John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #8: Eugenicist Wins Nobel Prize One Year After the Holocaust Ends Part II

While reading pages 2 and 3 of John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction I found myself looking to find answers to the following questions:

Question #1:  Did an Eastern European scientist named Max Muller win a Nobel Prize for scheming to use X-rays to override normal genetic laws?

Question #2:  Did the mad scientist’s Geneticists’ Manifesto (that called for state action to separate worthwhile breeding stock from the great mass of evolutionary dead end material) garner signatures of support from leading American and British biologists?

Question #1 Research Results: See my previous blog post.

Question #2 Research Results:

Verified:  The Ethics of Human Gene Therapy (p.108) provides the following historical and biographical background:

The first statement to outline three spheres for possible human genetic enhancement was drafted by classical geneticist Hermann J. Muller during the Seventh International Congress of Genetics held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in August 1939.

At the congress the participants were challenged by Science Service to respond to the following question:  How could the world’s population be improved most effectively genetically?”  The reply to this question, signed by 23 scientists, was popularly known as the “Geneticists’ Manifesto.”  [An odd disclaimer immediately follows.] The manifesto by no means adopted the perspective of biological determinism.  Rather, it accented both social and genetic changes that could enhance human well-being.

Red Flag #1: The verbal sleight of hand in the disclaimer indicates that there is something to hide.  It is nonsensical to claim that Muller was “by no means” advocating biological determinism when this assertion is followed by the claim that Muller wanted to genetically modify human beings.  Noting that Muller desired to complement genetic modification with the imposition of global changes in social order does little to soften the literate reader’s view of the sickness in Muller’s mind.

Continue reading John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #8: Eugenicist Wins Nobel Prize One Year After the Holocaust Ends Part II

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #7 Part I: Eugenicist Wins Nobel Prize Only One Short Year After the Holocaust Ends

A Mutant Fruit Fly

While reading pages 2 and 3 of John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction I found myself searching Google (and even Bing) to answer the following questions:

Question #1:  Did an Eastern European scientist named Max Muller win a Nobel Prize for scheming to use X-rays to override normal genetic laws?

Question #2:  Did the mad scientist’s Geneticists’ Manifesto (that called for state action to separate worthwhile breeding stock from the great mass of evolutionary dead end material) garner signatures of support from leading American and British biologists?

Book Mentions for Source Check: Pages 2 & 3

Question #1 Research Results:

Unverified: The “Max” Muller that Gatto refers to appears to be Hermann Joseph Muller.  My cursory Google/Bing search did not turn up any sources in which Hermann Joseph was referred to as Max.  Considering that Max Mason was named in the sentence that preceded Mr. Muller’s appearance in Gatto’s text, I suspect that a mistake may have slipped past the editor.

Unverified:  Hermann Joseph Muller was reportedly born in New York City.  Wikipedia claims that he was a third-generation American.  However, Muller did move to the USSR during the mid 1930s to conduct eugenics research.  

Verified:  Hermann, a famed eugenicist, was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1946. The Genome News Network’s biographical sketch of Muller offers the following sanitized details:

X rays had been used in clinical medicine and for experimental purposes in physics since their discovery in 1895. But their value to genetics research only became apparent when Hermann Muller, an American geneticist, employed radioactivity to produce point mutations in the fruit fly Drosophila. (from Paragraph 1)

An outspoken, sometimes controversial scientist, Muller hoped that evolutionary principles could be used to improve humanity… He also supported “positive” eugenics through the use of reproductive technologies such as sperm banks and artificial insemination, but wrote that, “Any attempt to accomplish genetic improvement through dictation must be debasing and self-defeating.” (from Paragraph 7)

The  Encyclopædia Britannica adds slightly more detail:

…he made a controversial suggestion that the sperm of gifted men be frozen and preserved as part of a purposeful program of eugenics for future generations.

I’ve Got a Funny Feeling: The fact that both texts mention a controversy surrounding Muller’s views on eugenics seems odd since both sources fail to provide meaningful clarifying details relating to this controversy.  Was the mere suggestion that the future of mankind could benefit from the ethically sourced genetic material of gifted men the greatest of Muller’s alleged sins?

Question #2’s Research Results will be revealed in Part II of this blog entry.

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #6: Rockefeller Plays God

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did Max Mason, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation (1929-1936), announce that a program was underway that would enable the Rockefellers to control human behavior?

Here’s a published excerpt from Lily E. Kay’s 1993 book, Who Wrote the Book of Life?: A History of the Genetic Code, that says he did:

The quote may also be found in Mark Zuss’ The Practice of Theoretical Curiosity.

Additionally, the quote may be found in Steven Rose’s Lifelines: Life Beyond the Genes.

Disclaimer: I lack the required knowledge to attempt to assign credibility to academics who write about the history of genetics research.

The Big Question: What do you do when you have the power to socially control a mass of people who have no idea that they are being socially controlled?

