Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel, "Brave New World", which offers a grim view of a future society shaped by eugenics and behaviorism, provides a good opportunity to discuss these issues.
After showing the suggested video segments, have students read the first two chapters of "Brave New World" (about 30 pages). In a class discussion, ask them to use what they've learned from the video to relate Huxley's vision to the psychological and social theories emerging at the time he wrote the book. What events or developments shown in the video may have influenced Huxley's thinking? What role do eugenics and behavioral conditioning play in the society Huxley portrays? What predictions did he make about how these new theories would influence society? In what ways does the society Huxley envisions resemble our own? In what ways is it different?
Today scientists are learning even more about human genetic makeup and the biology of the brain. Discuss with students how they think applications of new knowledge (for example, fetal testing or genetic engineering) might influence society in their lifetime.
Human Behavior Program Contents