Eugenics Again

Cabalamat (who I usually don\’t have any stong disagreements with) has what I consider to be an absolutely foul post up approving of eugenics plans to "better the population".

It is at least voluntary, more in the "Nudge" direction than anything else, but it misses the whole damn point about people having children.

The problem is that stupid people who have children often have stupid children, because intelligence is largely inherited. Then these stupid children often end up being in the 20% of people at the bottom of society who are functionally illiterate. OK, many people who’re illiterate could be literate if the education system was better, but they’re still going to be a bit thick, and so they’re unlikely to be suitable to do work in the high technology sectors of industry that the Britidh economy is going to increasingly rely on.

So it seems to me that it could be very beneficial to society if the state did control, at least to some extent, human reproduction. (And in fact it does already, for example it says that people who are under 16 aren’t allowed to have sex, nor are people who are close kin allowed to marry each other. So if you’re in principle against laws that say who can reproduce and with whom, then to be consistent you would have to oppose all such laws.)

I’m talking about a very “light touch” form of state control here. I propose that the least intelligent 20% of the population be discouraged from breeding. I’m agnostic how we would define who falls in this category — maybe it could be an IQ test, or be determined by educational qualifications, or a simple test of basic literacy. Whatever scheme is used, one must bear in mind that people will try to game the system. (By the way, I’m not claiming that IQ tests are a particularly good way of measuring intelligence — I don’t think they are — but I do think they’d be good enough for our purpose.)

What sort of “discouragement” do I have in mind? For example, we could tell stupid women that getting pregnant will not get them a council house, nor would they get child benefit. Stronger discouragement, such as compulsory sterilisation, would be counter-productive since most people would find it morally repugnant.

As well as discouraging the least intelligent from breeding, the state could intervene at the top end too, by having a pool of sperm and egg donors, who would all be of high intelligence, in good mental and physical health, and not genetically prone to diseases. British people come in a wide variety of races, and we’d want our donors to reflect tihs diversity, so parents can have kids that look like they could be genetically theirs.

People who’re infertile would be able to make use of this pool, without cost, but so would the wider population too and it’s quite likely there would be significant take-up. After all, many parents have told me how clever their children are, but no-one has ever bragged to me about how stupid their kids are, so I conclude that many parents want to have clever kids. Come to think of it, no-one’s ever bragged to me about how ugly their kids are either, so we could put physical beauty on the list of desirable attributes for the sperm/egg donor scheme.

In fact, under this scheme, there’d be no reason to prevent/discourage the least intelligent 20% from having children — merely ones that carry their genes. And any two humans are 99.9% genetically identical anyway, so their children would carry 99.9% of their genes anyway.

This idea of egg and sperm donation is missing the whole damn point about evolution. It doesn\’t work at the species level (nor even more absurdly the national). Each and every one of us is the result of individuals (over a 3 billion year time span to boot) attempting, and for those of us here of course, succeeding, in passing on their own genes. Not the genes of the species, nor those of closely allied species or even people. But of the genes of those parents.

That\’s why eugenics of this sort is repugnant: because it runs counter to the most basic motivation for the having of children there is. To have one\’s own children.

Put it another way around. Someone is seriously suggesting that the poor and dim should labour all their lives to rear the children of the rich and bright.

I\’d also note one other thing about the plan. This denial of council housing, or of child benefit, to the dim. Since the very motivation for such actions is that the dim create the underclass, the proposal is that the poor should not get welfare benefits.

Well, if the poor aren\’t to get them then there\’s no justification for them at all….something I\’m fine with but others might differ,

18 comments on “Eugenics Again

  1. This article brings back so many memories.

    Brave New World.

    Where having children is pre-selected by the leader, physical sex for procreation is banned, artificial insemination is the norm, children born in pods.

    The world the novel describes is a dystopia, presented satirically: humanity lives in a carefree, healthy, and technologically advanced society; however, art, science, religion, and all other forms of human expression have been sacrificed to create this “Brave New World”.

    The World State is built around the principles of Henry Ford, who has become a Messianic figure worshipped by society.

    The word Lord has been replaced with the similar-sounding Ford. The calendar counts years “After Ford” (AF), a parody of “Anno Domini” (AD), starting at 1908 when the Ford Model T was created.

    The Christian cross has been replaced by the symbol “T”, another reflection of the Model T, as well as a symbolic cutting off of the upward-pointing part of the Cross (indicating that belief in God has been abolished).

