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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@T A A;

In another post you made 3 very good points I will respond to here:

Point #1:

"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."

The use of the term unnatural is important in understanding the current state of human evolution.  The process of our genetics has not changed, that system is the same as it has always been since RNA.  It is the effect of the environment upon Natural Selection that we have supplanted with our own control that has changed.  Whether we agree or not human beings have changed the paradigm forever, we have entered the epoch of "Unnatural Selection".  

Point #2:

"the biggest contributor to Homo sapiens evolution at the moment is mass outbreeding."

While I may not agree with your conclusions in this thought line, I do agree that out-breeding is an important element for consideration in the future of humankind.

Point #3:

"But from a biodiversity perspective, the homogenization of Homo sapiens does not bode of a quality future."

This thought I agree with completely and feel it is condition worth taking steps to avoid.

To continue on with pt.3 as put it, in my field of work of paleontology and zoology, we are seeing new evolutionary results and perspectives that were not even partially guessed at decades ago. Genetic sequencing has allowed scientists to develop a new understanding of speciation. In ornithology, it's been particularly interesting to merge many species with wildly divergent phenotypes, while at the same time realising that species displaying complete phenotypical sameness are in fact incredibly genetically diverse. In past decades/centuries, our entire understanding of taxonomy was based on phenotypes, whereas biology is experiencing a revolution as we understand how ineffective phenotype can be at guessing at genotype. So much of genetic assessments in zoology have led biologists to put aside such societal paradigms as the prevalence of monogamy the animal kingdom.

Interestingly, there are now enough genetic studies done on native people in S and N America to understand that tribes could be organised along either patrilineal or matrilineal (about 50-50). Even in old unscientific tribes, they knew their culture had developed over millennia the concept that too much inbreeding was bad for the health of their tribe.

Concepts practised in native communities resulted in a simili-scientific outlook through trial and error over thousands of years versus spur of the moment experimentation that has not been tested. And this is the challenge here... by pushing for homogenisation of the H.sapiens, we are creating an experiment in real life, with uncontrollable criteria, whereas good science displays a strict control of experimental variables in order to isolate cause and effect. The way we are experimenting with the human race is scientifically unsound, and I find that worrying.

I fantasize about time travel (though my belief in it is equivalent to belief in gods) and being able to experience the future, to see which of our paradigms panned out in the future. Of course, we have no certainty about the absolute outcome of mass outbreeding. The only similarity is in the study of ice age migrations, where certain species got geographically isolated for periods of time, and then after deglaciation, these species came back into contact. The field of phylogeography is a fascinating one, and if I were to return to get another degree, it may well be in that field.
segue... Don't you think it's high time the definition of eugenics left the context of WWII and adapted to the 21st century :)

@T A A;

"segue... Don't you think it's high time the definition of eugenics left the context of WWII and adapted to the 21st century :)"

;) Isn't that obvious. LOL

I think it is a bit early to worry about the homogenization of humanity. As of now we are starting with a gene pool of roughly 7 billion. I haven't done the math - not totally sure the best way to do so - but I'd hazard a guess that it would be at least 500 generations before homogenization became an issue. So, even using 20 years as a 'generation' that means 10,000 years before we need to be concerned about it. So not really urgent.


Species taxonomy isn't the only field getting revised based upon genetic testing. Psychiatric taxonomy is starting to be revised based upon genetic testing. Obviously it will be some time before the new psychiatric taxonomy reaches the DSM but it will hopefully mean better diagnoses in the future.


We're already experiencing the homogenisation of N & S. American native population bloodlines with Caucasian blood lines, to the point where studying those bloodlines, if not done within a decade or two, will be entirely lost. Which causes a real cognitive disconnect in native peoples' "rights"... since native blood is now so diluted with Caucasian blood lines and vice versa... one only needs to think of how many movie watchers think of Johnny Depp as a "white guy" and though he was an inappropriate choice to play the Tonto in Lone Ranger. Now native rights are based on individual's perception of their "nativeness" or on the marrying-in history. We are on the brink of losing native blood lines forever. Where I live, native blood lines only started mixing in Caucasian blood lines 150 years ago, on the rest of the continent, it's 500 years. USA natives who consider themselves pure are in fact rarely more than 25% native.
In light of our present knowledge on this, I think your guess at 500 generations is highly unlikely. I'd say 200 years is much more probable, depending on mass migrations due to environmental catastrophes, and religious aversion to out-breeding.
Theoretically, if the atheist movement achieves any success at all (which is not yet obvious to me) at reducing the prevalence of religiosity, the homogenisation will happen much much faster.

Just like glaciation, genetic differentiation takes thousands of years, but homogenisation, just like glacial melt, can be extremely fast, decadal.

You have a point about bloodlines disappearing. But that is a different issue than homogenization - related but still not the same. My point still stands. But your point about disappearing bloodlines is something which is happening now.

In North America, yeah, AFAIK the bloodlines are already fading and in a couple hundred years they could effectively be gone. South America, again AFAIK, will take a bit longer - depending upon whether or not the few tribes still on their own are allowed to remain so.

