having been a victim of a cruel branch
of pseudoscience. 4
Why does this matter?
Some might wonder why Emma
Wolverton is important today. It is a
sad story, but she died almost 40 years
ago. Today, eugenics has a bad name
because the Nazis used the ideology to
support exterminating Jews and other
‘lesser’ races—after using it to justify
murdering large numbers of mentally
and physically handicapped people in
the name of preventing them passing on
their supposedly ‘inferior genes’.
But when Deborah first entered
the Vineland Training School, it was
the scientific consensus in the western
world, accepted by all preeminent
researchers in the field, and approved
by the US Supreme Court (Buck v. Bell,
1927). It seemed self-evident, enough
to justify the lifetime incarceration of
whose only ‘crime’ was being poor,
uneducated, or otherwise disadvantaged,
who were abused to advance a theory
that built the careers of some of the most
famous scientists of the day.
But it’s easy to forget that scientists
still make pronouncements that affect
the life and death of people today. Some
‘ethicists’ say that it is more merciful
to kill a child in the womb when he or
she may be born disabled, and that it is
better to help a troubled or ill person to
commit suicide rather than to ‘force’ him
or her to live a life that they arbitrarily
decide is ‘not worth living’. Someone as
famous as Richard Dawkins proclaimed
that the ‘moral’ thing was to abort a
Down Syndrome baby and ‘try again’, 6
and Peter Singer (Professor of Bioethics
at Princeton University) infamously
remarked that some animals have more
moral value than some newborn babies. 7
The only worldview that upholds the
value of all human life, regardless of
ently valuable, despite that image being
marred by sin.
References and notes
1. See Grigg, R., ‘Hooray for eugenics!’,
Creation 30( 3): 50–52, 2008; creation.com/
H., The Kallikak Family, New York,
Macmillan and Company, 1912.
3. Smith, J.D. and Wehmeyer, M.L., Good
Blood, Bad Blood: Science, Nature, and
the Myth of the Kallikaks, pp. 200–201,
Washington, D.C., AAIDD, 2012.
4. Emma’s real history is given in detail in
Smith and Wehmeyer, ref. 3, and Smith and
Wehmeyer, Who Was Deborah Kallikak?
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
50( 2):169–178 | doi: 10.1352/1934-9556-
50. 2.169, April 2012.
5. Sarfati, J., America’s evolutionists: Hitler’s
inspiration? Creation 27( 2): 49, 2005;
6. Cosner, L., Richard Dawkins: Dolphins
worth more than babies with Down
creation.com/dawkins-ds-abortion, 24 August 2014.
7. Cosner, L., Blurring the line between
abortion and infanticide? creation.com/
infanticide, 2 July 2008.
Left: Emma at age 15. Top middle: Emma at the sewing machine. Bottom: The Vineyard Training House. Right: Emma at the