Famed scientist and outspoken atheist intellectual Richard Dawkins has garnered controversy for posting a message to Twitter where he suggested that eugenics would help humanity.
The best-selling author of The God Delusion posted on Sunday about the issue of eugenics, arguing that while advocating for it ideologically would be questionable, the practice would work if implemented.
“It’s one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It’s quite another to conclude that it wouldn’t work in practice. Of course it would,” tweeted Dawkins.
“It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn’t it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology.”
Dawkins followed up his initial tweet with a disclaimer that he opposed “the idea of a eugenic policy” and implored people to “fight it on moral grounds.”
“I simply said deploring it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. Just as we breed cows to yield more milk, we could breed humans to run faster or jump higher. But heaven forbid that we should do it,” he continued.
“It would work in the same sense as it works for cows. Let’s fight it on moral grounds. Deny obvious scientific facts & we lose – or at best derail – the argument.”
Despite the disclaimers of opposing eugenics as a policy, Dawkins nevertheless garnered much criticism on social media.
“I don't have room to explain why in a tweet but we are very confident that eugenics would not ‘work’ in humans,” replied Dave Curtis of the UCL Genetics Institute.
“You absolute pin-headed simpleton,” tweeted best-selling author Scott Lynch in response. “It doesn't work in practice because too many of the goals turn out to be arbitrary fantasies, and too many of those fantasies are the pet projects of abusive bigots who f*** up any civilization they get their hands on. Are you new here?”
In tweets posted Monday, Dawkins expressed his displeasure at the tone of many of the negative responses he received to his eugenics post.
“Curious about Twitter nastiness,” he responded. “Why? Has it escalated like loudness of talk in crowded room? Starts quiet but escalates till all yell to be heard. Nastier than thou?”
Over the past several years, Dawkins has stirred up the occasional negative backlash for comments he has made on Twitter on a variety of topics.
In 2013, the atheist apologist was widely criticized for a tweet that used the term “Islamic barbarians” when responding to recent news of the apparent destruction of a historic library in Timbuktu, Mali.
“Some people (perhaps 1st language not English) think I was calling ALL Muslims barbarians. No. I was calling Islamic BARBARIANS barbarians,” Dawkins later clarified.
In 2015, Dawkins was placed on Twitter’s Block Bot, which is a program that hides accounts on the social media site deemed to be abusive or offensive.