Exploring the Social Imagination

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Socially Engineering of the Future... ERO already here?

In 1910, scientists David Starr Jordan and Charles Benedict Davenport joined ranks with Americas’ northeastern elite (Harriman, Rockefeller and Carnegie, to form the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) of  the Cold Spring Harbor, NY Laboratory. The stated goal of the ERO was to study human patterns of heredity in order to eliminate the substandard or socially inadequate [Cook &Horn 2013). 

Well about it? 

In 1914, the ERO Report (Report of the Committee to Study and to Report on the Best Practical means of Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the American Population), by H. H. Laughlin, was to determine a means to uproot and remove defective germ-plasm from American inheritance (ibid). 

At about the same time, at Cold Spring Harbor, Barbara McClintock discovered in some of her bfb strains some bizarre genetic behavior. Certain mutable genes appeared to be transferred from cell to cell during development of the corn kernel.  As she later said, "one cell gained what the other cell lost." But, she did not get the support from fellow colleagues. Perhaps it was because of the jumping genes observation which would rub against any agenda to arrive at control gene sequencing.  McClintock did receive the Nobel for her studies of transposons ‘jumping genes’. 

What does that mean for the social imagination? It may mean that the social imagination decides when to jump. If we apply this at the quantum level, we can understand that observation is part of determining what is happening. Should we continue to pursue studying human patterns of heredity because there is no accurate means to control and breed for the socially adequate? Maybe. I think best if we bring more sociologists into the 'harder' sciences since we know that social reality is all in the social imagination


No comments :

Post a Comment