The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 Gene Expression BlogTeasers
Eugenics: The Problem Is Coercion

f91f1ec3f20d34989c512b18aeed47caThe Washington Post has an op-ed up right now titled: What’s the difference between genetic engineering and eugenics? I will be frank and state that it’s not the clearest op-ed in my opinion, though to be fair the writer is a generalist, not a science writer. As I quipped on Twitter, the issue with eugenics is simple: the problem is coercion, and the rest is commentary. I understand that the public is wary and skeptical of CRISPR technology and preimplanation genetic diagnosis. The problem is that the public is also suspicious of food which has DNA in it. Genes are not magic, but that is hard to convince the person on the street. Whereof one does not know, thereof one must be suspicious.

I believe for there to be a clear discussion, one needs to take coercion off the table, and abolish its specter by stating that it just isn’t an option. Then we can have a real dialogue that gets beyond the superficiality induced by the shadow of genocide. For example, consider sentences such as the following from the op-ed above “editing genes for frivolous purposes such as increasing intelligence.” There are many technical reasons that it may not be possible to increase intelligence in the near future through genetic engineering. But would increasing one’s intelligence be frivolous? I don’t think so. Whether you agree with this project or not, it is a serious matter, and gets to the heart of what we value as human beings (or at least some of us). But the specter of genocide casts a pall on exploring these nuanced questions, and that is because of the past record of coercion in eugenics.

Erika Check Hayden, a science journalist, has a much more nuanced piece in Nature, Should you edit your children’s genes? Here are some passages that jumped out at me:

In January, Ruthie’s dad Ethan asked her whether she wished that her parents had corrected the gene responsible for her blindness before she was born. Ruthie didn’t hesitate before answering — no. Would she ever consider editing the genes of her own future children to help them to see? Again, Ruthie didn’t blink — no.

The answer made Ethan Weiss, a physician–scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, think. Weiss is well aware of the rapid developments in gene-editing technologies — techniques that could, theoretically, prevent children from being born with deadly disorders or with disabilities such as Ruthie’s. And he believes that if he had had the option to edit blindness out of Ruthie’s genes before she was born, he and his wife would have jumped at the chance. But now he thinks that would have been a mistake: doing so might have erased some of the things that make Ruthie special — her determination, for instance. Last season, when Ruthie had been the worst player on her basketball team, she had decided on her own to improve, and unbeknownst to her parents had been practising at every opportunity. Changing her disability, he suspects, “would have made us and her different in a way that we would have regretted”, he says. “That’s scary.”

Sandy Sufian, a historian of medicine and disability at the University of Illinois, agrees with MacArthur that CRISPR has the potential to become widely adopted, both because of the perception that it would save money that would otherwise be spent caring for disabled people and because of people’s fear of disability. But she questions the idea that eliminating such conditions will necessarily improve human life. Sufian has cystic fibrosis, a disease caused by mutations that render her lung cells more vulnerable to infection and disease. She spends 40 hours a week inhaling medicine to clear her lungs of mucus, exercising and undergoing physical therapy; others have to quit their jobs to make sufficient time for treatments. Yet given the option to edit cystic fibrosis out of her bloodline, Sufian wouldn’t do it. “There are some great things that come from having a genetic illness,” she says.

Garland-Thomson echoes that sentiment; she has one and a half arms and six fingers because of a condition called limb-reduction disorder. She says that she values traits in herself that she may have developed as adaptations to the condition: she is very sociable and wonders if that is because she’s had to learn to work hard to make others feel comfortable around her. “Any kinds of restrictions or limitations have created the opportunity for me to develop work-arounds,” Garland-Thomson says.

450px-FlagellantsThe great thing about taking coercion off the table is that people can have differing opinions. We can differ as to eudaimonia. But, to not put too fine a point on it, I think the world would be fine without cystic fibrosis, even if some great things come of it. We humans are good at making lemonade out of lemons, but Mendelian diseases are definitely low hanging fruit. The people who now have cystic fibrosis are made who they are by their experience of the disease, but if I had the power of the gods I would would abolish cystic fibrosis from their past and their children’s future. You can call me abominable to admit to such a thing, but it’s true. Greatness can come out of adversity, but defeating misery is not a reason to welcome its appearance in our midst. There’s a reason the cult of flagellants isn’t particularly popular.

Yes, having a disease can alter your life. The singer Bobby Darin knew that his life expectancy was short, so he operated in a sort of frenzy when not in poor health because he wanted to accomplish something before he passed on. But with all due respect to Splish Splash, I wouldn’t be sad if Darin had lived a more sedate and relaxed life because the Sword of Damocles wasn’t always hanging over him.

Finally:

There is a common saying among people in the disability-rights community: “Nothing about us without us.” People with disabilities argue that scientists, policymakers and bioethicists should take steps to ensure that the CRISPR debate reflects what is best for patients and their families, to ensure its most humane use now and for future generations.

We can disagree on what is, and isn’t, humane. I think a future with far fewer Mendelian diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, is humane. If some consider me a monster for admitting this, then bring on the monstrosity I say! In the long run I think the we’ll win the argument.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Eugenics, Genetics 
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
[]
  1. The science has a strong tendency to look at the human being in a binary way, it may or it may not, always forgetting that there is a spectrum in the middle and it is equally or more important. There are obvious cases in which genetic manipulation is entirely possible, for example, cystic fibrosis or Tay Sachs disease. There are cases where despite a certain truism, is beginning to have a significant moral and social burden, the case of Down syndrome.

    People have become more tolerant of the ‘carriers’ of the disorder ** No. In Europe 90% of women abort the baby when it is discovered that he has this alteration. Where is the morality, empathy, tolerance towards different (not to thug violent style’s) ***

    All these factors are very important because we are not only dealing with a congenital disease, but with the identity of individuals and even the case of Down syndrome, neither disease is.

    People, that is, the vast majority of people who have no tolerance in relation to the ”carriers” of the down syndrome, have just pity, which consists of an equally bad feeling.

    They do not like the carriers because

    - They have a bad appearance,

    - They tend to have some kind of intellectual deficit,

    - They are not ”useful”

    However, most people love celebrities, especially for the first reason, good appearance, and also for fame. However, most celebrities do not seem to be wonderful people, artistic, philosophical or scientific geniuses, or virtuous people. They get a huge income and rarely do anything that is both selfless and correct. They are not useful, specially for us…

    The vast majority of celebrities only flatter those in the power. There is nothing noble in this type of attitude and you can find an evolutionary value and even say it’s a smart attitude, but it is precisely this kind of attitude that makes you lose jobs and live in semi-dictatorial regimes such as the post-modern societies.

    In this case, the philosophy appears with a new branch, as extra chromosome than science, because instead of dealing with cases such as down syndrome mainly at clinical manner, will also from an existential and or identitary perspective.

    It is not the philosophy itself that is bad but people who stupidly appropriated his name and put in a bad light.

    Even a perfect society …. I think the biggest problem, the biggest problem of humanity is not the down syndrome or any other condition, but psychopathy and anti-social personality spectrum, which is directly responsible for all human suffering. If there is urgency for scientists to start genetic manipulation, which primarily do with psychopathic types. However, it is still complicated act on this factor because we do not know fully how that psychopathy may contribute to other human phenotypes which may be potentially good.

    No more, I am opposed to the popularization of genetic engineering by now because people are incubated fascists, at the first opportunity, they will get rid of all the human ” defects ”and raise ” perfect ” children, his image and likeness .

    I would not doubt if many unpleasant surprises happen if the popularization of genetic engineering come back in the near future.

    If i was dependent on my father desires, I would now be going to church every Sunday and believing in ”god”.

    Sometimes I see liberalism as a strategic tool to force the Darwinian side to take the lead of genetic manipulation, and not as well for himself. The idea that the elites are the biological ideal is far to be true.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    well, this is a serious debate to have now. and at least we are having the discussion. but again: do you think it is acceptable to screen for mendelian diseases? if we can't agree on that, we can't agree on anything.
    Agree/Disagree/Etc.
    AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
    These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are only available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also only be used once per hour.
    Sharing Comment via Twitter
    http://www.unz.com/gnxp/eugenics-the-problem-is-coercion/#comment-1334979
    More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  2. “frivolous” isn´t the selection of the father / mother of one`s children in many cases a frivolous decision itself? And its also a decision about which genetic information shall reproduce and which shall not.

    Read More
  3. ““Any kinds of restrictions or limitations have created the opportunity for me to develop work-arounds,” Garland-Thomson says.”

    With all due respect, I think that in the end this is an example of the cognitive bias known as “ownership effect”, by which “we value things more when we own them”. Maybe once gene editing becomes less risky and widely available, minds will change.

    But I have issues with eugenics even without the coercion issue. First: you´re thinking about one kind of coercion, say, the state (or the mores of society) ruling out the possibility of abandoning the genetic fate of people to chance. But there is another , more subtle, source of coercion: what if some parcel of the population can´t have access to eugenic tools? In the end, this would guareantee a split in humankind: the rich, that will be improved, and the poor, who will be in increasing dire straits. Social mobility will be a thing of the past.

    My second issue with eugenics is that maybe we don´t know so much about the works of evolution. Negative pleiotropy comes to mind, for example.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    In the end, this would guareantee a split in humankind: the rich, that will be improved, and the poor, who will be in increasing dire straits. Social mobility will be a thing of the past.

    most tech is accessible to elites first. e.g., car. you might say "physical mobility will the domain of the elites." in reality cars democratized things. i think with PGD you'll have democratization happen almost immediately.

    My second issue with eugenics is that maybe we don´t know so much about the works of evolution. Negative pleiotropy comes to mind, for example.

    can we agree that mendelian diseases are bad? that cystic fibrosis is bad? that PGD for huntington's disease is good? if we can't agree on that, i'll really just throw my hands up in the air and ask why the NIH even exists.
    , @Twinkie

    But there is another , more subtle, source of coercion: what if some parcel of the population can´t have access to eugenic tools? In the end, this would guareantee a split in humankind: the rich, that will be improved, and the poor, who will be in increasing dire straits. Social mobility will be a thing of the past.
     
    Gattaca!
  4. In an alternate universe, there is another Ruthie who, by chance or intervention, had an ordinarily working pair of eyes, and you can bet she doesn’t wish she had been blind all along.

    Read More
  5. The historical parallel that jumps out for your “non-coercision on gene editing position” stance is pro-choice on abortion. By this I mean that 1) high confidence this will eventually win out, 2) it’s the right stance, but 3) this (presently) is for some people a hotly hotly contested moral position to take. Pro-choicers are sometimes dismissive of moral stance of those they argue against, and in the long term I think this has hurt their side. So I think non-coercsion is correct frame to get off the merry go round of theory theory history history eugenics, and on to tangible real world CRISPR (limited) choices available with today’s tech. Time of course will make these things normal, even boring, similar to how test tube baby panic of 1978 turned into today’s completely mundane IVF. But it took a few decades for IVF to become mundane, and the duration of fear phase might have been shorted if people on pro-IVF side avoided the temptation to merely assert non-coercion is correct rather than explicitly argue it as a reasonable moral position. Anyway, I read your blog for genetics/science/history stuff, so not sure that’s your baliwik. But think it’s a point that the non-coercision side should be highly cognizant of to nudge things faster in right direction.

    footnoote: assume your “rest is commentary” phrase is an allusion to David Sloan Wilson/E.O. Wilson “Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary.” Whether or not people agree with Sloan/Wilson, always felt that was a great and pithy phrase to frame to their argument.

    Read More
    • Replies: @marcel proust
    RK may have been alluding to Wilson/Wilson but I suspect that Wilson/Wilson were (?) alluding to the first tale about Hillel here.
  6. Genetic disease, in my opinion, is just another disease in medical field. Like vaccination, there will be always some people who refuse due to all kind of reason. Even with common diseases, minority of people refuse treatment due to religion or other considerations.

    Informed consent is needed for any treatment. The problem of genetic disease is like that of vaccination, which is parents making decision for children or unborn children. Some time the laws step in to force parent accepting treatment for children since children can not make decision on their own.

    Read More
  7. @Centrosphere
    "“Any kinds of restrictions or limitations have created the opportunity for me to develop work-arounds,” Garland-Thomson says."

    With all due respect, I think that in the end this is an example of the cognitive bias known as "ownership effect", by which "we value things more when we own them". Maybe once gene editing becomes less risky and widely available, minds will change.

    But I have issues with eugenics even without the coercion issue. First: you´re thinking about one kind of coercion, say, the state (or the mores of society) ruling out the possibility of abandoning the genetic fate of people to chance. But there is another , more subtle, source of coercion: what if some parcel of the population can´t have access to eugenic tools? In the end, this would guareantee a split in humankind: the rich, that will be improved, and the poor, who will be in increasing dire straits. Social mobility will be a thing of the past.

    My second issue with eugenics is that maybe we don´t know so much about the works of evolution. Negative pleiotropy comes to mind, for example.

    In the end, this would guareantee a split in humankind: the rich, that will be improved, and the poor, who will be in increasing dire straits. Social mobility will be a thing of the past.

    most tech is accessible to elites first. e.g., car. you might say “physical mobility will the domain of the elites.” in reality cars democratized things. i think with PGD you’ll have democratization happen almost immediately.

    My second issue with eugenics is that maybe we don´t know so much about the works of evolution. Negative pleiotropy comes to mind, for example.

    can we agree that mendelian diseases are bad? that cystic fibrosis is bad? that PGD for huntington’s disease is good? if we can’t agree on that, i’ll really just throw my hands up in the air and ask why the NIH even exists.

    Read More
  8. @Santoculto
    The science has a strong tendency to look at the human being in a binary way, it may or it may not, always forgetting that there is a spectrum in the middle and it is equally or more important. There are obvious cases in which genetic manipulation is entirely possible, for example, cystic fibrosis or Tay Sachs disease. There are cases where despite a certain truism, is beginning to have a significant moral and social burden, the case of Down syndrome.

    People have become more tolerant of the 'carriers' of the disorder ** No. In Europe 90% of women abort the baby when it is discovered that he has this alteration. Where is the morality, empathy, tolerance towards different (not to thug violent style's) ***

    All these factors are very important because we are not only dealing with a congenital disease, but with the identity of individuals and even the case of Down syndrome, neither disease is.

    People, that is, the vast majority of people who have no tolerance in relation to the ''carriers'' of the down syndrome, have just pity, which consists of an equally bad feeling.

    They do not like the carriers because

    - They have a bad appearance,

    - They tend to have some kind of intellectual deficit,

    - They are not ''useful''

    However, most people love celebrities, especially for the first reason, good appearance, and also for fame. However, most celebrities do not seem to be wonderful people, artistic, philosophical or scientific geniuses, or virtuous people. They get a huge income and rarely do anything that is both selfless and correct. They are not useful, specially for us...

    The vast majority of celebrities only flatter those in the power. There is nothing noble in this type of attitude and you can find an evolutionary value and even say it's a smart attitude, but it is precisely this kind of attitude that makes you lose jobs and live in semi-dictatorial regimes such as the post-modern societies.

    In this case, the philosophy appears with a new branch, as extra chromosome than science, because instead of dealing with cases such as down syndrome mainly at clinical manner, will also from an existential and or identitary perspective.

    It is not the philosophy itself that is bad but people who stupidly appropriated his name and put in a bad light.

    Even a perfect society .... I think the biggest problem, the biggest problem of humanity is not the down syndrome or any other condition, but psychopathy and anti-social personality spectrum, which is directly responsible for all human suffering. If there is urgency for scientists to start genetic manipulation, which primarily do with psychopathic types. However, it is still complicated act on this factor because we do not know fully how that psychopathy may contribute to other human phenotypes which may be potentially good.

    No more, I am opposed to the popularization of genetic engineering by now because people are incubated fascists, at the first opportunity, they will get rid of all the human '' defects ''and raise '' perfect '' children, his image and likeness .

    I would not doubt if many unpleasant surprises happen if the popularization of genetic engineering come back in the near future.

    If i was dependent on my father desires, I would now be going to church every Sunday and believing in ''god''.

    Sometimes I see liberalism as a strategic tool to force the Darwinian side to take the lead of genetic manipulation, and not as well for himself. The idea that the elites are the biological ideal is far to be true.

    well, this is a serious debate to have now. and at least we are having the discussion. but again: do you think it is acceptable to screen for mendelian diseases? if we can’t agree on that, we can’t agree on anything.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    I am open even in case of sex selection, the problem is that the way the world is extreme (unfortunately, has always been so, but it is a more acute phase), dialogue is almost impossible.

    I am in favor that parents can choose the gender and the homosexual community to keep the existence of their condition, taking control of their own reproduction of its manifestation, its demographics. But this possibility is unlikely for now, this state of things.

    In the case of complete congenital diseases, agree completely.

    In the case of syndromes, will depend on the severity, self-hurt that this can cause to the carrier.

    Autism for example. I can only see more advantages than disadvantages among those with asperger, even within this subgroup we still find greater diversity of severity.

    But it is clear that very dysfunctional types do not have any advantage, and speak for themselves, it's self-disavantageous and not just for society.

