|Date(s):||January 1, 1920 to December 31, 1950|
|Location(s):||United States, Cleveland, Ohio|
|Course:||“The History of Medicine and Public Health,” Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis|
The downfall of eugenics began around the 1920’s. In the 1930’s there were questionnaires sent out to people in the United States, specifically in Ohio, that contained questions that twins would fill out regarding themselves in many subjects. It questioned the twin’s physical features such as their health and if it differentiated between each twin or how much they differed in height. It also asked the twins to observe the palms of their hands to see if they were different or not. These packets of questions helped the scientist compare the two people and make important observations that could in fact prove eugenics to be a misguided movement.
Eugenics or the science of improving a human population by controlled breading to increase desired heritable traits and characteristics. Francis Galton had the high-minded idea that twins would be exemplary for the study of eugenics, he wanted to see if behavioral traits were determined by genes and using twins was the most accurate way. He didn’t take his idea to the next level, however, he certainly encouraged others and in turn disbursed evidence for the downfall of eugenics.
Eugenics continued to decline due to the studies regarding twins. Favoring the notion that the environment to which you grew up in is the main influence on your heredity, Horatio Newman, Frank Freeman, and Karl Holzinger researched twins in the 1930’s. They uncovered that twins that grew up apart were not identical behaviorally or personality wise, but were one hundred percent in correspondence in areas such as blood groups and appearance. The three men’s findings also showed that there was a fifteen-point difference between the twins IQ, thus proving intelligence is based upon upbringing, not based on the genes your parents pass down to you. Revealing that controlled breading isn’t the answer to a better society.
Those few men started a trend that continued into the 1950’s. Twins were studied and studied and inevitably showed that eugenics wasn’t all it was made out to be which wasn’t necessarily the goal of studying eugenics in twins, but it ended that way. Galton was one incredibly intelligent man to think of using twins who are the same physically and study how different or the same they were growing up apart or together. Thus throughout the years we can see that twins were the key to eugenics.