Monday, October 3, 2022


This is an appendix to: Small Brains Considered - 8

(A software generated [with the usual AI errors] partial transcript of The Politics of DNA video), emphasis added:

Now I'm going to talk about what I actually want to talk about the title of this talk as you saw at the beginning is the politics of of DNA and when I wrote ... in the blurb for it I assert a statement which is one that always provokes ... scientists ... which is that all science is political and I want you to hold this idea. I want you to hold this idea in your head as I'm talking for the next 45 minutes. It's a provocation it's it's a suggestion. I don't know how wedded I am to this as an idea but I want you to think about this because it's something that scientists often reject or push back against. Particularly physicists and Engineers (who pretend to be scientists sorry that's a joke the I posted this on Twitter yesterday). When the Royal Society puts an advert out on Twitter it was hundreds of responses. All from men there's always men rejected and so that's a ridiculous proposition to make and I think ... I want ... to justify why I think this. And why this is an ARG an argument: science is political. Because it's done by humans right? I mean this seems a statement so trivial and obvious that it's hard to believe that anyone could possibly contest it ... by insisting that science isn't biased ... doesn't have inherent biases in it because humans come with psychological,sociological baggage. And Society is crammed full of baggage and prejudices that are built into into the way we operate in society. And so science is not outside of society ... so it seems like a very obvious thing to say ... if you regard epistemologically ... science as a way of knowing. Then you can acknowledge that the Universe exists in an empirical and objective way. But the best way for us to interrogate its existence is inherently as an activity now. This doesn't mean that I support the politicization of science. Quite the opposite. I think that we should do everything in our power to minimize the role of personal and cultural biases into our understanding of Nature and our testing crucially of nature. But to assert that science is above the grubby world of politics or the psychological baggage that we carry around with ourselves is to deny the reality of how science actually works. Now part of my inspiration for taking this view over the last few years actually comes from David Attenborough. Now his program showcases the very best of the natural world as you very well know. The most glorious examples of Darwinian evolution and he's done this for more than half a century. But they were always about humankind's role in nature in the natural world and the most glorious examples of Darwinian evolution how they have been the result of or how they've been affected by human interaction. This became more and more apparent in the 1980s and 1990s when the desecration of the rainforest and climate change and environmental decline became more and more part of the public discourse. Do any of you remember in 1998 the life of birds? One of the classic life series. Do you remember the the Songbird, the lyre bird? You remember this clip, this incredible mimicker can make the sound of almost any anything that it hears. And in this clip which I won't show, it makes the noise of a car siren going off it makes the noise of a camera and a camera with a motor and then it makes the noise of a chainsaw as the Foresters were cutting down the trees in its local habitat. How we marveled at this at the time because it's an astonishing ability for a bird to emulate very accurately the sound of a chainsaw. But what a shameful thing that is to display that on BBC One. And to have nine million people watch (that I checked) in the UK alone is an example of showing our humankind's interaction with nature and the desecration of nature that we have perpetrated over the last few years. Of course Attenborough has his attachments to campaigns for climate, against climate change, and for the recognition. Anthropogenic global warming has been an undeniable political swan song of a 60-year career, perhaps you know, best exemplified by his repeated programs and performances alongside Greta Thunberg. And saying very explicitly that she has done things that others, himself meaning himself, have been working on for many many years. So the idea that we can have science separate from politics from society and from culture is clearly not something shared by David Attenborough ... My work has has ended up talking about two specific areas of the history of biology the history of Eugenics and the history of race science. This is a sort of inevitability I think as a evolutionary biologist who started at the Galton laboratory in 1994. Just a bit of background ... Francis Galton FRS fellow of the Royal Society was Charles Darwin's half cousin and amongst a very varied career of inventing astonishing things such as a ventilated hat to help with one's thinking. He invented the dog whistle, he invented the weather map (although it was for the day after the weather which sort of arguably of limited use) but his greatest Legacy, along with the statistical techniques, that he invented to serve his interest in this subject was to coin and scienceify the principles of population control that went by the name of Eugenics. He came up with the name Eugenics himself in 1883. My I've ended up talking, spending my life talking about Francis Galton I suppose inevitably because as an undergraduate I was in the Galton laboratory. I was taught by Steve Jones who was the head of golden Institute and teaches this history to undergraduates from the 1980s to this day. I now teach on that course as well. In a minute I'll talk about many of Galton's supporters who are also eugenicists and also founding fathers of many of the major principles of evolutionary biology that we rely on today as well as statistics and and psychology. I'll talk about those in just a minute but the other area that I've ended up writing and talking extensively about is the invention of race science in the 19 in the 17th and 18th centuries and it's my contention that these are both incredibly significant and damaging perhaps responsible ideas that are responsible for some of the worst most heinous crimes that humanity has ever perpetrated but in both cases the invention of biology and subsequently the invention of evolutionary genetics and evolutionary biology emerge out of these political ideologies not in parallel but in service of them so race science emerges sorry biology emerges out of out of race science in order to serve racist ideology piece of of European expansion and colonization and genetics and psychology effectively emerge out of a political desire to