    Will come a time, I believe, that genetics will can produce any phenotype, will become a very advanced technique, for now, I'm focusing on artificial intelligence to help science and humans.
    , @The Philosopher
    @Nobody is arguing much about Mendelian diseases, as much as you can define them exactly.

    But this will be a slippery slope.

    As Santacolo says, why not psychopathy? Arguably a greater social concern than a Mendelian sufferer.

    Of course, the rich will get this first. Unlike cars, they won't just benefit economically, but politically, sexually, militarily and socially. They will use this to drive inequality further, not reduce it. For human worth and happiness is relative.

    For their purposes, the temptation to create 6ft + high testosterone, high IQ children will be too much too ignore. Even if funded for more cost in secret.

    My main concern is that whole phenotypes will be eliminated. Nobody will want the shy goofy brown eyed boy. No nerds. Pretty soon everyone will coalesce around a certain aesthetic ideal.

    What began as an attempt to equalise human fortunes, will end up creating a massive chasm.
  9. We already have eugenics. Not having children with your sister is eugenics and so is the careful selection of sperm and egg donors or the abortion of abnormal fetuses. We just don’t call these eugenics.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    yes. the first rule of the eugenics club: hear no eugenics, see no eugenics. no coercion. and don't use a word that is associated with coercion. then, start addressing where we draw the line, if we do, etc.
    , @Reg Cæsar
    Some aspects of eugenics are not only permitted but actually encouraged by the Vatican-- large families for the talented, and outbreeding by several degrees, for instance. First-cousin marriage is taboo, but the only jurisdictions where it is banned by law are about half the US states. Those laws were pushed by eugenicists.

    Abortion and "donation" are coercive to the child. So is natural birth itself, but that's unavoidable.
  10. Is “nothing about us without us” refering to nihil novi sine communi consensu (1505), which is translated (a bit wrongly) traditionally as “nothing about us without us” (and then sometimes backtranslated into latin as “Nihil de nobis, sine nobis”)?

    EDIT: yes, it is. from wikipedia:

    ” James Charlton relates that he first heard the term used in talks by South African disability activists Michael Masutha and William Rowland, who had in turn heard the phrase used by an unnamed East European activist at an earlier international disability rights conference.”

    Read More
  11. @Pseudonymic Handle
    We already have eugenics. Not having children with your sister is eugenics and so is the careful selection of sperm and egg donors or the abortion of abnormal fetuses. We just don't call these eugenics.

    yes. the first rule of the eugenics club: hear no eugenics, see no eugenics. no coercion. and don’t use a word that is associated with coercion. then, start addressing where we draw the line, if we do, etc.

    Read More
    • Replies: @marcel proust

    and don’t use a word that is associated with coercion
     
    I am not clear as to whether you are adopting this rule yourself (because doing so allows for the possibility of illuminating discussion and experience shows that not doing so forecloses that possibility) or you are humorously attributing it to others. Assuming the former*, why in this case and not in the case of the word "race"**? Doesn't "deep genetic structure" convey the same information and avoid the intellectual roadblocks, and consequent refusal to engage intellectually with the information and its implications for population history?

    *"Do you know what happens when you assume (something)? You make an ass of you and me." Yeah, yeah.

    **I thoughtlessly, initially wrote "racisim" but immediately caught myself.
  12. @Razib Khan
    well, this is a serious debate to have now. and at least we are having the discussion. but again: do you think it is acceptable to screen for mendelian diseases? if we can't agree on that, we can't agree on anything.

    I am open even in case of sex selection, the problem is that the way the world is extreme (unfortunately, has always been so, but it is a more acute phase), dialogue is almost impossible.

    I am in favor that parents can choose the gender and the homosexual community to keep the existence of their condition, taking control of their own reproduction of its manifestation, its demographics. But this possibility is unlikely for now, this state of things.

    In the case of complete congenital diseases, agree completely.

    In the case of syndromes, will depend on the severity, self-hurt that this can cause to the carrier.

    Autism for example. I can only see more advantages than disadvantages among those with asperger, even within this subgroup we still find greater diversity of severity.

    But it is clear that very dysfunctional types do not have any advantage, and speak for themselves, it’s self-disavantageous and not just for society.

    Will come a time, I believe, that genetics will can produce any phenotype, will become a very advanced technique, for now, I’m focusing on artificial intelligence to help science and humans.

    Read More
  13. The examples in the article are outliers. I’d bet any amount of money that the vast majority of people with terrible hereditary diseases would choose to never have had them. Concentrating on eliminating these types of clearly awful diseases is a no-brainer.

    Though I think there’s a deeper question here: is it moral to NOT propagate positive traits into the future?

    Now, people will argue about what is “positive.” I believe if we sat down and thought about this for a long time, we could come up with a list of universals.

    Ultimately I believe the decision should be up to the parents. I know if I ever have a chance at eugenically modifying my future offspring, I’d sure as hell select for that “frivolous” (LOL!) trait, intelligence (though it being linked to depression, etc., would concern me). Other traits associated with life satisfaction, like low Neuroticism, come to mind as well.

    If we believe it is our moral duty to reduce future suffering, then we shouldn’t only be thinking about decreasing disease, but increasing wellness as well.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AG

    Other traits associated with life satisfaction, like low Neuroticism, come to mind as well.
     
    There is easy remedy for that. Just feed your children raw or undercooked meat and have cats as pet.

    Eating a raw steak or owning a cat can make you more outgoing

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/common-parasite-linked-to-personality-changes/
    , @marcel proust
    Would you select against selfishness and for altruism? ;)

    SFAIK, the main problem with leaving it to parents to do what they will in terms of gene editing and selection has to do with some situations of externalities and systemic effects that arise when large numbers of parents make identical choices.

    The obvious one is sex selection that leads to sex ratios wildly out of whack (like 55% males), with the result that a large fraction of males will not be able to establish a monogamous heterosexual relationship for lack of available females. Perhaps some, with relatively fluid sexual identity, will find that polyandrous/polyamorous heterosexual or monogamous homosexual relationships will suffice. What we read occasionally about China today, however, suggests that this is not the case for many young men, and there are plausible concerns about social stability as a consequence.

    It would almost be better if parental choices roughly cancelled each other in large numbers, at least in this case.
  14. @Nathan Taylor
    The historical parallel that jumps out for your "non-coercision on gene editing position" stance is pro-choice on abortion. By this I mean that 1) high confidence this will eventually win out, 2) it's the right stance, but 3) this (presently) is for some people a hotly hotly contested moral position to take. Pro-choicers are sometimes dismissive of moral stance of those they argue against, and in the long term I think this has hurt their side. So I think non-coercsion is correct frame to get off the merry go round of theory theory history history eugenics, and on to tangible real world CRISPR (limited) choices available with today's tech. Time of course will make these things normal, even boring, similar to how test tube baby panic of 1978 turned into today's completely mundane IVF. But it took a few decades for IVF to become mundane, and the duration of fear phase might have been shorted if people on pro-IVF side avoided the temptation to merely assert non-coercion is correct rather than explicitly argue it as a reasonable moral position. Anyway, I read your blog for genetics/science/history stuff, so not sure that's your baliwik. But think it's a point that the non-coercision side should be highly cognizant of to nudge things faster in right direction.

    footnoote: assume your "rest is commentary" phrase is an allusion to David Sloan Wilson/E.O. Wilson "Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary." Whether or not people agree with Sloan/Wilson, always felt that was a great and pithy phrase to frame to their argument.

    RK may have been alluding to Wilson/Wilson but I suspect that Wilson/Wilson were (?) alluding to the first tale about Hillel here.

    Read More
  15. @Razib Khan
    yes. the first rule of the eugenics club: hear no eugenics, see no eugenics. no coercion. and don't use a word that is associated with coercion. then, start addressing where we draw the line, if we do, etc.

    and don’t use a word that is associated with coercion

    I am not clear as to whether you are adopting this rule yourself (because doing so allows for the possibility of illuminating discussion and experience shows that not doing so forecloses that possibility) or you are humorously attributing it to others. Assuming the former*, why in this case and not in the case of the word “race”**? Doesn’t “deep genetic structure” convey the same information and avoid the intellectual roadblocks, and consequent refusal to engage intellectually with the information and its implications for population history?

    *”Do you know what happens when you assume (something)? You make an ass of you and me.” Yeah, yeah.

    **I thoughtlessly, initially wrote “racisim” but immediately caught myself.

    Read More
  16. @sprfls
    The examples in the article are outliers. I'd bet any amount of money that the vast majority of people with terrible hereditary diseases would choose to never have had them. Concentrating on eliminating these types of clearly awful diseases is a no-brainer.

    Though I think there's a deeper question here: is it moral to NOT propagate positive traits into the future?

    Now, people will argue about what is "positive." I believe if we sat down and thought about this for a long time, we could come up with a list of universals.

    Ultimately I believe the decision should be up to the parents. I know if I ever have a chance at eugenically modifying my future offspring, I'd sure as hell select for that "frivolous" (LOL!) trait, intelligence (though it being linked to depression, etc., would concern me). Other traits associated with life satisfaction, like low Neuroticism, come to mind as well.

    If we believe it is our moral duty to reduce future suffering, then we shouldn't only be thinking about decreasing disease, but increasing wellness as well.

    Other traits associated with life satisfaction, like low Neuroticism, come to mind as well.

    There is easy remedy for that. Just feed your children raw or undercooked meat and have cats as pet.

    Eating a raw steak or owning a cat can make you more outgoing

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/common-parasite-linked-to-personality-changes/

    Read More
  17. @sprfls
    The examples in the article are outliers. I'd bet any amount of money that the vast majority of people with terrible hereditary diseases would choose to never have had them. Concentrating on eliminating these types of clearly awful diseases is a no-brainer.

    Though I think there's a deeper question here: is it moral to NOT propagate positive traits into the future?

    Now, people will argue about what is "positive." I believe if we sat down and thought about this for a long time, we could come up with a list of universals.

    Ultimately I believe the decision should be up to the parents. I know if I ever have a chance at eugenically modifying my future offspring, I'd sure as hell select for that "frivolous" (LOL!) trait, intelligence (though it being linked to depression, etc., would concern me). Other traits associated with life satisfaction, like low Neuroticism, come to mind as well.

    If we believe it is our moral duty to reduce future suffering, then we shouldn't only be thinking about decreasing disease, but increasing wellness as well.

    Would you select against selfishness and for altruism? ;)

    SFAIK, the main problem with leaving it to parents to do what they will in terms of gene editing and selection has to do with some situations of externalities and systemic effects that arise when large numbers of parents make identical choices.

    The obvious one is sex selection that leads to sex ratios wildly out of whack (like 55% males), with the result that a large fraction of males will not be able to establish a monogamous heterosexual relationship for lack of available females. Perhaps some, with relatively fluid sexual identity, will find that polyandrous/polyamorous heterosexual or monogamous homosexual relationships will suffice. What we read occasionally about China today, however, suggests that this is not the case for many young men, and there are plausible concerns about social stability as a consequence.

    It would almost be better if parental choices roughly cancelled each other in large numbers, at least in this case.

    Read More
  18. For anyone who objects to the elimination of Mendelian disease, I invite you to speak to the father of a child who died of Tay Sachs disease or spinal muscular atrophy. When your infant dies from suffocation because her motor neurons are no longer able to promote breathing, you have a keen understanding that not all human genetic variation is benign or a matter of preference. If identifying carriers of these diseases and avoiding the birth of affected children is morally objectionable, then there really is no such thing as a common moral framework.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    If identifying carriers of these diseases and avoiding the birth of affected children is morally objectionable, then there really is no such thing as a common moral framework.

    +100
    , @AnonNJ
    And what would you do with parents who either refuse to be screened or choose to let such children be born and die as a natural result of their disorder rather than being, say, aborted? If you believe that this is such a morally objectionable option, would you allow people to choose it? I ask because that is precisely where the rationalization for coercion often starts -- with the idea that some choices are morally unthinkable and people should not be allowed to make them.
    , @Walter Sobchak
    Spinal Muscular Atrophy:

    A phase 1 trial of a genetic treatment:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbMBNi94Wjs

    Only a sadist could object to preventing SMA or curing it.
  19. @student
    For anyone who objects to the elimination of Mendelian disease, I invite you to speak to the father of a child who died of Tay Sachs disease or spinal muscular atrophy. When your infant dies from suffocation because her motor neurons are no longer able to promote breathing, you have a keen understanding that not all human genetic variation is benign or a matter of preference. If identifying carriers of these diseases and avoiding the birth of affected children is morally objectionable, then there really is no such thing as a common moral framework.

    If identifying carriers of these diseases and avoiding the birth of affected children is morally objectionable, then there really is no such thing as a common moral framework.

    +100

    Read More
  20. “There are some great things that come from having a genetic illness,” she says.

    Okay….that’s kind of weird. I understand that there maybe some unknown context within which that statement was made, but I also suspect that – at some level – it might be more of a coping mechanism for a disabled person than a thoughtful assessment of the place that genetic illness has in society.

    People say, “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but how many people cut off their fingers or jump off the roof of their house merely because they believe the notion, “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” That’s a sentiment that’s most useful when looking back at past setbacks rather than looking forward to (and planning for) the future.

    As to eugenics, the modern world has to decided make it an emotional issue. As stated by the author and others, the coercive (and sometimes murderous) nature of eugenics programs is unacceptable. But the impulse that can lead to eugenics tends to reside in most of us. I don’t know of any young single person who says, “I’m going to look for the ugliest, dumbest, weakest and least healthy mate I can find.” Beauty, intelligence, strength and health are what we tend to look for in a spouse, because we know (at some level) those qualities will probably find their way into our children.

    Of course, attractiveness among humans is a very complicated thing, and those qualities can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. But the impulse is there.

    Read More
  21. The problem is that it doesn’t take much to shift from non-coercion to coercion, especially as the public is asked to share the expense of caring for the disabled. With a little bit of searching on Google, it’s not difficult to find early Nazi propaganda posters for eugenics that focus on the societal expense of care.

    While I know comparisons to Nazis are cheap, I think it’s important to recognize that the Nazis were not initially seen as the monsters they are now seen as nor was there the knee-jerk reaction against eugenics that we have now. These reactions are the result of taking a ride down the slippery slope eugenics, not only with the Nazis but those who would trick and coerce others into sterilization among other things (we could probably include sex-selective infanticide in India here, too, even though it is not driven by eugenics).

    Given how slippery that slope has been and how often it has ended in monstrous coercion, I think that simply hoping coercion can be avoided sounds pretty naive to me, as appealing as your overall point about Mendelian diseases may be. See George Santayana. The past is screaming a pretty loud and clear message here.

    Beyond that, my concern is that we don’t know enough about the broader implications to know what favoring one gene over another will do and genetic min-maxing could lead to the sort of low genetic diversity and unintended consequences we see in food crops where, for example, we have Tomatoes with rugged skins that ship well but have very little taste or crops that can be wiped out by a single disease. We could wind up with brilliant children more prone to be psychopaths or die from strokes on their 1960s. Your point about Mendelian diseases may be a legitimate distinction but, again, slippery slopes can, in fact, be slippery and thus treacherous to tread on.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Mendelian diseases may be a legitimate distinction but

    totally different. would not have a major effect on genetic diversity at all. there are some cases where overdominance may be at play, but that's assumed to be a very minor phenomenon.

    there is a slope. and we may (probably will) draw lines. so let's just start arguing about that. there's no point in getting all bioethical and jawing-jawing. the future is coming at us fast, we need to be prepared.

    if the technology exists to prevent mendelian diseases, parents will make recourse to it if they are at risk. what are you going to do, ban sequencing that can yield carrier status? i don't care if it's illegal. we'll go to china if we have to (speaking with the voice of a parent).

    , @Razib Khan
    The problem is that it doesn’t take much to shift from non-coercion to coercion

    maybe. i don't grant this, though it is possible considering human conformity.

    Given how slippery that slope has been and how often it has ended in monstrous coercion

    not sure it was a slippery slope. i think it was a headlong rush driven by technocratic hubris. eugenics was originally a progressive cause with strength in liberal segments of america, as well as among socialists.
  22. @AnonNJ
    The problem is that it doesn't take much to shift from non-coercion to coercion, especially as the public is asked to share the expense of caring for the disabled. With a little bit of searching on Google, it's not difficult to find early Nazi propaganda posters for eugenics that focus on the societal expense of care.

    While I know comparisons to Nazis are cheap, I think it's important to recognize that the Nazis were not initially seen as the monsters they are now seen as nor was there the knee-jerk reaction against eugenics that we have now. These reactions are the result of taking a ride down the slippery slope eugenics, not only with the Nazis but those who would trick and coerce others into sterilization among other things (we could probably include sex-selective infanticide in India here, too, even though it is not driven by eugenics).

    Given how slippery that slope has been and how often it has ended in monstrous coercion, I think that simply hoping coercion can be avoided sounds pretty naive to me, as appealing as your overall point about Mendelian diseases may be. See George Santayana. The past is screaming a pretty loud and clear message here.

