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Contra Galton

Michael Neve, 5 March 1987

In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity 
by Daniel Kevles.
Penguin, 426 pp., £4.95, August 1986, 0 14 022698 2
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... and some of this shows in its analyses of eugenical selection – who should breed, who not. Kevles has gone on to be analysed by fellow academics, notably in the pages of the prestigious American history-of-science magazine lsis, where the doubts about his account of heredity and genetic engineering have been most strongly voiced: but astonishingly ...

Scientific Antlers

Steven Shapin: Fraud in the Lab, 4 March 1999

The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science and Character 
by Daniel Kevles.
Norton, 509 pp., £21, October 1998, 0 393 04103 4
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... on fraud in biomedical research. The Congressman’s sensibilities were offended by the very idea: Kevles writes that Gore regarded fraud in the biomedical sciences as ‘akin to pederasty among priests’. Two New York Times science journalists – William Broad and Nicholas Wade – were outraged at what they saw as bland indifference to the problem on the ...

Havens

Daniel Kevles, 17 August 1989

Thinking about science: Max Delbrück and the Origins of Molecular Biology 
by Ernst Peter Fischer and Carol Lipson.
Norton, 334 pp., £13.95, January 1989, 9780393025088
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Is science necessary? Essays on Science and Scientists 
by M.F. Perutz.
Barrie and Jenkins, 285 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 0 7126 2123 7
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... In 1944, the physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who had earned a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the invention of quantum mechanics, published What is life?, a remarkable book in which he argued that vital processes must obey the laws of physics but could probably not be reduced to them. In micro-physics, order tended to give way to disorder; the behaviour of single atoms could be predicted only in statistical terms ...

Flavr of the Month

Daniel Kevles, 19 August 1993

Perilous Knowledge: The Human Genome Project and its Implications 
by Tom Wilkie.
Faber, 195 pp., £14.99, May 1993, 0 571 16423 4
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The Language of the Genes: Biology, History and the Evolutionary Future 
by Steve Jones.
HarperCollins, 236 pp., £16.99, June 1993, 0 00 255020 2
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... Nothing in contemporary science seems to trouble the public more than genetic engineering. Despite the cloying sentimentality that Steven Spielberg has introduced into Jurassic Park, the film expresses the sharp scepticism about the benefits of manipulating DNA that forms the moral core of the novel by Michael Crichton on which it is based. In the novel, Ian Malcolm, the conscience of the tale, remarks as he lies dying from a raptor attack (in the film he doesn’t die; only villains die on Spielberg’s screen): ‘Science, like other outmoded systems, is destroying itself ...

When big was beautiful

Nicholas Wade, 20 August 1992

Big Science: The Growth of Large-Scale Research 
edited by Peter Galison and Bruce Helvy.
Stanford, 392 pp., $45, April 1992, 0 8047 1879 2
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The Code of Codes 
edited by Daniel Kevles and Leroy Hood.
Harvard, 397 pp., £23.95, June 1992, 0 674 13645 4
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... justified its interest as being to study how the genome responds to radiation. At that point, as Daniel Kevles relates, biologists realised they were making a mistake, since control of the project would pass out of their hands. In the course of lobbying for their own patron agency, the National Institutes of Health, to be cut in on the action, they ...

Whenever you can, count

Andrew Berry: Galton, 4 December 2003

A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics 
by Nicholas Wright Gillham.
Oxford, 416 pp., £22.50, September 2002, 0 19 514365 5
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... inevitable reproductive disappointment. For Galton these arguments were not entirely theoretical. Daniel Kevles has suggested that the barrenness of Galton’s own marriage (to Louisa Butler, herself the product of a distinguished academic pedigree, but no heiress), may have been responsible for his single-mindedness: ‘Galton may well have diverted ...

Devil take the hindmost

John Sutherland, 14 December 1995

Shadows of the Future: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction and Prophecy 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Liverpool, 170 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 85323 439 6
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The History of Mr Wells 
by Michael Foot.
Doubleday, 318 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 385 40366 6
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A Modern Utopia 
by H.G. Wells, edited by Krishan Kumar.
Everyman, 271 pp., £5.99, November 1994, 0 460 87498 5
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... than he dared be in print is proved by a passage in a book which Wellsians seem to have neglected, Daniel Kevles’s In the Name of Eugenics (1985). Discussing attitudes to mass forcible sterilisation in the early 1900s, Kevles records: In the United States, a strong consensus in favor of sterilisation – supporters ...

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