enforce eugenic sterilization across the British population. I'll deal with the race issue very briefly because you can read about that in How to Argue the races now what do you want to focus on Eugenics tonight. But our entire taxonomic system is based on the work of Carl Linnaeus who came up with the binomial system that we use to this day universally in biology which is to have genus and species we are Homo sapiens in his major work sister might notarial the 10th edition in 1758. He introduced four sub-categories subspecies of humans which were in reverse order: Africanus which describes the phenotype of having black hair a black skin frizzled hair but also a flat nose females without shame and governed by Caprice; Asiaticus people from East Asia as we've described them today with yellow skin stiff black hair haughty greedy and ruled by opinions; Americanas indigenous Americans or Native Americans red skinned black straight hair stubborn zealous and regulated by Customs. Now the initial phenotype the physical characteristic skin color pigmentation used to describe these people these peoples is obviously absurd but has long-standing cultural resonance in that we recognize these as racist terminology to this day. Also we have adopted a society the term black to describe people of recent African descent. But I'm missing one here which is homo sapiens. oh sorry I'm a slide behind you aren't I sorry. Homo sapiens europeanists which is white skinned people with blue eyes who are gentle acute inventive and governed by laws ... glad you find that amazing of the of the many scientists and Studio scientists that continued in this work and trying to classify the races of humankind all of them shared one very specific category which is that they weren't simply classificational taxonomy they were hierarchical in their nature and there isn't a single example between the 17th and the 20th century where these types of classifications aren't hierarchical and they don't put white Europeans at the top of the tree now biology emerges from Linnaeus's classification system in in part but it is a classification system that we continue to use this to this day and it is hierarchical hierarchical and in its true sense white supremacist in its nature so the foundations of biology that emerged in Halls like this in the Royal Society not this actual places in Burlington house back then are they're the foundations of modern science of Modern Biology as we use them today and yet have this root which is fundamentally racist and racist in order to serve the political ideology of European expansion so the foundations of biology are political in their very Roots this is an undeniable fact that's enough about race let me talk about Eugenics which is going to make up the most of the rest of this talk which I think is going to go on for about two hours so France Francis Dalton there he is miserable old gets that he is Dalton was a genius in in many respects but did have a very clear typical but fairly extreme white supremacist ideology for the 19th century but he was brilliant he was a brilliant psychologist sorry a brilliant statistician he invented many of the statistical techniques that we continue to use to this day he was very clear though that the invention of these techniques from his work in 1869 onwards a registry genius that the reason that he was inventing these types of techniques which have become the Mainstays of of the the tools of Statistics that we use the reasons for them were in service of his ideas about population improvements which are characterized under his term Eugenics this is unequivocal this is an undeniable fact it's very explicitly written he founded the golden laboratory effectively in 1904 with a a legacy and a will which I'll come on to in just a second but in the foundation in 1904 in Gower streets at UCL in the same Department that I'm in today founded National Eugenics Records Office and he also at his death in 1911 with an endowment it installs the Galton Professor the golden the first golden Professor was Carl Pearson the second was Ronald Fisher and that position continues until this day the money has been reallocated and it pays for my salary which I will never not find amusing but let's look at those people Carl Pearson was the first one installed and he again an absolute genius a genius on Whose shoulders much of modern science relies in entirely he was extremely racist extremely anti-semitic and he was also very very clear that his work in developing new statistical techniques that we continue to use to this day were in service of his views about Eugenics and the improvements of the British stock of people he was replaced in 1932 by Ronald Fisher another absolute Titan responsible one of the three men responsible for what we refer to as the modern synthesis so the fusion of the newly rediscovered Mendelian inheritance and understanding of genetics with Darwinian natural selection and really fundamentally the framework of all the evolutionary biology and many other statistical techniques and areas from the 1920s onwards he was also a lifelong committed eugenicist from his days as an undergraduate at Cambridge where he a founding member of the Eugenics Society at Cambridge I need to be a eugenic assistant is my microphone gone off it's fine hey thank you okay so let's just go back to Golden for a bit and just talk about what Eugenics actually was Galton imagined that Society could be structured in terms of the quality of people in a sort of a bell curve a normal distribution of people where he saw that there was a small group of hegemonic power Brokers who tended to be white upper-class men a large respectable working class who did most of the work and then a small and hopefully diminishing return of undesirable members of society at the bottom end of society and his idea for Eugenics was to shift the mean away from the wrong end of society remember I've got to remember in the 1890s this is this is a very testy slide for which I apologize but the social context for the emergence and the popularity of this idea is that you have Victorian turmoil there's industrialization happening of foots urbanization which comes with increasing increasing sizes of cities and with that a more visible poor the Tudor poor laws which had been introduced a couple of centuries earlier where the church took responsibility for the bottom end of society the poorest and most impoverished members of society would be that was being transferred to the government with laws which had names like the madhouse Act we have the expanding Empires and Imperial assimilation ongoing battles in places like the Boer Wars where we're having our asses handed To Us by people who were deemed to be inferior to White British people scientific racism was a big part of that a continual