    Beyond that, my concern is that we don't know enough about the broader implications to know what favoring one gene over another will do and genetic min-maxing could lead to the sort of low genetic diversity and unintended consequences we see in food crops where, for example, we have Tomatoes with rugged skins that ship well but have very little taste or crops that can be wiped out by a single disease. We could wind up with brilliant children more prone to be psychopaths or die from strokes on their 1960s. Your point about Mendelian diseases may be a legitimate distinction but, again, slippery slopes can, in fact, be slippery and thus treacherous to tread on.

    Mendelian diseases may be a legitimate distinction but

    totally different. would not have a major effect on genetic diversity at all. there are some cases where overdominance may be at play, but that’s assumed to be a very minor phenomenon.

    there is a slope. and we may (probably will) draw lines. so let’s just start arguing about that. there’s no point in getting all bioethical and jawing-jawing. the future is coming at us fast, we need to be prepared.

    if the technology exists to prevent mendelian diseases, parents will make recourse to it if they are at risk. what are you going to do, ban sequencing that can yield carrier status? i don’t care if it’s illegal. we’ll go to china if we have to (speaking with the voice of a parent).

    Read More
  23. @student
    For anyone who objects to the elimination of Mendelian disease, I invite you to speak to the father of a child who died of Tay Sachs disease or spinal muscular atrophy. When your infant dies from suffocation because her motor neurons are no longer able to promote breathing, you have a keen understanding that not all human genetic variation is benign or a matter of preference. If identifying carriers of these diseases and avoiding the birth of affected children is morally objectionable, then there really is no such thing as a common moral framework.

    And what would you do with parents who either refuse to be screened or choose to let such children be born and die as a natural result of their disorder rather than being, say, aborted? If you believe that this is such a morally objectionable option, would you allow people to choose it? I ask because that is precisely where the rationalization for coercion often starts — with the idea that some choices are morally unthinkable and people should not be allowed to make them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    you're asking the right question. my instinct is to be libertarian and leave it to the parents. OTOH, i want to actually have a serious discussion about diseases like tay sachs. people with cystic fibrosis can now live to 40 and longer and the drugs are getting better. what's the state of tay sachs? my understanding is that they die as toddlers, and they are in severe pain.
    , @Santoculto
    Feets on the ground, the vast majority of people, I said, vast, is irreducibly stupid.

    And even worse because it is no such thing as '' the most stupid is.... unless the 'high IQ' ''. They tend to be worse because they are the ones who control the societies. The impact of his stupidity is much higher than that of a lonely ''stupid'.

    Lack realism on the part of many people who are somehow smarter and are focused on this issue, just think about the perceptive capacity of the population, on average.


    I am in favor of genetic and moral improvement of human beings. Otherwise, humanity will continue to make the nonsense ever.

    First, the morality, then genetic engineering, you need to create a very strong moral base to interfere with the natural course of the species.
  24. @AnonNJ
    And what would you do with parents who either refuse to be screened or choose to let such children be born and die as a natural result of their disorder rather than being, say, aborted? If you believe that this is such a morally objectionable option, would you allow people to choose it? I ask because that is precisely where the rationalization for coercion often starts -- with the idea that some choices are morally unthinkable and people should not be allowed to make them.

    you’re asking the right question. my instinct is to be libertarian and leave it to the parents. OTOH, i want to actually have a serious discussion about diseases like tay sachs. people with cystic fibrosis can now live to 40 and longer and the drugs are getting better. what’s the state of tay sachs? my understanding is that they die as toddlers, and they are in severe pain.

    Read More
  25. so, re: no coercion. i’m still thinking…. but i’m going to say right now i’m willing to be unprincipled, and that in the cases of something like tay sachs two carriers really, really, really, should be pressured to take precautions, whether it be through PGD or some sort of sperm selection. SOMETHING. i’m not really willing to die on the “no coercion” libertarian hilltop at the cost of tay sachs kids from what i know about this disease, though i could be persuaded to change my mind…but “some must suffer in agony so that the many must flourish” feels like a crappy thing.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnonNJ
    And that is where you go from a firm principle of no coercion and step with both feet onto a slippery slope with no clear stopping point before you reach coerced mandatory eugenics.

    If you make an exception for Tay Sachs or other genetic disorders that kill in infancy, what's to stop consideration of other disorders that don't kill until later in life or simply significantly shorten lifespans?

    If, for example, Progeria is detected prenatally (caused by a mutation rather than inheritance), is it acceptable for a parent to bring the baby to term? And what about disorders that lead to serious physical deformities or mental deficiencies rather than death?

    A core problem here is who gets to decide which lives are worth living?

    The other problem is how far are you willing to go to discourage potential carriers from having children if the want to? Forced screening? Forced prenatal genetic testing? Forced abortions? Withholding medical care? Public ridicule? Fines? Imprisonment? Execution? And how far is any of that from any sort of libertarian ideal or the principle you started out with, which is no coercion?

  26. @AnonNJ
    And what would you do with parents who either refuse to be screened or choose to let such children be born and die as a natural result of their disorder rather than being, say, aborted? If you believe that this is such a morally objectionable option, would you allow people to choose it? I ask because that is precisely where the rationalization for coercion often starts -- with the idea that some choices are morally unthinkable and people should not be allowed to make them.

    Feets on the ground, the vast majority of people, I said, vast, is irreducibly stupid.

    And even worse because it is no such thing as ” the most stupid is…. unless the ‘high IQ’ ”. They tend to be worse because they are the ones who control the societies. The impact of his stupidity is much higher than that of a lonely ”stupid’.

    Lack realism on the part of many people who are somehow smarter and are focused on this issue, just think about the perceptive capacity of the population, on average.

    I am in favor of genetic and moral improvement of human beings. Otherwise, humanity will continue to make the nonsense ever.

    First, the morality, then genetic engineering, you need to create a very strong moral base to interfere with the natural course of the species.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnonNJ
    @Santoculto

    Everything I've read about how humans make decisions suggests that the process is emotional rather than rational, even though most people believe their own decisions are entirely rational and justified. The brain is very good at rationalizing things after the fact.

    Brain damage that robs people of their emotions and this rob them of the ability to emotionally prefer once choice over the other or care about the consequences illustrate this pretty well:

    http://m.smh.com.au/national/feeling-our-way-to-decision-20090227-8k8v.html

    Psychopaths also illustrate the important role that emotion plays in normal human decisions and morality. I encourage everyone to to look into that disorder and how and why those with it think differently than others.

    So what, exactly, do we "fix" to make people smarter and better? And if we focus on making people more rational, dispassionate, and utilitarian, will we transform ourselves into a species of psychopaths in the mistaken belief that emotions are a liability and a bright utopia can be found in pure reason?

    There is no morality in pure reason. Morality is inherently emotional because at its very core it requires you to care.
  27. @Razib Khan
    so, re: no coercion. i'm still thinking.... but i'm going to say right now i'm willing to be unprincipled, and that in the cases of something like tay sachs two carriers really, really, really, should be pressured to take precautions, whether it be through PGD or some sort of sperm selection. SOMETHING. i'm not really willing to die on the "no coercion" libertarian hilltop at the cost of tay sachs kids from what i know about this disease, though i could be persuaded to change my mind...but "some must suffer in agony so that the many must flourish" feels like a crappy thing.

    And that is where you go from a firm principle of no coercion and step with both feet onto a slippery slope with no clear stopping point before you reach coerced mandatory eugenics.

    If you make an exception for Tay Sachs or other genetic disorders that kill in infancy, what’s to stop consideration of other disorders that don’t kill until later in life or simply significantly shorten lifespans?

    If, for example, Progeria is detected prenatally (caused by a mutation rather than inheritance), is it acceptable for a parent to bring the baby to term? And what about disorders that lead to serious physical deformities or mental deficiencies rather than death?

    A core problem here is who gets to decide which lives are worth living?

    The other problem is how far are you willing to go to discourage potential carriers from having children if the want to? Forced screening? Forced prenatal genetic testing? Forced abortions? Withholding medical care? Public ridicule? Fines? Imprisonment? Execution? And how far is any of that from any sort of libertarian ideal or the principle you started out with, which is no coercion?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    If you make an exception for Tay Sachs or other genetic disorders that kill in infancy, what’s to stop consideration of other disorders that don’t kill until later in life or simply significantly shorten lifespans?

    so, let me be honest: i think slippery slope arguments are mostly stupid most of the time if you don't make a big show of being totally principled, which i don't. for example, i happen to think comparison of tay sachs to even a 20 year shortening of life, which is not trivial, is easy to dismiss on prima facie grounds. IF you are a prolife individual who accepts personhood at conception, then i think you are being consistent where i can disagree without getting irritated. but if you're not, yelling "slippery slope" all the time pretty much has no effect. after all, if we allow first trimester abortions, why can't we kill a newborn? viability? that's dependent on machines. does technology change our standards? how about whether the fetus/child is on the inside/outside. if we can't kill a newborn outside its mother's body, how about if it is crowning? who gets to decide? these are questions of deep interest to jesuits, but not so much to me. we allow abortions. i'm OK with that, more or less (depending on trimester).

  28. @AnonNJ
    And that is where you go from a firm principle of no coercion and step with both feet onto a slippery slope with no clear stopping point before you reach coerced mandatory eugenics.

    If you make an exception for Tay Sachs or other genetic disorders that kill in infancy, what's to stop consideration of other disorders that don't kill until later in life or simply significantly shorten lifespans?

    If, for example, Progeria is detected prenatally (caused by a mutation rather than inheritance), is it acceptable for a parent to bring the baby to term? And what about disorders that lead to serious physical deformities or mental deficiencies rather than death?

    A core problem here is who gets to decide which lives are worth living?

    The other problem is how far are you willing to go to discourage potential carriers from having children if the want to? Forced screening? Forced prenatal genetic testing? Forced abortions? Withholding medical care? Public ridicule? Fines? Imprisonment? Execution? And how far is any of that from any sort of libertarian ideal or the principle you started out with, which is no coercion?

    If you make an exception for Tay Sachs or other genetic disorders that kill in infancy, what’s to stop consideration of other disorders that don’t kill until later in life or simply significantly shorten lifespans?

    so, let me be honest: i think slippery slope arguments are mostly stupid most of the time if you don’t make a big show of being totally principled, which i don’t. for example, i happen to think comparison of tay sachs to even a 20 year shortening of life, which is not trivial, is easy to dismiss on prima facie grounds. IF you are a prolife individual who accepts personhood at conception, then i think you are being consistent where i can disagree without getting irritated. but if you’re not, yelling “slippery slope” all the time pretty much has no effect. after all, if we allow first trimester abortions, why can’t we kill a newborn? viability? that’s dependent on machines. does technology change our standards? how about whether the fetus/child is on the inside/outside. if we can’t kill a newborn outside its mother’s body, how about if it is crowning? who gets to decide? these are questions of deep interest to jesuits, but not so much to me. we allow abortions. i’m OK with that, more or less (depending on trimester).

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnonNJ
    @Razib Khan

    I am fairly consistent pro-life but I really don't want to get into an abortion debate here and I don't think it's necessary. I can, if you want, from a non-religious perspective, but I think that would derail the topic.

    I think the slippery slope argument is perfectly fair to make in this case because it's how the issue plays out historically. Slippery slopes can be a serious problem if you don't have a clear principle or principles that can be applied to stop the slide. Once people entertain the idea that some lives are better off not lived, the natural progression in thought is that anyone who disagrees and let's such people live is engaged in a moral wrong because they are making people live lives better off not lived.

    So who gets to decide which lives are better off not lived and why?

    But consider two fundamental questions lurking beneath this issue.

    1) What makes any life worth living?

    2) Why is killing someone else wrong, even if they don't feel it or suffer during their death?
  29. And how far is any of that from any sort of libertarian ideal or the principle you started out with, which is no coercion?

    somewhat. i made that clear in my earlier comments. i hope you’re not under the illusion that i’m a real libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian-themed person (kind of like how taco bell is mexican-themed food).

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnonNJ
    Most people who call themselves "libertarian" are "libertarian themed" because taken to its extremes, libertarianism gets pretty nuts. For the record, I don't consider myself a libertarian.

    My point is not the label so much as the principle that you started out with as a bulwark against eugenics becoming monstrous and how easily that principle is bent or discarded when there is a utilitarian justification to do so. That is exactly why eugenics is a moral greased rail. Once you step on it and start making utilitarian justifications for it in any way, it's hard to stop.

    , @Reg Cæsar

    a real libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian-themed
     
    "Libertarian", like "conservative" and "liberal", is useful as an adjective, but tends to fail as a noun.
  30. @Santoculto
    Feets on the ground, the vast majority of people, I said, vast, is irreducibly stupid.

    And even worse because it is no such thing as '' the most stupid is.... unless the 'high IQ' ''. They tend to be worse because they are the ones who control the societies. The impact of his stupidity is much higher than that of a lonely ''stupid'.

    Lack realism on the part of many people who are somehow smarter and are focused on this issue, just think about the perceptive capacity of the population, on average.


    I am in favor of genetic and moral improvement of human beings. Otherwise, humanity will continue to make the nonsense ever.

    First, the morality, then genetic engineering, you need to create a very strong moral base to interfere with the natural course of the species.

    Everything I’ve read about how humans make decisions suggests that the process is emotional rather than rational, even though most people believe their own decisions are entirely rational and justified. The brain is very good at rationalizing things after the fact.

    Brain damage that robs people of their emotions and this rob them of the ability to emotionally prefer once choice over the other or care about the consequences illustrate this pretty well:

    http://m.smh.com.au/national/feeling-our-way-to-decision-20090227-8k8v.html

    Psychopaths also illustrate the important role that emotion plays in normal human decisions and morality. I encourage everyone to to look into that disorder and how and why those with it think differently than others.

    So what, exactly, do we “fix” to make people smarter and better? And if we focus on making people more rational, dispassionate, and utilitarian, will we transform ourselves into a species of psychopaths in the mistaken belief that emotions are a liability and a bright utopia can be found in pure reason?

    There is no morality in pure reason. Morality is inherently emotional because at its very core it requires you to care.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    I always thought some characteristics of psychopaths, especially cognitive, were very valuable and they were not combined with the complete moral stupidity, they would be spectacular. They are just repetitive, especially in political terms, it is the same nonsense since classical times, and very unpleasant.

    I think an exaggeration try to completely change of the population from the next few years, it is much simpler and less dramatic, seek early for psychopaths, find them, put them in quarantine and possibly castrate them and sterilize them. We do this with non-human animals to make them quieter, why not with the potentially dangerous human being *

    Regarding people with lower cognitive ability, reduce the most problematic types, again, coming back with the spectrum of anti-social personality.

    Provide a relative positive eugenics, but rather analyzing in more detail, intimate way, all behavioral correlations in more cognitively intelligent sub-populations.

    Inevitably, the human being because of his natural cognitive diversity will move to produce a society divided into labor castes, and the more perfect the relationship between the work and its talent or natural specificity (contextualized to the needs of a more advanced society), the more perfect will the functioning of society.

    I do not know but maybe I could have a brain half psychopathic. Most people would never do harm to others, directly. I do not, I'm fully capable of killing a person, especially a very bad person, in cold blood. Very good people are very naive, are quasi-prey, they want to be compreensive with everybody, including and specially the worst kind. This explains why evil always wins. not only because they are clever, but also because good people are too naive. You will have a clearly asymmetrical relationship between the dominator and dominated, strong and weak.

    And religions like Christianity has a good dose of guilt that, in urging his followers to hate and even kill the infidels, generally, while at the same time, they 'teach' 'to turn the other cheek at a time of confrontation.

    I do not agree with the idea that there is no morality in pure reason. I understand the reason and especially from the perspective of wisdom as an accumulation, instinct, emotion and logic, so that you can complete in a perfect judgment. pure reason without morality is something that does not exist, and if the human being is the most emotional, so rather than neglect this fact, we should improve it.

    Reason is not pure, is a sum of the most fundamental ways to interact and understand the world.
  31. @Razib Khan
    And how far is any of that from any sort of libertarian ideal or the principle you started out with, which is no coercion?

    somewhat. i made that clear in my earlier comments. i hope you're not under the illusion that i'm a real libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian-themed person (kind of like how taco bell is mexican-themed food).

    Most people who call themselves “libertarian” are “libertarian themed” because taken to its extremes, libertarianism gets pretty nuts. For the record, I don’t consider myself a libertarian.

    My point is not the label so much as the principle that you started out with as a bulwark against eugenics becoming monstrous and how easily that principle is bent or discarded when there is a utilitarian justification to do so. That is exactly why eugenics is a moral greased rail. Once you step on it and start making utilitarian justifications for it in any way, it’s hard to stop.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    most morals are greasy. but we still have morals and make decisions and don't prevaricate indefinitely.
  32. @AnonNJ
    Most people who call themselves "libertarian" are "libertarian themed" because taken to its extremes, libertarianism gets pretty nuts. For the record, I don't consider myself a libertarian.

