Hixie's Natural Log

2002-06-08 22:51 UTC More on humanitarian eugenics

Jason Johnston argues that the eugenics paper I quoted in my previous entry is flawed.

He first references Gattaca. Gattaca is a good film, but I didn't like it because it had some pretty serious plot holes. First, there is no reason why genetic screening would be extended to people driving around, as in the film. (I don't think it is ever fully explained in the film, although I could be wrong, it's been a while.)

Second, genetic screening for employment is typically illegal, if the condition being used as a reason in favour or against employment has no bearing on the job. We already have medical screening for jobs where your health is important. This is merely an extension.

So the film is not a likely outcome, even if we do start controlling the DNA of our children. (Note that the film actually speaks of genetic engineering to control our offspring's DNA, rather than eugenics, but that is a minor detail.)

JJ then says I believe that civilization improves by people striving to better themselves and help those around them, not by innate intelligence. However, I know of no evidence to back up this wishful thinking. Indeed, civilisation improvements I've seen around me have been from intelligent researchers doing work that interests them, funded by intelligent business men trying to make money, not by altruism. Most altruistic people tend to help individuals, as far as I can tell, not improve civilisation. (This is not in any way meant to belittle the efforts of group such as the red cross, who do amazing work to help groups that are suffering because of the actions of idiots.)

He also asks will we need to forcefully implement another system to replace it?. If we don't follow the path of guided humanitarian eugenics, then we will instead have to follow the path of genetic engineering. Unfortunately we have not yet reached a point where our understanding of our DNA is ready to be applied to all our offspring. In time we shall get there, but for now... eugenics is all we have.

Note that humanitarian eugenics is not about "pulling a trigger". It's about enforced population growth control, something which the Chinese have been forced to adopt due to their massive over population, and something which the western world will have to adopt sooner or later as well. This is also not about taking away human rights either. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn't give you an innate right to bear a child, only the right to found a family. This is simply about ensuring that the children who are born to this world are improvement our society, rather than adding to the stupidity.