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.
Duh! The Inuit are certainly not Amazons in that sense either! hehehe
I think you're missing the point, there are alpha males AND alpha females, all the top dogs have dibs. In nature and in traditional human groups, breeding is not for everyone, is all I'm saying.
Then I have misinterpreted your below comment and I apologize.
"This is still the case in some extremely traditional societies such as the Inuit, where the "alpha" females have dibs on reproduction."
In the mythological Amazon culture, men were not allowed to have sex (with women)unless the Amazon women allowed them, which apparently only happened once per year. You could even go as far as to say that these alpha females had full control over reproduction.
There is indeed a strong correlation between "top dogs" (presumably either those of high income/wealth and/or intelligence/knowledge, using education as proxy for the latter) and the offsprings success. Perhaps those who contribute less than average to society should have to apply for "breeding certificates" (as in China).
From an economics standpoint, too much interference with breeding as a very poor thing - i.e. looking at Japan's geriatric boom's impact on that particular nation's economy. But biologically I have to concede it's a valid point of discussion (presuming status quo in resource utilization efficiency).
The sheer number of genetic disorders that exist are staggering. Many of them skip generations. Many people don't even have accurate info regarding their relatives' health. Even if you do have info, it is often inaccurate and the causes are not always clear. Which diseases would you select? Which ones would be ok? Nature actually does prevent many defects from being passed on. Human intervention often allows them to continue. I suffer from migraines, celiac disease, hypothyroidism. They won't all be passed along. They are all genetic. They are all manageable. There are dozens of diseases I did not inherit and many I prevent by having an awesome knowledge of nutrition and an incredible diet. Many of the diseases prevalent in our society are caused and grow with the help of pollution, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor parenting and can be prevented even with a genetic predisposition. It's a tangled web, this idea. I don't object to the thought behind it and I won't label you as a Nazi or any such thing. It's just not as simple or black and white as the idea sounds. I think there are far more productive ways to enhance the health of the people that are further reaching and easier to do.
And on the subject of healthcare...if people would take the time to reduce disease with excellent nutrition and exercise, we wouldn't have the high costs we have now. I'm tired of paying for other people's preventable diseases. It's not complicated.
And, how about people like Stephen Hawking? You see, quality of life is a far better topic in terms of how to improve the human condition. You cannot measure the benefit of one human being based upon what defects they may or may not possess and or pass along. If a woman chooses to abort for whatever reason she sees fit, so be it. But to systematically decide what constitutes a viable person based on what diseases they may have...this is dubious. Even deciding what is and what isn't a disease is dubious. I maintain, if you want to improve quality of life for all people, teach and educate.
Under this proposed idea...would it be satisfactory to prevent people who come from backgrounds of child abuse from reproducing? How about intelligence levels? How about the fact that several genetic diseases are on the rise and yet the increase cannot be explained by reproductive measures. That is, something environmental is causing an increase in the genetic prevalence in some diseases.
I think his illness is what made him "popular". Frankly, I never have had any interest in his work and I don't think he contributed to "improvement of humanity". People find him fascinating, that's his draw.
We have been "improving quality of life" for all for a couple of thousand years, since we became obsessed with golden rules and religion... that's how our numbers have grown to staggeringly.
We have so increased human "quality of life" that we have outgrown our place in nature, we are in fact gods, we have in many senses become super-natural, in that many of us define ourselves outside the realm of biological time tested limitations.
People are completely dazzled by the options of eternal life that we forget the value of LIMITS.
I think it is fallacious to argue he thinks differently because of his disability. He is very creative. Einstein, on the other hand, had no major physical problems, and is one of the most creative physicists of the past century. I think no matter what body Hawking inhabited he would have been a genius.
Also, much of his work was done BEFORE MND became a problem. His works on black holes and the big bang certainly was.
Not fallacious at all. He now thinks dimensionally and conceptually and sees his ideas graphically. He cannot test his theories without the help of assistants and it's painstakingly slow.
Einstein was thought to have possibly been on the autistic spectrum.
I'm trying to find the particular documentary where he tells about his transition in how he thinks now as compared with when he was younger. There is also description of when he developed his various theories in relation to his illness. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/category/science-technology/page/2/ is a great site for watching documentaries and I believe it is Stephen Hawking's: Paradox, but I can't be sure.