but fashionable at the time idea of declinism everything in the past was better and everything today is getting worse often to do with replacement Theory which is the working classes or the undesirable classes have many more children than the middle or upper classes and therefore the upper and middle classes are subject to being replaced and that is what we must fight against Eugenics was seen as both a conservative and simultaneously radical idea in order to maintain the status quo we have to do something radical which is to restrict the fundamental Reproductive Rights of people deemed undesirable people that we decide as the powerful should not have the right to reproduce and what happens in that situation is it starts as a positive idea the word Eugenics means good genes it means well-born you the Greek prefix meaning good and genics well genos meaning birth or born this is so it starts off as a positive idea but who gets to decide who is desirable and who is undesirable what we see in every time Eugenics has been discussed or enacted around the world is exactly the same pattern happening almost instantaneously which is that it starts off with people with severe disabilities but very soon after that it becomes people with less severe disabilities and things like mongolism as it was termed then what we now call people with Down Syndrome or trust me 21 and then it becomes non-specific Health diagnoses in sort of catch-all titles like the feeble-minded then it becomes women with menstrual troubles then it becomes racialized minority groups alcoholics epileptics issuant criminals and it always ends up of course with the Jews now at that time we look at this as an idea as being so abhorrent to us such a toxic idea that I can stand up here and you can frown and Tut at these ideas which were just poisonous as I described them to you but at the time they were enormously almost universally popular across the political Spectre here's a couple of examples that demonstrate their Universal popularity this is a Valentine's card for Eugenics suggesting that people with who are eugenically healthy should be the ones that you mate with now on the next slide I'm going to give you just a few I'm just going to go through a few examples because they're sort of fun in a sense on this next slide when I say show audiences and students there are five people on the next slide and I challenge anyone in this audience to get all five of them put your hand up if you can name all five people and the first person to do so will receive a brand new copy of mine and Hannah's latest book which is not out yet okay a couple in the top left top right and then two politicians at the bottom and you don't please don't answer if you've seen this bit of the lecture before or if you're an undergraduate in a biology Department come on come on really I expected better from the royals yes the man in the pink shirt and I missed you're missing one the woman he's sitting in this way but five out of five that is the first time that has happened [Applause] I mean I'm not sure how I feel about you missing out the only woman who appeared in this side deck on slide 25 so far but there you go oh look it's another woman it's Mary Stokes Mary Stokes best known for her clinics over the last 20 or 30 years offering reproductive health and rights and abortions to to women the reasons that she became interested in the reproductive health of women in the 19 tens and 20s was because she was an arch racist a Neo-Nazi no it's not a Neo-Nazi she was a pre-Nazi and extreme fascists who hated the Irish and wanted the Irish to be sterilized out of existence in London the quote at the bottom is a bit of poetry that she wrote in the book and sent to Adolf Hitler proclaiming that love is the greatest thing in the world that was sent in 1938. so not even late in in the day first wave feminism was very closely associated with Eugenics Margaret Sanger in the States was also a keen eugenicist the founder of what what eventually would become the title X and what's the name of the organization Planned Parenthood thank you okay now this one you've got to brace yourself with this one this comes from D.H Lawrence and this is a quote from a a love letter a letter in which he was wooing a children's author in which he says if I had my way I would build a lethal chamber as big as the Crystal Palace with a military band playing softly and a cinematography working brightly and then I go out into the back streets and the main streets and bring them all in the sick the maimed I would lead them gently and they would smile me a weary thanks and the Brass Band would softly bubble outs that Alleluia chorus 1906 ah the popularity of Eugenics we sometimes think fell away when the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed to the world in the Years following 1945. I think it did in a sense I think it did at least in the word Eugenics itself but the idea persisted and indeed persists to this day it also continued to persist amongst scientists themselves this is a letter from Francis Crick fellow of the Royal Society in which he states that the main difficulty is that when thinking about Eugenics most people associate it with the Nazis who gave it a bad name or perhaps you could use a different example Julian Huxley fellow of the Royal Society also president of the British h anist Association a position last year held by Alice Roberts this year held by me in which again he's espousing views which are effectively Eugenics in in action Eugenics is generally considered to be most closely associated with right wing or with fascist ideology but it was popular on the left as well as demonstrated by Sydney and Beatrice Webb but also William Beveridge and many other right sorry left-wing and socialist politicians were very supportive of of Eugenics as a policy but it was Winston Churchill who was the biggest political driver of Eugenics in the years the first two decades of the 20th century he proposed in 1910 legislation that's the the compulsory sterilization of the feeble-mindedness again that sort of bucket definition in 1912 in legislation he he proposed using Rank and raise x-rays that had only been discovered what 16 years before that to sterilize men and women and in the early drafts of what would come to be law in 1913 the mental deficiencies act he also included enforced sterilization of people deemed undesirable or Unworthy of Reproductive Rights they were removed from early drafts of legislation in the Years preceding that primarily after the campaigning of GK Chesterton directed at the MP Josiah Wedgwood also of the Darwin Wedgewood Galton Clan who recognized that this was a legislation for the sake of a scientific Creed he said which in 10 years may be discredited which is indeed what happened now that's how