In addition to natural selection, Charles Darwin referred to artificial selection, meaning the process of breeding domestic animals to select for desirable traits. His cousin Sir Francis Galton said this principle could be applied to humans as well. The idea came to be known as “eugenics”. The philosophy was that a society could maintain health and intelligence as a group by disallowing those with undesirable traits to reproduce. Indiana passed the first eugenics law in 1907.
"…it shall be compulsory for each and every institution in the state, entrusted with the care of confirmed criminals, idiots, rapists and imbeciles, to appoint upon its staff, in addition to the regular institutional physician, two (2) skilled surgeons of recognized ability, whose duty it shall be, in conjunction with the chief physician of the institution, to examine the mental and physical condition of such inmates as are recommended by the institutional physician and board of managers. If, in the judgment of this committee of experts and the board of managers, procreation is inadvisable and there is no probability of improvement of the mental condition of the inmate, it shall be lawful for the surgeons to perform such operation for the prevention of procreation as shall be decided safest and most effective."

Other states soon followed. In practice, such laws collided with human rights. Who is qualified to judge what traits are truly undesirable and which persons deserved to be sterilized? Thousands of “undesirables” were sterilized in the US, decades before (and after) the Nazis endorsed the idea. Read the entire story at Damn Interesting. Link

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In fact, it was Darwin himself who expressed these views, his cousin merely coined the term “eugenics”..

It was Darwin himself who expressed his opposition to those views, and his coined the term "eugenics".

Here is more from Darwin's Descent of Man:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.

This quote, by the way, comes from the very next paragraph after the one quoted previously, and is an example is the typical dishonesty you find from deniers of evolution.

Unfortunately, if you believe in Darwinian Evolution, it is a perfectly logical extension that we could and perhaps should attempt to improve the human race by eliminating the “lesser” people.

If you actually understand evolution, it is impossible to consider eliminating people as a way to "improve the human race". First of all, it simply won't work. (I suggest reading the section of this article titled "The Evolutionary Argument Against Negative Eugenics" about the work of JBS Haldane for a brief description.) Even if scientists believed it could work (and let me repeat, they know it doesn't), you would find many scientists who would still oppose it. For example: Charles Darwin.
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Thanks Art for digging out Darwin's actual words on the subject. I knew he had personal feelings on the subject as well.

@Thebes - can you supply some references about forced sterilization of American Indians into the 1970s? I had never heard that before, so I'd like to look into it. How widespread is it? What level of government are you claiming was involved? Federal, state, county government?

The eugenics movement started to crumble when the atrocities of National Socialism came to light. If you look up "Eugenics" or "Heredity" under (choose "full view books"), you'll find dozen of fascinating texts written in the pre-War 20th century. The movement was very passionate and had a LOT of famous devotees.

Indeed, intelligence has significant heriditary components, and yes, unfortunately IN AGGREGATE the stupid reproduce a lot faster than the intelligent. They start a lot earlier and they have lot more kids every generation. That isn't to say ALL people with large familes are stupid or all stupid people will have large families, but across society there is positive correlation, ESPECIALLY when the progeny are illegitimate with siblings having multiple absent fathers.

That said, involuntarily sterilizing people IS a violation of basic human rights and I wouldn't trust a doctor or even a panel of doctors and judges to make such a determination. What needs to be done instead is merely to end the present financial incentives to have more illegitimate kids. The welfare state rewards promiscuous women for popping out more and more out of wedlock children and encourages them to keep them, rather than place them for adoption. These kids get double hampered by not only having their parents' intellectual genes, but are also socially mistrained by them as well. So they drop out of highschool at 15 and have children with muliple absent fathers -- just like how they grew up themselves. And so the cycle continues... A little tough love (be stingy with benefits in the first place and certainly don't increase them with added kids!) would do a world of good towards keeping these trollops on the straight and narrow. A little societal shame wouldn't hurt either.
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I call Scientologist Provocateur!

"psychiatry took it one step further and executed 70,000 people as a result of this ignorance."

Anyone who can read about eugenics and decide that it's Psychiatry's fault is obviously a $cientologist.

As for the idea that Dumb begats dumber...well that just isn't so.

The diversity of human reproduction throws up endless mutation and in that there will always be mutations to the betterment of the species.

Other wise we'd be dog patch all over the world...oh hang on!

No, really smart people spring from the loins of dumb parents all the time, similarly smart successful people have the sort of kids that would lose in a Quiz with a beagle.

don't believe me?

2 words.

Paris Hilton.

Generations of sucess and advantage produced this Apex of breeding.

Now apply that to the royal families of Europe.

Carlos Secundo of Spain, so much of a retarded in bred that all he was lacking was a banjo.

Advantage and wealth are not indicattors of worth.

If eugenics was in forse, then who'd be pasing out the breedign licenses or the compulsory sterilisation warrants?

I'm betting that paris wouldn't find herself with her feet up in the stirrups.

Basically, "We're a virus...with shoes"
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