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Generic Chromosome DNA

Eugenics

updated: September 24, 2022

Definition

Eugenics is a discredited belief that selective breeding for certain inherited human traits can improve the “fitness” of future generations. For eugenicists, “fitness” corresponded to a narrow view of humanity and society that developed directly from the ideologies and practices of scientific racism, colonialism, ableism and imperialism.



Narration

Eugenics. Using unscientific ideas and immoral and unethical means, eugenics sought to solve the problems of society by eliminating the “unfit” and encouraging the “fit” to increase in number. The American Eugenics Movement was one of the most active and extreme manifestations, inspiring aspects of eugenics ideologies and practices in Germany, Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere around the world. While eugenics reached its peak in popularity during the Second World War, eugenics practices remained widespread globally until the 1970s. And in many cases, sadly, continue today.

Christopher R. Donohue
Christopher R. Donohue, Ph.D.

Historian

NHGRI History of Genomics Program