Halliday Sutherland

"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.

Check the unfit

Pearson 1912

“The bulk of the tuberculous belong to stocks which we want ab initio to discourage. Everything which tends to check the multiplication of the unfit, to emphasize the at the fertility of the physically and mentally healthy, will pro tanto aid Nature’s method of reducing the phthisical death-rate.”

Karl Pearson F.R.S. Galton Professor of Eugenics, University of London, 1912 in Tuberculosis, Heredity and Environment.

“Between 1903 and 1918 Pearson and his staff published some three hundred works—including a series that Pearson chose to call ‘Studies in National Deterioration'”. Daniel Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics.

3 comments on “Check the unfit

  1. Kevin ODoherty
    25 February 2018


    As you say, he’s an exemplar candidate.

    Kevin O’Doherty Tempus Carum Valde Utendum

  2. brendathewriter
    26 February 2018

    What an absolutely horrid memory, and sadly I feel it is just as true today when it comes to the treatment of mental illness and other curable diseases among the poor.

    The anti-life eugenics heresy is still battered about by more than just today’s Nazis.

    Take one look at America’s current federal budget cuts to Department of Health and Human Services, and you will see traces there of the belief among those currently in power that there are certain humans who do not deserve care, healing, or life simply because their caste is seen as disposable.

    A timely reminder that this is an old fight not yet won.

    • markhsutherland
      26 February 2018

      In 2017, I met an historian of these issues and we discussed eugenics. At one point, she said she would have preferred to deal with the eugenists of 100 years ago compared to their modern counterparts. Surprised, I asked her why. She replied that while the old eugenists were forthright about their aims, their modern counterparts used weasel words.

      She was right. The “Eugenics Education Society” is now the nondescript “Galton Institute.” Enthusiasts no longer talk about “superman” or the “unfit” but of “human potential” and “viability” and the “nuchal translucency scan.” The language obfuscates the aim.

      Eugenics is still with us, but hidden in plain sight.

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This entry was posted on 25 February 2018 by in Consumption, Eugenics, Karl Pearson, London, Tuberculosis.

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