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Does eugenics need historical revisionism?[edit]

Some bio-ethicist and journalist claim that genetic screening, such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, is a form of eugenics; however, defining genetic screening as a form of eugenics is problematic because it gives the impression that the practice is unethical and pseudoscientific. The logic a person may use is the following:

All eugenics practices are unethical and pseudoscience (according to rationalwiki); genetic screening is a eugenics practice(according to some bioethicist [1] [2]); therefore genetic screening is unethical and pseudoscience.

I believe the solution to this problem is to claim that all forms of past racial discrimination under the guise of eugenics was not truly eugenics because these practices did not truly improve the gene pool. Under this historical analysis of history, only the practices that truly and objectively benefit the gene pool can be defined as eugenics. (talk) 21:46, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

The idea of eugenics is subjective in that the definition does not include the goal you are moving towards. IMO we shouldn't cater to people too dumb to realize that. Also, consider that what really has put eugenics to rest are the (post-WWII shortage of people followed by) low birth rates. China had their one child policy until recently when they decided the age structure is getting dangerously skewed towards old people. Should people gain a new passion for popping out 7+ babies per family all the moralists would change their positions. Whether mainstream society will have a genuine issue with genetic screening depends on how it will change the birth rates. I can see it going either way. --Someon (talk) 23:27, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
I love this sentence in the article: "There is no reason to believe that a selective breeding plan to encourage certain physical traits in humans will mean the same results that plant and animal breeders have achieved for centuries (who were without specific knowledge of the genes they were selecting in and out)"
Damn right! I mean humans are not animals! Humans are special! The fact that you can breed traits into "animals" doesn't mean it would work for God-created humans.--Coffee (talk) 19:28, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
It WOULD work for humans, but just not well. Humans produce few offspring and take many years to mature. The ideal candidate for domestication is more like dogs, fish, fruit flies, or microbes, where a breeder can make meaningful progress in their lifetimes, or in the case of bacteria, can make meaningful progress in a day. With humans, it would take a thousand years.

The absurdity of eugenics too strongly worded[edit]

"Whilst eugenics is based, in theory, in the perfectly valid science of genetics, its application is always far from scientific." What would a "scientific" application be? The Nazis did not know much about Genes, yet breeding for certain traits would still be possible (see the Siberian Fox experiment).

"Furthermore, whereas it is (relatively) easy, for example, to breed cattle for higher milk yield, defining what is meant by a "better" human being is a very difficult question." There is quite a bit of consensus that blindness is not a great trait unless you live in a cave. Or that a brain with Alzheimer's disease is not what you want to end up with.

"The development of the field of epigenetics,[wp] i.e. heritable environmental factors in genetic expression that occur without change to underlying DNA structures, poses further problems for eugenics." Epigenetics is gene expression, rather than genetic information itself. Big difference. And its scope is vastly overstated in the media and by those who hate human differences to be hereditary, see f.ex.

"The extreme reductionism of eugenics often crossed into what is now comical territory. Nearly every social behavior, including things such as "pauperism" and the vaguely defined "feeble-mindedness," could be traced back to a single genetic disorder according to eugenicists." Actually, the biological consensus is that all human behaviour has a heritable part. How could it be otherwise?

"Stephen J. Gould was strongly opposed to eugenics. He wrote extensively on the topic, including his treatment on intelligence in The Mismeasure of Man." Gould seems to have found any heritability of human traits socially undesirable and thus denied its existence. See also his statement that the eye has evolved by pure chance :) "The Mismeasure of Man" is debunked and its section on intelligence (especially the skull measurements) was by far its weakest part. (talk) 09:18, 18 June 2016 (UTC)

Controversial edit[edit]

Suggesting eugenics would end human suffering is a claim that not made. However, higher intelligence would reduce human suffering, and that is hard to dispute. Lower IQ correlates with criminal records (though not if it's too low), unemployment, shorter life and poorer health, less salary, less educational attainment. Some points I'd like to make:

  • genetic engineering (or whatever word may be invented) is a euphemism. While being straightforward is political suicide (in the West), advocates including Richard Dawkins (who suggested aborting a kid because of Down's syndrome kid and trying again) are eugenicists.
  • researchers on genes carrying intelligence may not intend eugenic outcomes, yet to what other use could that knowledge lead? Kids with Down Syndrome benefit little from knowing their chromosomal anomaly, yet are now aborted at a rate of

~ 90% because the genetic information allows prenatal screening. The latter means eugenics is (in that special case) legal eugenics.

