Human Variation Essay

753 Words 4 Pages
Theories and studies in science tend to change over the years due to new evidence as well as social changes. Science, like a living organism, adapts and is reevaluated with new outcomes. It is important to look back at past studies and ideas not only to retest hypotheses but also to see how far the scientific community has brought society. One branch to look back on would be biology, more specifically human variation. At the present time we know that race is not a biological variation. All humans on earth are of one species Homo sapiens. However this was not always the view from the scientific community. The early studies of human variation were vastly different compared to the present. The goal of early studies was to rank and categorize humans …show more content…
Monogenism is the view that the origin of humans was of a single source. This view was popular among scientists that wanted to maintain Christianity scripture that states all humans are descendants of Adam and Eve. Some scientists were not satisfied with this idea that all of mankind was from a single origin. Polygenism abandoned the literal scripture translation and argued that human races were each separate species. This view held that humans perhaps descended from different Adams. Gould argues that degenerationism was the more popular argument since scripture was not challenged often. The idea of degeneration supports that monogenism is correct but some people have degenerated into undesirable characteristics while white was the color to achieve. Samuel Stanhope Smith believed that blacks could change into white if in a temperament climate. However others thought there would not be enough time to witness in their lifetime. Perhaps the more famous early study was the eugenics movement. Eugenics is the study of human biology in order to rank humans as superior or inferior through selective breeding or sterilization. Marks describe the eugenics movement as an outgrowth of Darwinism. Francis Galton was one of the frontrunner for the movement and stated that his goal was to improve human life and this movement was …show more content…
Gould described the idea of monogenism and polygensim as forms of scientific racism. His tone through out chapter two seems disgusted by the justifications to rank humans based on perceived beauty and biased opinions. Gould also felt compelled to recreate Samuel Morton’s cranial measurements that ranked humans based on the cranial measurements. Gould’s finding differed from Morton’s. Gould felt that Morton was biased and intentionally “fudged” the data to better support his argument. However, others have studies both Gould’s and Morton’s findings and have concluded that Morton did not fudge the data but it was a mere accident. Marks thought the early studies are embarrassing to the biological community. He believed that eugenics was a major failure in American science. To understand these studies, we must understand that the scientist that followed and studied these ideas were of a different time period. They were seeking answers to justify slavery and to support scripture. These ideas do not need to be supported or accepted, but it is important to view these ideas through the eyes of the scientists during that time. They were looking to answer where humans came from and why there is variety among humans. The results caused harm to society by justifying slavery and convincing people that there was a biological hierarchy of

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