January 27, 2005

CONSCIENCE OF A BIOLOGIST:

Outspoken Geneticist H. Bentley Glass Dies (Adam Bernstein, January 21, 2005, Washington Post)

H. Bentley Glass, 98, who died of pneumonia Jan. 16 at a hospital in Boulder, Colo., was a renowned biologist and geneticist. His controversial, often dire and eloquent scientific predictions made him a notable figure long after he had retired. [...]

In the late 1960s, his jobs as Stony Brook's academic vice president and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science provided him high visibility. Perhaps none of his previous speeches seemed to alarm the public as much as those he made during this period.

He forecast the likely proliferation of genetic clinics during the next three decades and warned that couples would be forced to take tests to ensure against hereditary defects in their future children. In cases where parents might produce limbless or mentally handicapped children, "avoidance of parenthood ought to be mandatory," he said.

He envisioned a future where restrictive tax penalties existed for those who did not comply with rules against having a limited number of children. He noted forced abortions for those who were "mentally defective" as well as prenatal adoption and frozen embryos that would be implanted within the mother.

"No parents will in that future time have a right to burden society with a malformed or a mentally incompetent child," he concluded. [...]

He was president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, among other groups, and edited several periodicals, including the Quarterly Review of Biology. He was national president of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society in the late 1960s.

His books included "Genes and the Man" (1943) and "Science and Liberal Education" (1960).

He once said his range of interests served one goal: "educating laymen in the questing spirit of science and reminding science of its social responsibility."


Well, he did capture the spirit of science.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 27, 2005 10:07 AM
Comments

Why are these guys almost uniformly intolerant of those who might have a different view? His tone is that of the man who knows all worth knowing. Modern totalitarianism is impossible without such smug reasoning.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at January 27, 2005 2:19 PM

He was almost exactly where I am on these matters. My only regret is that I never met him.

Posted by: Bart at January 27, 2005 10:17 PM

Mengele? Even we don't regret that you never met him.

Posted by: oj at January 27, 2005 10:23 PM
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