Nadia has joined
the eugenics debate. She makes some good points,
Hixie claims this is "scientifically proven fact."
Besides the (scientifically proven) fact that nothing in science is
ever a "fact" (sorry, couldn't resist) [...]
My apologies; indeed, I should have said it was scientific theory
with evidence to support it. This is, as you point out, as close as
science ever gets to claiming anything as "fact".
I don't think that the arguments presented are nearly
convincing enough that intelligence as measured by IQ is the absolute
driving force in our civilization.
Indeed, as I pointed out in my last post,
coming up with the exact criteria is the hardest part of the problem.
There are various criteria that would have to be taken into account.
This would not be a trivial matter to resolve, it would have to be
under continuous scrutiny and much research would have to be done on
Hixie states, As far as an
innate intelligence test goes, universities seem quite happy to rely
on school grades to determine someone's innate intelligence. For a
system like a university, of course the university is going to admit
people that they believe can succeed in, and benefit from, the
environment that they offer. Past grades are the closest existing
measure for that purpose. But the university makes no guarantee that
you do not deserve to exist if they don't admit you... you'll just
have to take a rather more circuitous path to
A lot of the arguments against eugenics seem to stem from the
assumption that people have an innate right to exist. Yet, before they
are born, they have no such right (if you follow the argument that
they do, you end up with some pretty ridiculous conclusions). So
deciding who has a right to procreate doesn't actually have
to be completely fair. Take humanitarian eugenics as a form of
population growth control where instead of the licenses for births
being given randomly, some thought is put into the process.
Sure, us "intelligent" people would like it if everyone
else in the world were happy and enlightened as well.
That sure would be nice.
Lastly, well, if we do devolve, so
If we devolve, our descendents will have living conditions worse
than we do. That, for me, is unacceptable.
Evolution will take care of us. It always
Evolution is not a humanitarian process. Survival of the fittest is
a natural result of the way DNA and reproduction work. Personifying
evolution by saying it will take care of us is misleading at
best, in my opinion.
Perhaps the outcome might not be what we like, but
that's suitable payback for our current arrogance.
Why should our children pay for our arrogance? If you follow that
argument, why should we bother cleaning up our pollution?
There is an alternative to eugenics which doesn't require anyone to
judge anyone else, and that's genetic engineering of our offspring.
Unfortuately this is not currently a workable solution, because the
human race does not yet understand genetics well enough.
JJ followed up (sorry —
I couldn't find a permalink) on my last post with some interesting
I don't in any way mean to belittle your
This isn't really a belief; I carefully avoid the word in general.
As I point out on my personal home
page, I have no beliefs. This is an opinion, based on scientific
evidence and concern for the future of our species.
I think the source of my confusion comes from the fact
that the material I've read about eugenics tends to describe with
great conviction the desired outcome, but is tellingly silent about
how that outcome should be achieved. Does the end justify the
The means is pretty simple. In fact, JJ, you summed it up pretty
nicely in your last post (see below). Society has to agree to stop
breeding without a license from the state. Much like you cannot adopt
children without a license, in a eugenics programme you would not be
allowed to bear offspring without a license. This has multiple
potential benefits: reduction in population growth, reduction in the
number of children born in unhealthy environments (assuming abusive
would-be-parents were identified and denied a license), and of course,
an improvement if the quality of the gene pool.
[A] societal change of this nature would be incredibly
dirty work. It would involve radical changes not only in the structure
and nature of our governments but also in the very way we think about
This is a large and intractable problem. It will almost certainly
require a large and complicated solution.
It would create an entirely new kind of class
separation based on often arbitrary measures of innate
This class separation is by no means new. Look at US non-immigrant
visa requirements, for instance. Look at qualification requirements in
employment offers. Look at game shows (from the awful commentary on
our society that is The Weakest Link to the even more
thought-provoking Survivor), where people voluntarily
subject themselves to such judgments.
Furthermore, like sexism, racism and wealthism before it,
intelligencism would merely be an issue that society has to deal with.
Our past successes in such matters encourages me greatly. (Despite the
fact that a side-effect of those successes, the political correctness
movement, is largely to blame for the problem itself.)
I also disagree with your statement that eugenics is
about enforced population growth control such as in China. That
may be another outcome of the process, but as I understand it eugenics
is more about what kinds of children are allowed to be conceived
rather than how many.
Since the process limits who may have children, rather than forcing
couples to reproduce, it will automatically result in population
control. That is not, however, a primary goal of humanitarian
Discriminatory reproductive control, though, seems to
create more problems than it would claim to solve.
It aims to solve merely one: the devolution of our civilisation.
That this is happening, and that it is a logical outcome of the
egalitarian "political correctness" that our society is obsessed with,
is a verifiable fact.
In order to be taken seriously, eugenics supporters
will have to [...] Define innate intelligence in quantifiable terms
and be able to reliably test for it without error.
There is no such thing as "without error". This, though, doesn't
seem to be an issue with some societies. For example, many states in
the US still practice the death penalty, even though the US judicial
system is not without error. Killing potentially innocent people seems
a lot more dramatic than not letting certain people procreate.
As far as an innate intelligence test goes, universities seem quite
happy to rely on school grades to determine someone's innate
intelligence. Why would a system which currently decides the outcome
of someone's entire life be suitable for that but not for the purposes
of deciding whether they are likely to have children with
Prove that higher innate intelligence makes a person a
stronger contributor to society.
Likewise, prove that lower innate intelligence makes a
person a lesser contributor to society.
Mathematically, that is a logical restatement of the previous
Demonstrate that innate intelligence is the only
genetic trait worth distilling. For instance, is an extremely
intelligent person with a debilitating genetic physical disease worth
more than a physically superior person with lesser
Not to the future of the human race's gene pool, no. If the aim is
to protect our genetic diversity while increasing the genetic quality
of the population at large, then successful candidate parents must be
overall above average. How this is determined is up to the scientists
and psychologists tasked with the question (I am certainly not
qualified to answer it myself). Note that half the population
is above average! This is not a small number of people.
Coming up with the criteria is the hardest part of the process, but
it is one which can be constantly reviewed, and it could be linked to
the legal system so that appeals could be made if sufficient ground
existed to challenge a denial. This is not a unique problem; how do we
decide who deserves state support? How do we decide who is allowed
into a college and who is not? Who gets a job in a competitive
Outline a workable plan to legislate and enforce
reproductive control while preventing violence, discrimination, and
Again, that is a problem that is not specific to eugenics, so I see
no difficulty here.
The biggest problem
I see with supporting eugenics is the bad name it has aquired, through
being associated with the Nazi movement, for instance. I'll leave that
problem up to the PR folk to solve.
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
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
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 addingtothestupidity.
I discovered a paper today which explains in detail my opinions (based on verifiable scientific proof) on the dangers of promoting equality in reproduction. It is a rather sad reflection on our society that Political Correctness is being favoured over science when it comes to politics and the future of our race.
On the long run, if we don't change our attitude towards breeding, it's likely that these people will get their way anyway, which would be sad.