The Eugenics Movement in America: "Science, Nature, and the Myths of the Kallikaks"

Sep 19, 2012

Our guest on this edition of ST is Dr. Michael L. Wehmeyer, a Professor of Special Education and Director of the Center on Developmental Disabilities at Kansas University. He's published more than 25 books and 250 scholarly articles and book chapters on topics related to special education, understanding intellectual disability, eugenics, and self-determination --- and he is the co-author of a new book, "Good Blood, Bad Blood: Science, Nature, and the Myth of the Kallikaks." A former Tulsan and University of Tulsa graduate, Dr. Wehmeyer will offer a free-to-the-public reading/lecture/signing in regard to this new book tonight (Wednesday the 19th) at 7pm at the Hardesty Regional Library (at 8316 East 93rd Street). As Dr. Wehmeyer tells us on today's program, "Good Blood, Bad Blood" is basically an exploration of the life and work of the prominent American psychologist Henry Herbert Goddard (1866-1957), who invented the pseudonym "Kallikak" --- from the Greek words 'kallos' (beauty) and 'kakos' (bad) --- to apply to a family that he thought (based on his many so-called "scientific" studies) represented the core principles of eugenics. A shameful and long-discounted yet highly influential early-20th-century movement, eugenics saw itself (as one slogan from the 1920s had it) as "the self-direction of human evolution." It was a pervasive pseudo-science that, in its most extreme form, eventually led to the "race purification" efforts of Nazi Germany. Dr. Wehmeyer's appearance in Tulsa is sponsored by TARC and the Oklahoma Chapter of the AAIDD; for more information, please call 918-582-8272.