Tag Archives: eugenics

A New People

We create a new people. Instead being refugees we we to be fighters. This very important. We were refugees. Harmless. We become now fighters. Freedom fighters. The next stage, you will see….

Yasser Arafat

We live in a world, radically artificial twice over, and we haven’t begun to see what it will hold.

tdaxp, 5 years ago

Razib Khan notes some new research on the possible identification of a gene that seems to encourage for brain size, and general intelligence. Interestingly, this gene ‘for’ larger brains and higher intelligence appears to be most present in African populations:

This is actually a good point to describe how races may will survive long after any racial difference in intelligence can be imputed through skin color.

Consider if the C version of the gene really is associated with lower and higher intelligence. If so, it should be a “simple” matter of engineering a retrovirus that would infect an embryo, fetus, or child in the womb in order to direct the DNA to code for one version, instead of the other.

Of course, this procedure will have risks, and doubtless be fatal in some cases.

Now consider that we’re able to make a retrovirus, fine-tuned to the individual, that could create a 15 point increase in general intelligence (say, the average difference between a 3rd year college drop out and an M.D; or between an average Gentile and an average Jew on a standardized verbal intelligence test), with the slight side-effect that a fourth of all unborn children treated with such a retrovirus will die before birth.

No developed society that values its children will engage in such a practice on a wide scale.

But a few poor and backwards societies might. Supposedly, Saddam Hussein (in his pre-war days) abolished illiteracy by announcing, a few years in advance, that illiteracy would be a capital crime. Most people got the message. Others got shot.

Highly centralized states are able to take large risks. The Chinese experience under Mao and Deng show how very similar leadership styles and personal backgrounds can lead to the greatest elimination of poverty in history (under Deng‘s economic reforms), or the greatest elimination of the poor in history (under Mao‘s autogenocidal policies).

Some country we don’t care about too much — perhaps Somaliland or Azawad — is in for a wild 21st century.

There would still be Somalis or Azawadis.

But they’d be a new people.

Peace? or the Constitution?

Our judges, leaders, law-makers, and war-fighters swear to protect the Constitution. Others argue it is inconvenient to do so, and the police should be transformed into a quasi-legal militia force to fight “actual criminals” (as opposed to what? de jure criminals?)

I do not worry too much about over-aggressive cops as a public menace. Where I live, the actual criminals are menace enough…

I am sympathetic to this argument. The Constitution is not a suicide pact, even if we industrialize death to defend it. Deep in our violent creed is the conviction that there are some things so dear, we expect others to die for it, if not ourselves.

While Dr. Henry Gates is clearly a Hero of the Constitution for standing up to the rogue (and armed!) Sgt. Crowley, others insist that Crowley is a Hero of the Peace for standing up to a rude (and impatient!) home owner.

So given our Constitution or Peace for our war-fighters what do we choose? All but pacifists, it seems, would choose the Constitution. Given our Constitution or Peace from “real criminals” what do we choose? Many choose Peace.

To get to the answer to this dilemma, of course, we need to go through the horns.

We need to stop criminals from ever being born in the first place.

That’s coming.

We had a President opposed to manipulating life before it was formed. That’s over.

We will have Peace and we will have our Constitution.

We will have new generations better than any in history.

We will live in a world, radically artificial twice over.

We haven’t begun to see what it will hold.

The Future of Modifying our Genes to Improve our Health

I agree with Christine Rosen’s 2005 op-ed that the stem-cell debate and the eugenics debate are parrallel issues. Of course, I disagree with Rosen about the conslusions of this. In the debate between health and sentimentalities, and support the former. She goes for the latter.

Christine Rosen on Eugenics and Stem-Cell Research on National Review Online
Praise for the forward march of science; progressive and liberal leaders championing new scientific techniques that promise to cure disease, eradicate illness and suffering, and advance the progress of the human race; elite institutions of higher education embarking on their own initiatives, training students, and supporting researchers in the new science; California’s self-described progressive citizenry passing a law granting state funding and support to the cause, with other states preparing to follow suit; the intellectual elite of the country decrying the obstructionist, anti-modern views of the people who oppose or publicly challenge the underlying ethical rationale of the new science.

