|The truth about the science of eugenics is that
there is no science to eugenics. What passed for scientific method in the
eugenics movement is almost laughable now; if it were not so disturbing.
Eugenicists were trying to explain complex human behaviors based on second
hand accounts and in some cases heresy.
Researchers were often unable to interview more than one or two generations of a family, due to mortality. This meant that information about previous generations had to come from the accounts of children, grandchildren and friends. (Dolan) In some cases accounts were taken from neighbors and acquaintances. These shoddy methods of gathering information are among just a few of the factors that made the eugenics movement more of a witch hunt than a science.
The research methods used in eugenics were based largely on the work
of Gregor Johann Mendel. Mendel was a 19th century priest and a scholar.
His scientific work centered on heredity traits in pea plants. Plant hybridization
was a large field of study during the mid-1800s. (O'Neil) Mendel made
many discoveries and set several benchmarks in the field. Peas, though,
are far less complex than human beings.
A lack of clearly defined terms was also a problem the movement faced. Terms like "feeblemindedness," "defective" and "degenerate" were among some of the broader terms. Researchers never took the time to define what each of the terms meant and what characteristics were associated with them. Instead the subjects, or, more appropriately, victims, were diagnosed and labeled on an individual basis. Do to a clearly defined terminology base, just about anyone who was disliked or fell out of favor could be diagnosed as "feebleminded" or an "imbecile."
The technology that is available today for tracking genetic movement
far surpasses anything available to eugenicists in the early 20th century.
Instead of DNA tags and advanced gene tracking software they depended
almost solely of visibly observable features. Skull measurements, hunched
backs, poor hygiene and laziness were among the symptoms that were used
to classify "defective" people.