Source Mention: Page 2

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #5: Subjects of Little Value

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did Edward L. Thorndike (a founding father of Educational Psychology) really say that academic subjects are of little value?

Here’s his quote from a website of which I’m not familiar:

Despite rapid progress in the right direction, the program of the average elementary school has been primarily devoted to teaching the fundamental subjects, the three R’s, and closely related disciplines… Artificial exercises, like drills on phonetics, multiplication tables, and formal writing movements, are used to a wasteful degree. Subjects such as arithmetic, language, and history include content that is intrinsically of little value. Nearly every subject is enlarged unwisely to satisfy the academic ideal of thoroughness… Elimination of the unessential by scientific study, then, is one step in improving the curriculum.

It Gets Worse: Wikipedia also claims that Thorndike was yet another academic of the early 20th century who held Eugenic views.  Here’s what Thorndike had to say:

…selective breeding can alter man’s capacity to learn, to keep sane, to cherish justice or to be happy. There is no more certain and economical a way to improve man’s environment as to improve his nature.

Source Mention: Page 2

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #4: Rockefeller Conspiracy

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did a mayor of New York City really say that the Rockefeller Foundation was a giant octopus that had its tentacles wrapped around the schools?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

[John Francis] Hylan’s most famous statement against “the interests” was the following speech, made in 1922, while he was the sitting Mayor of New York City:

The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation. To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller-Standar Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as the international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. Continue reading John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #4: Rockefeller Conspiracy

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #3: Mating of the Unfit

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did Professor Arthur W. Calhoun really want agencies of public education to “check the mating of the unfit?”  Here’s some of what he had to say in his  A Social History of the Family from Colonial Times to the Present:

In Case You Missed It: Calhoun wanted Congress to pass laws that would stop the “procreation of undesirable citizens.”  Presumably, the protection of “positively eugenic matings” would be achieved through sterilization.

Calhoun advanced his position just a few short years before  Margaret Sanger voiced her advocacy for the “sterilization of the insane and feebleminded” as one of the aims of The American Birth Control League.  (Eugenics was the height of intellectual fashion at the time.)

Professor Arthur W. Calhoun continues: 

Familism: a social pattern in which the family assumes a position of ascendance over individual interests (Merriam-Webster)

In Case You Missed It: Calhoun envisioned a future in which “notable lines of heredity” would experience family as a luxury granted to them by the privilege of their high standing in society.

My Personal Opinion: Arthur W. Calhoun wasn’t one of the good guys.

Source Mentions: Pages 1 & 2

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #2: Into the Custody of Community Experts

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Could Professor Arthur W. Calhoun really have gotten away with publicly advocating for children to pass from blood families “into the custody of community experts” all the way back in 1919?  Here’s some of what he said in his  A Social History of the Family from Colonial Times to the Present:

The Sinister Summary:

Problem: Modernization in industrial and social life (allowing women to work alongside men in factories) has made it impossible for parents to successfully perform their parental functions.

Not the Solution #1:  Encourage parents to find an independent livelihood outside of the factory/corporate system that would provide them with the time and resources to raise their own children.

Not the Solution #2: Ease restrictions on small businesses.

Solution: Allow qualified community experts to perform the complexer functions of parenthood.

Source Mention: Page 1

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #1: Why Children Work

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.  Here’s a link to Helen Todds Why Children Work: The Children’s Answer, published by McClure’s Magazine in 1913:

This is certainly a fascinating historical document.  While I’m as skeptical of the integrity of the journalism of 1913 as I am of the journalism of today, I find Ms. Todd’s account to be sobering.

Personal Reflection: I find it strange that our contemporary view of child labor is still largely framed by the the mental images that we hold of the factory conditions of the early 20th century.  In this age of the service economy would it be possible to reach a compromise that could provide safe opportunities for children to be more productive members of society?  Can they be any more than tax evaders who occasionally engage in illicit lawn mowing, dog walking, and babysitting?

Source Mention: Page 1

Ignorance is Kinda Understandable

We live in an age of uninformed people with strong opinions.  Our lack of knowledge is understandable.  There’s a lot of new stuff to keep up with every day.  Plus, there’s the whole entirety of human history to try to absorb and process on the fly.  On top of that, people keep secrets and tell lies.

Everyone of us views reality through a lens of false perceptions and beliefs.  Given how widespread this condition is, it would be silly to quickly ascribe sinister motives to someone over a difference of opinion.

The constant finger pointing and score keeping is sucking too much joy from this world.  Frankly, I’m getting tired of it.  Let’s try to cut some of it out.  There will still be plenty of real bad guys left in society to keep us on our toes.

My Silly Old Uncle

Uncle Sam

I have an uncle who spent over $125, 000 to put my cousin through school.  My cousin graduated without mastering the fundamental skills provided in a basic Grade 3 education.

I’ve got another cousin who will start kindergarten next fall.  My silly old uncle is set on opening up his wallet again to send the young one through the same system as the hopelessly useless graduate.