Re: Is Eugenics Really A Bad Thing?

From: Darin Sunley (
Date: Sat Jul 01 2000 - 02:13:08 MDT

From: Zero Powers <>

>thing to want to make humans as perfect as possible. But it seems like
>virtually everywhere else, the E word is as bad as the N word. Why is

I've wondered about that ever since I read about Heinlein's "Howard
Families" and wondered why exactly anyone would think there was anything
wrong with that?

As near as I can tell, when someone says "eugenics", everyone reads a whole
lot into it that isn't necessarily there.

The historical eugenics programs, as practiced, well, just about everywhere
(US, Canada, and a disturbing number of Western European countries, anyways)
in the 20's and 30's, involved the coercive sterilization of persons deemed
to be mentally "unfit". The definition of "unfit" varied quite dramatically
from place to place. For example, the Nazis included Jewishness in their
definition. The "civilized" world did not. but I digress. :)

Now obviously, the genetic manipulation of a population can be carried out
in at least two different ways.Method 1) You can prevent the "bad" genes
from spreading, via the aforementioned sterilization. This is, I think we'd
all agree, a Bad Thing (tm). What never seems even to get brought up in
eugenics discussions is Method 2): "merely" encouraging the propagation of
the "good" genes, via a system of monetary, matieriel or spiritual
incentives. The Howard Families, from Heinlein's "Future History", used
large monetary incentives to encourage the children of members of the group
to become members themselves.

Has anybody ever tried an experiment like this, using fruit flies or lab
rats or something? Mr. Skrecky? You've been doing fruit fly longevity
experiments for as long as I've been a list member. Did you ever try
breeding any of the hardier groups?

(Probably not. As I recall you've been doing destruction testing. Oh well.)

Returning to lurk mode...
Darin Sunley

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