Eugenics is the selection of human beings based on their hereditary characteristics in order to improve future generations.

The term was coined by the English scientist Francis Galton (1822 – 1911) in 1883.

The word eugenics is derived from the Greek and means “good in origin or well born”.

Eugenics argues that higher breeds and better strains are able to prevail in a manner more appropriate to the environment.

With that, we try to apply Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection (1809 – 1882) to the human species.


The practice of eugenics is old. For example, Plato , in “The Republic”, defended the method as a way to improve human beings through selective permission to life.

For the philosopher, human reproduction should be controlled and monitored by the State.

Before the First World War , this theory received unrestricted support from politicians and scientists and made up the legislation of 30 American states until the middle of the 20th century.

The questions did not come until the end of World War II , when the Nazis were accused of compulsorily sterilizing 140,000 Jews and killing 6 million in concentration camps.


Eugenics has been the subject of study by many scientists and fishermen.

As a science, eugenics occupied the center of scientific debate and research in the early 1900s. The aim was to determine how human characteristics were inherited and how they influenced the social environment.

For example, Francis Galton proposes a system of arranged marriages in which the result would be a better endowed race, an action called positive eugenics.

Meanwhile, negative eugenics consists of eliminating the inappropriate individual.

The ideas of genetic perfection were based on the theories of Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882), on the origin and evolution of species and natural selection by the environment.

Studies returned to gain strength with the rediscovery of the works of Gregor Mendel (1822 – 1884), who managed to prove the transmission of characteristics between generations.

Another enthusiast of eugenics was the mathematician Karl Pearson (1857 – 1936), who created biometrics and perfected the studies that support statistics in biology.

He still believed that the high birth rates of poor people were a threat to civilization and, to avoid a collapse, the upper races should supplant the lower races.

Nazi Eugenia

American ideas seduced members of the Nazi Party who, from 1930 on, started the work to eliminate individuals considered inferior and used sterilization.

Nazi racial hygiene went beyond birth prevention and supported the construction of concentration camps where Jews were industrially eliminated.

It was only during the Nuremberg trials that eugenics was stigmatized and the United States removed the practice from its official policy, changing the names of institutes and condemning sterilization activities.

The laws that supported eugenics were repealed in the United States beginning in 1973.

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