    Ford’s famous phrase “History is bunk” has become The World State’s approach to the past, and the assembly line process is present in many aspects of life.

    Warfare and poverty have been eliminated and everyone is permanently happy due to government-provided conditioning and drugs.

    The irony is that all of these things have been achieved by eliminating many things that humans consider to be central to their identity – family, culture, art, literature, science, religion (other than idolization of “our Ford”, Henry Ford, who is seen as the father of their society, and ritualized orgies), and philosophy.

    It is also a hedonistic society, deriving pleasure from promiscuous sex and drug use, in the form of soma, a powerful psychotropic rationed by the government that is taken to escape pain and bad memories through hallucinatory fantasies, referred to as “Holidays”.

    Additionally, social stability has been achieved and is maintained via deliberately engineered and rigidly enforced social stratification.

    Much like the NuLab and Tory blueprints then…….

  2. Each and every one of us is the result of individuals attempting, and for those of us here of course, succeeding, in passing on their own genes.

    No. You’re mistaking what evolution “wants” with what people want. Evolution “wants” organisms to have lots of descendants. And to that end, it has programmed living things (such as humans) to have particular desires. So for example, people like sex. The desires that evolution has programmed into people are those that, in the environment of evolutionary adaptation, would tend to lead to reproduction.

    But evolution hasn’t directly given people an urge to maximise their descendents. Consider that in Britain hardly anyone has as many kids as they are physically capable of having. Or that people commonly use contraception. Or that they’re turned on by porn not just sex. Or that people willingly become step-parents or adoptive parents.

    Or consider that until about 150 years ago the concept of genes didn’t exist, but that people managed to reproduce just as well until then — clearly they weren’t consciously trying to “pass on their own genes”.

    That’s why eugenics of this sort is repugnant: because it runs counter to the most basic motivation for the having of children there is. To have one’s own children.

    Let’s say you’re right, and that’s why people have children. People want to do lots of things, and in general I’m in favour of letting people do whatever they like. But not when what they do causes negative externalities for others. For example, if they thing that would cause me the most happiness and fulfilment was to stick a knife into other people, I still shouldn’t be allowed to do it. 80% of people would be unaffected by my proposals; the other 20% would be those who if they did have kids would tend to be harming society.

  3. however, art, science, religion, and all other forms of human expression have been sacrificed to create this “Brave New World” […] The irony is that all of these things have been achieved by eliminating many things that humans consider to be central to their identity – family, culture, art, literature, science, religion

    While it wouldn’t bother me in the least if religion didn’t exist, of course I don’t want ot destroy art, science, family, culture, literature, etc.

  4. I’d also note one other thing about the plan. This denial of council housing, or of child benefit, to the dim. Since the very motivation for such actions is that the dim create the underclass, the proposal is that the poor should not get welfare benefits.

    That doesn’t follow. I do think the poor should get benefits; I just also think that people who are poor and dim shouldn’t be incentivised to have kids. Under my proposal anyone who is poor but not dim (functionallly illiterate) would be unaffected. People who are poor, dim, and don’t have children would also be unaffected.

  5. Put it another way around. Someone is seriously suggesting that the poor and dim should labour all their lives to rear the children of the rich and bright.

    No I’m not. If someone is poor and dim, I’d be happy for them not to work at all. If they do want to have kids (something many people find rewarding), it would just be the case that those kids would be cleverer than they would be if the kids had their parents’ genes.

    Oh and the genetic parents of such children wouldn’t necessarily be rich. Though they would be clever.

  6. I’m not a great one for the dangers of the slippery slope (see Julian Baggini), however I do see a danger here.

    Human life has a few basic requirements; these are generally taken as food, shelter and sex: the latter being essential for continuance of the species through reproduction.

    The basic case for eugenics, as far as I can understand it, is that it is for the overall benefit of the species (most likely as expressed through society).

    If one accepts the premise that sex (and the associated reproduction) must be subjected to societal (ie political) control for the overall benefit of the species, it is surely but a small step to control too those other basics: food and shelter.

    Given the increasing density of population and the pressure on land, why waste food on the ‘dregs’ of society? Likewise, why waste shelter on them?

    As Julian Baggini says: “The problem with slippery slope arguments is that they make the location of what is contentious unclear.” So, I’ll make it clear in this case.

    What is contentious is that the existence of less intelligent people (Cabalamat’s bottom 20%) is not worthwhile.