  • if you think a baby can be aborted because of a disability or its like support withdrawn after birth (e.g. when it is born without a small brain), you support eugenics. A hard truth, but the truth nonetheless. (talk) 02:15, 21 June 2016 (UTC)

Frankly the amount of thought you've put into these opinions is kinda lazy. You can't think of any other reason to not want to have a child with a crippling genetic disorder other than the good of population's genepool? None? Nothing else comes to mind? ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 18:04, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
I'm a cynic.
Eugenics does not merely deal with the gene pool (then people would only be sterilised and not killed, and at least male Down's syndrome kids would not be aborted since they are infertile).
The idea is to kill off "useless eaters" and the mere existence of substandard children seems a problem for advocates.
When abortng because of DS, a parent did not think the effort of raising such a disabled kid was worth it. Had it not been disabled, this would be different.
Compassion could be claimed as the cause of such killing (it certainly was at the T4 program), but ignores that
  • disabled people (like babies) can often not consent to their death or have few options to protest. This makes it quite easy to trash them.
  • there is no clear threshold of a life worth living. Is it an IQ above 70? Having friends? Not being in permanent pain?
  • resources not given to a severely disabled kid can be spent elsewhere. Unless it produces economic output, a zero-sum game occurs. (talk) 18:27, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
The personal opinions of the parents to be, dummy.
Eugenics as a program has as one of its most important failings the false objectivity of its brainless directors. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 18:31, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
I probably have a far wider idea of what constitutes eugenics than you. To me, any killing of people which do not threaten your life because they are somehow undesirable is eugenic.
In the case of Stalin's purges, the whole motivation seems to have been the "wrong" upbringing of certain groups, like rich peasants. Not their genes.
As for the parents having a choice: kids are not private property (in my personal opinion). They could give them away if unwilling to care for their upbringing.
Don't think I'm a pro-lifer, yet I find the standard "pro-choice" idea conveniently ignores some valid points of the opposition.
This probably will not lead to anything, however. We simply disagree. (talk) 18:56, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
I think that all your thoughts here really warrant is an eyeroll. You're trying to cram a square peg into a round hole and saying "Hey this triangle peg is not a square peg either" as a supporting statement. Words mean things. You can disagree with the most common definitions of those words, it just kinda makes you harder to understand and forces you to redefine your ideas every single time you bring them up. And let's be honest, from your edit history, you've got an agenda, and not a one that reflects well on you as a person. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 19:24, 21 June 2016 (UTC)

Of course it is possible/likely that High IQ people create the conditions that cause criminal behavior. Now if High IQ could be combined with empathy/unselfish/etc - High Valves - then we might lower criminal behavior a lot more (particularly among the High IQers). High IQ is also associated with some mental instability, especially over 170 most productive "geniuses" top out in the 150/160 range ( and they can be a little weird). — Unsigned, by: / talk

Could we really achieve what we do in plants and animals? Not easily![edit]

Ignoring the question of "is it a good idea?" for a second, I would argue that selectively-breeding humans is fundamentally not an easy thing to do. Specifically because:

1. Breeding age is high. Humans take over a decade to reach sexual viability and more like two for sexual maturity. This matters a lot. Dogs can be bred after about 6 months. That means a Eugenicist will accomplish 10-40 times LESS than an equally-skilled dog breeder.

2. Domestication is not compatible with freedom or prosperity. It is fundamentally difficult to control who breeds with who in a society with free association. The better the isolation, the better the domestication, but the worse the economic productivity and happiness.

3. Humans don't make many babies. While a female dog can churn out 10 puppies a year for 10 years, Human females take almost a year between births and almost always yield single offspring instead of quintuplets. The total number of children per woman is much fewer. A child a year from 13 to 52 would be 40 kids, but over a very long period that would almost coincide with the length of a breeder's career. The point is that humans are not very fertile, compared to dogs.

4. Testing your new breed of people takes effort, including standardized education and controlled environments. That means a lot of expense and time, during which you don't know if their relatives are good for breeding or not.

5. Plants in particular are very different from animals. It is relatively easy and often necessary to hybridize tangentially-related species, clone a single ideal plant genome trillions of times by inexpensive and reliable methods, or graft completely-unrelated organisms together. Contrast humanity where these are virtually impossible.

6. Genetics offers a better solution. If you know the genes you're looking for, then obtain them outright. Designer babies are technologically within reach and genetically-selective sperm and egg banks are already a thing. If the gene you want doesn't exist, make it yourself and CRISPR it into a fertilized egg.


Down Syndrome rates are plunging in Iceland due to pre-natal screening. I don't think it counts as an actual eugenics program since it's just about the wide availability of pre-natal screening, but thought maybe it warrants a mention. — Unsigned, by: / talk