    My point is not the label so much as the principle that you started out with as a bulwark against eugenics becoming monstrous and how easily that principle is bent or discarded when there is a utilitarian justification to do so. That is exactly why eugenics is a moral greased rail. Once you step on it and start making utilitarian justifications for it in any way, it's hard to stop.

    most morals are greasy. but we still have morals and make decisions and don’t prevaricate indefinitely.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnonNJ
    @Razib Khan

    We make decisions emotionally, particularly moral decisions. It's the emotions that keep us from prevaricating indefinitely. See (also above):

    http://m.smh.com.au/national/feeling-our-way-to-decision-20090227-8k8v.html

    See also:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2004/apr/whose-life-would-you-save

    This is why two people can look at the same facts and both understand an issue quite well but come to different decisions. It is also why most debates are more about emotional appeals than facts. And changing the way a person frames or feels about an issue is how slippery slopes become slippery.
  33. @Razib Khan
    If you make an exception for Tay Sachs or other genetic disorders that kill in infancy, what’s to stop consideration of other disorders that don’t kill until later in life or simply significantly shorten lifespans?

    so, let me be honest: i think slippery slope arguments are mostly stupid most of the time if you don't make a big show of being totally principled, which i don't. for example, i happen to think comparison of tay sachs to even a 20 year shortening of life, which is not trivial, is easy to dismiss on prima facie grounds. IF you are a prolife individual who accepts personhood at conception, then i think you are being consistent where i can disagree without getting irritated. but if you're not, yelling "slippery slope" all the time pretty much has no effect. after all, if we allow first trimester abortions, why can't we kill a newborn? viability? that's dependent on machines. does technology change our standards? how about whether the fetus/child is on the inside/outside. if we can't kill a newborn outside its mother's body, how about if it is crowning? who gets to decide? these are questions of deep interest to jesuits, but not so much to me. we allow abortions. i'm OK with that, more or less (depending on trimester).

    I am fairly consistent pro-life but I really don’t want to get into an abortion debate here and I don’t think it’s necessary. I can, if you want, from a non-religious perspective, but I think that would derail the topic.

    I think the slippery slope argument is perfectly fair to make in this case because it’s how the issue plays out historically. Slippery slopes can be a serious problem if you don’t have a clear principle or principles that can be applied to stop the slide. Once people entertain the idea that some lives are better off not lived, the natural progression in thought is that anyone who disagrees and let’s such people live is engaged in a moral wrong because they are making people live lives better off not lived.

    So who gets to decide which lives are better off not lived and why?

    But consider two fundamental questions lurking beneath this issue.

    1) What makes any life worth living?

    2) Why is killing someone else wrong, even if they don’t feel it or suffer during their death?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    So who gets to decide which lives are better off not lived and why?

    ultimately it's society. that's why the discussion is essential!
    , @Roger Sweeny
    I think the slippery slope argument is perfectly fair to make in this case because it’s how the issue plays out historically.

    I do not think that is true. The Nazis early on tried to kill the "defective"--those who in the United States wound up in an institutions or in a chair in the corner. They had to stop because there was too much resistance from ordinary Germans. Such defectives were still seen as part of the German family.

    The result with Jews was different, partly because most of the Final Solution took place during wartime and partly because the Nazis were able to get people to feel that Jews were not "part of the German family."

  34. @Razib Khan
    most morals are greasy. but we still have morals and make decisions and don't prevaricate indefinitely.

    We make decisions emotionally, particularly moral decisions. It’s the emotions that keep us from prevaricating indefinitely. See (also above):

    http://m.smh.com.au/national/feeling-our-way-to-decision-20090227-8k8v.html

    See also:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2004/apr/whose-life-would-you-save

    This is why two people can look at the same facts and both understand an issue quite well but come to different decisions. It is also why most debates are more about emotional appeals than facts. And changing the way a person frames or feels about an issue is how slippery slopes become slippery.

    Read More
  35. Speaking personally as someone who has suffered from ADD all of my life (with all the associated deficits in conscientiousness you would expect) I’d rather not have been born like this. Of course, the genetics of ADD are not well known at all. But I can say although I generally like myself, and am comfortable with who I am as a person, I’d be much more effective in many ways if I wasn’t so easily distracted and perpetually disorganized.

    In my mind the issue with mendelian genetic diseases is so open and shut that the mewings of “ethicists” of the current period amount to nothing – in exactly the same way that (valid) concerns about violations of privacy haven’t stopped deeper and deeper personal usage of the internet. When people have a good deal, they’ll take advantage of it, not heed the sages.

    I have to say, however, I find the idea of “non-coercive eugenics” somewhat of a misnomer, because all decisions which are mediated through peer groups can become coercive. One of my coworkers has a friend who is a scientist and lives in Vermont. He wanted to vaccinate his kids, but all of his acquaintances basically told him they would shun him if he did so. I expect that similarly once genetic engineering is commonplace and legal parents will find themselves under increasing peer pressure to modify their children to “succeed.” This modification would quite likely be far more comprehensive than anything the government would ever seek to establish by fiat. There are solid public policy reasons to reduce disease risk, boost intelligence, and lower propensity to crime. There are no solid reasons to make children beautiful, tall, or outgoing, but parents would likely feel pressure to have a child that would “fit in” on all of those traits.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that universally available genetic engineering isn’t the best way forth for humanity. But I honestly worry about allowing what amounts to the fashions of the day to permanently alter distribution of traits which aren’t truly maladaptive. The time may come, deep in the future, where we wish we still had those alleles.

    Read More
  36. No problem preventing genetic problems or parents selecting for them. It is already illegal in the UK to genetically engineer for congenitally deaf babies.

    The rubicon was crossed with abortion, but the real battle will come when IQ genes become well enough understood for the upper classes of society to be outed as having genetic advantages.

    That will be contemporaneous with the technology to alter heredity by genetic engineering becoming viable. This will be an effective equalizer between the children of lower and upper social classes . Mark my words, the main opposition to genetic engineering will be from Charles Murray’s new upper class trying to preserve their natural advantage, ostensibly on ethical grounds.

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    the main opposition to genetic engineering will be from Charles Murray’s new upper class trying to preserve their natural advantage, ostensibly on ethical grounds

    The upper class defending its advantages, where do you get these crazy ideas Sean?
  37. @AnonNJ
    @Santoculto

    Everything I've read about how humans make decisions suggests that the process is emotional rather than rational, even though most people believe their own decisions are entirely rational and justified. The brain is very good at rationalizing things after the fact.

    Brain damage that robs people of their emotions and this rob them of the ability to emotionally prefer once choice over the other or care about the consequences illustrate this pretty well:

    http://m.smh.com.au/national/feeling-our-way-to-decision-20090227-8k8v.html

    Psychopaths also illustrate the important role that emotion plays in normal human decisions and morality. I encourage everyone to to look into that disorder and how and why those with it think differently than others.

    So what, exactly, do we "fix" to make people smarter and better? And if we focus on making people more rational, dispassionate, and utilitarian, will we transform ourselves into a species of psychopaths in the mistaken belief that emotions are a liability and a bright utopia can be found in pure reason?

    There is no morality in pure reason. Morality is inherently emotional because at its very core it requires you to care.

    I always thought some characteristics of psychopaths, especially cognitive, were very valuable and they were not combined with the complete moral stupidity, they would be spectacular. They are just repetitive, especially in political terms, it is the same nonsense since classical times, and very unpleasant.

    I think an exaggeration try to completely change of the population from the next few years, it is much simpler and less dramatic, seek early for psychopaths, find them, put them in quarantine and possibly castrate them and sterilize them. We do this with non-human animals to make them quieter, why not with the potentially dangerous human being *

    Regarding people with lower cognitive ability, reduce the most problematic types, again, coming back with the spectrum of anti-social personality.

    Provide a relative positive eugenics, but rather analyzing in more detail, intimate way, all behavioral correlations in more cognitively intelligent sub-populations.

    Inevitably, the human being because of his natural cognitive diversity will move to produce a society divided into labor castes, and the more perfect the relationship between the work and its talent or natural specificity (contextualized to the needs of a more advanced society), the more perfect will the functioning of society.

    I do not know but maybe I could have a brain half psychopathic. Most people would never do harm to others, directly. I do not, I’m fully capable of killing a person, especially a very bad person, in cold blood. Very good people are very naive, are quasi-prey, they want to be compreensive with everybody, including and specially the worst kind. This explains why evil always wins. not only because they are clever, but also because good people are too naive. You will have a clearly asymmetrical relationship between the dominator and dominated, strong and weak.

    And religions like Christianity has a good dose of guilt that, in urging his followers to hate and even kill the infidels, generally, while at the same time, they ‘teach’ ‘to turn the other cheek at a time of confrontation.

    I do not agree with the idea that there is no morality in pure reason. I understand the reason and especially from the perspective of wisdom as an accumulation, instinct, emotion and logic, so that you can complete in a perfect judgment. pure reason without morality is something that does not exist, and if the human being is the most emotional, so rather than neglect this fact, we should improve it.

    Reason is not pure, is a sum of the most fundamental ways to interact and understand the world.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    AnonNJ is not making a statement about the linkage of emotion and reason based upon some philosophical standpoint, but cognitive science. Jonathan Haidt talks about this to a certain extent in The Righteous Mind. People with damage to their ventromedial prefontal cortex lose all ability to feel emotions, but their cognitive abilities are not otherwise impaired. They can use rationality to weigh options. However, without access to emotion, they cannot reject possibilities out of hand - they lose the ability to "think fast" at all, and must rely upon conscious, laborious internal monologues to come to decisions. As a result, they tend to be incredibly indecisive, or even make foolish decisions, such as driving in hazardous conditions because they have no fear of dying.
  38. @Santoculto
    I always thought some characteristics of psychopaths, especially cognitive, were very valuable and they were not combined with the complete moral stupidity, they would be spectacular. They are just repetitive, especially in political terms, it is the same nonsense since classical times, and very unpleasant.

    I think an exaggeration try to completely change of the population from the next few years, it is much simpler and less dramatic, seek early for psychopaths, find them, put them in quarantine and possibly castrate them and sterilize them. We do this with non-human animals to make them quieter, why not with the potentially dangerous human being *

    Regarding people with lower cognitive ability, reduce the most problematic types, again, coming back with the spectrum of anti-social personality.

    Provide a relative positive eugenics, but rather analyzing in more detail, intimate way, all behavioral correlations in more cognitively intelligent sub-populations.

    Inevitably, the human being because of his natural cognitive diversity will move to produce a society divided into labor castes, and the more perfect the relationship between the work and its talent or natural specificity (contextualized to the needs of a more advanced society), the more perfect will the functioning of society.

    I do not know but maybe I could have a brain half psychopathic. Most people would never do harm to others, directly. I do not, I'm fully capable of killing a person, especially a very bad person, in cold blood. Very good people are very naive, are quasi-prey, they want to be compreensive with everybody, including and specially the worst kind. This explains why evil always wins. not only because they are clever, but also because good people are too naive. You will have a clearly asymmetrical relationship between the dominator and dominated, strong and weak.

    And religions like Christianity has a good dose of guilt that, in urging his followers to hate and even kill the infidels, generally, while at the same time, they 'teach' 'to turn the other cheek at a time of confrontation.

    I do not agree with the idea that there is no morality in pure reason. I understand the reason and especially from the perspective of wisdom as an accumulation, instinct, emotion and logic, so that you can complete in a perfect judgment. pure reason without morality is something that does not exist, and if the human being is the most emotional, so rather than neglect this fact, we should improve it.

    Reason is not pure, is a sum of the most fundamental ways to interact and understand the world.

    AnonNJ is not making a statement about the linkage of emotion and reason based upon some philosophical standpoint, but cognitive science. Jonathan Haidt talks about this to a certain extent in The Righteous Mind. People with damage to their ventromedial prefontal cortex lose all ability to feel emotions, but their cognitive abilities are not otherwise impaired. They can use rationality to weigh options. However, without access to emotion, they cannot reject possibilities out of hand – they lose the ability to “think fast” at all, and must rely upon conscious, laborious internal monologues to come to decisions. As a result, they tend to be incredibly indecisive, or even make foolish decisions, such as driving in hazardous conditions because they have no fear of dying.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    AnonNJ

    ''There is no morality in pure reason. Morality is inherently emotional because at its very core it requires you to care.''


    I have to admit that I started reading the text he posted but not finished. However, he said that there is no morality in a '' pure reason ''. I can not condone this, because in my opinion, morality has a major impact on rational thought, as well instinct and logics (improved instinct).

    Rational thought and logical-pragmatic thinking are not the same thing, in my opinion, rational thinking is a substantial improvement of the logical-pragmatic thinking, both start from the basic recognition of non-fanciful patterns. However, while logical-pragmatic thinking is based on solving problems efficiently, fast and by utilitarian nature, rational thinking is much more reflective.

    Emotion is the shared instinct (to preserve or to care .... or to hate). First we have the will, under normal conditions, to the self-preservation, the emotion, and especially empathy, it is the self-projection towards others, what we know. We put ourselves in their shoes to feel empathy, as if it were a mirror. Many people and perhaps most of them, when they look for homeless, they put in their place, as if they were in the place of the homeless. That sounds noble and empathetic, but is only partially empathic, because if put in the place of other still suggests egocentrism.

    '' If I were in his shoes ..... ''


    '' I'm sorry for him .... because I put myself in his shoes ''

    or


    '' I'll help you ,,,, because it's like I'm helping myself''

    People do not try to understand other people before helping or just to think about. It's not just put in their place but in their minds too, acting like a psychologist,

    There is a dichotomy '' reason x heart '', in fact, there is some truth there, but that does not mean they are mutually antagonistic.

    There are two really antagonistic key factors that underlie behavior and human decisions, wisdom and stupidity or ignorance, and many people who are very empathetic, also tend to be ignorant, or stupid, in any respect will be essential to the long-term survival , ability to detect predators.


    ''Think fast'' would intuition*

    The problem is not quickly think, almost every thought is fast, the problem is to stop thinking when the existential comfort zone has been fed.
  39. i hope you’re not under the illusion that i’m a real libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian-themed person (kind of like how taco bell is mexican-themed food).

    This has to be one of the best things I’ve read this year. (It describes me as well, although I am sure that many would disagree with the parts of liberty that I believe important and the ones that I am willing to let slide down that slope.)

    I’m going to steal this line, although, depending on the circumstances, I may credit it properly.

    Some may be Cafeteria catholics: me, I’m a taco-bell libertarian.

    Thank you.

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    The entire concept of libertarianism can only exist within liberal democracy. It is not something that can exist on its own.
  40. @Centrosphere
    "“Any kinds of restrictions or limitations have created the opportunity for me to develop work-arounds,” Garland-Thomson says."

    With all due respect, I think that in the end this is an example of the cognitive bias known as "ownership effect", by which "we value things more when we own them". Maybe once gene editing becomes less risky and widely available, minds will change.

    But I have issues with eugenics even without the coercion issue. First: you´re thinking about one kind of coercion, say, the state (or the mores of society) ruling out the possibility of abandoning the genetic fate of people to chance. But there is another , more subtle, source of coercion: what if some parcel of the population can´t have access to eugenic tools? In the end, this would guareantee a split in humankind: the rich, that will be improved, and the poor, who will be in increasing dire straits. Social mobility will be a thing of the past.

    My second issue with eugenics is that maybe we don´t know so much about the works of evolution. Negative pleiotropy comes to mind, for example.

    But there is another , more subtle, source of coercion: what if some parcel of the population can´t have access to eugenic tools? In the end, this would guareantee a split in humankind: the rich, that will be improved, and the poor, who will be in increasing dire straits. Social mobility will be a thing of the past.

    Gattaca!

    Read More
  41. Mr. Khan, where would you draw the line and, indeed, would you draw a line in the first place?

    Mendelian diseases, okay. But is that a threshold or an outer boundary for you?

    Also, someone above who dismissed those who value their suffering as “ownership fallacy” doesn’t seem to understand that, for some people, there is an enormous beauty and divine purpose in suffering – it is in fact a very common apologetic component of “Why does God allow evil?”

    And sometimes miracles result from such suffering that is both incomprehensible and awe-inspiring for all those around and change their lives forever, for example, the case of Bella Santorum (yes, the daughter of politician Rick Santorum): http://www.lifenews.com/2015/05/14/rick-santorums-miracle-daughter-bella-who-has-trisomy-18-defies-the-odds-turns-7/

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    But is that a threshold or an outer boundary for you?

    it's the low hanging fruit. i am rather open to moving further, but it's not something that is very feasible in the near term future. it may be that we decide to stay "naturals" as a civilization.

    the major issue i wonder about is that genes aren't magic. if not germ-line editing i think all sorts of enhancements, from neurotropics to cybernetics, are going to come online...
    , @Razib Khan
    there is an enormous beauty and divine purpose in suffering – it is in fact a very common apologetic component of “Why does God allow evil?”

    yes. i'm not religious so i won't engage in arguments about theodicy. struggle, the glory, can be magnificent. to some extent we crave it. that's one of my arguments for why ISIS appeals. great compassion, courage, and even beauty, can flower in the midst of atrocity. i still vote against atrocity, because i think compassion, courage, and beauty, can stand on their own legs.
  42. @Pseudonymic Handle
    We already have eugenics. Not having children with your sister is eugenics and so is the careful selection of sperm and egg donors or the abortion of abnormal fetuses. We just don't call these eugenics.

