quick illustration, the text book “Applied Eugenics” by Popenoe was written in 1920. 1920.. Dobson wasn’t even born until 1936. Unlike many of the other eugenicists, Popenoe appears to have lost interest in eugenics qua eugenics by the 1960s, which is when Dobson became associated with him.

    There seems to be little doubt that Popenoe founded the American Institute of Family Relations with reference to eugenics, but I have yet to see evidence that this organization was still orienting itself towards eugenics in the 1960s. In other words, the case could be made that Dobson sympathized with eugenic principles if he associated with an organization which was transparently eugenic. Pending information showing this, my best conclusion is that Dobson’s association with Popenoe was just as it seemed–centered on family relations. The one with skeletons in his closet remains Popenoe, not Dobson.

    Feel free to submit any documentation or evidence which more directly associates Dobson with eugenics, and I will be happy to amend my present conclusions.

    Thanks for the comment!

  1. […] I would also recommend this book in conjunction with some others.   This one is a (much) more in depth treatment of Wesley Smith’s Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America.  If you’re just starting, I would go with Smith’s book, first.  But I wouldn’t by any means stop there.  I would definitely follow up with Weikart’s book, and then from there move on to the books I have listed for ‘further reading’ on my eugenics website. […]

  2. […] eugenics movement of the early 20th century because it was clear from reading some of the important secondary research that many extremely important facets of the eugenic mindset were overlooked, understated, ignored, […]

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