R M Cullen
MD MSc MFM BA DipStats DipProfEthics
|elite athlete development||diabetes||economics||evolution|
|Pro-Pare™||diabetes reversal||midinomics||chance or design?|
|tamaki sports academy||diabetes blog||genome topology|
|some thoughts||some opinions|
This group of three lectures looks at past, present, and future technologies for engineering future humans. I have included this first lecture on eugenics and selective breeding because to many people the underlying philosophy of 'make everyone the way I wish I were' is abhorrent. However, is this not the same underlying philosophy expressed more nicely by the approaches in lectures two and three?
Eugenics is a term invented by Francis Galton (a cousin of Charles Darwin) in 1883. He defined it as 'the science of the improvement of the human germ plasma through better breeding.'
Eugenics may be essentially reactive, as when a human population introduces social norms or laws to prevent its members breeding with 'others'. Or they can be compulsory or coercive practices to reduce or prevent the 'others' breeding at all, even among themselves. At its most extreme eugenics involves the forced euthanasia of human sub-populations deemed to be inferior
The practice of eugenics is long standing. In ancient Rome disabled babies were not allowed to live.
The sterilisation of criminals and the feeble minded was legally sanctioned in (30 states of) the United States in the first half of the 20th century.
The high (or low, depending on perspective) point of eugenics in the Western World was Nazi racial science.
It is widely reported that the Nazis sterilized over 300,000 Germans prior to the outbreak of World War II on the basis that these individuals suffered from inheritable diseases, including feeble mindedness. This was about 5% of the population!
Although the Nazi programme to eradicate Jews is widely known, it is less widely know that the Nazis also operated an active euthanasia programme against disabled German children.
However it would be a mistake to assume that Germans are the only race capable of this kind of activity. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and its occupation until the end of World War II seems to have been every bit as casually brutal and based in notions of racial superiority as anything done by the Nazis.
Compulsory sterilization was also practiced in the Scandanavian countries - Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. This began prior to World War II and continued until the 1960s or 1970s. Once again, the disabled (including homosexuals in some cases) were targeted. In all cases the aim was to prevent racial degeneration.
Eugenics is alive and well in the world today. Today the target is the disabled.
It has been possible for some time to screen the fetus for a range of inherited conditions. Along with this has come an increasing acceptance of abortion, for one of three reasons
It is now possible to determine the genome of a fetus. A mother with a strong genetic pre-disposition to breast cancer can now know if her daughter will carry that same gene and can consider abortion and trying again.
It is surprising that in a mongrel species of indiscriminate breeders (modern humans) arguments for eugenics are often nothing more than arguments to preserve racial 'purity' or quality.
White, and Asian, racists often fall back on the claim that the dark skinned races are but a small step removed from apes.
This is an interesting claim. It is expressed articulately by authors such as Richard D. Fuerle in his online book Erectus walks amongst us (http://erectuswalksamongst.us/). However, what is to be made of it? It seems that all humans share over 90% of their genes with chimpanzees. Is there really any merit in being the most mutated (i.e the most distant from chimpanzees)?
The proposition seems to be that some humans have some genes which mark their bearers as superior. Others have genes which mark their bearers as inferior.
The challenge for the racists is to identify these genes (and then take the risk of having their genomes sequenced)
An alternative approach now that the Bushman genome, as well as that of Archishop Tutu have been sequenced, is for the racists to identify which genes make these people inferior (and then to have themselves tested)