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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Well type 2 can be greatly prevented through diet - a diet that would promote better health amongst the entire population - so I, for one, don't see it as a genetic marker worth selecting against.

"Their genetic makeup is not equipped to deal with our stupid eating habits."

I would like to see this one sourced. Just because they didn't intermingle for about 5-10k years doesn't make their genetic makeup substantially different, and I can't take a statement that they just "lack the genes" on face value.

"Diet and exercise are the key and I'd like to see the actual diet of any person with this disease who is not able to control it."

From Science Daily:

When a team of Cochrane Researchers set out to see if dietary advice alone could help a person with type 2 diabetes, they were only able to identify two trials that together involved just 358 people.

@Arcus, the economist... you need to brush up on genetics 101 :)

Well, a search for "native americans genetic makup stupid eating habits" didn't really turn up any valid hits in Google scholar.

But on a bit more serious note, the only things I have came across that generally have an impact is food and alcohol giving allergy-like symptoms.

As for the wider health spectrum, there might be some difference is the rate of occurance and effectiveness of treatment. Another major explanatory factor is environmental, predispositions does not immediately equal disease if there needs to be an environmental trigger.

It is certainly worth pondering, genetic screening for something so simple as male/female creates, in China, discrepancies of sex birth ratios.

 

Is that desirable? What is the optimal sex ratio for humans? 50:50? What if it's not 50:50?  Conversely, there are so fucking many of us, why do we even care about optimal settings?????

"Is that desirable? What is the optimal sex ratio for humans? 50:50?"

As far as I know it is. At least that's what nature attempts to impose. As a side note, I've seen some statistics which say that the wealthies 1% tend to get statistically significant higher number (approx 55 and 45) of males (which requires more resources in rearing and have higher occurance of pre-adolescence death) than females (which requires less resources and have a higher survival rate). In the poorest 1% this is switched.

"there are so fucking many of us"

As opposed to there being few of all other species? What's the goalpost in this sentence? I agree that with current consumption the current level of population is unsustainable in the long term.

In nature, a top predator is always in fewer numbers than other species.

Optimal... yes maybe... if the objective is to optimally breed, but why should that be our objective... so why bother being "optimal".

"top predator"

Then you will have to define this one. Humans as top predators as measured in ability to kill other animals with tools? However, if you've forgotten to bear arms and fall into bear arms, the bear always wins. ;)

But the categorization is pretty useless, why not choose the most "successful" species as the one which has the most individuals or by combined weight, why not best ability to see across spectrums? You just made up a category on the whim which places humans on top. 

"so why bother being "optimal"."

Why not? We look for optimal mating partners pretty much by definition. This used to only be possible in the very immediate area, now the net is somewhat wider, increasing probability of aiming for optimality in partner selection.

In Canada, a majority of humans having encountered bears in the wild, without firearms, have survived, maimed, but survived.

 

The way in which we are top predators is not only in violent contacts between species, but in our ability to kill species by eliminating their habitat.

 

We are top predators in every single way imaginable. We are an extremely successful species. We are an invasive species.

 

The main nasty consequence is not god itself, but the naivete that belief produces in humans expecting control to come from above instead of controlling ourselves.

 

Do you humans need to optimally mate? only if you believe in the religion of modern economics, which is by no means a science, requiring continued growth. Growth is a religion equal in power to Abrahamic faiths and others.

 

Again, if there were only a few thousand of us I would say "yes, let's optimally reproduce".  But that's not the case. There is nothing rational about the religion of continuous growth.

You are assuming humans are above the laws of nature. Nature will make oss die off in our current format pretty soon anyway. Nature doesn't care what humans have been able to do in a few hundred or thousand years. We are no threat to nature. It would only take nature a few thousand years to almost completely erase our existance no matter what we are able to do with it, unless we destroy ourselves in the process.

We're pretty bad adapted to major temperature shifts, and we'll probably have one in a few thousand years anyway due to Earth's natural orbital cycle around the Sun. The extra CO2 will just make it worse, so we're doubly effed on that one.

The problem isn't us destroying nature, we might be able to distrupt it a short while, like an interstellar comet probably did a while back, but even that will evens out over time. The real problem is to avoid nature destroying us.

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And I agree that us killing off bits nature in the process probably isn't the best solution either, but i think technology (and economics!) can crack the problem. (and probably a few other fields too, like physics, but I don't like pandering too much to the hard science guys.) ;)

So I'm flipping between two thoughts.  On the one hand, I abhor the thought of restricting reproductive rights.  But on the other hand, I then wonder whether it is inhumane to allow a life to be created that is genetically destined for misery. 

 

This is where I'm torn as well. I would fully support and encourage affordable genetic screening for everyone so they could make more informed decisions about reproduction. For carriers of genetic disorders I believe the most responsible and moral decision is to avoid the possibility of passing that on to their children. However, it is naive to assume everyone would be that responsible even if a full genetic screening were available. So while I do feel it is irresponsible, morally wrong, and even inhumane to knowingly create a child forced to endure unnecessary suffering, at the same time I can't imagine supporting a law which would restricting reproductive rights.

 

A family friend of mine had a child with a severe genetic disorder and then discovered he and his wife were both unaffected carriers. Despite the odds stacked against them, they decided to have a second child who was even more affected. Both children have severe physical and mental disabilities and spent the majority of their childhoods in the ICU on feeding tubes and breathing machines narrowly escaping death until one of them passed away last year. The couple is thinking of having another child.

 

As a side note tangent relevant to this site, reading their facebook posts and responses after their daughter's death was incredibly difficult as an atheist. They kept thanking God for blessing them by allowing the children to be in their lives years longer than all the doctors said they would. They believed Jesus called one of them back to heaven because he needed another angel. This was all part of God's plan and though it was difficult, they were happy because they'd been so blessed. At one point, they even said "I feel so sorry for non-believers in times like these" and I nearly bit my tongue off.

 

For people like them, even if genetic screening were available they probably wouldn't use it because genetic defects are apparently a part of God's will and aborting or avoiding having children to prevent a lifetime of suffering shows a lack of trust in God's divine plan.

 

/rant

"For people like them, even if genetic screening were available they probably wouldn't use it because genetic defects are apparently a part of God's will and aborting or avoiding having children to prevent a lifetime of suffering shows a lack of trusts in God's divine plan."

My opinion: They can do as they damned well please as long as I'm not footed the bill through taxation (public healthcare) or insurance premiums (private healthcare). I'm all for eugenics as it's preferrable over nature's way: Infanticide.

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