Mismeasure of Man

Gould is writing about the misuse of science to serve sociopolitical ends. His example is eugenics. His goal is to drive home the harm such abuse causes to people, and his poster victim is Doris Buck. Gould is more concerned about all the harm done to ordinary people than any other sort of harm. Gould was more of a “Blank Slate” person when it came to human behavior in particular. The Blank Slate view suggests that we are not born with any behavioral tendencies at all, and that all human behavior is learned. This position requires that you accept that man is a product of society, and thus man’s role is to serve society. This contrasts with the idea that society is a product of man. It is the classic nature vs nurture contrast. Gould believed nurture plays a much greater role in society than nature.
Essay:
Gould is most concerned with the misuse of science to serve a socio-political agenda. The agenda in this case is eugenics, and Gould reviews how science was mis-applied to support eugenics concepts. Today, science is used to support the blank slate concepts that are more in tune with Gould’s views. We have seen the case of the effect of “Silent Spring” and the response “The Excellent Powder”, which in a lot of ways is similar to Gould’s response to eugenics. Science seems to serve the cuurrent socio-political environment moreso than a pure science agenda; and yet we do seem to move on anyways. We have moved away from eugenics, for example, and are even moving away from the blank slate somewhat. I want you to focus your discusssion on the nature of the mis use of science in the case of eugenics and what you as a highly informed citizen should be aware of when you confront scientific issues.
Discussion Question:
I am looking more for comment on the abuse of science than eugenics. Eugenics is one example of the misuse of science.The secondary issue here is the idea that humans are a “Blank Slate” and that we are not very different with respect to intellectual abilities or behavioral predispositions. In the eugenics era society went very far the other way, enforcing the view that we are predisposed to have the differences we have, and using science to reinforce social and political biases.This is something we have to be aware of whenever science is presented in a political context in particular.
Discussion question needs to be answered separately

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