Re: "Sound and Fury" over enhancements

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Wed Jan 09 2002 - 17:53:31 MST

At 11:11 AM 1/9/02 -0800, Hal wrote:

>For Mike and his fellow conservative ideologues, consider an intelligence
>enhancement for your children which has an observed side effect: almost
>all of them become Socialists. Quel horreur!
> in many of the most difficult and esoteric branches of science and
>mathematics, branches which require the highest levels of sheer abstract
>intelligence to thrive, Socialism and allied political philosophies
>are widespread. [...]
>So you can make your kid a genius, but it will take him from the political
>philosophy you have embraced all your life. He will have nothing but
>contempt for your political views.

This is a very interesting thought experiment, but it might be too
thoroughly grounded in current limitations. If the enhancement were as
drastic as deafness => hearing, maybe the kids would not feel (or at least
express) *contempt* so much as kindly pity. (Some adolescents are like that
now, and maybe it's just as nettling.)

But the real crux is whether their alleged insights are transmissible. If
they see that QT and relativity are simply, even laughably, wrong, we'll
all bite our lips and follow their lead. Might it not be the same with
their social/economic insights? I'm assuming they're not actually
telepathic, Martian Nest-speakers or otherwise able to bond magically in
ways that escape us mere olde fartes.

It's noticeable that some leftish people who arrive here on the extrope
list find their views bending to the right (however inadequate that
description admittedly is), drawn by the sheer gravitational force of all
the Great Minds here who take that kind of position as demonstrable.
Similarly, people tend to bias their political reading of the world, slowly
but surely, according to their work habitus or their affinity group or even
the strong opinions of their spouse.

Granted, this is less often seen between generations in a household--but
we're talking the New Wo/Man of the Future here, among us for the first
time, dispensing superior wisdom. Would we necessarily resist it, feeling
betrayed? For a while, sure. But I was startled at how my repulsively
conservative Catholic parents (and I myself) slowly, almost undetectably,
abandoned their fear&hatred of (say) homosexuality, marriage outside the
clan, eating meat on Friday, etc, as those surrounding them gradually eased
up into more generous attitudes.

Damien Broderick

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