Eugenics is the dirty word that haunted the twentieth century. It’s the attempt to use science to manipulate genetic inheritance, change human evolution, and to breed a “better” human. We imagine that we are beyond this now, that it was born from a handful of evil scientists. We believe it doesn’t exist in the 21st century, but the truth is stranger, more complex, and much more troubling.
Eugenics: Science's Greatest Scandal
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01: Part 1
Science journalist Angela Saini and disability rights activist Adam Pearson uncover how shocking eugenic beliefs permeated the British establishment and intelligentsia. Supporters included figures such as Winston Churchill and Marie Stopes. They see how eugenics influenced the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913, which resulted in thousands of disabled people being locked up for decades.
02: Part 2
Angela and Adam ask if eugenic-style attitudes towards the poor and disabled continue to shape today’s society, and explore if breakthroughs in medicine, such as screening and gene editing, will combine with prejudice against the disabled to bring a form of eugenics back.