Eugenic Taint

There is no more tired or trite argument than that some or other topic is tainted by association with eugenics. For instance, research into intelligence or behavior genetics in general. These aim to describe the world as it is rather than as it ought to be. Eugenics is a policy which attempts to alter the world, to fashion how it ought to be (did you need to be told that?) It was connected to genetics in much the same way that hygiene (a policy) was and is connected to medicine, which is why eugenics was described as “racial hygiene”. However you can describe the world without trying to change it, even if that logical distinction has been clouded by the “social justice” activism enthralling university campuses.

This argument can go to breathtakingly ludicrous lengths, as in the idea that “frequentist” statistics is somehow tainted by the great statistician R. A. Fisher, who happened to be a staunch eugenicist at the same time. (It is worth pausing over the depressing fact that contemporary academics feel compelled to keep a straight face while discussing childish arguments, instead of simply laughing them out of the room.) As the entire scientific establishment before 1939 was in favour of eugenics as a policy, the scope is more or less unlimited for detecting, or not detecting, the eugenic taint anywhere the fancy of the witch-sniffer directs. Any field is a candidate. The mediocrities churned out by the academic-research complex must pursue politics over science to make a living in the fields of pretense. Here the unwholesome process led to statistics and Ronald Aylmer Fisher.

RA Fisher, statistician and eugenicist

The essential idea here has been reused many times in bad science fiction movies, as in The Hands of Orlac (1924). The celebrated pianist Orlac loses both hands in an accident and has new hands grafted on. But they are the hands of a murderer! Aaaargh! Chop off those frequentist hands! They are the hands of a eugenicist!

The Hands of Orlac
The Hands of Orlac!

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