||NIH History Office lecture
Nathaniel Comfort, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University presents a history lecture, "A Galaxy of Genius? The Enduring Dream of Controlling Human Heredity". — "What a galaxy of genius might we not create!" burbled Francis Galton in 1865, exuberant about his conception of a voluntary human breeding program, to be informed by Darwinism. Subpar intelligence, he was convinced, lay at the root of poverty, promiscuity, disease, and antisocial behavior of all kinds. A similar enthusiasm girds contemporary social and behavioral genetics, or “sociogenomics.” In fact, every revolution in our understanding of heredity prompts a new wave of enthused hereditarianism: Darwinism, Mendelism, cytogenetics, molecular biology, genomics. With every advance, scientists and the public ask new versions of the same questions: Is homosexuality a choice? Can we identify born criminals and stop crime before it starts? Is genius born or made? Although the questions persist, technology and society are ever evolving. This lecture will examine continuity and change in our enduring impulse to take control of our own evolution; the benefits and risks of our perennial drive to understand, and improve, human nature.
For more information go to https://history.nih.gov