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Eugenics

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mckeonj
75299.  Sat Jun 17, 2006 4:44 pm Reply with quote

Big nasty topic.

 
djgordy
75302.  Sat Jun 17, 2006 5:02 pm Reply with quote

Eugenics: two words -

No, no, no, no, no. no, no, no, no, no, no.

 
samivel
75341.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:45 am Reply with quote

That's one word, repeated.

 
mckeonj
75374.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:03 am Reply with quote

It might help to add a dictionary definition; from Encarta:
Quote:
eugenics (noun)
the proposed improvement of the human species by encouraging or permitting reproduction of only those individuals with genetic characteristics judged desirable. It has been regarded with disfavour since the Nazi period.
(takes a singular verb)

 
swot
75378.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:20 am Reply with quote

Anyone see Horizon this week? There was an American bloke who was worried about the American gene pool, which was apparently being downgraded by morons. He made Nobel Laureates 'enjoy themselves' into a cup and sold their sperm to infertile couples. Would this be eugenics?

 
QI Individual
75388.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 12:40 pm Reply with quote

It all depends on the definition of eugenetics you use. The Nazi era has laden the concept with a whole range of rather unpleasant connotations but there is a more objective/scientific aspect that might be included in one of its definitions.

The developments of medical science has caused, and will cause to an even greater extent, people with genetically influenced diseases to survive to reproductive age and have children. In the 'natural' environment before these advances in medical science the harsh evolutionary principle of 'survival of the fittest' would simply have prevented these people from reproducing thereby keeping the gene pool relatively free of such disadvantageous genes.

By influencing this 'natural process' by means of our medical science the inevitable result will be that more people with certain 'genetic defects', that would otherwise have prevented them from reproducing, are now able to have children, which will result in an increase in the prevalence of these genes amongst the population.

To put it somewhat crudely: By influencing the natural evolutionary process by means of our medical science we will cause a certain degradation (or 'pollution') of the gene pool.

This is just the observation of an (objective) scientific fact. In itself it has no moral values attached to it. What people do with that observation and what conclusions they draw from it will probably be influenced by more subjective arguments.

One point of view can be that by influencing the natural processes in this way we, as a result, must assume responsibility for the negative effects it will have on the average health of the human species or take certain actions to prevent the negative effects from happening. That's where prenatal testing and everything else comes in.

Eugenetics? In the end it's just a word. It's the combination of our science and our ethics that in the end should decide how we deal with these matters.

 
djgordy
75389.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 12:52 pm Reply with quote

QI Individual wrote:

To put it somewhat crudely: By influencing the natural evolutionary process by means of our medical science we will cause a certain degradation (or 'pollution') of the gene pool.

This is just the observation of an (objective) scientific fact. In itself it has no moral values attached to it. What people do with that observation and what conclusions they draw from it will probably be influenced by more subjective arguments.

One point of view can be that by influencing the natural processes in this way we, as a result, must assume responsibility for the negative effects it will have on the average health of the human species or take certain actions to prevent the negative effects from happening. That's where prenatal testing and everything else comes in.



This is just nonsense.

First of all, there is no such thing as an 'objective scientific fact'. Secondly, even if there were the fact that you use words such as 'degredation' and 'pollution' shows that there is nothing at all objective to scientific about attitudes to this subject and that it inevitably has 'moral' or normative values associated with it.

Why is it only medicine that is seen as affecting the gene pool? You might as well argue that agriculture pollutes the gene pool because it allows millions of people to live who wouldn't if we still had to climb trees to collect bananas.

 
samivel
75398.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 2:43 pm Reply with quote

djgordy wrote:
You might as well argue that agriculture pollutes the gene pool because it allows millions of people to live who wouldn't if we still had to climb trees to collect bananas.



You mean we don't have to anymore? Damn, nobody told me. I'm not going to climb any banana trees from now on.

 
djgordy
75400.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 2:57 pm Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
. I'm not going to climb any banana trees from now on.


Good. Not that bananas grow on trees because they don't. Of course, you might want to climb a tree to pick some bananas off the herbaceous banana plant that is growing next to it if were the case that the banana plant wouldn't stand your weight.

 
samivel
75402.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 3:03 pm Reply with quote

What? Not only do you tell me I don't have to collect my own bananas any more, but now you tell me they don't grow on trees!
I'm just going to buy them in the greengrocer's from now on, unless I hear that those slightly curved yellow-skinned objects are not actually bananas, in which case I give up.

 
Celebaelin
75440.  Sun Jun 18, 2006 5:46 pm Reply with quote

These are plantains.



Sorry.

 
Quaintly Ignorant
75469.  Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:10 am Reply with quote

Isn't eugenics what the blue-blooded aristocracy have been doing form thousands of years? The entire concept becomes very emotive due to nazi influence on this field but there are some very strong arguments in favour of it. For instance, we know that evolution works mainly via natural selection; we have gone a long way to eliminating natural selection within our society so eugenics of some form could be seen as a way of compensation for this unbalance. I have always found society strenage in that you need a license to own a dog but they will let any old waste of space parent children. Licensed reproduction is a little too attractive to me I think.

 
Flash
75470.  Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:24 am Reply with quote

This is Stephen Pinker on eugenics and Marxism:
Quote:
the 20th century suffered “two” ideologies that led to genocides. The other one, Marxism, had no use for race, didn't believe in genes and denied that human nature was a meaningful concept. Clearly, it's not an emphasis on genes or evolution that is dangerous. It's the desire to remake humanity by coercive means (eugenics or social engineering) and the belief that humanity advances through a struggle in which superior groups (race or classes) triumph over inferior ones.

 
dr.bob
75482.  Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:16 am Reply with quote

Quaintly Ignorant wrote:
Isn't eugenics what the blue-blooded aristocracy have been doing form thousands of years?


Not quite.

As far as I understand it, the idea of eugenics is to "improve" (whatever you think improve actually means) the gene pool by allowing some people to breed and preventing other from doing so.

Blue-blooded aristocracy have certainly been controlling their breeding for thousands of years by inbreeding within their own class structure, but I think it'd be a struggle for anyone to argue that this has "improved" their gene pool.

I mean, have you seen the royal family lately?!

 
Tango 1
75484.  Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:50 am Reply with quote

I think nearly everyone practices eugenics, wether it be on a subconsious level or not. We all pair up with the person we think is best going to carry on our bloodline, the best father/mother for our children etc.
We all try partners and disregard them at some point down the line if we come to the conclusion that they do not meet the criteria we have set out as regards parenthood.

Most of us will try to bag the best physicaly(and character wise) appropriate person we can within our limits.

 

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