    If one accepts that, there is little difference between stopping them coming into existence and, if not directly putting them out of existence, at least denying them such level of existence as they would otherwise be able to arrange for themselves.

    And that is before we consider how we will measure who is worthy of unfettered breeding/existence, and justify that to the person at 19.999999999999% from the bottom.

    Best regards

  7. Pingback: Cabalamat and eugenics

  8. Pingback: The Elusive Pimpernel » Blog Archive » The Right to Have a Child

  9. Once you demand that I subsidise someone else’s gets, and incentivise the bearing of more of them, you’ve given me a moral claim to participate in the decisions – should that child be born, how should it be raised, and so on. Personally, I don’t see what I can usefully do with this moral claim, and I didn’t ask for it, but the robber barons who gave us our rather dud welfare state brought us to this pass.

  10. 80% of people would be unaffected by my proposals; the other 20% would be those who if they did have kids would tend to be harming society.

    Yeah, but why stop at 20%? Why not 21% or 22%? What’s so magic about 20%? Is it possible that 19% is the right proportion? And anyway, who the fuck appointed you god to decide for the rest of us?

  11. “What sort of “discouragement” do I have in mind? For example, we could tell stupid women that getting pregnant will not get them a council house, nor would they get child benefit.”

    And, despite being stupid, they’d all understand this and rationally weigh up their choices..?

    Um, are we sure this Cabalamat chappie isn’t in that 20% himself?

  12. I would say most WOMEN feel that their life is incomplete without having children, and many poorer women would rather be a full-time homemaker “on the dole” than hold down a boring job somewhere.

    Many men seem to be ambivalent about having children, just as they are ambivalent/reluctant to get legally married.

    In the USA, 70% of black children are born to unmarried women, and I think 30 to 35% of white children are born to unmarried women. These women generally have the babies of their current boyfriends, but many of these women might be quite open to the idea of using a sperm donor if it were convenient & free (choose a donor over the internet and the sperm is shipped to your door, etc.)

    I read an article that mentioned that a black unmarried female chose to use donor sperm (of a Hispanic male) so that her child would have “better hair.”

    High school girls will continue to produce dumb babies from dumb boyfriends, but older, more thoughtful women might indeed choose to have someone tall, intelligent, blond & musical for their baby’s daddy.

    Nobody I know agrees with me, but I think that some black women already choose to abort the babies of dumb boyfriends while being more willing to carry the babies of more intelligent boyfriends to term — especially if it is a lighter-skinned boyfriend.

    I think that there is more “eugenics” going on than people realize.

  13. Pingback: Eugenics is nothing to be scared of « Amused Cynicism

  14. It seems to me that we can never rid ourselves of the 20% dimmest in society. Let’s assume that they all drop dead today. Tomorrow morning the residual population would still contain 20% of people who were dimmer than the other survivors.

  15. There is a rather common misconception about
    evolution and the “fitness” concept that seems to manifest even in the thinking (and writing) of those who should know better.

    “Fitness” may, indeed, influence survival. But, in the evolutionary sense, they’re tautological: if it survives, it’s been “fit.” There is no other measure. And what has been “fit” in the past or might be ‘fit’ in the present may or may not be “fit’ for survival in the future; it is only the arrival of that future that permits observations of any meaning about such fitness.

    It is just as obvious (since changes of many kinds, including extinction, has occurred) that what was once “fit” has become less so or not at all. And, though it might be relatively easy to catalogue the traits (and soon, perhaps, even the responsible genes) associated with present fitness, such study could hardly be expected to
    encompass the totality of those actually relevant–and that’s without even considering that the object of such study would be to identify (and perpetuate) the traits associated with success unto the present, when what is–presumably–wanted are the traits which some (as yet unformed) future shall favor (with survival). The very smartest of men are at their very best in the prediction business when concentrated on the past; not so good a few days or weeks out.

    It makes more sense to severely limit the powers of the “best and brightest” than of the rest; “nature” has not done too shabbily by us, all things considered.

  16. Fitness is “who has the most children surviving to reproduction”.

    At the moment due to taxes on the middle classes to fund benefits for the idle classes we have a policy of disgenics.

  17. I propose that the least intelligent 20% of the population be discouraged from breeding. I’m agnostic how we would define who falls in this category — maybe it could be an IQ test, or be determined by educational qualifications, or a simple test of basic literacy.

    Because obviously having a low IQ and failing your exams and not being able to read very well are ALL THE SAME THING.

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