close we came to having Eugenics legislation on our books in this country a whisker just one line of text edited out of legislation which would run until 1959. other countries around the world did did not show such caution and apart from Nazi Germany which I'll come to in due course America the USA was the most enthusiastic and em-bracer of Eugenics policy which was enacted throughout the course the majority of the 20th century in the majority of States this is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt's after he was president in which he describes how it is well you can read it for yourself but the inescapable duty of the good citizen to leave his blood behind and that should be of the right type so let's go back to the idea of the social context the emergence of Eugenics and particularly this last Point replacement Theory it's an idea which is as old as the hills Plato talks about it in in Republic but it became sort of formalized in the late 19th century and early 20th century and became a really major part of the emerging Eugenics spheres and indeed persists to this day in fact replacement theory was cited by one of the spree killers in recent shootings a couple of months ago in in Buffalo in New York and you can probably remember in 2017 these people carrying tiki torches and shouting the Jews will not replace Us in Charlottesville now this is a long-standing part of how Eugenics was campaigned for and to a certain extent enacted in in the states and in various countries around the world I want to take a brief interlude to talk about the social context of this as an idea as it emerged with something which is I guess kind of funny there are very few jokes in the history of Eugenics but John Harvey Kellogg is one of them. He was an extremely keen eugenicist. Now just a bit of background on Kellogg himself so hello great he invented the cornflake he actually co-invented the cornflake with his brother William Kellogg in the 1890s but John Harvey was an extraordinarily weird man who believed that he believed in the preservation of the vital fluids meaning sperm of white Americans being preserved primarily through not allowing teenage boys to masturbate and almost all of his food products that we continue to eat to this day I know this sounds ridiculous but this is absolutely true almost all of the food products that we eat today that were manufactured by by cornflakes in those days were invented as a suppressor of the libido to stop the spillage of teenage boys semen during the night now he split up with his brother William Kellogg because John Harvey believed that all flavors sugar salt caffeine cinnamon pretty much everything tea and coffee would stimulate the libido of white Americans and therefore they would spill their seed and he wanted to protect against that so he invented the cornflake William Kellogg thought that corn flakes tasted like so he added sugar to them and thus invented the Frosty now they never really spoke again after this point but those trajectories went on and next time you're having cornflakes tomorrow morning you can think about the vital fluids of teenage boys he was an extraordinarily weird man he was a man who was married for 30 odd years but boasted about never having had sex with his wife once he adopted eight children and had a daily enema I just think that's just in their red flags I mean I don't know why you're silent about that he used his enormous wealth his extreme wealth as a result of the Auntie libido cornflakes that he invented to fund at Battle Creek in America the race betterment Foundation which was also funded by The Rockefellers and the Carnegies. But it was an Institute dedicated to pursuing racial purification of white Americans through the policies of of Eugenics. So there you go. Next time you're having cereals in the morning you're just endorsing white supremacy. Now who's read the one of the greatest novels of the 28th Century The Great Gatsby? Everyone if you haven't read it you should because it is one of the greatest novels of the 20th 20th century. who has noticed that there is a strong Eugenics theme starting on page four one person I didn't know two people I didn't notice that having read it several times during my youth I didn't notice until I started reading this and so I started writing my book on the history of Eugenics but it's right there Tom Buchanan says if we don't look out the white race will be utterly submerged it's all scientific stuff it's been proved hasn't been improved it wasn't proved at the time and it never has been since but he was quoting from a fictional scientist who was the amalgam of two actual writers of the time who are Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard. Who wrote two really heavily influential books, both bestsellers in 1916 and 1920. The passing of the great race and the rising tide of color both formalization of the racial policies that would become the benchmarks and the cornerstones of white supremacy in America, and indeed later in Nazi Germany. The past of the great race is a mad book it's worth having a look at. It's deeply weird and sort of comically so in that he he asserts that the great civilizations of Greece Rome and Egypt were seeded by Nordic people who walked down from their Forest Homes and seeded these great civilizations and then retreated back to the forests. He asserted that Michelangelo and Leonardo were actually German based on skull measurements of their busts now I know we laugh at that now but Madison Grant's was extraordinarily influential and indeed was one of the key texts that Hitler read in the Years running up to him seizing power in 1933 it was the first book translated into German after he took took power in 1933 he described the passing of the great race as his Bible I'm aware that you're looking at your notes I've got half an hour to go it's going on for a long time yeah sorry about this can you just close the doors at the back please I'm the funding of Eugenics in America came primarily from three organizations one was Rockefeller the Rockefeller Foundation at that time the richest man in America possibly the richest man who's ever been lived in America but also from Mary Harriman who was the Widow of E.L Harriman the railroad magnate and the such it was Eugenics was such a normalized idea Scott Fitzgerald was hanging out with people like that which is the basis of many of the stories told in The Great Gatsby and so the idea of Eugenics was part of the conversation of these Aristocrats these extraordinarily wealthy Aristocrats who are hanging around Upstate New York at this time and Harriman and Rockefeller and the Carnegie funded the man on the left here who's called Charles Davenport and two others who I'll come to in the next few minutes I'll speed up a bit in order to set up