    Some aspects of eugenics are not only permitted but actually encouraged by the Vatican– large families for the talented, and outbreeding by several degrees, for instance. First-cousin marriage is taboo, but the only jurisdictions where it is banned by law are about half the US states. Those laws were pushed by eugenicists.

    Abortion and “donation” are coercive to the child. So is natural birth itself, but that’s unavoidable.

    Read More
  43. @Razib Khan
    And how far is any of that from any sort of libertarian ideal or the principle you started out with, which is no coercion?

    somewhat. i made that clear in my earlier comments. i hope you're not under the illusion that i'm a real libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian-themed person (kind of like how taco bell is mexican-themed food).

    a real libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian-themed

    “Libertarian”, like “conservative” and “liberal”, is useful as an adjective, but tends to fail as a noun.

    Read More
  44. @AnonNJ
    The problem is that it doesn't take much to shift from non-coercion to coercion, especially as the public is asked to share the expense of caring for the disabled. With a little bit of searching on Google, it's not difficult to find early Nazi propaganda posters for eugenics that focus on the societal expense of care.

    While I know comparisons to Nazis are cheap, I think it's important to recognize that the Nazis were not initially seen as the monsters they are now seen as nor was there the knee-jerk reaction against eugenics that we have now. These reactions are the result of taking a ride down the slippery slope eugenics, not only with the Nazis but those who would trick and coerce others into sterilization among other things (we could probably include sex-selective infanticide in India here, too, even though it is not driven by eugenics).

    Given how slippery that slope has been and how often it has ended in monstrous coercion, I think that simply hoping coercion can be avoided sounds pretty naive to me, as appealing as your overall point about Mendelian diseases may be. See George Santayana. The past is screaming a pretty loud and clear message here.

    Beyond that, my concern is that we don't know enough about the broader implications to know what favoring one gene over another will do and genetic min-maxing could lead to the sort of low genetic diversity and unintended consequences we see in food crops where, for example, we have Tomatoes with rugged skins that ship well but have very little taste or crops that can be wiped out by a single disease. We could wind up with brilliant children more prone to be psychopaths or die from strokes on their 1960s. Your point about Mendelian diseases may be a legitimate distinction but, again, slippery slopes can, in fact, be slippery and thus treacherous to tread on.

    The problem is that it doesn’t take much to shift from non-coercion to coercion

    maybe. i don’t grant this, though it is possible considering human conformity.

    Given how slippery that slope has been and how often it has ended in monstrous coercion

    not sure it was a slippery slope. i think it was a headlong rush driven by technocratic hubris. eugenics was originally a progressive cause with strength in liberal segments of america, as well as among socialists.

    Read More
  45. @AnonNJ
    @Razib Khan

    I am fairly consistent pro-life but I really don't want to get into an abortion debate here and I don't think it's necessary. I can, if you want, from a non-religious perspective, but I think that would derail the topic.

    I think the slippery slope argument is perfectly fair to make in this case because it's how the issue plays out historically. Slippery slopes can be a serious problem if you don't have a clear principle or principles that can be applied to stop the slide. Once people entertain the idea that some lives are better off not lived, the natural progression in thought is that anyone who disagrees and let's such people live is engaged in a moral wrong because they are making people live lives better off not lived.

    So who gets to decide which lives are better off not lived and why?

    But consider two fundamental questions lurking beneath this issue.

    1) What makes any life worth living?

    2) Why is killing someone else wrong, even if they don't feel it or suffer during their death?

    So who gets to decide which lives are better off not lived and why?

    ultimately it’s society. that’s why the discussion is essential!

    Read More
  46. @Twinkie
    Mr. Khan, where would you draw the line and, indeed, would you draw a line in the first place?

    Mendelian diseases, okay. But is that a threshold or an outer boundary for you?

    Also, someone above who dismissed those who value their suffering as "ownership fallacy" doesn't seem to understand that, for some people, there is an enormous beauty and divine purpose in suffering - it is in fact a very common apologetic component of "Why does God allow evil?"

    And sometimes miracles result from such suffering that is both incomprehensible and awe-inspiring for all those around and change their lives forever, for example, the case of Bella Santorum (yes, the daughter of politician Rick Santorum): http://www.lifenews.com/2015/05/14/rick-santorums-miracle-daughter-bella-who-has-trisomy-18-defies-the-odds-turns-7/

    But is that a threshold or an outer boundary for you?

    it’s the low hanging fruit. i am rather open to moving further, but it’s not something that is very feasible in the near term future. it may be that we decide to stay “naturals” as a civilization.

    the major issue i wonder about is that genes aren’t magic. if not germ-line editing i think all sorts of enhancements, from neurotropics to cybernetics, are going to come online…

    Read More
  47. @Twinkie
    Mr. Khan, where would you draw the line and, indeed, would you draw a line in the first place?

    Mendelian diseases, okay. But is that a threshold or an outer boundary for you?

    Also, someone above who dismissed those who value their suffering as "ownership fallacy" doesn't seem to understand that, for some people, there is an enormous beauty and divine purpose in suffering - it is in fact a very common apologetic component of "Why does God allow evil?"

    And sometimes miracles result from such suffering that is both incomprehensible and awe-inspiring for all those around and change their lives forever, for example, the case of Bella Santorum (yes, the daughter of politician Rick Santorum): http://www.lifenews.com/2015/05/14/rick-santorums-miracle-daughter-bella-who-has-trisomy-18-defies-the-odds-turns-7/

    there is an enormous beauty and divine purpose in suffering – it is in fact a very common apologetic component of “Why does God allow evil?”

    yes. i’m not religious so i won’t engage in arguments about theodicy. struggle, the glory, can be magnificent. to some extent we crave it. that’s one of my arguments for why ISIS appeals. great compassion, courage, and even beauty, can flower in the midst of atrocity. i still vote against atrocity, because i think compassion, courage, and beauty, can stand on their own legs.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    struggle, the glory, can be magnificent. to some extent we crave it. that’s one of my arguments for why ISIS appeals. great compassion, courage, and even beauty, can flower in the midst of atrocity. i still vote against atrocity, because i think compassion, courage, and beauty, can stand on their own legs.
     
    Obviously I hope you see there is no moral equivalence between something like ISIS and those who decline genetic manipulation. With that quickly aside, have you considered the possibility that rather than "can flower in the midst of atrocity," it is precisely atrocity that brings to flower compassion and courage? After all, how would we know beauty in absence of ugliness?

    People often speak of "necessary evil." But in fact I'd argue that most humans need to see what we call evil in order to see goodness (and goodness is not merely the absence of evil). So tragically, we need evil, just as we need suffering.

    In my own personal experience, nothing good has ever come without suffering, big or small. I was reminded of that every time my wife gave birth to a new child of ours.

    As you learned in your exercise regimen, no pain, no gain.
  48. @Razib Khan
    there is an enormous beauty and divine purpose in suffering – it is in fact a very common apologetic component of “Why does God allow evil?”

    yes. i'm not religious so i won't engage in arguments about theodicy. struggle, the glory, can be magnificent. to some extent we crave it. that's one of my arguments for why ISIS appeals. great compassion, courage, and even beauty, can flower in the midst of atrocity. i still vote against atrocity, because i think compassion, courage, and beauty, can stand on their own legs.

    struggle, the glory, can be magnificent. to some extent we crave it. that’s one of my arguments for why ISIS appeals. great compassion, courage, and even beauty, can flower in the midst of atrocity. i still vote against atrocity, because i think compassion, courage, and beauty, can stand on their own legs.

    Obviously I hope you see there is no moral equivalence between something like ISIS and those who decline genetic manipulation. With that quickly aside, have you considered the possibility that rather than “can flower in the midst of atrocity,” it is precisely atrocity that brings to flower compassion and courage? After all, how would we know beauty in absence of ugliness?

    People often speak of “necessary evil.” But in fact I’d argue that most humans need to see what we call evil in order to see goodness (and goodness is not merely the absence of evil). So tragically, we need evil, just as we need suffering.

    In my own personal experience, nothing good has ever come without suffering, big or small. I was reminded of that every time my wife gave birth to a new child of ours.

    As you learned in your exercise regimen, no pain, no gain.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    have you considered the possibility that rather than

    yes.

    if this is true, is a powerful and revolutionary truth in this secular liberal age which prioritizes hedonic utility....
  49. @Twinkie

    struggle, the glory, can be magnificent. to some extent we crave it. that’s one of my arguments for why ISIS appeals. great compassion, courage, and even beauty, can flower in the midst of atrocity. i still vote against atrocity, because i think compassion, courage, and beauty, can stand on their own legs.
     
    Obviously I hope you see there is no moral equivalence between something like ISIS and those who decline genetic manipulation. With that quickly aside, have you considered the possibility that rather than "can flower in the midst of atrocity," it is precisely atrocity that brings to flower compassion and courage? After all, how would we know beauty in absence of ugliness?

    People often speak of "necessary evil." But in fact I'd argue that most humans need to see what we call evil in order to see goodness (and goodness is not merely the absence of evil). So tragically, we need evil, just as we need suffering.

    In my own personal experience, nothing good has ever come without suffering, big or small. I was reminded of that every time my wife gave birth to a new child of ours.

    As you learned in your exercise regimen, no pain, no gain.

    have you considered the possibility that rather than

    yes.

    if this is true, is a powerful and revolutionary truth in this secular liberal age which prioritizes hedonic utility….

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    I think it's beyond question that humans need adversity to some extent in order to thrive. Look at works of fiction throughout the ages - beginning with oral sagas, then literature, film and most recently computer games. In all cases a human mind is only fully engaged in the narrative if there is some sort of conflict, be it man against the gods, man against nature, man against man, or even man against himself. Utopian fiction has been attempted numerous times, and almost always falls flat, while dystopian fiction is hot, hot hot right now.

    That said, conflict is not the same thing as suffering. Hell, given so much of conflict (in stories and in real life) stems from interpersonal dynamics, it's likely that in the future, even if we are tweaked for lower neuroticism, there will still be plenty of drama to go around, even when other forms of conflict are minimized.

    Since I firmly believe we're now on a path to a largely post-scarcity future within the next century, it's becoming important to ask this question: What humanity is good for if not as a unit of production? I think adulthood a century hence will seem much more like contemporary childhood, with super-intelligent AI taking the role of "parents." The vast majority of adults will not have anything meaningful on a material level to do with themselves. However, cultures will (probably through AI mediation) develop various tailored "games" which help keep our need for conflict and status occupied in the absence of toil and money. That is of course, presuming the AI don't kill us all off. Which of course makes for a much better story.
    , @Twinkie

    if this is true, is a powerful and revolutionary truth in this secular liberal age which prioritizes hedonic utility….
     
    Powerful, yes, but I don't think it's that revolutionary. I think such an idea has been a part of timeless wisdom for a very long time across many cultures.

    I have found that excessive pleasure seeking and pain avoidance dulls the senses and enervates the spirit. I subscribe to Aristotelian virtue ethics, and from that perspective arête requires perseverance and temperance. To me, pleasure is like eating - it should be experienced and sought modestly, it should have a purpose, it should be done well, and it should not, ever, make a prisoner of you.
    , @Wizard of Oz
    I've carefully read your article and all your replies and it fascinates me that someone who adds very wide reading to your science and personal intelligence doesn't touch on a potential issue which may be raised by a position I take arising I suppose from my background in both economics and law.

    Quite simple really. I would like people to be persuaded with money to practise eugenics. When does it become coercion? (The translation of traditional civil rights into positive entitlements by the left may indicate how the argument could slide).

    More to the point, even if you don't see a problem with Warren Buffet offering a devout Catholic with an IQ of 80 whatever it costs to persuade her to have her tubes tied or her embryo chosen for implantation after testing and manipulation, how far will you follow me in depriving those who will populate their environment with half-wits who will never pay their way of money and goods above subsistence level?

    That no one has taken to offering sub-Saharan heads of family stipends so long as the young females are not fecund until 25+ and are remaining in education and training till at least their early 20s suggests that my incentives to behave eugenically are not going to be raptuously welcomed.

    In fact I think there are some important fiscal measures which could make it marginally less likely that bright educated women would be outbred as much as they are now by the dim (in large part because they have babies later). Apart from appropriate tax deductions graduates could be forgiven their student debt progressively as they have babies - say modelled on one at 31, followed by others at 33 and 35 getting them 100 per cent debt relief.

  50. @Karl Zimmerman
    AnonNJ is not making a statement about the linkage of emotion and reason based upon some philosophical standpoint, but cognitive science. Jonathan Haidt talks about this to a certain extent in The Righteous Mind. People with damage to their ventromedial prefontal cortex lose all ability to feel emotions, but their cognitive abilities are not otherwise impaired. They can use rationality to weigh options. However, without access to emotion, they cannot reject possibilities out of hand - they lose the ability to "think fast" at all, and must rely upon conscious, laborious internal monologues to come to decisions. As a result, they tend to be incredibly indecisive, or even make foolish decisions, such as driving in hazardous conditions because they have no fear of dying.

    AnonNJ

    ”There is no morality in pure reason. Morality is inherently emotional because at its very core it requires you to care.”

    I have to admit that I started reading the text he posted but not finished. However, he said that there is no morality in a ” pure reason ”. I can not condone this, because in my opinion, morality has a major impact on rational thought, as well instinct and logics (improved instinct).

    Rational thought and logical-pragmatic thinking are not the same thing, in my opinion, rational thinking is a substantial improvement of the logical-pragmatic thinking, both start from the basic recognition of non-fanciful patterns. However, while logical-pragmatic thinking is based on solving problems efficiently, fast and by utilitarian nature, rational thinking is much more reflective.

    Emotion is the shared instinct (to preserve or to care …. or to hate). First we have the will, under normal conditions, to the self-preservation, the emotion, and especially empathy, it is the self-projection towards others, what we know. We put ourselves in their shoes to feel empathy, as if it were a mirror. Many people and perhaps most of them, when they look for homeless, they put in their place, as if they were in the place of the homeless. That sounds noble and empathetic, but is only partially empathic, because if put in the place of other still suggests egocentrism.

    ” If I were in his shoes ….. ”

    ” I’m sorry for him …. because I put myself in his shoes ”

    or

    ” I’ll help you ,,,, because it’s like I’m helping myself”

    People do not try to understand other people before helping or just to think about. It’s not just put in their place but in their minds too, acting like a psychologist,

    There is a dichotomy ” reason x heart ”, in fact, there is some truth there, but that does not mean they are mutually antagonistic.

    There are two really antagonistic key factors that underlie behavior and human decisions, wisdom and stupidity or ignorance, and many people who are very empathetic, also tend to be ignorant, or stupid, in any respect will be essential to the long-term survival , ability to detect predators.

    ”Think fast” would intuition*

    The problem is not quickly think, almost every thought is fast, the problem is to stop thinking when the existential comfort zone has been fed.

    Read More
  51. The emotion is strongly related to our motivations, our cognitive preferences. Try to ” cleanse ” the thought only with reason, that would be better, logic is not very different from being a psychopath, psychopaths are the most Darwinian of all, are extremely creative in their ability to survive and make the environment your please, especially the more intelligent, yet most end up always being more repetitive, perhaps because the human fauna offer few challenges.

    It is not an alleged purification of thought, but good use of emotion in combination with instinct and logic. I think this combination and subsequent good use compose the rational thought (”pure” reason) and not only or primarily logical thinking.

    Read More
  52. This human talk all seems very reasonable.

    Experimenting on humans will always be controversial. But, new technology will make it quite easy to make gene modified apes or monkeys. It is not hard to envision a project that introduces any number of human versions of genes into another species in order to better understand what makes humans unique.

    What if some of these happen to have unexpectedly human-like abilities?

    (Perhaps someone should make a movie about this also.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @K.
    When I saw this topic, my first thought was of some kind of spiritual sequel to "Harrison Bergeron", in which "in the name of protecting common humanity from the predations and exploitation of a eugenically reared master class/race" some future tyranny forces people to practice dysgenics.
  53. @Rick
    This human talk all seems very reasonable.

    Experimenting on humans will always be controversial. But, new technology will make it quite easy to make gene modified apes or monkeys. It is not hard to envision a project that introduces any number of human versions of genes into another species in order to better understand what makes humans unique.

    What if some of these happen to have unexpectedly human-like abilities?

    (Perhaps someone should make a movie about this also.)

    When I saw this topic, my first thought was of some kind of spiritual sequel to “Harrison Bergeron”, in which “in the name of protecting common humanity from the predations and exploitation of a eugenically reared master class/race” some future tyranny forces people to practice dysgenics.

    Read More
  54. @Razib Khan
    have you considered the possibility that rather than

    yes.

    if this is true, is a powerful and revolutionary truth in this secular liberal age which prioritizes hedonic utility....

