How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

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How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

Discussing this on another board
http://www.salon.com/2014/04/19/charles ... holocaust/

There are plenty of refutation of it and would not matter if Darwin was a proto-Nazi either.
As such, little need to refute it here.

Years ago, long before I even became an atheist, I was on local BBS boards.
This would have mid to late 1990s.
I believe I remember that argument being used even back then though my memory could be faulty

Did find this though from 1999 (and a custom Google search of 1995 to 2002 comes up with additional sources)
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v13/n2/nazi

Curious though how back back the meme goes?
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Simon_Jester »

The idea that Darwin and "Darwinism" promote immoral attitudes predates Hitler. People have been condemning evolution for promoting immorality and undermining the proper role of religion and ethics in society since about five minutes after the theory was first discussed in public. Possibly earlier than that.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

I'd say it came about the very INSTANT Darwin presented his theories.
Basically ANYTHING that takes God out of the picture = Automatic EVIL to the church.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

I realize that but wonder the first specific connection to Hitler?
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Gandalf »

Presumably when people decided he was a bad guy.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Kitsune wrote:I realize that but wonder the first specific connection to Hitler?
If I recall correctly, rhetoric used in the Nuremberg trials.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Kitsune wrote:I realize that but wonder the first specific connection to Hitler?
If I recall correctly, rhetoric used in the Nuremberg trials.
Make clear, you are speaking about connecting Darwin to Hitler?
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Borgholio »

I can't imagine it goes back much farther than the late 1920's / early 1930's. Before then Hitler wasn't really an evil man (or even alive back during Darwin's ear).
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by madd0ct0r »

Hitler = Darwin was a key part of the Nazi ideology (social Darwinism and competition between races), and that speific version evolved out of thought patterns around before them e.g. Nietzsche.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

madd0ct0r wrote:Hitler = Darwin was a key part of the Nazi ideology (social Darwinism and competition between races), and that speific version evolved out of thought patterns around before them e.g. Nietzsche.
Not really
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Hitler_and_evolution
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by madd0ct0r »

dude, that article says exactly what i just did.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

Quick Summary:
An imagined connection between evolutionary theory and the Holocaust relies on the fact that Hitler's conception of national struggle and supremacy was rooted in a type of social Darwinism, an obsolete political theory that holds that the concept of "survival of the fittest" applies to nations, races, or ethnicities. Social Darwinism was derived from a misapplication of scientific thinking, has no real basis in the biological theory of evolution, and was not an idea advanced by Charles Darwin, whom Hitler never mentioned in any of his surviving speeches or writings.

Maybe your answer just is badly worded?
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Kitsune wrote:
Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Kitsune wrote:I realize that but wonder the first specific connection to Hitler?
If I recall correctly, rhetoric used in the Nuremberg trials.
Make clear, you are speaking about connecting Darwin to Hitler?
Yes. It was done if I remember properly by Earl Warren, but I would need to dig through a transcript or three to confirm. Going off memory.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Simon_Jester »

Crossroads Inc. wrote:I'd say it came about the very INSTANT Darwin presented his theories.
Basically ANYTHING that takes God out of the picture = Automatic EVIL to the church.
I added five minutes because it must have taken some nonzero time for the audience to comprehend what he was saying. ;)
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

Simon_Jester wrote:
Crossroads Inc. wrote:I'd say it came about the very INSTANT Darwin presented his theories.
Basically ANYTHING that takes God out of the picture = Automatic EVIL to the church.
I added five minutes because it must have taken some nonzero time for the audience to comprehend what he was saying. ;)
His idea has predecessors however
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Irbis »

Kitsune wrote:His idea has predecessors however
It probably pre-dates Hitler, seeing all he did was taking Eugenics and going to extreme lengths with it. The idea of improving humanity using (poor) understanding of evolution dates to 1860s, and frankly, even if there was no Hitler to make convenient poster boy we'd likely see 'Darwin = Evil' tag on the man today thanks to efforts of William Goodell (forced castration and spaying of the undesirables) or Francis Galton (first Eugenics advocate).
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Simon_Jester »

Although it's unclear just how fast our view of eugenics-by-removing-bad-genes would have changed if not for Hitler. The Nazis created a very stark example of why this attitude is wrong, and in the process gave rise to the modern movement to care for people with serious congenital disabilities.

But if you go back to the pre-WWII era, the idea that a society could or should rid itself of 'defectives' was extremely common. Much like anti-Semitism, far more people believed in it in 1930 than wanted to admit to it in 1950, and the print record bears this conclusion out.

So it's hard to say what would have happened, and when, in terms of that. Disabled advocacy would probably have advanced along with various other social causes in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, but it would have encountered a lot more resistance from the medical establishment.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by K. A. Pital »

Alternatively, more advanced genetics in the 1970s coupled with extreme eugenics pressure applied to the human population consistently from the 1930s to the 1970s might have actually produced a society where the number of people with genetic disabilities is so low that nobody cares about them enough to stop the selection. And maybe there'd be nobody to advocate for the disabled since there would be no disabled (other than acquired disability as a result of incidents).
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by madd0ct0r »

Kitsune wrote:Quick Summary:
An imagined connection between evolutionary theory and the Holocaust relies on the fact that Hitler's conception of national struggle and supremacy was rooted in a type of social Darwinism, an obsolete political theory that holds that the concept of "survival of the fittest" applies to nations, races, or ethnicities. Social Darwinism was derived from a misapplication of scientific thinking, has no real basis in the biological theory of evolution, and was not an idea advanced by Charles Darwin, whom Hitler never mentioned in any of his surviving speeches or writings.

