Bret Stephens. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Once narrowly defined as the belief that human beings could breed selectively to weed out disease and crime, eugenics no longer forms the basis of laws permitting the forcible sterilization of the poor. But as 2019 mercifully ends, eugenics is having a moment. Bret Stephens is only one symptom. In a piece touting the genius of Ashkenazi Jews, the New York Times columnist cited a study co-authored by the late white supremacist anthropologist, Henry Harpending, who promoted pseudoscientific ideas about the heritability of intelligence. The Times later retracted the reference, and attached an editor’s note to the column — not the first major correction they’ve attached to Stephens’s work, and at this rate, not the last.

Only Stephens knows for certain how he came to cite a white supremacist in his work. One increasingly plausible theory suggests that he spends approximately three seconds on Google to research his articles. Looking up a study’s co-authors might have tacked on an extra minute or so to his workload, an intolerable effort. But no matter how it happened, the cumulative effect of Stephens’s argument, and his citation of Harpending, evoked the debunked ideas of the eugenics movement.(Sara Jones)

Posted by The non-Conformist