Well no really, they are not "fading", native bloodlines are truly homogenising with Caucasian ones (and to some extent black and asian as well), both in N and S America. I lived in Ecuador for a while, the 'mestizo' population there used to be 70% now it's 90%. Bolivia is the only country who's native bloodlines are purer than Ecuadors. All other S.American countries have lost their "true" native bloodlines, a vast majority of the population is homogenised, moreso than N.America. The difference is only that in N.America the mix is whiter, whereas in S.America, the mix is "nativer" (pardon the language slaughter). As "Latinos" are moving from S. to N.America, their "nativer" mixing with our "whiter" is further completing the homogenisation. Even "black" people aren't really black, already in slave days the homogenisation with whites had begun.
Similarly in the Caribbean, Indian/black/Asian/white is the makeup of most Jamaicans, and other islands have varying combos of those.

@Awdur Ffuglen

I'm not sure if there is a point to responding to you since you are saying contradictory things but when I pointed that out to you earlier you basically said something like 'so what'. But I'll give it another shot.

"Current primitive technology and lack of regulations does not bode well for human/ecosystem cohabitation." – here you show you understand.

But then you say "Point being you need a high population to achieve advanced technology." and junk like "Quality is irrelevant." These things are wrong.

When someone condemns you're impossible idea of 200 billion people you say:

"Your standards of judgment are based on today's technology, today's waste products, today's attitudes, today's carnivorous human, today's scientist."

Yes. Because that will give an accurate picture as to the human factors we have to deal with. If we don't take that into account we won't survive having 20 billion people on Earth.


You claim to support taking care of the environment but then say things like "Do you know how vastly empty entire regions of this planet are? Have you been to Wyoming? Siberia?" and "Yes, there 25 million square miles of uninhabited space, but we haven't figured out how to properly utilize it or dispose of waste yet. Or even make those areas habitable. Christ, we're still living in two dimensions. We haven't even utilized the multiple trillions of cubic feet of sky."

But those places are not empty – except of people. There are millions of lives in a square mile of just about anywhere. There are exceptions but no people will want to go live in those desolate areas. Unless you intend to force people to move to those places, we will not live there. Instead we will occupy the more fertile regions burying productive ground under concrete, asphalt , buildings and useless lawns. Well, useless in terms of their fertility. Humans do enjoy those lawns for entertainment/relaxation.

And all that "empty" sky? Mountains change air flow patterns over continents. If you fill that "empty" sky you will alter the air flow and thus the local climate. You could create areas of flooding while making other places into deserts. You could create significant ecological problems with buildings that huge.

These are the facts you need to consider when figuring out if we can sustain 20 billion – the goal we need to meet long before we reach 200 billion.

I think I read less than 25 pages. (for real) Hope I didn't miss too much. (jk)

Here's a relevant article.

UK Government backs mitochondrial replacement

01 July 2013

By Dr Rosie Morley

Appeared in BioNews 711

The UK Government is to support the introduction of mitochondrial replacement therapy. The IVF-based procedure could allow women with mitochondrial disease the opportunity to have healthy children, by replacing their own, faulty mitochondria with healthy mitochondria from a donor.

[...] article

There are currently two mitochondrial replacement techniques in development, both of which involve transferring the nuclear DNA of the future parents into a donor egg containing healthy mitochondria. 'Pronuclear transfer' involves taking the nucleus of a fertilised egg containing DNA from both the father and mother, and transferring it into a donor egg in which the nucleus has been removed. In the alternative method, 'maternal spindle transfer', the mother's DNA is transferred to the donor egg before it is fertilised. The treatments have been shown to be effective in animals but could not be fully tested in humans without changes made by Parliament.

[...] article

'nother interesting segue:

Following a severely autistic boy's incessant howling in the neighbour's yard (being babysat at grandma's house) and freaking out the neighbourhood children, a neighbour dropped off this letter  (full story here) :

" They should take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate them to science ...  no employer will ever hire him, no normal girl is ever going to marry/love him, and you are not going to live forever..."

My brother worked for over  a decade on the night shift of an institution where people such as this were eventually abandoned by parents. Individuals banging their heads to the blood, playing with feces, tied to beds, my brother is a very sensitive and humane person, but he lost his PCness working in that place. These people are not alive, they are abandoned here by families who thought they could handle things, by a society which expects taxpayers to foot the bill for perpetual care of individuals which can never be autonomous. Once they are abandoned into the hands of government, they receive no visits, they are forgotten by those do-gooder families, pro-lifers, life at all costs, who live with the illusion that they can care for such people. They can't. They are not alive.

And neighbours are expected to put up with the constant howling... shame really.

I think in the future, new borns for which it is known that they will never achieve autonomy, there should be serious consideration of ending it there instead of perpetuating the pain, just for the sake of appearances.


I think in the future, new borns for which it is known that they will never achieve autonomy, there should be serious consideration of ending it there instead of perpetuating the pain, just for the sake of appearances.

(And advances in genetics and epigenetics will someday help us deal with it even sooner.)




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