Maybe your answer just is badly worded?
changed the underlining.

I think we're emphasising different sides of the same coin. Note I said Hitler= Darwin, not Darwin = Hitler. (assume we're using code assignations and not mathematical equality). Basically, Darwin's ideas can be badly used, twisted and misunderstood to support Social Darwinism, which along with 'race theory' led to various nasty philosophies including Nazism. This is something we both know.
It's about as correct as arguing the law of gravity means a heavier person is more attractive.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

Irbis wrote:
Kitsune wrote:His idea has predecessors however
It probably pre-dates Hitler, seeing all he did was taking Eugenics and going to extreme lengths with it. The idea of improving humanity using (poor) understanding of evolution dates to 1860s, and frankly, even if there was no Hitler to make convenient poster boy we'd likely see 'Darwin = Evil' tag on the man today thanks to efforts of William Goodell (forced castration and spaying of the undesirables) or Francis Galton (first Eugenics advocate).
Let me see if I can explain this in a way that makes sense. . . .
It was argued that blaming evolution for evils in the world came as soon as Darwin proposed the idea
I was stating that there were predecessors to Charles Darwin including his grandfather who were already exploring these ideas.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Kitsune »

madd0ct0r wrote:changed the underlining.

I think we're emphasising different sides of the same coin. Note I said Hitler= Darwin, not Darwin = Hitler. (assume we're using code assignations and not mathematical equality). Basically, Darwin's ideas can be badly used, twisted and misunderstood to support Social Darwinism, which along with 'race theory' led to various nasty philosophies including Nazism. This is something we both know.
It's about as correct as arguing the law of gravity means a heavier person is more attractive.
The problem is that fittest in evolution is a very fluid concept. . . .
For example, a roach is easily squashed but they have an evolutionary strategy that works.
Humans have a survival strategy that works as well, loosely argued as group cooperation.
A person does not have to be the strongest and toughest superman to survive.
In many cases that may be counterproductive actually.
Darwin understood this from everything I have read.

With Jews, something never made sense.
They are often considered by Nazis (and others) to be some kind of vermin, subhumans.
Yet at the same time, they are given a superior status. It is suggested that Jews rule the world.
Often attacked for controlling the sciences, medicine, education, finances, etc. . . .
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Metahive »

Darwin's books were banned under the Nazis, that should tell you all about how influential the former really was on the latter.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Irbis »

Metahive wrote:Darwin's books were banned under the Nazis, that should tell you all about how influential the former really was on the latter.
They were banned because, surprise, surprise, for 2 reasons:
All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk
All historical writings whose purpose is to denigrate the origin, the spirit and the culture of the German Volk, or to dissolve the racial and structural order of the Volk, or that denies the force and importance of leading historical figures in favor of egalitarianism and the masses, and which seeks to drag them through the mud
The fact that Darwin's works were anti-religious and properly read ridiculed any speciality of the 'German Volk' doesn't mean Hitler didn't borrowed a few concepts from them, the whole 'Aryan superiority' thing was basically twisted parody of evolutionary science. Yes, these guys were hypocrites, what you expected from someone who can write:
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Metahive »

Irbis wrote:The fact that Darwin's works were anti-religious and properly read ridiculed any speciality of the 'German Volk' doesn't mean Hitler didn't borrowed a few concepts from them, the whole 'Aryan superiority' thing was basically twisted parody of evolutionary science. Yes, these guys were hypocrites, what you expected from someone who can write:
If Hitler borrowed from someone it was from "racialist" theorists like, Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Steward Chamberlain and Guido von List who made the whole "Aryan Masterrace" myth popular. They got their ideas not from any scientific studies but from "intuition" or even "divine inspiration" according to themselves. So I still think the Darwin connection is rather thin.
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Re: How far back does the "Darwin = Hitler" meme go back?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Ok. Looks like I get to write a fucking essay.

Keep in mind that some sort of evolution was generally accepted even before Darwin. They did not accept common descent immediately, nor was the mechanism of inheritance known until Mendels works were rediscovered in 1900 (The irony is that Mendel sent his works to Darwin, who, given who he was, would have immediately recognized their significance. The man was the next best thing to prescient as far as that sort of thing is concerned, postulating things that his successors did not figure out until the 1970s etc. But said papers got lost in Darwin's vast correspondence).

Even after Mendel's writings were rediscovered, Evolution by Natural Selection and Genetics were not unified until the period between 1916 and 1940, when Theodesius Dobzhansky and Thomas Hunt Morgan identified genetic mutation as the source of variation acted upon by Natural Selection. Prior to this, including during the entire early formative history of the eugenics movement, the nascent science of genetics was used in support of eugenic and racialist ideology because it was believed at the time that only negative mutations existed (and were held by degenerates and inferior non-aryans). Selection as a creative force was rejected by most geneticists, and it took the work of Morgan, who discovered stable positive and neutral mutations in Drosophila, to show that this was not true. Even then, it took a while for it to catch on. Post WWII, basically. Naturalists tended to be Darwinists, and generally not in favor of eugenics and racialist ideology.

The Darwin=Hitler bullshit is a later conflation between the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis, and early genetics in this respect.
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