Space City Skeptics

The Official Blog of the Houston Skeptic Society

Evolution is not eugenics

with 2 comments

Michael Egnor has a post over at the Discovery Institute’s evolution news and views blog where he basically says that evolution has not done anything for anyone.  He writes:

Darwin’s positive legacy to real medical science is non-existent.


Darwin’s theory was (and is) indispensable for only one thing in medicine: eugenics.

First off, he gets it completely wrong about eugenics being a legacy of Darwin. If eugenics is essentially human breeding, then doesn’t it make sense that eugenics has its roots in animal and plant breeding and not evolution? Eugenics and breeding are in fact the opposite of evolution: neither is subject to natural selection, a central tenet in evolutionary theory.

So what about Darwin’s theory not having anything positive to do with modern medicine? To ignore the theory of evolution’s benefits to science and medicine is absurd. Evolution permeates through everything in biology. We can study model organisms only because we know that we have similarities due to common ancestry. We can compare regions of genes and proteins between species only because of evolutionary theory. There are many other benefits of knowing that evolution occurred, but these two alone are sufficient to show the absurdity of Egnor’s claim.

Egnor’s post is a typical example of the tactics utilized by intelligent design proponents. The post is titled ” Is P.Z. Myers Attending a Conference on Eugenics?” Right away, you can see that Egnor is going for a little bit of character assassination by associating P.Z. Myers, a well-known evolution proponent, with eugenics. At the same time, Egnor is connecting evolution with eugenics, a truly reprehensible practice. The post itself is replete with examples of denial of the utility of evolution. These tactics really shouldn’t be a surprise, but they are worrisome. This is particularly true with respect to the current battle over the teaching of evolution here in in Texas.

Written by bort901

November 25, 2008 at 7:12 am

Posted in Evolution

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2 Responses

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  1. What the Egnoramous is talking about when blaming eugenics on evolution is the concept of “survival of the fittest”, which did play a role in what was known as social darwinism. Some people did misuse these concepts but that is irrelevant to whether or not A) Evolution is a valid scientific theory or 2) It is inherently bad and will always lead to unethical behavior. Whatver role the theory of evolution played in the eugenics movement, it was a misappropriation. I wouldn’t argue that computer technology and the internet are bad just because Egnor spews ignorance and misinformation every time he logs on.

    An excellent book which touches on these issues is Gould’s Mismeasure of Man. Historically, as it is now, humanity is both beautiful and terribly flawed.


    November 25, 2008 at 8:04 am

  2. skepticpedi

    November 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

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