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These are the institutions that you would want to step up and say, “This is wrong, this is bad, and this denies Carrie Buck her rights.” None of them did that. There are portraits of him in the hallways, and people speak very highly of him. Adam Cohen, a former member of The New York Times editorial board and senior writer for Time magazine, is the author, most recently, of Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America. PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE: The underlying facts of this are pretty astonishing. ADAM COHEN: When I was in law school, I knew about the case and about the famous saying that “three generations of imbeciles is enough.” I went to Harvard where Oliver Wendell Holmes was a major figure. Cohen-Aslatei, who has a master’s in management from Harvard, got his start in the dating industry while he was in school there. There were actually two kinds of eugenics.

I had learned about him as this great justice, and the degree to which he was incredibly bigoted and condescending toward people who weren’t of his so-called high birth made him in many ways a terrible judge. By clicking Sign Up, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Photo Credit: Eleanor Randolph Was there a precipitating event or movement that began to change those views? They struck down Oklahoma’s sterilization law on narrower grounds. It really is still good law.

Adam Cohen. Galton thought that if we could do what nature was doing, we could do it more methodically and in a more kind way. Please try again later. One of the primary arguments that the Nazis raised in their defense was the fact that they had largely lifted those policies from the United States where more than half the state legislatures had passed forced sterilization laws, where states had already carried out tens of thousands of such sterilizations, and where the Supreme Court in a 1927 case called Buck v. Bell said it was perfectly legal to do so. As many as 70,000 people were sterilized around the country, which was rather shocking. AC: You would think there would have been more people to say that, but eugenics was very popular. PRH: Was their understanding of Darwinian evolutionary theory good science? Oliver Wendell Holmes says that “three generations of imbeciles is enough,” but the imbeciles turn out to be these four educated people who misunderstood what was going on around them. PRH: In the book, you wrote about the eugenics movement as an effort “to use newly discovered scientific laws of heredity to perfect humanity.” Did that not sound a little creepy to anyone at the time? The American Bar Association president endorsed a eugenics law in Connecticut.

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