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Friday, November 14, 2008

Betterment of Human Race

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Eugenics is science of betterment of human race through selective breeding by accelerating the natural process of survival of species and adaption to changing environment. We can all agree that human race, while the most intelligent among all species, has not achieved its true potential due to presence of some less than desirable elements in the society. Call what you want them: genetically defective, mentally unstable, criminals, psychopaths, self serving; but world would be a better place without some of them. And more importantly, a better place with more people with desirable traits, such as intelligence, philanthropy, fairness, empathy, call what you want them. However, natural selection running its course is extremely slow and can be actively interfered with like what humans have done when developing better variety of tomatoes or chicken. Ethical question of day is whether eugenics is acceptable or not.

Negative eugenics proposes forceful elimination of undesirable elements and forceful/volunteer development of desirable elements. What is desirable is perhaps not so much matter of consternation than what is undesirable. Not only there is angle of empathy and humanness with fellow human being, there is whole subjective issue of where to draw a line. If mentally ill is undesirable then is stupid not? On the one hand there is purely scientific and social enquiry of defining (un)acceptable traits, on the other hand there is issue of implementation. As experience tells us, any subjective law in hand of government becomes a tool for persecution of some group by some other more powerful group sooner or later. Yet, some traits can be inarguably considered undesirable. Will you then support?

Positive eugenics proposes only volunteer development of desirable elements. This is done by active counselling and support provided to people with desirable attributes to facilitate their mating and procreation. What is desirable can in general be accepted but then question of love is not far behind. Will human beings accept artificial selection over natural instinct? There is another question of impact of positive eugenics without negative eugenics. One view is that positive eugenics alone will not help world much since there are so few of people with desirable traits while whole world is replete with people with undesirable or non-useful traits. Contrarian view suggests that we need only one genius to propel development far beyond what many stupid people can hold back to. In either case, would you prefer this?

Is there merely an emotion angle to whole issue or some icky factor about playing god? We seem to have played god with everybody but ourselves lest we open Pandora’s box. Or may be not, as use of death penalty and rules of monogamy suggest? See more interesting stories about past developments and experiments in eugenics in this damn interesting article.

See comments on this post for further clarification of my views.