   This might sound like our contemporary debate over embryonic stem cells, but it’s actually an apt description of the eugenics movement in the United States in the early 20th century. Eugenics, a term coined by British scientist Francis Galton in 1883, was the movement to “improve the human race through better breeding,” and in the first few decades of the early 20th century in the United States it found a ready and eager audience. California and many other states passed compulsory eugenic sterilization laws that led to the sterilization of tens of thousands of Americans. Congress passed an Immigration Restriction Act in 1924 based on the testimony of eugenicists and fears about the fitness of new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. And the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1927, upheld the sterilization of a supposedly “feebleminded” woman as constitutional, with progressive Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. declaring, “three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Underwritten by the wealth of some of the country’s most prestigious families, such as the Carnegies and the Harrimans, eugenics was something every enlightened American believed in, since the movement promised to end needless suffering, increase economic prospects by alleviating the burden placed on the state by the feebleminded and their many illnesses, and generally improve health and well-being for all citizens. Eugenics was the future.

Although there are vast differences between the eugenics movement of the past and the stem-cell research of the present, there is an eerie similarity to their rhetoric and tactics. Like eugenics, promoters of embryonic-stem-cell research talk of its endless promise, declaring it the scientific “path to the future,” as two state senators from Massachusetts wrote in a recent opinion piece. Embryonic-stem-cell promoters claim that their science will lead to cures for a range of diseases and the alleviation of much human suffering. And they denounce those who question the ethics of their pursuit as backward or blindly religious. But as we continue to debate the ethics of embryonic-stem-cell research, it is worth recalling that movements waged in the name of scientific progress often leave a troubled legacy.

Three recent stories can be connected, I think, to look ahead a few years to the future…

Imagine if we could knock out genes that regulate the body in such a way that it would reduce a criminal’s propensity to rape, murder, theft, burglary, financial embezzlement, or other anti-social behaviors. It would be merciful, and (if such therapy was heritable) would pay off for future generations, as well.

Thankfully, our current President is doing more to usher in an age of eugenetical therapies than any other American, in at least a century.

The Oct Tot Mom

Whatever the origin of the Suleman octuplets, their mother is exhibiting classic low-SES behavior.  Mothers of low socio-economic status often espose a “gardening” view of parenting, asserting that children need love, good food, and a warm home.  High-SES mothers often take a “mission” view of parenting, focusing on some goal later in live they want their children to achieve (say, a college degree, a stable life, helping other people in a professional role, founding their own solid family, or some other goal).  Because low-SES children are often caught in a vicious cycle, we can expect similar views out of the 14 Suleman children when they reach reproductive age.

Suleman said she is a good mother.

“Im providing myself to my children. Im loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally,” she told Curry. “Everything I do, Ill stop my life for them and be present with them. And hold them. And be with them. And how many parents do that? Im sure there are many that do, but many dont. And thats unfortunate. That is selfish.”

‘Phenomenal risk’

Suleman said she was fully aware of the risks of carrying eight fetuses. “Those are my children, and that’s what was available,” she said. “It’s a gamble.”

via Octuplet mom defends ‘unconventional’ choices – Parenting & Family – MSNBC.com.

However, the reaction of TV hosts indicates shock that Suleman’s pregnancy was not properly “regulated.”  This is a good thing. Large-scale eugenics and SES-improving programs will require the regulation of reproduction on the part of those whose traits we do not wish to perpetuate, at least until gene therapy and stem therapy comes online. The Oct Tot Mom presents a rare opportunity when an out-of-control human breeder creates outrage among the general population.  

I earlier thought that Obama will become the President most likely to cause a eugenics program in the United States , because national health care naturally makes health everyone’s responsibility.  However, Obama is a Democrat, and Democrat are more eager to regulate industry in resposne to outrages in any case.  It is possible that the Oct Tot Mom fallout causes Democrats to create some regulations which will start us down the role to shaping genotypes in the United States

Quality Control of Children

Eugenics (the improvement of the mean and variance of the phenotype of the next generation through manipulations of the genotype) is as important, necessary, inevitable, and morally correct as anti-poverty initiatives, programs to teach middle class values, and “euSES” (the improvement of the mean and variance of the phenotype of the next generation through manipulation of socio-economic status).

Gene Expression: Picking the perfect baby

“But the main issue is the idea of treating the child as an object, as product for which you are seeking quality control,” Dr Tonti-Filippini says.

