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.

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Understood. I see evidence of this in governmental interference with parenting, and proposed laws preventing parents from modes of discipline, and so on.
Agreed. I have suffered serious physical illnesses (try migraines that last 3 days-2 weeks every month throughout a month and various other problems) and abuse at the hands of people for the first 36 years of my life. I could go on. The point is, I am who I am in part because of it and because of the person I was born. I would not take back any of it and yet I excuse none of it. It just is and I just am. You cannot measure the human condition by what illnesses or abuses a person might have to endure. There are ways to enhance life and I am all for having a happy life without my particular sufferings, but it isn't something to systematically control.

@Jennifer: As a sufferer of migraines my whole life (but regularly only the last 10 years) I have a certain understanding of how that particular facet of existence is less than pleasurable. I also refuse to let it interfere with my life and happiness.

However, if my migraines had been treatable in my mothers womb, and she had actively not chosen to disable that particular trait of my existence, I would have blamed her a couple times a week instead of myself the times I willfully engage in activity I know will cause a migraine.

Hi Jennifer. Are you and I bleeding-heart-liberals or just rational thinkers?
Well...it's a trick question really. In my view, a bleeding heart signifies a non-thinker who follows their heart instead of thinking things through while having a conscience. I'd like to say I fall in the category of serious liberal...maybe even radical...ok, definitely radical.  I make a serious attempt to think things through. I speak from my heart and I use logic to do so. When logic fails me, I am patient...I know I will find it if I keep looking. There is always some semblance of truth through science and discovery. ;)
Having trouble accessing the posting of cjmackay01 on schizophrenia. I recall the movie, A Beautiful Mind. There may be those who are dangerous to themselves or others BUT we need to accept the differences of those who dare step out of that tiny box of acceptable comportment. We make them monsters rather than allowing them to find their productive niche and listening to them. A favorite book is The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz. It was written about 50 years ago but started an idea to which we should pay attention.

In a liberal society, the state may only interfere with liberty when it has an overriding duty. On balance, the opinion of some, even most, that less than optimal genetics ought to be avoided does not amount to an overriding duty to act. (Consider for example freedom of speech ... distasteful opinions can't be censored, but speech that threatens public safety can.) Therefore, whatever sort of "genetic hygiene" people wish to pursue has to be voluntary, unless you want to live in a fascist state.


As medical science advances, more and more people are already practicing voluntary eugenics, and even going the other way by trying to rig the genetic game to produce superbabies. I say more power to them, as long as they are making free choices for their own reasons.

"Therefore, whatever sort of "genetic hygiene" people wish to pursue has to be voluntary, unless you want to live in a fascist state."

That's an argument which only works if you assume that today's standards of what's acceptable and not is similar to what tomorrows standards are. You can pretty much put anything in those quotation marks, it's the Fox news way of rejecting new thought.

(To paraphrase you, does this sound like something you could hear Bill O'reilly say: If "homosexuals" want to marry, then can go to the Netherlands (read: fascist/socialist/morally bankrupt state)."


I agree with a lot of this post. I plan on adopting, even though I have pretty good genetics (no braces, no glasses, athletic for starters). In my experience, this next generation of mothers are more concerned with "the experience of having a baby" than actually raising a child. It's a silly, stupid thing that advertising and subversive religious morality has infused, but nonetheless, I hear it more and more.

I think genetics is an important part of our evolution, as we approach the next stage of being, which Juan Enriquez dubs the Homo Evolutis (an organism which directly takes control of our own evolution and others). Michael Specter also wrote a great book called Denialism, which has a chapter specifically dealing with genes. I think it's important to explore, and by explore I mean at least having open conversations about the possible benefits vs. drawbacks. I think our understanding of genes will get to the point of eradicating genetic diseases by rewriting the code. I don't think we necessarily need to or should prevent people from breeding. That's pretty invasive, even if it is for the good of the future.
Thoughtful posting, Ryan. But I think we need a lot of propaganda to instill in the human race that "breeding" has consequences.

On the preventing people from breeding part. There's already an "evil" plan there. Give every people a strong government, a good education, and preferably some money, and we won't even have replacement rates for a while. Essentially bribing them to not have children.

Then when people get tired of chasing money, they'll also want about what they can afford, probabliy around a couple of children to raise, thus ensuring a stable population which will probably fluctuate in response to what the macroenvironment has to offer.


Another good posting. I'll repeat here that giving women power over their lives (primarily financial independence) is critical in countries where women have few, if any, rights and Testosterone Rules.


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