Skip to comments.The new eugenics
Posted on 12/18/2012 7:01:27 PM PST by Morgana
To understand the deep claims on our humanity that are central to bioethics, it can be helpful to turn to fiction. Two of the classic texts are Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, and Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. The first deals with the Promethean ambition of the scientist to reshape humanity. The second showcases the death of culture when sex is separated from reproduction.
Another of my favourites, too often neglected, is The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells. Its power comes not from the whiz-bang gadgetry of time travel, but its pessimistic vision of evolution. Homo sapiens has evolved into two separate breeds, the Eloi and the Morlochs. The feeble-minded Eloi live in sybaritic leisure on the surface of the earth; the brutish Morloch skulk in subterranean caverns and feed on the Eloi.
The nightmare of genetic degeneracy has been a recurring theme ever since Darwinian evolution took hold of the popular imagination. Eugenics, discredited nowadays, was public policy less than a hundred years ago. The disabled, the retarded, or the racially impure should not be allowed to breed. In 1927 one of the most influential justices ever to sit on the US Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes, wrote the majority opinion in an 8-1 decision legitimating compulsory sterilization. However shocking they seem now, his words, Three generations of imbeciles are enough expressed the conventional wisdom.
After the atrocities of the Nazi era, though, eugenics fell upon hard times. In the tussle between nature and nurture, nurture got the upper hand. Governments pinned their hopes on welfare and education rather than on tinkering with the gene pool.
But the Nazi era ended more than 60 years ago and once again fear of genetic decline is on the rise.
Click like if you are PRO-LIFE!
Just few weeks ago, in the journal Trends in Genetics Professor Gerald Crabtree, a developmental biologist at Stanford University, warned that civilization is slowly making us dumber.
We, as a species, are surprisingly intellectually fragile and perhaps reached a peak 20006000 years ago, he claims. A huntergatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his/her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate. Clearly, extreme selection is a thing of the past.
Notwithstanding the good humour, this is a profoundly subversive idea. The politics of Enlightenment societies is based upon the fiction of the social contract: we surrender our liberties to escape the nasty, brutish and short lives of hunter-gatherers. What Crabtree suggests is that we made a bad bargain. We traded safety for stupidity.
Crabtree bases his pessimistic analysis on a study of the accumulation of mutations in the genome which are no longer eliminated by competitive pressure for survival. Life in society allowed a degenerating gene pool to thrive. We no longer needed to be brainy because we lived in high-density, supportive societies that made up for lapses of judgment or failures of comprehension.
Not even Crabtree himself wants to give up flush toilets and video games for the genetically vigorous life of a spear-brandishing mammoth-killer. But our cushy lives, he thinks, are inexorably turning us into Eloi. The process will take thousands of years, but a day will come when the worlds population will be docilely watching reruns on televisions they can no longer build.
Crabtrees analysis has been ridiculed by science journalists. But its appearance in a leading journal suggests that something is afoot. Along with Julian Savulescu, the Oxford bioethicist who has called for extensive genetic engineering to keep humanity from destroying itself in a nuclear holocaust, he feels that the secret to solving humanitys problems lies in modification of the gene pool.
What will the new eugenics look like? In the last century, the fashion was to eliminate degenerates through sterilization or murder. In the 21st century, eugenicists may call for physical and intellectual genetic enhancement. Those who cannot afford it will drop behind, doomed to become mere drones. For a peek into the year 2144, take a look at the genetically-engineered fabricants in the new film, Cloud Atlas. Its terrifying.
OK then - everyone needs to attend Ranger school.
Idiocracy, the movie.
A huntergatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his/her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate. Clearly, extreme selection is a thing of the past.
Yeah, and a 47 percenter which in reality is now a 53 percenter that made a similar mistake would be taken care of forever draining the life of all the other hunters and gatherers until no one is left.
The liberals keep running into the same wall over and over again. They want everyone to live “perfect” lives. And perfect lives require a lot of resources. The Democrats know they can’t tax the rich and get enough money to give all the poor a perfect life. So when you can’t add to reach perfection, then you must subtract. You have to have fewer living poor. Abortion is one way. Homosexuals don’t reproduce, so homosexuality is encouraged. The liberals believe that our planet can only support 30 million people. That means billions of us are going to have to die. And we will have to die to allay the irrational fears and illogical dreams of liberals.
Here’s the sticky part: what if he’s right? What if we really are slowly accumulating genetic damage? I know such problems won’t be universal. Here in India many marriages are arranged based on how successful and educated the potential spouse is. As the damage accumulates, it will become one more selection criteria. In societies like the US, it will be a more informal process, so the division won’t be quite as stark, but it will be there.