from 1907 onwards the Eugenics Records Office in Cold Spring Harbor which is a lab which still exists in one of the great labs in genetics over the last 50 years or so Davenport himself was a zoologist he'd been to done his PhD at Harvard he met Galton in the 1890s in London and then went back to America and set up devoted the rest of his life to his pursuit of Eugenics policy right from the beginning it was clearly an interaction between what they thought was a pure science and a political agenda there's a headline from The New York Times in 1912 social problems have a proven basis in heredity the principles of the Eugenics Records Office in Cold Spring Harbor were that they recognized that this looked like a top-down strategy a top-down policy that politicians and scientists and their white coats and Rich establishments were proclaiming on the rest of the population that they should not reproduce or the deeming who is worthy of reproduction or not so they did a very clever thing which is to go out to rural communities especially farming communities Eugenics has always been compared to Agriculture and they went out they sent women out to farming communities to who were in agricultural Affairs in places like Kansas and Iowa were competing to have the best Friesian cow or the best black face sheep or whatever and they would introduce better baby or fitter family competitions in order to spread the idea of Eugenics but also to do something separate which was to harvest the pedigrees of the American people that was the secret projects behind Eugenics Records Office and what they would do is ask families to fill out forms in which they describe any mental health or physical health problems in their families and their extended families and describe their family treats and carbon copies of these records were sent back to the Records Office they're shown at the bottom and there the idea was the Eugenics Records Office under Charles Davenport which constructs a pedigree for the entirety of the American people and in doing so could identify the inheritance patterns The Mendelian Inheritance patterns of all positive and negative traits across the American people such that Eugenics policies could be enacted on those and that is effectively what happened from 1907 onwards legislation was passed first in the state of Arizona and over the next 20 or 30 years 31 States passed official Eugenics legislation we estimate that up to 80 000 people almost all of whom were from descendants of the enslaved or indigenous Americans were sterilized against their knowledge or will the last of which were happening on mass in the 1960s but it should be pointed out that women undergo involuntary sterilization in American prisons last year under the ice detention centers so Eugenics as a legacy continues to this day in America Now cast your mind back to your school days of biology and thinking about Mendel and his Peas the Moravian he wasn't actually a monk he was a friar there is a difference he was a friar in Moravia who came up with the rules of genetic inheritance by breeding together 29 000 pea plants in the 1860s I love this picture you always you never see this picture you see the picture of Menville he's second from the right in the back row looking at her he's actually holding a peculiar there but I love this picture because these are all the rest of the Friars in the monastery at that time and I just love the poses that they're pulling look at the guy on the far left what's he pointing out anyway this idea which was first constructed by Mendel in the 1860s and then was sort of rediscovered by Western by European scientists in 1900 is the foundation of genetics the rules of inheritance that we we teach to GCSE students to this day and it is foundational in our understanding of heredity what we teach is an incredibly simplified version I argue in other words simplify to the point of not being useful not being instructive but Charles Davenport's adopted this idea of Mendelian inheritance with such fervor that it became the basis of tracking The Inheritance patterns of all diseases or all desirable traits whether they were caused by a single Gene are known at the time or multiple genes as most complex traits and disorders are but everything was down to a single Gene that could be tracked in a Mendelian way and that was the project of the Eugenics Records Office it's an idea which is so sticky and so attractive that it is maintained to this day we talk about the gene for something where something is a complex Behavior it's in my years as writing for various newspapers it's something which I've become extraordinarily annoyed by over many years here's a collection of some of the headlines from various news outlets over the years the telegraph a gene that makes you good at taking risky decisions the happiness Gene discovered the middle row from the male a gene that can scale out to remind the gene that makes you lean politically to the left the love cheat Gene one in four born to be unfaithful claimed scientists I point out those three because it's all the same gene imagine having that phenotype and in the left-wing media the guardian talks about a gene for cocaine addiction the Atlantic went with a gene predicts what time of day you'll die what time of day you will die I mean I've read that article several times I have no idea how that could work and even in 2017 this is from the very August Scientific American they went with schizophrenia Gene sheds light on possible causes now as we know as everyone knows schizophrenia and most of the the traits or disorders described here are influenced by dozens if not hundreds of genes that account for a small proportion of the heritability of those disorders much of which is moderated and mediated by the environment the idea that there is a schizophrenia Gene is something that it within genetics we we ruled out maybe decades ago possibly by people sitting in the second row right right now I suppose Scientific American at least had the good credit in scare quotes now let me briefly talk about the person on the right Herbert Goddard HH Goddard who is very significant player in the particular part of the story that I want to get to to get in order to get the end of this now very over long lecture Goddard is significant for a n ber of reasons he's the he's a psychologist based in New Jersey at this time he was the first person to translate the IQ test the IQ test is formulated in France by Billy and Simon and he translated into American English and it became a Mainstay of intelligence and cognitive abilities testing throughout the course of the 20th century it was also used in Ellis Island to test their cognitive abilities of wannabe migrants into America and that's not the point of his presence in this story he influenced by