Eugenics was the act of maximizing humanity’s potential by controlling who gets to reproduce. The reasoning behind this was that some people had “inferior” genes that would dilute the gene pool if they were to be passed on, and so legislation was passed that allowed sterilization of said “inferior” people. Medical professionals used both evolutionary biology and social language to justify eugenics on two fronts. By using terms from evolutionary biology such as “mentally deficient” and “moronic,” doctors convinced lawmakers that the people they were locking into mental facilities were not fit to reproduce. By using social terms, like painting the patients as “prostitutes,” they were able to convince the masses to care less for their lives, unfortunately (DenHoed, 2).
I think eugenics definitely gives us a reason to separate science and society because this was a direct example of a negative externality on society. Eugenics harmed a lot of people’s ways of life, and overall was not helpful in making the human race more superior. That, and it’s really easy to make society flip-flop on scientific philosophies. During World War 2, for example, because Hitler started endorsing and practicing Eugenics in Germany, a lot of other scientists backed off because of the social implications. True science shouldn’t be able to be halted by what society thinks about it because science should be objective and empirical.
This is why I wouldn’t consider eugenics a science. This was a social experiment with scientific pretenses that ultimately failed at its goal because the premise wasn’t true anyway. And, it was really ableist. Some of our greatest minds have come from people who could’ve been seen as “mentally deficient” back when eugenics was popular. I’m glad that eugenics definitely seems to have fallen out of practice.