Separation of Science and State?

The early to mid 20th century saw the emergence of a movement in eugenics. DenHoed wrote that “eugenics gave a scientific veneer to the conclusion that many social ills were caused by the proliferation of the wrong sort of people in that they could be neatly nipped in the bud.”

Surprisingly, the eugenics movement had some prominent supporters – Theodore Roosevelt, Alexander Graham Bell- thinking they could improve the human species through breeding. Proponents of this movement sought to sterilize feeble minded or otherwise degenerate or defective members of society to prevent them from passing on their genes or interbreeding with their “superiors”. California had a particularly aggressive sterilization policy, contributing a third of all sterilizations performed in America during this time period. Sadly, these operations were often forced upon members of marginalized minority races whose families were too destitute to care for them. Nazi Germany justified their eugenics as a means for protecting the health of the nation by preventing unfit members of society from reproducing.

         Using biology to justify eugenics is a deplorable misapplication of science. Biology would actually refute the claims that any particular race demonstrates any measurable superiority over another.  Those who wish to impose their will over another’s reproductive rights will conjure whatever sort of justification they need to in order to sleep at night. The great thing about science is there is no ideology one must adhere to in order to participate in it. Separation of church and state makes sense because religious claims cannot be proven. But science can. 

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