Genetics and a Mathematically Indefensible Historical Moment
Rosalie Dance, James Sandefur
Algebra, Modeling, Probability
Mathematical modeling is an important tool in both governmental
policy decision-making and in industrial planning. In mathematical
modeling, we develop a function, a graph, an equation, or a simulation based on assumptions about a situation. The results often give insight into the situation. The expense of making a mathematical model is usually significantly less than making a prototype. Even more importantly, a math model can sometimes help us avoid making decisions that may have
disastrous effects on humans and our environment.
In this article, we are going to develop and analyze some models related to
population genetics. In particular, we are going to study how the genetic
makeup of a population changes over time as a result of natural and manmade influences.
We begin by developing models related to the failed “eugenics movement” of
the late ninteenth and early twentieth century. This worldwide movement
promoted forced sterilization of individuals deemed to have harmful genetic
traits. The movement particularly targeted mental retardation, with the goal of eliminating mental retardation.