Davenport was interested in the monogenic the supposed monogenic inheritance of complex behaviors and complex disorders and much of it was founded around his interest in treating this woman Deborah Kallikak I hear pictured as an adult but he'd been treating Deborah since she was six or seven years old and she was described in in goddard's notes as being a standard grade imbecile the types of girl that we see in our reformatories a non-specific pseudo psychiatric diagnosis as we'd see it today but feeble-mindedness was the thing that was identified by Goddard as being the root cause of all her problems now what God had set out to do was to track family tree yes using her family tree was to track the inheritance pattern of Deborah's feeble-mindedness through the generations to try and isolate the pattern by which he was passed from generation to generation and to see if he could actually identify the root cause of it so that is what he set out to do every over many years does my mic keep going off do I need to shout or should I use this one thank you and that is what he set out to do so he tracks back the family of Deborah Kallikak and came up with a calicac family tree which went back right into the 1700s and published this in an extremely best-selling book called the Kallikak family in which he demonstrated that Deborah Kallikak was the great great great great great granddaughter of a returning Revolutionary War hero called Martin Kallikak actually Calicut was a pseudonym that Goddard adopted but on the way back from the Revolutionary War Martin Kallikak stopped off in a bar and impregnated what he described as an attractive but feeble-minded barmate he then returns back to his home and his wife who was a Quaker s and they had a successful family as a result of that but the attractive but feeble-minded barmaids she also had a family and what Herbert Goddard did is to establish that they were these two others bifurcation events where he dallied with this bar maid and then went back to his upstanding Quaker wife created a bifurcation of his family tree one branch of which was extremely dysfunctional and the other branch of which was extremely successful and this became such a popular idea in popularized by this book published in 1912 that it remained in textbooks right up until the 1950s this is a psychology textbook from 55 and you probably can't read it it says on the left it says he dallied with a feeble-minded Tavern girl she bore a son known as old horror who had 10 children from old Horrors 10 children came hundreds of the lowest types of h an being on the other side he married a worthy quakeres Who Bore seven upright worthy children and and hundreds of the highest types of h an beings came from her I want you to hold on to that thought for just a second because when we think about disorders like feeble-mindedness and as they would be described in in those years they're not caused by a single Gene we know that very well they're influenced in very much by by the environments but the notion that this could be passed down in this very Mendelian clear way is clearly false according to a contemporary understanding of genetics and so we can say we can look back on this and say well you know he was clearly wrong about this this was an adherence to a form of Mendelian biology which is simply not true none of that matters because the feeble-minded but attractive barmaid didn't actually exist the family that was the descendants of the people-minded bar made according to Goddard was an entirely different family unrelated to Martin Kallikak at all who were highly successful in some ways they did have some inherited some heritable diseases many of them were were extremely poor which of course is the greatest correlate of most illnesses and most mental health problems in the photos of the Kallikak family which are available in the book itself it's quite clear to second year medical geneticists that many of the children had what is broadly described as fetal alcohol syndrome which of course is not genetically determined but it's environmentally determined by extreme drinking of during pregnancy So Not only was this affection constructed on misunderstood and misplaced science it was a fiction constructed on a on an entire imaginary basis five minutes can I have five minutes okay thanks 10 minutes I mean I've got to do the whole of Nazi Eugenics now let's switch over to to the Third Reich the emergence of Nazi the Nazi Eugenics program the equivalent to Charles Davenport and Francis Galton in Germany was a chap called Alfred Klutz and he was enamored of the work of Darwin but also of high call and started off as a socialist went to a farm a a socialist Farm a communal Farm in Iowa but he was so appalled by what he described as the low quality of the people there that he returned to Germany and dedicated the rest of his life to eugenic purification of the German people he also met Galton and was inspired to set up the first Eugenics journal and the second Eugenics Institute after the one on Gower Street and over the years of the first decade of the 20th century German Eugenics grew slowly but assuredly and he connected plirts connected very clearly and very well with the international Eugenics movement and the first Eugenics Conference was held not far from here down on the Strand in a hotel Cecil hotel in 1912 Klutz was there Goddard was there it was chaired by Churchill the keynote speech was by Arthur Balfour so the popularity and the universality of this is also International by this point now Eugenics in Germany I'll do this very briefly obviously many many books have been written about the emergence of of racial policies in Germany over the course of the 19th and 20th Century it was formulated very clearly with the idea of Nordic Purity Nordic which then becomes Aryan Purity in the in the under the third rank the idea labens and vert as labans lives Unworthy of life was introduced in 1920 and having read the passing of the great race and having been inspired by the anti-Semitism of of Henry Ford whilst in prison in 1927 Hitler sees his power in 1933 and one of the first laws he introduces is the law for the prevention of her monetarily diseased Offspring the first Eugenics law and in Nazi Germany let's just go quickly back to our three dead white Americans the middle one I haven't mentioned yet Harry Lachlan he's Charles Davenport's Deputy sort of enforcer another PhD in Zoology but became absolutely fixated on Eugenics over the course of the the first two decades of the 20th century in 1920 recognizing that the states in America that were introducing Eugenics law in a sort of ad hoc way where each legislation was different from the one that came before it he wrote a book in which he had a Eugenics legislation template a sort of boilerplate form