Victor Frankenstein suffered from a lack of foresight. He only planned to reanimate a human being; he did not consider the consequences of such an action, and he did not build protections for unexpected, detrimental effects. Real-life scientists suffer from the same problem. Today we are reminded with every issue of "Time" that scientists in one modern field, nuclear technology, and emerging field genome mapping/genetic engineering wield considerable power. Shelley raises the question whether the quest for scientific knowledge should be bound. The quest for knowledge should never be bound because injunctions against originality would lead to the oppression of mankind's most important resource, our thinkers. But scientists themselves
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Eugenics is the study of improved offspring through controlled breeding. Adolf Hitler is the most notable example of a believer in eugenics. At the time, Germans regarded themselves to be "at the acme of human accomplishment." *2* It was not much of a jump, then for him to take Erasmus' concept of a "superman" to heart and begin extermination of what he defined as "inferior" races and people (Jews, Gypsies, blacks, homosexuals, the retarded, etc.) while encouraging Christian German women to bear as many children as possible.
* Those who are physically and mental unhealthy and unfit must notÝperpetuate their sufferings in the bodies of their children. Through educational means the state must teach individuals that illness is not disgrace but a misfortune for while people are the be pities, yet at theÝsame time it is a crime and a disgrace to make this affliction the worseÝby passing it on to innocent creatures out of a merely egoistic yearning.
--Adolf Hitler "Mein Kamph," 1925 *3*
The extermination of millions of civilians and soldiers in the last great war because of only one man's belief in flawed application of scientific theories (such as social Darwinism) should be enough to warn scientists that sometimes, while the theories are sound, the application of their ideas can perverted and exploited for the most evil of ends. More supposedly benign