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What is Eugenics? The Strangest Facts about This Pseudoscience

Baby and Mother

Eugenics is a pseudoscience that was exceptionally popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Its followers believed that precise, voluntary and goal-oriented reproduction of human beings would allow humanity to evolve further, populating the new world with "superhumans". As this new movement gained momentum, women were burdened with the responsibility of creating super babies, while men began to support the idea of controlling birthrates.

Eugenics reached its zenith in mid-century with Hitler's desire to create an all-powerful German race. After World War II ended and the truth behind the Nazis' horrifying scientific experiments came out in the open, the popularity of this pseudoscience fell dramatically, soon to be abandoned even by its most staunch supporters. Still, here are some strange facts about eugenics when it was at its peak.

1. Public records of perfect babies


Although at the start of the 20th century the idea of breeding humans like farm animals may have seemed abominable to most people, several counties in the central and Western United States began maintaining public records of the perfect babies. A special commission ruled whether a newborn fell into this category based on eugenics rules. Additionally, a committee determined which of the newborns would be perfect for one another later on, in order to produce a so called "perfect generation". New families were thus preformed when future husbands and wives were still in their diapers.

2. Ladies propose

In the heyday of eugenics, women in western societies practically went crazy. Everyone lay in waiting for the day when one of them would finally give birth to the first super baby. It even got to the point where several big American institutions announced a prize of $1000 for the first superhuman who was born and $500 for the second. In the early stages of this science it was believed that a super baby could only be born from a perfect man and perfect woman. They had to be beautiful, smart and strong (for the men). But the responsibility of birthing such a child fell upon the women. Because of this, the chief proponents of eugenics found it completely normal for a woman to take any man she pleased, without any consideration of his social commitments, and making him make her a child.

3. Exhibits of babies and sheep

Imagine an annual fair, with dog, cat and farm animal exhibits. Now imagine if they had babies at these - back when eugenics was popular they actually did. A special jury would rate the babies based on several criteria - size, color, intelligence and so on. The largest exposition of its type was organized in 1913 in Salem, Oregon. The public could look at exhibits of babies alongside Yorkshire Terriers, several breeds of sheep and bulls for breeding.