    I think it’s beyond question that humans need adversity to some extent in order to thrive. Look at works of fiction throughout the ages – beginning with oral sagas, then literature, film and most recently computer games. In all cases a human mind is only fully engaged in the narrative if there is some sort of conflict, be it man against the gods, man against nature, man against man, or even man against himself. Utopian fiction has been attempted numerous times, and almost always falls flat, while dystopian fiction is hot, hot hot right now.

    That said, conflict is not the same thing as suffering. Hell, given so much of conflict (in stories and in real life) stems from interpersonal dynamics, it’s likely that in the future, even if we are tweaked for lower neuroticism, there will still be plenty of drama to go around, even when other forms of conflict are minimized.

    Since I firmly believe we’re now on a path to a largely post-scarcity future within the next century, it’s becoming important to ask this question: What humanity is good for if not as a unit of production? I think adulthood a century hence will seem much more like contemporary childhood, with super-intelligent AI taking the role of “parents.” The vast majority of adults will not have anything meaningful on a material level to do with themselves. However, cultures will (probably through AI mediation) develop various tailored “games” which help keep our need for conflict and status occupied in the absence of toil and money. That is of course, presuming the AI don’t kill us all off. Which of course makes for a much better story.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    That said, conflict is not the same thing as suffering... there will still be plenty of drama to go around, even when other forms of conflict are minimized.
     
    As you wrote, suffering is different from conflict, and the same goes for drama. It's not drama or conflict that ennobles the soul.

    You can invent adversity, sure. But it's not going to be the same as (in my view) divinely provided suffering (or "organic" suffering if you'd like). There is a huge qualitative - and spiritual - difference between doing the stair climber at home as a part of constructed adversity and actually climbing and overcoming a mountain to reach the peak.

    And engaging in cantankerous interpersonal drama is not going to give rise to true nobility the way overcoming a real evil does.
  55. @AnonNJ
    @Razib Khan

    I am fairly consistent pro-life but I really don't want to get into an abortion debate here and I don't think it's necessary. I can, if you want, from a non-religious perspective, but I think that would derail the topic.

    I think the slippery slope argument is perfectly fair to make in this case because it's how the issue plays out historically. Slippery slopes can be a serious problem if you don't have a clear principle or principles that can be applied to stop the slide. Once people entertain the idea that some lives are better off not lived, the natural progression in thought is that anyone who disagrees and let's such people live is engaged in a moral wrong because they are making people live lives better off not lived.

    So who gets to decide which lives are better off not lived and why?

    But consider two fundamental questions lurking beneath this issue.

    1) What makes any life worth living?

    2) Why is killing someone else wrong, even if they don't feel it or suffer during their death?

    I think the slippery slope argument is perfectly fair to make in this case because it’s how the issue plays out historically.

    I do not think that is true. The Nazis early on tried to kill the “defective”–those who in the United States wound up in an institutions or in a chair in the corner. They had to stop because there was too much resistance from ordinary Germans. Such defectives were still seen as part of the German family.

    The result with Jews was different, partly because most of the Final Solution took place during wartime and partly because the Nazis were able to get people to feel that Jews were not “part of the German family.”

    Read More
  56. @Karl Zimmerman
    I think it's beyond question that humans need adversity to some extent in order to thrive. Look at works of fiction throughout the ages - beginning with oral sagas, then literature, film and most recently computer games. In all cases a human mind is only fully engaged in the narrative if there is some sort of conflict, be it man against the gods, man against nature, man against man, or even man against himself. Utopian fiction has been attempted numerous times, and almost always falls flat, while dystopian fiction is hot, hot hot right now.

    That said, conflict is not the same thing as suffering. Hell, given so much of conflict (in stories and in real life) stems from interpersonal dynamics, it's likely that in the future, even if we are tweaked for lower neuroticism, there will still be plenty of drama to go around, even when other forms of conflict are minimized.

    Since I firmly believe we're now on a path to a largely post-scarcity future within the next century, it's becoming important to ask this question: What humanity is good for if not as a unit of production? I think adulthood a century hence will seem much more like contemporary childhood, with super-intelligent AI taking the role of "parents." The vast majority of adults will not have anything meaningful on a material level to do with themselves. However, cultures will (probably through AI mediation) develop various tailored "games" which help keep our need for conflict and status occupied in the absence of toil and money. That is of course, presuming the AI don't kill us all off. Which of course makes for a much better story.

    That said, conflict is not the same thing as suffering… there will still be plenty of drama to go around, even when other forms of conflict are minimized.

    As you wrote, suffering is different from conflict, and the same goes for drama. It’s not drama or conflict that ennobles the soul.

    You can invent adversity, sure. But it’s not going to be the same as (in my view) divinely provided suffering (or “organic” suffering if you’d like). There is a huge qualitative – and spiritual – difference between doing the stair climber at home as a part of constructed adversity and actually climbing and overcoming a mountain to reach the peak.

    And engaging in cantankerous interpersonal drama is not going to give rise to true nobility the way overcoming a real evil does.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    I dunno if you can really say that interpersonal drama/conflict do not give rise to good character. Standing up to a bully in childhood is a cliche example, but the clearest one. I've known many people who were horribly treated by peers as children, and while many still wince to think about it, they generally do not regret what happened to them in retrospect, because the experience made them who they are today.

    Can I ask, you of curiosity, what "real evil" a hunter-gatherer regularly overcomes? Certainly they need to deal with adversity - like friends and family dying. But conflict with neighboring bands can't really count, because neither band is actually evil in and of itself.
  57. @Razib Khan
    have you considered the possibility that rather than

    yes.

    if this is true, is a powerful and revolutionary truth in this secular liberal age which prioritizes hedonic utility....

    if this is true, is a powerful and revolutionary truth in this secular liberal age which prioritizes hedonic utility….

    Powerful, yes, but I don’t think it’s that revolutionary. I think such an idea has been a part of timeless wisdom for a very long time across many cultures.

    I have found that excessive pleasure seeking and pain avoidance dulls the senses and enervates the spirit. I subscribe to Aristotelian virtue ethics, and from that perspective arête requires perseverance and temperance. To me, pleasure is like eating – it should be experienced and sought modestly, it should have a purpose, it should be done well, and it should not, ever, make a prisoner of you.

    Read More
  58. @Twinkie

    That said, conflict is not the same thing as suffering... there will still be plenty of drama to go around, even when other forms of conflict are minimized.
     
    As you wrote, suffering is different from conflict, and the same goes for drama. It's not drama or conflict that ennobles the soul.

    You can invent adversity, sure. But it's not going to be the same as (in my view) divinely provided suffering (or "organic" suffering if you'd like). There is a huge qualitative - and spiritual - difference between doing the stair climber at home as a part of constructed adversity and actually climbing and overcoming a mountain to reach the peak.

    And engaging in cantankerous interpersonal drama is not going to give rise to true nobility the way overcoming a real evil does.

    I dunno if you can really say that interpersonal drama/conflict do not give rise to good character. Standing up to a bully in childhood is a cliche example, but the clearest one. I’ve known many people who were horribly treated by peers as children, and while many still wince to think about it, they generally do not regret what happened to them in retrospect, because the experience made them who they are today.

    Can I ask, you of curiosity, what “real evil” a hunter-gatherer regularly overcomes? Certainly they need to deal with adversity – like friends and family dying. But conflict with neighboring bands can’t really count, because neither band is actually evil in and of itself.

    Read More
  59. Once the low hanging fruit are taken care of, then I’d expect a widening of the definition of genetic disease. First MD or CF are taken care of, but how long until being below average intelligence is considered a disease state? I don’t see any plausible end point once the idea becomes accepted.

    Read More
  60. The 2010s (and likely the 2020s) are not the 1920s and 30s. Direct coercion is much less morally acceptable in liberal societies, and even in some illiberal ones. So more people will recognize signposts on the slippery slope and demand that a stop sign be mounted there.

    I think the difference between using gene editing to eliminate serious genetic diseases and using it to choose physical or mental enhancements will depend on the reliability of the technology. If you can eliminate Tay-Sachs, but at a 10% risk of some less serious defect, lots of parents will choose that. If you can enhance intelligence at a 10% greater risk of schizophrenia, not many people will bite.

    Read More
  61. @student
    For anyone who objects to the elimination of Mendelian disease, I invite you to speak to the father of a child who died of Tay Sachs disease or spinal muscular atrophy. When your infant dies from suffocation because her motor neurons are no longer able to promote breathing, you have a keen understanding that not all human genetic variation is benign or a matter of preference. If identifying carriers of these diseases and avoiding the birth of affected children is morally objectionable, then there really is no such thing as a common moral framework.

    Spinal Muscular Atrophy:

    A phase 1 trial of a genetic treatment:

    Only a sadist could object to preventing SMA or curing it.

    Read More
  62. The quotes from disabled people above remind me of the complaints from so called deaf activists (seriously, who died and made them holy) against parents of deaf children who obtain cochlear implants for their children.

    They would much rather see the children immured in the world of sign language and deaf schools than mainstreamed into the hearing world.

    To me its smacks elevating the cause above the people. Salus populi suprema lex esto*, is the only legitimate motto of politics. Reducing your cause to a crab basket is unhealthy to say the least.

    *The well being of the people is the highest law. It comes from Cicero. It was used by Hobbes in Leviathan, and Locke made it the epigraph of his Second Treatise of Government. It is the motto of the State of Missouri.

    Read More
  63. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    I seem to be the only disabled person here.

    It’s just as bad as you think. I wish it had never happened to me. Being disabled has made me spiritually smaller. Even if I were to become healthy, I would carry the psychological trauma of being disabled with me until I died.

    For those of you who think suffering is so great, I don’t see any of you hacking off your own arms.

    The two disabled people quoted in the article aren’t really that bad off; one has poor vision and one is missing part of an arm. Far worse things can happen to you than this.

    I feel that disabled people who want to argue that disability is great may suffer from a lack of imagination; they can’t really imagine themselves as healthy people. But I also think it’s a coping mechanism, and it comes partly out of a fear of seeing disabled people marginalized.

    The deaf community initially resisted cochlear implants, but seems to have mostly accepted them by now. I think this will be the general pattern.

    I think there are real issues worth debating about these technologies, but we need to start with the idea that illness is bad. Duh!

    Read More
  64. “But now he thinks that would have been a mistake: doing so might have erased some of the things that make Ruthie special — her determination, for instance.”

    Talk about muddled thinking – does he not realize that her “determination” is as controlled by genes as is her lack of eyesight? What, he’s going to snip out the determination gene when he puts in the eyesight gene?

    Read More
  65. Thanks a million times for saying this. I’ve held this opinion for years and have been waiting for someone people actually listen to to say it.

    What’s wrong with eugenics?

    Not what’s wrong with the Holocaust–that wasn’t wrong because it was eugenics, that was wrong because it was *mass murder*. (If I wasn’t on Unz, I’d argue killing German Jews was particularly questionable eugenics, but that’s a digression.)

    We practice eugenics when we pick an intelligent or good-looking spouse.

    We practice eugenics when we test ourselves for genetic diseases.

    Cystic fibrosis? Hereditary blindness? Who needs them? How much more would the people mentioned have accomplished if they didn’t have to spend 40 hours a day inhaling medications?

    Read More
  66. @Razib Khan
    have you considered the possibility that rather than

    yes.

    if this is true, is a powerful and revolutionary truth in this secular liberal age which prioritizes hedonic utility....

    I’ve carefully read your article and all your replies and it fascinates me that someone who adds very wide reading to your science and personal intelligence doesn’t touch on a potential issue which may be raised by a position I take arising I suppose from my background in both economics and law.

    Quite simple really. I would like people to be persuaded with money to practise eugenics. When does it become coercion? (The translation of traditional civil rights into positive entitlements by the left may indicate how the argument could slide).

    More to the point, even if you don’t see a problem with Warren Buffet offering a devout Catholic with an IQ of 80 whatever it costs to persuade her to have her tubes tied or her embryo chosen for implantation after testing and manipulation, how far will you follow me in depriving those who will populate their environment with half-wits who will never pay their way of money and goods above subsistence level?

    That no one has taken to offering sub-Saharan heads of family stipends so long as the young females are not fecund until 25+ and are remaining in education and training till at least their early 20s suggests that my incentives to behave eugenically are not going to be raptuously welcomed.

    In fact I think there are some important fiscal measures which could make it marginally less likely that bright educated women would be outbred as much as they are now by the dim (in large part because they have babies later). Apart from appropriate tax deductions graduates could be forgiven their student debt progressively as they have babies – say modelled on one at 31, followed by others at 33 and 35 getting them 100 per cent debt relief.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
    Leaving such choices to people will never work.

    Malthus was somewhat correct. The limits will be natural, not choice via political rationality (which is an oxymoron for all time.)
  67. Yes, yes, by all means get the coercion out first.

    WAIT!

    Today it is fairly simple to selectively abort fetuses with Downs or other gross variations in chromosome number, right?

    Given that most such people will eventually land on the PUBLIC DOLE, are not parents intentionally bringing such defective people into existence and dumping them on the neighbors’ doorsteps (figuratively) using the political system to COERCE the care and feeding of their kids?

    Let’s at least TRY to be intellectually consistent here, okay?

    There are legitimate reasons to charge higher life insurance rates to people who choose to pursue dangerous or unhealthy behaviors. How is CHOOSING to have a blind kid, or a kid with CF or a growing number of clear diseases not doing the same thing?

    You always get more “supply” of any thing for which you’ll pay. Pay young women to produce kids without a dad in the house and you get MORE KIDS born to single moms. Pay people simply because they’re poorer than a certain threshold and you get an ever-growing population of people in that condition.

    As genetic science turns certain disease states into a choice, I’m all in favor of parents exercising that choice ONLY IF THEY BEAR THE FULL COST OF DOING SO.

    I’m sick and tired of socializing the costs of stupidity.

    Read More
  68. Wait until selective abortion of fetuses over predictors of intelligence begins.

    Right now it’s Trisomy 21 and a few other gross errors in development. In a few years it will be intelligence, or even more controversial, propensity for violent behavior.

    We already have very public calls for coercive systems like Affirmative Action racial preferences to remain even as Caucasians become a minority population in the USA. What is this if not an explicit statement that successful white people will be hamstrung forever, until that cold day in Hell backward racial minorities catch up in the averages?

    A world where some people choose “enhancement” will slam head-first into “privilege” bullshit, because in the Theocracy of today’s times anything that produces inequality is deemed demonic, even if it is natural biology, much less intentional manipulation.

    I can see it now: A government program to pay 100% of the costs for non-Asian minority parents to “enhance” the intelligence of their kids as an affirmative action to equalize selected outcomes in occupations, lifetime income and wealth, while “priviledged” people are legally barred from doing the same.

    It’s all about equality, right?

    At a time when political control of life extends down to the tiniest detail (e.g., how much water a flush toilet can use, by law), there is no way techniques for genetic enhancement will remain a private choice. The theocracy will never, ever stand for it.

    Read More
  69. @Wizard of Oz
    I've carefully read your article and all your replies and it fascinates me that someone who adds very wide reading to your science and personal intelligence doesn't touch on a potential issue which may be raised by a position I take arising I suppose from my background in both economics and law.

    Quite simple really. I would like people to be persuaded with money to practise eugenics. When does it become coercion? (The translation of traditional civil rights into positive entitlements by the left may indicate how the argument could slide).

    More to the point, even if you don't see a problem with Warren Buffet offering a devout Catholic with an IQ of 80 whatever it costs to persuade her to have her tubes tied or her embryo chosen for implantation after testing and manipulation, how far will you follow me in depriving those who will populate their environment with half-wits who will never pay their way of money and goods above subsistence level?

    That no one has taken to offering sub-Saharan heads of family stipends so long as the young females are not fecund until 25+ and are remaining in education and training till at least their early 20s suggests that my incentives to behave eugenically are not going to be raptuously welcomed.

    In fact I think there are some important fiscal measures which could make it marginally less likely that bright educated women would be outbred as much as they are now by the dim (in large part because they have babies later). Apart from appropriate tax deductions graduates could be forgiven their student debt progressively as they have babies - say modelled on one at 31, followed by others at 33 and 35 getting them 100 per cent debt relief.

    Leaving such choices to people will never work.

    Malthus was somewhat correct. The limits will be natural, not choice via political rationality (which is an oxymoron for all time.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    I think I detect some contradiction between your first and scond pars. A reconciliation might be the sort of coercion with money I suggested - perhaps not extending to starving the idiot pauper woman.
  70. Great Khan & The Technoevangelists may not cured anything yet, but they have already committed genocide on strawmen.

    Reminds me of the Dutch euthanasia salesmen.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/03/the-dutch-debate-doctor-assisted-suicide-for-depression.html

    The Magic ™ does everything good and does nothing bad, no matter how complex systems does it intervene in, or what precedent does it set, complete with pictures of sad children to underscore delusions of moral superiority.

    Read More
  71. For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets

    For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.
     
    Doubtful.

