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What will West, Russia, and China Look Like One Hundred Years from Now? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2016-5-5 11:25:53 |Display all floors
This post was edited by Feldspar at 2016-5-5 14:00

Dear West, Russia, and China,

Some men are born great, some as weak, and both pass the traits on to their children. So to improve society, the logic goes, we must encourage the best to breed and do what we can to stop the unintelligent, sick and malign from passing on their defective genes.

A hundred years ago the eugenic mission involved a handful of tools: bribing the right people to have larger families, sterilising the weakest. Now stunning advances in science are creating options early eugenicists could only dream about. Today’s IVF technology already allows us to screen embryos for inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis. But soon parents will be able to check for all manner of traits, from hair colour to character, and choose their perfect child.

According to Hank Greely, a Stanford professor in law and biosciences, the next couple of generations may be the last to accept pot luck with procreation. Doing so, he adds, may soon be seen as downright irresponsible.

The word ‘eugenics’ was coined in 1883 by Francis Galton, a polymath who invented fingerprinting and many of the techniques of modern statistical research. He started with a hunch: that so many great men come from the same families because genius is hereditary. Fascinated by the evolutionary arguments of his cousin Charles Darwin, he wondered whether advances in health care and welfare had sullied the national gene pool because they allowed more of the sick and disabled not just to survive but to lead normal family lives. He went off to collect data, and came back with his theory of eugenics.

This was hailed not as a theory but as a discovery — a new science of human life, with laws as immutable as Newton’s. A race of gifted men could be created, he said, ‘as surely as we can propagate idiots by mating cretins.’

Some of the most revered names in British history lapped this up. As Home Secretary, Churchill wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to do more to stop the “multiplication of the unfit”. Darwin himself would come to fear that “if the prudent avoid marriage whilst the reckless marry, inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society”.

By 1908, a Royal Commission conveyed the grave news that there were 150,000 ‘feeble-minded’ people in Britain. So what was to be done with them? As one reformer put it: “They must be acknowledged dependents of the State…but with complete and permanent loss of all civil rights – including not only the franchise but civil freedom and fatherhood”. This was William Beveridge, founder of the welfare state.

Eugenics came to stand for modernity: to believe in it was to declare one’s belief in science and rationalism, to be liberated from religious qualms. Some of the most revered names in English history lapped all of this up. The Bishop of Birmingham called for sterilisation. Bertrand Russell looked forward to a eugenic era driven by science, not religion. ‘We may perhaps assume that, if people grow less superstitious, government will acquire the right to sterilise those who are not considered desirable as parents,’ he argued in 1924.

When a Sterilisation Bill was brought before Parliament in 1931 it had the backing of social workers, dozens of local authorities and the medical and scientific establishment.

Consider Adam Perkins, a lecturer at King’s College London, who has published a study echoing the Royal Commission’s attempt to quantify the feeble-minded. The group he aims to study are the ‘employment-resistant’: those disposed to a life on welfare as a result of genetic predispositions and having grown up in workless homes. With Galtonesque precision, he estimates some 98,040 ‘extra’ people were ‘created by the welfare state’ over 15 years due to a rise in welfare spending. They represent an ‘ever-greater burden on the more functional citizens’.

In 1938, Germans were shown a poster of a cripple and invited to be angry about the costs of caring for him (60,000 Reichmarks). Dr Perkins tries a softer version of this general idea, calculating the £12,000-a-head annual cost of the new British untermensch — not just in welfare, but the crimes they will probably commit. His remedy? That Cameron’s government restricts welfare, so that claimants have fewer children. A perfect eugenic solution.

Dr Perkins simply joins the dots of recent academic research and spells out what others won’t. His footnotes show the growing academic pedigree of the new eugenics: work has been done to identify genes relating to alcoholism, criminality, sporting success, even premature ejaculation. Extrapolations are now made about how far the quality of human stock worldwide has been eroded by health care and welfare.

To Professor Julian Savulescu, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, the ability to apply ‘rational design’ to humanity, through gene editing, offers a chance to improve the human stock — one baby at a time. ‘When it comes to screening out personality flaws such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence,’ he said a while ago, ‘you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children’.

Meanwhile, the scientific pursuit of ‘ethically better children’ is advancing rapidly. Since Louise Brown was conceived in a laboratory 38 years ago — the world’s first IVF baby — the treatment has become mainstream, sought by 100 women a day in Britain. Developments in IVF mean that, today, several embryos can be fertilised and screened for diseases, with the winner implanted in the uterus. The next step was taken last year, when Chinese scientists succeeded in modifying the genes of a fertilised embryo. It was rather messy: they attempted to treat 86 non-viable embryos, and failed in most cases. So they abandoned the experiment, saying a 100 per cent success rate is needed when dealing in human life.

The British government helped to build the Francis Crick Institute, a nerve centre for biomedical research. The institute was given authorisation to begin a new gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9. To supporters, this is proof of Britain’s position at the cutting edge of research. Britain is one of the few countries that does not ban the use of fertilised human embryos in experiments.

The idea of consumer eugenics is no futurist fantasy. Already, sperm banks boast about screening for everything from autism to red hair. £12,000 buys you the chance to choose which embryo to implant. And £400 buys sperm-sorting, the better to conceive a boy (or a girl). And even in the slums of India, women desperate for a boy will pay for ante-natal screening to identify — and abort — girls. It doesn’t take government to pursue eugenics: parents will do it themselves.

Imagine that, many years hence, there are two sorts of people: those who carry the messy inheritance of their ancestors, and those whose ancestors had the resources to clean up their germ cells before IVF.’ So you end up with two types of humans: the genetically tidy rich and everyone else.

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Post time 2016-5-5 12:13:43 |Display all floors
Submitted as original.

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Post time 2016-5-5 13:23:33 |Display all floors
I hope this thread does not get lost.

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Post time 2016-5-5 13:23:51 |Display all floors

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Post time 2016-5-6 02:59:40 |Display all floors
I dunno.  Sound kinda scary en stuff.

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Post time 2016-5-6 08:09:43 |Display all floors
Another eugenics thread, yawn.

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Post time 2016-5-6 12:41:51 |Display all floors
exportedkiwi Post time: 2016-5-6 08:09
Another eugenics thread, yawn.

I never understood the meaning of oogenics.  What is it?

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