Eugenics and empowerment

David Lubkin (
Thu, 07 Oct 1999 15:17:59 -0400

>> I would argue that yes, there are indeed individuals whose genetic
>> contribution to the gene pool would be better off left unmade, just as there
>> are individuals whose genetic contribution would be so valuable that it
>> would constitute a "duty" to the species as a whole to make sure it was
>> passed to further generations. But the criteria would be physical and
>> mental, not ethnic.

Both the proponents of eugenics and those afraid it will be applied against their group view eugenics from the perspective that there is some non-participant who is deciding who should breed, or which genetic factors to remove or to perpetuate.

I think the right strategy is the libertarian / spontaneous order one: "Let a thousand flowers bloom." Each person or couple decides for themselves. No central planning. Social and competitive pressures sway the overall effect. But --

Question for non-libertarians: Do you see anything wrong with private organizations instituting a Howard Plan, e.g., providing incentives for people to choose offspring with characteristics you endorse, or without characteristics you oppose?

"I love blonde hair and blue eyes. For every child you have with those features, I will pay you $1000." OR "I hate the Irish. If your child doesn't look Irish, I will pay you $1000."

Also: There are groups who are opposed to genetic modification because they see it as one more in a line of ways to put them down. To discriminate against them. Even as a way to eliminate them altogether.

They are also opposed to studies into the genetic basis, if any, of any distinctions between them and other segments of society. They fear, and rightly so, that any such studies, regardless of legitimacy, would be used as another tool against them.

And they, apparently, take it as a matter of faith that no such study could legitimately find a genetic basis for any apparent inferiority.

But what if there were a bona fide proof of some inferiority of 4 sigmas of their group over 4 sigmas of the general population?

What if it turns out that the observed pattern that very few Jews excel in sports is because Ashkenazic bodies under-produce a protein used in propagating signals to the muscular system, giving them a slower reaction time?

What if it turns out that the observed pattern that Black SAT scores are below average is because their bodies under-produce a protein that is used in memory retrieval, giving them slower recall from long-term memory during exams?

If either of these were true, they could be treated pharmacologically and parents could choose to engineer children without this defect relative to the rest of the population.

Thereby using genetic studies, testing, and engineering as tools of personal and ethnic empowerment.

I think that as genetic (and other forms of) enhancement becomes accepted, people will be more willing to delve into the specifics of their own genetics and common traits of their strain, and to share what they've found out. And will become nonjudgmental about what someone else has found in their genome.

It may take a while, though. People willingly wear glasses and braces in public, admitting to all that they have certain physical deficiencies. They do not readily admit other actual or perceived deficiencies they are repairing, such as too little or too much hair in the wrong place, or a body part that is too large or too small.

Will insurance companies refuse to cover medical claims for illnesses or defects you could have avoided through genemod? Or have differential pricing, as they do for smokers vs. non-smokers? || Unreasonable Software, Inc. || a trademark of USI:

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