"The story is incredibly hateful and lacking in compassion and false," says legal historian Paul Lombardo of Georgia State University in Atlanta. "The story of the Jukes is demonstrably false, and yet people keep repeating it, sometimes knowing it's false."
In the current edition of The Journal of Legal Medicine, Lombardo looks at the modern-day manifestations of the bad idea behind "the infamous Jukes family," as scientist Sir Francis Galton, founder of the "eugenics" movement, described them in 1876.
A historically awful episode of pseudo-science, eugenics aimed at breeding "better" humans, a movement eventually embraced by dozens of states, from Virginia to California, leading to more than 60,000 forced sterilizations by the 1960s. Lombardo worries that in our modern age of genomics, people have forgotten the cautionary tale behind the lies about the Jukes, and the tragedies of the eugenics...