1) Part of this is publicity, you can get only so much information out of genetic tests right now (see Genetic Future). Take a look at Genetic determinants of hair, eye and skin pigmentation in Europeans, and note how much higher the odds ratio (20-30 vs. ~5) for OCA2 “blue-eye” markers are vs. the ones which might give some information about hair color. The same differences in effect size apply to disease loci. I suspect many people will balk at paying up when confronted with the provisionality of some of the inferences.

“Quality Control” (the scientific regulation of variance and mean production outcomes) is what you get when you do not want to pay professionals enough to do the job as a craft. For instance, law has no ‘quality control,’ in the strict sense, because those who have an interest in high-quality law simply pay more money for a better lawyer. The factory that made your iPod, however, is all about ‘quality control,’ as its payscale is just enough to attract and hold off-the-farm uneducated female laborers.

As a society, we long ago decided we weren’t going to pay teachers enough to avoid quality control. So now we’re getting it, with No Child Left Behind.

Through No Child Left Behind, Bush proved himself to be the greatest pro-education and pro-civil-rights President since Abraham Lincoln. It is easy to denounce your enemies and send in the troops. Such destructiveness can even be politically popular. But it does not help in the real goal of increasing the knowledge base of learners. Quality control does that.

Interestingly, through the 2009 Stimulus, Barack Obama may prove himself to be the greatest pro-eugenics American since Margaret Sanger. As long as health care (incudling physical health, mental health, wellness, and aptitude toward financial literacy) is considered to be a private problem, the role of the federal government in improving it is limited. However, Obama’s quest to expand health care to children, the unemployed, and other groups is a stalking horse for a truly national health care system.

When the difference between in vitro gene therapy is $100,000 in later medical bills out of parents’ pockets, it’s a private matter. When the difference is out of the taxpayer’s pockets, we get into the world of policy.

Unless Obama overturns the substantive parts of No Child Left Behind, Bush’s education legacy will continue until the end of the Republic. Unless the next President overturns the substantive parts of Obama’s national health care proposals, Obama’s eugenics legacy will continue until the end of the Republic.

The Heritability of Criminal Behavior

Forbes is reporting that Bernard Madoff’s folks were criminals (courtesy gnxp).

This is not surprising, as criminal behavior is partially inheritated, in the same way that the number of ridges on your pinky finger – or your inelligence — is.

More on this — and the role that recent human evolution plays in variation in such available — is available via Greg Clark (book review or PDF, also courtesy of gnxp).

This is an important point. Courtesy of zenpundit, in a discussion on jokers, Fabius Maximus (covering ground already seeded at Dreaming 5GW confuses honor-killing and honor-violence for senseless, Joker-like behavior:

Well I guess the killing was OK then, since it was in response to a previous massacre! I thought it was just soft-headed liberals who excused crimes on the basis of such things. Perhaps Quick will write a similar note about “human-style desire to have nice things” when his house is burgled, or “human-style desire to spread his genes” when his daughter is raped.

As Bill Quick at Daily Pundit noted, Fabius is confused about this. Rape is a heritable human behavior. Theft is a heritable human behavior. Honor killing is a heritable human behavior.

This does not make rape, theft, and honor violence “OK.” Indeed, confusing a normative finding (which is right and wrong) with an empirical one (which is observed and not observed) is a basic error of logic.

But it does mean that we need to consider the sort of people we plan on providing security for, and the manner in which we provide that security. “Middle class values” are more common in places where evolution has had the time to instill them. They are rarer in places it hasn’t.

In other words, providing security to populations which were until recent times (the last few centuries) hunter-gatherers is going to require more attentiont to stamping out theft, killing, and hono-rviolence than when providing security to populations which have been settled, agricultural, and peaceful for the last few centuries.

That is for now. Eventually, we will use eugenics to make the problem easier.

The New Core sets the New Rules, on Designer Babies

Today’s food for thought:

Many discussions on designer babies — that form of eugnics which operates by selecting attributes for the next generation of your biological family — seem to assume that the culture and moral compass of the United States and Europe will matter much. America and Europe are comfortable, labor-poor, capital-rich societies, and can rely on a large and generous government to protect them. Economic growth and welfare policies mean that few Americans or Europeans will ever know true poverty, and while the poor are effectively punished in numerous ways (such as having to live with a violent underlcass), these concerns are politely ignored and the poor are criticized for raising them.

