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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Regarding social medicine: does it not relate more to the supply of health care and the relation between society and the physical health of patients? Are you saying that crime is a function of physical health? I'm including chemical balance of the mind under physical health

It's the social psychology (the disease) part of social medicine (the cure) in particular which is relevant. It also include health care economics, vaccination programs, (etc) and what you suggested.

Well, there are certainly connections between chemistry and psychology/biology, but crime is more a function of applied behavior than chemistry. Whether it is brain chemistry which affects behavior, or social education which affects brain chemistry is not really a valid question, they seem to interact. You do certain things because it is socially acceptable, and avoid others because they are not. These work inside a physical construct, the genes you are born with, but separate from them with ability to often override them. If someone goes around kicking babies, they probably need individual treatment, but burglary is often ralted to socio economic factors which are fixable without chemicals.

From a completely amoral rational standpoint, prositution is an excellent means of income for (mostly) women. They literally control the supply curve, and demand is very high. They are merely correcting a market imperfection in sexual behavior by charging in a commonly accepted resource acqusition tool (money). One of the points of sex is as a bonding ritual is mutual protection - a social act - which is why sex is both a natural and social construct.

 

I think its an interesting question as to whether it is even possible to apply eugenics as a measure of social medicine. It would assume that there are clear, independent genes (or gene systems) which can be modified to reduce immoral behaviour. But it may be that this undesirable behaviour is simply a facet of some gene controlled behaviour that is actually essential. Maybe eugenics will have nothing to say for social improvement at all

I think the crux of the eugenics debate becomes who decides which genes are beneficial and which are detrimental.  It is also important whether these decisions are being made on a biological, social, or other rationale. 

 

In biological evaluation, certain debilitating medical conditions caused by certain unfavorable genetic mutations would be easy to label as "detrimental" and therefore worthy of eradication.  But what about other mutations for which the effects are both negative and positive?  What about the gene for sickle-cell anemia, which causes a disease if one possesses both alleles yet also provides increased resistance to malaria if one is merely a carrier?  The answer for this specific scenario would be to ensure that progeny would only be carriers, but I still think that it raises the predicament of genes being simultaneously beneficial and detrimental. 

 

Also, whether or not a gene is beneficial is largely dependent upon environment.  Although I can't pull sources off the top of my head, I think that certain studies have shown a higher percentage of ADD/ADHD amongst the descendants of peoples native to North and South America.  (Well, more native than the European influx from the sixteenth century onward.)  The rationale (if memory serves me correctly) is something along the lines of ADD/ADHD's symptoms being conducive to and positively selected by the lengthy migration of peoples from Eurasia to the American continents.

 

I think that genetic engineering is definitely an integral part of advancing medical care.  I just wonder how we will establish the means of evaluation. 

Sickle-cell anaemia is locally/geographically relevant. Geographical diversity has always had it's place in nature. Through the millenia, it has more prevalence in Africa because it actually helped some people reach reproductive age. In Canada, it is of no use.

 

ADD/ADHD is a social consideration. Westernised schools "consider" it a disease, because it changes class dynamics, but it is not. On the other hand, studies in this area are not really conclusive yet. Since the prevalence of these conditions are on the increase in North America, even though we are constantly increasing the Euro/Asian/African blood content of North American bloodlines... it contradicts the "migratory" theory.

 

In my definition, eugenics is simply a means to re-establish natural selection, not an excuse to meddle with our genetic code. If a person can live their life without constant medical intervention, great.

I wouldn't breed my dog to a subpar mate. Why would I do the same to myself?
That said, I don't want my reproductive choices limited, so I would be very cautious about suggesting the same...to anyone. (Which sort of sucks..because I know plenty of people that simply should NOT reproduce.)
Further, we are barely cracking into the surface of human genetics. I don't think we honestly know enough about our DNA to be calling any shots that might even possibly limit civil rights.
This isn't just about reducing the major diseases we can identify. We have to look deeper into "junk DNA" that isn't as useless as we once thought as well as a whole slew of variables such as gene activation and other mysteries we are still trying to unravel.
Selective reproduction...by choice. That is a no-brainer. But we simply don't know enough to make any laws that limit free will.




......unfortunately.
If given a convenient option, though, don't you think many people might opt for genetic screening to limit the possibility of passing, say, a high probability of type 1 diabetes to their children?  I certainly don't think we are in a position to start trying to select for limited positive traits, and that such options might reduce our gene pool rather rapidly as everyone might start shooting for superlatives, but offering the option of selecting against well known negative markers might be all the 'advantage' we need to consider at this point.
Oh yeah. I mean..i would even go so far as to say it should be free and mandatory.
If we don't attempt to limit the mother's choice once she has been privately given all results/test accuracy margins.
I keep forgetting that such choice limitations are being imposed. Personally I would like to see a free service that offers a tubal ligation/vasectomy to those who will submit a genetic sample to the GenoBank, to be available upon their request, along with screening options, for the in vitro fertilization of their choice.
Actually where I come from it is the job of the government to provide health care.  Even in the U.S., health care is often extended to those who can't afford the costs associated with raising a severely disabled child.  The cost to the education system, paid out of tax dollars in every civilized nation I know of, is greatly increased for every special needs child enrolled.  As adult, many people with profound disabilities rely on social programs for support - just another cost.  Ultimately it may actually be far cheaper to assist people in better controlling and guiding their reproduction.
I understand your position here, and I even used to share it.  The problem is that if we were to require everyone to educate their own children, a big chunk of the population would be removed from the work force to home school their kids, a bug chunk of the kids would grow up with substandard or just plain no education, and I truly think that our civilization would completely regress, or at least the fragmentation would be astounding as the rich/educated built themselves into walled cities to keep out the wild humans.

@Dave: Please open some newspapers. Your neo-con eonomic theories are emperors without clothes. They've been conclusively disproved. There's more evidence against it than god! ;)

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