that states could adopt in order to speed up Eugenics legislation being passed in various States now there was a strong connection between the American eugenesis from Cold Spring Harbor and the two Eugenics foundations in Berlin in the 1930s partly it was academic partly it's because Harry Lachlan Charles Davenport were over there influencing their thoughts and their intellectual and scientific thoughts partly because it it was funded primarily by the Rockefeller foundation in America but also because Harry Lachlan came across with his Eugenics template his legislative template and gave it to the Third Reich and that is what became the first Eugenics law passed in Germany it was a translation of American Eugenics laws so the links between American Eugenics and Nazi Germany are intellectual scientific financial and legal this is the thing that I found most surprising when I was writing this book I had an idea about this but they are such strong ties at their sort of undeniable and what happened later is the implication the implementation of what's known as acts 74 which is effectively the pathway the legal Pathway to the Holocaust itself Eugenics was a sort of backbone of the Holocaust it wasn't the Nazis policies were deranged and Drew from many different sources but without Eugenics policy and they're what they called euthanasia policy none of those things could have happened now finally the Nazis were excellent propagandists they were extremely good at persuading the populace their people that their policies which we regard rightly as being extreme fascism today were popular and they did this via posters campaigns at health fairs hygiene fairs this is an example which effectively demonstrates the principle of replacement Theory I won't describe this but they were very interested as you may well know in cinema as well and the effect of of Cinema the power of Cinema to persuade people of their political ideology in 1935 a year when two new pieces of Eugenics legislation were introduced in Nazi Germany a short film called Das Elba was released a 12-minute film in which a young female scientist is watching some stag beetles rut and she's confused by this Behavior so she goes to her professor the chap in the white Coast in the foreground top right and asks him what is happening and he begins to describe Darwinian natural selection the struggle for existence and he sets it down in a cinema and shows her a film so it's a we're watching a film of these three watching a film about Darwinian natural selection and in it he shows various things like a chasing a a a dog hunting a hare and he describes the inheritance patterns of particular behavioral traits in pedigrees and pedigree dogs and in particular type of certificate that you get from The Kennel Club today if for example you own a whippet I own a whippet and halfway through the film as they're sitting down they all burst into laughter because she the naive young student says oh I get it Nature has its racist policies as well I all thought about laughing this is an attempt to justify the racialized policies of the Third Reich at this time here is a clip from this film which I want you to watch so there is describing the pedigree foreign foreign foreign foreign foreign foreign what follows is some Shock images of people in sanatoriums people with obvious physical disabilities and these this is part of the justification of the execution of these people which will begin the following year the first 5 000 people that were left to die most of whom were babies under the age of three and thus begins that is the footsteps towards what becomes the Holocaust in 1945. what follows after that is a quote directly from Hitler from the frer which says who is physically and mentally not healthy and worthy may not perpetuate his suffering in the body of his child now we know that the actions of the Nazis were hideous and absolutely deplorable atrocities committed at a genocidal scale but look where that idea came from it came from misunderstood misplaced science that was born out of a political ideology attached to an emerging bit of new science from 1900 onwards with Mendelian genetics and a misunderstanding of Mendelian genetics an ideological commitment to that politicians always turn to scientists in order to support the ideas that they already have the reason I talk about this stuff is because we have to be aware of this history lest we repeat it throughout history with race science with Eugenics science Sciences which are brand new and misunderstood politicians turn to them people adopt them and use those ideas to justify their ideology so I better wrap this up that's a cheerful note to end on but just let me let me say this so let me reiterate science is political because it's done by scientists science is also an inherently revolutionary process because we always seek to overturn what has come before now what we do is in the pursuit of Truth The Pursuit not the finding of it but the pursuit of Truth and and I think that that should be enough to justify doing any research I believe in Blue Skies research research without that is un-directed many of you will know the quote from the former editor of new scientists Alan Anderson who once brilliantly memorably said that science is interesting and if you don't agree you can off yes can someone screen grab that for me I'm in the Royal Society everyone but you know what I don't think that's necessarily true it's an excellent line but science is in the service of knowledge but it is also in the service of people knowledge doesn't exist independently of people I want you to consider the work recent work of two of my colleagues so Kate Jones who's not here tonight but she's a scientist Kate Jones is at the back tonight she came in late who's fundamentally interested in bats but most of her work over the last few years or much of her work over the last few years has been modeling disease outbreaks in Africa and around the rest of the world now is that a pure sciences that an applied science has that been relevant to Society at all in the last two or three years I think it has is that politics attached to science is that science independent of politics I do not think so or maybe last week the work published led by my colleague Mark Thomas there in the second row in which he used ancient DNA to determine that the bodies of 17 people that were discovered in a well in Norwich where of Jewish origin Ashkenazi Jewish origin and had probably been murdered as part of what was emerging as the first wave of anti-Semitism in Europe which resulted in the expulsion of the Jews a few decades later as top quality pure research science is it relevant to politics today yes of course it is is it independent of our understanding of anti-Semitism of course it is so what we do is