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The Science of Human PerfectionHow Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine$
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Nathaniel Comfort

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780300169911

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300169911.001.0001

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How the Geneticists Learned to Start Worrying and Love Mutation

How the Geneticists Learned to Start Worrying and Love Mutation

(p.130) 5 How the Geneticists Learned to Start Worrying and Love Mutation
The Science of Human Perfection

Nathaniel Comfort

Yale University Press

This chapter explains that the postwar period created a new professional and public environment for human genetics as the relationship between heredity and human health suddenly became an important matter. When the society moved on from war to science, most professional geneticists who shied away from problems of human heredity in the 1930s were drawn back to the study of genes again. Those geneticists who were long interested in human problems took this opportunity to professionalize their work. Since human genetics continued to be related to the eugenic goals of human improvement and directed evolution, professionalization in human genetics was partly a question of whether and how to institutionalize the social control of heredity. Geneticists realized that there was a need to create a new and ethically clean field without omitting the eugenic values long established.

Keywords:   postwar period, geneticists, eugenics, human improvement, evolution, social control of heredity

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