I have some pretty strong feelings about eugenics (it's a good and necessary practice), but I find it very, VERY difficult to talk about it with anyone since I'm instantly labeled a Nazi for supporting it. I'm hoping the folks on Think Atheist will be more inclined to intellectual discussion than name-calling and dismissal.
The start off, some disclaimers: genocide is wrong; taking human rights away from people of a race/religion/hairstyle you don't like is wrong; concentration camps are wrong; violence in wrong.
There. Now to the actual discussion.
When I talk about eugenics, I'm talking about the practice of systematically removing debilitating genetic traits and defects from a population by means of regulating the reproduction of its citizens. Do you have Schizophrenia? Did you know that this ailment is genetic and very easy to pass on to you children? Please, do not punish an innocent child with this problem. Are you genetically healthy, intelligent, and talented? Do you have special immunities that make you less likely to get sick? By all means, spread these traits to future generations, either by having children yourself or donating to a sperm or egg bank. Do you want children but should not carry your genetic problems onto them? Adopt. Adoption will always be available no matter what the society (just because someone has good genetic material does NOT mean they would make a good parent). Do you say that adoption is not the same? Then I suppose you care more about satisfying your selfish desires than the well being of a child.
Eugenics is, at its base, very simple - think about the future first.
I'm leaving this post now for what I'm hoping will be thoughtful and anti-inflammatory discussion.
In the case of mental disorders, who decides whether they are limited by them or not? How many times have you heard of people drawing inspiration from their disorders? This is not to say they should be made suffer from them - I have come to disagree with my own original point there!
A better question might be: How often have they asked themselves about their quality of life? Would they want their own children not to suffer as they have?
Fantastic improvement on the original question - thanks!
As for humankind being too immature, I did mean that in the most general sense! We need much more collective and global responsibility.
In my last point I meant it in the sense that before we make something like this available to the public in Western countries, where we are already very privileged, we should be helping those less fortunate than ourselves!!
One thing to bear in mind is that genes come in dominant and recessive forms. Most (maybe all) inheritable diseases are recessive, because otherwise most people would be positive for that disease. The upshot is that in eliminating or replacing the problematic gene, or by preventing someone who may be a carrier from procreating, there is just a chance you are accomplishing something. You might not. Don't forget that the person they mate with has to be taken into account as well.
I refuse to allow you to mate with anyone. :P
Sorry, Gregg, but the only person you can refuse to let Unseen mate with is yourself. :}
Damnit, too late, at least we can be thankful they'll be unseen gregg babies. LOL
So, Max Headroom* + Gun Monkey* = Gun Headroom & Max Monkey.
(You did use the plural "babies".) I'm not sure how unseen they will be. Of course, Unseen isn't very unseen himself - writing-wise. :)
*Their current icons. (Just so the comment doesn't look totally illogical if either of you change your icons.)
@T A A;
In another post you made 3 very good points I will respond to here:
"Indeed, by enshrining breeding rights onto "would be dead people", we are increasing the presence of un-fit genes in our gene pool. As it stands we're accomplishing UN-natural selection."
The use of the term unnatural is important in understanding the current state of human evolution. The process of our genetics has not changed, that system is the same as it has always been since RNA. It is the effect of the environment upon Natural Selection that we have supplanted with our own control that has changed. Whether we agree or not human beings have changed the paradigm forever, we have entered the epoch of "Unnatural Selection".
"the biggest contributor to Homo sapiens evolution at the moment is mass outbreeding."
While I may not agree with your conclusions in this thought line, I do agree that out-breeding is an important element for consideration in the future of humankind.
"But from a biodiversity perspective, the homogenization of Homo sapiens does not bode of a quality future."
This thought I agree with completely and feel it is condition worth taking steps to avoid.
To continue on with pt.3 as put it, in my field of work of paleontology and zoology, we are seeing new evolutionary results and perspectives that were not even partially guessed at decades ago. Genetic sequencing has allowed scientists to develop a new understanding of speciation. In ornithology, it's been particularly interesting to merge many species with wildly divergent phenotypes, while at the same time realising that species displaying complete phenotypical sameness are in fact incredibly genetically diverse. In past decades/centuries, our entire understanding of taxonomy was based on phenotypes, whereas biology is experiencing a revolution as we understand how ineffective phenotype can be at guessing at genotype. So much of genetic assessments in zoology have led biologists to put aside such societal paradigms as the prevalence of monogamy the animal kingdom.
Interestingly, there are now enough genetic studies done on native people in S and N America to understand that tribes could be organised along either patrilineal or matrilineal (about 50-50). Even in old unscientific tribes, they knew their culture had developed over millennia the concept that too much inbreeding was bad for the health of their tribe.
Concepts practised in native communities resulted in a simili-scientific outlook through trial and error over thousands of years versus spur of the moment experimentation that has not been tested. And this is the challenge here... by pushing for homogenisation of the H.sapiens, we are creating an experiment in real life, with uncontrollable criteria, whereas good science displays a strict control of experimental variables in order to isolate cause and effect. The way we are experimenting with the human race is scientifically unsound, and I find that worrying.
I fantasize about time travel (though my belief in it is equivalent to belief in gods) and being able to experience the future, to see which of our paradigms panned out in the future. Of course, we have no certainty about the absolute outcome of mass outbreeding. The only similarity is in the study of ice age migrations, where certain species got geographically isolated for periods of time, and then after deglaciation, these species came back into contact. The field of phylogeography is a fascinating one, and if I were to return to get another degree, it may well be in that field.
segue... Don't you think it's high time the definition of eugenics left the context of WWII and adapted to the 21st century :)
@T A A;
"segue... Don't you think it's high time the definition of eugenics left the context of WWII and adapted to the 21st century :)"
;) Isn't that obvious. LOL
I think it is a bit early to worry about the homogenization of humanity. As of now we are starting with a gene pool of roughly 7 billion. I haven't done the math - not totally sure the best way to do so - but I'd hazard a guess that it would be at least 500 generations before homogenization became an issue. So, even using 20 years as a 'generation' that means 10,000 years before we need to be concerned about it. So not really urgent.
Species taxonomy isn't the only field getting revised based upon genetic testing. Psychiatric taxonomy is starting to be revised based upon genetic testing. Obviously it will be some time before the new psychiatric taxonomy reaches the DSM but it will hopefully mean better diagnoses in the future.
We're already experiencing the homogenisation of N & S. American native population bloodlines with Caucasian blood lines, to the point where studying those bloodlines, if not done within a decade or two, will be entirely lost. Which causes a real cognitive disconnect in native peoples' "rights"... since native blood is now so diluted with Caucasian blood lines and vice versa... one only needs to think of how many movie watchers think of Johnny Depp as a "white guy" and though he was an inappropriate choice to play the Tonto in Lone Ranger. Now native rights are based on individual's perception of their "nativeness" or on the marrying-in history. We are on the brink of losing native blood lines forever. Where I live, native blood lines only started mixing in Caucasian blood lines 150 years ago, on the rest of the continent, it's 500 years. USA natives who consider themselves pure are in fact rarely more than 25% native.
In light of our present knowledge on this, I think your guess at 500 generations is highly unlikely. I'd say 200 years is much more probable, depending on mass migrations due to environmental catastrophes, and religious aversion to out-breeding.
Theoretically, if the atheist movement achieves any success at all (which is not yet obvious to me) at reducing the prevalence of religiosity, the homogenisation will happen much much faster.
Just like glaciation, genetic differentiation takes thousands of years, but homogenisation, just like glacial melt, can be extremely fast, decadal.