The good professor, as with so many other lefties, (see Sultan Knish’s recent essay on gun control) assumes the population is unable to make discriminating choices on their own. The degradation may happen, but there will be a group who select themselves out of it on their own.
“Heres the sticky part: what if hes right? What if we really are slowly accumulating genetic damage? I know such problems wont be universal. Here in India many marriages are arranged based on how successful and educated the potential spouse is. As the damage accumulates, it will become one more selection criteria. In societies like the US, it will be a more informal process, so the division wont be quite as stark, but it will be there.”
Have you ever seen the Maury show? That has to be a eugenics nightmare. Think about it 19 men tested and she still don’t know who her baby’s daddy is. That means it is possible for half brothers and sisters to marry, or worse be on the Maury show in 20 years having babies of their own.
There are many scenarios here:
My “favorite” example of how difficult it is to USE genome mapping is: the same DNA strand that causes sickle cell anemia also prevents malaria. Whoops! In the wrong context culling the first causes a malaria epidemic!
But, let us suppose the genes for blindness, deafness (don’t get me started), Downs, and the so many other childhood illnesses are found before current amnio?
Stopping an early egg from continuing is FAR from the 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions we see now. Before you all gang up on me, hear me out:
Assume we get ALL we want. Reverse Roe v Wade. No abortion after a fetus is recognizable.
To convince people (men AND women) that a 2 or 3 day microscopic mass of cells is the same as a developing fetus (even the 2 week variety) just won’t wash.
As the detection gets earlier and the range of avoidable morbidities grows, certain populations will probably cease: Downs’ at birth will probably be non-existent in the Western world in 15-20 years. Childhood MS, Type 1 Diabetes and many more are on the same track.
These aren’t value statements: they are projections of what think WILL happen. Please attack me for an inaccurate model, not the implications of my model.
That’s what I’m referring to. Yes, I’ve seen that show, and that element of society is the one that won’t select for the damage, and will end up as the drones the professor talks about. Where the professor misses is in assuming the’re won’t be anyone who does select for intelligence.
“As the detection gets earlier and the range of avoidable morbidities grows, certain populations will probably cease: Downs at birth will probably be non-existent in the Western world in 15-20 years. Childhood MS, Type 1 Diabetes and many more are on the same track.”
I can see that. I was the one that posted a story from Life Site? About the downs testing that is even earlier than the old tests. Even if technology does not advance that far I fear abortion will still be legal for birth defects because for some strange reason people have it out for downs babies.
Reality: The day is already here when we watch reruns of astronauts flying to the moon on spaceships we can no longer build.
Those people drones? You must be kidding or the people into eugenics must be kidding themselves.
They will come up with such mutant retards that we will all be living in fear of them. Talk about night of the living rednecks. I shudder to think of that.
Ooops! I left out the most interesting scenario: the movie “Idiocracy.”
It is funny, but based on a strong principle: when survival is no longer a factor (dumb people get eaten or can’t eat), then nature only “rewards” fecundity.
And in our world AND the general direction, smart people tend to ave few if any children. Dumb people breed like bunnies (these are trends: I know people who are smart who have lots of kids — and those kids are smart).
If the numbers don’t result in islam overrunning civilization, stupidity might finish the job.
First of all, using “redneck” like that isn’t accurate (and is obnoxious). I’ve known plenty of “rednecks” who are articulate, intelligent, and successful. The folks on that show and those like them are probably better described as “trash”; many are from inner cities or suburban areas rather than being exclusively rural.
Second, although you seem to be trying for offensiveness in your post, I’ll try to answer the point intelligently anyway. I merely asked “what if [the professor] is right”; I didn’t say whether he was or not. And I suspect that while there will be a higher percentage of disabled in the non-selective population simply because the selective population will actively try to avoid such outcomes through careful partner selection, I suspect the trend in the non-selective population will be much more in favor of docile helplessness (or sloth), rather than dangerous predator. Any violence will be of the “toddler tantrum” nature rather than the street gang levels we are currently seeing.
Actually, we can and have built better spaceships than the (relatively primitive) Saturns that carried the Apollo missions. It’s not a question of capability, but a question of will. We haven’t “lost” any technology yet, with the possible exception of some very old techniques that have subsequently been replaced (Roman cement I think is still one we haven’t quite figured out). We’re still advancing. The real problem is that we are also, as the professor in OP indicates, approaching a point where there will be a segment of society that is no longer capable of understanding technology, and that segment *will* get left behind by the segment that can understand it. We’re probably closer to that than many are willing to admit, and there is already the start of an ethnic division, but I suspect that, given the right environment, you could still educate an intelligent child from any segment of society and have them successfully understand even heavy science. However, if the professor is right, eventually it won’t just be an ethnic division, but an actual societal one, where there will be a set of the population from all ethnic backgrounds that is no longer capable of being educated to that level.