Faulty Reasoning

The opinion article by Garland Allen, “A Dangerous Form of Eugenics is Creeping Back Into Science,” (The Scientist, February 6, 1989) shows that a dangerous form of antiscientific thought is creeping back into science. Allen would have us believe that there are aspects of the biological organization of human beings that should remain forever unknown. The opinion and the justifications for it are based on faulty reasoning, unsubstantiated accusations, and downright inaccuracy.

Allen uses all of the tricks of the polemicist’s trade, including the juxtaposition of disapproved ideas with past, unrelated outrages. Why is present research on genetic links to alcoholism, for instance, related to eugenics? Perhaps the writer fears future attempts to remove those with “alcoholic” genes from the population; the research might also lead to a cure for the disorder, however. The discovery of the genetic basis and subsequent treatment of phenylketonuria (PKU), or...

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