The rising countries of the New Core are not so lucky. Things which are matter of convenience for us are matters of survival for them. Terrorism, high energy prices, and similar things inconvenience us but threaten to relegate rising nations like India and China back into poverty and neglect.

So India and China are hungry. They are changing the game. And that applies to designer babies, too.

In America, we take education for granted to such an extent that only rare politicians like George Bush and Ted Kennedy take the political heat for trying to fix it. We do not have the National Exams of China, or the Indian Institutes of Technology, that aggressively weed out all but the best students. In the United States, for most students, the difference between attending a school in the top 5, top 10, and top 50 is pretty negligible — your success will largely be a result of your ability and effort. A 2% of 10% better chance of gtting a good grade or doing well in high school simply isn’t a concern of parents in Europe or the United States.

Those things do matter is in India and China.

So when genetic screening for positive traits hits the $10,000 range, expect a large Indian and Chinese middle class to begin selecting for socially desirable traits, such as dilligence, future-orientation, intelligence, height, fair skin, and so on.

All this chatter about Gattaca won’t matter much. One might as well have tried to turn back the Industrialization of the United States by citing “And did those feet in ancient time.”

Hungry nations care about success for more than sentimentality.

Sentimentality may a drug for the rich and the poor, but not those among the poor who desire to be rich.

On the Improvement of the Population

Two related stories, Slashdot‘s “Where To Draw the Line With Embryo Selection?” and Scientific Blogging‘s “Analyzing The Homicide Trend In Young Men” together evoke questions about the future of eugenics (improvement in the genetics of a population) and dysgenics (degradation of the genetics of a population) in the future.

Clearly we’re rapidly approaching adoption of relatively painless choice-based selection when it comes to the future generation. If parents really are concerned their kid will be unacceptably lazy, unacceptably dull, unacceptably slow, etc., they will be able to ‘load the dice’ by selecting embryos that offer the best hope in the desired dimensions. If we ban the procedure in the west, there’s no reason to think it won’t become a booming industry in China, in India, in Thailand, in Mexico, or in other countries already popular for medical tourism.

However, it’s likely there will be government controls anyway. Consider the thugs who commit crimes and cause other troubles. There’s nothing theoretically to stop them from selecting children that are more vicious, more hostile, and more anti-social than would otherwise be the case. To stop this, the government will ban these procedures. Though the underclass is as free as the rest of the population to seek medical tourism abroad, what did Voltaire say about freedom? Something like, In France, the law prevents both the rich and the poor from sleeping under a bridge at night!.

So we probably will have a de facto eugenics policy, where those who look to improve their kids are able to afford to do so, while those not able to are not able to afford the procedure.

Bobby Jindal Signs Chemical Castration Bill

Amazingly good news. And timely too, if you consider my recent posts “Clearing the Ghetto” and “Better Behavior through Chemistry.” Bobby Jindal has signed a bill allowing for the chemical castration of certain criminals. While the bill itself is aimed at reducing sexually-driven crimes with high recidivism, an obvious implication of the bill is improved genetic health of the population. Preventing criminals from breeding is an important part of preventing crime, because criminal behavior is heritable.

Jindal Signs Chemical Castration Bill » Outside The Beltway | OTB
Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday signed the “Sex Offender Chemical Castration Bill” hours after the Supreme Court overturned that state’s law allowing capital punishment for child rapists. It “provides that on a first conviction of aggravated rape, forcible rape, second degree sexual battery, aggravated incest, molestation of a juvenile when the victim is under the age of 13, or an aggravated crime against nature, the court may sentence the offender to undergo chemical castration. On a second conviction of the above listed crimes, the court is required to sentence the offender to undergo chemical castration.”

Ben Domenech thinks Jindal is sending a suggestive message to the Supreme Court. But, of course, the law had passed through the legislative process before the Court’s 5-4 ruling, so it’s merely a politically happy coincidence.

America deserves to be remain a great nation, and part of this of course is increasing our population. But increasing the quality of our population, improving our human capital, is important too. Weeding out criminals and sexuals predators is part of that process.

While we should always focus on eugenics and healing people, preventing harm and fighting dysgenics is important, too. Men can breed well into very old age, long after they are released from prison. Chemical castration can stop that.