we do science within the context of society by the way I don't think Kate Jones nor Mark Thomas our FRS yet we're working on those those campaigns so I just want to conclude by saying there is I think arguably a moral obligation within the study of h ans that knowledge accrued should improve the quality of Our Lives as societies as individuals and where possible it should reduce suffering and increase social cohesion and fairness and I believe this is the duty of scientists and this by the way is of you expressed very clearly by one of the greatest of the old dead white men in our field here's a quote as man advances in Civilization and small tribes are united into larger communities the simplest reason would tell each individual that he or she ought to extend their social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same Nation both personally unknown to them this point once being reached there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the people of all Nations and races now if that isn't a political statement then I don't know what is and that was said by Charles Darwin FRS thank you very much [Applause] well Adam on behalf of everybody here thank you for such a fascinating talk I think we can forgive you for going over because it really it really was fascinating I think we've gone over a bit but I do want to give you the audience the chance to ask a question or two if that's okay with you so I think we have some roving microphones so if you do have questions I see a hand a couple of it will only take one or two I'm afraid just because of this time but again the gentleman in Yale if we I think there's a microphone making its way to you sorry about timing I studied a little bit about Eugenics by reading Philippa Levine's very short introduction to Eugenics and one of the things that came up is the history of the defeat because it was a global phenomenon how did the the defeats in the Zulu angler War the Boer War and also the first World War shape attitudes towards Eugenics and he spoke about Mary stops and also another one that you probably didn't mention Margaret Sanger how did Eugenics around the world affect the Physicians of women in colonized in the colonies in the various different Empires yeah sure I mean that's two questions you only have one then's the rules so the answer to your first question is massively so the influence of what happened in the ball Wars in southern Africa was hugely influential and persuading or offering a sort of solidification cementing of the nascent ideas of Eugenics amongst the political classes primarily through Churchill many people including Carl Pearson Carlson said it very specifically he believed that we'd been beaten by an inferior race Churchill adopted exactly the same view and this was a this acted as a Philip for for the proteogenesis to say well we have to have Eugenics policies because we are too weak as a nation at the moment for various reasons through breeding through Public Health to reform our societies so that we don't get our asses handed To Us by inferior races so was enormously important the second the second part was well I don't know the answer to the question of how did first wave feminism or how did the movements of Sanger and stops influence women in their colonies but in terms of again the justifying the principles of Eugenics through basically racist tropes and remember you've got to remember that races we see it today is not quite the same as how we saw it in those days so stops was anti-Irish primarily but also anti-Jew and anti-Slavic and whereas now today these are all white European people so she was extremely racist and extremely influential in imposing effectively racist policies or suggesting racist policies supporting racist policies in order to prevent the reproduction in those those groups of people she lost interest in it in the 1940s because she recognized that it becomes such a toxic idea that she never mentioned it ever again thanks very much for taking one more question and a lady over here in blue Adam thanks for your talk it was enjoyable I think my question is more generally based on science communication in a society where we are surrounded by people who have the same sort of thought pattern and ideals as us and there's a selective bias between people you surround yourself with combined with the general distrust of the media that is present in these says how would you go about building a more evidence-based society and policy in a country if you just asked me to fix Society I mean we're 20 minutes over already well I think in a way I think this is this is the point that I made at the beginning when I was being what I was joking about oh oh our ideas of normalizing Science and Science in in society that if we have a more scientifically literate population that if we teach aspects of science which are generally ignored until later in our education process things like Risk probability which we don't really teach at school at all but are so fundamental to understanding the complexities of Science and and how the world actually works but those are things that should be embedded much earlier in the educational process now that's really easy for me to say I'm not a teacher I'm not an educationalist I don't know how to structure a curriculum aimed at seven or eight-year-olds I have co-written a book aimed at 10 to 14 year olds but I literally found it the hardest thing I've ever had to do because I don't know how to do that but normalizing those sorts of ideas early on in our scientific education I think is part of of that process and I defer to teachers to to to help with that process and help that process become more normalized in society these are strange days which has come out of a pandemic in which science I think in a weird way had a good pandemic if that's a okay thing to say I mean Hannah made a program three years ago was predicted that it would happen and modeled it almost perfectly for the BBC and then it happened we all knew that this was coming it's just a case of when it was going to come but we also you should celebrate the triumphs of Science in the in the pandemic in that we sequence the genomes of the virus almost instantaneously and generated a vaccine almost instantaneously but well you know there's a quote in the book about the presence of scientists since in Parliament and it comes from an editorial in nature from 1869 in which the then it's almost nature have always been anonymous and it describes parliament in 1869 as being that they couldn't imagine a place less devoid a more devoid of scientific knowledge or expertise in the whole of society kind of wonder whether that's changed I don't know we've got a new prime minister about six hours ago should we wait and see

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