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.
@Mike: No, one does not have to die to not be selected for sexual reproduction. The 70% or so of males which historically have failed haven't done so because they died, and the approximately 25-35% of males over 40 today which has not been selected for are most certainly alive and well.
I would like to know how you know that some of the ones breeding today would not have done so a couple of hundred years ago. It's a statement virtually impossible to argue with a factual basis. After all, they live today, not 200 years ago...
@Arcus "This is such a ridiculous statement that it falls on its own unreasonableness."
While natural selection still affects humans, his statement (while a bit over the top) is not ridiculous. Modern medicine does save al lot of people - who would otherwise have died - allowing them to reproduce and pass on undesirable traits.
Yes, even in a world where we can save someone with a congenital defect, that defect is an undesirable trait as it costs time, money, and resources in addition to endangering the person's life.
So we need to start eliminating such traits from the gene pool whether by the old fashioned and barbaric method of letting the people die, or by doing some careful genetic engineering. I vote for using our intelligence and knowledge to engineer out the harmful traits.
It's ridiculous because it is an absolute statement, without any room for ambiguity. He presented a binary situation, either humans are still subjected to natural selection (my argument) or they are not (his argument). You and I will resolve ourselves to make arguments which we may be able to defend, as you just did, that humans may be less subject to natural selection. Then we may continue having an argument regarding the ethics of removing traits.
But that's not what Gregg did, and that's why I called his argument ridiculous.
Indeed, strictly scientifically speaking, there is almost no natural selection happening in with Homo sapiens. However, we are still evolving by other mechanisms.
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.
But the biggest contributor to Homo sapiens evolution at the moment is mass outbreeding. Never before in Homo sapiens history have all different allele populations been breeding with each other. The eventual outcome of this *could* be seen in a positive light, as all colours of humans would disappear. There would be no "African Americans", no "Asian Americans", no natives, no Jews, ... and eventually, no cultural diversity, instead we'd be living in a cultural boredom land, where all variety of cultures have disappeared, and we all live within the same geopolitical/cultural/sociological paradigms. Some would argue this to be a good thing, others not. Since it's all a matter of "culture" and culture is as inherently useless as "religion" this aspect of our homogenisation is of relatively little interest to me.
But from a biodiversity perspective, the homogenisation of Homo sapiens does not bode of a quality future. Just as in the field of economics, a varied portfolio offers lesser risk, so as with the human population, bloodlines distinct from each other hold within them built-in ecosystemic defences against mass diseases. Once all Homo sapiens have been homogenised, we'll have lost that genetic diversity, and will be more susceptible to mass pandemics, but the fight against mass pandemics will turn into the largest pharmaceutical profit ever, because all of humanity will be subject to pharmaceutical controls, and eventually, pharmaceuticals will be the largest industry in the world, medicating worker-drone humans, to the benefit of a small world elites making all the profits and handling all affairs. We have not seen the worst of it yet!
and segue... Looking at most of what we presently call "disease"... if looked at from a different angle... could simply be called the natural process of ageing. So to "fight disease" in most cases is a misnomer, we're simply fighting death.
For there to be quality of life, there must be death.
Looking at it from the child's right to protection by the society it takes on a different light.
Absolutely. There are two conflicting points of view - both of which are "correct". It's just that I'd have THOUGHT right wing politicians would support the opposite view.
Like, I'm suing you for bringing me into the world?
Flaws don't always pass to offspring.
Stephen Hawking can't MOVE HIS BODY and won the presidential medal of freedom (highest award a civilian can get)
So, who's life do you insist on denying?
Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Helen Keller?
Or do I need to name 10,000 other famous people with 'flaws'.
WTF is a "flaw"???????
This is really a biological conversation. There are recessive alleles and dominant alleles, both types can increase fitness or reduce fitness.
So THAT's your goalpost for a successful life... winning a big medal?????
It's not about "denying" anyone, it's about realising at some point that we don't ALL "HAVE" to live.
Maybe not a big medal. But how about being possibly the most gifted human mind that ever existed, with a wife and two daughters, neither of whom have a trace of Lou Gehrig's disease?
But who really gives a shit?
Yours and my life nor anyone I know would have had a lesser life had he not been there. He makes no difference (other than some PhD students.
Now someone like Nelson Mandela, he really made a difference in millions of people's lives. But overall, obsession with the "value" or certain individuals is a religious outlook on life. Adulation is not a very interesting human trait.
I don't know what a flaw is.
Eugenics and biology are usually part of the same conversation.
My goalpost for success is not medal-winning. I used Stephen Hawking as an example to show who might never have existed under a eugenics program.
No we don't all have to live. Some people suck. I'd say 50% of people are stupid. Half of them are stupider than that. But then again, as Stephen Hawking said himself, "Intelligence is overrated."
Points for a George Carlin reference.
Stupidity is fixable with a proper education system. Intelligence is not a fixed limit to the ability to learn. It is simply the ability to comprehend and retain information correctly.