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Our next Resident Scholar lecture will be happening on Friday, August 5 at 2:00 p.m. in the Willamette West room on the Valley Library’s third floor. Our speaker this time is Dr. Michael Kenny, professor emeritus in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University.
Dr. Kenny has been working with the Pauling Papers in developing his talk, “‘Fear of the Mutant: Recessive Genes and Racial Degeneration in the Nuclear Fallout Debate.” An abstract of this presentation is below. We hope to see you there.
By the 1950s geneticists had come to partially understand the role that recessive genes play in certain hereditary disorders, some of which were obvious (such as sickle cell anemia), and others presumably concealed within morbidity and mortality statistics. These possible latent effects were very much on the minds of those — such as Hermann Muller, Linus Pauling and George Beadle — who were critical of atmospheric nuclear testing. Their concern was a latter-day expression of what had been a long-standing obsession of the eugenics movement: the fear of cumulative racial degeneration and decline. This presentation examines how these ideas were articulated in the context of the nuclear fallout debate.