Galton: It will never come to lethal chambers!

After Francis Galton’s address to the American Sociological Society, Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims a certain Benjamin Kidd responds thusly:

For Mr. Pearson, I think, proposed to give the kind of people who now scribble on our railway carriages no more than a short shrift and the nearest lamp-post. I hope we shall not seriously carry this spirit into eugenics. It might renew, in the name of science, tyrannies that it took long ages of social evolution to emerge from. Judging from what one sometimes reads, many of our ardent reformers would often be willing to put us into lethal chambers, if our minds and bodies did not conform to certain standards.

Galton is not very pleased with many of the people who reacted to his address, saying, “they ought not to have spoken at all.”  However, the only one he singles out for rebuke is Bennjamin Kidd:

“As to Mr. Kidd, I do not attach importance to his points.”

With history in the rear view mirror, one may wish that Galton and many others would have attached a great deal more importance to the points made by Mr. Kidd!



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