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie. I strongly suspect higher IQ people will welcome a higher proportion of higher IQ people if for no other reason than there's already a shrinking number of people pulling a cart whose passenger number is skyrocketing.

    You may also be overestimating the benefits of high IQ. I've seen more than my share of very bright young people crash and burn, and the one true genius of my acquaintance led a pretty crappy life, so bored was he by those who surrounded him. He squandered his gifts, a common occurrence.
    , @Bill M
    This sort of impulse may animate some of the support elites have had for family planning and environmentalism. There's a "kicking away the ladder" aspect to environmentalism, which of course is ostensibly promoted purely for ethical reasons.
    , @Wizard of Oz
    I add a technical reason why I think you err. The brainy couple know that the chances of all their naturally conceived and gestated children having the intellect they would like is low so they will avail themselves of whatever technology can do to guarantee the right result.
  72. In January, Ruthie’s dad Ethan asked her whether she wished that her parents had corrected the gene responsible for her blindness before she was born. Ruthie didn’t hesitate before answering — no. Would she ever consider editing the genes of her own future children to help them to see? Again, Ruthie didn’t blink — no.

    Ruthie’s god given youthful natural human spirit answered the question with a “NO.” Her spirit would not let her say “yes” to being something other then what she is – her healthy spirit would not let her be a victim. She is challenged and she is rising to that challenge. Kudos to her.

    In a somber moment when Ruth is sixty – would she say “no” again – especially “no” to her child being sighted?

    It is not rational – it is not intellectually correct – is it not beneficial to prevent something negative form happening on an individual basis?

    Should not this genetic technology be limited to actual birth defects?

    Is “eugenics” even the right word to describe the prevention of birth defects?

    Is not being a rocket scientist a genetic defect? “Eugenics” has a nasty connotation to it – it brings up the vision of mass actions taken against a class of people. This we must never do.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
    Preventing disease is no different whether it is the result of better nutrition, the right pharmaceutical at the right time or some genetic intervention.

    Where this gets sticky is selective abortion of affected fetuses. That's not a treatment of a disease, it's closing in on euthanasia to make the parents' or family's life simpler. I can see different people holding very different views of this.
  73. @Razib Khan
    well, this is a serious debate to have now. and at least we are having the discussion. but again: do you think it is acceptable to screen for mendelian diseases? if we can't agree on that, we can't agree on anything.

    @Nobody is arguing much about Mendelian diseases, as much as you can define them exactly.

    But this will be a slippery slope.

    As Santacolo says, why not psychopathy? Arguably a greater social concern than a Mendelian sufferer.

    Of course, the rich will get this first. Unlike cars, they won’t just benefit economically, but politically, sexually, militarily and socially. They will use this to drive inequality further, not reduce it. For human worth and happiness is relative.

    For their purposes, the temptation to create 6ft + high testosterone, high IQ children will be too much too ignore. Even if funded for more cost in secret.

    My main concern is that whole phenotypes will be eliminated. Nobody will want the shy goofy brown eyed boy. No nerds. Pretty soon everyone will coalesce around a certain aesthetic ideal.

    What began as an attempt to equalise human fortunes, will end up creating a massive chasm.

    Read More
  74. There is a very understandable tendency for people who are born with some disability or abnormality to make the best of it: putting on a brave face, if you like. In some cases there is also the fact that they don’t have any experience of the alternative. Someone born completely blind or deaf cannot really understand what it is to have sight or hearing.
    It is another matter if someone has had a faculty and then lost it. How many people who have gone blind after early childhood would not be glad to recover their sight? If someone had offered Beethoven a chance to recover his hearing, would he have said ‘No thanks, I’m doing fine’?
    It surely also makes a difference whether someone is suffering actual pain, discomfort, or distress, or just a deficit of some kind. Many congenital conditions are extremely distressing for the sufferer. Cystic fibrosis is an example (though not the worst), so I am surprised that Sandy Sufian is (reportedly) so insouciant about the possibility of passing it on through the germline. I would take such claims with more than a pinch of salt.

    Read More
  75. @Sean
    For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.

    For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.

    Doubtful.

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie. I strongly suspect higher IQ people will welcome a higher proportion of higher IQ people if for no other reason than there’s already a shrinking number of people pulling a cart whose passenger number is skyrocketing.

    You may also be overestimating the benefits of high IQ. I’ve seen more than my share of very bright young people crash and burn, and the one true genius of my acquaintance led a pretty crappy life, so bored was he by those who surrounded him. He squandered his gifts, a common occurrence.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bill M

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie.
     
    The "pie" of IQ may not be fixed with genetic engineering, But the "pie" of social status is fixed. Social status is a zero-sum game. People at the top of a status hierarchy have less of an incentive to promote ways for others to ascend that hierarchy and displace them.
    , @Sean
    Such a personality trait and similar ones you don't mention, may be tweakable, and so high IQ would be harnessed to a stable aspirational personality. I know someone with an awesome capacity for hard work, which they seem to find interesting and actually enjoy. Could any couple, no matter how richly endowed with hereditary qualities, want their kid to be in a world where many peers would be genetically engineered to be cheerful, charming, hard working, really really smart , and very good looking?
  76. @Art

    In January, Ruthie’s dad Ethan asked her whether she wished that her parents had corrected the gene responsible for her blindness before she was born. Ruthie didn’t hesitate before answering — no. Would she ever consider editing the genes of her own future children to help them to see? Again, Ruthie didn’t blink — no.
     
    Ruthie’s god given youthful natural human spirit answered the question with a “NO.” Her spirit would not let her say “yes” to being something other then what she is – her healthy spirit would not let her be a victim. She is challenged and she is rising to that challenge. Kudos to her.

    In a somber moment when Ruth is sixty – would she say “no” again – especially “no” to her child being sighted?

    It is not rational – it is not intellectually correct – is it not beneficial to prevent something negative form happening on an individual basis?

    Should not this genetic technology be limited to actual birth defects?

    Is “eugenics” even the right word to describe the prevention of birth defects?

    Is not being a rocket scientist a genetic defect? “Eugenics” has a nasty connotation to it – it brings up the vision of mass actions taken against a class of people. This we must never do.

    Preventing disease is no different whether it is the result of better nutrition, the right pharmaceutical at the right time or some genetic intervention.

    Where this gets sticky is selective abortion of affected fetuses. That’s not a treatment of a disease, it’s closing in on euthanasia to make the parents’ or family’s life simpler. I can see different people holding very different views of this.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art
    Where this gets sticky is selective abortion of affected fetuses. That’s not a treatment of a disease, it’s closing in on euthanasia to make the parents’ or family’s life simpler.

    The title of the article is “Eugenics.” The example that he cited was not about eugenics – it was about the father fixing Ruthie in the sub-embryo stage of her life.

    The question was “did she want to live blind or sighted” --- NOT whether she should have been born at all.

    Eugenics is really about, as a class of people should the mentally and physically weak be aborted. Christian Western culture ideally and clearly says – NO.
  77. @Sean
    For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.

    This sort of impulse may animate some of the support elites have had for family planning and environmentalism. There’s a “kicking away the ladder” aspect to environmentalism, which of course is ostensibly promoted purely for ethical reasons.

    Read More
  78. @dc.sunsets

    For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.
     
    Doubtful.

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie. I strongly suspect higher IQ people will welcome a higher proportion of higher IQ people if for no other reason than there's already a shrinking number of people pulling a cart whose passenger number is skyrocketing.

    You may also be overestimating the benefits of high IQ. I've seen more than my share of very bright young people crash and burn, and the one true genius of my acquaintance led a pretty crappy life, so bored was he by those who surrounded him. He squandered his gifts, a common occurrence.

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie.

    The “pie” of IQ may not be fixed with genetic engineering, But the “pie” of social status is fixed. Social status is a zero-sum game. People at the top of a status hierarchy have less of an incentive to promote ways for others to ascend that hierarchy and displace them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    I'm not sure you have a true picture of the pie. A lot of older people, even with lots of children and grandchildren are very keen to give bright or attractive or pleasant younger people a chance to flourish which may or may not involve public recognition by the rich or "great and good" pr media. Think of the pleasure committee members awarding Fulbright Scholarships or a thousand other awards obvviously get. Think retired judges, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates down to.... well ten thousand former Mayors with comfortable incomes.
    , @dc.sunsets

    People at the top of a status hierarchy have less of an incentive to promote ways for others to ascend that hierarchy and displace them.
     
    What hierarchy?

    Your argument presupposes a fixed number or fixed system of hierarchy. I see no reason why.

    Small colleges often sell against their higher costs by citing smaller communities (as a benefit.) This is absurd, of course, because in large populations small communities are automatically yielded.

    In this way, the number of hierarchies in any populace is unlimited. If the USA was covered with 300 million very bright people, it would not be one highly-populated, insular hierarchy, it would be many sub-units of hierarchy based on innumerable other measures.

    All of this is arguing about the numbers of angels on the head of a pin. While selecting against low IQ may soon be possible, any notion of taking an embryo or fetus, or selecting gametes for combination, and artificially increasing the resultant intelligence, creativity or other highly polygenic attribute is so far beyond the realm of science fiction as to be ridiculous.

    Look at the state of medical science. It's embarrassingly crude; we are afflicted with Error Pyramids right and left, 45 years of the War on Cancer still yields what amount to arsenic cures for syphilis, and we still can't admit that vaccines only stimulate one of two pathways of immunity (humoral, but not cell-mediated.)

    Anyone selling the notion of influencing polygenic traits in existing humans (from zygote to adult) is over-promising to the level of the ridiculous.
  79. @dc.sunsets
    Preventing disease is no different whether it is the result of better nutrition, the right pharmaceutical at the right time or some genetic intervention.

    Where this gets sticky is selective abortion of affected fetuses. That's not a treatment of a disease, it's closing in on euthanasia to make the parents' or family's life simpler. I can see different people holding very different views of this.

    Where this gets sticky is selective abortion of affected fetuses. That’s not a treatment of a disease, it’s closing in on euthanasia to make the parents’ or family’s life simpler.

    The title of the article is “Eugenics.” The example that he cited was not about eugenics – it was about the father fixing Ruthie in the sub-embryo stage of her life.

    The question was “did she want to live blind or sighted” — NOT whether she should have been born at all.

    Eugenics is really about, as a class of people should the mentally and physically weak be aborted. Christian Western culture ideally and clearly says – NO.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets

    Christian Western culture ideally and clearly says – NO.
     
    Really? Then why is there now a test prospective parents can obtain that tells them with great accuracy whether or not the baby she's carrying is Trisomy 21 (and a few other gross abnormalities)?

    Do you think it might have something to do with selectively aborting a baby that will be, by definition, mentally weak?

    This is the Brave New World that exists today.
  80. @Sean
    No problem preventing genetic problems or parents selecting for them. It is already illegal in the UK to genetically engineer for congenitally deaf babies.

    The rubicon was crossed with abortion, but the real battle will come when IQ genes become well enough understood for the upper classes of society to be outed as having genetic advantages.

    That will be contemporaneous with the technology to alter heredity by genetic engineering becoming viable. This will be an effective equalizer between the children of lower and upper social classes . Mark my words, the main opposition to genetic engineering will be from Charles Murray's new upper class trying to preserve their natural advantage, ostensibly on ethical grounds.

    the main opposition to genetic engineering will be from Charles Murray’s new upper class trying to preserve their natural advantage, ostensibly on ethical grounds

    The upper class defending its advantages, where do you get these crazy ideas Sean?

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
    Maybe those pulling the cart prefer to see not so many people RIDING in the cart.

    Lest you forget, there are already calls to maintain coercive set-asides for economic stragglers (AKA Affirmative Action) even after those who enjoy "white privilege" become a minority in the USA.

    Democracy in action. Once the parasites outnumber the hosts, all roads lead to an explosion of parasitism at the ballot box.
  81. @marcel proust
    i hope you’re not under the illusion that i’m a real libertarian, as opposed to a libertarian-themed person (kind of like how taco bell is mexican-themed food).

    This has to be one of the best things I've read this year. (It describes me as well, although I am sure that many would disagree with the parts of liberty that I believe important and the ones that I am willing to let slide down that slope.)

    I'm going to steal this line, although, depending on the circumstances, I may credit it properly.

    Some may be Cafeteria catholics: me, I'm a taco-bell libertarian.

    Thank you.

    The entire concept of libertarianism can only exist within liberal democracy. It is not something that can exist on its own.

    Read More
  82. @Bill M

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie.
     
    The "pie" of IQ may not be fixed with genetic engineering, But the "pie" of social status is fixed. Social status is a zero-sum game. People at the top of a status hierarchy have less of an incentive to promote ways for others to ascend that hierarchy and displace them.

    I’m not sure you have a true picture of the pie. A lot of older people, even with lots of children and grandchildren are very keen to give bright or attractive or pleasant younger people a chance to flourish which may or may not involve public recognition by the rich or “great and good” pr media. Think of the pleasure committee members awarding Fulbright Scholarships or a thousand other awards obvviously get. Think retired judges, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates down to…. well ten thousand former Mayors with comfortable incomes.

    Read More
  83. Some of you only want to think about the easy cases.

    What about a female, age 15, IQ 75-85 with an extremely friendly and trusting personality, but plenty of enthusiasm for going out into the world and making her way in work and society.

    Can we not say that sterilization would be best for her and for society?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    Certainly for society and possibly for her depending on whether she is taught to use contraception and does do and whether, if she gives birth she has family or others who can and do give her adequate support (and persuade her to get sterilised after two).
    , @dc.sunsets
    Who is the "we?"

    That's the problem (and the crux of this column.) Once you open the door to some (usually self-selected) elite deciding who reproduces and who doesn't, the wheels come off the cart.

    Most of mankind's disasters now are man-made. Nature used to provide the carrot and the stick. Now that many of life's natural scourges have been tamed, people collectively keep coming up with substitute scourges.

    The #1 man-made scourge is leftism, which is a subset of the Progressivist/Fabian Socialist theocracy bent on "improving humanity," one beating at a time. This has been the trend for 600 years, and given the absurdity of its modern dogma (transgender being the thigh-slapping pinnacle) one must assume the trend is ripe for reversal.
    , @Wizard of Oz
    PS She sounds like the ideal suicide bomber. How does one protect society and her from that? Free ranging answers might start with the reintroduction of slavery....
  84. @Sean
    For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.

    I add a technical reason why I think you err. The brainy couple know that the chances of all their naturally conceived and gestated children having the intellect they would like is low so they will avail themselves of whatever technology can do to guarantee the right result.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets

    The brainy couple know that the chances of all their naturally conceived and gestated children having the intellect they would like is low
     
    On what data do you possibly base this silly idea?

    Smart people have smart kids. Dumb people have dumb kids. Do you live alone on an island somewhere?

    My wife and I are quite bright. All of our kids are quite bright. The students in my wife's grade school classroom who, despite herculean effort to teach them long division cannot get it have parents who, without fail, can't do long division either.

    I didn't need to do squat to know my sons would be extremely bright. If anything, preparing them for the challenges that come with being above the 99th percentile was most important.

    Current theory holds that IQ is 75-80% inherited.
    , @Sean
    The absolute maximum IQ is not the objective. It's what gives the upper class kids an advantage relative to the mass of children.. The clever couple (upper middle class) have some IQ advantage naturally and the money to give further advantages through upbringing in nice area and schooling. Effective genetic engineering would cancel both types of advantage, and make education a largely a waste of money. Upper class children are often better looking, and you can bet good looks would be high on the shopping list of for genes. This line of argument will never be used, but I think the upper class will never accept their society being flooded by people who are smarter and better looking.
  85. @dc.sunsets
    Leaving such choices to people will never work.

    Malthus was somewhat correct. The limits will be natural, not choice via political rationality (which is an oxymoron for all time.)

    I think I detect some contradiction between your first and scond pars. A reconciliation might be the sort of coercion with money I suggested – perhaps not extending to starving the idiot pauper woman.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
    Well, we know financial incentives work in a dysgenic fashion. Perhaps you are on to something.

    That said, any notions that contradict the Cathedral dogmas of democracy and equality will be DOA until the 600 year reign (of terror) is over. I don't expect even my great grandkids to see that day.
  86. @iffen
    Some of you only want to think about the easy cases.

    What about a female, age 15, IQ 75-85 with an extremely friendly and trusting personality, but plenty of enthusiasm for going out into the world and making her way in work and society.

    Can we not say that sterilization would be best for her and for society?

    Certainly for society and possibly for her depending on whether she is taught to use contraception and does do and whether, if she gives birth she has family or others who can and do give her adequate support (and persuade her to get sterilised after two).

    Read More
  87. Yes.

    Allowing nothing other than simply telling the truth would lead to an improvement imo as people already do it on an instinctive level but being open about genetics would increase it: in a nutshell if you want your kids to be a certain way then marry someone who has those qualities.

    “editing genes for frivolous purposes such as increasing intelligence.”

    The banking fraternity will oppose raising average IQ because it would completely wreck their scam. If they had their way they’d lower it for everyone but them.

    Read More
  88. @Bill M

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie.
     
