G: Unfit

G: Unfit

Update: 2019-07-1764
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When a law student named Mark Bold came across a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed “unfit,” he was shocked to discover that it had never been overturned. His law professors told him the case, Buck v Bell, was nothing to worry about, that the ruling was in a kind of legal limbo and could never be used against people. But he didn’t buy it. In this episode we follow Mark on a journey to one of the darkest consequences of humanity’s attempts to measure the human mind and put people in boxes, following him through history, science fiction and a version of eugenics that’s still very much alive today, and watch as he crusades to restore a dash of moral order to the universe.


This episode was produced by Matt Kielty, Lulu Miller and Pat Walters. 


You can pre-order Lulu Miller’s new book Why Fish Don’t Exist here.


Special thanks to Sara Luterman, Lynn Rainville, Alex Minna Stern, Steve Silberman and Lydia X.Z. Brown.


Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.










Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

Comments (21)

Holls Balls

If someone is fully unable to care for themselves or others (and could have sex by choice or god forbid rape) then it’s total reasonable and rational to do?!? That’s not eugenics, that’s protecting an innocent person and their potential offspring.

Jul 26th
Reply

Holls Balls

Eugenics is bad.... but some people should not reproduce. Is that so crazy?

Jul 26th
Reply

Ryan Persaud

Holls Balls In summation: "eugenics is bad, but also, I believe in eugenics."

Jul 29th
Reply

Gary North

I enjoyed this episode and then heard more about the court case on Hidden Brain. All the history that is never taught.

Jul 22nd
Reply

Fido Wood

Gary North Like the episode too!

Jul 23rd
Reply

L K

6:30 shows already that you guys dont understand natural selection at all.

Jul 18th
Reply

David Storfer

L K Maybe you should listen to 38:40.

Aug 6th
Reply

Tommy Fafalios

L K Its almost like at 6:30 they were describing the people who used eugenics to utilize natural selection in a futile, misguided, and abusive way. Almost like that was the point of the story. 🤔🤔🤔

Jul 29th
Reply

Lara Day

the phone call @23:00 - jaw to floor holy crap

Jul 18th
Reply

Dory Manor

Lara Day ם ם ט ץן טוץם. ת ךוץ. חל

Jul 24th
Reply

Paul Madrid

Lara Day this is so crazy!! my son has autism I couldn't imagine doing that to him.

Jul 22nd
Reply

TurtleToast

Sending LOVE✌💙🐢

Jul 17th
Reply

Kimberley Cotton

TurtleToast

Jul 18th
Reply
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G: Unfit

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