“There is a close analogy between a human body invaded by a cancer and a nation afflicted with subpopulations whose inborn defects cause them to become social liabilities. Just as in cancer the best treatment is to eradicate the parasitic growth as quickly as possible, the eugenic defense against the dysgenic social effects of afflicted subpopulations is of necessity limited to equally drastic measures…. When these inferior elements are not effectively eliminated from a (healthy) population, then – just as when the cells of a malignant rumor are allowed to proliferate throughout a human body – they destroy the host body as well as themselves.”
“”Nothing is more important for the health of an entire people [Volk] than the elimination [Ausschaltung] of invirent types, which, with the most dangerous and extreme virulence, threaten to penetrate the body of a people like the cells of a malignant tumor.”
Below are some links to articles on the Nazi ethologist Konrad Lorenz. Lorenz is considered one of the founders of the scientific field of ethology. In 1973 he won the Nobel Prize for his work. Despite his Nazi past Lorenz continues to be popular and many aren’t fully aware of his Nazi past. As an Austrian scientist he welcomed the Anschluss (the union of Austria and Germany) for he thought the Third Reich was based on biological principles. Lorenz used his ethological theories to promote racial hygiene and against what he called the domestication of humans in civilized society i.e. genetic decay. He compared the genetic deterioration of domesticated geese to the so-called genetic deterioration of humans. He applied in 1938 to join the Nazi party and the Office of Race Policy. During the war he conducted selection on 877 “hybrid poles” selecting the fit from the unfit. He contributed to a Nazi biology textbook stating Darwinian evolution and National Socialism were not incompatible. Despite his Nazi past, Lorenz has not been adequately publicly censured or had some of his ethological views seriously challenged. Among today’s few ethologists he is still considered one of “the founding fathers of ethology” if not the main founding father and is quoted often. His most famous book was “On Aggression” published in 1966.
The below links to articles are intended to familiarize the reader with Konrad Lorenz’s Nazi past and some of his ethological theories. This man contributed to a “German scientific atmosphere” that facilitated the Holocaust. In later years Lorenz commented, “When I was younger I was with my country “right or wrong”.I no longer think that today.” No apology can make up for Lorenz’s promotion of racial hygiene, his fanatical support of National Socialism or his selecting 877 “hybrid Poles” into being “fit” and “unfit”.
Konrad Lorenz and Nazism
“I was frightened – as I still am – by the thought that analogous genetical processes of deterioration [as a consequence of “domestication”] may be at work with civilized humanity. Moved by this fear, I did a very ill-advised thing soon after the Germans had invaded Austria: I wrote about the dangers of domestication and, in order to be understood, I couched my writing in the worst of nazi-terminology. I do not want to extenuate this action. I did, indeed, believe that some good might come of the new rulers. The precedent narrow-minded catholic regime in Austria induced better and more intelligent men than I was to cherish this naive hope. Practically all my friends and teachers did so, including my own father who certainly was a kindly and humane man. None of us as much as suspected that the word “selection”, when used by these rulers, meant murder. I regret those writings not so much for the undeniable discredit they reflect on my person as for their effect of hampering the future recognition of the dangers of domestication.”
“The interpretation of human behavior in terms of physiological theory based on lower levels is carried one step further when Lorenz (1940) equates the effects of civilization in human beings with the effects of domestication in animals. He states that a major effect (of unrestricted breeding) is the involution or degeneration of species-specific behavior patterns and releaser mechanisms because of degenerative mutations, which under conditions of domestication or civilization are not eliminated by natural selection. He presents this as a scientific reason for societies to erect social prohibitions to take the place of degenerated releaser mechanisms which originally kept races from interbreeding. This was presented by Lorenz in the context of a discussion of the scientific justification for the then existing (1940) German legal restrictions against marriage between Germans and non-Germans.”
From: Michael Ragland <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: jrfeier <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:53 PM
Subject: Make sure to tell Schifenhovel the truth
From: jrfeier <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: michaelragland69 <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 8:44 PM
Subject: Message not approved: Innateness versus Canalization
You have sent this several hours after three warnings not to send more political postings about Lorenz. I am therefore removing you from the human ethology group. I would have thought you learned something when Robert had to remove you from the evolutionary psychology group a month or two ago. Sadly, you have not learned. I’m sorry to do this but this is the guideline under which I moderate the group. I’m going to inform Wulf Schifenhovel, President of ISHE that I’ve removed you and why. You are permanently removed.
Jay R. Feierman
ISHE Yahoo Human-Ethology group.
> Lorenz proposed in his (1935) articulation of a theory of behavioral instincts that the objective of ethology is to distinguish behaviors that are “innate” from behaviors that are “learned” (or “acquired”). Lorenz’’s motive was to open the investigation of certain “adaptive” behaviors to evolutionary theorizing. Accordingly, since innate behaviors are “genetic”, they are open to such investigation. By Lorenz’’s light an innate/acquired or learned dichotomy rested on a familiar Darwinian distinction between genes and environments. Ever since Lorenz, ascriptions of innateness have become widespread in the cognitive, behavioral, and biological sciences. The trend continues despite decades of strong arguments that show, in particular, the dichotomy that Lorenz invoked in his theory of behavioral instincts is literally false: no biological trait is the product of genes alone. Some critics suggest that the failure of Lorenz’’s account shows that innateness is not well-defined in biology and the practice of ascribing innateness to various biological traits should be dropped from respectable science. Elsewhere (Ariew 1996) I argued that despite the arguments of critics, there really is a biological phenomenon underlying the concept of innateness. On my view, innateness is best understood in terms of C.H. Waddington’s concept of “canalization”, i.e. the degree to which a trait is innate is the degree to which its developmental outcome is canalized. The degree to which a developmental outcome is canalized is the degree to which the developmental process is bound to produce a particular end state despite environmental fluctuations both in the development’s initial state and during the course of development. The canalization account differs in many ways to the traditional ways that ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz originally understood the concept of innateness. Most importantly, on the canalization account the distinction between innate and acquired is not a dichotomy, as Konrad Lorenz had it, but rather a matter of degree difference that lies along a spectrum with highly canalized development outcomes on the one end and highly environmentally sensitive development outcomes on the other end. Nevertheless, I justified the canalization account on the basis of a set of desiderata or criteria that I suggested falls-out of what seemed uncontroversial about Lorenz’s account of innateness (briefly): innateness is a property of a developing individual, innateness denotes environmental stability, and innate-ascriptions are useful in certain natural selection explanations (more below). From that same set of desiderata I argued (in my 1996) that neither the concept of heritability nor of norms of reactions— to concepts from population genetics— suffice to ground innateness. In this essay, I wish to provide further support of the canalization account in two ways. First, I wish to better motivate the desiderata by revisiting a debate between Konrad Lorenz and Daniel Lehrman over the meaning and explanatory usefulness of innate ascriptions in ethology. Second, I wish to compare my canalization account of innateness with accounts proposed by contemporary philosophers, one by Stephen Stich (1975), another by Elliott Sober (forthcoming), and a third by William Wimsatt (1986).