    The "pie" of IQ may not be fixed with genetic engineering, But the "pie" of social status is fixed. Social status is a zero-sum game. People at the top of a status hierarchy have less of an incentive to promote ways for others to ascend that hierarchy and displace them.

    People at the top of a status hierarchy have less of an incentive to promote ways for others to ascend that hierarchy and displace them.

    What hierarchy?

    Your argument presupposes a fixed number or fixed system of hierarchy. I see no reason why.

    Small colleges often sell against their higher costs by citing smaller communities (as a benefit.) This is absurd, of course, because in large populations small communities are automatically yielded.

    In this way, the number of hierarchies in any populace is unlimited. If the USA was covered with 300 million very bright people, it would not be one highly-populated, insular hierarchy, it would be many sub-units of hierarchy based on innumerable other measures.

    All of this is arguing about the numbers of angels on the head of a pin. While selecting against low IQ may soon be possible, any notion of taking an embryo or fetus, or selecting gametes for combination, and artificially increasing the resultant intelligence, creativity or other highly polygenic attribute is so far beyond the realm of science fiction as to be ridiculous.

    Look at the state of medical science. It’s embarrassingly crude; we are afflicted with Error Pyramids right and left, 45 years of the War on Cancer still yields what amount to arsenic cures for syphilis, and we still can’t admit that vaccines only stimulate one of two pathways of immunity (humoral, but not cell-mediated.)

    Anyone selling the notion of influencing polygenic traits in existing humans (from zygote to adult) is over-promising to the level of the ridiculous.

    Read More
  89. @Art
    Where this gets sticky is selective abortion of affected fetuses. That’s not a treatment of a disease, it’s closing in on euthanasia to make the parents’ or family’s life simpler.

    The title of the article is “Eugenics.” The example that he cited was not about eugenics – it was about the father fixing Ruthie in the sub-embryo stage of her life.

    The question was “did she want to live blind or sighted” --- NOT whether she should have been born at all.

    Eugenics is really about, as a class of people should the mentally and physically weak be aborted. Christian Western culture ideally and clearly says – NO.

    Christian Western culture ideally and clearly says – NO.

    Really? Then why is there now a test prospective parents can obtain that tells them with great accuracy whether or not the baby she’s carrying is Trisomy 21 (and a few other gross abnormalities)?

    Do you think it might have something to do with selectively aborting a baby that will be, by definition, mentally weak?

    This is the Brave New World that exists today.

    Read More
  90. @iffen
    the main opposition to genetic engineering will be from Charles Murray’s new upper class trying to preserve their natural advantage, ostensibly on ethical grounds

    The upper class defending its advantages, where do you get these crazy ideas Sean?

    Maybe those pulling the cart prefer to see not so many people RIDING in the cart.

    Lest you forget, there are already calls to maintain coercive set-asides for economic stragglers (AKA Affirmative Action) even after those who enjoy “white privilege” become a minority in the USA.

    Democracy in action. Once the parasites outnumber the hosts, all roads lead to an explosion of parasitism at the ballot box.

    Read More
  91. @iffen
    Some of you only want to think about the easy cases.

    What about a female, age 15, IQ 75-85 with an extremely friendly and trusting personality, but plenty of enthusiasm for going out into the world and making her way in work and society.

    Can we not say that sterilization would be best for her and for society?

    Who is the “we?”

    That’s the problem (and the crux of this column.) Once you open the door to some (usually self-selected) elite deciding who reproduces and who doesn’t, the wheels come off the cart.

    Most of mankind’s disasters now are man-made. Nature used to provide the carrot and the stick. Now that many of life’s natural scourges have been tamed, people collectively keep coming up with substitute scourges.

    The #1 man-made scourge is leftism, which is a subset of the Progressivist/Fabian Socialist theocracy bent on “improving humanity,” one beating at a time. This has been the trend for 600 years, and given the absurdity of its modern dogma (transgender being the thigh-slapping pinnacle) one must assume the trend is ripe for reversal.

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    The elites decide, that's why they are called the elites. What the individual (you, I) can decide is whether we are happy with the current elites or not. If you are unhappy with the current elites then you need to decide if you want to try and replace it with another one and what will be the nature of that replacement.
  92. @Wizard of Oz
    I add a technical reason why I think you err. The brainy couple know that the chances of all their naturally conceived and gestated children having the intellect they would like is low so they will avail themselves of whatever technology can do to guarantee the right result.

    The brainy couple know that the chances of all their naturally conceived and gestated children having the intellect they would like is low

    On what data do you possibly base this silly idea?

    Smart people have smart kids. Dumb people have dumb kids. Do you live alone on an island somewhere?

    My wife and I are quite bright. All of our kids are quite bright. The students in my wife’s grade school classroom who, despite herculean effort to teach them long division cannot get it have parents who, without fail, can’t do long division either.

    I didn’t need to do squat to know my sons would be extremely bright. If anything, preparing them for the challenges that come with being above the 99th percentile was most important.

    Current theory holds that IQ is 75-80% inherited.

    Read More
  93. @Wizard of Oz
    I think I detect some contradiction between your first and scond pars. A reconciliation might be the sort of coercion with money I suggested - perhaps not extending to starving the idiot pauper woman.

    Well, we know financial incentives work in a dysgenic fashion. Perhaps you are on to something.

    That said, any notions that contradict the Cathedral dogmas of democracy and equality will be DOA until the 600 year reign (of terror) is over. I don’t expect even my great grandkids to see that day.

    Read More
  94. @dc.sunsets
    Who is the "we?"

    That's the problem (and the crux of this column.) Once you open the door to some (usually self-selected) elite deciding who reproduces and who doesn't, the wheels come off the cart.

    Most of mankind's disasters now are man-made. Nature used to provide the carrot and the stick. Now that many of life's natural scourges have been tamed, people collectively keep coming up with substitute scourges.

    The #1 man-made scourge is leftism, which is a subset of the Progressivist/Fabian Socialist theocracy bent on "improving humanity," one beating at a time. This has been the trend for 600 years, and given the absurdity of its modern dogma (transgender being the thigh-slapping pinnacle) one must assume the trend is ripe for reversal.

    The elites decide, that’s why they are called the elites. What the individual (you, I) can decide is whether we are happy with the current elites or not. If you are unhappy with the current elites then you need to decide if you want to try and replace it with another one and what will be the nature of that replacement.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
    I supposed I'd prefer a clearer meritocracy but so what?

    We get the system to which our neighbors consent.
    I'm a fan of the Dark Enlightenment grasp of our world today so I'm pretty disgusted with it in general and very nervous about the potential for socialist democracy to follow its normal trend into cannibal democracy, followed by zombie democracy (unless dictatorship intervenes.) To me, the modern commandments of Democracy and Equality are utterly ridiculous, but 600 years of movement in their direction isn't going to be undone in my lifetime.

    I have neither the wisdom nor the power to alter one thing about it, though. The best any of us does is just attempt to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein (as recorded in Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.)

    Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

    The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim -- for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives -- is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High.

     

    When the trend of the last 50 years ends (monetary debasement, capital-destroying debt issuance, denial-of-biological-reality equalitarianism and increasingly deviant personal behavior) I believe a period of exceptional danger and difficulty will occur.
  95. @iffen
    Some of you only want to think about the easy cases.

    What about a female, age 15, IQ 75-85 with an extremely friendly and trusting personality, but plenty of enthusiasm for going out into the world and making her way in work and society.

    Can we not say that sterilization would be best for her and for society?

    PS She sounds like the ideal suicide bomber. How does one protect society and her from that? Free ranging answers might start with the reintroduction of slavery….

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    You need to work on some sort of consistency, a stable point of view.
  96. @Wizard of Oz
    I add a technical reason why I think you err. The brainy couple know that the chances of all their naturally conceived and gestated children having the intellect they would like is low so they will avail themselves of whatever technology can do to guarantee the right result.

    The absolute maximum IQ is not the objective. It’s what gives the upper class kids an advantage relative to the mass of children.. The clever couple (upper middle class) have some IQ advantage naturally and the money to give further advantages through upbringing in nice area and schooling. Effective genetic engineering would cancel both types of advantage, and make education a largely a waste of money. Upper class children are often better looking, and you can bet good looks would be high on the shopping list of for genes. This line of argument will never be used, but I think the upper class will never accept their society being flooded by people who are smarter and better looking.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    I agree with your last sentence but I am equally confident that parents with IQs in the 140s and upwards would be very keen to make sure they had some kids whose intellects they might enjoy (the difference between 120 and 145 e.g. could be pretty irritating or depressing if the 145er counts on her having her witticisms and arguments grasped immediately). So they aren't necessarily going to gang up with the kind of snobs you are hypothesising (though I concede that there are many of them) and they would put their own access to the technology well above the denial to others of the possibly equalising effects. One reason would be because the technology for a long time would be highly imperfect at least in ability to be sure of results and it would be the rich and smart who would have access to the top specialists. Meantime can you provide me with the name of your Perpetual Life specialist (not the life assurance co but the one who gives you the realistic goal of 118 out of 120 healthy years
  97. @iffen
    The elites decide, that's why they are called the elites. What the individual (you, I) can decide is whether we are happy with the current elites or not. If you are unhappy with the current elites then you need to decide if you want to try and replace it with another one and what will be the nature of that replacement.

    I supposed I’d prefer a clearer meritocracy but so what?

    We get the system to which our neighbors consent.
    I’m a fan of the Dark Enlightenment grasp of our world today so I’m pretty disgusted with it in general and very nervous about the potential for socialist democracy to follow its normal trend into cannibal democracy, followed by zombie democracy (unless dictatorship intervenes.) To me, the modern commandments of Democracy and Equality are utterly ridiculous, but 600 years of movement in their direction isn’t going to be undone in my lifetime.

    I have neither the wisdom nor the power to alter one thing about it, though. The best any of us does is just attempt to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein (as recorded in Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.)

    Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

    The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim — for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives — is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High.

    When the trend of the last 50 years ends (monetary debasement, capital-destroying debt issuance, denial-of-biological-reality equalitarianism and increasingly deviant personal behavior) I believe a period of exceptional danger and difficulty will occur.

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    You are very pessimistic and I am not sure that I am the one to try and convince you otherwise. You may turn out to have a better grasp of the possibilities than me.(Or the lack thereof)

    I haven't given up on liberal democracy. I do agree that the recent record is bleak and there is not a lot of inspirational material there.

    The possibilities that this Trump phenomenon offers is worth considering.
  98. @dc.sunsets

    For the naturally brainy couple looking forward to having comparatively clever children, genetic engineering would be like Uber to taxi drivers. The upper classes and the higher IQ people will oppose it, ostensibly for ethical reasons.
     
    Doubtful.

    You grossly overestimate the fixed nature of the pie. I strongly suspect higher IQ people will welcome a higher proportion of higher IQ people if for no other reason than there's already a shrinking number of people pulling a cart whose passenger number is skyrocketing.

    You may also be overestimating the benefits of high IQ. I've seen more than my share of very bright young people crash and burn, and the one true genius of my acquaintance led a pretty crappy life, so bored was he by those who surrounded him. He squandered his gifts, a common occurrence.

    Such a personality trait and similar ones you don’t mention, may be tweakable, and so high IQ would be harnessed to a stable aspirational personality. I know someone with an awesome capacity for hard work, which they seem to find interesting and actually enjoy. Could any couple, no matter how richly endowed with hereditary qualities, want their kid to be in a world where many peers would be genetically engineered to be cheerful, charming, hard working, really really smart , and very good looking?

    Read More
  99. @Sean
    The absolute maximum IQ is not the objective. It's what gives the upper class kids an advantage relative to the mass of children.. The clever couple (upper middle class) have some IQ advantage naturally and the money to give further advantages through upbringing in nice area and schooling. Effective genetic engineering would cancel both types of advantage, and make education a largely a waste of money. Upper class children are often better looking, and you can bet good looks would be high on the shopping list of for genes. This line of argument will never be used, but I think the upper class will never accept their society being flooded by people who are smarter and better looking.

    I agree with your last sentence but I am equally confident that parents with IQs in the 140s and upwards would be very keen to make sure they had some kids whose intellects they might enjoy (the difference between 120 and 145 e.g. could be pretty irritating or depressing if the 145er counts on her having her witticisms and arguments grasped immediately). So they aren’t necessarily going to gang up with the kind of snobs you are hypothesising (though I concede that there are many of them) and they would put their own access to the technology well above the denial to others of the possibly equalising effects. One reason would be because the technology for a long time would be highly imperfect at least in ability to be sure of results and it would be the rich and smart who would have access to the top specialists. Meantime can you provide me with the name of your Perpetual Life specialist (not the life assurance co but the one who gives you the realistic goal of 118 out of 120 healthy years

    Read More
  100. @Wizard of Oz
    PS She sounds like the ideal suicide bomber. How does one protect society and her from that? Free ranging answers might start with the reintroduction of slavery....

    You need to work on some sort of consistency, a stable point of view.

    Read More
  101. @dc.sunsets
    I supposed I'd prefer a clearer meritocracy but so what?

    We get the system to which our neighbors consent.
    I'm a fan of the Dark Enlightenment grasp of our world today so I'm pretty disgusted with it in general and very nervous about the potential for socialist democracy to follow its normal trend into cannibal democracy, followed by zombie democracy (unless dictatorship intervenes.) To me, the modern commandments of Democracy and Equality are utterly ridiculous, but 600 years of movement in their direction isn't going to be undone in my lifetime.

    I have neither the wisdom nor the power to alter one thing about it, though. The best any of us does is just attempt to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein (as recorded in Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.)

    Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

    The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim -- for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives -- is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High.

     

    When the trend of the last 50 years ends (monetary debasement, capital-destroying debt issuance, denial-of-biological-reality equalitarianism and increasingly deviant personal behavior) I believe a period of exceptional danger and difficulty will occur.

    You are very pessimistic and I am not sure that I am the one to try and convince you otherwise. You may turn out to have a better grasp of the possibilities than me.(Or the lack thereof)

    I haven’t given up on liberal democracy. I do agree that the recent record is bleak and there is not a lot of inspirational material there.

    The possibilities that this Trump phenomenon offers is worth considering.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets

    You are very pessimistic and I am not sure that I am the one to try and convince you otherwise. You may turn out to have a better grasp of the possibilities than me.(Or the lack thereof)
     
    It's all about our premises (and biases.) There is no objective way to know in advance whether one's conclusions are a product of accuracy or rationalization of bias. I believe I am reasoning outward from axiom, but how could I believe otherwise? The world of tomorrow is always unknown (and the graveyards are full of those who believed their own illusions and died early--often violently--as a result...David Ruenzel is a modern Poster Child for this error.)

    I view Trumpism as a symptom, not a path. If I vote (I largely consider it a waste of time above the level of local politics) I will vote for Trump. His campaign is the closest available surrogate for the vague meritocratic aristocracy for which I hope. It's a lousy surrogate, but Nirvana is not on the menu I was handed.

    As I've noted elsewhere, Hoppe is (in my view) irrefutable on the subject of liberal democracy. https://mises.org/library/democratic-leviathan

    The Dark Enlightenment takes it further, explaining that the belief in liberal democracy (and universal equality) is actually a cult religion, albeit THE most popular religion in the developed world and a cult whose roots go all the way to the Protestant Reformation.
    https://youtu.be/q-eAKnVGGBI?t=3m23s

    We arrive at our conclusions via our own paths.
  102. @iffen
    You are very pessimistic and I am not sure that I am the one to try and convince you otherwise. You may turn out to have a better grasp of the possibilities than me.(Or the lack thereof)

    I haven't given up on liberal democracy. I do agree that the recent record is bleak and there is not a lot of inspirational material there.

    The possibilities that this Trump phenomenon offers is worth considering.

    You are very pessimistic and I am not sure that I am the one to try and convince you otherwise. You may turn out to have a better grasp of the possibilities than me.(Or the lack thereof)

    It’s all about our premises (and biases.) There is no objective way to know in advance whether one’s conclusions are a product of accuracy or rationalization of bias. I believe I am reasoning outward from axiom, but how could I believe otherwise? The world of tomorrow is always unknown (and the graveyards are full of those who believed their own illusions and died early–often violently–as a result…David Ruenzel is a modern Poster Child for this error.)

    I view Trumpism as a symptom, not a path. If I vote (I largely consider it a waste of time above the level of local politics) I will vote for Trump. His campaign is the closest available surrogate for the vague meritocratic aristocracy for which I hope. It’s a lousy surrogate, but Nirvana is not on the menu I was handed.

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, Hoppe is (in my view) irrefutable on the subject of liberal democracy. https://mises.org/library/democratic-leviathan

    The Dark Enlightenment takes it further, explaining that the belief in liberal democracy (and universal equality) is actually a cult religion, albeit THE most popular religion in the developed world and a cult whose roots go all the way to the Protestant Reformation.

    We arrive at our conclusions via our own paths.

    Read More
  103. Thanks for the link to the interesting commentary.

    I know that the prospects are bleak, and my faith is wavering, but it still holds as of today.

    Read More

Comments are closed.